The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Altaf's picture

I have always been fascinated by artisan breads, i wanted to explore the world of hand crafted breads knowing every single detaile of this art .So suddenly at age 30, i decided to educate my self by diging websites and searching through cookbooks and wishing to end with courses.
Normally i bake on weekends either for my home or familly gatherings. And the following photos shows my first attempt with pesto bread made from the (Italian Baker) by Carol Field.

Rised dough......ready to go to the oven.

Fresh baked bread.

Sliced pesto bread.

Crust & Crumb.

Notes: 1-The bread smells pesto but does not taste as pesto.
2-There was no crust at the bottom of the bread (Hmmmm.....) may be the baking stone was not too hot.
3- The bread was a little bit heavy....could it be the oil of the pesto. :-?

CookieHugs's picture

My first attempt at creating a sourdough starter. I used the raisin water technique because I wasn't sure I wanted some of the other things that could be found floating in the air around here. This is approx 48 hours after I started it. It now sits safely in my refrigerator until I get past the spring allergy season LOL

Well, I was going to tell more about it last night, but my husband distracted me. As Paul Harvey would say, "Now for the rest of the story."

I started my starter using what I had here based on Floyd's Featured Story ""When Yeast Attacks"

I had a box of california raisins from Wal-Mart and I used stone ground whole wheat flour (this was ground by a friend about 6 weeks ago). I started with the 3/4 cup of raisin water and 1 cup of ww flour. When I checked it about 10 hours later, it looked to me like there was a little bit of bubbling going on. So I added a cup of water and a cup of ww flour. Waited another 8 - 12 hours with it sitting in my cupboard with just a paper towel placed very loosely over it. It didn't look very promising when I checked it this time, but I figured I didn't have much invested in it and a couple more cups of flour wasn't going to break the bank, so I put a cup of wal-mart brand, all-purpose flour and a cup of water in, stirred it all up and left it to grow. I came back Wednesday morning to a very happy starter. I wasn't sure what direction I was going to go at that point, so I fed it (all growing babies need to be fed, right?) and let it sit until I took the pictures last night.

I probably won't be able to do any baking until Monday with it being Mother's Day weekend, but that gives me more time to search for "the" recipe that is going to knock my husband's socks off. He isn't thrilled with the SD bread that comes from the store, and I have to keep reminding him that my homemade from scratch food 99.999 percent of the time tastes much better than anything we buy at the store or from a restaurant :lol: I just know he's going to love this bread and I won't be able to buy loaf bread off the shelf anymore.

More to come next time on the Cookie Bakes Bread channel.

Floydm's picture

While coming home from a computer conference last week I managed to hit a couple of artisan bakeries.

The best one I stopped at was Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, California (halfway between Sebastopol and Bodega in west Sonoma County... "the wine country"... find it on my bakery finder).

As the sign out front says, everything there is organic and they bake in a brick oven. Note the reflection of a grain silo in the front window. It is hard to tell in these photos, but the bakery is out in the country in the middle of a beautiful valley.

Unfortunately, I got there right about the same time that a bus load of people doing the winery tours stopped there and I had a car full of family, so I did not get a chance to talk to the bakers or get many good pictures of the place. I did pick up a loaf of their Fougasse, a picnic bread containing olives, onions, and blue, jack, and chedder cheeses. The loaf was still warm, and it was a great thing to munch while driving out to the coast.

They have wonderful looking scones and sticky buns too.

I took a quick snap of their menu (large image so it is easy to read).

crumbbum's picture

I was going to make the valentine's day pain rapide au chocolat tonight because my boy wanted me to buy him chocolate chocolate chip muffins at the grocery. Well, I just couldn't see myself making mashed potatoes just for that, so I went to google and dug up two C-C-C muffin recipes and between the three recipes I came up with this. And they're quite good, like the bread recipe, not too sweet, but in the middle they have some melty chocolate chip goo that makes them just right.

1/2 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. powdered milk
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

mix all the dry ingredients together, and if necessary, squish out any hard, rocky lumps in the baking powder.

in a smaller bowl or 2-cup measure, mix together:

3/4 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
I also splooshed in 2-3 Tbsp. Irish Cream, lacking rum or any other appropriate spirits

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids, mixing just until blended--as usual for muffins, leave it slightly lumpy.
Spoon into a 12-cup muffin tin, greased or lined with paper accordion cups. Bake at 400F about 18-20 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean unless you've struck a chocolate chip.

and of course, you can use 3/4 cup dairy milk in place of the water/powdered milk ingredients.

Floydm's picture

I made another batch of bagels last night. My son dug the blueberry bagel we got from Safeway last week, so I decided to make a third of the batch with blueberries (bagel snobs: insert derisive comments here).

I thawed the blueberries and then tried mixing them in with the risen dough. Bad idea:

Yes, it does look like entrails. It really made quite a mess, with little strips of purple bagel dough refusing to stick together.

I was about to throw the whole thing into the trash, but I decided to try adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour, just to see if I could salvage it. Happily, it worked, and they baked up quite nicely:

It just goes to show, when in doubt, improvise. Worse case, I would have had to throw away an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Big deal.

Floydm's picture

Here's the poolish in the AM:

According to Artisan Baking Across America, the puckering in the middle is a sign that it is ready to use.

The baked loaves:

They were acceptable, but not great, this weeknd. I think I made the dough a bit too dry. I'll try again soon.

Floydm's picture

Today's batch of Pain Sur Poolish turned out pretty good. Not as good as last time, I don't think. We left the house during primary fermentation, so I threw it into the fridge for a couple of hours. I'm not sure I let the dough warm back up enough afterward. Also, the dough was definitely drier than last time. The wetness of the dough last time was part of what I think contributed to it being so good. So, more work to be done before I've got this one down.

So, I don't forget, the recipe I used was roughly the Village Baker recipe:

3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup water
the poolish that had sat out overnight (1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast)
2 cups flour (1 bread, 1 all-purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine, let ferment 2 hours, punch down, let rise another 45, shape into logs, let rest 15 minutes, stretch, let rise another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, bake.

Floydm's picture

I just started a poolish for pain poolish again tomorrow.

1 cup bread flour
1 cup cool water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Overnight at room temperature seems to be about right. When I come down in the morning it is fairly foamy but doesn't appear to have totally run out of steam yet.

Oh yeah, I think I Terry Schiavo'ed my starter. I stopped feeding it two or three weekends ago, the weekend everyone in the house got sick. I probably could nurse it back to life, but I think I'm going to let it go. There are too many other breads I want to try baking right now: having to come up with something that involved my starter every weekend was getting to be a burden. Easy come, easy go.

crumbbum's picture

I'm trying to make a brownie that will turn out almost as soft and gooey as the cookie recipe below. Following the cookie recipe is an approximation of what I cobbled up from the cookie recipe and several brownie recipes.

These cookies are wonderful, by the way.

NavyDucks Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies

1-1/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peanut butter chips

Cream butter (or margarine) and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt) together and then blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the peanut butter chips. If it's a warm day or your kitchen is warm, you'll get better baking results if you chill the dough for a couple of hours.

Drop by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350F for 8 to 9 minutes only. DON'T OVERBAKE. The cookies will be soft; they will puff up during baking and flatten out upon cooling. EDIT: Cool about 5 minutes or until they are slightly set, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Will make about 4 dozen 2-1/2 inch cookies. YUM.

Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

3/4 cup butter or margarine (1/2 c marg. 1/4 c butter)
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
small amount of half-and-half or cream (1/4 cup?)
1 cup peanut butter chips

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients together, and blend in alternately with splash of cream. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spread in greased 13x9 pan, bake at 350F 30-35 minutes.

recipe called for 3/4 cup chocolate syrup. I didn't have any, but increased the fat and sugar by 1/4 cup each, reflected in the amounts above, and splashed in a little half-and-half as I added the dry ingredients in.

freshly out of the oven, it looks like a giant pan cookie. I'm trying to let it cool before cutting and sampling, but my resolve isn't strong.

follow-up: it didn't come out gooey like I'd hoped. alternatives: smaller rectangular pan for a thicker brownie, shorten oven time to 25-30 minutes, actually have chocolate syrup on hand (ya think?).

crumbbum's picture

This is the white bread I settled on about 20 years ago, when I was baking all the bread for my family of four. We ate so much, I just worked it up for two loaves, so that's the first recipe here. It's followed by the single loaf approximations I used earlier this week for the loaf pictured below. It's a good, tasty white bread for toasting or making sandwiches, and if it gets stale, it makes fantastic french toast.

(two 9x5 loaves)

7-1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1-1/2 Tbsp. instant yeast (or two 1/4-ounce packets)

mix 4 cups of the flour with the other dry ingredients.

heat to 120F:
2-1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine

add this, along with 1 egg, lightly beaten to your flour/yeast dry mixture and blend until evenly incorporated.

add the remaining 3-1/2 cups flour, a cup at a time, into the dough. it should begin to hold together after about two cups additional. if you're using a mixer, you can continue with that process, or turn the dough out to work the rest of the flour in by hand.

grease a large bowl, plop your dough ball into it, and turn it, cover with a kitchen towel, and set it to rise until doubled in bulk. depending on your ambient temperature, it could take 1-3 hours.

when it's doubled, punch it down in the bowl, and turn it out onto a floured work surface. knead it a few minutes to work out the bubbles, add a little flour if it sticks to your hands. flatten it out into a rectanglish-shape with your hands, and divide it evenly. flatten the pieces out a little more, then roll up tightly as you can, pinching the closing seams together, tucking the ends in if need be, and set them to rise (covered) in greased loaf pans. the second rise goes much faster, again, depending on ambient temperature, 30-60 minutes is typical.

preheat your oven to 375F, and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350F for an additional 30 minutes. keep watch on it, I think my oven runs about 25 degrees hot, at least as compared to Floyd's temperatures. if all goes well, it should just roll out of the loaf pan when tipped on its side. cool it on a rack, resting on its bottom, and the rack will leave cutting guides for you.

If you coat the top crust with melted butter or margarine while it's hot, it will stay soft. The advantage to this is that slicing the bread won't crush the loaf. But you already know that a loaf like this should be sliced laying on its side anyway, right? It's another deterrent to crushing, and it exposes the cutting guides you made on the bottom of the loaf. And don't forget to use a serrated bread knife!

I skip the step of trying to heat milk without scalding it on the bottom of the saucepan by using powdered milk (1 cup) and the same amount (2-1/4 cups) of comfortably warm tap water in place of dairy milk.

This recipe can also be made into six mini-loaves if you want to have a special little dinner where everyone gets their own loaf of bread. Temperature is the same, adjust your own timing.

Single 9x5 Loaf:

about 4-1/2 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp. or one 1/4-ounce packet dry yeast
3 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg

start your dry mix using 2 cups flour, add the remaining in after the liquids.


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