The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Floydm's picture

There are signs of life in my new starter.

sourdough starter, day 3

I fed it more whole wheat flour and water again today.

On that note, I saw a professional baking blog post that irked me yesterday. Basically, when faced with a simple question about starters by an enthusiast new baker, Rose punts and says "it is too hard to explain to you. Go buy from a professional."

That is a load of crap, and that is a ridiculous response in what is supposed to be a baking advice column. I won't go so far as to say that making a starter is easy, but it isn't impossible, and it certainly isn't an impossible process to describe: I've done it, Sourdolady has done it, and Carltonb has done it. An idiot like me can do it; why can't she?!? Besides, if you screw up and have to throw it away, what are you out? About 75 cents worth of flour and a few minutes a day for 3 or 4 days.

Remind me not to buy her book if that is what her attitude toward amateur bakers is like.

Floydm's picture

I am trying to start another sourdough starter. I started it a couple of days ago.

I looked at SourdoLady's starter recipe but didn't have any pineapple juice in the house, so I began with 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup water, and a half a capful of apple cider vinegar. Day two (today) I added 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup rye flour.

I'm not seeing any signs of activity yet, but neither of the flours are particularly fresh so I may not have enough wild yeast in them to get started. I figure I'll give it one or two days of food and if I don't see any signs of life I'll dump it and try again.

Floydm's picture

Tonight we are baking cookies for Santa. Lebkuchen and Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, two recipes that "Santa" is particularly fond of. :)

BeckyBaker730's picture

Today the start of my Christmas baking. First I will make the sponge and dough for the Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid. We're having that as part of our breakfast on Christmas morning. Then I am making Emeril's Cloverleaf Dinner rolls. I've made them once before and they are AMAZING! The best dinner rolls I've ever had. They have just a hint of sweetness to make them good with butter at dinner or jam at breakfast the next day. Those are for my Christmas dinner. And lastly I am making pizza dough for our Christmas Eve pizza. Nothing like homemade pizza and a good beer on Christmas eve.

whitedaisy's picture

Last night we had a very cas diner party. My guest where very impressed and amazed that I made the bread bowls. And they ate a whole batch of Italian Bread. This site makes me look soooo good! :o)

Floydm's picture

For my weekly batch of French bread, I tried autolyse again. This time I successfully combined it with a poolish.

My overnight sponge was 8 ounces bread flour, 8 ounces water, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast. My autolyse the next day was 10 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour. I let that soak for 20 minutes, then mixed in the poolish along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast. I then mixed it in the stand mixer, adding an additional 3 or 4 ounces of flour until I had a dough that was slack but more substantial than a batter.

Fermentation was 3 hours, with 2 folds an hour apart. I divided it in two for final shaping and used a lot of flour so that I could handle it without it sticking. It actually toughened up and shaped better than I had expected.

I let it rise 90 minutes while preheating my baking stone at my max oven temperature, 550. I used to not be impressed by the baking stone, but I've found that if you preheat it at max temperature for at least an hour you do get a significant increase in spring.

I threw them in the oven, added steam, and reduced heat to 475. I think they took about 20 to 25 minutes to bake: the hot stone also reduces baking time noticeable. Very good results, nice open crumb.

I'll try to bake this one again next weekend and post photos.

soxkat4's picture

Well, Betty (my starter) got brought out last night, but after fighting traffic and the crowds in the grocery store and my computer, I just fed her and let her rest. I'm now realising that instead of putting her back in the fridge, she's still in the oven. My recipe calls for using the starter cold, if she's room temp, do you think that will make a difference? I kind of doubt it but I'm curious what you all think.

By the way, she's named Betty after Betty Crocker, the cookbook I got the recipe from. I know, not nearly as advanced as Peter Reinhart, but I like to play/research on several different approaches so I'll work my way up to Peter's barms and sponges!

BeckyBaker730's picture

The raisin bagels turned out superb! Thank you, Floydm, for posting the recipe and instructions. I am already eating my second one! They came out with a good chew on the outside, and softer in the middle. Tastes just like a bagel! The 1 cup of raisins was just enough....each bagel has a good # of raisins throughout. I think next time I make them I will add another teaspoon or two of cinnamon. I used 1 TBS in this batch, and while I could taste the cinnamon, it was not as prominent as I wanted it to be. All I did was add a little extra sugar and cut back on the salt a little. Then I stirred the raisins and the cinnamon into the sponge after adding the rest of the yeast and 1 cup of the flour. I wanted to make sure I got the raisins in before the dough got too stiff. Then I proceeded to work in as much of the remaining flour as possible. Next time I make bagels I'm going to try for a good "everything" bagel with onions, poppyseeds, and garlic. Yum!

I definitely think I am going to send my mom some bagels for Christmas. With this recipe I can boil and bake them early in the morning, let them cool, package them and then mail them later that same afternoon. I think they'll stay pretty fresh that way.

BeckyBaker730's picture

Finished with my bagels for the night. They are now resting comfortably for 20 minutes or so on a sheet pan in a plastic trash bag. When my kitchen timer beeps, I will put them in the fridge for the night.
A few interesting points:
1. I am aiming for a somewhat normal cinnamon-raisin bagel. I combined the recipe from this site with the cinnamon-raisin bagel recipe from, in hopes of achieving a balance between the two.
2. I could not for the life of me get that last 3/4 cup of flour into the dough. I think this might have to do with the addition of the 1 cup of raisins. Instead of 7 and 3/4 cups of flour, I ended up with an even 7, plus 1 cup of raisins and 1 TBS of cinnamon. They look and smell exactly like the cinnamon-raisin bagels I am used to, so here's to hoping they turn out good.
3. Kneading this dough is serious work! I like to knead by hand but this dough just about had me beat. Next time I may surrender and let my KitchenAid stand mixer handle it. It was fun though, especially because all the kneading started to break down the raisins a little, which made the dough smell amazing.
4. I have never made a sponge before tonight. I have to say that is quite possibly the weirdest thing I have ever produced in my kitchen! I'm one of those people who (as a kid) hid wet bread in tinfoil all over the house to make mold for science projects in gradeschool, so I am easily fascinated by weird science stuff. I had to take a minute or two to just poke at the sponge and marvel at the weird foamy texture. :-)

Well, my timer just beeped, so into the fridge they go.

BeckyBaker730's picture

I'm working on some bagels right now, using the recipe on this site and a few ideas from the website. My sponge is rising at the moment. At 7pm I can move on to step 2. I love the idea of beginning bread at night and then making something fresh in the morning. One of my favorite recipes is for buttermilk bran muffins. They keep for 3 weeks in the fridge and you can scoop just what you need to make a few fresh muffins every morning. The recipe comes from Linda Larson at Busycooks.About.Com. So yummy! The buttermilk really gives these muffins a great flavor.

Make Ahead Bran Muffin Batter 5 cups flour 15 oz. box bran flakes cereal with raisins 3 cups sugar 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 4 eggs, beaten 1 cup vegetable oil 4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, cereal, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine. Add beaten eggs, oil and buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Cover bowl tightly.

You should chill this batter in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. The batter will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
When you're ready to bake the muffins, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched lightly with fingertip. Makes 48 muffins.

Note: I've made this batter 3 times now, and each time it comes out amazing. But, be forewarned that the buttermilk will give the batter a rather funky smell in the fridge. It freaked me out at first, and I thought that after only 2 days my batter had gone bad in the fridge. Not's just the buttermilk reacting with the other ingredients. I went on to use the batter and found out that it was perfectly fine, not spoiled at all. It really does last three weeks...well, it might even last longer, but I don't know because we always end up using all the batter well before the 3 weeks are up!

Well, I'm off to finish step 1 of the bagel-making process! Hopefully these will turn out well...I haven't had a good bagel in months. I had to do the instant yeast/active dry yeast conversion, because all I had on hand was active dry. With any luck I got the measurements right, and tomorrow morning I can bake up some toasty goodness for breakfast.


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