The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


vhender's picture

I was surfing the net and ran across this neat tool that will help you with your formula. just plug in your #'s and it will figure it out for you

this one if for sour dough

here is the main page with some great info and add'l calculators for your baking needs

johnm's picture

This is a whole new world. Thank you!!! I have been making pizzas for my family's enjoyment and I can do pretty well with my Weber, but now I am baking! Very cool, indeed!

PJ3's picture

Bread (Whole Wheat Molasses)

Serves: 6

"The Sponge"

1st Add to Mixer (Add in this Order)

3 Cups unbleached flour

2 1/2 Tbls Yeast

2 Tbls salt

1/4 Cup sugar

4 Cups water warm 95*

Let above ingredients rise for 10-15 min until doubled

2nd Mix in 4 cup Measuring Cup

(Add in this Order)

1 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup olive oil

1/3 Cup molasses

2 1/2 Cups water warm 95*

Mix Measuring cup ingredients into mixer then add approx

14 Cups whole wheat flour enough to make a nice dough

Let Sponge (above Ingredients) rise for 10-15 min until doubled - While Sponge is rising Grind your whole wheat flour and Grease 6 bread pans When yeast mixture has doubled from first bowl, mix contents from second bowl or 4 cup measuring cup into Bosch Mixer Mix well then start adding wheat flour until dough starts pulling away from the sides of mixing bowl -- Mix in Mixer for 6 min-- OR knead by hand until your brains fall out. If you are using an "INSTANT" yeast like "SAF" divide into 6 loaves, put into pans, cover with cloth, let rise until doubled. If using a "REGULAR" yeast -- let rise until doubled approx 1 hour -- (hint): I use a large bowl covered with a cloth and put into oven with light on when dough has doubled knead down by hand on an oiled surface-- shape into loaves, put into greased loaf pans and let rise until doubled for the 2nd time. Bake @ 350° for 30 min --- Single loaf in a 12" dutch oven with 16-18 coals on top and 6-8 coals on bottom VARIATIONS: *Cinnamon Pull-A-Parts: Pinch dough into small golf ball-- dip in butter then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture *Onion Bread: While forming into loaves, knead in instant "minced" onion. Use more than you think you need! *Herb Bread: Combine favorite herbs together and Knead into bread

Floydm's picture

Things are starting to cool off, so I've managed to bake the last two weekends.

Two weekends ago I made a Potato Bread from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.

potato bread

It was great. I'll definitely be baking it again, and probably posting a recipe here in the next few days.

This weekend I baked some Buttermilk Bread, a Whole Wheat Bread, and some Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies:


All turned out well.  We had Grilled Pizza with pesto made from basil from the garden too.  

Oh yeah, we've also been having Raspberry Nutella Crepes for breakfast for the past three days. Wow. That's all I have to say about the matter.


johnm's picture


I'm not usually a 'joiner', but I *had* to join your site.

After reading your lessons, I just made 3 loaves of bread this past weekend, and they all came out good!

The first loaf was an Italian that I baked the same night. The second loaf was the same Italian recipe, but with a biga/starter/sponge, and I baked it the next day. Even better results! The third loaf was a whole wheat loaf. Not as good rise - but still okay tasting! All with King Arthur flour and Kosher salt (and a little honey).

Thank you so much for your website!!!

pmccool's picture

It started simply enough.  I needed to make bread this weekend for sandwiches this week.  Since I hadn't gotten my starter out of the refrigerator and activated soon enough, it had to be a yeasted dough.  And there are so many formulas to try in BBA . . .

After taking stock of time requirements and ingredient availability, the winner was Reinhart's Multigrain Extraordinaire Bread, a successor to his Struan bread.  With a few modifications, as it turned out.  Cornmeal was on hand, although not the coarse polenta grind.  No wheat bran, but I figured that substituting 1 cup of whole wheat flour for the white flour ought to get me fairly close.  No brown rice, either.  However, there was some whole flax seed available, so why not crush some of that and put it in the soaker?  Perhaps most unusual, I actually had buttermilk in the refrigerator.  That doesn't happen often.

So, the soaker was constructed with crushed flaxseed in place of the missing wheat bran.  Note to self: next time try using the blender to chop or grind the flaxseed.  It has to be easier than using the mortar and pestle.  (I don't have a grain mill on hand.)  The following day I put together the rest of the dough pretty much per instructions, other than substituting in whole wheat flour for one of the 3 cups of bread flour and omitting the brown rice.  The dough was stickier than I anticipated and absorbed nearly a cup of flour during the recommended 12-minute kneading.  Toward the end of the kneading, the gluten was becoming very well developed.  Has anyone tried using an autolyse with this recipe?  It seems that it might cut down on the time required to knead the dough.

The dough was nearly doubled in about 60-70 minutes of bulk ferment and then shaped into loaves and put into pans for the second ferment. The baking instructions had about the widest latitude that I have seen for recommended baking time: 40 to 60 minutes for loaves in pans.  When checked at 45 minutes, the internal temperature was about 175F, so back into the oven for another 10 minutes.  At the second check, the internal temperature was between 185F and 190F.  They also had a nice hollow sound when thumped that was missing at the first check. 

Observations: 1) This bread is fairly forgiving of modifications.  Replacing 1/3 of the bread flour with whole wheat flour doesn't appear to have had an ill effects on texture or flavor; I should probably admit to enjoying whole-grain breads to all-white varieties.  2) The addition of the flaxseed lends a nice crunch in the finished bread.  3) This bread is sweet!  That isn't a complaint, although probably the brown sugar or the honey alone would be adequate for sweetening.  I think dropping the brown sugar entirely and adding a tablespoon of dark molasses in combination with the honey would make for an interesting flavor.  4) Even with all of that sugar and honey, the bread really didn't develop a dark crust.  Apparently the 350F temperature isn't high enough to drive a lot of caramelization on the crust.

All in all, a very pleasing outcome, especially in view of the liberties that I took with the ingredients.  And yes, today's sandwich at lunch time was delicious!

pmccool's picture

This weekend's baking exercise focused on sourdough Enlish muffins, using the recipe from King Arthurs Flour.  The taste is wonderful!  Even my 4-year old grandson polished his off and he is at a stage where he is developing some very strong opinions about what flavors are or aren't acceptable. 

The crumb was moist, tender and fine-textured.  I had hoped for a more open texture with large, open cells.  A couple of observations: First, with 1 cup of starter (mine is approximately 100% hydration) and 1.5 cups of milk providing the moisture for 5.5 cups of flour, this isn't exactly a slack dough.  Would a wetter dough be more likely to produce a more open crumb?  Second, would the use of water, or a water/milk combination, be more likely to produce a more open crumb?  (The milk I used was 1% milkfat.)  Third, this dough gets a lot of handling, especially since it is rolled out before the muffins are cut.  Would portioning out balls of dough and then gently flattening them into rounds by hand be better for open crumb formation?  Any ideas or suggestions will be cheerfully accepted.

The notion of leaving the sponge overnight, even in a cool basement, when it contains that much milk had me somewhat concerned.  Thankfully, it did not develop an off flavor or odor from any milk spoilage, as I had feared it might.  Could it be that the sourdough starter prevents other not-so-welcome bacteria from getting a toehold?

One adjustment that I will make for future batches is to lower the amount of salt.  The recipe called for a tablespoon of salt, which made the flavor rather more salty than I enjoy.  I think that I will try cutting it in half the next time and see how that works.

I will need to focus on balancing the temperature and time on the griddle in future batches.  While I managed to avoid burning them, the griddle was probably at too low a temperature for the first group; it took a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time for the first side to brown.  So I turned up the heat a little and was surprised at how quickly the second side baked.  Practice, practice, practice!

This recipe makes a large number of muffins.  In this case, 16 muffins that are approximately 4 inches in diameter.  We'll be freezing some of these for use later.  And when they are gone, I'll be making more.

Floydm's picture

I'm trying to make a few improvements here to make things easier for the non-techy user. You'll notice I've installed TinyMCE, a javascript-based editor. I think this will help most folks, but if you don't like it you can go into your account settings and turn it off.

I've noticed a few quirky things about it, like that you must have a chunk of text selected before the link button activates. It also is a little weird about deletes, at least in Camino.

Which reminds me: TinyMCE doesn't work in Safari, so Mac users will need to use something else. I recommend Camino. It is a lighter weight version of Firefox. I use Firefox all day when I need to get work done, but when I am browsing for pleasure I use Camino.

Please send any feedback you have about the recent changes I've made to me, either via the feedback link or by posting your thoughts on the site.

On the topic of bread, I baked Rustic Bread and a Whole Wheat Bread last weekend. I'm not sure how much baking I'll get in this weekend. Hopefully some.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

July 28, 2006 Found Buckwheat berries in the market.
They are hulled, meaning I can crush them between a finger and fingernail. This ought to be fun, one more whole grain without gluten to experiment with. The locals mix and cook them with rice to enrich it. I will first wash and soak them and add to my Poolish. They are shaped like little hearts with three sides reminding me of Austrian Löffel Kraut, a sort of nutty herb that grows everywhere there, picked for salads and high in vit C.
Having heard of Buckwheat flour for pancakes, I made a dough ball of fine buckwheat flour, water, salt, com. yeast and kneaded it. More like "play dough." It rose minutely for gas escaped in tiny little cracks all over the surface. I tweaked it and practiced my kaiser roll folds with it and left it in a little ball to rise. When I had had enough, I painted it with milk to seal the cracks and baked it. I managed to trap some bubbles and I like the taste but the dense grey puck cannot stand on its own. I cut it up and dried it.
My neighborhood dogs love me, by the way, they get all kinds of bread snacks. I'm not exaggerating when I say I've taught them all to sit. The ladies laugh as dogs of different sizes sit in a row like rice paddy ducks as soon as they see me coming. :) Mini Oven

pmccool's picture

My wife purchased a copy of BBA as a birthday present some weeks back and I finally got around to using a formula from the book; in this case, the New York Deli Rye sandwich loaf. It is a definite keeper. I have been admonished to put a big star next to that particular formula.

The bread is a wonderful base for a corned beef and swiss cheese sandwich, to start with. We'll keep experimenting and see what else works, too. The onions in the bread are a a delicious complement to other savory flavors, but somehow manage not to overwhelm the other components.

Since it was my first attempt for this formula, I made sure to follow the instructions closely. I opted out of the use of caraway seeds, since my wife does not enjoy that flavor. Next time I may try either dill or fennel seeds, since it seems either of those would make a good flavor complement.

The use of commercial yeast, brown sugar and buttermilk in the formula were a bit surprising. I think that the buttermilk (and the shortening) contributed to the finished bread's moistness. For the next attempt, I will probably skip the yeast. My starter seems to have plenty of boost, so the yeast really isn't necessary to ensure an adequate rise. I do need to follow some of JMonkey's recommendations for increasing the sourness of the starter. Mine is more mild than wild in the flavor department, even with having refrigerated the second build of the starter overnight. A longer, cooler rise with no commercial yeast would probably increase the sour flavor.

The other thing that I should have done was keep a closer eye on the dough during the final rise. When I came back in from some outdoor chores to check on it, it was almost 2 inches above the edge of the pan, instead of the recommended 1 inch! Warm day plus commercial yeast--who'd have thought it? Anyway, I got lucky in that there aren't tunnels and that the bread holds together instead of crumbling in the middle of the slice, like some other over-risen breads that I have made.

All things considered, this was a very satisfactory experiment with a new recipe. And it will definitely be back for an encore.


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