The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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vircabutar's picture

After years of gawking at some croissant-centric blogs (*ahem* txfarmer's and weekendbakery), I decided to conquer, once and for all, my biggest fear in all of baking. I've been using weekend bakery's recipe, and for the most part, it has been great. 1st attempt was a success, 2nd was a disaster, and 3rd was pretty good again. My biggest problem, however, is trying to get consistent and even honeycomb structure with each croissant. Seems like I would only get 2-3 perfect croissant per batch. Any tips/pointers would be greatly appreciated!



golgi70's picture

Well I have milled some fresh Kamut for my 100% Kamut loaf and have given a it a couple goes so far.  The first resulted in a very flat pancake but round 2 went better.  Probably take a couple more goes before I'm ready for the test of repeated success but If my next attempts improve like take 1 to take 2 I'm well on my way.  It's a tricky flour with lots of extensability and fragile gluten.  For this project I've added a third to the family.  Now I have a 100% Kamut levain that is happy and healthy and keeping the rye company (both maintained in smaller quantities than the wheat starter)  together they fear not the mother dough.  

Well with all this discard of kamut starter (2 feedings a day) why not make a Pane Maggiore but replace the wheat with Kamut?  And so I did and with splendid results.  I actually used 1/2 Stiff Kamut Levain (65%hyd) and (1/2 rye sour 100% hyd) to  raise this bread.  I opted to skip the overnight retard of the loaves and proof at room temp while I was at it (mostly cause i wanted some fresh bread).  Crust a bit softer as it didn't get the cold to help but the flavor was lovely and sweeter than the previous takes.  And the Kamut helped open the crumb maybe more than any of previous attempts.  I will make this variation again if Kamut remains in my life.  

finally I made some Spelt Croissant Dough and made some croissants and bear claws.  The bear claws I totally should have got a picture of the inside but they were eaten to fast.  Inside was a piping of almond cream, raspberry jam, and a strip of chocolate cake to sop it all up while baking.  They were out of this world.  And these are some of the tastiest croissants I've eaten/made to date.  The honey and spelt really just made for tons of flavor to go with the butter.  

On that note some photos   Header photo is some Spelt Croissants, 20% Kamut Sour, Asian Chicken Salad, and a                                                   good beer.  

Pane Maggiore with Kamut

These are round 2 of my 100% Kamut.  Needed a longer proof and maybe a few other tweaks.  Gettin there.  

This is a 20% Kamut Basic Sour loaf.  Extra levain is hard to toss sometimes.  

Finally some bad pics of the Spelt Croissant/BearClaws.  

Happy Baking 



Maine18's picture

So I figured after 6+ years of dedicated TFL reading & researching, I'd finally start providing a bit of content to the discussion.  Below is a grab bag of recent bread experiments to get caught up, with precious little commentary, for which I apologize in advance.  Happy to answer any questions, of course, and in the future, I'll try to post one or two such experiments at a time, with a bit of explanation of what I was attempting.

Cheers, Drew 


Pain au levain (FWSY recipe)


Tartine Country Loaf Experiments


Levain Pizza on a Baking Steel (FWSY recipe); Pizza Bianco (Lahey)


TXFarmer's 36(ish) Hour Baguettes, and 3-hour Van Over Baguettes,


Sandwich breads (sourdough, pretzel, Anadama from BBA, and Oatmeal Honey from Macrina Bakery recipe,)


Grilled flatbreads, Soft Pretzels, Overnight Waffles, Lion House Rolls, Madeleines, and some Maine Jam


CAphyl's picture

I am always trying to get bigger holes, so I experimented with a bit more hydration.  The stakes were high as my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are visiting from England, and Bob was a baker for more than 30 years!

They seemed to enjoy it.  We had lunch outside on the patio.  The crumb was good, but I am always looking to improve.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

This weekend's bake started Friday evening -- I removed my starter (housed in a 1/2 pint mason jar) from the fridge and added a tablespoon (yes, I use a tablespoon and it generally weighs from 18-22 grams) of starter and added it to 200 grams of cool water. I added 100 grams of KA organic all purpose flour and 100 grams of flour that I blended from hard winter red wheat berries the previous week and let the mixture sit overnight.

In the morning my leaven was ready to go, so on Saturday I mixed the leaven and water with 2000 grams of flour (a mixture of flours on hand), let it autolyze for a couple of hours and then added the salt.  I do this in two batches, each batch making 2 loaves.

After stretching and folding for at intervals of 30 minutes for the first two hours, I let did another 3 folds over three hours, divided the dough and shaped.  I pinched off a bit to make two pizza doughs so that one of my three loaves are smaller than the other.

I placed the shaped boules into the fridge Saturday afternoon, baked one loaf Sunday morning and two on Sunday evening. 

I used my chef's knife to score the loaves.  It finally didn't stick.

I also experimented and flipped the towel-lined bowl out onto my super peal and transferred it to the cold dutch oven from the peel.  Then baked as per Tartine Bread.

Sadly, I have no idea which bread was baked in the morning and which bread was baked in the afternoon.  I think the smaller one was done in the morning and I gave that away to my neighbor. I am eating one of the larger ones now and it is not sour tasting.  It is also a bit chewier than usual.  Very moist, but still a bit chewier than usual.  I like it. Made a great peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Waiting to hear back from our neighbor to see if they liked it. Hope it was delicious.

Rmm7s's picture

I am new to using sourdough. In Peter Reinhart's book on multigrain breads there appears to two different amounts of mother starter referenced and never explained.  I some recipes he take a small amount (2.5 oz) and adds it to the other ingredients in the biga.   Other times he just says to substitute an equal amount go starter for the biga.  I think I must be missing something or maybe I makes no difference.  Would appreciate any insights.

isand66's picture

   I've added cocoa to bread before and it gives the final product a nice dark complexion with a subtle chocolate flavor that resides in the background.  I also added some chocolate infused olive oil and chocolate flavored balsamic vinegar to make it interesting.

I used a mix of freshly milled flour along with some French Style flour from KAF and added some left-over mashed potatoes to round out the formula.

The final dough had a deep dark crust and interior with a soft open crumb.  You can taste the chocolate undertones from the different chocolate flavored ingredients and the multi-grain mix makes this a healthy and tasty bread.

I used my BreadStorm program on my IPAD again to produce the formula below.  I broke out the seed starter flour and water separately as you can hopefully see below.  I'm really starting to get the hang of this program and once you figure it out it's a pleasure to work with and pretty simple.



Black Cocoa Multi-Grain (weights)

Black Cocoa Multi-Grain (%)


Levain Directions

Mix all the Levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, black cocoa and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), potatoes, oil and balsamic vinegar and mix on low for 6 minutes and then remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.  I made 1 large boule shape.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.


Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.


After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.



Xenophon's picture

I'm living in India, hail from Belgium and my paternal grandmother was German.  This (especially the latter part) might explain my love for Laugenbrezel (pretzels made with lye).  Whenever I'm in Germany I just HAVE to sample at least one. I've always wanted to try and produce these and a recently recurring bout of insomnia provided me with the time to do some nighttime baking.

But first a confession that explains the 'coward' bit in the title:  I didn't use the traditional 3-4% sodium hydroxide solution to boil the pretzel dough in.  I know it's the way it's supposed to be done, I was trained (previous lifetime) to handle hazardous chemicals but I've also seen what hot lye can do to human tissue when (not if) things go wrong and for me it's not worth taking the risk.  So I opted instead for a 5% baking soda solution.

The recipe I followed is a slightly modified version of the one described by Jeffrey Hamelman in 'Bread', check pages 269-272 for detailed instructions.  I diverged somewhat from his recipe so I guess it's ok to describe how I went about making them.



- 25 gr. of white sourdough starter at 100% hydration

- 175 gr. of white bread flour

- 110 gr. water, room temperature

I mixed up the above and let stand in my kitchen, which was 18 centigrade.  Presumably the sourdough wild yeast and bacteria had to adapt to the relatively dry environment because it took a full 24 hours to reach maturity.

Final dough:

- All of the preferment

- 400 gr. White bread flour

- 20 gr. butter, softened

- 8 gr. salt

- 2 gr. bread machine yeast

- 15 gr. of demerara sugar

- 225 gr. water, room temperature


(As mentioned, developing the preferment took a VERY long time.  In the book ordinary yeast is used and hydration is somewhat different + fermentation temperature a bit higher, leading to a drastically reduced fermentation time.)

- Place flour in a bowl, add the preferment, butter, bread machine yeast, salt and water.

- Mix at slow speed until a rough dough is formed.  Autolyse for 30 minutes.

- Mix at speed 2 for 3 minutes, followed by 5 minutes at speed 3, dough temp should be between 21 and 24 centigrade.  I ended up with a very supple but relatively slack dough, despite an overall hydration of just 58-60%, possibly due to the fat and sugar present.  It's sticky, this is normal.

- Bulk fermentation in a lidded bowl at 25 centigrade for 2 hours, one fold on a floured surface after 1.5 hours.

- Meanwhile, put on a big pot of water to which you add 5% baking soda.  Caution:  add baking soda when starting, if you wait until boiling it'll foam up.

- After bulk fermentation, place the dough on a floured silpad and give one more fold, flatten a bit and divide.  I aimed for 70 gr. chunks but was not overly precise.  This turned out not to matter a lot.  Shape these into rolls (mini boules let's say) and place them on a floured surface.

- Proof for 40 minutes, if your dough was at 25 centigrade, ambient temperature doesn't really matter.  Do not cover the proofing dough, for once you actually want the surface to dry out a bit.

- Take a slotted spoon and (one by one unless you have a pot far bigger than what I had), using a slotted spoon, immerse the rolls into the boiling solution.  They will immediately release from the spoon and float to the surface while the dough expands a bit and at the same time darkens a little and develops a leathery skin.  Push them under gently and keep them in the solution for about 5 seconds.  Remove, allow most of the water to drip off and place on a floured silpad which you've arranged on a baking tray.  Don't worry, they won't fall apart.  Oh, yeah, by this time, your oven should be at 220-230 centigrade, else you might have a problem.

- Then, quickly score the rolls.  I forgot this step.

- Insert into oven, keep temperature at 220-230 centigrade and switch to convection mode, you want good air flow and high temperature.

- After 2 minutes, briefly open the oven door to let the hot steam escape (no steaming required, btw).

- Total baking time was 13 minutes, remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.


Surprisingly, there was quite bit of oven spring in the dough, I hadn't expected this.  The tops were nicely browned due to the bicarbonate solution dip, initially they felt quite crusty (not a good thing in pretzels) but they quickly softened up and obtained the typical pretzel texture, between soft and hard with a leathery bite feel (apologies for the description but this is the best I can do).  The crumb was nice and chewy, taste more developed due to the preferment and very close to the original as far as taste goes.  The crumb was a bit more open than what you might expect from a German pretzel but still close enough, dense and chewy.  Texture wise I'd guess I got to about 85-90% of the original.  Most importantly:  when tasting and despite the use of soda instead of lye solution, you still got this 'tingling/astringent' feeling on the tongue that's typical for a pretzel.

In summary I was happy with the result, despite having forgotten about the scoring.  I believe using soda is a viable alternative to using lye solution.  Should you wish to use lye, be sure to know EXACTLY what the risks and way of handling are and whatever you do, safely discard the used solution.  Don't bottle it up for subsequent use and keep the lye crystals away from kids/pets.  A moment of inattention can carry a lifetime of consequences.


Apologies for the picture quality; as always it was snapped with my phone under less than ideal conditions.

Floydm's picture

Hi all.

It has been some time since I baked or posted. In late January I started a new job. It is wonderful, but it has seriously cut into my baking time. I do log into the site very day, trim spam, help people with their accounts, and so on.

Seen here is cinnamon raisin oatmeal bread and a couple of sourdough loaves I baked on Sunday.  Neither came out perfect, but I can't complain considering how long it has been.  

I hope you all are having a wonderful winter.

Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I just got Tartine Book 3 in the mail. Beautiful, isn't it? I hope I can find some time to dive into it soon. 


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