The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


madisonbaker26's picture

After a long time being intrigued by artisan bread baking, I finally decided to give it a go.  I think I got it from my father, but I usually dive in head first and think "go big or go home."  

Last weekend, after experimenting a little bit with my sourdough starter I decided to pick up a copy of BBA and start baking...with the Poliane-style miche.  Other than not using the high-extraction flour (did a 50/50 bread + whole wheat mix) I made no modifications and I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out.  Of course, you guys are the experts, so please let a newbie know what you think!  Personally, one of the best tasting breads I've had in a while.  3 days after baking and I'm amazed at how the flavor has changed and gotten even more complex! 

Here's a shot of the miche right after shaping it into a boule:

The scoring (just a bought a lame, so hopefully it will improve quite a bit)

Right out of the oven...I think maybe it should be a little darker? The lighting is a little off..probably something to do with my iPhone:

A close-up of the crust and crumb:

Miche cross-section:

I've really only been baking on the weekends, but hopefully I can find a way to work in some bread baking around my weird work schedule during the week so I can post more often.


leostrog's picture

I purchased excessive quantity of malted coarsely-chopped wheat grains in brewery supplier’s shop.

After milling this grain in flour it was not clear how one can use these quantities (1 kg) since we add only 1% of diastatic malt to dough.

After searching and thinking I created a recipe by myself, receiving golden, crispy and very healthy crackers. It’s wonderful to eat with home-made cheese, cream cheese, salty dip or jam.




This quantity is enough for 9 big crackers.

 100g malted flour

100 g bread flour

1 tsp of guar gum (you can find it on a shelf with non-gluten baking products)

1/8 tsp of salt

1 Tbsp of DME

30g of soft butter (optionally)

½ tsp of baking powder

¼ tsp of fresh granulated yeast

100 ml of buttermilk /yoghurt (I used very thick home-made buttermilk), non-sweetened

1 egg (room temp.)

Heat the oven to 200-210 C.

Mix all the "dry" components. Beat butter and egg in a bowl for a short time.

Arrange together - dry mix, egg-butter mix and the buttermilk to sticky dough.

With wet hands make small circles, pierced with a fork and put them on a baking sheet at a small distance from each other – about 3-4 cm.

Crackers should be ready after 15 min.

SourdoughRules's picture

What to do with your starter excess?  I always feel bad just pouring it down the drain.  However sometimes I have to pour out the full cup of each starter to make room for the cup of new feeding that has to get added in.  Even when I do use the pour off for sourdough pancakes, there is often a good 0.5-1 cup of excess re-fed starter in the proofing bowls.  In either case, I hate to pour good starter down the drain.  If I follow the recipes in books like Tartine they really are only using a very small fraction of the total starter, albeit for great recipes.  I wanted to see if I could use the starter as the basis for a bread by having it substitute for comparable quantities of water and flour.    My first try at this was two weeks ago.  I didn't use any olive oil or leavening.  I had chance to have long rise times.  This time around I had some new garlic infused oil I wanted to try using but didn't have enough time to allow the sourdough to definitely rise in time so added 0.25 tsp of yeast.  I'll try to post pictures later, but the results were great!


    •    However much 100% (by volume) starter you have left over.
    •    Additional water to get to 1 cup total water
    •    0.5 cup wheat flour
    •    Additional white flour to get to 3 cups of flour
    •    1.5 tsp kosher salt
    •    1.5 tsp sugar
    •    2 TB olive oil
    •    up to 0.25 tsp instant yeast

    1.    Night before, your excess starter from feeding cycle into measuring cup to determine total amount of existing water and flour.  Based on 100% hydration, if you have 1 cup of starter you'd have half a cup of water and half a cup of flour.  Preferably have 1 cup of starter or more for this step.
    2.    Add the half cup of whole wheat flour and let soak over night.
    3.    In the morning before making bread, mix in olive oil, sugar, yeast (if used) and additional water.  Mix thoroughly by gently  stirring/folding.
    4.    Put additional white flour into a bowl leaving about 1 cup or so on the side for kneading.
    5.    Pour starter mixture over the flour and incorporate completely
    6.    Leave rest in the bowl, covered, for 30 minutes
    7.    Work additional flour in and knead in bowl until ready to be turned out onto floured surface
    8.    Knead dough incorporating enough flour to achieve nice smooth consistency.  Knead for 10-15 minutes.
    9.    Spray metal bowl with PAM and place dough in bowl covered.
    10.    Let rise until doubled in size.  Will be about 2-3 hours with yeast and longer than that without.
    11.    When double in size turn out onto floured surface and cut into number of loaves you want (probably 1-3).  
    12.    Work dough into balls and let rest for 30 minutes.
    13.    Form dough into final loaf shape and place on parchment paper. Cover, either with a bowl or other covering or a damp towel.
    14.    When doubled in size preheat oven to 500 degrees with stone and tray for steaming.
    15.    At this time uncover the loaves, coat with flour and slash.  If oven will be longer than 15 minutes to come to temperature re-cover the loaves.
    16.    When oven is up to temperature boil 2 cups of water in the microwave.  
    17.    Place loaves on stone by working the parchment paper.
    18.    Put 1 cup of the boiling water into the pan
    19.    Close oven and set thermostat for 450 degrees
    20.    Bake for 30 minutes (or longer to get more crust).
    21.    Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

SourdoughRules's picture

I've read this website and blog for years.  Over those years I've tried lots of different breads from lots of books.  I haven't made a truly serious study of it.  I'm not baking multiple loaves a week, nor am I going through formal training to become a baker.  However I do have lots of books and recipes that I've tried repeatedly.  The first bread I ever made was a focaccia bread from a recipe I found in a USENET posting way back in the early days of the internet.  It was all I could find at the time.  Throughout college I used that plus the recipe for french baguette from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."  In recent years I've added lots of bread books to my collection, and lots of trial and error.  I have the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and the follow-on book.  I have a book on ancient bread making.  I have the Tartin bread book.  I'm at the stage where I want to start trying to do things more seriously.  However I'm also at the stage where I can sort of wing it and have pretty good results.

Throughout the years I always had a facination for sourdough breads.  When I moved to my current location I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who has been feeding the same starter for over 35 years.  He gave me a sample of it and it is the basis for all of the sourdough cooking that I do.  It is a very vigorous starter that I keep in the fridge and feed 1 cup of water and 1 cup of unbleached King Arthur All Purpose flour every 1-2 weeks.  It has served me well and I look forward to continuing with it.

Like many others I will be posting recipes and pictures of the results of those recipes.  Some will be from the standard sources.  Others, like my first entry, will be the results of my experimentation.  I don't always follow the rules as much as I should, but as long as the results are good (or at least good enough) then I guess I shouldn't complain.  It is just a bit intimidating to make posts of such amateur results when there are so many amazing posts of delicious and beautiful breads by other members.  We all start somewhere I suppose, and this is where I'm starting the sharing of my bread adventures online.



pmccool's picture

After about 22-23 hours in transit from Johannesburg, which includes a 4-hour layover in Atlanta, I arrived in Kansas City just after noon on Friday.  It's a wonderful thing.  And kinda weird at the same time.

No baking this weekend.  That will probably wait until next weekend.  Meanwhile, I've been keeping busy with things like buying a pickup, getting a new cell phone, catching up with friends and neighbors, revisiting some favorite restaurants, yard work, sleeping, etc.

I'll post about the starter rehydration once I get that kicked off.  I'll probably do more lurking than anything else for the next few days.  There's a lot of catching up to do around the homestead.


JoeVa's picture

Dal titolo - 470°C la temperatura del forno il fase di riscaldamento.

From the title - 470°C (880°F) the oven preheating temperature.

Lavoro ancora sugli impasti, anzi l'Impasto, quello Napoletano, sofficissimo e leggero. Apparentemente semplice ma in pratica molto difficile.

Still working on the dough, I mean the Dough, Napoleta, soft and light. Apparently simple but in practice very difficult. An explanation to understand: this pizza dough, once baked (very fast, 60 seconds) is soft (not crackly) and should melt easily in your mouth, very light toping, each ball is about 240-250g each and the final pizza size 28-30 cm, so it's thin and when cutted the slice doesn't hold its own weight and you have to "fold" it.

Qui qualche pizza infornata domenica a mezzodì. Ho usato due impasti:

  1. Tecnica del freddo, +60h a 4°C, farina medio/forte - Mulino Marino - Tipo 00 Soffiata - ~W300
  2. Lavorazione napoletana (almeno ci provo), 14h a 20°C - puntata 9h - appretto 5h, farina media - Molino Vigevano - Tipo 0 Costiera Oro - ~W260

Here some pizza baked this sunday at midday:

  1. Cold proof technique, +60h at 4°C, medium/strong flour - Mulino Marino - Type 00 Soffiata - ~W300
  2. Neapolitan dough (... just trying to), 14h at 20°C - 9h bulk - 5h poof, medium flour - Molino Vigevano - Type 0 Costiera Oro - ~W260

Ecco qualche foto delle pizze che ho sfornato con questi impasti. Nell'ordine: fiamma giusta, troppa fiamma, poca fiamma.

Here some photos of the pizza baked with these dough. Flame OK, too much flame, weak flame.


Troppa - Too much

Poca - Weak

Poi c'è quella per la sorella, metà margherita, metà marinara e quella con la rucola.

Then one for the sister, half margherita, half marinara and the last with rocket.

Ed il pergolato appena finito ... che fatica e manca ancora il supporto per il forno e la canna fumaria!

And the pergola to cover the oven, just finished ... what a effort, and I still have to place the oven support and the flue!

rpinet's picture

Here is my contribution to World Bread Day 2001: Swedish limpa rye bread from Peter Reinhart's "Whole grain breads..."

ehanner's picture

I have been working on learning to mix, shape, ferment properly, boil and bake Bagels. Everyone in our household and all of my friends and neighbors likes these delicious breads and are happy I have taken up with this obsession.I have migrated to using Hamelman's formula for home bakers which makes 12-120 gram bagels. It's a very simple ingredient list, adding only malt powder to the basic 4. When I am making a batch destined for my In-Laws, I swap whole milk for 20% of the water to make the crumb softer. There are lots of bagel recipes out there. I say, find your favorite multi grain recipe and mix it to 58-60 % hydration. I frequently make a 20% rye or WW mix which we love. That's what is shown below.

There are a lot of small nuggets of information in the text below. I have discovered there are many variables and "must do" bits of advice out there on this subject. I want to finally get to the bottom of this and find out what matters and what doesn't

My personal goal is to find an easy way to make delicious Bagels quickly in the morning. No complicated thinking at 5:30 AM please. It's a two day process, and the putsey stage is the evening before, mixing, kneading and shaping. The next morning, I get up, turn on the oven to 500F, turn on the stove to boil the water I drew the evening before. It takes 45 minutes to bring my stone up to 430F. So at 45 minutes I boil the first set of 3 bagels and prepare them for baking. I leave the sheet pans in the refrigerator until just before I'm ready to boil the dough in the water. No bench time to warm the dough. They usually float right off and I'm only using 1/2 teaspoon of IDY instead of the 3/4 tsp Hamelman calls for.

My first major discovery was that I could make at least as good of a dough by hand as I could by machine. It is far easier to work the flour and water together by hand than it is to try to use my DLX mixer fitted with the dough hook. The DLX isn't taxed by the job but at 58% hydration, the dough just doesn't wan t to be moved, once the gluten starts to form and become strong. I can stand there pushing and prying the strong dough into position so it will travel around the bowl and be forced between the bowl and hook. Honestly it's much easier to just combine the ingredients by hand in the bowl. A series of 3 stretch and folds at 20 minute intervals will produce a beautiful smooth dough and well developed gluten.

The next thing I wanted to understand is the whole shaping thing and if the requirement to refrigerate overnight is warranted. I am convinced that the slow extended fermenting in the refrigerator is a beneficial step in developing a better flavor. AND, if you shape your bagels right after mixing/fermenting briefly, they stick together and don't come unglued in the boiling water. As a sub set of shaping I get best results when using the dog bone shape and then grinding the ends together as shown in Ciril Hitz video on bagels The pre-shaping method Hitz demonstrates is beautiful. I had to watch it several times to fully appreciate the subtle aspects of his technique. He uses the Dog Bone roll out which I have found works perfectly if I remember to remove one finger and "grind" out the joint using 3 fingers. If you are at all perplexed about making bagels, do your self a favor and watch the Hirtz video.

The next decision is weather or not to use ice water after the boil as Hamelman suggests or to place the boiled circles on a rack to cool and dry briefly before seeding. Hamelman says to boil 1 minute each side, Hitz says 10 seconds. I like my results using a 1 minute per side. As for the ice water bath or not, I think Hitz method of a shorter boiling time followed by cooling/drying on a rack works fine and simplifies the production line on the stove top. I don't see any benefit of adding an ice water bath. It's just one more thing to mess with, adding ice after each batch.

I wanted to be a purist and use bagel boards. If I was using a rotating oven in a production setting, bagel boards would be the answer to drying out the bottoms and getting a well done product. After baking maybe 15 batches of bagels during the last few Months, most using my home made red wood boards. I can see a minor difference on the bottom but certainly nothing that would indicate the need to flip the bagels over after a few minutes. This process is risky for me and I frequently end up having one or more not turned  over properly and need to go in the back of the oven with tongs to fix my errors. It is way easier to seed the dough after the rack and place them on the parchment they proofed on in the cooler. The sheet pan slides in on top of the stone nicely. Yes, I have been steaming when I bake on a sheet pan. The wet webbing on the  boards negates the need for additional steam.

One other small thing I have found I can eliminate that makes the process a little cleaner is to skip the corn meal. I noticed Hitz places his seeded bagels on clean parchment where most other authors say to sprinkle cornmeal on the proofing sheet. I have been spraying a light coat of Pam on the parchment to make it easier to remove the cold dough from the paper, with out disfiguring the shape on the way to the hot water. The boiling water stays cleaner and there is no down side after baking. So again I find the Hitz method to be preferable.

The last big question is what to put in the water, if anything. I have tried a heaping Tablespoon of Baking Soda, Barley Malt Syrup, Honey, Molasses and Sorghum Syrup. Oh and also plain old water too. Hamelman says use enough Malted Barley to make a dark tea. That's about 2 tablespoons. Hitz says something similar or to use honey for a slightly sweet flavor on the crust.  Honestly, I can't taste any difference but it does smell nice when the barley is steaming in the pot. All of the add in ingredients smell great in the pot but not much of that good aroma is transferred to the bread product. So, if you feel like you have a pallet that is sophisticated enough to notice, go for it. But if you thought you had to wait for another day because you didn't have Malted Barley, don't bother waiting. The crusts MIGHT be a wee bit softer, less crispy if you use a syrup. Take a good hard look at the photo below of two bagels side by side. One was boiled in clean water, one was boiled in water with a large scoop of Baking Soda. Both have a soft sheen and are very close to the same color. Both boiled for 2 minutes total,  17 minutes @500F with steam for 4 minutes on a sheet pan.

I hope this lengthy write up is of interest to those of you who have hesitated in making Bagels. I know they seemed complicated from start to finish at first. I was sure if I did a few batches I could make uncomplicated the process and gather the proper equipment to be able to easily make authentic NY style water bagels.


Column 1 and 4 are boiled in water only. 2 and 3 had Baking Soda added.

Can you tell which bagel was boiled in water only and which had baking soda mixed in? I had expected the one with baking soda to be darker. If there is a color difference, I'd say the one on the left is slightly darker. That's the water only version.

The crumb structure is still more open than I would like. I have reduced the amount of yeast and I am lowering the DDT temp to try and control the activity. But, it looks pretty good now and has a nice chew. This is 80% All Trumps High Gluten flour and 20% fresh ground WW from Country Creations (Flourgirl51).

Baked on parchment on a sheet pan. Certainly not burned and just a nice crisp crust on the bottom.




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