The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


idaveindy's picture

It was a cold blustery day, and I felt like some comfort food.  

Daniel Leader's book "Simply Great Breads" has a formula for yeast-raised fry bread.  

Years ago, I learned a simple way to make fry bread, without any leavening agent, just plain AP flour, salt, water, and powdered milk.  As the moisture steams/boils off, it sufficiently aerates the dough.  But I had forgotten the exact recipe.  Lightly dust with sugar while the oil is still wet on the fried bun.

"Fry bread" is not taking a piece of bread and frying it.  That would be toast. 

"Fry bread" is taking a piece of dough, usually in the form of a disc, and deep frying it, or pan-frying in a sufficient layer of oil/fat to approximate deep frying.

Using baking powder, yeast, or sourdough starter, makes an even fluffier piece of fry bread.

The trick is to not use too much leavening agent, and don't let it rise too long if using yeast/sourdough.  Too much will create a too big pocket of air.

I used mostly home-milled whole-grain flour.  It still worked well, as I let the dough sit a while to fully hydrate.

375 F seems to be a good temp.  I don't have a controlled temperature fryer.  I just used a wok and a thermometer. Setting 4 on the electric burner's control dial seems to maintain 375 F. But adding the room temp dough drops the oil's temp quickly, so I was almost constantly fiddling with the dial, usually starting by getting the oil up to 400/425 F right before putting the dough in the oil.

I made enough dough for four pieces, intending to eat two and save two for later.  I ended up eating all four.  Such is the danger of comfort food.

My hood fan over the stove merely filters the air, it does not vent to the outside.  So the oil frying smell lingered for a day or so.


I have one of those circular  "turbo convection ovens", which is the predecessor of the "air fryer."  It's a big glass bowl with the fan and heating element built into the lid.  I might try that to make fry bread.

dabrownman's picture

 Cold temperature means the LAB are producing acetic acid (tang) and warm means the LAB are producing Lactic acid; Bran acts like a buffer, besides providing all the great minerals and vitamins, in the dough. Bran allows the LAB to continue to produce acid at pH levels that would normally shut down the LAB from producing acid at all. 84 F is the best temp for yeast to reproduce and 92 F is the best temperature for LAB reproduction. At 93 F yeast are reproducing at a restricted rate like it was 44F. So, if you restrict yeast reproduction and promote LAB reproduction you are vastly increasing the LAB to yeast ratio in the starter and dough. More LAB and less yeast mean more acid production over a longer time and a more sour bread because proofing times are extended due to less yeast in the mix.  A great SD bread has both tang and sour! This basic science was the foundation of the No Muss No Fuss Whole Rye Starter and how  to make more sour bread.  You can manipulate the LAB to yeast ratio in starters and dough and you can control the tang and sour in your breads using temperature and science.

Happy Sourdough baking.

Short Crust Bottom and Puff Paste Top for the latest Apple Pie with ginger and snockered fruits with Vanilla Bean Ice Creame

TwoCats's picture

In trying to understand the mechanics of how to achieve certain types of crumbs, I pushed my bulk rise a bit in hopes of achieving the characteristic lacy crumb. I think I got it!

dabrownman's picture

getting home to Seattle from his one on one, exclusive, Holiday SD Bread Making Lesson in Arizona with Lucy!  He gets it now!

A Thing of Beauty it is!

Used 24 week retarded NMNF rye starter 10 g to make a 50 g WW, 100% hydration starter.  79% hydration overall with 26% whole wheat, the rest half bread flour and the other half AP.  I set of slap and folds to mix followed by 4 sets of stretch and and folds from the compass points on 30 minute interval.  3 hours final proof in a basket.   Baked at 475 F in a combo cooker preheated to 525 F with lid on and 10 min at 450 F lid off removed from bottom of combo cooker to oven rack 5 min after lid came off.  This sounds very familiar:-)  He has a proofer on his oven to keep everything at 80 F though!  He said it isn't as tasty as mine though but he knows why - no 1-2 day retard ff the levain and no overnight retard for the final proof but he didn't have the time since they were going skiing at Whistler's.  Still very nice!

Here is his apprentice. The Mabes,  not wanting to get out of bed.

agres's picture

I have been looking at bread and pastry recipes since the days when Louis Diat was still chef at the Ritz -  call it 60+ years. I see progressively more detailed and pedantic recipes.  I think some of that is an effort to sell the newest edition of the latest cookbook.

I seek the best bread for the least effort. I do not need the absolute consistency of a large bakery. I do not need the labor efficacy of a commercial bakery, and I do not have the equipment that is found in a bakery. I do not need a stream of novelties to prick the curiosity of a customer. Nevertheless, I do turnout very good breads and pastries, well suited to the menu of the day.

My rules are simple:

  1. Good ingredients. White flour goes stale in a few months. Whole grain flour goes stale/rancid very fast. Use good, fresh ingredients.
  2. Learn to use baker’s percentages so you can scale recipes up or down.  And, knowing the baker’s percentages for various kinds of dough and the appropriate techniques, means you do not need a recipe.
  3. Hydration is very important. Regardless of point 2. above flours/grain absorb and lose moisture, and advanced bakers will compensate for changes in the moisture of ingredients. In a commercial setting, the flour/grain is always fresh, and the moisture as it comes from the vender will be consistent. (And many professional bakers do not think about this issue, but the best bakers do quality control, and check the hydration of every batch of dough!) However, flour/grain that has been in storage in a home may have absorbed or lost moisture.  Spend some time baking with a good, experienced baker and learn what the various doughs should feel like.
  4. Time and temperature schedules are guidelines, but what really counts is the condition of the dough. Learn to check gluten development (window test) and stage of fermentation/ readiness for baking with your hands. When the dough is ready, guidelines do not matter, the dough is the boss.
  5. Have fun! (Where else do you get to “Punch the boss down”?) Treat each bake as a lesson.  Keep a journal – mine is mostly in the form of annotations in my various cookbooks and a binder of printouts, also annotated. (There was a time when it was 6,000-4” by 6” index cards.)
idaveindy's picture

Jan 2, 2020.

Close to #14.  625 g total flour,  87.8 % total hydration.  Mostly HWSW, a little Kamut, a little quinoa flour, a tablespoon of BRM GF flour. A little molasses in the soaker.  Used 1/4 vit C tablet, 125 mg ,  and 2 tsp vital wheat gluten in soaker too.  Added 2 tsp dried malt extract when added levain.   Got good oven spring.  Nice light springy crumb, but not too open.


Benito's picture

This was last night’s dinner.  I made my usual sourdough pizza dough following the recipe that the PieKing shared with us for the pizza CB.

This pizza had homemade fresh pizza sauce for which I used Peter Reinhart’s recipe from his book Artisan Breads Everyday.  In order to keep the crust crispy and avoid sogginess from the sauce, I first put a layer of prosciutto then the sauce.  This was followed by mozzarella cheese, onions, pineapple, roasted red peppers and once out of the oven a bit more prosciutto.  

This definitely made a tasty pizza so long as you like pineapple which we do.

agres's picture

For a very long time, I have been fascinated by “pain de campagne”. In the cookbooks, it is made with mostly white bread flour, to which some (20%) whole wheat flour is added. Sometimes it is made with yeast, and sometimes sourdough and sometimes something in between. I have tried a bunch of these recipes and variations on them.  Then, there are stories and rumors about great breads made of fresh ground high extraction flours (e.g., ).

The color and texture of “pain de campagne” and Poilâne style miches can be similar, but they really are not the same bread!  The Poilâne style dough is what I want for my pain de campagne. I make it in a bunch of different shapes.

I use a mix of 5% rye, 10% spelt, and 85% hard red winter wheat. I keep that on hand and grind the day I make the dough. Then I sift through a #40 screen which gives about an 80% extraction. (The bran goes in our porridge mix.)

I put the flour on the bench, make a well, put  a piece of starter the size of a walnut in the well, add water, mix the starter into the water, and gradually incorporate the rest of the flour as I add water and mix with my fingers. I pull all the dough together with the bench knife and knead. The moisture content of my grain varies, thus the amount of water to make a good dough varies, and it is easier to gauge the hydration of the dough, when I am mixing by hand.  As the last step in kneading, I add the salt.

It goes into a covered proofing tub, and it sits on the kitchen counter all night.  It is winter, and the house is cool. First thing in the morning, it gets shaped, and goes into a proofing basket.  Yesterday, total process from starting to grind the grain to bread on the cooling rack was ~20 hours. The kitchen was cool, mostly below 67F and closer to 60F at 5 a. m.  I used a heaping teaspoon of very active starter for ~500g of flour. I am not sure why my dough rises faster.

Jeff P's picture
Jeff P

Or something like that...

To be honest, I'm just starting out as a baker. I've made a few loaves of bread, some cookies, and some dinner rolls.

I originally tried out baking as a way to relax on my days off. Something about the mindfulness associated with the whole process - mixing, kneading, waiting, working, baking, enjoying - really appeals to me. I don't have a lot of time or money, and so my baking is done "by appointment". I block out time, find some recipes or plan my day in advance, and do most everything by hand. No mixers, no scales. 

Recently, though, I've started paying more attention to baking. My wife, the ever-supportive taster, has encouraged me to make baking a more regular thing, and even found some books to inspire me. At this point, once a week is about all I can manage, but I try to squeeze several recipes in at a time to get the most out of my day.

I'm most interested in mastering a unique, natural breads. I also really want to try my hand at pastry, though I'm not sure I have the temperament for it. Being from Vermont, I have ample access to the great King Arthur Flour and their many great products. There is also a thriving Locavore movement here, and a huge emphasis on natural and organic alternatives. These are all things I'm interested in!

Lastly, I want to be healthy. I've always been overweight, and have had trouble with highly processed foods and sugars. I feel that baking may be the key to a healthier lifestyle, one where I can appreciate and enjoy smaller portions of rich food. 

So, healthier lifestyle, lower stress, and a deeper understanding and appreciation for baking. These are what I'm going for!

TwoCats's picture
  • Prepped 130g of levain (100% hydration, 70F in the microwave with the light on). At the same time, autolysed roughly 650g of flour (255g Central Milling ABC+, 70g hard white, 70g semolina) with 520g room-temp water.

  • 5 hours later, added all the levain (rose about 2.3x) to the autolysed dough and mixed

  • 45 mins later, added 16g Maldon salt

  • 1 hour later, divided dough (at this point, 650g each)

  • 1.5 hour later, coil fold

  • 1 hour later, coil fold

  • 3 hours later (woops, went somewhere, forgot about the dough, and came back), coil fold

  • 30 min later, bench fold

  • 30 min later, shaped

  • In fridge (41F) for about 10 hours

  • Heated oven 500F, baked loaf at left at 450F for 20 min, took cover off, then baked another 20 min at 450F

  • Same thing for the loaf at right (only difference was that the loaf was in the fridge for about 45 mins longer, which shouldn't really make any difference)

I chalk it up to minor differences in the coil folds and shaping during the proof. I like the lift of the loaf at left, but love the openness of the loaf at right.

The post-score interior of the crumb at right:


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