The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


codruta's picture

Hello everybody! There are a lot of wonderful breads here lately. I was gone in vacation, and since I got back I keep reading every post that I missed. I feel so inspired everytime I open this site and I read your stories. My "breads-I-must-try" list is already too long and it keeps getting longer. If some of you want to know how my breads looked like two years ago, when I was a beginner and I did not know anything about bread and about this site, take a look at the picture from my latest post on Apa.Faina.Sare. (pictures at the end of the post). I learned a lot in the last two years, thanks to this site and its members.

Thank you.

The last bake, before I went in vacation, was a bread from Martin's blog. Martin names this bread STUREBY DELUXE. A friend of mine had trouble with the recipe and I wanted to help him, so I baked the bread to see how will turn out. I did not have white spelt flour, so I replaced it with white flour (type "0" italian bio flour- very good), and a bit of whole wheat flour. Martin keeps a stiff levain at 70% hydration. I transformed my starter in a stiff one, for this bread. I mixed by hand and I followed his instructions, (only I added more water and I retarded the dough just 8 hours, not 10-14 hours as he recommends). This bread is very very good. The crumb is moist, chewy, full of flavour. I took 3 breads with us in our holiday and they kept very well for a week. Here are some pictures:

You can see my romanian post about this bread here: paine-alba-dupa-reteta-stureby-deluxe

I ordered some bannetons from Germany and I'm impatient to get them. It's a matter of days. Till I'll get my bannetons, I decided I'll only bake baguettes, and after that I'll throw away all the improvised baskets and linens. First breads on my list for the new bannetons will be the kamut bread that andy posted a while ago, and Faux Faux Poilane from varda's blog.

It's good to be back! Happy baking, everyone!



rayc's picture

I haven’t posted in over a year.  To busy baking and doing the necessary every day life things until May and  my arm had a bit of an old man’s problem requiring surgery in August (broken bone spur with complications).  All is better now and really I needed to bake some sourdough bread.  I used Susan’s Simple Sourdough  Formula, here I have baked this bread before, but today I had to make a couple of changes.


Because I didn’t have High Gluten Bread Flour, I used Regular Bread flour. No white whole wheat so I used regular Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat other than having add some AP it was business as usual.


Final Formula: 


100g    Starter 67%

408 g   Water

550 g    Bread Flour

50 g      Whole Wheat

63 g       AP Flour


Susan’s formula didn’t use AP but my dough was too wet and wouldn’t come together and I had put the bread flour away.  So I added a little AP four (63g).  Kneaded to a good window pane in KA.  Wish I had an Electrolux or 10 qt globe. Bulk fermented for about 4 hours as the winter weather is here.  Punched down and put it on my enclosed back porch (about 52 degrees F) over night.


 Formed into Boule this morning.   Put back on the porch.  Had to go to town. Got home about 3 this afternoon.  It probably spent 18 hours on the porch. Brought in and let it warm for about an hour and half. Slashed the top. Baked covered with an aluminum pan. Sprayed the inside of the pan with water and a couple of squirts on the bread. Oven and stone heated to 450 degrees F.  Turned down to 425 after fifteen minutes.  Removed the pan and baked another half hour.   Inside temp 195 degrees.


I cut it this evening after it cooled.  My wife smelled warm bread when it came out and wanted to cut it but I waited until about 8:30 PST.  Crust is chewy  and the crumb is soft but chewy.  The long ferment gave this bread a great sour taste that I have striving for. 

Some shots of the crust, Just out of the oven. Looking Good.

Crumb Shot

All in all it was a great bake after a long summer lay off.  Next is 100% sourdough whole wheat.  The whole wheat starter is on the second build.  Hard to deal with store bought whole wheat.  Too dry, too soft, and no flavor.  Just my humble opinion. 

Could never have done without the info that this site has provided.  This is an awesome site by some very talented people.  Thanks for the help.



Franko's picture

We don't see a lot of posts on sandwiches on this forum, which I'm sure is what most of use our daily bread for. I thought it'd be fun to do something a little different by including a procedure on the meat that went into this particular favourite sandwich of mine.

Yesterday morning I mixed ciabatta dough for ciabatta buns or ciabattini in order to make one of my all time favourite sandwiches, the porchetta sandwich. Ciabatta is a bread I seldom make for sandwiches but when I've have the time to make porchetta I can't think of another bread I'd rather put it on. Hamelman's Ciabatta with Biga was the formula used, scaling it out to make about a kilo of dough to work with. It's the first time I've used this formula for Ciabatta but certainly not the last as it makes a very nice dough that's relatively easy to handle, and has an excellent aroma and flavour once baked. The ciabattini were scaled at 105 grams per, the remainder of the dough was used for a smallish loaf that I'll use for a sub sandwich.

The crumb is soft and moist, with no large holes, perfect for soaking up the flavours of the lightly smoked porchetta and any other condiments I might add, which is usually a peperoncini or two, some thin slices of provolone and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Although this version of porchetta is not close to an authentic one where the pork shoulder is stuffed with a sausage type filling from other parts of the animal along with various other ingredients, it is quick and easy to prepare and has plenty of flavour.

The recipe I used as a reference point is Mario Battali's which can be found here , but I just made a blend of olive oil and the herbs and spices he suggests (and some he doesn't) in a food processor, rather than make the sausage type filling this time. The herb and oil paste is then spread over the pork that's been cut in such a way that it can laid flat and then be rolled up and tied.

Once rolled and tied it was rubbed with sea salt and a generous amount of black pepper, placed in a zip-lock bag and liberally doused with white wine. It marinated in the fridge for four days, being turned once a day to ensure all of it was exposed to the wine over the course of marination. The day before cooking it was removed from the marinade and dried off, then wrapped in a double layer of cheese cloth and put back in the fridge to dry overnight. The next day the meat was cooked in a hot smoker for two hours at 220F using a very light smoke of oak wood. It's not essential that the meat be smoked. It can be made with just a conventional oven, but a bit of smoke adds a lot to the overall flavour.

Before going to the oven after initial 2 hour smoking

After that it went into the oven for 2 more hours at 250F or until the internal temperature read 170F. After 5-10 minutes out of the oven it was wrapped in saran and allowed to cool down slowly before being placed in the fridge overnight. The meat is savoury and succulent with a bit of crunch from the fat that has turned to cracklings over the long cooking time. Redolent of garlic, fennel seed and rosemary, with some heat from the black pepper and a few chili flakes that were included in the seasoning, it packs an incredible amount of flavour into the 2 or 3 slices I used to make the sandwich in the photos below.

The sandwich is best if the meat and bread are warmed first before it's eaten and I'll usually put the cheese on the meat while its warming to melt it slightly. While it's not a true porchetta or porchetta sandwich in the authentic sense , it does make a very satisfying lunchtime snack.

Happy eating,



loydb's picture

I finally got a new pasta maker to replace the one I destroyed via water and overestimating my ability to remember how to reassemble it. :) This time, I went with a motor! I stuck with an Atlas 150, which was a great machine for me until I went all Mr. Fixit on it.

Previously, I'd been using store-bought flour. Last night was my first try with it using flour I milled myself, though I hedged my bets on this one with around 33% King Arthur Bread Flour. I didn't find a lot on milling pasta flour using the search, so hopefully my experiments will aid searchers somewhere down the line.

Attempt #1
I didn't think to take pics of anything but the final product, I'll do better on the next run, promise. All grains are from Pleasant Hill.

I started out with 6 oz of durum wheat (14%)  and 2 oz of hard white wheat, milled fine, mixed with 3 oz KA. By the time it was all said and done, I easily added another 1-2 oz of KA.

Put the milled flour in a bowl, make a well, crack two room-temperature eggs in it, add a couple of healthy pinches of kosher salt (1.5 t maybe?). Whisk with a fork to blend in flour from the edges. When it gets too dry, pour in a little bit of room temperature water (I ended up using just over 3/4 cup of water). Eventually it becomes too heavy to stir with a fork, switch to a spatula or spoon or whatever you use. I chose to hand knead this instead of using my DLX, so I have some sense memory of the dough development as experiments progress. 

After it comes together in the bowl, move to a heavily-floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Mine was really, really soft and damp, and I used a lot of KA flour by the time the kneading was done. It still felt really soft, almost like focaccia. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. I let it sit 45 minutes. 

I rolled it out about 3/4" thick (using a lot more flour), cut off a chunk about the area of slice of cheese, and started running it through the Atlas. Lemme just say right now, if you're thinking of buying one of these, get one with a motor. It's so nice to be able to work solo, and it takes less than 3 seconds to move the motor from the flattening rollers to the cutter and back. I folded it back on itself a couple of times at setting 0 and setting 1, then progressed until setting 4, their recommended thickness for the spaghetti cutter.

Moved the motor to the cutter, and ran the first sheet through. It was a gummy, messy disaster. Fortunately, it was going to be discarded anyway (as per the recommendations for first-time use).

Clean up, consult the manual. If it fails to cut, add flour to the dough and run it through the rollers.

I liberally sprinkled the cutting board, cut off another square of dough, floured both sides, and ran it through at 0. Folded, floured, repeated. Move to 1, same thing. As it got thinner, I sprinkled flour on the sheet of dough and gently massaged it over the surface, then flipped and hit the other side. Finally, I sprinkled some flour directly on the cutting rollers. 

I should talk here about the texture of the dough. I didn't do any sifting, so all the bran was still in the dough, which felt kind of grainy. When at the final thickness, I could feel the bran in relief when spreading on the KA flour. This was the first thing that concerned me.

Back to the rollers -- this time, everything came through the cutter mostly intact, but the individual strands of noodles were, in some cases, still clinging to each other, looking vaguely like a computer ribbon cable. This was the second thing that concerned me.

I hung the noodles on the drying rack, and the bran in the tiny noodles made them feel almost like they'd been rolled in sand. This was the third thing that concerned me.

At this point, my wife is on the way home from work. I have a bunch of noodles that I'm pretty sure are going to be a gummy, grainy mess. Oh well, I've got dried pasta in the pantry, I can always break it out if necessary.

The noodles hang out and dry for around 45 minutes. Now, they feel like dry, sandy ribbons. I'm not optimistic.

I throw the noodles in 6 quarts of boiling salt water to which I've added 1 T of olive oil, and boiled them for 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so to keep them from clumping up, then drained them in a collander before adding them to the sauce for about 90 seconds on the stove.

Fearing the worst, I added some fresh-ground asiago and parmesan and tried some.

They were fantastic.

Nothing stuck together, and there was no grainy-ness. It was amazingly tender. 

Heartened by the success, I'm going to try using more fresh milled flour next time, perhaps only using the KA for adjustments (which would still end up being a couple of ounces if it runs to form).

davidg618's picture

A week ago I was touring the Southwest's canyons--Grand, Bryce, and Zion--National Parks. The tour included a half-day visit to Monument Valley, an awesome natural phenomena of towering monolithic rocks, owned, and managed by the Navajo Nation on the largest American Indian reservation: 17,000,000 acres covering parts of four states. Monument Valley was made known to the rest of America, and the planet, when, through the efforts of a trading post owner and manager, the well-known movie director, John Ford, learned of it. He made nine movies there, all during the Great Depression years--most featured John Wayne--subsequently, the site has hosted the production of scores of movies, TV productions, and advertisements benefiting the the Navajos, especially in the lean Depression years.

En-route to Monument Vally we stopped at yet another Trading Post--we'd already visited a sufficiency for me--but I was surprised by its adjacent gallery offerinng some of the finest native crafts I've seen since the 70's, and a rug weaver at work--I photographed just her hands--on two small pieces. She'd just completed a thirteen-month stint doing a larger rug (9 x 12 ?) whose price tag read $60,000.00. It hung is the restaurant where I had a delicious lunch of Chili Verde soup, and a side of Navajo Fry Bread. I was pleasantly surprised by its chewiness (the bread, not the soup) and no hint it had been deep-fat fried.

The trip through the valley, conducted by Navajo guides, was worth braving the dust and heat. We were treated to a running history of Kit Carson's cruelty to the Navajo's, the largess of the Movie Industry, and a reverence for the man, Harry Goulding and his wife "Mike" (Leone), owners of the trading post, who almost single-handedly lured John Ford to "discover" the valley, and provide work for the Navajo during lean years.

Home again, I recalled the Fry Bread, and, curious as ever, googled recipes and history. I won't go into details, but it appears that in the 19th century Fry Bread became, of necessity, a staple in the Navajo diet, when damn little else, other than flour, lard and a little sugar, was available from the government. Blue Bird Flour seems to be the universal Navajos' choice for making Fry Bread, although I couldn't find out why. Cortez Milling, CO is its sole producer, and has only been in business since 1964. (Perhaps, they bought the brand). Here's a newpaper clip from the Navajo Times re Blue Bird flour.

Haven't made it; don't think I will; but enjoyed it, and will order it again given the opportunity. Loved the chili, and the history. It fascinates me that bread, simply bread, has played major roles throughout history; this is yet another example.

David G


robkaro's picture

I am really new to grinding my own grain at home. I purchased the Family Grain Mill and at this point have not successfully ground any grain. I am using a good quality organic spelt and soft white wheat berry grain. I have tried baking several different things...tortillas, artisan bread, and crackers. At this point I cannot get the grain fine enough. Everything is turning out tough and chewy.

Should I sift the grain after milling? If so, doesn't this defeat the purpose of going "whole grain"? I have tried grinding my grain several times....up to 5 times without much more success. Am I expecting too much from my grain mill? I had envisioned being able to use the mill for all my flour needs.....but gave in yesterday and bought flour at the health food store.

I would welcome any suggestions on milling and any recipes that work. I have always been able to successfully bake practically anything at home with commercial flour so am feeling a little defeated.



hmcinorganic's picture

I am living in Kyoto this year (from August 2011 until July 2012) and we have such a tiny kitchen and no oven.  I really miss baking bread.  I had to give my starter to a friend to hopefully keep alive for me.  

Most of the bread here is pretty bad; white sandwich bread, but there are a lot of small bakeries that make french loaves, and we treat ourselves to them from time to time.  And, of course, they have sweets too :)

varda's picture

I have been admiring Andy's breads made with Gilchester flour for some time now - in fact since he posted this, and later this, and most recently this.   But I felt inhibited from trying it, since I didn't see any reasonable way to obtain the flour.   Recently Andy suggested that I might try using Atta flour, perhaps sifted to remove some of the bran.   The idea was to simulate the high extraction, low quality gluten properties of the Gilchester flour.   In fact I now have two different types of Atta in my closet - a 100% whole durum that I have posted on several times, and a more refined durum with some wheat bran added in, that I recently found at a local Indian grocery store (thanks Lynnebiz) both under the Golden Temple label.   I decided that rather than sift, I would just try the refined durum with added bran.    I proceeded exactly according to the instructions here with a couple intentional changes.   First the Atta flour rather than the Gilchester flour.   Second King Arthur AP rather than Carr's Special CC flour.   And one unintentional.   I autolyzed with starter rather than without.   I am so used to doing that that I didn't even check the instructions until it was too late.   Other than that I did the three starter feedings the day before, and left on counter overnight.   I did the first mix (before adding salt) in my Kitchen Aid, but did the rest of the mixing by hand very gently.    I also felt that more stretch and folding was necessary, so I did one more than the one that Andy directed.   And I baked in my WFO for around an hour.   I had a very hard time getting the oven up to temperature today since it has been extremely wet out, and no sooner was it up to temp when it started dropping off.   So while initial temperature was around right (600degF) by thirty minutes in it had dropped to around 380.  But fortunately crust had browned already and loaf had expanded.  

This is quite a large loaf - over a foot in diameter.   I had to score with my long bread knife - this dough is pretty wet, and a short blade would have caught in the dough.   We had this for dinner tonight - one slice was enough to cut in half for a chicken salad sandwich.   The taste is very mild given the high percentage of durum - that wouldn't have been the case if I had used the whole durum - but with very pleasant flavor.    Here is the crumb:

Reasonably even, but with mouse holes, which I've gotten every time I've used this flour.  

So in sum, I wish I had some Gilchester flour for this, but I think Andy's formula adapts well to this version of Atta and I'm glad I tried it. 



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