The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


copyu's picture

Hi all,

I haven't blogged for a while. (Lots of trouble uploading photos, which is a fairly big part of what blogging is about, I suppose; it could just be a problem at my end...Nevertheless, following all the directions on the site, implicitly, still does not work for me. I don't care why, any more...)

We've had weather that was too lousy for me to go out and about, so I did a fair bit of cooking and baking this weekend. Top of my list was a 45% durum semolina loaf made with a tiny 65 gram sourdough ‘biga’ that came out pretty well and helped me learn a lot about proper 'shaping' of a round loaf. (I’m still learning, as you can see!) I just had a hankering for good English crumpets (what other kind is there?)

The bread:

I know that my credibility is probably weak—NY yank and all, living in Japan—but I went to Australia at a 'formative' age. Back then, people in Oz used to say, "Our daughter's gone 'back home' for a year..." meaning she'd returned to some part of Great Britain where her ancestors (may have) lived...We also used to eat Cornish pasties; London buns; Bath buns; Banbury pasties; disgusting (but very delicious) sausage rolls; rock buns; roast lamb dinners [with mint sauce(!)] and, of course, fish & chips—in other words, I'm trying to say that we had the benefits (or otherwise) of the typical, full British diet as our daily cuisine. Supermarkets were still a 'thing of the future', back then...We paid nine-pence for a freshly-made meat pie or pasty in those days.

I found an ancient sourdough crumpet recipe on my HDD using volume measurements <GRRR!> and, because I only had rye starter, I ended up with:

They were tasty enough, with lashings of butter and jam…but there weren’t really enough holes to satisfy a crumpet ‘aficionado’. I rectified that today with this all-white crumpet recipe cobbled together from 4-5 web-sites and modified, by me, to accommodate a small amount of white sourdough starter. (I used some of the leftover white-flour ‘biga’ from the semolina loaf.) This is what I got:

Maybe not ‘up to snuff’ for a lover of true British crumpets, but would probably satisfy any expatriate British colonial who can’t find the usual 6-pack of 'supermarket fare'.


MadAboutB8's picture

One of the most loved pastry items with multiple identities, Pain au Raisin. Though it is widely known as Pain au Raisins (or Pain aux Raisins), it is also called escagot and snail. Many Aussies know this item as snails due to its shape.

It has everything that ticks, slightly spiced juicy sultana (golden raisin), pastry cream wrapped in buttery and flaky croissant dough. Some are also glazed with apricot jam, and finished off with icing sugar.

I’m still on my mission practicing making croissants. This week was my sixth effort. Apart from making them into classic croissant shape, I also turned the dough into something else, and this week I made them into pain au raisins.

This was the second time I made them. Comparing it to my first effort, this time was way much better, which I believe it was resulted from a well-proof dough. Well-proof croissant dough will produce flaky layered pastry. 


More details and recipe can be found here




Bee18's picture

Hi everybody

Out of complete frustration, I decided to got around TLF site, after I realized that I could never get the bar upon the comments box and use the buttons. For some reason
clicking disable rich text or reverse don’t help as it did for some others who have the same problem I have.

So................I created a BLOG. I saw this little B on the Picasa button and it let me upload my photos after I created a blog through blogger. And it was done. I then understood that I can put my address on the TFL blogs for the one who would like to see the photos when I’m posting something related.

I was surprised by my own adventure into something that I though reserved to people who have something really important to tell to the world.

Now the ADDRESS is wwwbreadsandbee18 blogspot (not very smart title but easy to recognize for you who know me under Bee18.)
I checked the address several time in the Google bar search, ½ hour ago and it works.

Please let me know if you cannot get it. You can find there the whole story about the GL free experiences I did the last 15 days, with photos.

The result, for those who don’t have patience to wait and try the blog, is very good.
The bread looks good the flavor is good the oven spring was fantastic, the sourdough
began to strongly kicked after 12 days and the comments from Mini. I read about 2 dozen of different recipes on a lot of sites in English and French before I made my mind what to do.
Thanks Ananda for the recipe and the method to use.
Thanks Mike Avery from “sourdough home” bread tips blog/site.

Please place comments on the blog so I can see how it works. I will try to make it more attractive, but I need time to learn the functions.


SylviaH's picture

Peter Reinhart's 'Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread' from TBBA.  A very popular bread, made by and raved about by so many at TFL.  It is very delicious and special as any Cinnamon bread could be, with it's nuts, I choose pecan over the walnut, though I have a humungous bag of each,  I love pecans... I will make walnut next, they add their own special flavor to this bread.  I also used brown sugar and cinnamon for the swirl, topping and crumb.  Raisins, yes, my favorite 'golden'.  I was a little short on the golden,  so I   also added some dark raisins.  











Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Last sunday we went over to my mom's for a mother's day brunch with the family.  My mom asked me to "just take a baguette out of the freezer".  You know, since baking a batch of bread in time to leave for a 11am brunch (we live about an hour away) would be tricky.  The problem?  No baguettes in the freezer--we've run through them all since I finished up my baguette quest.  

A challenge!  This presented a great opportunity to experiment with cold retardation with my standard baguette recipe, Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish, as well as test just how well they keep at room temperature.  Here's what I did:

I mixed a batch of baguette dough around 2 in the afternoon.  I then shapped 3 small baguettes a little after 5pm, and set to proofing on a couche.  However, for one of the 3 I put a small sheet of parchment underneath.  After 40 minutes of proofing, I slid the baguette on parchment off of the couche to finish proofing, while the couche itself with the other 2 baguettes was slid onto a sheet pan and stuck in the refrigerator.  The lone baguette was baked when fully proofed, about 75 minutes total.  Once it was cool, the baguette was placed in a plastic bag that was not fully sealed, and then wrapped in a paper market bag. 

Later, at 10:30, I pulled the couche out of the fridge, flipped one of the baguettes onto parchment on a peel, and baked it immediately, while the other went back into the fridge.  Baguette #2 sat on the cooling rack all night, unwrapped (mainly because it was past 11 by then!)

The next morning, the last baguette was baked at 9:30am and taken straight from the oven into a paper bag as we hurried out the door at little after 10.

The results:

From Left to Right: Not retarded, Retarded 4 hours, Retarded 15 hours. 


The baguette retarded overnight had lots of bubble in the crust, which made it very crisp and crackly.  All three had similar (good) flavor, and seemed plenty moist inside.  The baguette not retarded was crisped in the oven before cutting, but I presume it was crisp when fresh.  The baguette retarded for 4 hours was rather chewy when we got to it (we took that one home and my wife and I ate it for dinner), about 20 hours after baking.  

Crumb shots:

Retarded overnight

Not Retarded


Retarded 4 hours

Longer retarding seemed to be correlated with a lower profile, with the non-retarded baguette being the most round (although the baguettes were sliced on the bias,  and were less flat than the slices indicate).  I don't think this was underproofing, as the grigne looks pretty clean on those baguettes.  The retarded baguettes were much easier to score than the one that had not been retarded. 

Conclusion: Retarding baguettes gives a distinctive bubbly crust (for better or for worse), and makes them easier to score, but results in a lower profile.   Flavor is about the same either way.  As long as the crust is re-crisped, a baguette can sit un-cut at room temperature overnight and be nearly as good as first baked, and as good or better than frozen and thawed. Interesting.

varda's picture

The other day, I accidentally picked up the wrong flour.    I thought I was grabbing the Bob's Red Mill White flour but instead ended up with BRM whole wheat pastry flour.   I'm not much for making pastry and the whole concept of whole wheat pastry eludes me, so I decided to try this flour in yet another variation on the pain au levain I've been experimenting with for the last few months.    On my first try I used the pastry flour as 12% of the total flour with 87% White flour and 1% rye from the starter.    The bread came out with a very nice crumb texture and not bad in other respects but the taste was so mild as to be uninteresting.    Then my son swooped in for a surprise visit for Mother's Day and ate the whole thing so it was good for son feeding at least.  

Try number 1 - tried to get fancy with scoring - didn't really work.

To enhance the flavor, I decided to mix in some regular whole wheat.    So this time I did exactly the same thing but went half and half on the pastry whole wheat flour and Arrowhead whole wheat.   

The latest production of the vardomatic 3000:

As you can see, it blew a gasket.   Not quite the nice controlled expansion that I'd hoped for.    And Mt. Hood from the side:

but even better crumb than the last one and the flavor is much enhanced.

There were both 68% hydration and retarded overnight.   Also I've increased percentage of prefermented flour to 23%.  After going all the way to 33% with Andy's light rye formula, I'm not afraid of these higher percentages anymore.     Has anyone worked with this type of flour before?   The BRM bag says soft white wheat, and there is no discernible bran.    I don't feel like I have a handle on the fermentation yet and would love some suggestions.  

txfarmer's picture

Another formula from "Advanced Bread and Pastry"  - it's a yeast bread with nearly 40% of corn flour and corn meal, which yields a strong corn flavor. The formula uses both firm preferment and liquid poolish, the former for strength (since the corn flour/meal ratio is relatively high), the latter for extra flavor. There's no sugar in the dough, but corn flour/meal has a natural sweetness that shines through . I mostly stuck to the original recipe, but did increase hydration a little bit, even at 70%, the dough is on the drier side, next time, I might increase even more.

Bread Flour, 89g
water, 89g
salt, 1/8tsp
yeast, 1/8tsp

1. mix and leave at room temp for 12-16hours

Bread Flour, 195g
water, 128g
yeast, 1/8tsp
salt, 3.55g

2. mix and leave at room temp for one hour, put in fridge overnight

-final dough

Bread Flour, 67.5g
corn flour, 177.5g
cornmeal, 28g
water, 155g (about 30g more than original)
salt, 7g
yeast, 3.5g
butter, 4g

poolish, all

preferment, all


3. Mix and autolyse for 30min. knead at medium speed for 3 min, until gluten starts to develope.

4. Bulk rise at 80F for 1.5 hour, S&F at 30 and 60min. The dough is fairly strong.

5. Divide into two, round and rest for 20 to 30min. shape: for one piece I shaped into triangle, the other shaped according to this video. Proof at 76F for about one hour. The dough would've expanded noticably but not doubled, when poked lightly, it will spring back slowly.

6. Score , creatively. The dough is on the stiffer side, so it scores very easily.

7. Bake at 450F for 40min, the first 15 with steam.

LOVE how both loaves looked, I thought the exterior is as "corn-ish" as how it tastes.


Nice crackly crust, with good volume/ovenspring


Crumb is even, even a bit "fluffy", without big holes - as expected due to higher ratio of corn flour/meal, and relatively less water.


If you like quick cornbread or corn tortilla, which we do, you will love how this bread tastes. Not a "sweet bread" per se, but with a strong sweet corn flavor.


Easy and tasty, looks impressive too.


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

tssaweber's picture

Heading up north for some turkey and mushroom (morels) hunting. The only thing my family asked before they let me go was: Make sure we have enough bagels and multi-grain rolls! I believe I complied with this weekend's bake:

Happy baking!


dmsnyder's picture

I think I know at least 6 different ways of shaping bâtards. I often choose how I shape them on impulse. This weekend, I decided to be a bit more reflective and consciously chose 3 variations to try. I think I gained better control over bâtard shaping as a result.

I made two loaves of Hamelman's Pain au Levain from “Bread” and two loaves of my San Joaquin Sourdough.

The first loaf was shaped using one of the methods learned from the San Francisco Baking Institute. I can't recall seeing this method demonstrated elsewhere.

Pain au Levain from Hamelman's "Bread," shaped using Method 1.

Method 1

  1. Pre-shape as a log. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board with one short side closest to you. De-gas.

  3. Take the far edge and fold it towards you about 1/3 of the length of the piece. Seal the seams.

  4. Fold the left side 1/3 of the way towards the middle and seal the seams. Repeat for the right side.

  5. Starting with the far end, roll the piece towards you, sealing the seam with the edge or heel of your hand at each turn. Seal the final seam well.

  6. Turn the loaf seam side down and roll it to even out the shape and achieve the desired length.

This method is suitable to make a bâtard with a fat middle and little tapering, as pictured.

Pain au Levain from Hamelman's "Bread," shaped using Method 2.

Method 2

  1. Pre-shape as a log. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board with a wide side closest to you. De-gas.

  3. Fold the far side to the middle. Seal the seam.

  4. Rotate the piece 180º.

  5. Fold the far side 2/3 of the way towards you. Seal the seam.

  6. Grasp the far edge and bring it all the way over the piece, to the board and seal the seam. (Essentially, this is the method traditionally used to shape baguettes.)

  7. Turn the loaf seam side down and roll it to even out the shape and achieve the desired length.

This method makes a longer, thinner loaf with more tapered ends.

The two loaves of Pain au Levain after shaping and scoring - ready to bake. Note that these loaves were of identical weight.

San Joaquin Sourdoughs, both shaped using Method 3.

Method 3

  1. Pre-shape as a ball. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board. De-gas.

  3. Proceed as in Method 2, steps 3 through 7.

This method results in a loaf similar to that from using Method 2, except a bit thicker in the middle. It solves a problem I have had shaping bâtards with higher-hydration doughs with excessive extensibility. They tend to get too long and thin as I shape them, even before the final rolling out. Starting with a round piece of dough, rather than a log, helps me get the shape I want.  

Thanks for listening.

Happy Baking!


GSnyde's picture

Back from vacation, I needed to bake some sourdough.  Tartine’s Basic Country Bread has become my favorite.   Its crumb is my ideal texture for a hearth bread--just the right amount of chew, and airy and moist.  But, as I’ve noted before, large loaves just aren’t practical for our everyday use.   Last time I baked a batch, it was one large loaf and two small ones.  This time I made four half-kilo loaves, two batards and two boules.


I mostly followed the Tartine BCB formula, using Central Milling white and whole wheat flours.  But I departed from gospel in the following ways:

·      I only made as much levain as one recipe requires

·      I did the stretch-and-folds when convenient, five of them at intervals of between 30 and 45 minutes over a 3 ½ hour bulk ferment

·      I divided the dough into four loaves of about 490 grams each

·      I baked the loaves with steam on a baking stone, in two batches an hour apart, having proofed the second two loaves in the cool basement.

My hope was that these departures would not affect the result, and I was very pleased.  The crackly crust, the tender crumb and the subtly-sour complex flavor are as good as the one kilo loaves baked in a Dutch Oven, and we can have loaves of a usable size in the freezer.



To prove the point, we ate most of one not-quite-fully-cooled loaf for dinner, with a medley of melted cheese for the main course, and with a mix of peanut butter and passion fruit-jalapeno jam for dessert.

It’s great to be back and baking in my own kitchen!



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