The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


honeymustard's picture

So, in the last few days, I have had a couple fails.

(Not fails. Just methods that don't really work.)

First, I started a sourdough starter. It was going fantastically but then I suspect my father-in-law may have inadvertently raised the temperature of the room too high (we have wood heat and he does adore a good roaring fire, even this late into spring), and I think it did terrible things. Not his fault, I don't think he had any idea I was making a starter and even if he did, he wouldn't have known the implications. If I have the motivation, I'll start anew tomorrow.

Then, I tried this durum semolina bread. Or is it a durum bread? Or a semolina? Lots of comments ensued discussing the difference between the two. The bulk supplier I got mine from was inconveniently titled, "Durum Semolina." So apparently it's both. I never really did figure out whether or not I was using the correct type, but the bread turned out all right. Problem was, I decided to try to use my unrefined sunflower oil in the recipe. It would have been okay, I think, except that I find unrefined oils impart a certain taste in the breads which would be excellent in some ways, but not in others. I don't think it was paticularly good in this bread, and it ruined it for me. For a couple days, I was down on my bread luck, and I just allowed my family to buy bakery-bought bread. (Mind you, it's pretty good. Should you ever find yourself near LaHave Bakery in Nova Scotia, it's quite lovely.)

But we just ran out of bread, so I put my kneading hands on and went back to the basics. I baked Tassajara bread from the cookbook of the same name.

It wouldn't have been anything out of the ordinary, except that I used some yeast I found in the grocery store on my last trip. Just from Fleishmann's (that's all I can get around here), it was in a vacuum sealed package and labelled, "Bakery Format." A fair size bigger than the largest jar of traditional yeast but almost the same price, I gave it a go. Call me stupid but I wondered if it was some form of vacuum sealed fresh yeast because it was so tightly packed, it felt soft to the touch of the outside of the package. I opened it up and saw that it appeared to look like ordinary instant yeast. Slightly bummed but not deterred, I went ahead and made my Tassajara Bread.

My god, the results. They look incredible. This means nothing at the moment because I don't have photos up (camera is dead) but in the morning I'll post them for all to see.

Of course, nowhere near the most amazing loaves I've ever seen or anything, but these loaves have tripled in size at least. The rising times were cut in half, and if anything, I was afraid of over-rising/proofing.

Pending photos of course, I would be curious if anyone knows anything about this mysterious bakery format yeast. I'd never seen it before and Fleischmann's--at least the Canadian site--doesn't even list it among its products.

But in the end, I feel better about my baking. Turns out I'm not a total flop.

Photos to come!

msmarguet's picture

crackling country sister loaves

when these two batards crackled out of my oven they reminded me of my sister, marilyn, and me standing side-by-side in her kitchen over a pillowy-soft ooze of dough. i've been teaching her to make bread over the last 6 or 7 months.

. . . after 2 visits

• photos

• blog posts

• emails

• and back&forth sister chats 

• the result is the hand-over of my techniques to her, and a happy-homemade-bread-eating-khadr family.

kona sits in the kitchen with me every morning when i get up at my sister's to make the coffee and the bread. i think the khadrs should name the guest room the "patricia marie room" so that no one else gets too comfy in there.

on a recent visit to the bay, marilyn gave me the inspirational bread book from the legendary tartine bakery in san francisco, where chad robertson sells out of his bread everyday within one hour of opening. with chad's encouraging words, i adapted his basic country bread by mixing in my own experiences and techniques.

the crafting of my sister loaves 

(i always make two to share with friends and family) 

is the latest in my ongoing need to make bread.

this patty-cake starter is almost 2 years old. 

it smells like an over-ripe pear. it's milky, sweet and airy. 

i use it to make a leaven for my sister loaves based on the basic country bread recipe from tartine bakery.

GSnyde's picture

We’re back from our trip to the Kona Coast on the Big Island of Hawai’i.   Since we spent a lot of time in the ocean, and another large part out enjoying the sights and flavors of the islands, there were not a lot of occasions for baking.   Plus, though our friends’ house where we stayed has a well-equipped kitchen, it isn’t well equipped for baking.

The good news is that I had a chance to try baking some typical Hawaiian breads, which don’t require much specialized equipment.  I took along a thermometer, some parchment and my favorite rubber spatula, and I bought our friends a nice big glass mixing bowl and a large rolling mat.  It all worked out.


I’m not sure why a Middle Eastern flat bread is so ubiquitous in Hawai’I, but it is very common to see Lavosh included in bread baskets there.  And we have enjoyed it.  So I found a simple formula in Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and tried it out.  The dough is somewhat like a pizza dough.  After kneading, it had a nice silky feel.


The containers by the bowl are not ingredients, just indicators of the proper means  of fueling an Island baker.

To attain the proper crispiness of the Lavosh, it must be rolled very thin.  This may require letting the dough rest for periods during the rolling.  I found that a millimeter can make the difference between a cracker and a bready texture.

The results were satisfactory.  Next time I’ll use at least half whole wheat flour and maybe some wheat germ.



Portuguese Sweet Bread Rolls


I do know why Portuguese Sweet Bread is so common in Hawai’i.  In fact many refer to it as “Hawaiian Sweet Bread”.   The Portuguese influence in Hawaiian life is everywhere.  I found a promising formula here on The Fresh Loaf (  This is a highly enriched, buttery, yeast bread.  I have had this kind of bread many times, and had a definite idea of what I was going for.  It is soft, tender, semi-sweet, best for breakfast.  I had Txfarmer’s “shreddable” crumb texture in mind, and with extensive kneading I achieved it. 



I should mention that the bread had to bake almost twice as long as the recipe calls for (and the oven did have a thermometer showing the temperature was accurate).

The rolls made good sandwiches with spicy island chicken and Passion Fruit-Jalapeno jam, and the loaf was excellent toasted with jelly.  Here’s the chicken cooking (with soy, sherry, scallion, ginger, star anise, hot peppers and sesame oil).


After a thoroughly relaxing trip, it’s good to be home with my baking supplies and equipment and my kitty cat.  Sea turtles may be more unusual, but they’re nowhere near as fuzzy.





Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, I quite failed to get around to blogging last weeks' ciabatta attempt, and now here it's Saturday and I have another bake to describe.  

Last week I made another stab at SteveB's double hydration ciabatta.  If you recall in week 1, I got very nice flavor and crust, but an unimpressive crumb.  I also found the process, which involves almost 30 minutes of mixing, rather cumbersome.  The first time I modified Steve's process to add a French fold halfway through the rise, and I figured this time I either needed to modify the recipe more, or stick strictly to Steve's directions.  I went for the latter, cutting down the mixing time, and adding 2 stretch-and-folds to the rise.  The results, however, were quite similar to week 1:



Crumb was perhaps a little better, flavor a little worse.  So much for modifications.

Anyway, this week I took a shot at Craig Ponsford's ciabatta, as interpreted by Maggie Glezer, as interpreted by these two blogs (the first has better directions, the latter had weight measurements).  This formula involves a very stiff biga with a little bit of whole grain and just the teensiest bit of yeast, which is fermented for a full 24 hours (28 in my case).  Hydration is just north of 80%, and it takes 4 stretch and folds to make it behave.  

The results, however, were phenomenal

And here's the kicker:


You may notice the loaf on the right is a little funky looking--it stuck to the couch a bit, and I failed to get it all on the parchment when flipping it over, and so I had to manhandle it a bit to clear the couche and slip a scrap of parchment underneath.  

As you can see, nicely caramelized crust (nice and crispy too), crumb wonderfully open (nicely chewy too), and the flavor...oh the flavor.  This was one of the best tasting breads I have made, period.  The combination of a big dose of poolease-y nuttiness, a tinge of sour, and notes of whole grain in the background was just heavenly.  

I think this formula is a keeper.  Beyond getting fabulous results on this occasion, I enjoyed making it.  I like doing stretch-and-folds, feeling the dough and watching it mature and come together.  Even if it gets the same results, I'd take a recipe with stretch-and-folds over one with none and a long mixer time any day.  Just a matter of personal taste there.

There's still some work to do--I still need to work out my flipping technique, and I still have some kinks to work out in the formula itself, in order to get the exterior shape more even (enough kinks that I'm going to refrain from posting my take on the formula just yet).  But this is a positive step for sure!

Happy baking, everyone,


breadsong's picture


I wanted to try making this bread for Mother’s Day.

I was reading about an ale and cheddar bread on TFL, and someone replied to that post about making bread using a cherry wheat ale.
This seemed like a great idea to me!

I’ve been holding onto this idea, waiting for cherry blossom season.
Our Kwanzan cherry tree has just come into blossom, just in time for Mother’s Day; what a welcome sight!

Shiao-Ping just posted a lovely flower-stenciled miche; she wrote a beautiful introduction to her post,
about plum blossoms, and using flour to paint. This got me thinking, wondering if you could successfully stencil (‘paint’) a colored image on bread.
I decided to try using a mixture of flour, beet powder and water, to try to make pink cherry blossoms.
Here is a picture before baking; the pink color held for about 20 minutes. While finishing baking, the blossoms turned brown (not ideal!), so I re-stenciled with flour after baking:

I wanted the bread’s crumb to be ‘soft as a cherry blossom’.
With thanks so much to Syd, for his post on how to get soft, tender-crumbed sourdough:
Although this bread is not a sourdough bread, I followed his helpful suggestions.

I made this bread with a water roux, cherry wheat ale poolish, a combination of bread, all-purpose, whole wheat, rye and spelt flours, a bit of almond oil, 72% hydration, with the addition of these beautiful! BC dried cherries:

This dough was very wet and I did stretch and folds to develop the gluten.
If the crumb had turned out to be really open, I might have been tempted to call this bread 'cherry ciabatta'.

I am grateful for these posts, also; they were helpful for ideas for the ingredients, and water roux (thanks again, Syd!):

I baked at a lower temperature, and a shorter time period, as Syd recommended.
The crumb certainly was soft – just what I was hoping for, and the crust is nice and tender too:

Happy baking, and Happy Mother’s Day everyone!
from breadsong

Floydm's picture

I upgraded the WYSIWYG editor on the site today.  It now has a spellchecker (yay!) and should work on newer versions of IE.  I think.  

Please let me know if you run into any trouble.  If you can include browser and platform information in your comment it would be most helpful.



proth5's picture

 For the one or two of you following my continuing work with triticale, the Great Triticale Crisis of 2011 had me down to my very last bag of tribble food which finally I decided to mill.

In the meantime, with the help of MiniOven, I found a paper from researchers at Colorado State University that contained the vital Mixograph and Absorption numbers that might help me make a breakthrough.  Turns out that hydrations over 68% produce an elastic "wheat like" dough from triticale while lower hydrations produced the putty like dough that had convinced me to treat triticale like rye.

The Mixograph results showed that triticale would have a lot less mixing tolerance than wheat (had to be careful not to overmix) and the researchers reported that they had no success using a Hobart dough hook, but better results with the paddle attachment.

The work in this paper was done with white triticale flour, so I decided to mill a "closer to white" flour than I had been using.  I followed my standard wheat milling process to get about an 85% extraction flour.

I decided on a very simple formula with 30% of the flour pre fermented in a 68% hydration levain based pre ferment.  4% shortening, 4% milk powder, 2% salt, 1.2% instant  yeast, 1% honey, and 69% water. (Calculation of the weights left as an exercise for the reader - it's really just a basic "sandwich loaf" formula - loaded pretty heavily with yeast.)  I mixed for about four minutes with the Kitchen Aid paddle attachment, the switched to the dough hook - which worked well for me -  for another 2 minutes.

The dough was a very soft, sticky dough, but was fairly elastic with what I would consider low/ moderate gluten development.

Thinking that I was now dealing with more of a wheat like dough than a rye, I gave it an hour of bulk fermentation - during which it actually doubled - which had not happened before with the triticale dough.

It was a mess to shape and my shaping flaws probably influenced the crumb , but it doubled nicely in the pan.

I baked it for 35 minutes at 375F and for the first time in my experience with triticale dough, got some oven spring.

The results are pictured below. 


Not shredibly soft or fluffy, but for a near whole grain flour of a grain that is considered inferior  for bread baking - not bad at all.  Although light can shine through the slice, it was sturdy and stood up to handling and soft butter. I should have included something to show scale, but it is a nicely sized slice for a sandwich.

I am informed that my new shipment of triticale is winging its way to me as I type and I'll be able to continue this general track of baking.  Next time I will lower the hydration somewhat  (to take the hydration of the honey into better account)and give it a longer bulk ferment with a fold.  In general I don't feel the need to do intensive mix for these panned breads and the Mixograph readings tell me that I can over-mix very quickly, so I don't think I will be increasing mix length by much, if at all.

As an aside, some of my reading tells me that triticale was once considered an acceptable bread grain and was widely used in the North American West, but the structure of farm subsidies encouraged wheat production and triticale became less used for human consumption and because of its high yields and superior protein content was used for more for animal feed.  It forces me to think about how policies determined in some far away corridor of power can impact what we eat and how we think of things.

I am more encouraged on the triticale quest than I ever have been.  People keep remarking that the bread is unusually delicious.  Time to get cracking on some real formula development.

diverpro94's picture

I was researching deck ovens at Empire Bakery Equipment, but I found some DIRT CHEAP plastic proofing baskets. Yeah, they're not reed baskets, but they'll due. I thought I would pass it along! :o)

Dorothy Russell's picture
Dorothy Russell

I am a new member for about a year.  I have enjoyed your blog and have learned a great deal reading the updates.  I would love to have a Tshirt or cap from your site.  If you decide to sale the Tshirt or cap please notify me.  Thanks so much for the good content.  I look forward to the daily updates.

txfarmer's picture


Many have made similar breads, notably:


Here's my version, inspired by all the posts above, adapted to use ingredients I have on hand, and a fermentation process that works for me.

Fresh Blueberry Sourdough with Hazelnuts

Note: makes one 650g boule.


bread flour, 195g

ww flour, 60g

blueberry puree, 45g

water, 115g

maple syrup, 15g

salt, 4.5g

starter (100%), 90g

fresh blueberries, 84g

hazelnuts, 66g, toasted and skin peeled off

1. Mix everything together, autolyse for 30min, knead at low speed for 1min, medium speed for 3min.Gluten is mediumly developed. Add in blueberries and hazelnuts, mix in gently with hands.

2. Bulk rise at room temp (74F) for 3 hours, S&F as needed. I did 3 times at 30min, 60min, and 90min.

3. Round, rest, shape into boule, drop into basket smooth side down. Cover and put in fridge overnight.

4. Next morning, finish proofing at room temp for another 80min, until the dough bounces back slowly when lightly pressed.

5. Bake at 450F for 40 to 45min, the first 13min with steam.


While blueberry puree adds a lot of blueberry flavor to the bread, if too much is added, the acidity would disintegrate the dough completely, no amount of S&F can save it. Don't ask me how I know. Stick to fresh blueberries, frozen ones are too easy to break, release juice, then make the dough too wet - a tip I could've learned from Shao-ping's post if I had read it BEFORE making the bread. This version was my 3rd try, with the appropriate puree amount, and fresh berries, it's actually not difficult to make.

A whole wheat bread with strong blueberry flavor, while hazelnuts add a contrasting texture/taste, I would choose it over blueberry pies anyday!


Sending this to Yeastspotting.


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