The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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kdwnnc's picture

So there was a really big batch of chili made last night, so there was cornbread last night, and there will be cornbread tonight.  And, frankly, I don't get tired of it!  I know that there have been several cornbread recipes posted here, but I just have to share this, which is my favorite.  It comes out the oven so nice and tall, is perfectly delicious, and is extremely simple.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs


Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, oil, and egg.  Stir just until combined (do not overbeat).  Turn into a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes.  Serves 8. 

ryeaskrye's picture

I baked German Five-Kern Bread from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb" a few weeks back. This has turned out to be one of my favorite breads and I wish I had discovered it sooner. The Five-Kern is made from coarse dark rye flour (20.26% - I used NYBakers Dark Rye), bread flour (KA), cooked brown rice, polenta, oats, flax seeds and honey. And water and salt, of course. I guess I turned it into a Six-Kern bread with the poppy seed embellishment.

I followed Peter's book closely, but do not feel comfortable posting his commercial formula. It does involve building a rye sponge followed by a firm rye starter over the course of a couple of days. The flavor was incredible, particularly the crust, and the crumb was much lighter than I expected. An enticing aroma filled the house during the bake.

Even with the 2 stage elaboration, the amount of pre-fermented flour was only 15.19%. The final dough hydration was 63.80%, but the crumb of the finished loaves seemed moister than that.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Doughtagnan's picture

As it is Easter I made my 1st ever bun attempt (ditto using a piping bag for the crosses!) the recipe is from Dan Lepard's baking column in the UK Guardian newspaper. As iv'e never used a piping bag before I should have opted for the atheist no cross buns!, but I managed okay despite a piping bag malfunction (it split) which caused a little spillage. The result was very tasty and would have been richer if I had used Mackeson Stout (I subbed a Dark Mild Ale). For the recipe please follow this link

And the pic's before and after baking with compulsory crumbshot before a good helping of french butter, cheers Steve



SylviaH's picture

For years I have always made Hot Cross Buns for Easter and leaving the cross off enjoy them year round.  This is the first time I have made them with buttermilk.  Using buttermilk in baking is one of my all time favorite ingredients. The flavor was delicious with a wonderful crumb.  Just what I had hoped for and the recipe is very convenient because you can prepare it the night before and bake the buns up fresh in morning!  The recipe is at  I made these changes in the ingredients and also did a mix with a 25 minute rest and then kneaded to just all the ingredients came together and a gluten formation was just beginning.   I added 1/2 tsp. cloves, golden raisins instead of the cranberries, lemon and orange candied peel, bakers sugar, Golden ISYeast, KAAP and adjusting the hydration, the dough was still tacky before shaping.  Next time I will leave off the flour/sugar crosses as we prefer the sugar glazed crosses.  These are now my favorite HCB.


                                                            My 15 inch deep dish pizza pan filled with large HCB








Dorians mom's picture
Dorians mom

Last year at the local grocery I chanced upon a sourdough starter packet, and decided to buy it. Months later, I finally had some time to put it together. I put the container on the back burner of the stove, and baked something so that the heat would come up through that burner and keep the container nice and warm. Too effective. I killed the yeast, but I gave the mess about two days to really start stinking before I admitted instantaneous defeat. The yeast of my soul felt killed too.

So last week, on Friday, I started a new sourdough sponge. From scratch. I used a recipe calling for whole-wheat flour, warm water, a bit of yeast and a smaller bit of sugar. I am redeemed! The first few days, it smelled wonderfully yeasty, but as I took out some and put in some (flour and water), that smell was eventually replaced by a lovely, fresh sour smell. I'm now using white flour to feed it (Bob's Red Mill, which is fairly comparable to King Arthur products in quality), but may go ahead and just use whole-wheat again.
This weekend I will try a very simple recipe to bake a loaf and see how it all goes.
I do understand that a successful sponge is only half the challenge. When I take that perfect round out of the oven, then I will know I have accomplished all that I set out to do.

What's nice is that several people have requested either offspring sponge or the recipe and instructions for doing their own. I'm so proud of my sour sponge! I took some to work and shoved it under everyone's noses - Here! Smell this! Isn't it just wonderful! ... Why yes, Robyn, thank you for that experience. They'll be jealous when I bring this magickal concoction to work for all to sample and marvel over!

The adventure begins.

wally's picture

Bread baking really is a lot like the Wide World of Sports.  A really nice bake that lulls you into thinking you've 'conquered' a particular bread is often followed by a rude reality slap when a bake goes awry, leaving me, at any rate, wondering whether the former was just a lucky fluke or the latter a bad day.

Rarely do I experience both the high and low in a single day, but today's bakes managed to fill the bill. 

I began with an attempt at Hamelman's Three-Stage 90 Percent Sourdough Rye.  I've only been baking ryes for a little over a month, and I've been dutifully working up from fairly low percentage ryes to progressively higher ones.  This one was the second Detmolder method rye I've attempted (the first being a 50% rye which turned out quite nicely).  Everything had gone well through the various builds, until the final mix.  Then, I found (retrospectively), I had misread his final dough amount of medium rye - 1 lb, .7oz (that's point 7 oz) as 1 lb, 7 oz!  Not good.  (Should I mention that I'm waiting on a new pair of reading glasses?). 

I should have known immediately when I began the mix that the dough was way too dry for a rye.  But I continued the mix, and only after did I go back and redo all my calculations, eventually leading me to discover that it wasn't my math that was faulty, but my eyesight.  In desperation, I put the finished dough back in the mixer, and added the appropriate amount of water to compensate, mixed briefly on speed 1 and then proofed as per recipe.

Meantime, I had also mixed Hamelman's Pain au Levain with 5% rye, which I love for its subtle but distinct flavor.  I've slightly downsized his home recipe to make two 1.5 lb loaves.  I find that the finished product is about 11" long, weighs about 1 lb, 4 oz after baking, and is a perfect size (to me!).  The two bâtards were comfortably resting en couche, but it was now obvious to me that they would reach near-full proof too early given that the rye needed to go into the oven first but was now seriously behind schedule given my disastrous mishap.

I decided to retard the pain au levain in the refrigerator and hope that I wouldn't end up with an over-proofed product.

The rye went into the oven, after docking, for a 50 minute bake.  As you can see, I might be able to sell the finished product to a sporting goods store as an 'organic discus'.  

Ah the agony of defeat.

This left me with two loaves of pain au levain to bake and hopes for some kind of redemption.  The retarding, which I haven't tried with this bread before (Hamelman discourages overnight  retarding, and I've never tried short-time retarding) I think helped the scoring markedly.  But the proof of the pudding came 40 minutes later when I pulled the two loaves from the oven.  These had the best oven spring by far that I've ever achieved with this bread, as is evidenced by the gringes (also the best I've managed with it)!

And - to top it all off - the crust after a couple minutes out of the oven began to crackle and continued to do so for the next hour!  Ah, the thrill of victory!

All in a day's baking.  So I again wonder, how much luck, how much misfortune, how much skill?  Something to reflect on over a nice piece of freshly baked bread!


Nearly forgot: the crumb shot from the pain au levain -

varda's picture

One of my goals in learning how to make bread was to be able to recreate a bread I ate as a child called tzitzel.   As I understand it, tzitzel mean caraway in Yiddish, and tzitzel is a rye bread with caraway and covered with cornmeal.   So far, despite many attempts and many different formulas, I have not come very close to recreating this memory bread.   Perhaps one can never recreate memory bread.    In any cases, my searches on this site, with its many rye bakers, led me to Greenstein's Secret of a Jewish Baker.   I have tried making his Jewish Rye (p. 136) a couple of times, and not very successfully given beginner's errors.   I have also made Jewish Corn Bread (p. 155) actually a rye bread with caraway wrapped in cornmeal, several times,  and despite many  beginner's errors, this bread is delicious enough to make me (almost) forget about some elusive memory of tzitzel.   The problem with Jewish Corn Bread, at least as I make it, is that while I can get it to taste good, I can't for the life of me get it to look good.   The instructions call for the following:  "[after kneading] Transfer the dough to a prepared clean wet bowl...pat the dough down and cover with a film of water....Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes."   This is the only rise for this bread.   And within minutes after it's done rising it goes straight into the oven.   I suspect that this treatment is what causes it to taste so great, and what makes it so addictive (to me anyhow).   However, it's a bloody mess when it comes out of the water, practically unshapeable, soggy in parts and so on.   And to make matters worse, I'm not 100% sure that his instructions mean to immerse it in water - although that's how I've read it.    Does he mean immerse the dough, or does he just mean spill water over it until it's thoroughly wet.    Also Greenstein gives all his measurements by volume, some approximately, and I just cook it that way, but my results have been pretty consistent, and pretty consistently ugly. 

I'll wait until tomorrow to post crumb photos.   I've learned on this site, that one must wait, wait, wait to cut into rye!

And the crumb...

kdwnnc's picture

Several days ago I made the Savory Bread from Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads.  It is practically just a white loaf of bread (similar to a less-rich brioche) that before the final rise is rolled into a rectangle, spread with a seasoned butter, and rolled back up and placed in a loaf pan.  The butter ingredients include thyme, garlic, hot sauce, pepper, etc., so can imagine how good that would taste in a bread (now that I think about it, I could have added some red pepper flakes that I had sitting in the spice cabinet).  Anyway, it tasted very, very good.  The only downside to it was that because of the butter, the layers separated during rising, so the bread had a rather large layer of air inside, but the taste was enough to make up for it.

Then, yesterday, I made the Southern White Bread from the same book.  The only thing I did differently from the recipe was substituting some WW flour for some of the white.  We did not cut into it until today, but it was already rather dry for a bread that had butter and milk powder in it, and I thought it tasted too much like WW bread from the store, which I do not like.  So far, aside from the oatmeal muffins (which by the way are very good), these are the only breads I have tried from this book.  So hopefully I will have better luck next time!

overnight baker's picture
overnight baker

I decided to start a blog to keep a log of my baking and hopefully get some feedback on my efforts. Rather than start by driveling on about how long I've been baking for etc. (plenty of time for that).  I think I'll get straight on to posting this mornings efforts.

Sourdough Pagnotta 310310


It's a sourdough Pagnotta from 'BAKER & SPICE: exceptional breads' by Dan Lepard & Richard Whittington. I changed three things from the original recipe: more water; the 800g total flour to 325ml total water seemed to dry to me so I upped the water to 400ml, proved overnight at cold room temp and I proved and baked it in the same oiled silicon loaf mould. I think the texture of this loaf is superb, hard crispy crust but with a light and soft crumb. The flavour is mild enough for me AND sourdoughphobic housemates to enjoy. The only thing I didn't like was the crust was a little oily on the sides in contact with the loaf mould and without a proving basket I'm strungling to think of another way to help keep the batons shape over the long slow prove. Any ideas?

This is my first blog entry (on TFL or any site for that matter) so critisicm, feedback or praise both of the blog and the bread is very welcome.




manicbovine's picture

I am happy to have found a bread that my wife and I agree upon. I prefer hearty flavors (that stand up to obscene amounts of toppings and sauce), whereas she prefers tender white breads. It's important to find this balance given that the bread I bake is the bread we're both stuck with until I bake a new batch.

I picked up a copy of Local Breads from the Library. I recently came back from living in Europe and have been profoundly disappointed with the quality of breads in my part of the US. I grabbed this book in hopes of finding something (anything!) resembling the breads I enjoyed while living abroad. I'm still a novice baker, so I found the first chapter of this book to be pretty informative. Leader directly contradicts a few of the things I've read from equally respectable bread-makers, but I unfortunately cannot remember specific points.


The first bread my wife wanted was Pain au Levain. Obtaining this book coincided with receiving a shipment of Graham and Pumpernickel flours from Hodgson Mills. I was happy to try these flours by substituting them for the whole wheat and rye flours called for by Leader.

The dough seemed to take an extraordinarily long time to knead. This may have stemmed from my instinct to knead out the bits of coarse flour, or perhaps it is because my sourdough starter seems to produce ridiculously sticky dough (I have no idea if this is normal). The dough was still sticky after 20 minutes of rigorous dough slapping (and two resting periods!). It eventually developed a grand gluten structure, stretching easily into an almost-clear windowpane. The "sticky sourdough" issue lasted until baking time; the dough even stuck to my finger when I poked it to see how it was coming along. I should note that I had this issue with my last batch of sourdough. It made the dough very difficult to shape and score. I blame the flatness of my batards on my inability to get a very good surface tension.


The flavor of this bread is fantastic. The graham flour gave it a nice sweet/nutty flavor. This flavor, however, is perhaps a little too pronounced in the crust. The coarse flours give it a nice, pleasant texture and an appealing look.


The problem with this bread is the crust. I am not one to shy away from good hearty chewing. I like to know that I'm eating. I'd like to say I have a jaw that could chew through tin cans, but luckily I haven't tried. This crust, however, is beyond me. I baked the bread a little too long, but I don't think it was so long as to produce such a thick crust. I'm wondering if the problem stems from my sticky sourdough issues. The other problem with this bread is that the graham flour is too pronounced in the crust. I have a random feeling that this might actually be due to over-baking. 


At any rate, this is the result of following Leader's formula (including the cast iron skillet and ice cubes, which I won't do again), but substituting whole wheat flour for graham flour and pumpernickel for rye flour.


Leader Pain au Levain Crumb


Is it common for sourdough to be sticky? It seems to be the norm with my starter. Would the sticky dough contribute to a thick crust, or did I simply bake this bread too long? I have a poor oven with a whopping 75F error in temperature (it changes each day). This makes it nearly impossible to predict baking times.



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