The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


breadforfun's picture

That is not the question.  But how to steam?  Ah, there's the rub (with apologies to the Bard).

As many  a home baker, I have struggled with getting enough steam into the oven during the initial bake period.  There are many suggestions on the topic in these TFL pages, and I think I have tried them all.  I've used lava rocks, pouring water into a hot pan, soaking towels, ice cubes, etc.  This past weekend I made two batches of Tartine bread recipe, one of which I used the lava rock method of steaming and the other I used the book's recommended method of a dutch oven.  It is pretty clear which worked better (steamwise).  The boule has much more bloom and grigne, though not as much as I have seen by other posters here.  The oval loaf is much more subdued (although not without its own charm).

The crumb of this bread is exquisite.

What steaming methods work for you?



Szanter5339's picture

100 ml of water
175 g of yogurt
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar, 20%
700 g flour
30 g yeast
A sourdough made ​​yesterday.


140 ml of water
150 g flour
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon salt
20 g of yeast

The inner diameter of 23 cm in Jena.
Height of 10 cm
The Jena ráborítani roof I could not, so I put baking paper on top so as not to burn.

breadsong's picture

Hello and Happy New Year everyone!

I thought it would be fun to open up a bottle of something bubbly (a bottle of Guinness) and bake a loaf
for New Year’s…started on New Year’s Eve, and baked on New Year’s Day :^)

Katie’s Stout and Flaxseed Bread (thanks to Andy for originally posting about this, and to Karin for the reminder):

Crisp crust, delightfully delicious flavor, rich and nutty. (Why did I wait so long to try making this?!)

Last October, I used Guinness beer in another bread, trying a recipe for Dark Malted Bread with Dried Fruit from Martha Rose Shulman’s book, Great Breads (this bread had a terrific depth of flavor from the Guinness barm (poolish) and blackstrap molasses). (Thanks to MC for posting about Martha Rose Shulman’s beautiful breadsticks, another reminder for me, of Ms. Shulman’s book I had been neglecting):

I adapted the formula, including a preferment:

One last bake with Guinness!: this cake, Sticky Toffee “Pudding” from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Heavenly Cakes, also included Guinness beer. This cake was really delicious, with the Guinness-soaked dates and butterscotch toffee sauce :^)
(my apologies in advance…unfortunately I did not get permission to share the recipe but if this cake interests you I hope you can get access to the book):

Best wishes to everyone, for Happy Baking in 2012!
:^) from breadsong

SylviaH's picture

I just would not feel right without some black eyed peas on New Years Day.  Fresh black eyed peas they say represents coins and the kale money...hummm sounds good and lucky to me.  

This is my MIL real southern cornbread recipe..god bless her...I call it grandma Turner's cornbread.  It has no sugar and no flour and is dropped into a hot skillet of bacon fat.

That's italian sweet sausage from my local butcher's in the soup.  Also pictured is today's bake of sourdough loaves..the fourth one was in the oven.  It was made into a round fill with cheese, like I saw on Farine's blog...yummm.

Grandma Turner's Cornbread

Preheat oven and 10" or 12" (I use 12" for single and double recipe) inch frying pan with bacon drippings in a 400F oven.

2 cups white or yellow corn meal

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs

4 to 6 TBsp. of veg oil or bacon drippings  - add some or all in the pan.  I add about 6 TBsp. full and  put the pan into a hot 400F oven - removing about 3 TBsp. to go directly into mixed batter.

Mix the cornbread. 

Mix all the dry ingredients.

 Lightly beat eggs into the buttermilk

Add wet buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients.  Add hot bacon drippings - or veg. oil.   I added 3 TBsp. of bacon drippings.  Reserving about 3 TBsp. in the heating frying pan.

 Very lightly stir the mixture and pour into pre-heated hot iron pan.  It will sizzle when it hits the hot bacon drippings.  I used a 12" pan.  This recipe can be doubled if using a the large 12" frying pan.  The corn bread I have pictured is not a double recipe.

You don't have to do the hot skillet and drippings..if you do..use caution, everything is very hot!  You can just add veg. oil or melted butter to your batter and pour it into a well seasoned and greased heated frying pan.  I used all hot bacon drippings in this bake.  I also like using melted butter in the batter and then pouring the batter into hot bacon drippings in the iron pan.

Bake for apx. 20 mins.  The bread will come away from the sides of the pan and start to crack a little..that's good sign it's done!








                                                     Photo for fun and interest.  We burn a lot of oak around here, but not this one.

                                        I saw this on a television show the other day.  It's the US largest oldest living Oak Tree.  Less

                                        than 50 miles from me.  It has quite a history about the land it's on in Temecula, CA.



Happy New Year's Day!








wassisname's picture

I don’t usually get much time to bake during the holidays, but when I was asked to bake some bread to go with Christmas dinner how could I possibly refuse?  This was the perfect opportunity to try Andy’s mixed leaven formula.  It’s the sort of bread that will go with just about anything and the overnight  bulk ferment suited my schedule perfectly.  The only major change I made was to bulk ferment in a 60°F part of the house rather than in the refrigerator to accommodate my seasonally sluggish starter.

I scaled the formula to make four kilos of dough for four loaves.  That is definitely the limit for my largest mixing bowl.  Though twice the size of my usual batch of dough it was a really nice amount to knead by hand. 

In search of that beautiful, even crumb Andy’s loaves have I gave the dough a long, gentle knead.  I may have overdone it a bit as the crumb came out tighter than I was expecting, but the texture was wonderfully soft and springy.  No complaints there!  The flavor was excellent.  The bread kept very well.  I’ll be baking this one again!

Just to keep things interesting I added polenta and toasted pumpkin seeds to two of the loaves at the end of kneading.  I have come to love this combination – highly recommended.


varda's picture

Today I was planning to make Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat as part of a return to good healthy eating, but it was not to be.    I had added the starter to the dough and mixed it up, when my nose was assaulted by something NOT RIGHT.   In the past I've ignored these warnings figuring that whatever was not right would disappear in the baking.   But I've learned.   So out with the old dough, in with the new.   I mixed up another liquid starter, but I really wanted bread today, so after 3 hours, I decided to improvise.   Instead of nice, lean Vermont Sourdough,   I started the year with something sweet:   Cinnamon Swirl. 

The last time I made something like this, both my husband and son informed me that I'd skimped unduly on the cinnamon, sugar, and butter.    So this time I didn't.    To say the least.   I threw in the unfinished starter, and then some yeast for good measure.   It rose like gangbusters.   Here is what I came up with. 






Ripe Starter






















































































Take firm starter and build as above.    Leave at warm room temperature.    Scald milk in microwave for 1.5 minutes.   Add butter to it and let cool.    After starter has ripened for three hours, mix all ingredients.   Let double (this took 45 minutes.)   Press out into a long flat rectangle with short side in front.   Brush with melted butter.   Sprinkle very thickly with cinnamon sugar.   I used two sticks of cinnamon that I ground in a coffee grinder mixed with around 3/4 cups of sugar.   Roll up without pressing in the sides while shaping.   Place in bread pan with seam down.   Brush top with remaining melted butter and cinnamon sugar.  Let rise to over top of pan (this took around 45 minutes.)   Bake at 370 with no steam for 45 minutes.    Then remove from pan and bake for 15 more minutes.  Then enjoy and follow through on resolutions tomorrow. 

Onceuponamac's picture

Sourdough Raisin Boule :)


Nickisafoodie's picture

On Christmas eve I made 3 pounds of  dough for two large batard loaves intending to bake Christmas morning after overnight refrigerator proofing.  In the morning I went to preheat and the electric ignitor that starts my gas oven was broke and it didn't come on!  I wasn't sure if I could freeze the dough at this point.  I was targeting 72% hydration rather than a more typical 75% for a Tartine bake as I would be baking on a stone rather than in a dutch oven and looking to keep dough from spreading too much.  Plus the KAF patent flour I use seems to have a high moisture content with 72% coming working well in past recipes using this flour. 

Flour was 5.5% rye (100% hydration rye starter which made up 6.4% of the recipe), 10% semolina (ground the day prior) and 84.5% King Arthur patent flour (high protein, from a 50 lb bag - have never seen this in 5 pound bags).  Salt was 2%.  I originally intended to coat with sesame seeds and make two 1.5 lb batards. 

Plan B: pizza dough:  Given the 72% hydration is a level I have used for pizza dough and successfully kept in the refrigerator from 3 to 5 days, I thought this would be a good plan B.   Hoping for the best, I divided the dough into four pieces and place individually in lightly oiled containers.  For pizza dough, 3-5 days of refrigerated fermentation works well for optimal flavor and rising power, but have not ever gone longer. 

I ordered the new ignitor part and 5 days later my oven was up and running.   The $15 part ($22 with expedited shipping)  and an easy 15 minute fix was worth the wait compared to the repairman's $200 quote.  And by the way, three different web sites had the same part for for $75 so it pays to shop around...

So last night I made my 7 day old dough pizza.  You could see lots of holes in the dough while looking at it thru the plastic container.  I left the dough out for 90 minutes before starting.  This is a wet dough so I gently stretched to about 8'' size, let rest for 10 minutes and stretched to the final 14" size.  I made sure there was enough flour on the bottom to not stick, while preserving a rather moist dough otherwise.  I used semolina on the peel.  I used my thick soapstone stone which takes 90 minutes to preheat (to 600 degrees as outlined in a prior post).  The pie cooked in 3 1/2 minutes.  The tray above is where I let it rest after removing from the stone.

Surprise number one was how nice and fluffy the baked pizza was.  I thought the long fermentation may have broken down some of the rising ability/cell structure of the dough.  Surprise number two was very flavorful, but not sour or even tart (although I like sourdough more on the full flavor side).  Likely due to the starter being only 6.4% of the recipe compared to 20% or more in a sourdough bread recipe and a 39° refrigerator temperature.  But the flavor was excellent, slightly complex and the high hydration did allow the dough to become slightly gelatanized inside similar to some of the Tartine breads.  It was one of the best pizzas I have ever made.

So a very happy outcome all around and finding that a week in the refrigerator worked out surprisingly well.  And the holiday spiral ham?  Well while the oven didn't work, the broiler did as it uses a different element/burner at the top of the oven.  Wrapped the ham/pan in heavy foil, placed on low shelf, and removed foil after one hour.  Applied glazed and put under broiler for another 10 minutes.  The broiler flame carmelized the ham nicely and Christmas dinner was not only salvaged but came out very well.  Now I need to remake my original recipe and bake those batards!

Happy New Year to all...


GSnyde's picture

After all the heavy food, sweets and rich baked goods at holiday time, I decided to bake some nice healthy loaves of bread and make some soup with local North Coast seafood.  OK, the chowder has a good dose of cream in it, but I used a recipe without bacon, so it’s dietetic compared to my usual.

The bread is Hamelman’s Whole Wheat Multi-Grain, a 50% whole wheat sourdough with just a touch of instant yeast and some honey.  In the soaker, I used only rolled oats as that’s what I have on hand.  I added toasted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  The seeds plus oatmeal equaled the weight of the mixed grains in Hamelman’s formula.   I used the total amount of water the formula calls for.  The dough was dense but extensible, very easy to handle.  I made three loaves, semi-retarding one on our 50 degree porch while the first two baked.  All came out nicely.  The crust is dark but not crispy, and the crumb is moist and wonderfully wheaty with the nice feel, smell and taste of seeds.

The Salmon and Crab Chowder was adapted from a Food Network recipe (, but I added several pounds of salmon trimmings to the stock and added garlic to both the stock and the chowder; I also added a couple sliced leeks to the chowder.  I skipped the croutons and the drizzle.  It is quite a production with lots of steps, but the result was very well-received.  Rich, hardy chowder with lots of well-melded flavors.  It makes me grateful for the bounty of our local fishery.  Sorry, no photos of the lovely chowder. 

Now, my holiday story of The Hannukah Miracle of Christmas Dinner.

In case you don’t know the story symbolized by the Hannukah Menorah, it is told that when the Jews recaptured their temple from Greek occupation, there was only enough oil left to light the holy lamp for one night.  But miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights.  Thus Hannukah is celebrated as the eight night “Festival of Lights”.

Cat and I have a mixed marriage (we joke that we’re a born-again Druid and a lapsed agnostic, but we don’t remember which of us is which).  Cat’s family celebrates Traditional American Christmas with food, drink, a tree and presents, and drink.  My family celebrates Traditional American Hannukah with food and presents, and food.

For the last several years, I have spent “The Holidays” with Cat’s Family here on the North Coast.  Her brother is a good cook, and he cooks Christmas Eve dinner and I cook Christmas dinner, or vice versa.  This year, for Christmas dinner I made a Rib Roast rotiserried on charcoal, with many side dishes, including caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and a potato gratin with shallots, Gruyere and cream.   Several days later, after roast beef sandwiches, barbecue beef sandwiches, and several omelets of leftover potatoes gratin and caramelized onions, we  realized that our Christmas dinner made EIGHT MEALS!!  It’s a multi-religious miracle!  It’s a miracle that we’re still standing.

I might also mention that my Hannukah stocking this year included two wonderful baking books—Ortiz’s The Village Baker and Hensperger’s Bread Bible.  I’m looking forward to new experiments.

Happy New Year to all TFLers.


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Happy New Year to everyone!

Around my native town Freiburg in south-west Germany we have thae habit to eat some huge and elaborately decoreted brezels made of sweet dough for breakfast on New Year's Day. (Usually they are made by professional bakers.)

I made  some of them in the past, here some impressions from this year's bake.

A little mouse made by my wife, peeking into the future:


The somewhat more conventional Neujahrs-Brezel I made:

I used DiMuzio's sweet challah dough - I love to work with it, and it comes pretty close to what bakers use for these brezels in Germany.

The problem with making these is worktop space - the strand for a 600g brezel is about 1.3 metres long!

Best Wishes,




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