The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Yippee's picture

My first cherry pie for a colleague's birthday:

Forgot to take a picture before cutting it.


koloatree's picture

just cant seem to get the appearance id like. i think i am cutting too deep and not making a clean slice. accidently baked too long as well and i think i overproofed.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ongoing Kamut experiment... a short one.

Monday Morning:

I have 600g Kamut berries.  Dirctions say how to cook, 2 cups water for 1 cup berries washed in sieve.  I decided to use the rice cooker for my good 4 cups of grain.  By washing, it was clear that the grain was better washed in a large bowl and water poured off the top to remove parts of hulls and dust.  The berries are large enough to drain in a colander.   I then let the rice cooker do the work with 1 tsp of salt.  All the water was absorbed and the grain took on a caramel color with a nutty fragrance. 

Now what?  I was hoping to put this grain into a rye bread but I had to eat some first.  Very chewy.  Very chewy indeed!  Now I'm not so sure I want it whole in my bread.  I was eating chili for lunch so I combined some cooked grain into it.  Uh, ok, not the best idea, but I did get a glimpse of the texture with other food.  The tough chewy berries stood out.  "Roughage" kept going through my head.  I guess the blender is the next step, make the grains smaller.  Will I come out with a pudding like substance?   I have to think about this....  any ideas?  (Meanwhile, starter is being refreshed.)  I need some coffee.


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

We were planning to cook dinner out on the grill this evening, but it was wet and dreary here today, so we changed plans and pulled some French onion soup out of the freezer instead. I opened Hamelman's book this morning to make the Baguettes with Poolish, only to be reminded that the poolish needs overnight fermentation, so I switched gears and mixed the straight French Bread dough instead. The loaves turned out feather-light and much tastier than anything I could have bought at the store. Given enough time, I would have chosen a bread with a pre-ferment, but under the circumstances these fit the bill perfectly. Since the formula is easy to access in Bread, a Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes (page 233), I'll give my favorite recipe for French Onion Soup instead. This freezes very well. Enjoy!

Famous Barr's French Onion Soup

3 pounds onions (5-pound bag, peeled)
4 ounces butter
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 quarts beef bouillon
1 cup dry white wine (optional)

Slice onions thinly. Melt butter in large soup pot, and saute onions slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Add all the dry ingredients, and saute over low heat 10 minutes more. Add the bouillon and wine, and simmer for 2 hours. Adjust color to a rich brown, if desired, with caramel coloring or Kitchen Bouquet. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve: Heat soup. Fill fireproof casserole or individual fireproof bowls. Top with French bread and swiss cheese. Place under broiler until browned.


xaipete's picture

sprouted wheat bread

I've been feeling a little guilty about all of the refined flour breads we've been eating lately, so on Friday, I decided to make a batch of our old standby, 100% Sprouted Wheat Bread. I've made this bread dozens of times but not once in the last four months. I began soaking the grains on Friday and sprouted them this morning. After they were sprouted, about 6 hours, I ground them with the meat grinder attachment to my KA. I had had the brilliant idea that if I knew the weight of the KA bowl, I could add the ingredients to the bowl and save myself a little clean up. So I proceeded merrily along. When I got to the adding the water, the last ingredient, the scale read "err" but I didn't worry. After all I've made this recipe so many times. Well that was my second mistake (the first was thinking my scale could handle the weight). To make a long story shorter--or day of cleaning up a whole bunch of devices--I put way to much water in the bowl. I don't usually add more than a few tablespoons of whole-wheat flour to this bread and that is solely for the purpose of getting my "C" hook to pick up the dough and knead it properly. I also don't usually keep much whole-wheat flour around since I grind my own as needed. Well 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour later, having now made a mess of my KA, my kneading counter, and my large capacity food processor, I finally got enough flour in the mix and got it kneaded. I ended up using my food processor to knead it in two batches.

I knew it would come out OK because it looked like bread dough after being processed. It is a pretty warm day here today, so its first rise went pretty fast and its second, even faster. One batch of dough normally makes three 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaves, but because I had to put so much flour in the dough, I opted for four loaves. Everything looked pretty good so I popped them in the oven. Why I thought they should be on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven is now a mystery to me but that was my third error for the day. When I checked them at 20 minutes I didn't notice that they were browning too fast, but it was pretty evident when I pulled them out of the oven at 40 minutes.

These are not the tastiest or prettiest loaves of sprouted wheat to come out of my kitchen, but in spite of everything they taste fine--perhaps a little more like whole wheat than sprouted this time--with a crumb that's not bad considering what they've been through. I eventually got all the paraphernalia that I used cleaned up too. Well so much for trying to save having to wash a bowl!

The recipe is here.

sprouted wheat bread


PMcCool's picture

While it would be self-deception in the first degree to think that I have a lock on wheaten breads, I've been wanting to expand my repertoire to include breads with a high percentage of rye flour.  I enjoy the flavor and have been very impressed by the breads produced by other TFL posters.  So, I thought I'd try my hand with the Soulful German Farmhouse Rye from Daniel Leader's Local Breads.  This bread has been profiled in other posts on TFL, so feel free to search out those entries, too.

I maintain a single sourdough starter that is usually fed AP or bread flour.  Every now and then it gets goosed with a bit of whole rye or whole wheat, based on the needs of a particular recipe.  For this bread, I did two refreshments entirely with whole rye flour to build the rye sour it calls for.  About the only rye flour carried in supermarkets locally is Hodgson Mills whole rye, so it's not like there's a lot of choice in the matter.  Whole Foods and Wild Oats stores have some other possibilities, but the labeling doesn't always make it clear just what they are selling.

The formula calls for a quarter teaspoon each of coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, toasted and ground.  That turned out to be my first point of departure from the formula.  Recalling some earlier discussions on TFL, I substituted caraway for the cumin.  My first attempt at toasting the seeds in a skillet on the stovetop was, well, overdone.  As I was grinding the seeds, the predominant odor was that of something scorched, not something spicy.  After pitching those, I started over.  This time I dialed back the heat and shook the skillet every few seconds so that nothing had a chance to park on a hot spot and scorch.  I also kept a close eye on the fennel seeds.  They started out with a greenish cast, while the coriander and caraway already had a toasty color.  When the fennel seeds' color shifted from green to golden, I pulled the skillet off the flame and dumped the seeds into the mortar.  A few strokes with the pestle released a toasty/spicy fragrance that was much different and far better than the that of the first attempt.  

Despite Leader's recommendations, I opted for hand mixing and kneading the dough, primarily to understand how it looked and felt as it developed.  Now I know why the phrase "wet cement" figures prominently in writings about making rye breads.  Despite what you read in recipes, a high-percentage rye dough will not be silky; nor will it be elastic or responsive.  I'll probably use the mixer for future forays, but I know now what to look for.  The other departure from the formula was to use wet hands and a wet countertop for kneading.  Leader recommends floured hands, but I think that working wet has to be the better choice.  First, you can't work in too much additional flour.  Second, the same components in rye flour that make it so sticky also make it slippery when wet.  That means your hands don't get nearly as gummed up with dough as they would if you worked with floured surfaces.  Keeping a plastic bowl scraper in one hand while manipulating the dough with the other is also a good tactic.  

The dough came together rather easily.  Yes, it was sticky.  Yes, it was sludgy.  And no, it didn't seem the least bit soulful; at least, not compared to a dough made with wheat flour.  The second point at which I departed from the script was to add only half the amount of yeast.  A significant quantity of the rye flour is in the final dough, so I wanted it to have the opportunity to acidify before the yeast took over.  That stretched the fermentation times out beyond the times noted in the formula but I wasn't in any rush.

Leader recommends "dusting" the bannetons with rye flakes before depositing the boules for their final fermentation.  First, things the size of rye flakes can't be "dusted" onto anything, much less the sidewalls of a banneton.  Second, he recommends slashing the loaves with a tic-tac-toe pattern immediately before loading them in the oven.  Every try slashing a dough that is armored, sorry, "dusted" with rye flakes?  It ain't gonna happen, no matter what your slashing weapon of choice is.  (See picture, below.)  And that for a bread that, he says truthfully, isn't going to rise much in the oven.  I'll grant you that the rye flakes have a certain rustic appeal for the eye, but next time I'd rather use them as a soaker or leave them off entirely.

Here's how the finished breads look:

Soulful German Farmhouse Rye

These are compact breads, maybe 1.5 inches high and 7 or 8 inches across.  The rye flakes and the knife handle give you a sense of their scale.  The crumb, not surprisingly, is dense and rather tight.  The soulful part, which isn't appreciable here, is in the flavor.  The rye is front and center in this bread.  The spices, while discernible, are very much in a supporting role.  It's quite a bit different than Levy's NY jewish rye, which has 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.  The crust is chewy, as is the crumb.  Then again, it's been in a plastic bag overnight.  Left out in the air, it would probably be rather hard-shelled.  It doesn't feel quite as moist as I had anticipated (probably a factor of the whole rye's absorbency) but it isn't crumbly, either.  I think it is probably a very good thing that I used water, rather than flour, to manage the stickiness while kneading the dough.  There's no noticeable gumminess in the crumb, so it appears that I waited long enough before cutting into it. 

All in all, an enjoyable bread and one that should go very well with the ham I purchased this weekend.

blackbird's picture

After reading in Reinhart's WGB pages 205-209, I made up my mind to give it a try.  I discovered my very nearby microbrewery gives away their spent grain so I dropped by to gather up a few plastic containers of rather warm steaming fresh spent barley grain.  Using white bread flour, a little rye, salt, instant yeast, water, and caraway seeds, I made a free standing loaf.  I'm not good at free standing loaves despite some years of baking -------not that I was baking in great amounts-----but ever so rarely in free standing loaves.

Next time I'll use whole wheat and try to follow the book more closely.   I'll try to make progress in scoring while I'm at it.  My new round banneton will get much use. 

Jw's picture

this weekend I researched the strenght and taste of my wild yeast. I made one starter with wild yeast (pure), one with an extra half a teaspone of commercial yeast, and the third with some sourdough powder I once bought. Also, in the oven I covered half of the breads with a alu-foil pain for the first 15 minutes.

Conclusion: the wild yeast is not that strong yet, a few spots  in that bread were not completely developed. The alu-foil really helps. Those breads looks nice and have a better crust. Adding a bit of commercial gets me better results (or I need to proof longer next time). You don't see much difference during the whole proces, it's all happening once you hit the oven.
About the picture: top row is with cover, from left to right: wild yeast only, added commercial yeast, added sourdough powder. The one in the bottom row in the middle rose twice the size in the oven, but is was 'all air' wiithin.

Crumb: the one is the middle is the wild yeast only version. This was around lunch today, baking was yesterday 5 p.m.

I thought I'd add a few others pictures this time as well. Not just from the bread itself, but also how we eat it. These are heart-breads, just pain ancienne, with a bit of wild yeast (for the taste) and extra seads. great to receive or take to school..or to eat with raspberry marmalade.

this picture shows part of the lunch table from yesterday. the yellow light comes from the sun roof. just 'lazy bread', bacon and some fish.


last but not least: I made a few extra zopf last thursday for colleages at work. Six-strand breading is getting better (bottom right). I used standard flour and not the special zopf flour.

Happy baking! (just had to take a bread out of the fridge, we ate all bread already..)


AnnieT's picture

The loaf is baked and to be truthful I can't see any difference - I was expecting the beer to have some effect and maybe the flour. The loaf slid partway off the parchment as I was loading it so I retrieved the parchment to use another day. The loaf did sing a muted song which was nice. So I am happy with the Bob's Red Mill flour - but won't add beer in future. I'm taking it for supper with the family and will try to get a shot of the crumb, A.

benjamin's picture

I attempted David's sourdough adaptation of the anis bouabsa baguette... IMG_1777.JPGIMG_1778.JPGIMG_1783.JPG

The crumb was beautifully soft, and this was by far the crustiest baguette I have ever made. The dough is a little hard to work with due to the high hydration, and scoring is particularly challenging! It was well worth it though, and I will definately be making these again!


Happy baking



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