The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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SylviaH's picture

This is the first time I've tried this popular bread.  I used my Australian sourdough.  I'd like to try making it again...I had a lot of running around to do today...but at least it got a long ferment but pushed and shoved around a lot getting it into the oven...I should have saved myself a lot of grief and just put in on parchment paper!!  I'll know better next time! 

Jeffrey Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough W/Whole Wheat

This bread is delicious and I will be making it often! I will make 4  loaves instead of 2!




Marni's picture

One of the traditions of Purim (a very festive Jewish holiday celebrating an ancient victory) is to send gifts of food to friends.  Because the day is so full of fun, many people try to provide a laugh along with the treats.  This year, I decided pizza and beer would be fun.  How is that fun? 

Because they're cookies!

I made about 25 which my son, dressed as a messy teenage "pizza guy" delivered (with beer).  A strange combination, but it brought out the smiles. 

I'll get back to bread next week!  Thanks for letting me share.

rhag's picture

As requested here's the recipe I use to make baguettes. This recipe yields about 10-390g baguettes. For use in a home oven i would scale down the weight otherwise you'll end up with a small loaf rather than the slender french icon.




Flour (Hard) 850g

Water           850g

Yeast           Pinch

Flour: I use manitoba organic white. I think it runs in the 13% range for protien. So use accordingly, KAF seems like good flour in the US


Final Dough:

Flour (Hard)  1675g

Water             850g

Salt                50g

Yeast (Fresh)  26g If using instant yeast use 1/3 of the listed fresh amount.


1. Poolish- 12-16 hours prior to the bake mix all ingredients for the poolish until smooth. Water temp should be cool to the touch roughly 21°C or 70°F. Cover and let rise at room temp. Make sure the Poolish does not collapse. If the poolish collapses discard it as it will not longer provide the proper flavour, extensibility  or gluten development to your dough.


2. Mixing- By hand or my machine. It's up to you I use a spiral. In the spiral i put all the ingredients in and mix for 6-7 minutes on the only speed the spiral works at. Itwould be equivilant to a 1st speed on most mixers. Your looking for a smooth shiney dough with moderate gluten development. Dough temp should come out of the mixer at 25°C or 78°F. You'll have to adjust the water temp based on the ambient temp.

3. Fermentation- Bulk Ferment 2 hours. With a Fold at 1 hr.

4. Dividing and Shape- Pour dough from proofing container on to floured table. Do not Degas at this point. Scale out your portions and be gentle we're trying to retain some of the hole structure we've built from out fermentation. Give a light oval preshape to the portions and let rest for 10-15 minutes. The dough needs to be sufficiently relaxed because when we final shape the dough we want to extend the dough to its final length in 1 or 2 passes. At this point we are trying to handle the dough as little as possible. Over working the dough will give a very tight crumb structure. Final shape the dough  gently degas and shape this is the closest video i can find to how i final shape the baguettes.

5. Proofing - Proof at room temp for 30min - 1hr between folds of bakers linen, couche, canvas whatever you've got.  seam side up.

6. Bake - Score w/ razor blade in desired pattern or cut into epi loaves. Bake @ 460°F w/ steam on hearth. Give  a good bake so the moisture in the dough doesn't migrate out the the crust, a soft crust on cooled lean bread means it needed a longer bake. I don't time my bakes because each batch of dough is different so thats a judgment call in your court.

7. EAT!!!!!!

8. If there are left overs the next day make crustini, breadcumbs, crutons or bread pudding!



If i'm missing anything or am completely wrong let me know and i'll give this an update. Hope this helps.




bigphredo's picture

My first loaf

There it is my very first loaf of bread, honey whole wheat. It went pretty well, I had my first sandwich today. Boy was it good, so much better then store bought. I'm making another loaf tonight...I just couldn't wait. I'm make a different version of the honey whole wheat. I'll let you know how it goes.

rhag's picture

On Saturday the 7th at 9pm I started mixing my first dough and began my overnight bake to have fresh bread out for my display at the 2009 culinary salon. As the night progressed I created my take on the epi loaf, guinness and barley bread, ciabatta, palmiers, croissant, danish pastries, 5 grain buns, 5 strand challahs and my centre piece. I set up the display around 6 am on sunday after a relaxing night bake. Judging began at 8am and i was allowed back at 1pm. I arrived with much anticipation and found my peice awarded a 1st place standing in my category!. Gold! I took some pictures of my work space at the college for everyone to see. Needless to say i was excited all day about the win.


A couple doughs getting fermented


The Deck oven I use. Its not fancy but gives good heat and I control the steam I add w/ a manual lever


Palmiers Getting rolled out


My take on the Epi





Baguette Crumb



Me and Chef Bucher( my instructor from europe)


SylviaH's picture

Irish American Heritage Month

This is the way my Irish Mother 'Sylvia' taught me to make Irish Soda Bread.  I was born in Belfast, Ireland and raised in the USA.  All my family...My Children and Grandchildren 'My Brother his Irish wife and her family '10 brothers and sisters' their four children and now Great Grandkids,Aunts, Uncle's, name it are close by here in the USA and a few Aunt's and Uncle's cousins in Australia!  We all love Irish Soda Bread!  This Soda Bread is very Basic and yet this recipe can be made using some wheat flour, even the Irish Wheaten flour, add raisins, currants or sultans and make "Spotted Dog" or "Spotted Dick", shape into Farls or Round Bread and cut a cross on top.  I didn't use my currants today...but you get the idea!  I baked my Farls in my Iron skillet...heated until a little flour sprinkled on the bottom turns brown..a med. low heat!  Farls also bake up very nicely on Aunt used to cover hers with a towel to help them bake a little warmer.  I bake a Farl about 10min. on each side..till they are nice and lightly browned and then turn them over once and finish.  The oven baked soda bread is baked in a preheated oven 350F for apx. 35 min.

I hope this might help some who are making Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day...It's simple fast and delicious warm or cold!

This Recipe Makes One Round Loaf "or" 4 Farls.

2  Full Cups of All Purpose Flour or 1 1/2 Cups AP and 1/2 Whole Wheat> my Mum always said the Irish cup measures are larger so we filled them!!

1 tsp. Salt

1  Slightly Heaped tsp. Cream of Tartar "This is a Family Secret sort of : )"  you can take it out if you insist on using only Baking Soda!! 

1 Heaped tsp. Baking Soda> I use the one from the health food store

1 Full Cup of Buttermilk

Mix all dry ingredients well.  Make a well in the flour and pour in buttermilk.  Toss with fork until all flour sticks together.  Handling is  fast, gentle and not over mixed...Iron fist velvet glove!!  Drop out onto a very well floured surface and push into a ball and give 2 or 3 gentle kneads it can be sticky so use extra flour.  Form gently into a ball.  Place into pie pan. Flatten a little, cut a cross on top with a floured knife.  For Farls.  Flatten cut into fourths and bake in a skillet or on a griddle.

Bake 350F Oven 35min. till sounds hollow when bottom is tapped and nicely browned -Farls are>    Med-Low Skillet/Griddle  Nicely browned not to dark


Mixing Dry Ingredients

Your gonna love these measurments...Full Cup of Buttermilk...same with Flour measurements...flour is heaped in this cup!!  Hey this is the old fashioned Irish Way!!

Pour Buttermilk into a well of Flour

Form into a sticky mass Gently!

Gently knead 2 or 3 times into a ball adding extra flour to keep from sticking.

Cut a cross on top or flatten a little more and cut all the way through with a floured knife and flour sliced areas and make  Soda Farls.

Place in 350F preheated oven

Apx. 35 min till done

Sliced Warm Crumb

Soda Farls in the Iron Pan

Turned Over after about 10mins.

Place in towel to keep soft.

Slice like this...

Farl Crumb

Oh I'll just have an 1/8th...and another and another before I go on my bike ride!!

Hope you enjoyed my photos...I let the battery run down in my new camera and still not sure how to use this older one! 

May The Luck of The Irish Be With You!  If you try this recipe : ))













Jw's picture

In absence of my camera (the display is broken), I uploaded a few old pictures. When our kids were younger, we once took them to the Bakkery Museum. They were really exited about the figures the bakers demonstrated. If it is not the content of a bread, it will be the form that decides whether they like it are not!

We made some of these breads during several birthday partys, even the 'never eat bread' kids would eat that own bread this time.

I am progressing with the sourdough, more on the art part then on the science part. Baking full week around is also working out so far. Pictures will follow! Groeten, Jw.

A baker at the museum. I remember they put on a real good show, they made everything look so simple.

Some of the figures:

And a picture from a birthday party. The kids added a bit of sugar powder on top... the pictures are from 2002.


blackbird's picture


New here, thought I'd try a little blog to see what happens, learning wonderfully, hearty thanks to generous people, and I hope I can be as helpful.   

 This is a small rye in the "cocktail" size.  A cube of butter is shown next to it.   There must be a better name?  It slices very thin.  The crumb is a bit dense and moist due, I suppose, to so much rye flour in the dough.  I think I started baking with rye in 1975 but I'm quite primitive with rye.  Eventually this rye became my easy little rye.  It has little resemblance to the more complicated ryes I'm reading about nowadays, especially the sour ryes.

It makes tidy tiny sandwiches, eh?  Hahahaha.  Anyway, I have enjoyed a slice of red radish and a tiny bit of lettuce leaf for one example but no need to limit the imagination.

I usually do not dust with flour nor do I score the top crust.  But I did to see what would happen.  This one was baked in a metal baguette form although little mini-loaf bread pans work very well especially if I cover them with aluminium foil while baking.

The dusted rye is the object now.

Seeds of your choice if you want them.  The one shown has fennel and anise.  Choose your seeds to suit you as to type and quanity.  I suggest you soak seeds in water for some time and use the water for the dough.  I don't like hard seeds in bread.

The baking was at 400F and about 40 minutes with a water pan for steam although that isn't so much for crust as to help keep the loaf moist.  Using mini-loaf pans will change the time depending on how many mini-pans you are baking.  Internal temperature reached 200F.  Covering with aluminium foil firmly helps to keep moisture in the loaf.

A little salt, a little instant yeast, seeds and the water plus flour, a little oil if you want it.  A basic measurement is 2 cups rye flour, 1 cup white bread flour, 9 or 10 ounces of the water for a start.  Add a little water if needed.  Mix and rest, let ferment for quite a while --- in the fridge covered in the bowl overnight if you like but several hours at room temperature is my usual method.  Long fermentation changes the texture and taste of the crumb.

The dough can be a bit wet but a little white bread flour will do when kneading which is basically a stretch and fold but there is no need to knead the daylights out of it. 

I set the dough in the form, a bread mini pan or a baguette pan, for the final rise and finally into the oven.  It doesn't rise greatly so it is more like a rest.

While this is a guide and not a recipe of precise amounts it can be changed easily to suit anyone's prefered precision or adding other ingredients such as molasses, orange, nuts, etc.  I don't add much but will see about orange.  Others may add the works if they like.

The point, if I'm making one, is that it is a simple, small rye.  For me, it is easy and dependable.  Your conditions will vary.  This type of rye isn't complex. 

Peter Reinhart in Whole Grain Breads on pages 219 to 223 writes about Vollkornbrot also known as a schwartzbrot ---"black bread" ---and my little simple rye may be an example somewhat distantly similiar but without the complex magnifance of a proper Vollkornbrot.   I can't recall how I found a recipe for a rye nor how this managed to evolve. 

I shall try to make a more precise recipe and technique comment in the near future.


foolishpoolish's picture


ehanner's picture

Digital Photography, Tips and Methods for the Baker

One of the wonderful things about the digital cameras we all have today is that we can share the look of the wonderful things we bake. It’s one thing to write a recipe and describe how things should be but as someone once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

The scope of this blog will be limited to product photography and how to achieve the best results from commonly available equipment. I will try to avoid complex explanations that are better suited for advanced or professional photographers. The beginning baker need not take a magazine quality image to show for the purpose of asking for help. However, all of us want to show our work in the best possible light. We all are proud of our achievements and progress in this hobby of bread making and I am sure all of us want our pictures to reflect the beauty of our success.

NOTE: If you want to stay apprised to the updates to this blog you can subscribe below. Please feel free to post questions and I will try to be as helpful as possible.

The camera:
The myth that you need a 10.2 mega pixel camera to take good pictures has become accepted by the public as put forward by the camera makers. The simple truth is that an inexpensive camera with a good lens from 10 years ago will do just fine. Our computer monitors display images at a resolution of 72 or 96 dots per inch. All digital cameras record images at the size or resolution set in the camera settings. That means that the image saved by your camera is a whopping 3872x2592 pixels if you are using a 10 megapixel camera set on Large. That is a 10 Mb file that will display as 42X27 inches on your monitor. Displayed full size, you would only see a small portion on your screen.  The file size of an image saved at any resolution is way way larger than you need for uploading to the forum or emailing. As a general rule if you can re size your image to 4X6 inches at 72 dpi or there about, the file size will be small enough you can email it quickly and it will be uploaded easily to the image editor at the forum.
If you are thinking about buying a new camera, my advice is to purchase the best quality lens you can afford in your budget. Nikon has some very nice SLR’s in the range of $400 with wonderful optics that are  good general use lenses. Canon I am sure also has a competitive line with similar pricing. Remember that your image first has to pass through the optics on the camera. Everything that follows the lens is electronics. Mass production of plastic lenses has gotten um better, but a good glass lens will deliver sharp images on the collector plate. Yes, there are good quality smallish size cameras with plastic lenses. If size isn’t a consideration, an SLR that allows you to change lenses is my choice.

Basic Camera Operation:
First, learn how to control the on camera flash. This is important for every image you take from the kids standing on the beach to the loaf of bread just out of the oven. Even if you use the Auto setting on your point and shoot camera you can improve your results dramatically by understanding how to manipulate the flash. In outdoor settings in direct sunlight, the Sun casts a harsh shadow on the dark side all objects. The moon is the best example. When we see a crescent shaped moon, it is the shadow of the Sunlight that creates the contrast that looks like the moon has changed shape. In fact the moon is still there as always, just not illuminated so we can see the details. The same thing happens to a lesser degree when we take a photo in direct sunlight of a person wearing a hat. The camera will adjust for the overall amount of light on this bright sunny day and the face of the individual will be in shadow. If you force the camera to always fire the flash, especially on sunny days, you can eliminate the face being in shadow. The opposite is also true. If you prevent the flash from firing when in indoors but still decent light, your images will not suffer from being driven by over flash and the bounce back that occurs from camera mounted flash. Using daylight streaming in from outside gives the most natural colors for faces or bakery products. If you can use Sun light to illuminate your food products, there won’t be any need to adjust color tones later. Also, your lighting won’t be coming from the direction of the camera so there will be more interesting shadow detail in view.
Natural lighting usually results in lower light levels which increases the need for a steady hand or a tripod. Squeeze don't punch the shutter for a still camera and sharp image.

The most true colors and most natural looking images will always be the result of using the Sun to illuminate your images.  Having said that.

Flash photography is a reality that we all have to deal with. Most of my breads seem to come out of the oven at night or on gray cloudy days. I end up taking snap shots of the  breads I want to upload on a pan on the stove top with a florescent light fixture above. I put daylight tubes in the fixture and that helps reduce the green shade that florescent tubes usually cast. The on camera flash provides the majority of light and the result is a well exposed and color balanced image. The closer you are with the camera, the more prominent the light from the flash is. This is especially true with less expensive point and shoot cameras that don’t automatically adjust the flash down to prevent over exposure or burnout. In general you will get better results if you position the camera in the mid range of the flash. For example if your flash has an effective range of 12 feet, don’t get closer than 5 or 6 feet.

Setting the ISO:
The ISO setting allows you the ability to make the image plate more sensitive to lower light ranges. This is an area where I could easily get side tracked in a discussion of capabilities that while interesting, would be better saved for an advanced user discussion. I suggest using an ISO setting between 600 and 800. Image quality will remain high and at 800 the range of available light is wide enough to capture all of the details we need. Use higher numbers for lower light levels.

Natural Light Photography:
Our eye sees things as they are normally lit, with a combination of light sources and shadows. Flash lighting from a camera mounted strobe is harsh and unflattering in most cases. It’s OK for a quick snap shot but if you really want an image to show your work, a little thought about the lighting will dramatically improve your results.
Try to think about light as a liquid. It flows around sharp corners and bounces off of shapes it encounters, changing quality and color as it travels. Like the stream from a garden hose, it is most harsh and powerful closest to the source, falling in intensity as it travels away.
The most dramatic images have a wide range of depth of color and intensity. Some very dark places and some very light or white places . The focus point is sharp and well focused. The lighting establishes the mood. Long soft shadows from rear lighting with filling light on the sides make this image of a soft pretzel very interesting. Shadows creeping in from the side bring depth to any image.  The images Mark Sinclair and his wife are using of his bakery products are a good example of thoughtful natural lighting. Take a look at how they have sculpted the breads with perfect control of the light. No trickery here, just thoughtful lighting you can do at home.

All of the images above are good examples of natural off camera lighting. Thanks to Mark, Susan, and Pamela and also Stephmo for the Pretzels shot.

This will be a work in progress and added to as I get time. If you have questions, fire away and I'll do the best I can. This is a big subject that could get very specialized.



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