The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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--pk's picture

Ok, so not day 1, but sort of. I have baked bread for a few years now, but not with any sort of structure. I mixed some water, yeast, sugar, and enough flour to make a dough. Kneaded it until it felt right, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise, shape, let it rise and bake until it sounded hollow.  About 6 months ago something went wrong and for some reason the bread that I was turning out just did not taste good.I blamed the flour change (had previously used only gold medal bread flour, then switched to a local store brand AP), but I realized that I could not actually narrow it down to this as I had not documented the process when it was not working. So began a long period of frustration where I cannot seem to get anything right and I end up tossing about half the bread I am baking out because it does not look/feel/taste good to me. I have resolved over the next year to get to the point where I am a decent baker and can tell why my bread is doing what it is.  I have picked up several bread books and am doing as much research as I can. So anything that you see here is from my understanding only. Not law. If it is incorrect, let me know. I appreciate any help that can be afforded.



okieinalaska's picture

whole wheat bread


 Whole Wheat RollsWhole Wheat Rolls

 I tried Kippercat's whole wheat roll recipe she posted a few days ago.  I LOVE IT!  The dough was lovely to work with and I even managed to shape the rolls so that they looked as good as they tasted.  I took the photos above, it was hard not to slice that loaf as soon as I could though!  But right after pictures, we cut it, LOL.

I didn't have instant yeast so I tried to add just a bit extra of active yeast.  I also added a little extra water to proof it (both times).  Also I let the biga and soaker sit for 4 hours on the counter while I went drove to town and shopped and took longer than I thought I would.  When I was making the main dough  and I added the yeast I forgot to add the extra though. I think it could have used it. 

I only had one small loaf pan so I weighed out a pound of dough for it and the rolls were 5 oz each (I got a dozen rolls).  The loaf was too small and the rolls were too big, LOL.  The rolls rose wonderfuly but I baked them after the loaf so they had a little longer to rise.  The loaf I should have let rise a little longer but I was still amazed at how light it was.  We ate half of it still warm with butter and honey.  I had some for toast this morning and as it is toasting you can smell the honey in the recipe. Yumm... my 7 year old dd loved it. My son ate it on a sandwich and had toast but he says he doesn't like it.  But he did eat it which is something he normally won't do if he doesn't like it.

I think this will be the recipe I use all the time now.   It will be interesting when the instant yeast gets here to see if and how the bread changes.  Next time I will make a bigger loaf and rolls about 3 oz in size.

Thanks KipperCat for posting the recipe.   

umbreadman's picture

So today i started a double batch variant of a multigrain hearth bread in the PR delayed fermentation/epoxy style. I decided to add 12ozs of cooked brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth grains for extra protein; i've also found that the quinoa sometimes gives a pleasant little *pop* if you happen to catch a grain between your teeth while eating the bread. It's "retarding" now; meaning I got lazy, and didn't want to bake it tonight so i left the bowl in the cold basement to do its thing.

I baked them in the early afternoon. By the time I actually got to them with a camera, they looked like this:








The crust was nice, but the crumb wasn't as open as i would have liked. I had a little trouble transfering it to the oven stone, and that negated a lot of the proofing : \ However, it wasn't dense in that heavy, difficult-to-chew-through way. Rather, every bite was substantial, chewy, and pleasant. I've become a great fan of naturally leavened breads, in part because of that unique texture.


I made this one the next day, somewhat on a whim, only checking Hammelman's sourdough seed bread recipe for a guide of what proportion of seeds to put in.

This one turned out amazingly, slightly burnt crust aside. The inside opened up nicely and the toasted seeds added a nutty sweetness that shut out any need for sweetener.

I also think I should get my camera out sooner, maybe I'll get a photo of a whole loaf one day... 

Sourdough Sunflower Seed Bread with Sprouted Grains

2lbs high extraction flour (e.g. Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo)

~20-22ozs water

~.6-.7 oz salt

5.5 oz sunflower seeds, toasted in pan and cooled

4oz sprouted grains (i used a combination of quinoa and amaranth. The grains should be soft from all the soaking, so no grinding was needed)

Sourdough culture (unknown amount, ~ 3 heaping tablespoons. ish.)

1) Mix Flour, water, grains, and salt into a tacky dough and let rest for 30-60 minutes for autolyse.

2) Cut dough and sourdough into small/medium chunks and mix. Knead until well blended and dough feels strong, ~7-10 minutes. (I knead by hand).

3) Let ferment for about 2.5-3hrs, folding at 1-1.5 hour intervals, depending on dough strength.

4) Unload dough, shape, and let proof for ~1hr, while heating oven + stone at 400-425.

5) Top with more sunflower seeds, slash, and bake with steam, turning down oven to 375 or so if crust darkens too quickly.

6) Eat when patience fails.

dmsnyder's picture

Rather than creating a new topic each time I want to post messages and photos of what is coming out of my oven most recently, I'm going to try blogging. Maybe I'm the last person on the planet to set up a blog, but this is a first for me, so here goes ...


dickgeneva's picture

Hi,all. I guess I'm the newbie here,but I've been baking for nearly thirty years. I usually do  white/ww   and use

the trusty KitchenAid to do the heavy work. I've recently tried the NYT no-knead and had results from REALLY

bad to great. I finally learned to weigh the flour! Looking forward to a happy time with you all. 

dolfs's picture

For thanksgiving I again made my pumpkin bread (recipe), and this time I made one jack-o-lantern, like last time, and one bread shaped like a turkey.

Thanksgiving turkey breadThanksgiving turkey bread

The picture was taken the day after the bake (Wed bake) and due to some bubble under the crust, it wrinkled a little). Still, this worked out well I think, both shape and flavor. There is nothing left at least!

KipperCat's picture

The 2nd time's a charm!


Partially Proofed Rolls - they started out 1/2 inch apart.


A few extras. These are baked in a 6 1/2" x 10 1/4" sheet.


Interior Crumb

Much nicer results this time – I used a higher percentage of WW pastry flour, less potato & may have developed the dough better. I had a nice windowpane with this one, I don’t remember if I did the last time. The dough seemed too sticky at start of bulk rise, but was very nice to work with when I shaped. Shaping this dough was like night and day compared to my first attempt - the dough was that different. I had planned to make half the dough into a sandwich loaf, but it was so nice to work with I just continued shaping rolls. Now I have 8 in the freezer to pull out and bake.

I used a heating pad set on low for the final proof. It took quite awhile - about 3 hours I think. Maybe next time I'll see if I can preheat an oven to about 95F, which is the recommended temp for rising rolls. I tried to follow Laurel's insruction to let them just barely overproof, i.e. just start to sag a bit. But I was too impatient. They hadn't quite reached that stage, though I think they were close.


Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
- based on Dinner Rolls for Aunt Agatha in Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book
- using Peter Reinhart’s mixing method for whole grain breads

20 grams potato flakes
300 grams WW pastry flour
130 grams finely ground white WW flour
¼ cup (45 grams) buttermilk powder
1 tsp. Salt
325 grams water

470 grams finely ground white WW flour
340 grams water
½ tsp. Instant yeast

Final Dough
All of soaker
All of biga
1½ cup (about 325 grams) extra WW flour
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey
1 egg
1¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (56 grams) soft unsalted butter – ½ stick

A few tablespoons of wheat germ

Mix the soaker and biga separately. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, let doughs sit on counter for 2 hours to warm up. Flour work surface using some of the extra flour. Spread soaker and biga into similarly sized rectangles, and generously flour the tops of both. Place one rectangle of dough on top of the other, and chop the stacked dough into about 20 pieces. Place in mixing bowl. Hold back about ½ cup of flour. Add all other final dough ingredients to bowl. Mix with paddle attachment until thoroughly mixed. Allow dough to rest for about 20 minutes. Switch to dough hook for kneading. Add remaining flour in small increments if required (I used it, not sure afterwards that I needed to.) Knead with stand mixer until you develop a nice windowpane. The time will depend on your machine. The dough will be very sticky. Place dough ball in a well-buttered bowl, turning over to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm room for about 2 hours – until your wet finger makes a hole that does not fill in.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured kneading surface and deflate. Divide dough into four equal sections and form each one into a ball. Keep these covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest until the first ball is relaxed, soft and pliable. Gently flatten the dough and cut into 6 pieces. Form one round roll out of each piece, keeping the smooth surface intact. Place the finished rolls on a buttered cookie sheet or cake pan, keeping them ½ inch apart. This recipe should about fill 2 9x13 pans. Cover the rolls and allow to rise in a very warm place (95F) until slightly overproofed, i.e. rolls show slight signs of sagging. Don’t let them dry out.

When rolls are ready to bake, spray generously with water or brush with eggwash. Sprinkle wheat germ on top. Bake in a preheated 400F oven with steam for about 20 minutes (check sooner), just until they are beautifully brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. If not serving immediately, remove from pan to cool on rack.

I froze some of the shaped rolls for later use.

~~~ Things I would do differently next time ~~~

- Increase yeast in final dough to 2¾ teaspoons.
- Make the soaker with all whole wheat pastry flour.
- Increase butter to 5 or 6 tablespoons.
- Include a 2nd bulk rise before shaping. Ideally this would be at a temp of around 80F.
- Make slightly smaller rolls – form each quarter of dough into 8 or even 10 rolls. These might not fit quite as evenly in a 9 x 13” pan but would be a better size.
JMonkey's picture

For Thanksgiving weekend, we've got guests for the first time in years. When we lived in Boston, Aurora and I decided after a couple of years traveling to Atlanta for Thanksgiving that it's just too much to hop on a plane. Flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving sucks rocks, and both of us always have to work that day, so we had to rush to the airport in the evening holiday traffic. Then we spend just a few short days before rushing back home on Sunday, hoping our flights don't get canceled or delayed, leaving us marooned in some strange city and missing a day of work.

But now that we're in Oregon, family is (relatively) close by, and so her father, his wife and Aurora's grandmother all came up from Southern Oregon to spend the weekend.

Aurora's grandmother grew up in Oregon, but shortly after she graduated high school (in the 30s), she headed east to NYC to pursue a career as an actor. There, she fell in love with what her local bakery called "Sour Corn Rye." It was dense, had caraway, and clearly contained a high percentage of sourdough rye.

I've played around with rye, but didn't feel entirely comfortable making a rye with more than 50% rye flour for the meal. So, instead, I made a 40% caraway rye that mostly followed the recipe in Hammelman's Bread, which has got to be the most useful and comprehensive bread baking book I've ever seen. And that's coming from a guy who bakes 90% of his breads from 100% whole grains. Hammelman never exceeds more than 50% whole grains unless it's a rye (and the rye section is especially good -- Hammelman has a particular passion for German ryes), but the techniques are applicable to just about any bread.

Anyway, about the rye. The first loaf I made a couple of days ago was at 68% hydration, and, though it was delicious, it wasn't as open a crumb as I'd have liked. So for the holiday bread, I increased the water to 75%. I also keep my rye sourdough at 100% hydration, rather than the eighty-something that Hammelman uses, simply because it's easier for me. I did follow Hammelman and add instant yeast, however, since the oven would otherwise be occupied with a massive turkey in the afternoon -- I needed to bake in the morning. Recipe and percentages are below:


  • Strong white flour: 60%
  • Whole rye flour: 40%
  • Water: 75%
  • Salt: 1.8%
  • Caraway seed: 1.8%
  • Instant yeast: No idea -- I used 1/2 tsp per loaf. Maybe 0.33%?
  • All of the rye flour is pre-fermented as a sourdough at 100% hydration

Ingredients for one loaf

  • Strong white flour (I used KAF Bread flour, which is 12.5% protein): 300 grams
  • Rye sourdough at 100% hydration: 400 grams
  • Water: 175 grams
  • Salt: 9 grams
  • Caraway seed: 9 grams
  • Instant yeast: 1/2 tsp or 1 gram (about)

Again, I was in a bit of a hurry, so after mixing all the ingredients together, I kneaded it for 5-10 minutes until it would windowpane. This was a pretty sticky business, and it wasn't the most pleasant kneading, but with a dough scraper nearby and damp hands, it was tolerable. I then shaped it into a ball and put the dough bucket in my picnic cooler on an upturned bowl. After throwing a cup of boiling water in the bottom, I closed it and didn't open it back up for about 90 minutes. It generally stays about 80-85 degrees in the cooler. I then preshaped the dough, let it rest 15 minutes and shaped it into a batard.

After shaping, I wrapped it in baker's linen that I'd dusted with rice flour (the best stuff in the world for dusting surfaces that will hold sticky doughs) and put it back into my makeshift proof box for anotherr 90 minutes. Then, 45 minutes on a hot stone with steam at 450 degrees F and an hour's cooling.

Great with leftover roast turkey, strong mustard and whatever other fixings you can dig up.

I've just put another loaf in the oven, this time a long-fermentation 60-40 whole wheat-white wheat batard, and it's a cold oven bake. I'll post it later tonight or tomorrow. Hope it goes well with tonight's turkey soup ....

bj's picture

i made the sourdough starter from pineapple at day7 i made a stupid thing i had it in the oven and without thinking turned it on it was partially baked liquid in the center it looks alive should i try too save it ...............thanks bill

okieinalaska's picture

Whole Wheat RollsWhole Wheat Rolls

I am a magazine junkie.  The checkout stand is my downfall.  I love in particular cooking magazines, craft magazines and just anything creative.   

A couple of weeks ago I bought the Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking magazine. The pumpkin praline pie on the cover won me over instantly, but inside I found another treasure....some recipes from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.  Six different recipes with wonderful mouth watering photos of the end products.  I was determined to try them.

Right away I made the Cheddar Onion Fantan Rolls....I didn't care for them.  Personally I don't like onions in bread so I am not sure why I thought I would like these, LOL.   Sorry, no picture of those but I did try the wheat rolls today. 

I made a double recipe, let them rise, made the rolls and then let them sit in the fridge overnight. This morning I took them out and let them rise.  The end result, they were pretty good but I know I can do better.  Usually I make cloverleaf dinner rolls but I didn't have the time or the energy last night to do that so I tried to just roll them into balls and set them next to each in the pan (not touching).  Most turned out ok but I think they would have looked much nicer as cloverleaf rolls.  The double recipe made 31 rolls. 

We took them to our Church Thanksgiving Feast today (along with a huge amount of sweet potato casserole).  I had expected a lot of people but there was less than 30 of us.  I think everyone was just as surprised as I was as there were 4 very large turkeys and a ton of other food.  Even after dinner, 2nd's, 3rd's and taking home leftovers I have a little bit left of everything.  (which was fine with me, LOL)  Speaking of the sweet potato casserole, it had rave reviews and they loved it.  I will def. make it every year from now on.

 Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrated it today. : )



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