The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

artisan bread

madzilla's picture

So I have been learning to bake bread.  I did NOT buy a bread machine, which I did consider for a while.  I was thinking about what would be easy, simple, less time consuming.  But when it came down to it, I just didn't like the constraints of a bread machine.  The loaf pans are so small, sometimes square, and the whole paddle thing just leaves me cold.  I had a bread machine when I lived in Germany.  I used it and hated it. It dumbed me down and I never understood the whole process of bread baking.  This made it impossible to troubleshoot or use anything other than the basic settings. 

Now, without a bread machine, I am so happy.  I feel like I have found a new hobby [that hopefully won't make me TOO fat!] and it is very exciting to create such wonderful works of edible art.  The breads that I have made so far, that have been successful, are a half-white, half-wheat loaf that is very nice, and would be great for sandwiches, cinnamon toast, and just about anything else.  The other loaf I have made that needs a bit of work is the artisan bread.  I have managed to get the right size, rise, and color...but need to work on the scoring and taste. 

Next I will try making a huge starter in the fridge and flavor it with some sourdough starter I already have.  Another really interesting thing I am doing, is using the bread mixes I am getting delivered.  Hodgson Mills makes some great mixes, but I don't use them as is.  I use them as additives to my breads for more flavor and the dough conditioning properties.  I could buy dough conditioner, but this is much more fun to experiment!

I also am working with gluten, and this addition is particularly helpful up here in the mountains.  I am at almost 8000 feet, so the high altitude is also a challenge.  But I am figuring it out as I go.

Thats it for now. Will post my recipes soon.

madzilla's picture

My second Artisan Loaf

March 18, 2009 - 9:28am -- madzilla

Ok, so the first loaf was horrible.  I baked it on a stone, and it didn't brown. I basically didn't bake it long enough.  Here is a picture of my second attempt.  I baked it in my Cuisinart 2 quart saucepan with lid, sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal, at 500 degrees [30 min. lid on, 20 min. lid off]. It turned out very nice and was a great texture. However, I felt it was a bit bland and will add some sourdough starter next time. I also need to work on the scoring I think.  It was very crusty and I like that, but not very pretty, I guess. Need to keep practicing!

Pablo's picture


I've newly discovered the concept of "crumb". I hope to be able to reliably create open crumb artisan breads (I think that's the right terminology). I'm at the beginning of this process. My current goal is to decide on a flour. I have two contenders, I prefer organically grown. I live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Seeing as Canada is a big wheat producer I want to find a Canadian flour. (I'm a US ex-pat, so I'm ridiculously attached to this country)

I wanted to get this blog started and introduce my quest. I'm really happy to have stumbled across this site.

My name is Paul, by the way, but there's already a Paul here. Being something of a Mexican groupie from California I chose the Spanish version of Paul, which is "Pablo", for my username. FYI.


breadawe's picture

San Francisco Baking Institute

February 26, 2008 - 5:58pm -- breadawe

Just back from a week long artisan bread making class at the San Francisco Baking Institute.  In one word....fantastic....let's take two words or more....a life changing bread making experience.

Our instructor, Didier Rosada, is a master baker and gave clear instruction as all 16 of us made four or so breads a day.  Making artisan bread consumed most of our time along with enough class room experience to understand the process.

raisdbywolvz's picture

kalamata olive bread and pain d'epi

This is from yesterday's baking session using the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes recipes -- an epi and 2 small loaves of olive bread using some totally delicious kalamata olives I had to scour the city to find. What's wrong with these grocers? The dough for the olive bread was 11 days old. Great oven spring!

First, the olive bread. I made a loaf on Tuesday following the directions in the book (roll out the dough, cover with olives, roll up like a jelly roll, then form into a ball). Well, the forming into a ball part did a job on the olives, and when the bread was baked, there were olives on the top and on one side and that was it. The rest of the loaf, probably 90 to 95% of it, was just bread. In making it the second time, I stopped after rolling it up like a jelly roll, and just tucked the ends under and baked it on parchment paper. Big difference. The olives went all the way through it and it was delicious and beautiful.

This was my second attempt at an epi. The first one had a very hard crust and had to be cut apart. On this one, I brushed olive oil liberally on the loaf just prior to cutting and baking, and the crust came out thin and crispy, but not so "crusty", if that makes sense. In other words, when you bite into it, the crust doesn't go everywhere. The pieces pulled apart beautifully. I'm actually looking for an even softer crust for that "pull-apart-roll" feel. While my friends are enjoying the crispy crusts, they still want what they want, and I can see their logic, especially in this bread.

I have to be careful now that I have the large pastry board. It's larger than my oven stone. I almost overshot the stone when making the epi. It hung over the stone about 1/2 an inch on each end, but the parchment paper held it up ok.

Picked up a yard of cotton canvas at the store the other day. A friend with a sewing machine cut it into two nice couche-sized pieces and hemmed them up on the edges. Today I'll run them through the washer and dryer, then flour them and see how much fun they are to use. Total cost for 2 couches, $4.74 plus tax. Nice. Methinks my friend with a sewing machine could use a beautiful loaf of bread for her efforts.


breadslinger's picture

history of bread in america

February 1, 2008 - 8:32am -- breadslinger

What forces have led to the near death and then rebirth of artisan bread in America? Increased industrialization? Supermarkets? (the in-store bakery) Consumer change of taste? And how has artisan bread risen to ever-higher popularity today? Does it have to do with the organic/whole foods movement? Consciousness surrounding additives that are in many industrialized processed products? Any books to point me to would be great. Thanks,

-the breadslinger 

Cooky's picture

Once again, a Floyd-inspired "best ever"

September 23, 2007 - 9:00pm -- Cooky

Folks, I must issue one of my periodic shout-outs to our patron FloydM for his marvelously simple, direct and darn-near-fail-safe "My Daily Bread" recipe and lessons. I discovered The Fresh Loaf almost exactly a year ago and have been happily experimenting, testing, trying out and expanding my baking skills since then, fueled predominantly by the inspiration I have found at this site.

dwg302's picture

Baker's couche

August 21, 2007 - 12:53pm -- dwg302


i've ordered a baker's couche from KA and am wondering if anyone can give some pointers about transferring the loaf onto parchment paper after it has risen.    i'm assuming it rises with the seam side up and that you roll it onto the parchment paper in order to bake it.   but it sounds clumsy to do and would love any pointers or advice from people who do this alot and what works good for them.   thanks,


Rosalie's picture

Why big holes?

August 1, 2007 - 2:33pm -- Rosalie

In reading a bread book from the 1980s, I am reminded that large holes in the crumb used to be considered undesirable.  One of the goals of breadbaking was to produce a fine-grained crumb.  However, today's artisan baking movement considers large holes to be a mark of success.

Is this something new?  What has caused this change?



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