The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Breads

Melana's picture

Storing Fresh Bread

July 9, 2006 - 4:20am -- Melana

Hi! New member from North Central PA. I been baking bread weekley for about 2 years. My baby (as my husband calls it - sour dough starter from grapes)is a year and 2 months old As I was getting my starter going, I took it everywhere with me "even on vacation with my real kids!". Anyways, I've been looking for an informative site for baking breads and this is the one I chose to stay with. Any ideas on storing fresh bread through the week? Best way to freeze it?? Any help thanks!


bakingmad's picture

French bread (large Boule) sponge-like crumb

July 7, 2006 - 12:04am -- bakingmad

I have attempted to make a large French boule, but the crumb always turns out like a sponge. I have tried higher and lower hydration levels. I want a fluffy, cottonball-like crumb, but consistently end up with an unusually heavy, spongy loaf and I'm tired of this!!!!

Here's the recipe that I tried...


1- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup water
1/8 tsp instant yeast

Final dough

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2/3 cup water

I added enough flour to make a sticky dough that almost completely pulled off of the kneading surface and let it proof in the refrigerator for about 15 hours.

JMonkey's picture

Whole wheat, Laurel's Kitchen and a pre-ferment question

July 5, 2006 - 12:04pm -- JMonkey

I finally picked up the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, and I'm really enjoying it. It's so well written, and written with such enthusiasm -- really infectuous.

I have noticed a few places where the advice is not the best. For instance, they recommend storing whole wheat sourdough bread (she calls it "Desem" -- Flemish for sourdough. They got the recipe from a Belgian baker) tightly wrapped in the fridge. Stale city!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Boy was this a busy weekend! Had the day off today, so I spent part of it baking.

First, the 'basic' sourdough recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Always a big winner.

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Had a bit of a blowout on the boule ;) It probably could have used some more rising time before going into the oven. The oven spring was beautiful!

Here's Pane Siciliano, also from TBBA. It's a wonderful recipe. The interior is soft, almost fluffy, and the exterior has a nice crunch to it. The sesame adds a welcome nuttines.

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The one on the end was supposed to be a spiral, but rose into something that looked remotely beehive-ish, then fell over :)

And here are my favorites in the looks department. I butchered a Pain de Campagne recipe in a bread book. The recipe was a 4-day recipe that told you to make a starter from scratch. I decided to use my rye starter (Clyde!) as the base, and modify the recipe to suit. Recipe follows.

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It's comforting to know I can basically wing a recipe, and the experience from dozens of loaves lets me come out with a finished product.
The one that looks all knotted up is just that - it's a square knot made with 2 long pieces of dough. I put shallow slashes in it to make it look like rope. I think it came out pretty cool! I'm bringing it to my father-in-law who is a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
Oh, and the donut is an off-cut from making the square knot :) It was delicious! teehee

Starter recipe:

9oz rye starter
5oz flour - bread and whole wheat in about a 4:1 ratio
4oz water

Mix, let sit overnight.

Bread recipe:
6cp bread flour
4tsp salt
1 1/2 cp water (+/- 1/2 cup or so to suit the flour)

Mix everything together, knead about 10 minutes until dough passes the windowpane test, proof 3-4 hours until double. Punch down, shape, proof 2-3 hours until double. Preheat to 450F, bake on a stone 25-30 minutes.


Gedunkleberg's picture

I haven't posted anything in over a month, but don't think I haven't been busy in the kitchen! The last time you heard from me, I was recovering from my first encounter with ciabatta. Since then, I have tried ciabatta for a second time, and with much greater success. What made the difference was flouring the counter heavily, as well as using flexible cutting boards to lift the risen dough off the counter and then slide the proofed loaves onto the baking sheet (I still don't have a baking stone). The shaping went better (thanks to step-by-step pictures on, and I got some very nice, large holes in the finished product. I was quite pleased with myself, but there is still much work to be done.

One problem that I am consistently having with lean breads is crust color. I never seem to be able to achieve a nice deep brown. This may have something to do with another problem that has been plaguing me, which has to do with temperature. I always preheat the oven (mine is gas) for about a half hour, and I have a thermometer in the oven as well. But even when I follow a recipe to the letter, my loaves always seem to get too hot in the middle after a shorter bake time than the recipe calls for. I don't know what to do other than to always bake at a lower temperature.

I am also having trouble with scoring. I have only tried it twice (both times on the French bread recipe from BBA), but my results have been poor. The first time, I used a lame that I bought from a Viking store. I had a lot of difficulty slicing through the dough, so I can only conclude that my lame is lame. The second time, I tried a serrated knife, which worked much better. However, I can't seem to score the proofed dough without deflating it quite a bit. Also, the slashes don't "bloom" the way they are supposed to when baked. I am slicing fairly deep, but perhaps my slashes are too long or too horizontal. Or perhaps I am deflating the loaves too much and not achieving proper oven spring? I don't know, but I will try again.

One recipe that I had none of these problems with is the recipe for Portuguese sweet bread from BBA. No scoring needed, and the egg wash ensured a very deep brown it was delicious. It's perfect for breakfast or a snack (with or without butter), especially alongside a nice juicy peach and some Greek yogurt drizzled with honey. Yum. I substituted orange and lemon zests for the orange and lemon extracts, because I didn't want to shell out the extra cash. The substitution worked well. I will definitely make this recipe again soon.

Sylviambt's picture

Searching for cranberry-walnut mini-boules

June 29, 2006 - 9:22am -- Sylviambt

At least two of the better bakeries in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) occasionally offer deep brown and crusty mini-boules filled with dried cranberries and walnuts. They are wonderful with soups, with sharp cheddar or on their own with coffee. Can anyone suggest a recipe I can use to achieve these absolutely delicious wonders? Thanks.

In search of the perfect crust and crumb

Sylviambt's picture

Making rolls?

June 26, 2006 - 12:42pm -- Sylviambt

Your advice, please. I'd like to make hamburger rolls from my bread doughs. How do you figure out how long to bake - to accommodate for the smaller sizes?

in search of the perfect crust and crumb

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

June 20, 2006

I can't imagine what my loaves would be without the wonderful special bread spices. Oh poppycock, yes I do, they would be bland and almost boring. You see I bake low salt. Now if I want to cut back on the salt something has to add some flavour. I started out putting in bread spices (the flavour) not because of the lack of salt but just because I like it. Reducing the salt was easy.

When my local baker found out I would be going off to a foreign land, and would probably be baking, (Why bother in Austria where the bread, cheese and wine are so good!) he would give me a good 1/4 kilo portion of his special brotgewürz. On one condition, that I don't bring any of it back with me and go into competition with him. Fair enough.

Rye is my favorite grain, followed by oats and corn. Now when I first started out with rye, something always seemed to be missing. I threw in all kinds of combinations and included molasses. Molasses was a key. Eliminate the sugar and add molasses. Caraway rye, well who never heard of caraway and rye? Now the rye needed some glue and white bread flour fit the bill, a handful or two, and sometimes powdered milk, sometimes a spoon or two of oil. The secret was the spices and plenty of it. Well, my baker died, God bless his soul, and with him his secret. Before I came here to China, I also knew I'd be baking so off I went to my Austrian Supermarket in search of spice.... and low and behold! They now sell Brotgewürz and in the handy 320gm plastic vacuum sealed jar! Perfect for traveling.

You may laugh about this or you may cry but I'm just happy. It isn't quite the same, but it's very good. Now what are those ingredients? Well a combination of Fennel, Coriander and Caraway seeds, crushed. Packaged by Kotanyi GmbH In what proportions it doesn't say but it wouldn't take too long to figure it out. I personally add more caraway and it is a very hard seed to crush. I even like it in white bread or sprinkled on top of rolls.

The recipe on the label is for Farmer's bread from Frank Zimmer, a classic:

Farmer's Rye Bread

  • 570 gm Rye Bread Flour
  • 60 gm Wheat Bread Flour
  • 500 ml Water
  • 16 gm Sourdough
  • 13 gm Salt
  • 15 gm Yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons Brotgewürz or mix of Crushed Fennel, Coriander and Caraway

Mix all ingredients into a dough and knead till smooth and elastic. Let rest 30 minutes. Put into the desired shape and form and eventually bake in preheated oven 200°c for 65 minutes.

I haven't tried this recipe but it seems in order. I would reduce the salt to less than 10 gm. (one teaspoon=5 gm) If you choose to use only sourdough and no commercial yeast, I suggest letting it rise in floured form for 20 min before putting into the oven. As you can see, there is no sugar, A flat tablespoon of honey or molasses might help the sourdough rise. If your sourdough is as soupy as mine, use two cups of it and reduce the water above to about 200ml or 300ml. The dough looks like a wet one. The kind I like to beat in the bowl with a sturdy spoon.

Try putting some spices into your favorite recipe. Have you tried any yet? It's great just wiffing the jar! Have Fun.... :) Mini Oven


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