The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Breads

jmax's picture

Slashing and Springing

February 6, 2006 - 2:42pm -- jmax


Thought I'd ask this on this wonderful site: I've been making simple bread (4 ingredients) more or less according to the descriptions I've found here, and it all seems to working out pretty well. With one exception:

How on earth do I slash the top of the loaf properly before baking? Whenever I try it, my knife snags the crust (it's been sitting rising for an hour or so, so there's already something of a 'crust'), makes a mess, lets gas out of the loaf, and ultimately doesn't amount to much in the finished product. I'm missing something here.

Any tips?

mrpeabody's picture

High protein bread flour vs all-purpose flour

February 5, 2006 - 9:08am -- mrpeabody

Hello again,

I had looked at a website called "The Artisan" (I think that many may have stumbled upon this link: that specializes on rustic Italian bread. It is really comprehensive. However, one of the points that they make is that all-purpose flour is really more appropriate for rustic Italian bread that the high-protein bread flours. I've only made bread using high-protein flour (well, except for the Christmas stollen that I make). Do any of you regularly use all-purpose flour for rustic bread making?

Mr. Peabody
P.S. I tried a quick s

mrpeabody's picture


February 5, 2006 - 8:49am -- mrpeabody

Howdy all,

I'm a new member and I posted this a few days ago on the blog section. I was hoping for any feedback on my method (I'm always looking for ways to simplify it/improve it). Anyways, I thought that I'd repost here in Forum as it seems to get more traffic.

Mr. Peabody

On Feb 1st, I posted:

I've been lurking around this website for about a week and decided to join in. I'm an occasional bread baker who would like to improve my loaves. I got into it because my sons have nut/sesame seed allergies. This meant my wife and I could not trust a normal bakery for good rustic bread because there is no way to be assured that the bread didn't get cross-contaminated with sesame seeds or nut products. Still, my wife and I still really love the occasional crusty loaf, so I started to make some bread (I average baking about twice a month).

ryan's picture

Hey Guys,
Lucky me I am going to Paris in the spring of this year and I plan on hitting at least one of the bakeries/ patisseries I know of, that being Poilane. However, I want to know pf any others I should hit. Any ideas anyone?



margretmh's picture

Find sources of mail-order or local purchase of whole grains to mill for baking

January 22, 2006 - 10:32am -- margretmh

I now own a grain mill. On-line sources of whole grains seem to be few, and shipping cost is a killer! Anyone out there have recommendations as to sources of whole grains I can grind at home for baking breads, etc.?


Keith's picture

This recipe comes from "Home Baking-The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World" by Alford and Duguid. I don't know if this book is known on this board as I recently got involved with this site. It is available from and is well worth it. They have 3 excellent books that have 3 of my passions-food, travel, and photography.This is not the speediest bread to make,but it is great.

Portugese Mountain Rye

Poolish 1/2 cup warm water tiny pinch of yeast 1/2 cup unbleached flour

Give the poolish 24 hours at least.

Starter All of the poolish 1 cup water 2 cups dark rye flour Stir the water into the poolish and then add the flour. Mix well. I use a wisk to aerate it. Let it sit loosely covered overnight on the counter.


Next day, add 3 cups warm water to the starter and mix well in a large bowl. Sometimes, I just use my hands at this point, as it can be pretty tough using a spoon. I take a couple of cups of this mixture as a starter for my next batch. Keep it covered in the fridge and it lasts for a long time.

Add another 1 cup of water to the bowl and 4 tsp salt.Mix. Add 2-3 cups flour to this and add a touch more if you need it. It should still be sticky, but not goopy.

Here is the hard part for me. Knead it for 10 minutes-set the timer, no cheating here. It really does make a difference! You'll need to add more flour as you go, at least one cup, but add slowly.It should still have a definite stickiness if you want to get any rise.

Put the dough into a slightly oiled bowl and make sure it is evenly coated. Wrap it in plastc and set it into the fridge overnight.

Next morning, form 2 boules and let them come to room temperature, then let them rise, covered. They should not double, but maybe 40%. I'm always surprised how long this takes, so be patient as it'll take 4-6 hours at least. You may be able to speed this up by putting it in the oven with the light on, but I've never tried.

Make a few slashes before baking at 500 for 15 min, then 45-50 at 425. I rotate them at least once. The internal temp will be around 205 and the loaves will have a definite thump. Cool on racks-the first piece is a moment of heaven.

eukaryote's picture

Is my dough really supposed to be this sticky?

January 19, 2006 - 1:19pm -- eukaryote


I'm a newbie to the bread making hobby, and so far have made a basic rustic / pugliese type bread a few times using an overnight "biga" starter. The breads always come out very tasty, good crust, etc, but the dough is just unbelievably sticky! Kneading is almost impossible, and I end up with about a half inch of dough coating my hands up the wrists every time I touch the dough. My wife just thinks the whole show of me trying to get it off my hands is hysterical. I do use a little flour / greased bowl per the recipe, but it seems I would have to add way too much dry flour to really solve this problem. Is there another way?

sonofYah's picture

Done some bread baking this past Sunday. Was fun getting the ole fingers into the dough.

The first bread was two loaves of 100% Whole-wheat Bread. I used the recipe from Laurel's bread book. It is called "A Loaf To Learn". I have made it several times. And it usually turns out rather good. Especially after I found Wheat Montana brand whole-wheat bread flour at the local Wal-Mart.

A wonderful whole wheat flour that is high-gluten as well as chemical-free. It will definetly be used in my bakery. All the loaves I have baked with it so far have had a good taste as well as a good rise.

I also baked two loaves of Jeffrey Hamelman's "Semolina (Durum) Bread". Tastes good. Especially warm with butter spread on it. Makes good toast. May have to try it out in my French Toast recipe. Has a nice golden color. Made me wonder how semolina flour would do in my Challah bread.

The last two loaves I made were "Sourdough Wheat with Assorted Grains". Used a little bit of my brain power and came up with the recipe myself. Both loaves went out of the house this evening (Tue.) so I didn't get a chance to taste it. Guess I will find out how they came out after the individuals let me know.

I used flax seed, rolled oats, cracked wheat and rye, and toasted wheat germ for my grains. The sourdough starter I used was my rye based, San Francisco sourdough starter. Thanks BM from SF. I did use bread flour in this recipe as well as whole grain wheat flour. Montana of course.

What made this recipe especially gratifying for me was that I came up with the recipe myself. And the fact that it turned out with a great crumb structure. It also raised well despite the fact that I used the "no-knead" technique. Seems that by the time I got all the ingredients together, it was too much for my KA 4.5 qt. stand mixer. I might work a little more on this technique of bread building and use it in my bakery. To me, it seems to go hand in hand with the artisan way of bread building. Like sourdough. And the length of fermentation time lends itself to sourdough breads. Definetly don't want to use instant yeast with the no-knead method.

I was going to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. But I wasn't sure of what the next day held in store. So I stayed up late and baked it.

Guess I need to get a digital camera so I can take pictures. Then I can look back and check my progress. Would help me refine my bread building.

Til next time, L'Lechem -- To Bread.

sonofYah's picture

Well, this is my first blog. And It won't be very active at present. I seem to be working a lot of hours lately. About 60-70 per week. I have a full time job with a short-line railroad in SW Indiana. We move railcars for a major plastics/chemical plant in the area. I am also working part-time at a local grocery store bakery.

Wish the bakery job paid more. They have offered to train me as a bakery manager. But the money doesn't seem to be there. And if it is, the present manager could become upset. I think I would be making more than she does after 17 years with the company. Besides, it is not my type of bakery. Couldn't get my hands in the dough. Would have to deal with commercial breads and such.

Probably better off starting my own bakery. Then I could focus on the naturally leavened, whole-grain, artisan breads I enjoy making.

I have found a location on a major thouroughfare in town. It is a little small. But has great parking, wonderful location, and the rent is really reasonable. Now to buy the equipment. But first, I need to work on the business plan and make another appointment with SCORE.

Looking at raising some initial money by selling subscriptions online for meal menus. I figure I can make up four special menus monthly. The meals would be easy and nutritious. Yet fit for a special family meal. Also putting most of my wages from the bakery in a seperate checking account for expenses.

Looking at the possibility of apprenticing myself out to a local baker who makes the types of bread I am interested in. This means I would have to quit the other bakery job. But I have the okay from the owner of the shop where he works. This individual was trained in Italy. He has started and sold three bakeries in the area.

But first, I need to see where my railroad job takes me in the next month. There is the possibility that I could get the new Clerk's position. This would allow me to get inside out of the weather. It would also mean that I would be working days. Which means I would not be able to work at either bakery. I could work for myself though.

Decisions, Decisions.

Well, enough for now. 'Til Next Time.


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