The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Artisan Breads

arhoolie's picture

Dough sticking to cloth when transferring to peel

February 11, 2007 - 4:28pm -- arhoolie

Hi folks,

This is my first post here, though I've been making Artisan-style breads, mostly sour-doughs, for little over a year now. The techniques I've picked up have been mostly from Reinhart's BBA. Here's my question. When I transfer the boule from the proofing bowl to my peel prior to docking and putting in the oven, the dough sticks to the cloth such that I have to very carefully peel it away. This is very tedious at best and frustrating to say the least. I have two cloths that I use: one is a flax couche that I got from Baker's Catalogue, the other is a cotton tea-towl (not terry cloth). Both have been sprayed with oil and then impregnated with flour to try and prevent this sticking, but I can't seem to figure what I might be doing wrong or how to prevent it.

grepstar's picture

Last weekend I took another stab at the Sourdough English muffins, going with some of the modifications that I suggested in my previous post. Here is my recipe for this batch with the changed ingredients from Nancy Silverton's original recipe in boldface:


18 oz White Starter
2 cups plain soy milk
7 oz unbleached white bread flour (high extraction - 14% protein) (I used 1 oz less)
3.5 oz dark rye flour

10 oz warm water (85 degrees)
0.3 oz of SAF instant yeast
1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup rye flakes
2 tbs raw sunflower seeds
2 tbs raw pepitas
7 oz unbleached white bread flour
(high extraction - 14% protein)
1/4 cup (minus a smidge) honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 tbs kosher salt
Cake flour for dusting
Semolina flour for dusting

This time, I was able to make the muffins over the course of one day as the original recipe calls for. The sponge fermented for about 2 hours before I made the final dough which in turn rose for another hour and a half.


I decided this time that I needed more strength for the parchment paper rings and so I cut the pieces of parchment twice as tall and then folded in half. While seeming like a good idea, it ended up being more difficult to fill the rings since the dough got caught between the folded layers on a few of the muffins and the strength of the rings was no greater. Besides, I cost me double the amount of parchment paper.

The use of the cake flour for dusting the board became a real pain since the dough was more hydrated in this version than the last. Most of it clumped up and took some effort to brush off. In the end, using no flour at all and keeping my hands slightly damp to help handle the dough would have worked much better.

The muffins rose in the rings for about an hour and then I dusted them with semolina and tossed them in the oven.

I waited until the next day before tearing one open and they were much tastier than the last batch. The sweetness of the honey was much mellower than the agave nectar and the wheat germ and rye flakes added even more heartiness in flavor and texture.

Split muffin


My wife and I have been enjoying them as the base for fried egg sandwiches: toased muffin, 1 fried egg, 2 slices of facon (veggie bacon), a think spread of garlic herbed queso fresco from Shepard's Way and a smear of dijon mustard.

Wayne's picture

This was my first shot at making Essential's Columbia bread..................batards slightly deflated when they were scored...probably overproofed a little.  Anyway,  this is a very good bread.  Thanks Mountaindog for your wet starter recipe. 

bwraith's picture

how/where to get/work with flour fresh from the mill

February 6, 2007 - 9:54am -- bwraith

I've done a fair amount baking of sourdough hearth breads using standard recipes from Reinhart, Glezer, et al. I've always used standard flours from KA, such as their whole wheat, white whole wheat, rye blend, bread flour, Sir Lancelot high gluten, and others. Recently someone brought me some "sifted stone ground whole wheat flour" from Littleton Grist Mill in NH. I found I had some trouble with it that I suspect revolves around the need for malted barley flour addition, possibly aging, and possibly hydration differences, as well as needing to figure out the protein content and adjust for that, as well. But, it did get me thinking about exploring the availability of flours straight from mills in retail quantities and motivated the questions below.

crumb bum's picture

Degassing dough

February 4, 2007 - 9:38pm -- crumb bum

Hello Flour Fanatics

Just thought I would post a couple of thoughts and discoveries.  The first involves the gentle handling of the dough in order to not degas it.  I do my best to handle the dough as little as possible but now i'm not sure how much difference this makes.  I made pizza this weekend out of the same dough I use for my everyday bread.  I mixed, folded and proofed as usual.  I then rolled it out pretty flat before attemting to throw it.  Bottom line is I brutalized this dough by my standards.  I topped and baked and guess what happened?  You got it, tons of bubbles, some were quite large.  The edge of the crust was light and airy and full of irregular bubbles.  This was no ciabatta but if you saw the dough after the roll out you would not have thought there was a whole lot of gas left in it.  Me thinks I have been a little wimpy handling my dough in an attemt to get that crumb we all desire.  I therefore have to think that good crumb is more the result of good complete proofing rather than gentle handling?  I would be curious to know if any of you have noticed the same thing.

Cooky's picture

All-purpose nightmare

February 3, 2007 - 10:35pm -- Cooky

Boy howdy, did I just have a horrible experience with all-purpose flour. I'm not sure I just got a bad sack or if the flour was simply wrong for bread, or if I should have done something completely different.


The grocery where I made my last shopping run did not carry King Arthur bread flour, my default choice, so I picked up 5-lbs of White Lily AP. Tried to use it with Floyd's daily-bread recipe and it was a disaster. The poolish never developed more than teensy little air bubbles, and the dough absolutely refused to rise more than a little bit, even after 24 hours and a number of folds. The dough ended up as too stiff and too sticky at the same time, if you can picture that.

pumpkinpapa's picture

Marble rye failure

February 2, 2007 - 7:41am -- pumpkinpapa

Ok my first attempt at a marbled rye sourdough was an awful mess. I think I need to add more starter next time as it was so sour the whole kitchen stunk, the kids stayed away from it. Good news though, the sheep loved it (I feed all leftover rock hard bread to the sheep)

I also used blackstrap molasses to colour the rye flour but next time I am going to double sift my dark rye so it will be lighter and maybe shift to caramel to colour the dark dough.

No pictures this time. 

bandersen's picture

Farmers' Market Opportunity

February 1, 2007 - 7:47pm -- bandersen

The Phoenixville Farmers' Market(, a highly successful Saturday morning grower/producer market, is seeking a baker to sell artisanal breads and breakfast pastires.  Phoenixville is located 20 miles west of center city Philadelphia, and is a proven location to sell locally produced high quality foods. For more information, contact Bill Andersen at 610-291-9288 or


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