The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


zhi.ann's picture

This is from before I actually joined this site - actually this is the reason I joined this site.


In the States, I baked yeast bread. I had one recipe - from a craft, not a cookbook, so it used terms I was familiar with rather than the terms I more often find in baking recipes now that I'm looking around. It was a honey-whole wheat bread. I found all the ingredients in my local grocery store, used that recipe with no alterations except substituting applesauce for half the butter, and I baked it every Saturday, never with a problem.

Now, I live in rural China. I didn't bring the recipe with me. I don't have access to whole wheat. When I look at recipes, they confuse me. And yet my husband really misses bread. I am at a high altitude, but right now it's not dry at all, rather, close to 95% humidity most days. And, without air conditioning, heating, or well-sealed/insulated windows and walls, what it's like outside is a whole lot what it's like inside.

I found this recipe (I can't now for the life of me seem to find it anywhere!! I have it on a notecard) last week and tried it.

Oat-Nut Bread

830 ml flour
830 ml oats, ground to a flou
180 ml finely chopped walnuts
180 ml raisins
60 ml brown sugar
14 ml yeast (1/2 oz.; 14 grams)
10 ml salt
460 ml water
160 ml yogurt (I used vanilla unintentionally)
60 ml oil

1. Combine half the flour, all the oats, nuts, fruit, brown sugar, yeast, and salt.
2. In a saucepan heat water, yogurt, and oil over low heat, just until warm.
3. Add wet to dry ingredients, beating until smooth.
4. Add enough remaining flour for a soft dough.
5. Knead about 4 minutes, or until soft and elastic. Form to a ball.
6. Place on greased baking sheet, cover and let rest for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning (I did it overnight.)
7. Bake at 200C for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Cool on a wire rack.

Unfortunently, this didn't work out for me so well. I did step 1, step 2, step 3. In step 4, I kep adding flour until I'd added way, way more than the recipe called for, and it still was a dough I could barely handle, it was so wet and sticky. I ran out of flour, and began adding oats, hoping to save it - I ground most of them but out of desperation began throwing them in there as whole rolled oats until I could finally knead the bread. Even then, it stuck to my hands, the cutting board, etc. In step 5, I formed it to more of a blob than a ball, since it was runny, and stuck it in a covered bowl in the fridge. In the morning, it was conformed to the shape of the bowl, so I dumped it on a baking sheet, stuck it in the oven, and let it bake.

The result was a very dense bread, tasty enough to eat mostly because of the raisins, but so dense I had to eat the whole thing (my husband didn't like it at all).

dough as I took it out from the freezer 

I tried the other loaf (this was supposed to make two) leaving it out all night after having frozen the dough (based on something I'd read online, somewhere). It came out just as dense, though it rose a bit in the oven whereas the first never did.

 piece of the bread

I'm munching on the second loaf now, hoping to get rid of it so I can bake something decent.

The only other note is that I won't be doing the walnuts again, even if I do come back to this recipe, because I couldn't taste nor feel them, and they cost the equivalent of $1.50 for so little!!

Any ideas, anyone, on what I can do better? 


bakerboy's picture


So, here I sit...doing things a bit backwards...but that is what you get when you're a bit tired and attempt bagels the night before.

I read Floyd's Bagel wizardry and decided I'd give these puppies a spin.  As I am wont to do, I tried experimenting a bit without ever having attempted a non-experimental batch.

...ok, so I ended up "experimenting" because I didn't read far enough ahead while I was actually making the damned things.  In my defense--like I have to defend myself--it was 2am.

My first experimentation (which was supposed to be my only experimentation) came by deciding to really let the sponge ferment for a good long while.  I wanted the bagels to have a deeper flavour, so I let the sponge sit for a good ten hours.  Just as the sponge was threatening to devour my kitchen, I proceeded with the final dough.  Aside from having to mount my sponge and defeat the beastie-yeasties in order to get the balance of the ingredients into the bowl, it was a beautiful dough by the time I was finished kneading.

I divided it into vaguely similarly sized pieces, then rolled them into vaguely similarly sized balls.  As instructed, I allowed them to sit for 20 minutes before, rather crudely, shoving my thumbs through the middle to create the "bagel".

Now, seeing as it was, by this time, around 1am, I neglected to note that I needed to let them rise, just a skosh.  I sprayed the sheet pans, laid them out, covered them with plastic wrap and chucked them in the fridge.

After I performed my nightly ablutions, just prior to shutting down for the evening, I gave the recipe a one final look-see.  Here's when I look-see'd that I should have been letting them rise a bit.  Oops. I sit, buns (bagels) in the (lightly warmed) oven, seeing if I can't get them to do that wee rise before I hurl them into boiling water...


Hmm...well...some seem to have risen pretty well.  Others seem to have spread beautifully...while, still others, seem to be dying a slow, painfully puck-like death.  But my motto is: don't just quake, boil and bake!

All right...that isn't my motto at all...but we've only just met and that's some deep, personal information.  I'll call that my bagel motto.  I have mottos for each of my baking adventures.  For instance, my doughnut motto is: don't sit there and cry, cut them and fry!

OK...I just made that up...but I think I've just discovered my blog brand.

The "bagels" are now re-retarding a bit...this is because I would like to be able to actually get them in the water (which is currently heating).  They aren't easy to handle (read: you can't pick them up) when they're room temperature/freshly risen (ish).

More bagel hell later...or...the afterbatch.





jonty's picture

Hi to all at this great website

My name is Jonty, and I am a college student too enamored with baking to waste time on my first ever blog on some other topic (ie: indie music, saving the world, angsty stuff).

To introduce myself to anyone who will read this (even if it is only ever me), I got into bread baking (I've been doing other types of baking with chemical leaveners for a while) from watching/reading a great anime/manga called Yakitate! Japan (of which I've found a couple of mentions on this site). I was inspired and eventually decided to give yeasted breads a try.

The first bread I ever tried was actually Erithid's Microwave Bread recipe that was inspired from Yakitate, and it turned out nicely (I'm still planning on trying to give it some filling in the future).

Then, I made the leap and made the Lesson 2 Bread, skipping Lesson 1 because I wanted a sandwich bread (of course, I ended up just eating the bread and not making any sandwiches. Such is life).

After, I made an even bigger jump and decided to try Bagels, using some freshly-bought KA Bread Flour. I made only a half-batch because of my tiny little cookie sheet. I ended up with three pretty good cinnamon-brown sugar bagels (though I think they could have used a bit more of each flavor addition) and three okay garlic-sesame bagels (I now know that bagels should probably be topped with already roasted garlic and not raw after having consumed a couple of fairly sour bagels). This will definitely be in my future again.

Presently, I have taken an even bigger leap to Floyd's ciabatta; it is now sitting on my kitchen counter on its final rise. I realize now that I may have had a little too much confidence as my dough ended up a bit lumpy (I think my autolyse was too dry). Also, I let my poolish sit for quite a while (something like 10-12 hours) because I got bored yesterday afternoon and decided to just make it. I'm not sure if letting a poolish ferment for that long is good or bad, but my dough kind of smells uncomfortably sour. We shall see, I suppose.

Future plans? I definitely want to give Pain Aux Raisins and Cream Cheese Snails a try, as well as Cranberry-Chocolate Sweet Buns, and Steamed Buns. Maybe I'll even try a challah or (gasp) my own sourdough starter? Well, sourdough is perhaps a bit far away from my reach, but I plan on being a diligent student for a while.

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