The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


SourdoughRules's picture

I've read this website and blog for years.  Over those years I've tried lots of different breads from lots of books.  I haven't made a truly serious study of it.  I'm not baking multiple loaves a week, nor am I going through formal training to become a baker.  However I do have lots of books and recipes that I've tried repeatedly.  The first bread I ever made was a focaccia bread from a recipe I found in a USENET posting way back in the early days of the internet.  It was all I could find at the time.  Throughout college I used that plus the recipe for french baguette from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."  In recent years I've added lots of bread books to my collection, and lots of trial and error.  I have the "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and the follow-on book.  I have a book on ancient bread making.  I have the Tartin bread book.  I'm at the stage where I want to start trying to do things more seriously.  However I'm also at the stage where I can sort of wing it and have pretty good results.

Throughout the years I always had a facination for sourdough breads.  When I moved to my current location I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who has been feeding the same starter for over 35 years.  He gave me a sample of it and it is the basis for all of the sourdough cooking that I do.  It is a very vigorous starter that I keep in the fridge and feed 1 cup of water and 1 cup of unbleached King Arthur All Purpose flour every 1-2 weeks.  It has served me well and I look forward to continuing with it.

Like many others I will be posting recipes and pictures of the results of those recipes.  Some will be from the standard sources.  Others, like my first entry, will be the results of my experimentation.  I don't always follow the rules as much as I should, but as long as the results are good (or at least good enough) then I guess I shouldn't complain.  It is just a bit intimidating to make posts of such amateur results when there are so many amazing posts of delicious and beautiful breads by other members.  We all start somewhere I suppose, and this is where I'm starting the sharing of my bread adventures online.



JeremyCherfas's picture

Has anyone here come across the French wheat varieties known as Touselle or Touzelle? (I did search first.) Louis XI, gravely ill, thought that only bread made from Touzelle could restore him to health.

I ask because a friend has written about the rediscovery of these varieties, and wondered if anyone had access to the article L'homme qui plantait des blés by Isabelle FAURE in Nature & Progres No. 59 (Sep/Oct 2006).



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 

Bricejacob's picture


 I started baking bread about two years ago.  My grandmother had passed away shortly before that, and I realized that my children (all three!) were not ever going to have the simple pleasure of having her white bread as toast.  So I dug out her recipe and decided to start trying to make it.  This began my current journey so I thought it might be a good starting point and introduction for my blog here on The Fresh Loaf.  As a side note, I have *no* idea who Mr. Dugan is.  I have no idea where my grandmother got this recipe and no one in my family can recall either.  So if any of you *have* heard of this, I'd love to hear from you.

 Mr. Dugan's White Bread  

  • 1.25 cups Milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbl butter
  • 0.25 cup honey
  • 5-6 cups unsifted white wheat flour
  • 0.25 cup granulated white sugar
  • 0.5 cup lukewarm water - 125 degrees
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 packages active dry yeast. 


  1.  Place the milk, salt, butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until butter (use real butter) melts.  Pour mixture into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Mix the ingredients thoroughly and turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter top.  Or use an electric mixer with a pastry hook.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.  If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour.
  3. Turn the mixture into a greased mixing bowl and cover with a towel.  Let stand in a warm place until double in bulk.  (One trick is to put it in an oven with a pan of boiling water on the shelf below.  Want a temperature of about 85 to 90 degrees.)  This takes about 45 minutes to one hour.  Divide the mixture into two parts and flatten each into a rectangle.  Place each rectangle into a 9.25 x 5.25 inch lightly greased Teflon bread pan.  Let stand in a warm place until dough rises to the top of the pan.  About 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Bake 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Now, this isn't the way I make this recipe today.  These are the instructions as my mother passed them to me.  I'm certain my grandmother didn't initially use Teflon bread pans, for example.  Also, when I started doing this, I had no concept of a preferment, so I've adjusted things a bit.  However, starting with this recipe, I've begun (over the past 6 months of so) experimenting with varying different parts of it, usually with pretty tasty results.  I'll share some of those (hopefully with some pictures) in the next couple of blog entries. 


Noodlelady's picture

My interest in the 19th century comes from researching my family history. Four of my ancestors were soldiers during the American Civil War (1861-1865). This peaked my interest in doing more than just researching names and dates. I have been participating in living history events and reenactments (with my Civil War reenacting unit) and teaching the ways of a typical 19th century Pennsylvania German woman since 2000. I dress the part and strive for authenticity by using reproductions or originals items.

Preparing and cooking 1800s-style food (mostly Pennsylvania German food) became my passion. I first began by making homemade noodles (hence the nickname Noodle Lady) and drying herbs at my tables. Now I can prepare an entire meal using my cast iron dutch ovens and fry pans using a wood fire and coals. At first, I always made some sort of bread at home and brought it with me. Then I began baking potato rolls at events, which are now a staple with my beef vegetable stew, but I've always wondered about the homemade yeast my ancestors would have been using during that time period.

 Potato rolls baked in the Dutch Oven.

Potato rolls baked in the Dutch Oven


Sticky Buns

Sticky Buns (of course the "sticky" is on the bottom!)


So this year I began my first sourdough starter and read through almost every sourdough post on theFreshLoaf! Now a “teacup of yeast” in those old recipes makes sense! In June I was brave enough to take my starter with me to an event and bake a couple of loaves. People were fascinated. It sparked a lot of conversations. The loaves came out great. I had to have rye straw baskets to proof the dough in, so I took a class and made my own. This year I even grew my own rye straw to continue making baskets.

Dutch Oven Sourdough

Dutch Oven Sourdough


Sourdough in Rye Basket

Sourdough in Rye Basket

Of course I can't do a Pa. German impression if I don't have some kind of rye bread. I've made the recipe for Pumpernickel from P. Reinhart's book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" and received the greatest compliment...a German exchange student visiting one of my events tasted the bread and remarked that it reminded her of home. I was thrilled!

I now also have the opportunity to do cooking/baking demonstrations at the hearth in a farmhouse at a historic site. It's much better and more controlled when I'm not battling the wind or rain.



I continue to learn as I bake and feel more connected to the family members who came before me. And my collection of old cookbooks and "receipts" continue to grow!

In "Early American Cookery–The Good Housekeeper–1841" the author says, "There are three things which must be exactly right, in order to have good bread–the quality of the yeast; the lightness or fermentation of the dough; and the heat of the oven. No precise rules can be given to ascertain these points. It requires observation, reflection, and a quick, nice judgement, to decide when all are right...the woman who always has good home-baked bread on the table shows herself to have good sense and good management."

Subscribe to RSS - history