The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


pumpkinpapa's picture

How big is a batch?

January 9, 2007 - 6:58am -- pumpkinpapa

I have read so many pieces about this bakery or that where they say this oven makes so many batches over a certain period or this bakery holds the record for consecutive batches...

So, having not been trained by a school or a professional baker, how big is a batch? Is it 2, 10, 20 or what? For me 10 loaves in a row at 2 pounds each was a great workout kneading but the time really flies when you are having that much fun!


Happy baking!

slothbear's picture

Result: gorgeous loaf. crunchy chewy crust. The texture is just a little ... moist, like perhaps just a tad undercooked. I forgot to get a temperature. The taste has a nice sourdough tang, but is a little too, too ... rubbery?

Details: I made the basic Breadtopia recipe, with 1/3 whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup of sourdough starter. Even though the dough looked good after 12 hours, I decided to let it develop for a while longer (thanks Floydm!). I declared the dough ready when I needed to walk the dog at the 16 hour mark ("natural timing").

After the fold and rest and 1.5 hours, the dough didn't look like it had risen at all. I forged ahead and plopped it into my 2.5 liter CorningWare French White casserole. A number of references said the casserole was ok to 500 degrees. The loaf got a great oven spring and started browning before I took the cover off. The brown was aiming towards black, so I ended the bake at 42 minutes.

Next loaf (already underway) will be the basic white with yeast. I like experimenting.

slothbear's picture

I'm trying no-knead bread for the first time, using the sourdough variation I found at Breadtopia. It sounds so easy (and it is), but I'm one of those bakers who is always wondering if I'm doing it right. My dough has been sitting for about 12 hours now at 70 degrees, and it looks ready to me. Bubbly on top, and nice strand development. Perhaps I should go on to the next step, or perhaps I should follow the 18-hour instructions and ... what ... allow more flavor to develop? more later.


LaVidaMD's picture

What do you use as a container for your sourdough starter?

January 6, 2007 - 7:52pm -- LaVidaMD

I received some King Arthur sourdough starter for Christmas and I will be using it for the first time tomorrow. Wish me luck!

My question to the forum is: In what do you keep your sourdough starter?

I purchased a 1.6 quart container similar to this:

I quickly found that I do not like the shape. It is too difficult to get the starter out, nor is it any easier to add the fresh 1/2 cup of water and cup of flour. When I was waking up/feeding the starter, I used a huge Pyrex glass bowl loosly covered with plastic wrap. But, I do not want to keep that in the refrigerator all the time. Therefore, I am asking around for advice regarding other sourdough starter containers.

breadnerd's picture

Fired up the oven today for the first time this year, and the first time since late october. I had imagined baking on a wintery January day, but as it happened, we had record highs of nearly 50 degrees (in wisconsin) so it wasn't that much colder than the last time. Today's breads: Ciabatta and the Columbia French bread


I started the columbia dough (which has a 3-5 hour first proof) at 9:30, and lit the fire at 10:15. Ciabatta dough followed after that. I let the fire start to burn down around 3:30, and shoveled out the coals by about 4:00. This is a little longer than I usually go, but I wasn't sure if the cooler weather would effect things or not. Turns out I had PLENTY of heat, so I did overdo it a little. Fortunately with a cool kitchen and 2 slow-rising doughs, I wasn't in a rush. After cleaning out the coals and "soaking" the oven with the door shut for a half hour or so, the oven was a lovely 550 degrees. I put the ciabattas in, and they were done in 10 minutes. Turns out I should have left them in a little longer, they look great but softened up a bit after cooling--so the crust is not as crunchy as I normally like:

In the oven:


And out:



After this the oven was still a bit too hot for the french bread--the recipe calls for a rather cool 375 degrees. I cracked the door for 20-30 minutes and loaded the bread when it had dropped to 425-450 degrees. I figured I'd just keep an eye on them and bake them a little less than the recipe called for. I had a TON of oven spring on this batch, and was very pleased. They were done in about 25 minutes---three loaves around 1 pound each.



Now, stay with me here--we got a little carried away. The thing with the mud oven is, you spend 5 hours getting it hot, you feel like you need to USE THAT HEAT. So, we stuck in a chicken to roast, and some sweet potatoes! The oven temp was about 400-410 degrees to start, and about 350-375 after an hour. The chicken was done in about an hour and 15 minutes! :)



Of course by now it was eight o-clock. We ate dinner, and I had one last thing to throw in---granola. I made two batches, 2 cookie sheets each, and they took about a half hour per batch. By 10:30 I was done---12 hours after starting the fire. Phew! A really long but really fun day. 





CountryBoy's picture

Six Days and No Action...none, nunca, nothing

January 5, 2007 - 2:21pm -- CountryBoy

 My apologies, this is my first post and I posted it incorrectly elsewhere.  Hopefully this is correct. SourdoLady HELP! I am dead in the water........I thought I was following a correct recipe, but all is for naught.

Ok for the past 6 days I have tried to get a starter going and it just ain't happening. Each day at noon I add: - 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour and - 2 tablespoons of orange jusice

Loafer's picture

Buying Poilane Across the Pond?

January 2, 2007 - 8:00am -- Loafer

So,  I was watching something or other on FoodTV the other day, and they mentioned that Poilane will ship loaves overseas.  Since Reinhart seems to be so taken with the Poilane miche, I thought I might take a look into trying one loaf.  I know that it will be basically highway robbery, but it would be very interesting to give it a try and see what "The best bread in the world" might taste like. Maybe a birthday present to myself.  But the Poilane website isn't terribly helpful on what the actual costs will be.  It seems that I would have to click the button to confirm my order before I was really told what the price might be.  Has anyone else made an order from Paris?  Were you pleased with the shipping time and the quality of the bread after shipping?  Was it "worth" $20+ to try a loaf?  Of course, that is cheaper than a trip to Paris...

Jeffrey's picture

Hodgson Cakes

January 1, 2007 - 10:38pm -- Jeffrey

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hi, A few weeks ago, wanting to try out sourdough, i sort of cheated and made a starter using yeast from Hodgson Mills. It worked, and rose just as fast as the commercial yeast that it was made for.


Finally, i got up the courage to make a wild starter. The dish was left covered, except for feeding. So the yeast was on the rye, whole wheat, or raisins. Probably the raisins, that's when it grew the most. In just a week it's smell was much richer than Hodgson's.

seandev's picture

Barm refreshing?

December 31, 2006 - 1:59pm -- seandev

Hello all,

Thanks to BBA I just made my first sourdough loaves (!), but I'm a bit befuddled by the directions regarding barms and refreshing. 

1.  Is it better to keep the barm out of the fridge and accelerate the refreshing schedule until the barm has been refreshed a few times and matured? 

2.  How often should I refresh the barm assuming the answer to the first question? 

3.  When you refresh the barm, do you refresh all the barm you have left, or just the portion you plan on using the next day to bake?

4.  If you're just maintaining the barm, not planning on using it, I assume you keep it in the fridge and refresh it weekly.  Immediately after refreshing it, how long do you keep it out of the fridge?  Can you just stick it back in there and expect the yeast the do its thing, albeit on a retarded schedule?


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