The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts



Want to learn how to bake bread? Do it! It is about the cheapest, most enjoyable, most rewarding pastime I can think of.

I can't promise that these lessons will prevent you from making mistakes, because making mistakes is just part of learning (and something I still do all the time). But hopefully they'll give you some good ways of getting started and help you improve your understand of what is happening inside of your loaf.

Also, check out some of the tremendous lessons that community members have contributed:


skysailor's picture

To get a nice crown on the loaf requires a few elements.

First is the flours that you use. I always first look to what am I trying to achive. That image stuff may seem trite but I believe it helps in the long run. Some breads are supposed to by flat. Some should be so round that they roll of the bench. King Arther makes a good bread flour.

I am guessing that you are looking for something with a little more crown so the next thing to look at is mixing. If you are mixing by hand there are some things that you can do that can help. Mix it by hand till you are done and then ten minutes more.

What helps creates that nice crown in a loaf is the chains of glutan that are incircling your loaf.

Understand that these chains of protien(glutan) develop from a physical/chemical event in the body of your loaf not nessesaraly related to the yeast blowing out it's CO2. So I always try to slow breads down if I am having troubles getting the proteins to develop. Long fermentation works by give more time to this process.

So after you have mixed your bread well find a cool place and let it rest. If after I have mixed a batch of bread and the temp of the dough is greater than 78 degrees I start over. Then it goes to a nice spot to rest. So often I will hear "Let your bread rise in a warm place" Well that works if it is well developed in mixing. By hand this can be a problem. So simply giving it a little cooler water and then a cool place to rest/develope can really help.

What Floyd suggest is also true. Once it has been mixed/risen and is ready to shape some folks think that the fun is over and its almost ready to eat. Shaping bread is an elusive skill and even Goldelocks would have had a hard time making a good loaf not to soft or to hard but just right so that the tention of the proteins chains in the crown expand concurrently with the CO2 coming from the yeast. Practice practicepractice......

Don't be discoraged by flat loafs. We have all made plenty of them. Use a sharp cheese and say "I ment to do that"


charlie910's picture

I decided to try lesson one and I baked my bread following the recipe. It came out loped-sided but it tasted great. Aesthically it was off the but the flavor was there. I love reading all the insightful information and I want to thank everyone in advance for present and further help. I want to bake more breads. thanks


ScottyJM's picture

I learned to bake here on this website. The people here are excited about new bakers. I had never baked anything at all when I stumbled across this site. Now I have gotten almost through the complete bakers apprentices cook book. Remember if it is not fun something is wrong. LOL   

skiles90's picture

 I'm 16 and I just baked my first loaf of bread (from lesson1). It tasted wonderful! I brushed it with a beaten egg and it came to a beautiful golden crust. It wasn't as round as the loaves shown on the screen but I believe that I may not have let the dough rise long enough. I very excited to try another and give it to my grandmother :)

Susan's picture

It IS very exciting, and I know your grandmother will love your gift of bread when you present it to her.  Have lots of fun!


Ags's picture

I read through Lesson One, but decided to start baking with Lesson Two.

I started a little late in the day and our cabin was kind of chilly and it seemed that the risings took a pretty long time. I baked them both on the same cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 40 mins. I know they could have gone longer, but it was really late and I was tired, ha.

They didn't turn out perfect, but they were still good, and since I'm a novice baker I was very happy and excited with the results. The bread had a good flavor, my kids just gobbled it up the next day.


I'm looking forward to lesson 3. :)

Arlette's picture

Hello to all,

and thank you very much for the nice interesting information about preparing the dough and how to knead and fold it.

We have a special bread in the Middle East its called Mashatih Ramadan and then found that its called Turkish PideTurkish Panir - Mashatih RamadanTurkish Panir - Mashatih Ramadan, and its very tasty bread, with sesame seeds and Fennel seeds.

I read very carefully the lessons of making bread, and apply the informaiton on making this dough, couple of changes i added 1 cup of bran to the recipes, and added one cup of starter to the dough as well i have 4 Months old starter in the fridge and every time i use some, i add on it, and its still alive and perfect.

I did soak the flour with the one ingredients and let it combine for 30-40 minutes and it didnt take me more than 5-7 minutes to knead the dough and turn it to a nice dough and let it rest for 2 hours, then i did the folding over 4 times and resting the dough one hour between each fold.  and turned perfect .

i even made from the dame dough Oregano Bread.  We call it in Lebanon Manakish Zaatar and here are the pictures I took last night after i baked the bread.  and I froze the big loaf.  also i did the hot water in a pan in the bottom of the oven, and baked the bread at 550F for 10 minutes then dropped the oven to 450F and continued baking till they are done.  Perfect crunchy crust with spongy flavor inside. 

Arlette's picture

TuTurkish Pide Bread or Mashatish RamadanTurkish Pide Bread or Mashatish Ramadanrkish Pide Bread or Mashatih Ramadan

Arlette's picture

I want to thank our friend who gave the full details about how to make a real good bread, I took the pide recipe from the site, and added to it 1 cup of bran, and I used 1 cup of starter and followed step by step the bread lesson, i soaked the flour with the wet ingredients for 30-40 minutes and then it didnt took me more than couple of minutes to end up with a nice smooth dough, i cover it and left it to rise around 1.30-2.00 hours, then i did the folding and again rest the dough for 1 hour , i did this technic for 4 times, and at the end i shaped the dough to one big pide, and 3 oregano bread medium size, and one medium size pide as well, and let them rest again, I did put a hot water in pan in the bottom of the oven and heat the oven to 550F and baked my bread for 10 minutes at this high temperature, then dropped the oven to 450F and continued baking, i didint bother to take off the pan, it was too hot to take it out of the oven, but i kept refilling it with hot water.

the bread came with nice golden crunchy crust and spongy inside, and tasted so good.  

nizzyman's picture

 in regard to bread making im sad that nobody wishes to use fresh yeast in bread making    Why is that

i dont use anything but fresh yeast and my bread is fine

wendy's picture

I started a sponge and then realized I hadn't finished copying the recipe I was going to use.  I'm a novice so its kind of scary right now. 


So I made a sponge:

2 1/4 C.  & 2-1/2 T flour

1 3/4 water

2T & 1 t. Honey

3/4 t instant yeast

That is fermenting as we speak.


Then you add:

2 C Flour & 3 T.

1/4 C. Non-Fat Dry Milk

3/4 t. instant yeast

9 T. unsalted butter softened

2 1/4 t. salt


That's where the recipe ends.  Would anyone like to help me with the rest?


I'm assuming I put these ingredients in to the sponge, then knead it and let it rise, punch it down and form into loaves?


WoundedEgo's picture
WoundedEgo is, among other things, an online cooking school. Most of the site is available only by subscription, but they have, possibly for a limited time, a wonderful video tutorial about Wheat available for free:

 Understanding Wheat makes one a better baker.

Bill Ross

(Baking today: Bread, Pita Breat and Pizza dough! Gotta get back to the kitchen!)


dgill's picture

I just watched this video and it was extremely helpful.  I am nervous to try my first loaf even though I bake quite a bit.  The first time is always daunting.  This basic information made it much clearer and I feel more confident that my first loaf will be more succesful because of it.  Thank you so much for sharing!

bubblegurl's picture

I started my Sourdough Starter and on day four I measured 1/4 cup and added 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour.  On day 5, 6, and 7 I did the same.  I measured out 1/4 cup and added the same in water and flour.  I don't understand how I am supposed to increase the amount of dough if I keep throwing out all but 1/4 cup.  Am i missing something?  How do I get enough to make bread?  I hope this is not a silly question.  Please advise...

Jakelilydad's picture

You will be fine, as will your sourdough.  Once you pick your recipe, figure out how much sourdough starter you need (many need only 1/4 cup).  If you need more, you can always add more flour and water to your starter without throwing any away.  If, for instance, your recipe calls for 1 cup starter, and you currently have 1/2 cup (1/4 starter and you added another 1/4 C water and flour).  The day before baking day, add 1/2 cups water and flour to your starter, mix well and then leave on the counter (loosely covered).  On the morning of baking day, stir the starter well, then add another 1/2 cup flour and water.  Once it has risen and begun to fall again, stir it well and measure it for your recipe.  Then put the remainder back in the fridge.

You might, though, consider weighing your ingredients, rather than measuring them.  Because 1/2 cup of flour weighs considerably less than 1/2 cup of water, you will be getting a wetter and wetter starter over time, which may result in too much water for your recipe.  If it works, great, but a lot of instructional videos seem to have the starter about the consistancy of cooked oatmeal (or even dryer).  But as you will find in bread-making, there are a zillion different ways to do it that work, so whatever works for you is the right way.

Have fun!

- Eric

fiveacrefarmgirl's picture

I too.....have sourdough that flops, I can bake and make almost any other type, but, anything with a sponge flops..HELP!!???

grannyloohoo's picture

Every time I slash, my bread falls into a flat blob. I have purchased bread slashers and used razor blades and have a terrible time doing the proper slash. Now most of the time I just leave it alone & bake as is. Is there a secret to the slash? I do love the way it looks after it's baked (when properly done).

Wartface's picture

I too found slashing to actually be the most difficult part of the learning curve to make the perfect loaf of sourdough bread.  It more than just the proper angle of your lame. Preparing your dough with enough tension on the skin is just as important. Google stretch and fold for the kneading process. Google pull the dough toward me for shaping. Google slashing a flap for the proper angle of your lame. 

Also google baking under a mixing bowl for the first 20 minutes of the cook. After you slash your dough spritz it with lots of water before putting It on your baking stone and then cover it with the stainless steel mixing bowl to give it lots of moister to attain the maximum oven rise. After 20 minutes remove the bowl and cook to color... Not temp. I prefer my SD a little darker in color than you get at Safeway. I like the blisters to be obvious and the ears to be slightly singed. 

Its mostly about getting lots of tension and the angle of your lame... 

dmsnyder's picture

It is almost certainly over-proofed.

Try proofing it less (to less than doubling in volume) before scoring and baking.


grannyloohoo's picture

Never thought about that! I'll give it a whirl--thanks!

breadexplorer's picture


I am a amatuer baker and is really keen on making bread. But i face the same problem with my dough everytime...

My dough always become wet and sticky even when i reduced the amount of water stated in the recipe and made them on a warm day. Why is this so?

It seems that the more I knead the more sticky it becomes, and i have to add a lot more flour to make it less sticky. I have never managed to get the smooth consistency from 20mins of kneading, rather i took 40mins and a whole lot more flour to get that consistency :(

is that because i didnt add 'bread improver' or should i just invest in a bread maker instead?

please advise and thank you very much!


pmccool's picture

Sticky dough might have several different causes.  For instance, wetter doughs tend to be stickier than drier doughs.  Rye doughs are stickier than wheat doughs.  Sourdoughs that are allowed to ferment to the point that the gluten begins to break down can be very sticky.

So, what's in your dough?  Post your recipe (ingredients and quantities) and your process (mixing times/methods, temperatures, fermentation times, handling, etc.) and someone here can probably help you unravel the mystery.  

One other thought: if you are new to making bread, a dough that feels horribly sticky at your current level of experience may feel slightly tacky in a year or so as you get more experience handling dough.


breadexplorer's picture

ok here is the recipe i used, one of the sweet bread recipes

200g bread flour

1.5tsp instant dry yeast

2tbsp sugar

30g butter

120ml warm water

1 egg and 1/4 tsp salt

1) I mixed warm water, yeast,1 tsp sugar and half of the flour and left it (uncoverd) for 10mins

2) then i added egg and stir using spoon. then added rest of flour, sugar and butter, stir to make the dough.

3) and again, the dough is sticking to my hands so i added about 5 tbsp of bread flour as i kneaded. Kneaded (fold and push, fold and push) for abt 25mins and did the 'stretch' test but i couldnt get the translucent thin layer as i stretch...

4) then covered the dough with clingwrap and let in ferment for 1hr in the oven (40 degrees and switched off)

5) after 1 hr, the dough did rose but the surface is wet.

oh and the temperature that day was sunny 25 degree celsius.

Thank you so much for helping!


pmccool's picture


For the sake of discussion, I'll assume that you are using a large egg, which by U.S. standards is about 55 grams in weight.  Whole eggs are somewhere between 70% and 75% water, so the egg in your formula is contributing a quantity of water that is between 0.70 x 55 = 38.5 grams and 0.75 x 55 = 41.25 grams.  Let's call it 40 grams, since most of us don't use scales that weigh down to the fraction of a gram.

The formula calls for 200 grams of flour.  It also calls for 120 ml of water, which we'll assume is equal to 120 grams.  So 120 grams of water in the formula, plus another 40 grams of water contributed by the egg, give a total of 160 grams of water.  In bakers percentages, the dough has a hydration of 160/200 = 80%.  

A dough with 80% hydration is apt to be somewhat sticky, even allowing for the fats in the butter and the egg yolk.  (Note that even the butter adds another 4 or 5 grams of water to the dough.)

So, you can either add flour to get the dough to a more manageable hydration, or subtract water.  Let's pretend that you want your dough to be about 65% hydration, which would be much less sticky.  You could add another 45 grams of flour, for a total of 245 grams.  Your hydration would then be 160/245 = 65%, more or less.  Or, you could deduct water.  A total of 130 grams of water (90 for the formula, plus the 40 from the egg) will yield 130/200 = 65%.  Or you could jigger both the flour and the water values.  

Your addition of 5 tablespoons of flour during kneading amounted to 40-45 grams.  In effect, you adjusted to about a 65% hydration level on the fly.  (And no, I hadn't yet run the numbers on your adjustment before offering the hypothetical 65% example.)

The main thing is to know the weight of the water, then divide that by the weight of the flour to figure out the hydration.  A 65% hydration dough, while being much less sticky than the current 80% hydration dough that you are working with, should still be reasonably moist.  Try a batch at that hydration, then decide if you want it wetter or drier.  

You could get away with much less kneading than you have been doing.  There's a video of Richard Bertinet working a sweet dough, which would be fairly similar to your forumla.  If you watch that, you'll see he gets to the desired degree of development very quickly and easily.  Another approach would be to do 2 or 3 stretch and folds at 30 to 45 minute intervals during the bulk ferment.  Either approach would be much less effort for you.

Happy baking!


pazerbob's picture

I have tried most every way to make bread, but they always come out fairly flat, only about 2-3 inches high, I have a great crumb, and it looks and tastes great, but I can never get it to raise up to what I see othe loaves look like. I live in Nashville, and am wondering if there could be a problem with the water, and should I try bottled water?


Thank you


pmccool's picture

If the discussion about hydration, above, doesn't help, please post both your formula and your process so that other readers have a basis for offering suggestions.


CookieMomma's picture

I am preparing to start my first desem. I found a farm online that soaks and sprouts organic wheat berries. Then they are dried at a low temp. They grind them to order for max freshness. Can you tell me if this process would hinder starting a desem??

jacko's picture

Thanks for all the help, real good results.

I have been making bread for about 40 years on and off, standard tin loves and bread rolls only, but twelve years ago ' bought a bread maker and quickly got fed up with that messing about, went back to the basic method and have not bought bread for 10 years.

  Trying to make a loaf without a tin mould produced a flat, unattractive shape.

Three thin steel U shape moulds were made so that "Baguette" and "Ciabatta" could be produced. OK I was pleased with the results but then a few weeks ago, 'came  across "the fresh loaf" site and  a whole new world opened up.

The  Preferment does improve the  "crumb" [ 'think this is the correct term} is great and so is the crust.

The making bread process is real fun, the neighbours and even the grand children say its good.

Thanks again

Jacko from St Albans England


MarkUK's picture

I used to make bread by hand, great results and therapeutic, but 2 kids and life meant that there just was not enough time. I looked at breadmakers but early machines just produced bad results as far as I could see until i spoke to another enthusiast who had a Panasonic bread maker. We have now had the same one for 9 years and replaced only the paddle, it is used 5-7 times a week and produces great loaves, pizza dough, fruit bread etc. never looked back and most of the time on just the 2 hour programme. Looked at getting one for a friend in Canada but the 110 volt system over there means that all i could find was a smaller capacity machine so not really any good. If anyone knows of a good 110 volt machine that takes 600grammes of flour I'd really appreciate it.

PS And I only ever use ordinary plain flour, never found machine flour or bread flour worked any better, and loads cheaper

Edward Godberson's picture
Edward Godberson


juirome's picture

I've recently been trying to make various rye breads without much success.  The last one I tried was the sourdough deli rye in BBA.  The problem is that the dough starts to split during the last rise and baking.  I thought is might have been caused by the caraway seeds, so on the second attempt I ground them in a spice mill.  The same thing happened.  Anyone have a suggestion?  I'd be greatful for input.  Thanks



dmsnyder's picture

Hi, juirome.

Welcome to TFL!

Having light rye breads split (burst) during baking is a common problem. It generally reflects a combination of not forming a good gluten sheath when you shape the loaves and under-proofing the loaves before baking.

If the loaves are splitting during proofing, the problem is with forming them. 

You have BBA, so I suggest you study Reinhart's illustrated instructions for shaping loaves again. There are other methods, but they all aim at forming a smooth "container" for the dough, with all the seams well-sealed, so it rises evenly without splitting.

On another note, you might get additional responses and help by posting a new topic with your questions rather than a reply to this lesson.

Happy baking!


oleteeth's picture

When I make rye bread the loaf doesn't retain  it's height when I put it in the oven. Short of putting it in a breadpan, any suggestions?

VarunS's picture



Hey everyone,

This was my attempt at making the Lesson 2 recipe. I think the bread turned out quite tasty even though I forgot to add the 2 tablespoons of butter.

I am not sure exactly how the crumb should be.

Also instead of just cooking the loaf on a stone i put it in a loaf pan. One of the sides dosen't look pretty, any thoughts why that could have happened? My guess is it was to do with my poor folding/ shaping technique. Perhaps because of this the seams opened up?

I did not slash the bread because I haven't seen loaf style breads being slashed.

Hope to get some good suggestions :)

Going to re make it tomorrow because I am very annoyed about that 1 side. Bleh

pmccool's picture

Don't worry too much about the side that burst.  It probably just means that the dough was a little under-proofed.  If it had expanded a bit more before going into the oven, it would probably have had a higher dome and a more open crumb.  Gauging whether dough is proofed too little, too much, or just right is one of those things that gets easier with experience.

You could probably have left it in the oven a bit longer, too.  Or perhaps your oven runs just a bit cooler than the advertised temperature.  The crust is a bit pale and the crumb looks very moist.  A longer, hotter bake would have darkened the crust and set the crumb more, plus dried it some.  Then again, maybe you cut into it while it was still warm; that would definitely affect the crumb texture.

All in all, congratulations on a very good first attempt.


peterrose1991's picture

the poor crumb could be down to a few things

under proofing

too wet mixture

poor flour

not kneeded/ mixed longer


the oven jump has caused the rip in the side, that can be prevented by scoring the dough as then you know where how the loaf is gonna shape as it rises. but like you said you didnt want to so proofing the dough and mixing longer will create a more controlable loaf so it therefore wont explode on the side

malkouri's picture

I seem to have a problem with kneading; whenever I need, the dough sticks A LOT to the benchtop. I ensure it's dry before I start, and i've done it both lightly floured and not floured at all, but every time I always have to add a lot of all-purpose flour to get the dough to a good consistency i.e. a half cup at least, throughout the ten minutes of kneading.

Am I just doing it wrong?


LindyD's picture

It can really wreck your bread.  Try 1) lightly oiling your work surface and your hands or 2) lightly watering your work surface and your hands. You can keep a bowl of water nearby.

Good luck!

malkouri's picture

Thank you for the tips; will try them in a few days!

laurieedwrds's picture

hello, i just made the lesson 1 bread and the crust was so hard we almost broke our teeth eating it. our oven tends to burn things so i cooked only 40 mins instead of the full 45. i'm thinking i may have over cooked it. the inside was kinda soft... a little tough maybe. I know it's not really supposed to get golden brown because there is no sugar in the mix but it stayed chalk white. i thought it was supposed to get a little bit of color. i also may have added too much yeat. the little packets of yeast we have comes in 2 1/4 teaspoon and i figured what's a 1/4 teaspoon going to hurt. Just need help figuring out if I over cooked it or added a little too much yeast. please help me out. :)

vanbrenkm's picture

Many ovens, especially electric ovens or anything that's older will have large temperature variations. I had dealt with this in an apartment I'd lived in in the past where setting the knob to 375F actually had an internal temp closer to 430F. This led to quite a few burnt loafs (as well as dinners).


A recommendation from a friend had me buying an oven thermometer (from the nearby supermarket, for about $9 USD) and resting that in the center of the oven and spending a few hours experimenting with temperature ranges. When I was done, I had something like the below:


Oven Setting || Real Temp

300F || 375F

325F || 400F

375F || 425F



The above is not the ideal solution. The ideal solution would be to buy a brand-new, top-of-the-line oven but that wasn't an option for me at the time. I found it was best to know the ingredients and know the tools.

Afoxy1's picture

Okay, I am trying make Robertson's the country loaf. I am having

a problem transferring the bread to the dutch oven, it deflates.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Franko's picture

You might try the technique I use described in the link below.


Or you could try the other way that seems to work for a lot of folks which is described in this link.

Hope this helps


MTulloss's picture

So glad I found this site, I'm a devoted home chef, but bread had always been my bane due to a habit of improvisation and avoidance of weights and measures.  I recently decited to give bread another try and in preparation found this site.  I got a couple of sourdough starters going, and made some delicious frisbee like things (I meant to do that, have some cheese!)  But the forums and the explanations of baking by weight led me to try an approach other than eyeball (thank you mr diet scale).  That helped, but eventually what got me tonight's two perfect baguettes (poolish recipie, 68% hydration, but being in dubai the humidity means this is equivalent to a somewhat wetter dough) was the constant emphasis on using a wet dough.  I did an initial 6 minute knead with wet hands on a wet counter, then strech and fold every half hour during the rise of the dough, again with wet hands and on a wet counter.

This process gave me a supple air filled dough that I probably would have needed a steamroller to degas.  When I was ready to shape and proof it was panic time, couldn't figure out how to get the seam to stay closed, then another check in the forums let me know not to use wet counter and hands at this stage and to go with a floured surface.  After shaping anf proofing my bagguettes I thought I was in for another batch of flat tasty tounge depressor shaped bread.  Instead I found out what oven spring really means!  wow, just wow- family was amazed, neighbors enjoyed their loaf and I've got a half loaf for lunch tomorrow.

Big thanks to everyone on the site and I will let you know if I can manage the same with the sourdough.

godnomis's picture

Unless you throw a 10 kg bag flour in there, dont use a mixer. get a big bowl

rule 1, add flour too liquid! no the other way round , unless your pro and start slowly and build water first, lay flour on top.(not pour)

rule 2 . speedly , evenly.

rule 3. hands on the bottom flat on bowl, and bring it up from the bottom.

make sure your in a 38 c 50% humidty or close too it or have a area at close to it, or a proofer.

atmospheric pressure affects it.

rule 4. practice

when mixing , should form bits , no wet lumps, and you have it.


krmjo's picture

I got a KitchenAid for Christmas and really want to make bread as I make several trips to the bakery each week. The loaf I made today came out pretty well except for 2 issues. 1. It was only about 2-3 inches high. I was making Italian bread and when proofing, the dough spread out instead of rising up. 2. The crus was very thick and hard. I wiped the bread with egg white, sprayed the bread with water, baked for 3 minutes, sprayed with water again, baked for 3 minutes and sprayed one last time. I then baked for 45 minutes. Does anyone know which of these steps caused the crust to be so thick and why my bread spread wide instead of up? Thanks for your help. This is a great site!!

Jonathan Rice Lauria's picture
Jonathan Rice Lauria

There are many posibles reasons for what happened to your bread. One question, did you use active yeast, or a starter? If it was a starter, was it really " alive " before you use it?

I 'll take a wild guess, and think you are using regular active dry yeast, the one you can find at any store. Did the yeast was exposed to salt, or over 45 º C ?? If this happens, yeast will likely die. Maybe not all of it, but it does damage the quality and of course will affect your bread.

Other possible reason could be that you under mixed your dough, or did not let it to develop at his best. This could also affect your bread. At what temperture was your dough when it was resting?

I could hardly give you an exact response, the one thing i can tell you, is keep trying. Keep in mind, bread does not like to be rush.



kat56's picture

Try the pain ancienne recipe by peter reinhart. It is great in a stand mixer and so easy to make...makes a lovely crusty loaf.

I have never heard of starting in a cold oven. Most of the "spring" happens in the first ten minutes and I think the heat is essential.

spe1793's picture

I've been a menber of this site for a little over 2 years and this is the first time I actually took time to look at it.  I can only say that I have missed out on a lot of good things it seems and that's my bad.  I regret not paying more attention to what's going on.

I'm pretty new to bread making and have turned out several loaves that were pretty good.  I was taught to start with a cold oven and put the loaf in as the oven is heating up.  Seems to work OK but have not compared it to the first 3 lessons that I have found to be very informative.  I am inspired and will get off my duff and bake some bread.  Thanks for waking me up.  Very good simple lessons that even I can follow.


spe1793's picture

I have noticed in some of the posts that when adding liquid to the flour you add dry to wet.  I thought you added wet to dry.  Which is correct? it

All at Sea's picture
All at Sea

... but I always add wet to dry. It goes like this:

Weigh out the flour. Decide what hydration percentage you're shooting for - and so work out the quantity of water required to achieve that. Then add the calculated weight of water, holding back 50grams. If the dough needs that remaining 50grams, I add it. (Sometimes a particular flour might not be so thirsty as my regular flours. Once added, water is not removable, so rather than risk ending up having to add extra flour if the mixture is too wet, and throwing the whole recipe into chaos, I much prefer to exercise caution with the addition of water).

Many times I then add extra water incrementally (over and above my nominated initial quantity)- as I work the dough, until I get the texture and wetness I like. But that incremental water is from a measured reserve of 100grams. After I've achieved the hydration I'm happy with, all I have to do is weigh what is left of my reserve to work out the final hydration figure.

There is a real danger if you add dry to wet that you lose control over the quantities used and the recipe not only goes rapidly off piste, but evolves without documented control to be unreliable if repeated.

All at Sea

Floydm's picture

I think I usually add the wet to most of the dry, then add more dry (flour) until I achieve the desired moisture level.

Good luck!


PeterS's picture

For basic formulas & electric mixer.

1. Put water into mixing bowl
2. add yeast or starter and mix a little to disperse the leavening
3. add flour, mix
4. distribute salt over shaggy dough and finish mixing to desired endpoint.

This ensures the leavening is well distributed and, if using active dry yeast, that it gets activated. Some bakers will put the salt in with the flour or even into the water. I like to keep it away from the yeast in high concentration.


NoviceBakerNJ's picture

Hello and thanks a mill for this site!  Made my first loaf from another site's recipe last night and it was ok.  Wasn't kneading properly i think.   Can't wait to try after reading up on your site!


kat56's picture

I really think that bricks are the result of making too dry a dough. If you think about it, it is harder for the yeast to raise a dense dough than one that is wetter and lighter. Also, I noticed that older recipes, like Joy of Cooking ones, tend to produce heavier bread with a uniform crumb...I think that was the standard or goal in the 50's and 60's - trying for a Wonder Bread effect. Now we tend to love the rustic crusty breads...more modern recipes seem to be wetter with less flour.

kr2346's picture

I have been trying to make bread for a while now and I always ended up with a brick.  I am loving your website and am able to make great bread now.  I can't thank you enough.


supahfly22's picture

Hi TFL fans, I finally got the courage to bake my first loaves last Sunday. I tried 2 recipes: 1 is Lesson one bread and the other one is french baguette whose recipe i got from another site. I used bread flour for the baguette and 1 cup bread flour and 2 cups all purpose flour for  the lesson one bread. For the baguette, i proofed the yeast but when the loaves were done rising and before baking they were all runny and they baked like hard clay. I got much better results with the lesson 1 bread. I added 1 teaspon of italian seasoning and dried basil and although the bread did not rise a lot, it had a crusty exterior and chewy soft middle which we love. 

For the french baguette i tried proofing the Active dry yeast. I attempted 3 times using different water temps but it never foamed at all. So I thought when the yeast was all cloudy and moving a bit, that was it, but it was a fail. I am wondering why i got better results with not proofing at all? Can I just do that all the time? I don't think I am good at it.

I didnt have baking paper so I just oiled a baking sheet. Had a bit of a hard time with the bread sticking at the bottom. My sister watched me shape the dough before final rising and she told me that I should have not shaped the dough on the side while it was sitting on the baking tray. I should shape it by hand and just gently plop it on the tray after shaping it so it wont stick at the bottom. Does that make sense and should I do just that?

Is there a trick to slashing the bread? I thought that I lost some height after slashing the bread..

My family really loved the taste of the herbs I put in th e Lesson 1 bread. Do you have any other suggestions/variations I can do as well? I am thinking Apple/Cinammon or Raisin/Cinnamon. How about oatmeal or sesame seeds?

Thanks for your input!


kat56's picture

We always use instant yeast and add it directly to the dry ingredients. No proofing required (but we bake fairly regularly so the yeast is relatively fresh)

scribble's picture

My wife and I made the first loaf from the lesson, everything went well up until the 2nd rise, we fell asleep and it sat for about 6 hours covered. I found the dough had a slightly dried out top and the bottom was definetly tackier than when I left it to rise the 2nd time.  I did a little quick massage and shape to fit the loaf pan and baked at 375 for 41 min.  The crust is very hard and it looks so so, It has a tear near the seam so I must have not gotten that tite enough. I am waiting a bit for it to cool before trying it.  I know the wife will be disappointed by the looks.

Tom214's picture

Scribble I just returned from a four day class at the King Arthur Flour company...request a catalog from them and you will find everything you the class anytime we were letting a bread rise..they took some of their version of PAM..and sprayed it on Saran Wrap and laid it on the bread to prevent the dough from getting crusty...I use a product called PRESS & SEAL from Glad Wrap..its a lot easier to use and works even better...don't give up ...I just started and love this hobby..



lucy 1234's picture
lucy 1234


I have just joined your site and I am looking forward to learn how to make all kinds of bread but I do have a question.  I just got a kitchen aid mixer and I would like to know if your recipie calls to knead for 10 minutes is it the same amount of time if you are using the kitchen aid or does the time change thank you


Floydm's picture

I'm not sure which recipe you are referring to, but figure machine mixing cancuts kneading time roughly in half.


kat56's picture

that's about right...6 to 7 minutes seems to do it.

kat56's picture

One tip I picked up from BBA is to let the bread cool completely before eating. Peter Reinhart has an interesting description of what happens to the bread when it comes out of the oven - it does release a ton of steam. Warm bread is great but greater is letting it cool - he says that the bread caramelizes and the flavour is more complex and pronounced and I must say I really notice that. We use a small battery driven fan to help it cool faster and put it on a rack. It also helps to keep the crust crusty, if that is what you are after

kat56's picture

We have started using diastatic yeast (not the liquid kind) and it does give better oven spring. It is hard to find...I ordered mine online. Don't use too much...a teaspoon is plenty...otherwise the bread will get sticky and not what you want's picture


Could you give a certain information about the dosage of usage of Diastatic Yeast

Baked Goods's picture
Baked Goods

If you want to see what it costs to make a loaf, there's a recipe cost calculator here:

Tom214's picture

I am a retired police officer from a NY K-9 Unit..just got into baking bread and built a wood fired brick oven in an addition on my into this with both feet...anyway just returned from a four day class at King Arthur and would encourage anyone that loves this hobby to go..a great organization and a nice group of people..totally opposite from the ones I used to deal with...but boy love this baking bread...just love it..


Wartface's picture

King Arthur is a great company and they have really flour. Their video are nicely done and very instructive. I too learned from them how to bake my first loaf. I too had just retired. My son had bought me a Big Green Eggas a retirement gift. I read the owners manual and it said you could bake bread in it better than your oven in your kitchen... Less oven temp variance.

I baked a few bricks to start. My long term goal was to bake perfect sourdough bread. I bought all of the fancy mixers and gadgets you could own and still got bricks. Then I stumbled onto a site called Northwest Sourdough and chatted online with somof their moderators about what I was doing wrong that produced these bricks. A guy there by the name Shasta said to me... IF you really want to learn how to bake bread properly you must do it by hand to start. You must learn how the dough feels and what the texture is suppose to feel like at every step of the process. He said keep your digital scale and get a large glass mixing bowl, a big wooden spoon and a good scraper. As soon as I started doing it by hand and feeling the dough I got gradual improvement until about a month later I baked a very nice loaf of sourdough bread.

The moral of the story is until you can see and feel where your dough is and how it is progressing the machines actually hold you back. Since I've learned how my dough should feel and look I've started using my mixer again in some steps just to make it easier and faster. I do not knead the dough in the mixer... I use the stretch and fold method of kneading now. I use the mixer just to get the dough to the shaggy state and then I autolypes it for 20 minutes and then use it to mix in the salt. At that point I'm done with the mixer.

I suggest all of you beginners learn by hand until you can consistently bake a nice loaf of bread and THEN... Start working in fancy tools to speed up the process and make it easier.

Just my opinion....

Tom214's picture

Perhaps someone has an idea...two nights I have made Milk Bread from Paul Hollywood's book 100 Great calls for 4 cups flour...1 1/2 teas. salt...1/2 cup superfine sugar...2/3 stick of butter...1 oz yeast

1 1/4 cup of milk...the bread is just will not rise more than four inches or so...someone thought that

the yeast was going to sleep because of the sugar..but the sugar really makes the there another yeast I can get???...anyone have any ideas


amberwavesofgrain's picture

What is a build when reading bread formulas?

Nurse_Mel's picture

This recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of yeast. If I am using active dry yeast, do I proof the whole envelope and then scoop out 1 teaspoon of liquid or do I decrease the water and sugar and just proof 1 teaspoon of the dry yeast?

emmastonen's picture


It is very exciting, and I know my children will be pleased to know that im using their gift. thanks ! After after repeated attempts ive finally did it.

catbromer's picture


December 23, 2010 - 6:42am

You might try the technique I use described in the link below.

Or you could try the other way that seems to work for a lot of folks which is described in this link.



thanks ! 

lizziebridge's picture

Thank you so much for helping Franko ! 


dhwsmith's picture

I have had the problem of loaves rising nicely, being slashed, put into a moist oven enviornment onto hot tile but getting flattish loaves because the bread had risen too much.  I know about the "push a finger into the dough and if it springs back the dough is still rising" test.  And usually I guess right.  But is there some better, surer way to know when the loaves have risen enough, but not too much?'s picture

should I add the spice to the dry ingredients before kneading or should I add the spice when I fold the bread or when I knead the bread.  I added it when I folded but I do not taste it so I thought I needed to add more but that didn't help either.  Should I possibly heat up the spice a little and then add it.  Please help


sandrahoang's picture

The Bonkers Boater's picture
The Bonkers Boater

Hi Sandra,

Your 'knife' is called a lame, and should be available from a good bread supplies retailer, or even ebay (!)

We buy ours from

Janna3921's picture

Realizing how much I need to learn.

One lesson that I am focusing on right now is what I see is a important lesson.  Steaming !

How to steam bread, what is the different ways to steam?  What about a convection oven, is it different than in a "regular" oven?  Dutch oven -- is there a way to make a loaf type or are you stuck with the bread being able to spread in the Dutch oven?  

I think a lesson that would cover those and other questions that others have had would be great, if it would be feasible to do so.  

I'm researching online and reading post threads/posts here also.