The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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TedW's picture

Get a new DLX or stick with my Kitchen Aid?

I have a nice Kitchen Aid stand mixer now. Have loved it for years. I've recently started looking at advanced pizza dough recipes, which need a very wet dough, and those in the know suggest looking at a Electrolux DLX. I like to upgrade, but for $600 I need to ask the pros here.

Is this mixer really that much better?

probably34's picture

Retarding Sourdough

I'm looking to find a way to be able to bake sourdough loaves around 9 or 10 in the morning without having to stay up all night working. I was wondering if anyone has any tips. Would it be better to retard the dough during bulk fermentation, or the final proof? The dough would be something along the lines of the Tartine bread. Are there mixing temperature changes that I should consider?

MNBäcker's picture

Firebrick vs. Refractory Cement

Firebrick vs. Refractory Cement...?


So, here's a question for all you experts out there: I just came back from my oven building class and started thinking about the following: when building the oven, one would definitely want to use firebrick for the hearth surface, but what about the inner dome? Is firebrick really necessary, or could the whole inner dome be constructed from refractory cement? I have heard about companies using large inflated tubes to build bridges, and I'm wondering if I could have a solid "dome" made from plastic, set it on top of my firebrick hearth and then pour refractory cement arond and over it to form the inner dome? Would the characteristics of the refractory cement be similar enough to the firebrick to make this product feasible? Or would there be concerns about cracking in the cement over time? So, inflate dome, pour 6 or so inches of cement around it, let harden, deflate dome and build chimney as usual?

Any input will be greatly appreciated.



countryloaf's picture

Old family recipe help (Potato rolls)

I have recently aquired an old family recipe for potato rolls that I have tried out a few times with terrible results. However, by all accounts from relatives this recipe was pretty great in its day. I am going to post the recipe and what my steps were and hopefully someone much more experienced than I can tell me what I'm doing wrong, nobody else has been able to help thus far.


Recipe reads:

3 Medium Potatoes, cooked & mashed

1 Cup Potato water

6 teaspoons sugar to water & yeast

1 qt unsifted flour

1/2 cup lard or crisco


Beat 1 egg with potatoes

Add one teaspoon salt

Add to flour and knead well

Let rise 6 or 7 hours (guessing the yeast wasn't as powerful then as it is now? I have tried the long method and letting rise for an hour with similarly bad results)

 425 F


So my general comments are the consistency I'm working with while trying to knead is way too sticky and loose. So I have to end up adding aton of flour and it becomes a mess right off. Then I run into the problem of how to shape them. I don't know how to make them look like your typical potato dinner roll. Apparently the style used back then was to pinch off a ball of dough, flatten it out with your hand, make it into a rough oval and fold it over once on itself. Once again, tried this with terrible results. Wish I had pictures. They never seem to ever rise, even a little.I don't know what I'm doing wrong. The only time I had a glimmer of success was when I used 2 packets of the fast rise yeast (was using 1) and dropped them into muffin tins. Odd, but they finally rose correctly. So any thoughts and tips would be greatly appreciated. I know this is my first post, and I am actually just getting into baking, and love it. Hope to stick around and learn more.





dmsnyder's picture

A Bâtard of a weekend

I think I know at least 6 different ways of shaping bâtards. I often choose how I shape them on impulse. This weekend, I decided to be a bit more reflective and consciously chose 3 variations to try. I think I gained better control over bâtard shaping as a result.

I made two loaves of Hamelman's Pain au Levain from “Bread” and two loaves of my San Joaquin Sourdough.

The first loaf was shaped using one of the methods learned from the San Francisco Baking Institute. I can't recall seeing this method demonstrated elsewhere.

Pain au Levain from Hamelman's "Bread," shaped using Method 1.

Method 1

  1. Pre-shape as a log. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board with one short side closest to you. De-gas.

  3. Take the far edge and fold it towards you about 1/3 of the length of the piece. Seal the seams.

  4. Fold the left side 1/3 of the way towards the middle and seal the seams. Repeat for the right side.

  5. Starting with the far end, roll the piece towards you, sealing the seam with the edge or heel of your hand at each turn. Seal the final seam well.

  6. Turn the loaf seam side down and roll it to even out the shape and achieve the desired length.

This method is suitable to make a bâtard with a fat middle and little tapering, as pictured.

Pain au Levain from Hamelman's "Bread," shaped using Method 2.

Method 2

  1. Pre-shape as a log. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board with a wide side closest to you. De-gas.

  3. Fold the far side to the middle. Seal the seam.

  4. Rotate the piece 180º.

  5. Fold the far side 2/3 of the way towards you. Seal the seam.

  6. Grasp the far edge and bring it all the way over the piece, to the board and seal the seam. (Essentially, this is the method traditionally used to shape baguettes.)

  7. Turn the loaf seam side down and roll it to even out the shape and achieve the desired length.

This method makes a longer, thinner loaf with more tapered ends.

The two loaves of Pain au Levain after shaping and scoring - ready to bake. Note that these loaves were of identical weight.

San Joaquin Sourdoughs, both shaped using Method 3.

Method 3

  1. Pre-shape as a ball. Rest 20 minutes, seam side up, covered.

  2. Place the piece on the board. De-gas.

  3. Proceed as in Method 2, steps 3 through 7.

This method results in a loaf similar to that from using Method 2, except a bit thicker in the middle. It solves a problem I have had shaping bâtards with higher-hydration doughs with excessive extensibility. They tend to get too long and thin as I shape them, even before the final rolling out. Starting with a round piece of dough, rather than a log, helps me get the shape I want.  

Thanks for listening.

Happy Baking!


IndyRose's picture

Peanut butter bread?

I used to have a peanut butter bread recipe for the bread machine and have misplaced it.  Looked up some on internet and so far they didn't seem the same as I remembered.  Think it used chunky and it was about 2/3 cup or more.  Any favorites out there?

paulheels's picture

Need some clarification on amount of Starter

I have been baking bread and cinnamon rolls using a potato flake starter, This starter has been alive fore three generations, almost 100 years.  It made me want to delve into the world of a flour based starter.  I am mostly a lurker on the board, I do alot more reading than I do posting.  I began my starter about a week ago.  I was running around 100% hydration.  Note: I do not have scales yet, getting them this week, so I am still using volume.  

I had app 1 cup of starter.  It was not doubling in size, I was feeding everyday.  Yesterday I poured out half a cup of my starter, discarded the rest.  I then mixex 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup of water.  Oh boy did that make it go crazy!  so i fed again today with the same amounts.  The starter seems to be headed in  the right direction, I am going to cotinu feeding for another week the same I have been doing.  In reading so may posts about beginning a starter, I found one over riding piece of advice from jsut aobut everyone; BE PATIENT!  That is what i have been doing.  so thanks to everyone for that advice.  Now I need some more.

I have see where people  keep a small amount of starter.  I am a little confused as to how this works.  I have read alot of posts, but nothing is really clicking for me yet.  I have recipes that call for 1 cup of starter.  That is the exact amount of starter I have.  How would I go about doing this?  I guess I need this explained in dumb country boy terms! haha.  I am country.  

Thanks for the help again.  Hopefully going to be making some bread next week.  Gonna let the starter get well established.  hopefully it is by this coming weekend, I am heading out of town and will have to put it in the fridge.



ds99302's picture

Just testing (semi-annual Danish pastry bonanza)

SarahZE's picture

Bread Chemistry Question - My pav is flat!

Hi there,

I'm new to the forum, but I've been an avid fan of The Fresh Loaf for quite a while.  My father was a professional baker for quite some time, and I've picked up the "baking bug" from him.

I have a question about a recipe that I just formulated.  I am trying to make reasonable "ladi pav" (also known as "pao").  They're basically soft buns with a relatively soft but golden crust.  The closest comparison would be decent hamburger buns.  I used the following ingredients:

3 cups maida, 2 tsp instant yeast, 1.5 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup milk, 1.5 tbsp butter, 1.25 tsp salt

I proofed the yeast in the water, into which I'd dissolved the sugar.  I mixed the flour (maida) and salt in a separate bowl, and once the yeast had done its thing, I poured that, the milk, and the melted (but not hot) butter into the flour mixture and mixed well.  I kneaded it with quite a lot more maida (I would say that I added at least another cup, most likely a cup to a cup and a half) - it was exceedingly wet and sticky, and I couldn't have kneaded for a full ten minutes without that much of an addition.

It was still quite soft and a bit sticky by the end of ten minutes' kneading.  I greased a bowl and proofed the dough for two hours.  It rose very well. 

I punched it, kneaded it a few times without any additional flour, and formed it into eight small balls. The dough was still quite soft, but not very sticky. I let this rise for just under an hour - again, it rose very well.  I baked the buns at 365 F (approximate) for 35 minutes.  They baked through properly, and tasted quite nice, but I'd like to improve the recipe in the following ways:

-make them softer and moister

-make them hold their shape better (they spread out quite a lot), and rise a bit higher


Any suggestions at all would be fantastic! 
Thanks in advance,



Penhaligon's picture

Problems with Baguette Rolling and Oven Spring

Hi all, long-time lurker and first-time poster here. I've been having a few problems with my baguettes (Anis Bouabsa's recipe) and I wonder if someone here would be kind enough to help me figure out what I'm doing wrong. I've made them 3 or 4 times so far, but I consistently have the same 2 problems.

First, I cannot for the life of me roll the shaped dough out! It's not just me being overly gentle with it, either; the divided logs are very, very resistant to elongation, and snap back to short blobs following even the most heavy-handed attempts to roll them out and lengthen them. It kills me to do it, but I eventually have to resort to pulling on them from each end if I want them to be long and skinny! I'm not sure why they're like that, as I'm letting the dough rest, proof, etc. at all the right times.

Second, I always get a pretty dense, hardly holey/waxy crumb, a crust too light in color, and essentially zero oven spring -- they come out the same size as when I put them in! I think I'm not turning up my oven to a high enough temperature (~425F); should I really set it to 500F? I heard somewhere that that's the key to getting these baguettes to explode during baking.

I am using KAF Bread Flour and SAF Red Instant Yeast (along with a bit of diastatic malt powder, too.) For what it's worth, I am not using a couche, either. Maybe that has something to do with the first issue. Anyway, if anyone could help me out, I would really appreciate it. Thanks!