The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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eve_y_chen's picture

HELP ! My Ciabatta is always ending up with a dense crumb on the bottom of the loaf


Ive tried four times this week already to make ciabattas but I always seem to end up with something like this, a loaf with a very dense crumb on the bottom, 

The ciabatta in the photo above I used 90% hydration with a poolish

after mixing the poolish with water, yeast, flour I let it rest for 10 then added the salt, and let it ferment for an hour, did a streach and fold, followed by 2 more in 30 min intervals, followed by another hour rest (total 3 hours bulk fermentation)

divided in to two loaves, and let it do the final rise until they were puffy and baked them,

I had a good oven spring, and was super excited to see so, but when I cut into the loaves it was disappointing to see that although on th top I had beautiful large pocket holes, with a nice glossy interior, on the bottom it seemed the pocket hole were all squashed together, and was very dense, first few sclices were better but as it got to the middle section of the loaf the dense part was worse !!!


What is wrong??? Is it because I'm not handling the loaves gently enough??


thihal123's picture

Oil vs. Butter in slowing stale-ness

According to Peter Reinhardt in his whole grain book, oil and butter slows the staling of breads. In practically all his recipes when lipids are called her, he lists "oil or butter" can be used. My question is this: which is a better agent to slow staling, oil or butter?

dmsnyder's picture

Miche Made with High-extraction Flour

Miche made with High-extraction Flour

March 20, 2013

I have been meaning to bake another miche for some weeks. Yesterday, I made one. It is quite similar to the one on which I blogged in This miche is a hit!  All the flour in both the levain and the final dough was Central Milling T85 flour. The differences were: I did the initial mix in my Bosch Universal Plus, rather than by hand. I scaled it to 2 kg, and I omitted the toasted wheat germ.

The miche was baked with steam at 450ºF for 15 minutes, then at 425ºF convection for another 45 minutes. I left it in the turned off oven with the door ajar for another 30 minutes. After cooling on a rack for 3 hours, I wrapped it in baker's linen and let it rest for 24 hours before slicing it.


The crust was crunchy and the crumb was tender. The flavor was wheaty and sweet with a moderate sourdough tang. Very tasty. Highly recommended.




Lloyda's picture

Theoretical minimum size for a starter

Whilst feeding my starter this evening, for fun I was pondering what the minimum size would be for a sustainable starter.  At the moment I only get to bake a loaf once a week, and use 28g of my 100% hydration starter, which I feed once a week. So in theory I guess if I kept 14g of starter at the next feed and fed with 14g water and 14g flour, my minimum size would be 42g. But would this survive?  (I've no intention of going down this route - just an wandering thought whilst stirring.  Starter stuck to the sides etc., would have a big impact on overall volume)



malikaann's picture

Figuring amount of salt - amount in relation to water?

Hi all-- I'm new to this forum, but it seems like the right place to ask this question. I'm trying to figure out a standard measure of salt to water in my bread dough, if that's even possible. Here's how I usually make my bread right now, starting in the morning:

start with warm/hot water + 100% starter/levain (usually cold from fridge) in bowl
add some flour
add yeast (sometimes, if I feel like I need the extra boost or a shorter rising time)
add salt (have been using 1 1/2 t. per cup of water, but it's been a little too salty)
add enough flour to make a soft dough
let rise 6-9 hours at room temp, undisturbed (I'm not usually at home) then fold it down, store overnight in the fridge
(I also feed my starter and leave it out on the counter for the same 6-9 hour period)
shape and proof for about 2 hours the next morning, then bake at 400 or 425

I don't weigh my flour. I do measure the water, and that's the way that I determine how much bread I'm going to make - I usually start with 5 1/2 cups water, including the water in the starter. But if I don't need as much, I'll start with 4 cups water instead, etc.

I definitely value variety over consistency - I vary the kinds of flour that I use, sometimes I add raisins or sweet potato or coconut or walnuts or onion... But I would like to have the level of saltiness be kind of consistent. Is there a way to figure out a standard measure of salt relative to water - 1 teaspoon per cup, or whatever - ss there a way to backwards-figure a percentage? or is this too much to ask because of the loosey-goosey method I'm using?

Thanks for any input!

DiJonCamacho's picture

Croissants & Pain Au Chocolat

I see I'm not the only one who was on a quest for the perfect croissant...I'm on the quest for the perfect pain au chocolat i just want the dough to be right. I want my croissant and pain au chocolat to taste like the one from Galaxy Desserts/Williams-Sonoma. I came relatively close and this is the results I have thus far. These tasted great but I have no idea where to get fresh yeast from so I used active dry rapid yeast and I think the fresh yeast is what I'm mixing for them to be absolutely perfect. I love the way the layers looks. I was truly amazed when I popped these out of the oven.

Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Michelles (small miches) - the right flour at last (UK)


Along with croissants, the miches (Hamelman and Shiao-Pings post Miche Gerard Rubaud, the post that initially lured me into TFL) felt quite out of reach, and I had as many failures as trials.

Recently I ordered a bag of 

Bacheldre Watermill Organic Stoneground Strong Unbleached White Flour

in the belief it was strong white flour.

Well, it is actually high extraction flour, and at last I managed to make Hamelman's Miche Pointe-A-Caillere with it.

It is just the right stuff for this bread. The dough handles like a treat (at 85%  hydration).

And the result -veeeery tasty. My 7-year-old gobeled down 2 slices (topped with marmalade) and even made his way through the crust!

Here is what it looks like:

And here the crumb:

I made two little 500g miches, are they michelles then, or maybe michettes?

And here is the man who REALLY loves daddy's bread:



jc212's picture

First baguettes and questions

Hi guys just made my first batch of baguettes using a combination of kneading from my stand mixer (~5minutes on speed2) and finishing it with Richard Bertinet's method. Then i left it in the fridge for approx. 18 hours, portioned, folded, rested 20min, shaped (inspiration from Hitz) and laid them on floured strips of baking paper for their final rise of 30 minutes.

The recipe is as follows (makes 5 baguettes):

  • 1000g baker's flour (i used wallaby's)
  • 750g tap water
  • 20g salt
  • 1 sachet of dried instant yeast (approx. 7g)

I baked them @ 235C/455F for 22 minutes on an unglazed terracotta tile. I put some boiling water in a little cake tin underneath to provide steam. Some pics...

My batch




I was pleased with them due to the fact that they were first but I could see a lot of room for improvement. With regards to shape and slashing I believe I will get better with practise.

So here are some questions:

  • I found my crust to be very thin especially around the sides and on the underside, what can I do achieve a thicker crust?
  • Concerning the underside, mine were quite soft and didn't achieve a crunchy texture like the top. My oven is pretty much as hot as it gets and I'm using a stone. What can I do?
  • Are baguettes supposed to have a chewiness to the crumb? I found that my crumb was quite chewy (nice kind though)
  • How do you achieve those huge holes in your crumb?
  • What are the dimensions for a proper french baguette?
  • How do you know when the baguette is done? (burning/overcooking bread makes me particularly nervous)





Roo-Shooter777's picture

Diamant vs Grainmaker #116

Hi everyone im really interested in milling my own grains for bread but i am having trouble picking out a mill im trying to decide between the Diamant grain mill and the Grainmaker #116 i cant find reviews on the grainmaker 116 but the model 99 seems to get pretty good reviews any help would be appreicated and also does anyone know why Diamant moved from Denmark to Poland and was its quality affected because of this? 


dabrownman's picture

Enchanted Irish Lemon Curd Fairy Cakes

Wouldn't you know it......another year of clean living and the Irish Fairies stopped by to leave a St Patrick's Day surprise again this year!  Wish The Leprechauns would take notice and follow the Frairy's lead !  Used Rachel  Allen's lemon curd recipe and froze it for a year .......Fairies love lemon curd with some age on it.    The cake is a lemon sponge with cake flour.  I saw the Fairies tossing their dust on them before disappearing till next year.

Happy St. Paddy's Day

For our Irish native from Belfast -  Sylvia.  I can't remember where I got the  cup cake recipe.

Lemon Curd

2 eggs and 1 yolk

1 stick of butter

¾ C sugar

zest and juice of 3 lemons.

Mix and slowly heat on top of the stove in 2 qt sauce pan until mix thickens into thick curd.  Put in refrigerator for 4 hours to thicken further.

 Irish Lemon Curd Fairy Cakes

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel - 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice - half a lemon
  • 5 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 oz lemon curd
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour 20 muffin cups.

Beat egg yolks till thick with a whisk in a bowl. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar in several stages beating continually.

Whisk in the lemon peel and juice.

Beat the egg whites utill soft peaks form.   Then gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.  I use a hand mixer for this

Gently fold the whites into the yolks.

Sift together cake flour and salt and gently  fold into egg mixture.

Fill muffin cups 2/3rds full.  Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes, rotate the cupcake pans and turn down the oven to 325 F convection this time and bake about 5 minutes more until the tops are nicely browned.

Remove cakes from tins and cool completely on a wire rack.

Use a sharp paring knife to cut into the top center of each cupcake, removing the cone shaped piece and reserve.