The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kitchen_monkey's picture

Autolyse with milk?

Is it possible to autolyse with milk? Will I still get the benefits of autolyse if I use milk instead of water including the development of protease enzyme which improves dough extensibility? Does milk promote the development of protease enzyme like water does? 


Ovenbird's picture

2 Weeks Worth of Market Bread

I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to post what I've baked for a while, so this post is going to lump everything I've done for the past couple weeks in one - mainly for my own reference. In this issue:

Colomba di Pasqua
Black Rye w Raisins & Walnuts
Buttermilk Bread
no-Knead Focaccia
Genoese Focaccia
Normandy Apple Bread

Week 1:

The campus market started the week after Easter so I had made some more Colomba di Pasqua ("Easter Dove"), and an interesting black rye with raisins and walnuts for the first market.

Colomba di Pasqua:

This recipe came from KAF. It isn't really in my nature to follow recipes to the letter so in addition to the recommended ingredients I also made a batch with sourdough starter instead of the biga with commercial yeast. For my natural leavened version I just used 50g of mature starter in place of the yeast for the biga.Then added a portion of commercial yeast as instructed in the final mix.

Both versions made nice dough and rose well (sourdough on the left & yeast on the right below). My shaping could have been more skillful but making birds out of bread is asking a lot. The weather was cold and damp when I was making these and they needed substantially more time to rise than the recipe suggested (by several hours). I made a total of 4 small (~500g) and 2 large (1000g) loaves & this used all of the candied orange peel that I made from 4 large oranges.

I was quite happy with how both types came out. The yeasted version had a little bit better texture, but the sourdough version probably could get there too if I had given it more time to rise (you can see it is the less bubbly one in the 1st image). The flavor was very nice for both, but most agreed that the sourdough version was slightly better.

As you can see the texture is quite nice. I only have a picture from the sourdough version but they were pretty similar. Someday I hope to achieve a super fluffy Italian holiday bread (perhaps this one next?), but until then I'm pretty happy with this and everyone seemed to really like it.


Black Rye with Raisins & Walnuts:

This one was by request but I'm glad I did it because it was an interesting bread to make and it tasted great. The dough was based on the "Black Bread" recipe in Hamelman's Bread (which I am diligently working my way through). I used an altus that I had made earlier (rather than the old bread soaker in the recipe), and added 5oz (~16%) each of raisins & walnuts, as well as 3oz (~8%) molasses, and an additional 7oz of coffee (to compensate for my drier version of the old bread soaker).

The dough was overproofed because I was not paying close attention to the timing in the recipe, due to my experience with the previous Easter bread. It was salvageable though and I baked it anyway. The result was a bit dense, but still very good & with a rich black color that I was very happy with. Next time I will pay better attention to the dough as it rises.


Buttermilk Bread:

This is another one from Hamelman's book. I wasn't to excited about it really, since it seems kinda plain. I used Saco cultured buttermilk powder, rather than real buttermilk - which I'm sure would improve the bread. It makes a nice soft crumbed sandwich bread that has a slight pleasant sweetness and toasts well.

I was excited to use my new extra large pullman pan to bake it in though! I was looking for a way to efficiently bake as many loaves as possible at one time with limited oven capacity and I got a good deal on some 16" strap pans. After a 2h bulk fermentation, I shaped all 3lbs of dough from this recipe into a single long loaf, rolled it in flaked barley, and left it to rise in the pan until it was nearly at the top (~1h). Baked at "450F" for about an hour and the result was lovely.


 Week 2:

Focaccia - 2 types:

At the first market I had a request for this Focaccia, so I made a few trays for this week's market. The dough is a basic no-knead deal and after 24h of doing its thing I had a bubbling vat of goodness. With a little work I turned it into a manageable mass that I divided into thirds.

I let those rest for an hour or so at ~70F, before shaping to the oiled sheet pans. Despite plenty of rest it kept pulling back and resisted shaping. I had to give it another rest before I could get it to fill the pan. I did use a 50-50 mix of bread flour and AP flour, so that may explain the extra strength. I added the toppings and after another hour or so baked at "450F" for 30m.

I had also been meaning to try the Genoese Focaccia from Viva Focaccia that my Father & Uncle both had been urging me to try. So, I figured I'd use this opportunity to compare the 2 types. For this dough I also used a 50-50 mix of bread flour and AP flour. I mixed and handled as instructed and the result was a beautiful silky smooth dough. This was divided 3 ways and given the same recommended rise time before topping.

The no-knead version was ok, but I thought it was too thick and bready. The Genoese version was amazing, with a light airy texture that held the olive oil and toppings well without feeling greasy. The no-knead version (topped with olives in the photos) appeared to have risen better in the tray, but that was really just because each portion was 850g as compared to 550g for the Viva-Focaccia recipe. Next time I might make it a bit thicker, but I will definitely make the Genoese focaccia again.


Normandy Apple Bread:

This week's selection from my favorite recipe book. I followed the recipe as written but I didn't have enough apples for all of the dough so I did a portion of with raisins and walnuts instead. It took pretty much a whole bag of apples (peeled, diced & dried) for a 3lb batch of dough. I wanted to make a lot of this one though,  to fill my new pans and have plenty for the market (nice weather was in the forecast)!

I made 4 free form loaves from the apple version & put the raisin walnut version into 16" loaf pans (with enough left for 3 small boules). The results were very good. A nice light open crumb with a thin crisp crust. The cider gives a subtle but noticeable sweetness and the dried apples were little bursts of intense sweetness scattered throughout. This would make a great selection for a fall harvest event!

Ok, that's all for now. Many thanks to anyone who bothered to read this far.

sammyg's picture

Did I ruin my starter with Wild Hive flour? What went wrong?

I've been baking artisan bread (using Ken Forkish's recipes) with a Levain for a few months now and haven't really had any problems until yesterday when I think I may have ruined my starter with some new flour.

Before today I've been exclusively using King Arthur flour. I wanted to experiment with some local grain (I live in New York City) so I picked up this stuff called Wild Hive Flour. The two flours I picked up and used are labeled as such :

1.) "All Purpose Flour - Stone-Ground Soft White Winter Wheat with 100% of the wheat germ intact

2.) "Whole Wheat All-Purpose Flour - Stone-Ground Organic Soft White Winter Wheat with 100% of the wheat germ intact"

I have no idea what "stone ground" and "white winter wheat" mean, but I'm guessing that's where I went wrong. Are these not equivalent to good ol' KA All-Purpose and Whole Wheat? 

So, what happened when I used these flours to feed my Levain? Basically my Levain turned into a soupy runny mess after feeding it and so did the dough I tried to make with it.

Here's exactly what I did :

- I store my Levain in the fridge while not using it daily.

- The day before mixing my dough I took out 200 grams of my Levain bring it to room temp and then added 100 grams of Wild Hive whole wheat, 400 grams of WH white, and 400 grams of 95 degree water.

- 24 hours later my Levain was runny and liquidy. Definitely not as thick as it normally is at this point. Still I re-fed the Levain with this recipe : 100 grams of Levain, 100 grams of WH wheat, 400 grams of WH white and 400 grams of water at 85 to 90 degrees. 

- 12 hours later the Levain was extremely liquidy like a potato soup or something. At this point I knew something was wrong. I mixed the dough anyway (804 grams of WH white, 26 grams of WH wheat, 50 grams of rye, 216 grams of Levain, 684 grams of water), folded it four times (it had a very sticky and not slack consistency) and 12 hours later it was a liquid mess. Un-shapable. Tossed the whole thing in the garbage


I did save 300 grams of the liquidy levain and threw it in my fridge, but is it ruined at this point? Is there anyway to bring it back? Also, what the hell happened? Is this flour not suitable as a KA replacement using Forkish's timings? If not, are there any other New York local flours? None of my fancy local grocery stores have anything but the big brands. KA works great, but everyone says the local stuff is always better.

EDIT : I think I revived my Levain pretty good by going back to a normal feeding schedule. It took at least 3 feedings though to get it there. Also, I feel like it still might be a pretty active Levain as I'm still having issues getting a good dough (in fact last night I ruined another dough by letting it bulk ferment too long (even though I followed the Forkish recipe)).



ciabatta's picture

BakerStone Pizza/Bread oven

I neither have the space or the budget for a proper wood burning stone oven and have been looking for a good alternative for some time.  The past couple years I've had my eyes set on a grill top stone pizza oven called BakerStone.

Finally giving up the idea of having a wood burning oven, i purchased a BakerStone online from Costco a few months ago.  I want to provide a review on the product and also solicit some feedback or questions from this community.

For those of you who dont know BakerStone, it is a grill top stone oven. The oven size is about 15Wx15Dx3.5H. with stone on every side but the front.  there is a steel casing around the synthetic stone sheets and a temp gauge on top. there is a slot on the bottom that allows the heat to come in from the back bottom to vent out the front. It fits perfectly on my weber genesis. 

The instructions tell you to leave a 1 inch gap around it on the grill.  I tried that and while it worked, it heated up slowly and never got above 550F. (Took over 1 hr). Instead, i removed the "flavor bars" or flame retardant shield above the burners and fitted them around the oven to prevent heat escape.  I'm sure this voids the warranty and posses certain hazards.  But it lets me get the oven to 700F+ in less than 30 mins.

I've baked a number of pizzas and ciabatta breads in it with some very good results (after some trial and error).  It takes 2 or 3 minutes for a thin crust pizza. (using modified Reinhart ciabatta poolish dough recipe). and also made some good ciabattas in about 8 minutes.

I am able to get good rise on the pizza crust, and blisters on the bottom. just have to be careful not to char the dough too much. I feel like there isn't enough top heat even though i found some reviews of this oven stating 700F measure from the top stone.  I dont have an infrared thermometer yet, so i'm not sure on the exact temp in my use.  But i found that lifting the pizza close to the top stone for 10 seconds will do the trick for a pizza.

For my ciabatta, i have to make sure i prep it really flat so after it rises, it still fits in the less than 4 inch height of the oven. First time i did this the ciabatta got wedged in there and i had to chop it up with my peel. (duh!).  I have it nearly perfected now.

So.. overall, for about $150. to have a near wood fire baking experience. I am very happy with BakerStone.  I would like to hear if anyone else has had experience with this product and what else you are doing with it.

I will try to post some more photos, not sure i know how.. this is my first post here.

-Ciabatta Jim

sonyachamblee's picture

Wheat free but not GF

Is there a wheat free flour that I can use in place of wheat in any bread recipe without changing the other ingredients? my daughter cant have wheat but everything else is ok.

Jbock220's picture

Retarding each sourdough starter refreshment...

If retarding primary ferment develops beneficial flavored, why not retard each refreshment of a sourdough starter?

In beer brewing, ferment control was the key.  Part of which was keeping temps from swinging rapidly. It may have been desirable to change temps, but advised to do so slowly.  Do bread yeasts desire the same kind of controlled influence, is there more to it?

I'm wondering if anyone has any leads to the bio-science regarding the bread yeasts and why a cold ferment does what it does?




JessieRay26's picture

Silly starter question

I started a 100% Rye starter almost three weeks ago and it has been acting beautifully! I feed it a couple times a day using a 1:1:1: ratio. It will double in size after about four hours consistently, usually tripling after about 8-12. It very slowly falls after that. I've used it to make bread twice so far and both times, I haven't been able to get my bread to rise very well. the first time did better than the second, I had a decent open crumb but the loafs were very flat. The second loaves had amazing oven spring  but were very dense. I let them all rise in my proofer set at 76 for the entire day and watched them carefully. They never overproofed or anything, they didn't even rise more than half an inch!

I hope this is okay, but this is the recipe I've used

The only differences I made were to take out the yeast they used and added 3/4 cup rye. For this recipe I switched my starter to a 50/50 mix of unbleached all purpose and rye flour.


Does anyone know why my starter is just refusing to make my bread rise?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

National Festival of Breads- Be There!

On 13 June 2015, the National Festival of Breads will be held at the Hilton Garden Hotel in Manhattan (the Little Apple), KS. Sponsors include the Kansas Wheat Commission, King Arthur Flour, and Red Star Yeast.

I've already committed to volunteer as a Kansas State Extension Service Master Food Volunteer during the day so if you're planning on being there, do leave a message for me here on TFL and I'll be sure to say hello when we meet.




dabrownman's picture

Yeast Water Hot Dog Buns

It had been forever since we had last used our yeast water – months in fact.  It had been hiding out in the fridge like a forgotten SD starter.  We wondered if it was still alive.  After building the 3 stage levain, and waiting for 16 hours for it to double we decided to feed the YW starter and let it hide out in the fridge some more.


We retarded the YW levain for 24 hours like we do most levains and hoped it would be a little better the next day but decided to add 1/8th tsp of instant yeast to the initial mix just in case.  Lucy whipped up a fast recipe that was sort of a weakly enriched dough with butter, egg and sugar using half AP and half bread flour from Winco and skim  milk for the dough liquid.


We also got to use our KA mixer for the first time in ages and really only use it for enriched dough now a days. We tossed everything in except the butter and beat the heck out of it for 4 minutes on speed 4 and then added the butter reducing the speed to 2 for another 4 minutes and back up to 4 for 2 more minutes.


We then let the dough rest for 30 minutes before doing 10 slap and folds followed by another 30 minute rest followed by 10 more slap and folds followed by an hour rest this time .  We did a stretch and fold to see how the dough was doing and decided to let it ferment for another hour before shaping.


After shaping the dough was left to proof for 2 ½ hours before brushing on the egg wash and firing up the oven to 375 F.  We baked then for 10 minutes before turning the pan around to get an even color on the buns.  Once they got good and brown we moved them to the cooling rack.


They sure looked good but will have to wait and see how they taste and look on the inside once dinner rolls around.  The buns were perfect.  Open soft and moist but sadly, no sourdough taste we love much.  Still these were fine hot dog buns and we are glad we keep YW around just for such things..


YW Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



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Dough Flour






Winco AP & Bread Flour 50/50






1/8th tsp of Instant Yeast
























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter






Water and Milk 248












Hydration with Starter






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Egg (1 large)






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Total Hydration w/ Starter & Adds







Ramses2's picture

New Orleans style Po Boy bread )French Bread)

Is there anyone who has a good formula for a REAL honest to goodness New Orleans style Po Boy bread.  This bread is the basis for the famous Po Boy sandwich.  P.S. I am not seeking a baguette recipe. Po Boy bread is long, like a baguette but thats where the similarities end. Po Boy bread is only made in and around New Orleans. Its crust is shatteringly crisp and paper thin. If I recall correctly it has a semi open crumb but no giant holes.  I also think it has  some ingredient that gives it a longer shelf life,  like maybe 8 hrs. Purchased locally, in New Orleans, it is about 20 24 inches long and is more puffy than a baguette. Also it has much less chew than a baguette. I have a number of different formulas but none of them are close to the real thing.  So, if you have a formula, recipe that you have made could you pls share it ?    Thank you.