The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Buster1948's picture

Cornbread -- sort of


Ca. 1955-1962 in a small central Alabama town, I knew a family of several children and a hardworking mother of slender means. The sole son was my best friend, so I had many occasions to be at their home. Because the mom worked in a shirt factory, the older girls baked what they referred to simply as "bread", almost every afternoon and it was served with whatever they had for supper. I watched the girls make it a few times (when ca. ages 8 to 12), but never noted the exact ingredients, much less proportions. I do remember that they used a blend of cornmeal and flour (probably self-rising, I suspect), maybe milk, possibly water, and an egg or two. One specific memory is that they would heat a cast iron pan, pour the mixture into the hot pan and then gently pour a spiral pattern of oil or melted bacon grease from the center outward. They did not slice it, but broke off hunks as it was passed around the table. I loved it, despite the fact that it violated every norm, especially, it would seem, the norms of the norming members of this forum. It was too heavy (as in bricks), too greasy, sort of gummy, and often inconsistent in texture from one side to the other, but it had a wonderfully tart taste and crisp crust, and was the perfect tool for sopping pot liquor. However, the mother and son are dead, and the sisters have scattered to other places where they or their husbands could make a living. The ones I have run into over the years at funerals and weddings have either forgotten the "bread" or blotted it out of their newly affluent memories.  If this rings any bells, I would be grateful for your non-cardiological input. Thanks, Buster

Cory_v's picture

Second loaf a couple days later

Once I got my feet wet, like many, I was no longer scared of yeast! lol

So I made a loaf my wife had requested. A walnut scallion bread. I could not find a recipe for this online so I just winged it. It needs more scallions! But the walnuts are coming through great! Anyways, pretty good for my second loaf ever.  :D

I used this as the method.

If anyone has advice, feel free to let me know any mistakes. I´m here to learn! Just play nice eh?

golgi70's picture

Farmer's Market Week 24 (Pane Maggiore take??? plus Barley/Oat/Flax Porridge Bread)

Winter Market 2 for me (I've missed quite a few as I'm taking my weekend back for a bit).  Yet another variation on the Pane Maggiore that I so adore (rhymed)  This variation came out of necessity.  Instead of an 18 hour wheat levain at 1:10:10 I used two levains.  One a whole wheat 1:2:2 for 8 hours and an equal portion of ripe white starter.  Yet again a fantastic loaf.  this may be the best of the bunch but if I recall the one made with 1/2 rye sour and 1/2 white starter was also pretty darn fantastic.  The mix was ideal (except the loss of perfect temp due to chilly kitchen) but the fresh grains kept fermentation vibrant.  I really love this loaf and highly suggest it to all.  The base formula can be found in previous posts of the same loaf.  Of my favorite breads and its 40% whole grain!!!

 Also I'm gonna add some pics of the Pearled/Barley, Steel Cut Oat/Flax Porridge Bread with the T3 as inspiration (used half the porridge he does and my flour blend is 78white20wheat/2rye as I don't have any high extraction flour and didn't want to make it.  Pretty tasty loaf with great keeping quality. 


Pane Maggiore


And The Barley/Oat/Porridge 

Tartine 3 is really a fantastic book with great inspiration for utilizing whole grains and still attaining an open crumbed loaf of bread.  



ElPanadero's picture

What's In My Orange Juice?

We've had some good discussions in other threads that at times branch out into other interesting topics such as GM foods, food processing techniques and so on.  Since this is a website devoted in part to fresh wholesome breads I make the assumption that many posters here are conscious about their food choices and make extra time to research and understand more fully what they are eating and drinking.  This kind of research can be
long and arduous at times but I thought that whilst we all sitting patiently for our bulk fermentations and overnight retards we might run a few threads in this "Off Topic" section of the forum to discuss some of these foody issues to share what we know.  I therefore invite the creation of such threads and people's open views on the issues raised, that we might all benefit from our collective knowledge and practical experience.

For this thread I bring up the topic of Orange Juice and the labelling laws relating to it.

We're all familiar with different types of O.J in our supermarkets and stores and we are somewhat used to the varying terminology used on the packaging such as :

"Pure" juice,  Freshly Squeezed Juice,  Juice from concentrate,  juice not from concentrate and so on.

It turns out that people's perceptions and preconceived notions about what those terms actually mean is pretty poor and is not helped much by the labelling laws.  I found a research report on this which outlines how people interpreted the terms which, though old (2002), is still useful in highlighting the issues:

One of the most startling things I discovered in relation to O.J,  was that the product can be up to a year old.  I guess when one thinks through the fact that oranges are seasonal and yet we have O.J sold every day and it always tastes exactly the same, something in our heads ought to be ringing questioning bells.

It turns out that in the processing of O.J, the manufacturers often put the juice in large asceptic containers and pump out all of the oxygen and can then leave it there for up to a year.  The removal of the oxygen unfortunately strips the product of it's orange taste and thus before it can be sold, they add special "flavour packs" into it to restore an orangey taste.   After reading about these packs I find some sources refer to them as chemicals (rightly or wrongly) and that they are derived from the orange peels and thus are essences and oils and the like.  As such, being technically part of the orange, our good friends the FDA do NOT require these flavour pack additions to be recorded separately on the product labels !  Thus when you pick up that carton of O.J. which might say "not from concentrate" thinking it must in some way therefore be fresh and recent and somehow better than "from concentrate" juice, it could in fact be up to a year old already, have been stripped of its natural orange flavour (through removal of oxygen) and had an artificial "orangey" flavour put back into it via these flavour packs.

References to flavour packs can be found here:   (search in here for flavour packs)

It turns out that different countries have different expectations of what their O.J. ought to taste like and so there are differently created flavour packs for each and I've read in some places that consultants from perfume manufacturers are sometimes brought in to help with this.

A couple of issues arise out of all of this for me personally which are:

1.  If the FDA doesn't require flavour packs and their ingredients to be listed on the label, on the basis they are derived from oranges, then how come the main ingredient listed is orange juice, why isn't the entire product sold as "a drink derived from oranges"?  Why does the juice element from the orange get listed and the other elements from the orange not get listed?  There doesn't seem to be much consistency here imo.

2.  Exactly what IS in these flavour packs and are they either nutritional and / or are they healthy or unhealthy?
I ask this because whilst we might deem O.J. itself to be healthy, drinking massive quantities of it isn't.  It takes many oranges to make a glass of juice yet we would not typically sit there and eat that many oranges in one sitting.  Same for apples and apple juice.  If we ate lots of apples our intake of sugars woud be high and the state of our teeth probably poor.   Do these flavour packs contain essences and oils and other parts of oranges in very large quantities in order to recreate that orangey flavour?  With no labelling requirements in place for them, it seems impossible for the consumer to know.  What I do surmise from these packs is that they are concocted recipes, (like the secret Coca Cola formula) and as such are entirely unnatural.  They may be made from natural things, but the final flavour pack is not something found in nature.

If you're wondering whether the brand of O.J. that you drink does or does not have flavour packs, then the link below may help.  This is someone's attempt to assemble a list having contacted the manufacturers and asked them.  The results are far from clear though as typically the responses from manufacturers were unclear in many cases:

In the end, despite learning about flavour packs, and terminology, I personally reach a simple conclusion

If I want some orange juice . . . . go eat an orange!


Timbo's picture

Whole Wheat & Rye Loaf's a BRICK

So last weekend I decided to spend the weekend making sour dough breads. I prepared during the week so I was ready for baking on Saturday and I made several loaves. 


The onion Rye turned out and looked just like the picture in Reinhart's Whole Grain book but was very heavy. I then made a 100% whole wheat and it was a brick and had a dense crumb. I also made a 100% WW cinnamon raisin bread and it was also a brick. All were by the book and while they tasted good the WW's could have been used as a boat anchor. Any idea how to make these breads lighter with a little more of an open crumb? I was probably out of my league making these but I wanted a challenge and I certainly had one. I'll add a picture of the Rye as soon as I dig it out. Any help would be appreciate and as always thanks for any help that can be provided.

stackonthehill's picture

first sourdough

Baked my first sourdough this week after making my first starter! and it worked but lots of improvement needed!  Have another one proving today so it might be better!!!

CJRoman's picture

A Crazy Plan....That May Work?

I'm under contract with my current job until July, which keeps me four hours away from the city I have always wanted to start some kind of baking business in.

To start, I'd like to try to get into one of our farmer's markets and see what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately, this is really hard to do from 4 hours away!

Today it was suggested to me to try the almost-impossible: Bake in a commercial kitchen in my current city on a Thursday or Friday...then haul it 4 hours down the road ...stay the night...and get crankin' in the morning at the market...then, head back.

Sounds...crazy. And...exhausting. BUT, if I don't try SOMETHING...I completely miss the market season if I can't relocate down there until August!

So my questions are:

1. What are the glaring problems with this? (Besides it being expensive and tiring)

2. I'm going to have to really trim the product line. Soft pretzels and cinnamon rolls are my favorites...but the amount of time between baking and eating will be extensive. Have you had any success with a very stable product at a market? Something that won't turn to gush overnight (re: doughnut)? This will really be has to get from here to there and sustain any hot or rainy Southern summer weather.

3. Anything else you've learned out on the markets?

CJRoman's picture

Use Oil, Not Butter...For Softer Bread, Longer?

I was just reading a book on cake making...and the author addressed the use of oil vs. butter in cakes.

Essentially...butter is a solid at room temperature so, while it melts in the oven, once the cake sets and especially if it is refrigerated...the butter inside will firm up again...leading to a "drier" or "denser" cake.

If you use stays liquid at room temperature...creating a softer cake, longer.

Can this be used in bread baking? I use a small amount (2T) in some of my recipes but could the softness be improved by switching to oil and adjusting the hydration?

zorglub's picture

Purple hooch

Can someone with a deeper knowledge of microbiology explain which organisms cause this?   Returning to my refrigerated starter after five or six weeks, I find the top surface has turned a grayish purple.  It smells fruity rather than sour.  I wouldn't describe the odor as acetone-like (but maybe other components are masking the acetone odor).  This isn't the first time I've observed this. 

Crusty44's picture

How To Tell When Loaf Is Fully Baked??

Just started out.

Have a Dutch oven so 4th loaf was from a Jim Lahey recipe.

Very pleased with it.

A couple of earlier loaves from other books were under cooked slightly.

Hence my query - What methods do folk use to tell when the loaf is ready to come out of the oven?

I have been told about the the "bang on it with a spoon to see if it sounds hollow", but I haven't tuned my ear yet to what sounds "hollow"

The Lahey boule I stuck with a bamboo skewer & it came out clean, so I figured it was ready.

& it was, but not sure how much was luck.