The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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trinalb's picture

Is this older Magic Mill a good buy? Are the slicer and blender attachments good?

Hi, I am new to this forum. After being unsatisfied with a KA Pro model mixer I bought used, I have been looking at alternatives and have settled on either a Bosch or one of the Electrolux Assistent mixers or its predecessors, leaning toward the Electrolux. I am on a very limited budget so buying new is not an option and I have to scour for a better than average used deal. I would like your opinion on what I have found, please.

Magic Mill DLX Assistent, older model, I was told approx. 20 years old or so. Described as "runs as new" with a new belt installed last month. Includes machine, steel bowl, dough hook, roller and scraper but no other attachments. The price is $220, which includes shipping. (photo below)

The blender attachment $50

Slicer/shredder $100


Will this older model machine likely work as well as a newer Electrolux or Ankarsrum model? I am wondering if I will be as happy with it or if I should hold out for a newer model. Besides cosmetics, what differences does it have? Is the older model similarly quiet to what I've heard of the new one? Are all the attachments interchangeable? Is that a good price or should it be lower considering its age?

Do the slicer/shredder and blender attachments work well or would I be better off to save my money for dedicated machines at some point? I currently have a blender which is junk and a Magic Bullet which is okay for the small cups but doesn't work as well with the full size blender jar. I'm guessing this one doesn't work as well as a Vitamix but does it work as well or better than a typical store bought blender? How about the slicer/shredder? I think I would really like it if it was easy to use and clean and actually works well for what it's supposed to.

And where is the best place in Canada to look for new or used parts and accessories for these mixers?

Thanks so much in advance for the help!

isand66's picture

Italian Multi-Grain Sourdough

My wife requested an Italian style bread to go with her lasagna for this weekends belated holiday dinner with my family.  I couldn't just make a simple Italian bread of course, so I made a new version of an older formula I posted about early last year.  This is loosely based on Peter Reinhart's Italian bread from BBA where he uses a biga which I replaced with a durum based starter.  I also used some freshly milled white hard wheat, freshly milled spelt and rye flours along with KAF French style and Durum.

I used part buttermilk and water similar to my original formula and some olive oil and honey to round it out.

The end result was a nice tasty loaf with a fairly open crumb and nice crisp crust, perfect for mopping up some home made tomato sauce.





Levain Directions

Mix all the Levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, buttermilk and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), olive oil, and honey and mix on low for 6 minutes.  Next remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.  I made 1 large boule shape.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.


Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.



CAphyl's picture

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

I had a request to make crusty sourdough rolls when my husband and I were visiting family in England for the holidays.  I brought along my sourdough starter in checked luggage (TSA searched it), but the "baby" white and rye sourdough starters came through very well.  In fact, they performed better than the "mother" sourdough starters back in the U.S. performed recently.  I used the recipe below, but divided the loaf into rolls (and I didn't have my LaCloche, so.just used parchment paper and plenty of water in the bottom of the oven tray to create the steam to make the rolls crusty).  English friends and family gave the rolls the thumbs up.  I will definitely make them again now that I am back stateside.

boeboen's picture

Yet another croissants blog

Hello to all fellow bakers, greetings from Indonesia. I never wrote a blog before, so this is my first time really.

I'm just a beginner in baking world, and right now i'm trying to make croissants. I've been experimenting for 3 months, and done 22 batch of croissants but i'm still far from reaching good results. So, by writing this blog I want to share my experience and trouble (mostly trouble though) and expecting my fellow friends and teachers here to share their opinion and maybe cast some lights to my not-so-bright croissant journey, so to speak. Anyway, lets just get started. Let me explain and give some picture of the situation i'm faced with.

My condition & environment :

  • Room temperature : 31-32C on sunny day, and around 27-28C on rainy day (we only have 2 seasons here, sunny and rain)
  • Mixer : small planetary mixer with just 1 speed. I don't know how to compare the mixing speed with mostly all of you have, but maybe its around speed 2 (I have seen speed 1 in commercial mixer, and my speed is faster than that)
  • Oven : standard deck oven. want to buy convection oven but still saving up money
  • Fridge (or chiller) : i have 2 of them. one having temperature around 0C, and the other around 6C. and also one standard freezer
  • As for the ingredients, since my room temp is very unfriendly towards pastry making, so i use margarine sheet for laminating fat instead of butter sheet

My standard croissant recipe:

  • 500gr flour. For flour, the standard we have here is 12% protein for bread flour, 10% for AP flour, 8% for cake flour, all of it having around 0.64% ash percentage
  • 1% salt, 10% sugar, 5% butter for mixing, 50% milk hydration, 0.8% instant yeast, 1 pcs whole egg
  • 40% laminating margarine sheet

What i've been experimenting with:

  • Changing the percentage of bread and cake flour in the recipe (mostly 70%-80% BF and the rest is cake flour, and also tried using all BF)
  • Changing the hydration (from 45% up to 55%)
  • Changing the salt amount (small percentage)
  • Changing the mix-in butter amount (small percentage)
  • Changing the yeast amount (small percentage)
  • Folding process before and after overnight rest, both has been experimented (I don't do bulk ferment)
  • Mixing duration
  • Sequence of ingredients added to the mixing process (salt before yeast, yeast before salt, yeast in milk, butter after all mixed, butter in the beginning of mix, etc)
  • Number of folding used, 2x double fold, 3x single fold, 1x double 1x single fold, etc
  • Thickness before cutting 3mm&5mm, Sizes of triangle when cutting, Shaping the croissant (elongated/pull with hand, no elongated with hand, elongated/no elongated with rolling pin, shaping croissant with space in the center,etc)
  • Glaze it with water, egg wash, syrup
  • Final Proof time , from 1.5 hrs to 4.5 hrs all have been experimented

I have also see/learn quite a lot from sources in the net (whether its a blog, or article or youtube video). I've read/see the posting by weekendbakery, evillychic, julien saveurs, thomas haas, vincent talleu, bruno albouze, galaxy desserts, and several other article and french speaking youtube source (which i dont understand of course), also blogs and posts from the freshloaf like the work of txfarmer, ananda and other great veteran bakers here. as for books, i have read a little here and there like : baker's apprentice, how baking works, lecordon bleu pattiseries, baking artisan's pastries and bread, bread baking artisan's perspective. but still no results. so i guess i'm a slowww learner.

To cut it short, I have HUNDREDS of question i wanna ask (literally), mostly about crumb texture, which i know there aren't such simple answer for it. But there's several that i want ask the most which are:

  • Croissant's outer crust. The great croissants i've seen nearly ALWAYS having the same trait, which is flaky, shiny, thin crust. its like they deep fried the croissant rather than baking it. one of the example is croissant from galaxy desserts. (if you look closely at the video in their website about making of the croissants, you can see in 1:35 when he finger-pick the croissant/pain au chocolate, the skin is pretty 'shiny' and looks like pretty 'thin'. maybe thats the reason they have super flaky crust texture after baked) i have no idea whatsoever how they can achieved that. did they dip or soak the croissant in oil before baking or what? (okay thats just crazy i know) Because my croissant is flaky but not that kind of flaky. its crispy but the crust is still 'tough' , not like the one i described which crumbled into millions pieces when touched by hands.
  • My croissants is heavy, heavy, heavy. The great croissants i know out there, having the same size as mine but extremely light. I know its interconnected with the crumb  texture (the more open, evenly distributed crumb and full rising croissant makes it lighter), a.k.a if you master the crumb texture, you'll get the lightness you want automatically. but is it really like that? is there any factors besides it that can affect the weight of croissant?
  • Is the oven we used determine the fate of our croissants, like in BIG way, like if you don't have convection oven, or if you don't use steam while baking, you WON'T get super crispy/light croissant no matter how perfect you prepare the croissant or how good your skills are?

I will post a couple of my experiment result photos here. Some of it standard, some of it a little better, some of it bad and some a complete disaster. None is good enough (for me) grr..the bad one isn't always the first experiment while the better one isn't always the last experiment. every experiment bears its own results.

So thats it. I hope you all can share your thoughts here with me.Cheers.


My last result :


pmccool's picture

Another Horst Bandel Black Pumpernickel

Although this bread is the topic of a number of posts here at TFL, I wanted to make it as presented in Hamelman's Bread (as nearly as possible) so that I would have a baseline for future bakes.  Since making it, I have re-read most of those posts and recognize some things that I will employ for the next attempt.

On my part, there were three departures from the formula as presented in the book.  The first was that I did not have pumpernickel, or coarse rye, meal on hand but I did have plenty of a finely milled whole rye flour, which I used in place of the pumpernickel.  The second was that I substituted cracked rye that I made by processing whole rye kernels with the grain mill attachment for my KitchenAide mixer in place of the rye chops that the formula specifies.  I also used barley malt syrup in place of the blackstrap molasses, which Hamelman notes is an acceptable substitution. While these changes have some effect on the outcome, my assessment is that their influence is relatively minor.

The two factors that I perceive to have a major effect on the finished bread are both inherent in the formula.  

The first is the degree of hydration.  Hamelman's directions for this bread are unusually vague, compared to other breads in the book.  He directs the reader to use the water left from soaking the altus for hydrating the dough but not to put any in unless it is needed.  He mentions that the dough should have a "medium" consistency and that it will be "slightly sticky".  This is a mostly-rye bread, loaded with whole rye kernels (soaked) and rye chops (dry).  Not surprisingly, it is a heavy dough and supremely sticky.

The second factor is the suggested baking profile for home ovens; and it is only a suggestion.  Not knowing exactly how my oven compares to his experience and knowing that my kitchen is rather cool at this time of year, I chose to depart from his notes in detail but tried to stay within the general intent.  To that end, I baked the bread for an hour at 350F, 90 minutes at 300F, 90 minutes at 250F, and 2 hours at 225F.  At that point, the oven was switched off and the bread remained in the oven for another 2 hours.  The bread was baked in lidded pullman pans that measure 9x4x4 inches.  I'll discuss the outcome a little further along in this post.

On a Friday evening, I mixed the rye levain and set it to ripen overnight.  Not having any old rye bread on hand, I used some Vermont Sourdough (another Hamelman bread) for the altus.  I also prepped the whole rye soaker, leaving the kernels to soak overnight in cool water.  I was a bit surprised to see that the kernels had begun to chit by morning, so it's a good thing that the rye soaker has to be boiled before use.  That prevented an enzymatic nightmare.

On Saturday morning, I boiled the rye soaker as directed, then drained and cooled it.  While that was going on, I cracked the rye kernels as described earlier.  The altus was also wrung out while the whole rye soaker was cooling.  Then I weighed out the rest of the ingredients.  When the rye soaker reached a usable temperature, all of the ingredients were mixed by hand.  My impression was that the dough was somewhat stiff, so I mixed in a few grams of the water from the altus soaker.  That loosened things up somewhat, although I would still not have described the dough as being wet.  Having some prior experiences with too-wet rye pastes, I decided to call it good enough.  The dough was covered and allowed to ferment in my B&T proofer at the recommended temperature.

During the bulk fermentation, the pans were greased and floured in preparation for loading with the shaped loaves.

At the completion of the bulk ferment, the dough was divided and shaped.  I had to wet my hands a few times to keep the stickiness in check and used a plastic scraper to help lift the loaves from the countertop without deforming them.  They were placed in the prepared pans and the lids were closed.  The loaded pans went back into the proofer for the final fermentation at the prescribed temperature.  When I checked the dough at the 50-minute mark, I found it to be within 3/4 of an inch of the pan lids, as Hamelman directs.  The oven was preheated and the bread went in for its marathon bake, as described above.

The fragrance of this bread while it bakes is amazing!  Lots of rye / caramel / malty / hazelnut notes that get "darker" as the bake proceeds and the Maillard reactions progress.  Marvelous stuff!  

When I was finally able to depan the loaves, I was surprised to find that they had shrunk by almost 1/2 inch in length.  The side-to-side dimension stayed about the same.  The crust was rock hard.  My first impression was that if the bread wasn't edible, I'd at least have a couple of foundation blocks for that WFO that I may or may not get around to building someday.  

When you look at the photo, below, a couple of things are noticeable.  One is that the top of the loaf is slightly rounded, indicating that it never expanded all of the way to the pan lid.  I attribute that to the dough being somewhat under-hydrated, since I was very careful to scale the quantities for the size pans I have.  The other is that a lot of the flour from dusting the pan is quite stubbornly clinging to the loaf.  That isn't the most esthetically pleasing thing but it does show just how much color change there was from the raw flour to the finished bread.  

The bread was wrapped in cotton towels and allowed to sit 24 hours.  I then bagged it in plastic in the hope that the moisture from the interior might soften the crust somewhat.  That hasn't happened to any great degree.  Cutting the bread, even with a good bread knife, is a struggle.  I have an acquaintance who does a lot of woodworking.  Maybe I could use his band saw to slice off the crusts...  After trying to use the bread with the crust still on the slices, I've taken to cutting off the crusts before eating.  No point in cracking that new dental implant on one of those rye berries.

The crumb, as shown in the headline photo, is very much what one expects with this bread; dense, dark, and chunky with whole rye and cracked rye.  The flavor is fabulous by itself and in sandwiches.  This is filling stuff, too.  It can keep you going for several hours without any sense of hunger.

For the next bake, I'll follow Andy's excellent advice to weigh everything before and after soaking so that I can be more scrupulous about hydration.  I'll also tinker with introducing steam for part, if not all, of the bake.  That will be a significant departure from the formula but I can't help but think that an oven full of bread probably has a higher humidity than mine did with just two loaves.  The lids on the pullman pans are obviously not able to retain enough moisture to prevent excessive hardening of the crusts during the long bake.

This won't be one of my go-to breads, simply because of the length of the bake.  It is, however, one that I will make from time to time because it is so good.




christinepi's picture

weak starter?

I've tried ca 7 different sourdough recipes that all produced bricks. No oven spring whatsoever. My starter appeared to be healthy, and though I followed the recipes carefully, the results were awful. Then I tried ABin5, and things started getting better, and then Peter Reinhart's Lean Bread recipe (both yeast based, no starter); and I finally understood what people are talking about then they say "oven spring". 

I have this feeling the problem lies with my starter. Is it possible that the lack of oven spring can be mostly reduced to the starter, if I did all the other things properly as required by the sourdough recipes? This may be to vague a description to be easily answered, I realize that. I'm at the point of giving up the whole sourdough thing, but wanted to try to home in on where the problem may lie.

gman4626's picture

Winter Bialys


15% Whole Wheat

15% Whole Spelt

70% White flour


1 KG flour % mix above

20 grams kosher salt

700 grams water

320 grams of sour dough starter (equal mixture of water and flour with starter from the fridge.)

It is a little cold in my house around 19C, so I actually let the starter rise for over 10 hours and then made the dough which I let rise one hour before putting it in the fridge overnight. In the morning I took it out and let it rise for another 4 hours. Again this was due to the temperature in my house.

In the oven for 30 minutes at 190C.

These were the best I have made yet, I wonder if the long rising times are part of the reason.


Theresse's picture

Ugh - what wheat berries should I order to mill into flour?!

Man I'm sorry - I've been so dependent on this forum lately! : - /

I'm unsure about what to do.  For weeks I've been meaning to put in my first order from Azure Standard who will deliver wheat berries and pails, lids etc. (along with any other natural/organic foods) to a co-op drop off location a mile from my house.  So it's great that I won't have to pay for shipping!  But I keep putting it off cause I'm not sure what to order!

I got t Nutrimill grain mill from a Craigslist ad though I'm new to bread-making (also got one of those lovely Ankarsrum mixers cause I figured I'd be more likely to make lots of bread if it's made as easy as possible and so far that has indeed been the case with this mixer - albeit using store-bought flour so far).  I want to start making all homemade breads for my family (3 kids and husband) on a regular basis and hopefully stop buying bread at the store.  That would include whole grain sandwich bread and the occasional nicer rustic loaf (hard white berries I guess) to go with dinner.  I don't make pastries as often though I do expect to make them occasionally - things like cinnamon rolls or the rare pie crust.  So that's yet a third grain it sounds like (or since it's not healthy anyway, should I just buy the flour in a bag?).

Lastly, I want to cut down on wheat consumption for the adults in the family anyway - not totally cut it out though.  While I haven't jumped on the "Wheat Belly train" (not big on fads - especially ones that are extreme and tell you one thing is all good or all bad) I do think it's possible there's a legitimate link between modern wheat and stomach bloating, low energy and possibly also inflammation i.e. may not help arthritis sufferers (not sure about any of this...but my ears are pricked up at least).  I'm very intrigued by all the good things I'm reading about the use of the the "ancient grains" combined with homemade yeast/sourdough starters and allowing the dough some time to ferment.  So that's yet another quandary - do I also order some einkorn and a pail and lid for it, too?  Hahaha.  Or perhaps I should get a smaller amount to try first.  Have any of you had luck with bread using this grain?  I've read it doesn't rise quite as well which may or may not be a deal-breaker (and there may be a trick to getting it to rise better, I don't know).

So clearly I need hard red wheat berries (not sure how much), hard white berries... what about soft white berries?  What do most of you have/recommend for keeping on hand in those larger pails, at the very least?  What have you grown into also keeping on hand?

As always, thank you!

pantone_000's picture

Portable Charcoal-fed Firebrick Oven

Hi everyone.

Here in the Philippines, there is a company known for manufacturing firebricks and firebrick ovens as well. The inventor made it as a solution for the high cost of LPG-run stoves and gas ovens. They can also be used for smoking meat, one just has to cut the wood to fit in the pull-out charcoal box.

I am planning to get one as my very first oven, the standard for home bakers (the one in the image immediately below) which measures 15x15x14in on the exterior, 12x12x10in interior. It costs less than $400 (converted from our currency), almost the same as getting a La Germania or Elba LPG-fed oven. This company supplies and customizes for almost all of the restaurants of famous chefs here in our country. I can't wait till my order arrives. :)

They can ship to provinces far from the country's capital,  so I guess they can ship abroad too, if anyone of you would be interested. Here's their facebook page: I am not in any way related to them, just a fan of their firebrick ovens. :)

davidg618's picture

80% Whole Rye Pullman loaf

This is the second time I've baked a high percentage rye bread. The first was Hamelman's Volkornbrot; I wasn't elated with the result. ( ).  That was four years ago.

Lately--happy with my progress with sourdoughs, baguettes, challah and deli rye, and motivated by a number of other TFL'er's seemingly annual flurry of activity with Borodinsky rye Ioaves I thought I give it a go.

I read at least two dozen postings from favorite mentors (ananda, varda, Elagins, and hansjoakim to name a few); I searched other food blogs. I paused feeling intimidated. First of all, I didn't have all the right ingredients--malted rye, and blackstrap molasses specifically. I know where I could get malted rye, but it's a hundred-eighty miles round trip to the nearest homebrew shop that stocks it. I hadn't the slightest idea (other than buying online) where I might find blackstrap molasses.

Secondly, although I frequently use coriander in BBQ rubs, and pastrami crusts, I've never used it to flavor bread. I wasn't certain we'd like it. However, we love adding the flavor of Caraway seeds to Deli Rye.

I wanted to bake when the mood struck, not a week or more from now.

I recalled reading Borodinsky is always 80/20: Rye/Wheat flours in one of the many references I perused.

This bread is based (tightly) on Hamelman's 80% Rye with a Rye-Flour Soaker, in Bread.

I made some changes, but not many. I scaled the formula to produce 2kg of dough; enough for a 13" Pullman pan. I also substituted 115g (4.0 oz) of cracked rye berries for the 6.4 oz. of Whole-Rye flour in the soaker. (I had the rye berries on hand, and wanted to use them.) And lastly, I added 2 tsp. of Caraway seeds, 2 Tbls. of barley malt, and two Tbls. of ordinary Mollasses.

All other ingredients and ratios were as published. I built the Rye Sour in the prescribed manner, bulk fermented and proofed the dough at the recommended temperatures, and baked at the oven temperatures directed. Trusting the strength of my Rye Sour's yeast I did not use any optional commercial yeast. The finished paste filled only slightly more than half of the pan's height, but proofing expansion and oven spring pushed the loaf above the top of the pan.

I rested the loaf for 36hrs before tasting it. (I just couldn't wait any longer!).

The flavors are intense. The rye is immediately present on the palette, the Caraway shows itself moments later: not in-your-face, but not timid either. There is a lingering after taste I think is a melding of the barley malt syrup and the molasses; it has a bit of sharpness.

When I first cut into the loaf the center of the crumb felt slightly sticky. I feared the crumb would be gummy. Much to my delight the crumb's mouthfeel is moist but not  gummy. It is chewy, but doesn't have the springiness I find in wheat doughs, i.e., baguettes and sourdough, nor in the higher wheat percentage deli rye. An ocassional rye berry fragment offers a momentary crunch.

The crust is hard, and thicker than I would prefer. You can see the top of the loaf is partially charred (There is no burnt taste). I think this is due to the relatively high initial baking temperature, 480°F and the excess sugars from the malt syrup and the mollasses.

I've cut the loaf into four equal pieces, and froze three of them. I'm thinking this bread will stand up to my favorites for open-faced sandwiches: sardines and onion with Dijon mustard, home cured and smoked salmon, and pastrami with spicy mustard. I'm open to any other suggestions.

I'm ordering some rye malt, and blackstrap mollasses online. My next attempt will be an "authentic" Borodinsky but not soon. I've made a deal with my wife; I won't bake this style more than three times each year--she's not embracing its intense flavor.

David G

Added Monday, January 6

Monday's lunch

Sardines (water packed), onion, celery, salt, pepper (50/50 mix Tellicherry and Szechuan), mayo, and Dijon mustard on bite size, thin sliced toasted Rye with a pinch of paprika for color. De-light-full!