The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Still baking - now with proof box


As many others these days I mainly baked my tried and tested formulas, with not much new to blog about.

With exception of my proof box - the parts were on top of a cupboard since last summer, but now I am putting them to good use.

I think the quality of my ryes have greatly improved since.

The parts for the proof box

1. cheap picnic cooler

2. reptile thermostat

3. reptile heat mat

4. cooling rack

Here a photo:

Just a few photos from last weekend's bake, which was mainly for restocking the freezer:

1. Some ITJB Vienna Bread and Hamelman's Sunflower Seed Bread with pate fermentee

2. Some Challah (DiMuzio's sweet challah) for a school function:

3. Finally my weekly batch of 40% Rye with caraway seeds, and Russian Rye a la Andrew Whitley

Keeping myself busy ...


sam's picture

100% whole wheat rolls


This time I decided to try out 100% whole wheat rolls, and added more butter + honey + milk than my previous white rolls.  The home-milled whole-wheat is pretty thirsty, so I increased hydration.  I estimated this around 78% hydration.  The dough was a little bit sticky, but easily manageable.   Overall, I am happy with the outcome, these are quite tasty w.w. sweet rolls.   :-)

Yields about 1200 grams of dough.

Milk poolish:

222g ww flour

308g milk

0.4g instant yeast


All Poolish

452g ww flour

135g eggs

101g butter

101g unfiltered honey

67g whole cane sugar

88g milk

30g instant yeast

13g salt


1) Make the poolish, ferment until ripe.

2) Cream the butter + sugar

3)  Mix everything except for salt+yeast, let rest/autolyse for 30 mins.

4)  Add salt+yeast, mix in thoroughly, then develop to near-full gluten development.

5)  Bulk ferment 1 - 1.5 hrs

6)  Shape, final ferment of 1 - 1.5 hrs

7)  Brush with standard eggwash (water+egg), bake at 350F for 30-40 mins.


Started with the hard red spring wheat berries..


Milled it on the finest setting..



The ripened poolish:


Get all the goodies ready!


The dough after mixing/development:


A diversion..  

Spring has arrived in my corner of the world, and while it's been raining a lot lately, today the sun peeked out for a couple hours this afternoon.  While the dough was fermenting, I checked out some of the new sprouts in the backyard.


After the ferment, I shaped the rolls, and had some leftover for a small loaf:

Here are the happy rolls, ready to bake!


The result.  Yum!

Tears off easily..


Happy baking!


(edited to correct milk weight for poolish)

GSnyde's picture

Pecan-Maple Scones

I didn’t think I’d want to be tied to the kitchen for bread-baking this weekend.  I did want to use up part of a large supply of pecans.  So I started looking for Pecan Scone recipes and found what looked like a great one in The Cheese Board Collective Works, the source of the wonderful Curry-Onion-Cheese Bread I’ve blogged about before (–-one-sweet-and-one-savory).  And indeed the scones were about the best I’ve made (and some of the best I’ve eaten).

These are free-formed scones with a maple glaze.  They come out very crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.  The Pecan and Maple combination is outstanding.  I think the secret to success—besides the great recipe—was keeping everything very cold and minimizing handling of the dough.

Here’s the recipe for 12-15 scones:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare two sheet pans with parchment or silicon mats.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together:

  • 3 ½ cups AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda

3.  Mix in:

  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • ¾ cup Granulated sugar

4.  Cut ½ pound of cold sweet butter  into ¾ inch cubes and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or two knives until butter bits are about pea sized.

5.  Then stir in 1 ¼ cups rough chopped toasted pecans.

6.  Make a well and pour in ¾ cup of heavy cream and ¾ cup of buttermilk.  Mix until just blended.  Form gently into 2 inch balls (don’t worry if they’re not very spherical; minimize handling).  Place the balls 2” apart on sheet pans.

7.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

8.  About 5 minutes before the scones are done baking, pour  ½ cup of real maple syrup into a medium sized bowl and gradually whisk in 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar until the consistency is a thick glaze.

9.  When  the scones are done, transfer them to a wire cooling rack on top of newspaper or something like it to protect your counter.  After about 10 minutes of cooling (so the glaze doesn’t just melt off the scones), spoon the glaze over the scones (I used about ¾ of a tablespoon for each).

10.  Let cool until the glaze sets (about 10 impatient minutes).  Enjoy with a hot beverage.

One more photo from today.  A Flicker defeating the cage around our bird feeder.  They have very long tongues.


lumos's picture

XXIX -Still baking! : Little Salkeld Multigrain Sourdough.... and HUGE thanks to Ruralidle

Yes, I've been baking regularly still, usually twice a week at least. Just been a bit lazy in posting the result lately.  :p  

 My first trial with Four Grain Blend flour  Richard (Ruralidle) kindly got for me from Little Salkeld Watermill, Cumbria, in Lake District.

  As Richard advised, I mixed it with my regular bread flour at 25 : 75 ratio and at 67% hydration and kept the method very simple and basic to get to know this flour.  In the end, I added a bit more water because it felt a tiny bit stiffer than my regular basic sourdough, so the final hydration became about 70%, which is exactly the same as my regular dough. I think it’s probably due to the higher gluten level of the flour I used (Waitrose Leckford Estate Strong flour. 13.6% protein), compared to Richard’s regular flour, Untreated Organic White from Shipton Mills with 11.3% protein.

 I baked in the late evening and left it on a worktop overnight, and sliced it first thing in the morning for my breakfast and sandwich for my husband.  The first thing I noticed was how moist the crumb was. It reminded me of a few loaves I baked a few years ago which included some oats flakes. And the loaf kept its moistness very well for whole three days until we consumed it all. So it’s definitely a bread that keeps well.  Also it had subtle but very pleasant nutty flavour. It was lovely as it is, but even better when toasted, too.  I think I’ll increase the proportion of Four Grain flour a bit next time, probably to 30% or so.

 Thank you, Richard, for introducing this lovely flour to me (and paying for it, too! ).  You’re absolutely right. It makes a really good loaf!


Multigrain Sourdough with 25% Little Salkeld Four Grain Blend Flour


 Levain – 120g (70% hydration) = fed with 70g strong flour + 50g water

 Main Dough

   Four Grain Blend flour  75g

   Strong Flour  225g

   Salt  7g

   Water  210g 



1)      Feed the starter 8 – 16 hrs before use.  

2)      When the levain is ready, mix flour and water and leave for 30 min to autolyse.

3)      Sprinkle salt and stretch and fold in a bowl until the salt is well distributed.

4)      Rest 40 minutes.

5)      Repeat 2-3 x S&F in bowl at 40-45min intervals.

6)      Put the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cold retard in the fridge for 16-18 hrs.

7)      Take it out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1 – 1 1/2 hr.

8)      Pre-shape, shape and put in a banetton.

9)      Final proof…..until it’s ready to bake. (finger-poking test!)

10)  Heat the oven at 240C with a covered casserole (I use an oval Pyrex casserole with a lid).

11)  Bake for 20 min with the lid on.

12)  Remove the lid, lower the temperature to 210C and bake for another 20 – 25 min.










BoyntonStu's picture

WFO (Rocket Stoves)

If you have not seen a WFO rocket stove, here's a few videos to learn about them.

A rocket stove is essentially a tall INSULATED vertical pipe that burns any wood or biomas at 2,000 *F with NO SMOKE.

AFAIK A rocket stove uses the least amount of wood to cook than any stove made.

Rocket Bread Oven

No gas reaches the bread!

My friend's rocket stove heats his house.

I helped with this design.

Dual Plane Rocket Stove Heater

Energy Conservation with Rocket Stoves in Africa:Aprovecho Research Centre, Southern Africa, Rocket Stoves - Ashden Award winner

jwilder's picture

Deck Ovens - lots of questions

I'm expanding my bakery from my rented kitchen with no commercial equipment into a full-sized bakery space and I'm upgrading to commercial ovens (finally!), proofers, etc. However, I'm very new to the commercial equipment world, and desperately need some professional opinions. 

I'm looking at Baker's Pride, Doyon, and Garland - these are the only three that seem to have stackable, modular deck ovens that will allow me to grow my baking capacity up and not take up more floorspace with additional ovens in the future. What I'm finding is that most deck ovens are labeled "pizza oven". Is there a difference between a designated "pizza oven" and one that can be used for all-purpose baking? I specialize in breads, pastries, and quick breads/muffins, will be hiring a cake artist in the near future, and most likely adding cookies and the like to the menu, so the ovens will have many various uses, none of which will be pizza.

I've been told to avoid convection ovens if possible because the strong air flow can dent breads and pastries, but as always, my budget is limited and anything other than convection is out of my price range. As of yet, I've not had the opportunity to bake in any commercial oven, let alone convection. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Also, any feedback either way on the above brands and their deck ovens? Other brands I should consider? Bad eggs to avoid? 


badmajon's picture

The basic problem with my sourdough

My main problem with my sourdough efforts is that the dough rises too slowly which means I can't get any oven spring.

When using instant yeast, I make a simple 75% hydration French bread dough which I put in the oven at about 75% of a full rise at 500 degrees. I get great oven spring and a good crumb. I'm really happy with it.

However, my wild sourdough culture seems to be so slow that after extending the rise times 400%, when I put it in the oven, I get almost no oven spring. The crust sets before the yeast can give the final push. I love the flavor of this bread, but the lack of oven spring is killing me.

The only thing I can think of is putting the loaf into the oven fully proofed. However that seems like the wrong way of doing things for obvious reasons.

Or maybe my starter is weak? I double it the day before. I.e., 200g starter, I add 100g of flour, 100g water. Should be ready to go right?

dmsnyder's picture

Mixing techniques for a starter feeding or a levain

Another TFL member, in a private message to me, expressed frustration regarding how to disperse the starter when feeding it or when mixing a levain. I thought this might be of general interest, so I'm sharing my suggestions. Besides, others might have even better techniques from which I might learn something. So, here is my method:

Re. dispursing starter when feeding it.

There are better sources of frustration to devote your problem-solving to, so here are a couple easy techniques:

1. Weigh your starter into your mixing bowl. Weigh in your water. Use some impliment (I use a dough whisk.) to break the starter into pieces about the size of a large olive. Give it a good whisk or stir with a spatula. Walk away for 10 minutes or so. Come back and whisk vigorously until the starter is almost completely dispersed. If your starter is healthy, you should have an extremely frothy, milky mixture at this point. Now add the flour and mix until all the flour has been incorporated and is moistened - no dry appearing flour on the surface. I do this with a silcon spatula about 90% of the way, then use my fingers, folding the "dough" over and over itself in the bowl. Then transfer the ball of levain to a clean container for fermentation.

2. If you don't have a dough whisk, do the same with a spatula, but, after the pieces of starter are softened, smear them against the side of the bowl with the spatula, give a few mixes, smear some more  and continue until the starter is well dispersed.

I like dough whisks. I have a large one and a small one. You can get them from KAF,, and from Some cookware shops carry them, too.

Hope this helps.


dwfender's picture

Would you consider this overproofed?

This is a brioche I made months ago and after reading various posts since I've come to think that this dough over proofed.

I'm saying this because of the density of the crumb at the bottom of the loaf and the open crumb towards the top. 

Also, if it is an overproofed dough, if I wanted a dough with the same height than I would need to use more dough in the pan to maintain a tigheter crumb and a taller loaf? 


mebusybaker's picture

Question about using refractory cement for the oven floor

I am new to this page, however, have cooked in a brick oven many times before.  Now I am building one.  I am attempting to do this as green as possible.  I have had the city dump sidewalk in my yard for the base and am now researching the use of cement vs fire brick for the oven floor.  I have left over red brick from years ago I plan to use as the dome.  The idea is to recycle as much material as possible and keep the build cost to a minimum.  I am wondering whether I could replace fire brick ($$) with cement for the floor.  To eleminate, or rather, decrease the possibility of natural expansion and contraction I have thought of pouring in sawdust or shavings in with the cement as an additional ingredient; technique is very similar to a cob oven.  Any advice out there would be helpful.  Thanks