The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Felila's picture

Using a straight razor for a lame?

My pack of old-style razor blades is used up and I'm hunting for another place to buy blades to use as lames. A Quattro cartridge is of no use as baking equipment, but multi-blade cartridges is all the local supermarkets seem to carry.

I wondered if there was such a thing as a lame that could be resharpened and used indefinitely and then realized: of course, a straight razor, as used to be standard male equipment in past centuries, before Gillette and the razor blade.

Has anyone here used a straight razor as a lame? How did that work? Was it hard to find a razor?

sonia101's picture

Moist Apple Cake


I went shopping yesterday at Aldi and found this fantastic cake spring form tin made by Zenker that also doubles as a serving platter and came complete with a plastic lock just remove the spring form and the cake is ready to be served, great for making cakes and transporting them!


The cake tin came with a recipe book so I just had too try a recipe, since my sister had given me some home grown apples I picked out this recipe. The cake was really nice and moist, I used ricotta and sour cream and also used ground almonds. My dough was too soft to roll out so I half rolled it and used my hands to press it into the tin, but the cake still turned out lovely.

Moist Apple Cake


150 grams quark (or 2 parts ricotta and 1 part sour cream

6 tbsps milk

6 tbsps oil

80 grams sugar

4 heaped tsps vanilla extract

2 pinches salt

3 heaped tsps baking powder

300 grams flour


Glaze and topping

4 egg yolks

250 grams sour cream

100 grams sugar

100grams ground almonds or hazelnuts

800 grams sour apples

Juice of 1 lemon

6 tbsps apricot preserve


For the dough

Mix the curd cheese (or substitute), milk oil, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Thoroughly knead in the flour mixed with the baking powder. Grease the sheet cake spring form 38(L) x 25(W)with butter. Roll out the dough to a size somewhat larger than the baking tin and place it into the tin, forming a rim at least 1 cm in height.

For the glaze

Mix the egg yolks, sour cream and sugar, and fold in the ground nuts. Pour the glaze onto the dough and distribute it evenly. Peel and quarter the apple removing the core, slice and mix with the lemon juice. Arrange the sliced apples on the glaze. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes in a preheated oven on the middle shelf at 190 degrees C or 170 degrees C circulating heat. Warm up the apricot preserve and press it through a sieve. Remove the cake from the tin and spread the preserve over both the top and sides of the cake.

Cheers Sonia

MTmom2's picture

Recommended recipe to try w/flour from my new grain mill?

Hi, all!

I've just ordered my first grain mill (the Komo Classic).  Very excited about its scheduled arrival on Friday.  So, here's my question for you all....what would bread recipe would you recommend I start with?  I've been making bread (the Cook's Illustrated Buttermilk Sandwich bread with some ww flour for the AP) and my original plan was to just try exchanging the store bought flour with my own milled flour.  But I've been reading about problems people have had doing that so it got me thinking that I should see if the collective wisdom here has a better idea.

Thanks for any ideas and recommendations!

PS - as my login name suggests, I'm a working mom of 2.  As I expect is the situation with many others, most of my baking time is done on the weekends and squeezed between other activities.  Easy recipes are especially welcome! =)



sweetbird's picture

Buckwheat-Apple-Cider Sourdough

While reading the article in New York Magazine on artisinal bakers in New York City that I posted in the forums yesterday (, I saw the photo of a buckwheat-pear bread and was reminded of this one that has become a favorite in our house. It's a buckwheat-apple bread dreamed up by a Swiss baker/blogger and posted on yeastspotting a few years ago. The blog post was so charming that I had to try it immediately. I have loved it and baked it many times since.

Here is the original blog post that captured my imagination:

I've made some minor changes based on what I have available. Here is the formula that I use:

Buckwheat Apple Sourdough


Liquid levain:
100 g buckwheat flour
125 ml hard cider
15 g mature starter (mine was 100% hydration)

385 g bread flour
15 g vital wheat gluten
230 ml hard cider (start with 200 ml and add more cider as required)
12 g salt
a little less than 1 tsp. instant yeast (I used SAF)
1 tsp. pear honey ("Birnel"), can be substituted by any sweetener
40 g dried apple rings, chopped
85 g (½ cup) whole buckwheat groats


Mix the ingredients for the liquid levain and leave at room temperature for 12 hours.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the whole buckwheat and let it soak for 10 - 15 minutes, until cooked through.  Drain well and set aside.

Mix the liquid levain, flour, vital wheat gluten and cider and let it autolyse for 15 to 30 minutes. Check the consistency and adjust as necessary; you’re looking for a tacky but not sticky dough.

Mix the final dough, but don’t add the apple chunks and the buckwheat yet. I processed for about 6 - 7 minutes on medium speed in my KitchenAid. At the end, mix in the apple pieces and about 2/3 of the soaked buckwheat groats. The rest are reserved for the top of the loaf, if you like (if not, go ahead and add them all to the dough).

Let the dough ferment in a warm environment (I kept it at a temperature in the mid-80sF) for about 1½ to 2 hours, with two folds at 30 and 60 minutes. The original recipe calls for one fold at 40 minutes, but I thought my dough needed more. I let it ferment about 2 hours.

This dough weighs about 1,050 g, and I bake it as one large hearth loaf. It can be divided into two smaller boules if you like. Bench rest and shape, and start your oven and stone preheating to 430°F at this point. I found that the final rise was fairly quick -- about 40 minutes. In fact, it took me by surprise and my oven wasn’t quite ready, so I ended up over-proofing slightly.

I used the dough ball trick that I mentioned in my previous post.


Bake the loaves on a preheated baking stone with steam at 430°F, checking and turning at around 20 minutes and lowering the temperature if the loaves are taking on too much color. I turned off the oven when the loaf reached an internal temperature of 205°F and let it sit on the hot stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.


Ingredient notes:

I use a wonderful hard cider from my part of the world, the northeast U.S.  It's Woodchuck Hard Cider from Vermont and comes in a 355 ml bottle, which is just exactly the amount that is needed for this bread. About one-third goes into the levain and the rest is used in the dough. I use it at room temperature.

The flour I used in this loaf (besides the buckwheat flour) was King Arthur AP, even though the formula calls for bread flour. I would have been better off using the Sir Lancelot I had, or something else to offset the weak buckwheat flour, but even so this came out very well.

I use a raspberry honey from a local beekeper instead of the pear honey in the original formula.

This bread has a deep, somewhat nutty and subtly sweet flavor. It is outstanding as toast. I tried to capture the extra depth of color that it has when it comes out of the toaster. It's spectacular with butter and marmalade or with cheeses. I encourage you to try it! Thank you to the sweet baker from Switzerland (who doesn't seem to be blogging any longer, sadly). I'm grateful for this very special bread.


All the best,


I'll send this back where it started from, to Susan's yeastspotting:


Franko's picture

Old Style Sicilian Bread Roll- Nfigghiulata Antica

A book I've owned for many years and still one of my all time favourites for Italian cooking is Carlo Middione's 'The Food of Southern Italy'. Middione's Sicilian Bread Roll in the Old Style or Nfigghiulata Antica he believes may predate calzone, going back to the Saracen occupation of Sicily in the ninth century. The preparation of this dish takes slightly more time than a typical calzone or pizza but it's a nice change from the norm with the variety of meats and vegetables Middione uses in his recipe, and the fact that tomatoes, so typically found in these types of dishes, is not a component. Other than the exclusion of tomatoes, there doesn't appear to be any strict guidelines to what you might use as a filling, but I stuck close to the recipe given, with a few minor additions of my own. The filling in this roll was ground pork and veal lightly sauteed, sauteed onions and fennel, blanched chard and cauliflower flowerettes, black olives, julienne strips of salami and small cubes of provolone cheese.  My own inclusions were the fennel, some ground black pepper, scant amount of salt, some oregano and grated parmagianno . The dough can be whatever your favourite pizza dough happens to be, but recommend keeping the hydration to somewhere in the low 60% area to make the dough strong enough to hold the filling without tearing when it's rolled up. Roll or stretch the dough out to a rectangular shape as for cinnamon buns and brush all but the bottom 2 inches with olive oil. Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll towards you tightly as you would for cinnamon buns.

Once rolled, ensure that the seam and ends of the roll are tightly sealed so that the filling wont leak out during baking, transfer to a paper lined cookie sheet, seam side down, and brush with olive oil. Gently bend the roll in a wide curve or crescent, the crescent shape being an important symbol in Saracen culture. While Middione doesn't mention this in his recipe, I took some scissors and snipped small steam vents along the length of the roll to keep the roll from getting soggy during baking.

Proofing time was 30-35 minutes at 75F/23C, and best to have the roll slightly under proofed to keep it intact during baking. Bake in a pre-heated 350F/176C oven for 15 minutes, brush with any oil that may be in the pan or use fresh, and continue baking and brushing with oil periodically until it takes on an appetizing colour and there is some evidence of melted cheese. Baking times are approximate based on the size of the roll made, so your senses and individual preferences are the best guides to use for when it's time to remove the roll from the oven.

Let the roll cool for 15-20 minutes to firm up before slicing, make a salad in the meantime, pour a glass of wine and enjoy!



sonia101's picture

Big day making Pasta ( Maultaschen )

I'm soooooo tired!

I made my favourite Pasta today, I only do this a few times a year and spend the whole day making them. I always make them in bulk and freeze them, tho most of the time my extended family end up taking most of my stash!lol.....Hmmm I made 100 Maultaschen today, I wonder how many I will get to freeze and eat?

This is a bulk recipe that makes approx. 100 large Maultaschen.


Pasta Dough

2 kilos of type oo flour

2 dozen eggs



500 grams minced bacon (minced)

8 medium sized onions (minced)

6 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 kilo pork sausage meat ( I used pork sausages and squeezed them out of their castings)

3 stale rolls soaked in water and then squeezed to remove the water

1.5 kilo cooked spinach ( I used finely chopped frozen spinach and removed all the water)

1.5 kilos ground lean beef

9 eggs

10 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

1 egg and 3 tablespoons milk mixed (for brushing the pasta sheets )

Make the pasta dough and refrigerate until needed (depending on the size of eggs you might need a touch more flour). Mince the meat, bacon, garlic and onions and add all the ingredients and mix really well.


Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg...I recommend placing a tablespoon of mixture onto a plate and popping it into the microwave and having a taste test to make sure it is  tasty enough. I had to taste the mixture 3 times before I got the taste to my liking.


Roll out the Pasta into long strips ( Thank god I have an electric pasta machine, I used setting#7 as my final pass) Top with meat mixture (just under 1cm thick approx) and brush the edges with egg/milk wash and top with another strip of pasta. At this stage I normal have a mess everywhere and today I even got flour on my camera lens LOL

Using a wooden spoon handle make impressions to seal each individual Maultaschen.

Using a zig zag pastry cutter cut them into individual Maultaschen.

Drop a few (depending on the size of your pot, I cook 10 at a time) into boiling (soft boil or they might split open while cooking) salt water and cook for 15 minutes, then drain. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.


Reheat in stock and serve with either a beef or vegetable stock and top with slow dry fried onions. You can also slice and fry them in butter, or  scramble an egg over them.


My reward after a hard day of cooking :-)

Cheers Sonia

Wild-Yeast's picture

Pain au levain a la Poilâne

An interesting journey shown below. Five years for the levain to teach the baker what the flour wanted..., 

'Que sais-je?'


 ~ 1 kg loaves...,

pyg's picture

Reinhart's formulas are just so wrong

After having had access to Hamelmans Bread book for 5+ years and having learned bakers math from it, Reinharts formulas make absolutely no sense to me.  I recently acquired The Bread Bakers Apprentice and Crust and Crumb based in part from recomendations on this site and forno bravo.  While I really like Reinharts enthusiasm compared to Hamelmans rather dry style, I do not understand why Reinhart even bothered to include formulas as his books are pitched at the more casual baker and the formulas themselves seem to be super complicated to use.

With Hamelmans overall formulas where total flour = 100% noting the hydration and flours involved I can immediately get a sense of the handling characteristics.  I can also infer a fair amount from the percentage of preferment or levain and with very simple math adjust these formulas based on what I know about my flour, humidity, etc.  But what I absolutely depend on is with slightly more complicated math I can make a batch of dough that makes exactly a given number of loaves of a given size.  For example assuming I have a bread formula that overall comes to 177.5 percent.  My oven is pretty small so my batch size is 12 loaves.  I know from experience that if I scale my dough at 550g (I vastly prefer working in metric) a loaf it will bake to a final weight of between 1 pound and 1 pound 1 ounce.  I also know that I need to add ~10g per loaf for scaling error so 560 * 12 = 6720g final dough weight.  I divide that by 1.775 and I get 3786g for my total flour weight.  Total flour weight is the magic number and once I have that all other weights including preferments are generated.  How the **** do you do this with a Reinhart formula.

 Ranting ever onward, I decided to compare Reinharts The Bread Bakers Apprentice Poilane style Miche (pg 242)  with Hamelmans James MacGuire/Pointe-a-Calliere style Miche (pg 164) by working backwards from Reinharts formula to generate a Hamelman type formula.  Here we go:

Assuming that the Barm included in the Firm Starter is 100% hydration which is implied on pg 232, the Firm Starter would be 138.9% flour and 82.9% water.  Converting this to a ratio where flour equals 100% gives us a Firm Starter with a hydration of 60% (with rounding) exactly the same as Hamelman so far.  OK, after splitting Firm Starter into the Final Dough I get 137.5% flour and 87.5% hydration which converts to 63.6% hydration at 100% flour with 27.3% of flour used in the starter, or:

Overall Formula: 

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

2.5%  Salt

63.6%  Water

166.1% Total


Pre-Fermented Flour 27.3%  (Firm Starter):

100%  Whole Wheat Flour

60%  Water

of the above preferment 28% is comprised of 100% hydration Barm (not calculating exact build because I'm lazy)


So now I have this in a readable format I don't have to even try this formula to have serious questions.  63% hydration for what should be a high hydration sourdough?  Really?  Hamelmans formula is at 82% hydration.  Based on experience, a high extraction flour or whole wheat would be practically unworkable with this level low a level of hydration.  The description of handling the dough in Reinharts text implies a much higher level of hydration than 63%.  Alternately I've done something wrong in the math, please check my work if you can.  Showing me I'm wrong about any of my above assumptions would help me learn.

Sure wish Hamelman would write more books.

PaulZ's picture


Hi all,

I know this topic has cropped up ad infinitum on this site and posted to the point of tearful yawn-inducing boredom but I am really REALLY trying to find an answer. Nothing seems to work.

PROBLEM: My baguette's crust is too hard. Would knock an intruder out cold with one blow! The crumb inside is beautifully soft, flavoursome and the mix of holes (high hydration) is ideal - I think. Yet, I've read on TFL that steam (within the 1st 5min) helps develop a crisp crust. However, I have ALSO read on previous postings here that to induce a softer crust one needs loads and loads of steam before the firming and caramelisation eventually takes over. A contradiction of intentions? Neither seems to work. To create steam in my 6ft single deck oven, I use a plastic cannnister pressure pump hose (the one used to spray chemicals in the garden - not the same one! - a similar one you understand!!!) I place the baguettes directly onto the pre-heated metal deck / floor of the oven at a temp of 280C (530F), spray for 10-15secs and immed. reduce to 250C (500F). I spray again (10-15secs) after 3 mins and I give a final 15secs spray after 6 mins. The temp is then reduced to 220C (425F) and the baked baguettes are pulled at 22mins. Should I be using more steam? This means a greater heat loss while I insert the nozzle of the spray hose. Less steam, perhaps?

The baguettes have a beautiful colour, lovely crumb but the crust ? oh-so hard!

Good crumb but very-very tough crust!

The watchman's "night stick" baton!!!!

Baked in a deck oven (the convection oven has to perch above - sorry, no space in the kitchen!)

And here is the formula (if that would help solve anything)

1,000g White Bread Flour

800g Water

18g salt

22g Fresh Bakers Yeast.


Thanks all.


afrika's picture