The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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golgi70's picture

Farmers Market Week 9 (Cracked Wheat Sour)

So local grain has slowly started to make its way back into the market and I chose to use a local Red Winter Wheat grown in Honeydew, Ca about an hour and a half from here.  I splurged and bought 7 lbs to make a 60% Whole Wheat Sour w/ Cracked Wheat.  

I've opted to push the envelope with whole grain with this project and my setup requires retarding of formed loaves so I can get through the multiple bakes.  I have just devised an alternate route in which if final retarding won't work I can shape and preheat my oven (takes 2 hours plus) so that its ready as the bread is.  But I will retard loaves when they are about 75% proofed just to slow them enough to get through the bake.  I will experiment with this maybe next week.  Then instead I can bulk retard the whole dough if desired. 

Back to this loaf.  So I made two builds of wheat on a touch of my white starter.  The first was more to change it to wheat and the second the levain.  The first build was 12 hours and looked really happy and healthy when I fed it again.  I expected a 5-6 rise but it was doubled in 2 hours.  Since I couldn't mix for a few hours I retarded it at this stage.  I autolysed the final dough flour for 6 hours.  I soaked the cracked wheat with hot water 6 hours as well.  The first loaves I baked I pulled from retarder an hour before baking.  Not liking the spring or results so much i followed baking straight from the retarder with much better results   I'm not sure where to place the blame on the spotting of color.  I think I coulda have shortened the bulk ferment and I probably should have added some malt.

Finally on my steaming progress.  I went to the beach and collected a bunch of rocks instead of paying for lava rocks.  This works nicely and you can hear the steam continue for longer.  I need another beach run for more and I think I'll have a good thing going.  


Build 1 (12 hours) Makes 1 - 1 kg loaf

30 g freshly milled red winter wheat (actually a few weeks old)

27 g H20

3 g  white starter (100%)


Build 2 (2 hours for me and then retarded until needed but watch yours)

49  Wheat Starter (90% hydration)

98  Fresh milled red winter wheat

85.75  H20


Soaker: Soaked for 6 hours

50  cracked Wheat

37.5  Hot H20



167 Fresh Milled Hard Red Winter Wheat

200 Bread Flour (11.5 % protein)

323.3 H20 (hold out 10 percent)

11  Salt


Autolyse Dough at least 30 minutes before finish mix.  

(I went for 5 1/2 hrs)

Add levain and mix on speed 1 to incorporate.  (5 mijnutes)

Add salt and continue mixing on speed 1 for until mixed in.

Mix on speed 2 (low medium on my 4 speed machine)

Mix until medium development.  Add grain soaker and additional h20 and mix in on speed 1( This took about 5 minutes).  Finish on speed 2 for a minute.

Bulk Ferment 4 hours with 5 S+F at 30 minutes. 

*this is what I did and I think I would shorten the bulk ferment by at least 30 minutes if not an hour.  Also I'd do the s + f's at 15-20 minute intervals.  

Shape, proof at room temp for 1 hour and retard for 8 hours.  Bake cold with steam.  

Pictures to come after market



First loaves here.  The ones I pulled from retarder for an hour pre bake. Not great spring very little blooming and no grigne.

Now for the remainder I baked straight from retarder and got great spring.  Good Bloom and some serious grigne

This is the crumb from the first set that didn't pop as much.  I sliced a nicer loaf later and forgot to take a picture but it was even better.

So we got some plums (2 types), local honey, salad mix, breakfast sausage, walla walla onions, brocolli, fennel, kale, zukes, fresh cantelope, and a loaf of 25% wholegrain flax seed cranberry ciabatta.  

Happy Baking 


MHynes's picture

Hello! (just waiting for my starter to come back from the near-dead)

Hello! I'm an advanced beginner baker that has been privileged to have a potato flake starter that is about 35 yrs old with me. I was gifted part of it some years ago by a person who has kept it alive for most of those 35 years. Have been baking a number of white bread recipes just to test and learn but always come back to the original. However, recently we've been travelling and I brought it with me (since we wouldn't be home for a few weeks). It had to sit in my car (and then hotel room) for a couple of days. Then most of it fell out because the canister fell over and the lid fell off.  I saved what I could and when we got to our destination (2-3 days later), I fed it. I thought it looked ok, but now I wonder if I was just careless and didn't notice... the other day (not quite a week later) I got it out of the fridge to make bread and noticed it was Quite liquidy. Just out of curiosity I tried making some dough with it. Not even a hint of rise. Uh oh. i tried to feed it last night. Woke up this morning, maybe two bubbles. Also uh oh. I was about to give up and throw it out when I started reading here and thought, maybe, just maybe ... so I've fed it Again today and did get a few more bubbles. Not a lot. I'm wondering if that is just the material I put in from Today doing its own thing, but I guess we'll find out. So now I'm perusing recipes for yeast breads while I hope my starter springs to life. (Don't you know that I had promised some gift loaves to people for next week. THey were so excited to know I brought my starter with me. Oh dear... ) 



SallyBR's picture

I lost my mojo....

No other way to put it.  I've been baking sourdough bread for four years, I've made some amazing loaves on a regular basis, I feel that I know (knew) my way around most tricks of the trade.  Folding, shaping, baking, even scoring was going quite well.


For the past 8 months or so, I've only had failures or close to failures.  I discussed at Dan Lepard's page on Facebook, got some advice to tune up my starter. Bought a commercial starter and tried that too. 


I just opened the oven to find yet another failure, this one so pathetic that I swear I almost cried.  A pancake-shaped with barely any oven spring OVernight Country Blonde.


I am soooo frustrated that right now all I want to do is never bake another loaf of bread again.


Has anyone been through this?  What the heck is going on????  Have I been this naughty to the Gods of Bread?

yamum360's picture

gluten flour

I've recently come across 'gluten flour' which I'm guessing is just the same stuff I've read about in a couple of places around the web under a different name, the ingredient list reads... "Wheat gluten." I bought it to add to my rye breads (I don't have a gluten allergy, just enjoy the taste) to increase their rise and the elasticity of the dough, and basically to make it more 'bready'. the "suggested use" on the back states -Add gluten flour when home baking bread. To increase protein add 1 metric teaspoon to one cup of wheat flour.

would this give the desired results? or do I need to use more? less? does anyone have any experience using this?

cinnamonshops's picture

Old lurker, new user, and a question: Polish "wholemeal" flour

Hello all,

I've been trying to soak up information from this site intermittently for months now, and more intensively in the past few weeks. I'm not a brand-new bread baker by any means, but my attempts have come in waves, and I'm looking once again to improve my game. I began baking as a kid from Beard on Bread (and even did a science fair project using one of its recipes), but in more recent years have relied pretty heavily on Nancy Silverton's LaBrea book. I'm just getting around to the Bread Baker's Apprentice, and have been having some trouble getting my loaves to brown, which is very strange -- I'm chalking it up to a new flour I was using; will try again this weekend with some other brands. Anyway!

I mostly wanted to ask about some other flour that I recently bought at a Polish grocery store, thinking it was regular bread flour. When I opened it, it turned out to be what I see now is labeled as "wholemeal" flour, which I take it is whole wheat, but is much, much rougher than any WW I've seen before (I live in Toronto). It looks intriguing, but I'm not sure what exactly to do with it.

Any suggestions, recipes, etc?

Thanks and hello!


Elagins's picture

It can happen to anyone

Paul McCool on what to do when you forget to turn the oven down from its preheat temp to baking temp.

baybakin's picture

Update and non-bread: Peach Buttermilk muffins

I know it's been awhile since I have done much on here, things have been crazy, I'm moving homes soon, and switching jobs, it's all been so hectic.

This post does relate to bread, I promise, getting there.

I recently got a job as one of the bakers at a small bakery that bakes and sells bagels and morning pastries to local cafes.  This is my first job in the baking industry and I'm very happy to be working in such a small shop, where I'm looked to for say in recipes and product formulas.

The recipe of this post is reflective of my time at the bakery so far: at home, I was never able to duplicate that bakery-style muffin, you know, the type that looks like an overgrown boulte mushroom, with the top bigger than the base, coming to a nice crowned point.  

Home recipes invariably tell you to quickly combine ingredients, fill tins 2/3 to 3/4 full, then bake as soon as humanly possible. For me this was frustrating, as it always ended up with stumpy muffin with no spill over, looking nothing like a muffin you'd buy in a cafe.

The first time I watched muffins being made in the bakery, I had my answers, and so I figure that I would share not only my favorite base muffin recipe, but a few tips on how to make them turn out like the ones you see in cafes.

Buttermilk Muffin Base recipe (makes 12 standard size muffins):

  • 200g Butter (room temp)
  • 180g Sugar
  • 150g Egg (3 Large)
  • 330g AP Flour
  • 3.4g Baking Powder
  • 2.3g Baking Soda
  • 2.6g Salt
  • 2.0g Flavor Extract (Vanilla or Almond)
  • 220g Buttermilk


  1. Combine Flour, baking soda/powder and salt into a bowl, sift.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in separate large bowl until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs to butter/sugar mix and beat until combined.
  4. Alternate adding Buttermilk and flour mixture in three stages, continue until there is no flour clumps.
  5. Move batter into lidded container and place in fridge for at least 8 hours
  6. Stir in any additions, scoop into well greased/floured muffin pan
  7. Top with desired topping (we use sanding sugar or sugar in the raw)
  8. Bake in preheated 350F oven until a testing toothpick comes out clean (20 mins, give or take, depends on the oven)

The shown muffins used almond as the extract, and included a pinch of mace in the batter.  Fruit stir-in was 100g diced peaches. One of the muffins displays a strudel topping.


  • Cream sugar and butter very well
  • Chilled batter makes shaping the pre-baked muffins easier, and helps them hold shape.
  • Shape muffins with a domed top at least a half inch to an inch above surface of the tin. In the bakeshop we use an ice-cream scoop style 4oz portioner
  • We make one batter in the bakeshop, stirring in all fruits/spices as we need them just before baking.
  • Batter keeps in fridge for up to 3 days.
virgule's picture

General bread machine rising problem - puzzled


I'm new to bread making, new to bread machines, and generally very analytical, measuring accurately and recording everything I do, to improve the next time.

Despite this, after making 20+ different breads, I am facing a general problem where I can't seem to begin to find the root cause :-(

My issue became more clear recently when trying a “brioche obsession” recipe using a tangzhong method (

Perhaps someone can help figure out what I’m doing wrong?
I use a bread machine to make different kinds of bread. All the breads & brioche come out reasonably OK – but not more. In particular, while they do rise as expected (close to 2x), they NEVER“burst” out of the pan during baking, no matter what the recipe. Absolutely no “oven kick/oven spring” during the initial baking period. It NEVER looks like the photos on the blogs where I find the recipes ;-). I just make rectangular, average bricks!

When trying the above "super-fluffy" brioche recipe, I noticed something really odd (once cooked and sliced): the dough inside expands well, the loaf did rises 2x, but not more – instead it “expanded”.

What I mean by this is the bottom and sides of the loaf become highly compressed, thick (1.5 inch of dense product - generally unpleasant as a bread), surrounded by a normal thin crust, while the core and top of the loaf are perfectly fine and fluffy. It’s as if the dough could not lift itself out of the pan, only exercising radial pressure. It’s less visible on regular white bread because the dough is generally more dense, but on the tangzhong brioche with a very fluffy core, it was very visible to the eye, like a fluffy brioche baked inside a brioche brick ;-)

I’m struggling to identify the root cause. I measure the ingredients by weight using a proper scale, I estimate the humidity to make sure there is enough water in all my recipes, all my ingredients are at room temperature (Bangkok – warm), I use bread flour and recently purchased yeast, etc. Water and/or milk are brought at room temperature, or even warmed up a bit if making enriched dough containing butter/eggs. I've tried regular and inverted sugar (from my sorbet recipes; I read somewhere that professionals prefer that to regular castor sugar for bread making?)

I even go to the point of removing the dough after the first rise/punch down, to remove the bread machine hooks, shape the dough softly/quickly into a nice ball, and put it back for final rise (this has a surprisingly major impact on the outcome – it seems dough in a bread machine has difficulty “moving around” to settle into the pan evenly, because the hooks and knobs interfere with the dough expansion. After shaping the dough evenly, it rises much better – but still absolutely no oven kick)

This leaves me with A) the question of bread machine temperature – but the bread comes out with a normal crust thickness, normal crust color, baked inside not more/less, etc. I can’t fault the temperature in any obvious way.

Or B) the question of proofing duration. Perhaps the machine starts baking too early? I don’t believe so – the 2nd rise is holding steady and not rising much anymore by the time the baking starts. It’s the oven kick that is not happening in my opinion (dough doesn’t visibly collapse during 2nd rise or baking phase). I've tried spraying a mist of water on the top of the dough halfway through 2nd rise. It helped a bit to make the upper half rise...inside a bottom brick! I can't imagine adding more water to my recipes - dough tends to collapse during 2nd rise if I do that.

I’m really puzzled and frustrated after seeing many beautiful photos of appetizing bread and trying the associate recipes. No matter what type of recipe I try, all I get is basic home-made bread(s), eatable, but nothing to be proud of. I don't mind doing a series of tests varying one particular ingredient, but I really need some help to figure out which one.

PS: I forgot to mention, this happens both with regular and with bread-machine recipes, not much apparent difference so far.

Any suggestions most welcome!

ghazi's picture

Burger. Hotdog buns

Hello all

Made this batch today, finally came round to doing so after your last comments


250g strong white

250g strong whole wheat

600ml water

mixed this before going to bed, gave it a good beating!

next day I added

400g strong white

100g strong whole wheat

60g butter

50g soft brown sugar

1 tsp dry yeast

proved bulk once, then shaped for final prove

I am pretty happy with it, though I know shaping (presentation) has way to go

Leftover dough left in fridge to incorporate into my next batch:)

Let me know your thoughts



ChefDan's picture

Bread Machine just makes ugly looking loaf

I have always baked in an oven but was given a Zorijushii (sp) machine. It is for junior loaves. The tops always are ugly as they are never smooth. I use the recipes in the book. Also the bread is just not browned enough. Is this typical of bread machines. I sell my breads at a local market and just do not want to sell these that are not presentable.