The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Polenta Ciabatta

I tried this recipe for sourdough polenta bread with pepitas which was featured here a couple of months ago.

Well, it did not come out as high as the featured loaves.

The loaves just spread out as soon as they were removed from the brotform. Slashing the loaves was like letting the air out of a balloon, so I didn't slash the second batch.

The crumb is nice and full of bubbles, even though it's FLAT. It came out looking like a ciabatta, which I haven't been able to achieve when I try to intentionally make ciabatta!

Anyway, the flatness, how to keep the loaf from flattening out when it is removed from the brotform? This is the biggest problem that I have!


Theresse's picture

Advice needed - please see pic of bread

Hi - actually I'm writing for two reasons here, only one being "artisan bread."

So I tried using a banneton and making my first boule (?) or non-sandwich bread ever.  The problem is that I used dough I'd put in the fridge a couple of days earlier.  I'd read I could do that.

How long is too long to keep in the fridge, and how long must one let it rest in room temp before it should be expected to rise?  Should it be kneaded and if so, when?  After it's no longer cold?

I took mine out of the fridge and I guess I expected it to rise (due to relatively warm air) faster than it did.  After an hour or two I kneaded it a bit, noticing the inside was still colder than the outside.  Then again, about a half-hour later.  I was supposed to be serving bread at a party so eventually I just decided to spray the banneton with water, sprinkle with flours and shake off the excess then I formed a decent-enough looking boule (I think that's the word anyway - sorry!) and then covered with a towel.  No real rising - maybe slightly - so I put it in the oven at 425 along with a dish of ice.  It did actually rise in the oven (!) and the bread seemed fine though had quite the tight crumb, maybe because it had been kneaded plenty before it ever went in the fridge plus after?  Besides I'd made it originally to be a sandwich bread (imitating Dave's Killer Bread with all the whole grains and seeds).

What do you think?  Was that all to be expected?  Here's a pic, after we'd cut into it.

duckybud's picture

Pizza "Stone"

Has anyone tried 1/2 in stainless for a "stone"?  I am having problems with stones breaking if liquid coming from pizza comes in contact with stone and cracking them.  Thought about steel or maybe even stainless steel.  Think it would have to be at least 1/2 in to keep from warping when using highest setting of home oven.

Any feedback would help.


zoqy71's picture

Hi from England

I'm a keen baker and cook. Now back in the kitchen after 2 years of traveling the World. 70% of my baking is with a sourdough starter and I'm a big experimenter in the kitchen.

nami5602's picture

Sourdough very dry

Hi, today I made my 1st sourdough bread. Well, it's rising in the oven (turned off) now - but there is an issue which I couldn't find answers to so decided to ask on here. It's a Mary Berry 'sourdough rye bread' from her book 'Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook.' Ingredients:

1.5kg strong white flour

1 x 7g sachet yeast

250ml lukewarm water

3 tbsp caraway seeds (optional - I didn't use)

1 tbsp salt

For the starter:

250g strong white flour

1 tsp fast-action yeast

250ml lukewarm water

For the sponge:

200g rye flour

250ml lukewarm water

So, I made the starter as directed (purposely being vague here so no-one can copy the recipe for free.) and left for a few days at room temperature. It definitely seemed active -  bubbling and doubling in size at it's peak. Then, added the sponge ingredients and left for a few hours (precise time in book). Again, it bubbled well. Then, mixed the other ingredients, left it to rise. 

The problem I encountered was with the mix. It was incredibly stiff - so much so I had to add a lot more water just to incorporate the flour. Why is this?

So, the other instructions are to knock it back, shape, score, prove, and bake. 

It is rising - slowly as expected - just wondered why the dough was so dry. Thank you.

Floydm's picture

Well, that's a bummer

I spotted a news story yesterday reporting that Dave of Dave's Killer Bread is in a bit of trouble again.

If you are unfamiliar with Dave's Killer Bread, you can check out the profile I did on him a couple of years back.  Since then the company has continued to grow, with distribution all up and down the West Coast.  It is good stuff.

First off, I hope the injured police officers involved are alright, then I hope that Dave and his family are able to take care of whatever it was that set him off this time.  He is a talented guy with his heart in the right place, but clearly he also a few problems that he needs help dealing with.

chris319's picture

"Tupperware odor"

This is a totally bizarre question but it does have relevance to baking.

Does anyone else know what I mean by "tupperware odor"? I don't know how best to describe it other than to say it is kind of a "plasticy" odor.

Come to learn that Tupperware, and also Rubbermaid I think, food storage containers are made of low-density polyethylene, or LDPE a.k.a. plastic #4.

I was moving my sourdough starter into a tupperware-like container which I believe is made of LDPE. A few hours later I checked the starter to see if it still smelled yeasty. It had gone uncharacteristically soupy, as if a lot of proteolysis had taken place. It didn't smell that yeasty but "tupperware odor", or LDPE odor, was unmistakably present. It got me to wondering if there was some kind of chemical reaction going on which put the kybosh on my starter. Stranger things have happened. I had been keeping my starter in a plastic picnic cup not made of LDPE with no "tupperware odor" and had no trouble whatsoever. Over the summer I was having fits trying to get a starter going and what kind of container do you think I was using? LDPE! My successful starters have been made in plastic picnic cups.

I am going on vacation next month and want to bring my starter with me. Yes, I know it's strange but I think I would rather do that than leave it in the fridge. I stir my starter once per day so I will be able to do that. I want some kind of unbreakable or hard-to-break sealable container with a fairly wide mouth. Do they still make peanut butter jars out of glass? That's one possibility. Peanut butter jars used to be made of kind of a heavy glass. Something ceramic would also do. I don't think a mason jar would be break resistant enough. Glass mayonnaise jars tended to be tapered toward the mouth, not good for stirring.

I will be driving so I don't have to worry about being beaten senseless by a TSA thug who thinks a fermented mixture of flour and water could bring down a jetliner.

dabrownman's picture

YW & SD 50% Rye with Scald, Onions & Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Lucy worked hard, using Varda’s Tzitzel quest as a starting point, to do 3 takes on Tzitzel.  We liked take 2 of the 3 tries to date the best.  But it just wasn’t enough of a full bodied, deep flavored bread to stand up to the kind of smoky mats we like.

With Eric Hanner’s first anniversary of his passing upon us, I couldn’t help but make a stronger rye based on his died minced onions and soaker water we like so much in deli rye breads.


We upped the rye to 50% from 40%, upped the SD and YW levain to 30% of the total from 20% since we decided not to retard this load as we did the others.  Whole grains shot up to 55% a substantial increase too.   This bread was starting to make us happier that usually.


To put the top knot on the other knots, we decided to use Young’s Double Chocolate Stout for much of the dough liquid that wasn’t onion soaker water.  We had a bunch of whole wheat and white whole wheat in the mix too, so we added some VWG and upped the hydration to near 90% from 85% to compensate for the more thirsty whole grains.


The rye sour and YW levains were built separately and the white flour listed was for the YW levain.  Both were retarded for 24 hours at the same time even though the YW was a 1 build affair and the ryes sour was a 3 stage build.


Since we were going to make this bread in one day, we only had time for a 1 hour autolyse but we did do our usual 3 sets of slap and folds and 2 stretch and folds all 15 minutes apart.


We did a light chop on the caraway seeds in the coffee grinder and added them and the multigrain scald and overnight soak in the fridge sand which weighed 150 g wet, on the first set of S& F.  Both were completely incorporated at the end of the 2nd set of S& F’s.


This is a smoked pork carnitas quesidilla  style with caramelized mushrooms and onions, 2 cheeses, and killer home made red salsa...and lets not forget the smoked brisket taco for lunch

We then shaped the dough into and oval and immediately placed it seam side down in the rice floured basket.  The dough proofed for 4 hours before it was refrigerated for1 hour while Big Old Betsy was preheated to 550 F and the (2) lava rocks and water pans for steam were inserted at 525 F


15 minutes after the oven hit 550 F we un-molded the dough onto a peel that was covered in parchment, slashed 3 times and loaded onto the bottom of two stones.  After 5minutes of steam the oven was turned down to 525 F and 5minutes later it was turned down again to 500 F at the 15 minute mark the steam was removed and the oven was turned down to 425 F.


The bread was rotated 180 degrees on the stone every 5 minutes until the bread reached 205 F on the inside when it was removed to the cooling rack.  Total baking without steam was 13 minutes with 28 minutes of baking total.


The bread browned up a deep, brownish, mahogany color and bloomed OK.  It spread more than it sprang indicating it was too high in hydration and possibly slightly over proofed.


It smelled terrific in and out of the oven with the caraway and onions dominating.  Can’t wait to cut into this bread and taste it but we will wait for 24 hours before doing so.  Well, couldn't't wait for 24 hours as usual.  The crust had gone soft over 16 hours wrapped in plastic. The crumb was open soft and moist.  It was more open than I though it would be with so much whole grain rye and scalded berries.

Underneath the breakfast eggs is some white bread baked yesterday.

The flavor of the crust and crumb, the onion coming though so well, were just the way you want them for a bread begging for mustard. pickle and pastrami.   The little yellow flecks of the corn meal is a delight - thanks to Janet for the corn inclusion in the bread.  This is the best Jewish Deli Rye type bread, with a chew of scalded betries, we have managed to date.  Just delicious.  Thanks to Eric for the dried minced onions and re-hydration addition and the slap & fold push that changed my bread baking forever.

The 'mixed grains en pot' are now oer a foot tall! 

We've got 4 pots of tomatoes too.  Lucy says I've gone to pot and she might be right!  This bread made a very nice pepperjack melt, dijon mustard, dill pickle and pastrami sandwich for lunch with the usual salad, veggies and fruits on the side.



Build 1

Build 2

Build 3



Multigrain SD Starter


















Yeast Water


















Multigrain SD Levain






























Levain % of Total












Dough Flour






White Rye






Corn meal






Whole rye












Whole Wheat Bread Flour






Dough Flour


















DC Stout 225 & Onion Water 90






Dough Hydration












Total Flour






Stout 225, Onion Water 90, Water






T. Dough Hydration






% Whole Grain Flour












Hydration w/ Adds






Total Weight












Add - Ins






VW Gluten






Dehydrated onion



















jjainschigg's picture

Slight off-smell and (perhaps) orange mold on starter

I've been cultivating a new starter for about 2.5 months: white with a little rye as a yeast transporter (I've done this before with good results). Had no trouble getting it going. Added a little lemon juice at the beginning to offset leuconostoc infestation. Fed regularly. Tapered off the rye flour. Maintained good activity levels for a while, with rapid doubling. Waited for the 'juvenile starter' acetone-generating tendency to die back. Starter stabilized and developed proper sour/yeasty smell with good activity. Began baking with it. No problems. Loaves delicious, etc. Baking about once a week and feeding daily. Keeping the starter around 80% hydration.

Then the cold weather hit and my kitchen started going through daily temperature convulsions as I fought with myself about whether to turn on the furnace for a couple weeks (temperatures down to around 62 degrees, then up to maybe 68 in the daytime). I could immediately see the slowdown in yeast activity, but I kept baking with the starter and aside from longer (much longer) rise-times, it seemed fine. I was actually quite happy for a while because temperatures were such that I could cold-retard on the counter at night, which seemed to work great: developing the flavor without allowing loaves to become overproofed.

Then something started going off with my starter. I kept feeding it daily (keeping it on the counter in covered container with some holes punched in it). And I wasn't surprised when it stopped doubling in a couple-three hours because the kitchen still gets cold at night (though I've turned on the furnace now, so it gets up to around 68 in the daytime). But I fed it yesterday ... it doubled eventually ... sorta/kinda ... but today, I opened up its container and now can smell a sort of 'off' scent ... still backed by the sour-beery-yeasty smell (which I find delicious) but ... not so delicious. A little bit like ... (sorry to use this word, here, but I know you're all clinically-certified bread professionals) ... vomitus. And there looked to be a very, very slight, almost imperceptible orange-ish sheen on the top.

Looking for advice. Seems to me the cooler temps have slowed the yeast and maybe allowed something other than lactobacillus into a niche. So I've applied some first aid -- spooned off the top layer, poured off half, slung in some white flour, a bit of rye (reinforce the yeast population?) and a little lemon juice to help create a more weirdness-resistant environment for a while (though you would think the lactobacillus would be doing that, no?) And now waiting to see what happens.

In general, my experience with these things is that they're hard to kill once they're stable, so I have hopes of the patient pulling through. Am I crazy?

dablues's picture

Too Much Sugar!

Almost all the recipes I have found that are interesting and I would like to do uses way too much sugar for my taste.  I have lowered sugar content from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup of sugar with no problems but some of the recipes for cookies, cakes, and other items uses 2 to 3 cups of sugar.  On these recipes if I go from 2 or 3 cups down to 1 cup would I need to make changes to the other parts of the recipe.  My husband is diabetic and I like to only include 1 cup of sugar the most.  Any thoughts on this?