The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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v's sis's picture
v's sis

deux baguettes

Many years ago, we lived for a while in a small town in France.  Every day I would walk to the bakery around the corner to buy our daily baguettes.  Could life be any better?   When it was my turn to order, I would conjure up my finest French: “Bonjour, Madam, je voudrais deux baguettes, s’il vous plait.”  To which Madam would reply “Combien”?  How many?  I would meekly raise two fingers.  As this continued over days and then weeks, I asked my bilingual friend why there seemed to be a failure of communication.  “When you say deux baguettes”, he said, “the French hear ‘de’. De and deux are not pronounced the same.  You need to extend the pronunciation of deux, drawing out the end of the word and lowering your pitch.   The proprietress hears you asking for de baguettes”, a grammatically nonsensical request for some baguettes.   But I knew that Madam was really just having her way with me, a little fun with l’americaine stupide.  And so it went.  Until it was time to return to the United States.  We did not want Madame to think, if we simply disappeared one day, that we had taken our business elsewhere.  So we went to the bakery for the last time and managed to convey to Madame that we were returning home, that we would miss les délicieuses baguettes, and we wished her well.  In return, she wished us bonne santé and told us we should revenez bientot, come back soon.  And then smiled!  Now, these many years later, while I await the magic of flour, water, salt and yeast and its promise of a Proustian feast of deux baguettes fresh from my own oven, I think of Madam.  These baguettes, scaled to deux, from DonD’s baguettes a l’ancienne with cold retardation, transport me back to France like no others. 

BobS's picture

The Finnish Rye that isn't.

This is my second take on the SBFI Finnish Rye. Didn't get so much spring on the first take, but it was tasty and seemed pretty popular. I only got one slice out of two loaves.

This time I focused on a little more gluten development, mixing for about 8 minutes, then adding the soakers and mixing for another 3-4. Bulk ferment was 3 hours with three folds, final proof about an hour both at 78F. Also added a couple of Tbs of vital gluten to the mix. The dough is pretty sticky stuff; wet hands help.

Baked at 20 minutes @ 460 with steam, then another 20 @ 460 without. We'll see what it looks like inside tomorrow.


Alby Mangels's picture
Alby Mangels


Hi all,

I am new to the bread baking scene after recently trying out the 'no knead' recipe a few times. I'm now looking to add to my repertoire and hopefully glean a few educational nuggets of information from all your massive baker's brains via this site.


Sydney, Australia

colombaker's picture

What makes a baking book great?


I'm in the process of writing a book on Latin American baked goods for home use and realised it'd be really smart to ask you guys what features you consider set a great baking book [for home use] apart from the mere good ones.

In other words -and fully aware that every great book excels in its niche and has, thus, traits that may not be desirable across the board- what characteristics do you look for or appreciate the most in baking books?

Thank you very much!


andychrist's picture

"A Growing Challenge for Germans Who Live by Bread Alone" - NYTimes

emkay's picture

Help diagnose my lava rock steamed loaf

I finally found some lava rocks at the home improvement store and was excited to try them to generate steam in my oven. I preheated my oven to 500F with the baking stone and a pan of lava rocks. When the oven was ready, I loaded my bread onto the hot stone, put a perforated pie pan filled with ice cubes on top of the hot lava rocks, and decreased the oven temperature to 450F. I removed the pan of lava rocks after 20 minutes (all water was gone by then) and let the loaf bake for another 18 minutes.

The scored loaf bloomed open like crazy during those first 20 minutes. It's more bloom than I've ever gotten with a Dutch oven, combo cooker, stainless steel bowl cover, or hot soaking wet towels. I didn't get any ears and the bloom looks haphazard and out of control for lack of a better description. I also didn't get the lovely blisters and golden shiny crust that I normally get.

Using lava rocks, how do I get the blisters and shiny crust that I get with other methods? I like the bloom, but how do I get a bloom that isn't so haphazard?

Here are the details:

15% whole grain rye flour and 47% levain.

Hydration was 63%.

Bulk fermented for 3 hours at room temp (70F), shape retarded for 16 hours in the refrigerator (40F).

My oven is gas.

Amount of ice cubes = 300 grams.

june1a june1b june1d june1_crumb

Overall the bread tasted really good. The crumb was nice. The crust was still crisp on day 2, but still very easy to cut through.



Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Bad-tasting starter

In one of Nancy Silverton's books she mentioned home bakers who said their starters were just fine despite long periods of neglect. Maybe they still worked as leaven, but Silverton thought these starters tasted awful!

At first I thought she was referring to an excess of acid, but now I think there must also be different flavors of sour. My starter has become more acidic recently, and I don't like the way it tastes. Reminds me more of stomach acid than sourdough bread!—so I haven't tried baking with it.

Can bad-tasting starter be corrected easily, or am I better off beginning a new batch?


SherriFL's picture

Butter + what to add avoid dryness

I was looking on the internet for info about using Butter when making dough and found one of the forums here from 2009.  Several people mentioned the great flavor from using Butter but that butter left the cooked dough on the dry side.

I am very new to trying to make dough from scratch and do not have a stand mixer with all the gadgets, only my hands & fingers and a rolling pin.  

I have been trying to make a Sunny Spinach Pie and the recipe only gives instructions for the dough using a Stand Mixer with a Dough Hook (whatever that is). I have tried store bought pre-made Pie Crust dough, pre-made French Bread dough, and pre-made Pizza Dough.  Ugggh.  Nothing tastes right.  They were all very bland tasting and the latter 2 were dry.  I found a simple recipe called Rapid Mix Sweet Dough that I want to try for the bottom & top of this recipe, but I do not use or consume Margarine.

My Question is: If using Butter to make your dough, what can you add to keep it from being so dry?  If I use Butter, Lard or Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of the Margarine the recipe calls for, what is the conversion ratio?  Recipe calls for 1/2 cup Margarine.

Any and all helpful tips would be appreciated.  Remember, I Know Nuthin except how to stir the ingredient, play with the dough with my hands, flour the counter surface and use a rolling pin.  Oh, I can also make quite a mess.  lol.


Newbie Kneader

30 Chickens's picture
30 Chickens

Prosumer Spiral Mixer

Hi everyone,

I am looking for a small single phase spiral mixer and would love some advice. Currently I am trying to decide between two mixers, one has a breaking bar and one doesn't and they are both single speed. How big does a mixer need to be in order for a breaking bar to be necessary?  In what situation do you only use first speed on a larger spiral mixers? Would one speed be enough? I am mixing half whole wheat (or more) high hydration dough. If you have experience with these mixers or any other mixers in their class, please let me know. Also, if you own one of these and can shoot a little video of it at work, especially the German one, that would be GREAT.

Here are the links.

Italian Avancini 44lb Spiral Dough Mixer 1-speed/1phase

  • 44 Lb of dough
  • Breaking bar
  • Fixed bowl and spiral

German SP 20 KA Dough Kneading Machine

  • 40 lb of dough
  • No breaking bar
  • Removable bowl and spiral

Thanks so much,


redgebendheim's picture

Need Advice for Sticky Dough

Hi Everyone,

This is my first entry and I hope that I can find some help.  I bake mostly sourdough loafs (75% hydration) with organic Bobs Red Mill flower (90% white, 10%wheat, or sometimes 10% sprouted spelt).  Mostly I am very happy with the texture and taste of the bread, however I have one reoccurring problem…sometimes my bread will stick to my benneton during the final resting period.  Is it a matter of not dusting the bowl with enough flower?  

I have tried letting it rest at room temperature for 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator (8 hrs), but I have had it stick both ways.  Any advice?