The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

DoubleMerlin's picture


Hey y'all,

I've been trying to proof breads in a make-shift banneton, that is, a metal colander with a linen towel, and it always ends up with partially hydrated bits of flour all over the top of the bread. How does one ever use floured cloth to make a good bread? And if I should actually buy myself a form that doesn't require cloth, what should I use?



trailrunner's picture

Spelt/rye with RYW and SD

Latest attempt at a spelt bread was more what I was after. I still let it proof for one hour before retarding. Since reading Josh's post after I had made this I will move the shaped loaves into the fridge posthaste and not give them any bench time and see what happens. As you can see this has a lovely open crumb and I even got ears :) I attribute this to gentle handling. I incorporated John's sealing during shaping and then proofing the shaped loaf with the sealed side down and then scoring over the sealed area. Pictures show the result. Taste is creamy and crumb is tender.Raisin yeast water at work. Stored overnight in a brown paper bag and the crust is still amazing this AM. Made great toast and I am about to make an aged cheddar grilled cheese. 






just out of fridge : spelt and rye with RYW photo IMG_6707_zps6fdaef10.jpg crust :  photo IMG_6711_zpse8795872.jpg crumb shots: Spelt and rye crumb photo IMG_6712_zps717d048d.jpg  photo IMG_6713_zpsefd0a49e.jpg  photo IMG_6715_zpsac35a1db.jpg

ichadwick's picture

Measuring Canadian flour in American recipes

Any advice for a novice when using American recipes with Canadian flour?

I've seen comments that our bread flour is high protein compared to US flours  and either needs more water or less flour.

How much? One recipe I read calling for 6 1/2 cups US AP flour suggested using 1/2 cup less of Canadian flour. But... 

Is that the same for all flours? Our unbleached white flour? Bread? All-purpose? Whole wheat?

What about specialty flours like Red Fife? Rye?

And if I chose to add more water - would that recipe need 1/4 cup more?

ichadwick's picture

Which of these books do you recommend?

I have several books stored in my Amazon cart, but don't want to buy them all at once, or get past my still-basic baking level. Which one or ones (up to three) do you recommend I get right away:

  • The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking - French Culinary Institute; 
  • Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers - Peter Reinhart; 
  • Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook - Ed Wood; 
  • My Bread - Jim Lahey; 
  • Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza - Ken Forkish;
  • Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day: Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads 
  • How to Make Bread - Emmanuel Hadjiandreou; 
  • Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes - Jeffrey Hamelman;
  • 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl - Judith Fertig;

 FYI I already have the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.

I have seen most of them in store, and my own favourites were the Lahey and Hadjiandreou books, because they lay things out in easy steps with lots of photos.

Floydm's picture

Story on the health benefits of sourdough

There is a story on the CBC today about the health benefits of eating sourdough bread featuring Byron Fry. It is worth checking out.

So... if you've read it, what do you think?  

I have to go back and review my bread science (though there is a good short article by Emily Buehler on the topic here) but... well, I'm not sure I'm in agreement with syllogism built into the article that "Gluten is bad.  Sourdough is lower in gluten.  Thus sourdough is good (or less bad)."  It is a bit more complex than that, isn't it?  With the protease and the amylase and the lactobacillus... well, as I said, I'm a bit rusty here.  Clearly sourdough bread still has a ton of gluten in it or you wouldn't be able to get those beautiful crumb structures in your loaves, no?  And, yes, there is a lot of evidence that naturally leavened, whole grain bread spikes blood sugar levels less and is easier for people to digest, but that doesn't necessarily make gluten the boogieman, does it? 

Despite my gripes, it is good to see Byron out there spreading the word about the healthfulness of real bread. His bakery looks awesome. I hope to get out there and check it out some day soon. 

Skibum's picture

Another blooming boule, Forkish style again

Total flour 300 grams, strong bread flour

Total water 231 grams

Sweet levain @ 100% hydration 25 grams

Yeast water levain @ 100% hydration 25 grams

Salt, 1 tsp or about 7 - 8 grams, should have spent the extra five bucks on the digi scale that gives me the decimal. .  I once again took extra care when pre-folding and folding the boule, making sure the full length of the fold was tucked in nicely.

the dough was proofed seam side down and baked seam side up.

I scored a crescent across the seam I thought most likely to bloom.

The crumb.

So I refreshed my yeast water yesterday and as bake s per dabrownman's directions and made some YW pancakes today with the 'spent' YW,  I also refreshed my sweet levain at the same time and left it on the counter also. 

YW pancakes

100 grams spent YW

100 grams bread flour

I left it on the counter overnight for yesterdays's mix and today's bake and had a massive amount of bubbling dough! This morning I added 1 egg beaten and mixed with 2 Tbs maple syrup adn 2 Tbs melted butter, 1/4 tsp baking powder and mixed it with the flour and YW. The mix took some doing, but when done I mixed in some fresh blueberries, fried it up in the same pan that fried my hone cured/ smoked bacon and YOWSER, some fine breakfast to celebrate myu first day skiing at Lake Louise!

Ahhh, topped with melted butter and real maple syrup.

I discarded the fruit this time. Next tie I will do something with the spent fruit

Floydm's picture

Mixer musings

I baked for many years without using a mixer or any special gear. I really enjoy mixing and kneading by hand, and think it is a great way to get to know about dough.

But after a while it became clear a mixer would be helpful.  Not so much because there were things I couldn't do without a mixer, but because I could do much more of it with the help of a mixer.  Three or four batches of bread in an afternoon barehanded is exhausting; with a decent mixer it just becomes challenging to schedule everything so that it is ready to go into the oven at the right time.  A good mixer is a tremendous labour saver.

My first mixer was an entry level KitchenAid, something like this.  I found it on super duper sale and was very pleased with it.  I've put a lot of mileage on it and never had a breakdown, though there definitely were times I had to divide a batch or take a break from mixing because I could tell I was putting too much strain on it.

Last spring I decided it was time for an upgrade.  I think it was the Milk Bread with Tangzhong that finally did it: that dough was so sticky it would climb up the hook and get into the head of the mixer in a matter of seconds.  For every second spent mixing, I think I spent five scraping down the dough.  I'd had it.

After much research, including reading many of your threads here, I set my sights on an Ankarsrum Original mixer (aka Assistent, DLX, Electrolux, Verona, or Magic Mill).  It is a pricy machine, but given the amount of time and energy I spend baking, it seemed like a worthy investment that would pay off over the years. 

I've been using this mixer since September and really enjoying it.  Super sturdy build with a much larger capacity.   My KitchenAid used to walk all over the counter when it was mixing and I always had to stop it and scrape the dough back down into the bowl, whereas this thing barely moves and rarely does the dough get stuck on hook. This is the most I've ever seen it budge:

So while it has a bigger footprint than my KitchenAid, I don't have to give it as much clearance since it isn't whipping all over the place and bumping around like my old machine was. 

I'm still getting adjusted to using a spiral mixer -- meaning the bowl spins and the hook stays still -- rather than a planetary mixer where the hook moves and the bowl is stationary.  My preliminary impression is that while it takes a bit longer to knead the doughs in the spiral mixer with the dough hook, it does a better job, something much more akin to a hand kneading than the serious beating that my dough would get in the KitchenAid.  

Also, it may be completely irrational but I've always been scared of getting injured by a planetary mixer. I saw a colleague of mine get his hand caught in a large planetary mixer the first week I worked at a bakery.  That was a much more powerful and dangerous machine than my little countertop mixer, for certain.  But I like that my new mixer has a large, open bowl that makes it easy to watch the dough develop or poke it while the mixer is running (which I'm certain the instructions tell you never to do) without fear of having the hook swing around and catch a finger. Make of that what you will.

What else?  Yes, I actually feel like I am learning a lot more about dough development since it so easy to watch it now.  That's a pretty big deal, actually. 

The two attachments I use a lot are this heavy beater thing for getting ingredients incorporated:

And then the dough hook once my dough is together:

There also is a plastic bowl and attachments that allow you to use this as a standard mixer/beater, which we've used to beat eggs, make whipping cream and cake with.   See?

My favourite accessory that comes with it?  Very silly, but the plastic lid that fits the bowl just so.  For things like autolyze it is so handy to have.  I'm sure you can buy something similar for a KitchenAid, but I never did.

I've been in touch with both the US Ankarsrum distributor and the Canadian Ankarsrum distributor. They seem like good folks who thoroughly believe in the quality of these mixers.  

This mixer is a huge step forward for me.  I think is both going to make baking easier (and less frustrating) for me and, ultimately, make me a better baker, which is a very good thing!  :)

I know some other folks have been considering getting one and asking questions about them.  Let me know if there are any questions I can answer or particular features you want me to demo.  I should note though that I've never used the Bosch mixer or a higher end KitchenAid so I don't think I can offer a meaningful comparison.

chera's picture

Bakeable Cream for Danish

I need a recipe for a bakeable custard/pastry cream to use on Danish pastries.

Looking for one that will hold its shape, not "explode", or get completely absorbed into the pasty.

I've used several commercial ones that work great (Puratos) but I need one made from scratch.

If not available, any ideas on how I can keep the pastry "dented" so I can deposit the cream after baking?

varda's picture

Fig Anise Bread

Recently a customer asked me to bake a fig anise bread.   She had bought a loaf from Standard Baking in Portland Maine, and loved it, but doesn't get up there often.   At first I was a little reluctant to go down this road, as I thought figs?   anise?   really?   but then decided to see what I could come up with.   A search on TFL revealed that there was just such a bread in Nancy Silverton's La Brea book.    As this has been on my list forever, I bought a copy, procured some dried black mission figs and anise seed, and put it together.   This morning I baked the loaf, cooled it and then dug in.   I have to say this bread is incredibly delicious.   The anise helps instead of hurts as I had worried.  The figs are absolutely decadent.   Sometimes it is good to listen to people (not always of course.)  

The crust of this bread comes out almost black.   Fortunately Nancy Silverton warns of this, or I would have thought I was burning the bread after only 30 minutes.   The only bread I've seen darker than this is Syd's squid ink bread.   But I didn't use any of that.

I must have read this somewhere on TFL as I'm hardly a gourmand, but this bread is just made to go with goat cheese.   What a treat.  

So two questions.   Has anyone been to Standard Baking?   (Karin?)    Any chance that this is the same bread as they sell there?    What is your favorite bread from  Silverton's book?   I can't wait to try something else.

christinepi's picture

Is there hope?

I've lovingly tended to and fed my starter twice a day for a week now, keeping it on the countertop. It always doubled within 4-6 hours after feeding, and bubbled nicely. Yesterday evening I used Breadtopia's sourdough no knead recipe. I've made no knead recipes with yeast with success a number of times. So this morning, when I checked, I hoped to see the same kind of rise as with the yeast loaves. No such luck. Just sitting there like a brick, hardly risen at all. There are still 5 hours left to go, but I can't imagine much happening in that time. 

If it's still small in 5 hours, should I even bother to continue? It would be such a waste to throw away all that dough, but I don't want to eat a brick. Well, my chickens would, I guess, if I soaked it long enough. What could have gone wrong? Starter still too young?