The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dwarfwarri's picture

What is wrong with my croissants?

I baked them using hammelman's recipe and method...proofed for 2 hours at 23C and I baked it at 195C for 6mins then 165C for 9 mins...maybe I underbaked them? I took them out and let it cool down and i cut open this croissant and it was all wet and mushy inside. However, the smaller croissants that I tiny ones expanded and weren't wet and mushy inside.

What is wrong with my croissants? (I'm a newbie and this is my third time baking croissants)



mcs's picture

Making Flour Adjustments

One of the hurdles that all bakers will have to deal with at one time or another is adjusting his/her recipe for a new flour.  Sometimes your favorite flour is discontinued, the price skyrockets, you move to a new location, or maybe the recipe that you're using 'couldn't possibly be right' with the amount of flour that is called for.

Over the last 5 years of the bakery, I've had to adjust to 6 different rye flours, as a result of all of the above reasons (and a few more reasons, to boot).  First it was Bob's Red Mill, then it was Montana Milling, then Giusto's, then Arrowhead Mills, then ConAgra Dark, and now Montana Flour and Grain.  Of course when you're selling rye bread commercially, not only do you have to make the product's appearance consistent, you also have to keep your customers happy without creating a drastic change in flavor or texture. 

As you may or may not know, Montana is known for some of the best flour in the world.  Much of it is grown and milled north of here in an area known as 'the golden triangle'.  Having recently moved to the Bozeman area, I decided to try Montana Flour and Grain's organic rye flour, which happens to be reasonably priced at $.50 per pound when bought in a 50 pound bag. 

As you can see, it has a nice speckled color, is medium coarse (my opinion), and has a slightly sweet smell.  Of the previously mentioned flours, I would compare it to both Montana Milling's and Bob's Red Mill.

The first step in switching from one flour to a new one is matching the consistency.  With the ConAgra Dark Rye flour (which is what I was switching from) I kept a 125% hydration starter.  At this hydration, the starter was best described as 'very stiff'.  To give you an idea how stiff, I would use a plastic scraper to remove it from the mixing bowl, as opposed to a rubber spatula, and I could 'lift' the dough out in one 3 kilo glob, when I needed to.

Since the new flour appeared to have a much finer texture right out of the bag, I decided I would do my first sponge (using a portion of the old starter) at 100% hydration, then I would check the consistency as it mixed.  If it was thicker than the previous ConAgra starter, I would add water, if it was thinner, I would add flour, recording the results regardless.

sponge original:
471g rye flour
540g water
45g rye starter

new sponge experiment:
540g rye flour
540g water
45g rye starter

As you can see, I made a 'drier' sponge by adding more rye flour to create the 100% hydration, as opposed to reducing the water.  This was for two reasons:  I wanted to have enough dough for the amount of loaves I needed to make and I felt a slightly stronger rye was better than a slightly weaker rye.

Anyway, the sponge ended up being very close in texture; a little bit 'wetter', although I felt it was within a workable margin. 

For the final dough which I mixed the following day, I decided to reduce the water, the same amount in weight as the rye flour I had added the day before.  This means I reduced the final dough water by 70g, or, keeping all of the other ingredients the same as before, I was left with the same final dough total weight.

As it was mixing, I observed how quickly it 'came together' and how it moved in the bowl.  Pressing my finger into the dough part way through the mix, it felt identical to 'how it should be'.  By the time it was finished mixing, it was identical to ryes I had made in the past.  If it hadn't been, then I would adjust during the mix by adding water or flour, and recording my results in a notebook.

With this adjustment and increase in rye flour and reduction in water, the rye loaf changed from being a 37% rye to a 42% rye.

Below are the results.  The texture and flavor a very close, although the color of the crumb and crust of the bread on the right is lighter.




37% rye made with ConAgra Dark Rye flour (left) and 42% rye made with Montana Flour & Grain Organic Rye

dschal's picture

Finally time to uncloak

Hello from Western Massachusetts.  I am finally joining the forum after lurking for months and benefitting from the vast wealth of information from, and experience of, the members here.  Thank you so much for making this such a useful site!

I've been baking bread since last December.  It all started innocently enough.  I just wanted to bake something better than the breads that are available locally.  Then the obsession gripped me....  I kept stopping at KA Flour in Norwich on my frequent trips to New Hampshire.  My wife gave me an DLX/Assistent mixer for my birthday.  You know the rest.

I've settled on several of the breads in Hamelman"s book, especially the Vt. Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, as our daily breads.  I have worked these out quite well at this point.  But of course, it can't stop there.  So I am venturing into the deeper waters of higher hydration doughs.  Today I baked my first successful Miche, from dmsnyder's formula "Miche from SFBI Artisn II -2kg."  It just came out of the oven, and I am going to wait 24 hours to slice it, but it looks pretty good to me.  It's one big honking loaf.

Thanks again for providing this wonderful community!


Nharres's picture

Beer yeast/wort starter

I'm venturing into unknown territory here. I have spent days on the internet researching but am not really finding a lot of specific information out there. My background - I have a plain old sourdough starter that I have been keeping for a couple of years now. It originally came from a local bakery so I never had to start one on my own. I have kept it both in the fridge and on the counter and have kept it going with no problems.

My husband is a home brewer and my bread making got us on the topic of using beer yeast for baking. I've tried this, and it ended out ok - but took a lot longer to rise than regular old baker's yeast. It did have a slightly different flavor, but nothing really out of the ordinary.

In order to get better/optimal flavoring, I was wondering if anyone has had any expereince making and keeping a sourdough starter using brewers yeast (I'm thinking of using a couple Tbsp. of husband's yeast starter) and possibly some of the wort for flavoring (technically I guess this would be a barm, but I'm thinking of keeping it indefinitely just like a sourdough). I would eventually have to replish with water/flour only as we only have wort on hand once a month or so and I know my husband won't let me keep dipping into his wort because he'll end out with less beer - possibly just using the wort for the initial liquid in the starter along with the yeast slurry.

Would the brewer's yeast eventually be replaced by the natural yeasts of the flour? Anyone have experience or thoughts on this whole process and whether or not it would work or even be worth it beyond a loaf or two of barm bread?

Tinabean's picture

Firm starter question

I have good results with my starter, which has a thick pancake batter consistency. What would the percent hydration be for this? I've also seen the term firm starter here quite a bit. What would firm starter look like? How thick is it? I guess I need something to compare it to without getting into a lot of bread math. I need something I can visualize. Thanks!

SallyBR's picture

Quick question on Overnight Blonde, Forkish

Hello everyone!

I browsed through some of the entries concerning this recipe, but did not find exactly what I'm looking for.


I have the Kindle version of his book, and I'm a bit puzzled - he recommends retarding the dough right away after mixing the final dough, but making a few folds  "before you go to bed" (indicating the timing is a little lax)


are we supposed to fold the dough WHILE COLD, removing from the fridge to do so?  



Alnair's picture

First Couple Sourdoughs

I gave my sourdough starter it's first two loaves over the last two days and both sets were plagued with similar issues. My first loaf was incredibly wet. It is possible that I mis-weighed the ingrediants but the dough was more of a puddle, even after letting it rise for about 3 hours (which it did rise) it never became more dense. The second loaf, (this is the same recipe I used), I added more flour until the dough was much more workable. It rose quite well (though I did forget about it and it did rise for about 6 hours). After shaping them, they never seemed to rise again, I let them for about 2 more hours before I put them in the oven. 

Both loaves so far have tasted "alright", however; they both have this moist, sponginess to the bread. I've never made sourdoughs before, and I'm starting to see their is a learning curve between using a sourdough and a commercial yeast. I've been reading around the forums about hints and tips, so I'm sorry if questions like this have been posted. 

In general, the loaves don't seem as full and airy as I feel they should be. Any specific pointers would be wonderful.


Edit: As the bread is cooling down, it seems to becoming less spongy. 




aksunnyk's picture

New Here

Just read the ebook The Fresh Loaf and I am searching for the perfect French bread recipe. I just finished the last rise and had the loaves all ready to go into the oven and they looked very nice....until I slashed them....then they deflated....was so bummed! I used a serrated knife and thought I was using the correct!


danthebakerman's picture

Budding Bread Baker needs assistance


My name is Dan, and I'm just out of college for baking, and I'm truly giving it my all to be the best baker I possibly can be. I've baked some loaves lately, and I would like you lovely folks to judge them for me. 

This first loaf (above this text) I made ohh... about 3 weeks ago, this was my first attempt. The inside crumb was "closed up" - just like a regular loaf of sandwich bread. 

This was my second attempt (once again, above this text) - Same exact recipe and everything. I'm just using the "Sweet French Bread" recipe from Peter Reinhart's "Brother Juniper's Bread Book". The crumb was the same, I'm trying to get one recipe (along with one hydration level) down before I change anything. This way I can hopefully get my shaping / scoring abilities better. 


Last set of loaves I made, I made these about 2-3 days ago. Once again, same recipe, same hydration level, same proofing time, etc. The only differences that I made here were that I added a bit of dry milk powder to hopefully get better volume and I brushed olive oil on the outside before baking to get a crispier crust. I did score these differently, I scored these the way they're supposed to be scored, with a lame at a 45 degree angle, the other two loaves were cuts straight down. 


Any other information that may be useful - 

For ALL loaves, I used a 50/50 mix of King-Arthur AP Flour with Bread Flour

I only use plain spring water, our everyday drinking water

I attempt to create a steam oven by using a cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven, and I pour boiling water into the pan fast and close the oven door ASAP

I baked all of these loaves just on a sheet pan


If anyone could be of assistance, it would be greatly appreciated!!!!! 


Antilope's picture

Using a Regular Loaf Pan in a Zojirushi Bread Machine

Baking in A Regular Loaf Pan in a Zojirushi Bread Machine. Mine is a BB-PAC20 Virtuoso.

Okay, here's teaching an old dog new tricks. It was hot, I didn't want to bake in the regular oven, but I wanted to bake in a 9 x 5 loaf pan. My toaster oven always gets the top of the loaf too dark or burns it by the time the interior is done. I had used the Zojirushi Virtuoso bread machine's manual dough cycle to knead the dough. Then I put the sourdough in a regular loaf pan to rise in the regular off oven. I was making sourdough sandwich bread. Now it was ready to bake, but I didn't want to heat up the house with the conventional oven.
It looked like a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan would fit in the Zo bread machine with the Zo's mixing/bread basket removed.
I ran a manual bake cycle for 70 minutes. Placed the 9 x 5 loaf pan of sourdough in the bottom of the Zo. The loaf pan rested on the square raised fixture that surrounds the posts that spin the mixing paddles. Those posts are so short, they didn't touch the bottom of the loaf pan. It sat there perfectly as if it were made for a 9 x 5 loaf pan. The heating element surrounded the loaf pan perfectly. I put the loaf pan in the Zo and ran the manual bake cycle. It stated out cold, not preheated.
70 minutes later, I have a perfect loaf a bread, baked in a regular 9 x 5 loaf pan in the bottom of the Zo. The top is nicely browned. The loaf is a regular shape, not a bread machine shape. Best of all, my house didn't heat up.
So that's another use for the Zo bread machine. In addition to mixing the dough, it can bake a regular 9 x 5 inch loaf pan of bread. Next time, I will let it rise in the regular loaf pan in the Zo. Actually the top rim of the loaf pan is 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. In the Zo BB-PAC20 Virtuoso there is about an inch of clearance on all the side walls from the loaf pan.
I've baked several loaves by this method and it's worked great each time. I now let the dough rise in the loaf pan, while it's sitting in the the closed, off, bread machine, in addition to baking in the bread machine.

Here's a picture of Japanese Milk Bread rising in a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan in my Zo Virtuoso. When it rose enough (1/2 inch over rim of loaf pan) I baked it for 70 minutes. This keeps the house cool and makes a more attractive loaf.