The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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justsaying's picture

Softening up whole wheat bread?

I'm trying to make almost complete whole wheat bread but not making it so dense and heavy.

Do you think 28g of soy flour and 28g of powdered milk with 60% of water(of whole wheat flour) would do the trick?

Cookdoc's picture


My wife told me that the starter/biga/poolish should mature in a dark place. I thought that it was more the temperature that mattered. Any Info?


donsabi's picture

Gluten Intolerance

I am sure you have seem gluten free products emerging from every dark corner of the processed food industry.  It is all over the news media and during my last doctor visit his recommendation was, "stop eating gluten."   So what happened to bread?  I grew up in a family that had bread on the table at every meal and there was no obesity.  No one complained of stomach aches, bloating, IBS, where bread was responsible.  

I tired researching this but gluten seems to have been labeled the culprit with little to no investigation from the medical world.  However there seems to be far more to so-called gluten intolerance.   I came across a couple of articles that seem to point at other sources.  One theory is that the gut bacteria responsible for the digestion has been destroyed or severely weaken by antibiotics.  Another was and is the destruction of our gut bacteria from the use of fluorides.  Still another theory is the use of GM crops, such as BT corn, and the saturation of Round-UP ready crops with the herbicide Round-Up.   I believe the reason for the relatively recent advent of gluten intolerance has been caused by the destruction of our gut bacteria and not wheat.  

I bake my bread with the use of five ingredients, a good white flour, yeast, water, sugar, and salt and have no issues.  (I do have issues with WW and whole grains but I don't want to sidetrack the subject).   Some of the problems caused by modern day industrial bread is probably caused by the additives as such I don't think that homemade and commercial breads can be compared.   I  believe that gluten intolerance is caused by the products that have taken a toll on our digestive system, antibiotics, fluorides, insecticides, GM corps like BT corn, and other GM Round-Up ready crops.

Jaque Pepin said something like, 'for my last meal I would want fresh bread and butter.'  I agree and hope that we will be able to enjoy our breads until our last day.  




jmucklow's picture

Bakers percentages

Anyone have an easy conversion method for bakers percentages?  

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Wheat free (but not GF) baking

About a month ago I stopped eating wheat. I do feel better, and the time or two that I've forgotten and slipped up - not so better. I am not avoiding other grains that have small amounts of gluten or anything.

I'm starting to miss bread. I used to bake bread that was about 50% wheat plus other grains, and it was fine by my standards, although it only had a moderate rise and not much of a crumb. I'd love a simple recipe for either loaf bread or a hamburger bun/sandwich roll. I don't expect it to be just like bread with wheat! Emphasis on simple, as I don't have a lot of spare cash to devote to experiments and only get to a town with real supermarkets and a whole food store maybe once a month. I'm going there in a couple of days, so it would be great to have a recipe or two in mind.

I'm also looking for a way to make some nice, elastic "flour" tortillas! (you may say I'm a dreamer...)


Thanks in advance!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

100% Whole Grain Goodness and Fiasco. A tale of two cities.

I put my new grain mill to work this weekend. The first thing I did was bake the teaching loaf in Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  Note, the master formula is not error free. Under ingredients and method he states to use all of the soaker, and then states use all of the soaker (or biga) when he should have said starter (or biga).  See, I read these things, Peter!

More substantively, the master formula states to chop the soaker and the starter or biga into 12 pieces each and to "sprinkle some of the extra flour over the pre-doughs to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other."

What am I missing, here? Why would you flour the pieces to prevent them from sticking if the goal is to mix the 24 pieces and combine them into a uniform mass?  Seems that flouring the pieces is counterproductive.

Anyway, back to the story.

The mill:

The just-combined dough:

The bulk rise:

In the pan -- you can see the pan was a bit too small to contain the dough:

The bakes loaf:

The crumb (this is my PB&J sandwich. It is a little wet with jelly to the right of middle:

Overall, I am not thrilled with the bread I baked. It tastes fine and is not heavy. But it is also a bit too crumbly. It is difficult to slice thin and when sliced sandwich thickness, it does not hold up very well.

That said, I assume that this is the fault of the baker and not the formula.  Although, if those who make this loaf regularly tell me that the bread is always easily torn and this is the best you can hope for from whole-grain goodness, my expectations can be adjusted.

After baking the sandwich loaf, I went back to Tartine and looked at his whole wheat recipe.  That formula and instruction set is fundamentally flawed and I can't even figure out what is supposed to be done with it, because while he says the whole wheat requires extra hydration, he does not give a formula for 100% whole wheat, leaving me wondering how much extra hydration is needed if I decide to go 100% whole wheat.

It is flawed for a second reason also -- whereas the basic country loaf discusses 750 grams (50 grams reserved to add with the salt) of water, the whole wheat description mentions 800 grams of water, mentions nothing about a reserve, and tells you mix the dough and says nothing about when to add the salt (if I recall, it actually refers back to the basic country loaf, but has you starting after the salt has been added).

Anyway, I figured if 800 grams was used with 800 grams of whole wheat, then I should add more than 800 for 100% whole wheat.  However, using 845 grams produced a dough that was rather wet.

I autholyzed overnight at room temperature, added the leaven and let it bulk ferment for 4 hours at 70 degrees.  The dough was bubbling at the surface. But it was very wet. I did not know whether I should shape it or let it sit longer.  So I shaped it.  Unfortunately, it was too loose and so I followed his directions after seeing a too runny bench rest and did another pre-shape.  This time it held together much better, so I finished the shaping and added it to my basket.

After proofing for 3 hours, it rose considerably but it had the consistency of Jell-O and did not look like it would make it out of the basket.

To my surprise, I successfully predicted that the dough would not come out of the basket. No way, no how. It was stuck good what I was able to tear out, was a big gloppy mess.

I baked it anyway. I am afraid to cut it.

It came out like a dense rock. I didn't bother scoring it because the "it" was not really a loaf.

I am ashamed to have wasted so much flour.  I don't know if my 86% hydrated dough was the problem or if I should have let it sit overnight in the fridge to let it dry out.  Unfortunately, I am not yet "there" with knowing whether dough is overproofed and I was a little concerned that leaving it for too long in its whole wheat state, would result in overproofed dough -- especially when I was seeing bubbles at the surface after only a few hours.

I also made whole wheat pizza with the other half of the dough (with 1/2 of that, still in the fridge).  The pizza was chewy and not bad, but not nearly as good as the tartine basic country loaf with white flour.  In part, it was not a fair test because I did not cook it on a preheated pan, but it was just too wet and stretchy to bake it that way and instead I dropped the goopy dough into the rectangular pan, stretched it out a bit and baked it in a hot oven.

chaspan's picture

Calculating calories in bread

I'd like some confirmation that my method for calculating the calories in the breads I make is correct. It seems quite straightforward, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something.

I simply add up the calories of all of the individual ingredients. Then I divide the total ingredient calories by the total weight of all of the baked loaves after they have cooled. For basic sandwich type breads that contain fats, sugars, and maybe eggs, I generally end up with about 2.8 calories per gram of baked bread. Breads that contain only flour, water, and salt, such as french bread, generally yield around 2.27 calories per gram. For Hamelman's Olive Levain, I end up with 2.44 calories per gram.

The bread in the image is a 13x4x4 inch pullman loaf made using the Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe from the King Arthur Flour web site. I calculate 2.82 calories per gram of baked bread. The slice you see in the image weighed 59 grams; 166 calories if my calorie calculation method is correct. I usually cut a bit thinner, ending up with about 50 to 52 grams per slice, and a calorie count of 141 to 147 calories per slice.

Am I calculating the calories per gram correctly?

One reason I'm wondering is that the calorie burden I calculate for my breads doesn't compare very closely to the calorie counts listed for various types of bread on a calorie counting website. One site, for example, shows 100 grams of plain white bread having 266 calories, 2.66 calories per gram. Whole wheat bread is listed as 256 per 100 grams. That same site lists French Bread at 274 per 100 grams, which is a lot more than the 2.27 calories per gram that I always get.

dmsnyder's picture

A Bread Baking Quiz!

There is a traditional type of test question in medicine called “visual diagnosis.” The student is shown a photo - it might be of a whole person, a face or just a piece of skin with a rash - and asked to make a diagnosis. The last time I took a test like that was for board certification in Pediatrics. That was in 1977, and I can still remember most of the photos I was shown - a young girl with an inguinal hernia, a teenage boy’s feet (They were flat.), a rash (Scabies), a child with a rare genetic condition (Progeria). I think there were a couple more. I can’t remember them right now, but I do remember I knew the correct diagnosis for every one of the photos. (Yay, me!)

Anyway, “visual diagnosis” is a valuable skill for bread bakers too, it seems to me. I think others agree. That is why we prefer to see photographs of a loaf’s crust and crumb structure before committing to a “diagnosis” of a problem’s cause. That’s by way of introduction to today’s visual diagnosis quiz.

Here are some photographs of two bakes of two loaves each. All loaves weighed the same (512g) before baking. Both bakes were at 460ºF for 12 minutes then 440ºF convection bake for another 18 minutes. The obvious difference is that one bake is of bâtards, the other of boules, but there is another obvious difference in their appearance. 


Bâtards and Boules, side-by-side

Boule Close Up

 Bâtard Close Up

If you choose to take the test, here are your questions:

  1. Describe (briefly) the significant difference you see.
  2. What are the possible causes of the difference?
  3. What is the specific cause you think responsible for the difference? And why do you think that?

Further instructions: Have fun, and Happy Baking!


andychrist's picture

Pineapple Yeast?

Found an aging half cup of pineapple juice in the fridge, had an aroma of ferment so I warmed it up on the stove top until it bubbled and foamed. Incorporated into another batch of sweet potato dough whose recipe I swiped from Floyd here. As you can see, got good rise in my briouche, nytzels and qaiseroles. 

Wondering now if if my SD starter might be so active because I cultured it using Debra Wink's pineapple/organic rye method. Tenant of mine being treated for Lyme told me his doctor instructed him to avoid any products that could contain yeast, which included pasteurized fruit juices from even freshly opened bottles or cans. So could there be enough living yeast in processed pineapple juice to alter the composition of the wee beasties in a SD culture? Thought that the growing medium determined the outcome, but is it possible that the pineapple introduces a strain of yeast that would not otherwise have been hosted by the rye, and that it could survive and multiply to become a significant or even dominant contender among all the other micro organisms? Would have thought that once it's initial source of food, the fructose in the juice, had all been consumed, the non-native yeast would have petered out. But if it does indeed persist, the subsequent starter might exhibit different characteristics than one begun with plain water. In which case then the pineapple juice has contributed more than just acidity!

Since it matured, I've always keep my rye starter refrigerated and feed it (about weekly) by first stirring in water cold from the tap before mixing in more rye meal until I have double the original volume, then take out half again for new dough and return the remaining amount back to the fridge. Interesting thing is, even cold like this, the starter always foams right up as soon as I stir in the water. Don't recall the simple whole wheat starters I maintained in the [now distant] past responding with such vigor. Which leads me to consider whether some strain of commercial type yeast (which as I understand is bred from fruit sources rather than grains) might have been introduced by the pineapple to my SD. Or do rye starters commonly behave this way? Thanks for any info about this. 















pizza fool's picture
pizza fool

Mill for sprouted, dried grains?

Howdy! Thinking about milling my own wheat flour, and anticipating Peter Reinfeld's new book this fall on using flour made from sprouted grains.  Part of me feels like I should wait and see if he recommends something, and the other parts of me hate waiting. I can't imagine spending more than $300 on a device to help me bake slightly more delicious bread once a week. Any suggestions?