The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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vickwithpc's picture

I just want soft white bread...and keep failing....and trying! Going CRAZY!

My goals:  create a soft white bread, similar to the fake wonderbread stuff (I'm a mom first, it's what the family wants! no bashing please!), using a 13" pullman pan without the lid, and using the dough cycle on a bread machine.

I've gone thru a 50# bag of flour and STILL have yet to perfect my goals (did use some for hamburger buns/sweet rolls).  Time to ask for help.  My family is sick of the experiments. 

finish product often has wrinkled tops and/or collapses.

Recipe:  1/2 cup buttermilk; 1 cup water; 1 Tbsp instant yeast; 1 tsp. sugar

1.5 Tbsp homemade enhancer; 3-2/3 c bread flour; 1/2 c potato flour; 1/4 c dry milk; 6 tbsp soft butter; 2 Tbsp honey; 2 tsp. salt.

or by weight:

120 ml buttermilk; 240 ml water; 10 gr instant yeast; 4 gr sugar. 

16 homemade enhancer; 525 gr bread flour; 60 gr potato flour; 16 gr dry low fat milk; 85 gr butter, softened; 40 gr honey; 13 gr salt


I've tried baking at different temps, lowering temps after 20 min., tenting with foil halfway, etc.  tried using an instant read thermometer and a leave-in thermometer to 190-200. 

here's pics:

jascallie1's picture

"Bookmark this" not working on Baked Potato Bread

Help!  I cannot get this web page to load to "My Bookmarks" list.  It is listed under "My Account" and then "Page".  Any ideas as to why I cannot get this into "My Bookmarks" list?  Any help appreciated. Thanks for replying. Mary

P.S. I was able to load a different "Page" post to "My Bookmarks" listing with no problem. I did this after being unsuccessful with the above.

golgi70's picture

Wheaten Challah (50% Whole Soft White Wheat)

A recent post pushed me to try the Wheat Challah but I don't own ITJB so i just formulated my own and thought it would give me a good recent to use the local soft white wheat.  I figure If I'm gonna add wheat I want something that might still have a soft bite.  To me challah is light, sweet, eggy, and yeasty. I made a short levain using the soft wheat which I timed and watched for bubbles as I wasn't sure if it would be strong enough to double.  I added .25% yeast to add that yeasty flavor and hopefully push it to a bit more fluffiness.  Next time I'll omit and see if its better or worse.

Happy Baking All



Abelbreadgallery's picture

Mexican conchas diet version

Conchas are a very common sweet bread in any mexican table at breakfast time. Mexicans usually eat conchas with coffee, juice or atole (sweet hot drink made of corn flour), and they are the best accompaniment to mexican eggs or chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas stewed in spicy sauce).

Conchas consist on two different doughs: the first one is a kind of bun. The second dough is disk shaped cover in which you wrap the bun. The colour of the cover is usually white, but you can find them coloured in pink or brown. This recipe contains less sugar than the real conchas, so they are a little bit healthier.


More info:

DoughBoyFresh's picture

Fresh Off The Presses

OK, so for all my dedicated fans, of which I'm sure are numerous, I apologize for my negligence in updates. You might have though I was outta the game forever, but you were so wrong. That is to say, I have recently concocted some delish-ass bread. The inspiration came from my long time friend and college Armun Liaghat, to whom this loaf is dedicated. Enough with the babble lets dabble.

This is a 25% Whole Dark Rye, 75% white loaf. I used some of that chronic Red's Mill Whole Dark as night Rye and some regular Trader Joe's AP. I also added about a cup of flax seeds. Usually, I DGAF about a bread flour, but this time it ended up biting me in the ass (more on that later). I made about a cup of preferment with rye flour, a little water, and finished up the hydration with my all time favorite beer.

Yes that's right. It's not from Michigan, it's not an IPA, it's California Ale. Side Note to all the beer snobs: check it out. At this point, my starter was looking like some chunky diarrhea. Let that sit for 24 hours feeding every 8. Then I mixed up my dough, autolyse, and blah blah blah. Bang! Super dank loaf.

Well, almost...

While the crumb is acceptable as a sandwich bread, it was not at all what I was aiming for. With the hearty pre-ferment, I was hoping for large gelatinous bubbles, but instead got what amounted to the crumb of under kneaded WW:

I will try the guy again, only with two differences. I will substitute in bread flour, and add a ~24 hour retarded fermentation in darkest corner of my fridge.

So I ask my devoted readers; Do you think this aught to help my crumb? And with that, I say goodbye from Doughboy Fresh and stay crispy.

Skibum's picture

Double fed sweet levain bread

My first bake from Ken Forkish's Flower, Water, Salt, Yeast.  Ken says to bake it down dark.  Okay!

This was baked at 475F n a hot covered DO for 20 minutes then uncovered and baked at 475 convection.  After 10 minutes turning at the half, this was the result and though Ken says bake for 20 uncovered, I thought things were dark enough using a convection bake.  This loaf really crackled and hissed once removed from the oven.

I had planned to follow Ken's instructions to the letter, but sometimes life gets in the way.  Uncle skibum had too much medicine the night before starting this project, so instead of starting the levain at 7:00 am as planned it didn't get done until 9:30.  Oops!  The result was that I was too tired to shape at the end of the day, so the dough went into the fridge in bulk to be shaped, proofed and baked the next day.

Forkish has a most interesting take on adjusting your flavouring by adjusting the levain -- neat concept!

I halved this recipe and the loaf still had so much volume, my bread knife was nearly not long enough!

Now I'm sure my overnight bulk in the fridge changed the flavour profile, this is a tasty bread with an almost creamy crumb.

Next up is Ken's Walnut Levain Bread and the starter was mixed by 8:00 am, so I should be able to exactly follow the schedule today.

Happy baking !  Brian

pmccool's picture

Belated post: Hamelman's Pain de Mie with Whole Wheat

This bake took place on Labor Day weekend.  My pullman pans were silently mocking me from their perch in the cupboard, reminding me that the last time I used them, the loaves had ears.  Or eaves.  That isn't supposed to happen with pain de mie.  Chalk it up to overfilling the pans.

So, this seemed like as good a time as any to experiment again.  As before, I used the pain de mie formula from Hamelman's 2nd edition of Bread.  In checking my previous numbers, it became evident that there was, indeed, an error in the math.  Having checked the scaling factor for my 9x4x4 pans, compared to the larger ones that Hamelman uses, it appeared that 810g of dough would be appropriate for one of my pans.  From that point, the rest of numbers were quickly calculated and I set to work.

This bread departs from the formula in three ways.  First, it contains 50% whole wheat flour, rather than being an entirely white bread.  Second, I took my first stab at using the tang zhong method, reasoning that it could benefit the texture of the finished bread.  Fifty grams of flour were combined with 250g of water and cooked until it formed a soft paste or roux.  Third, I substituted honey for the sugar in the formula, in equal weight.

The balance of the bread was pretty much according to Hamelman's instructions, except that I mixed and kneaded by hand instead of with a machine.  

The finished bread was much better than my first attempt.  Look, Ma, no eaves!:

The corners are slightly rounded.  Either there should have been a few more grams of dough in the pans or it should have been allowed to proof just a bit longer.  Or the shaping wasn't quite as uniform as needed.  I'm leaning toward the latter, since the dough was almost touching the pan lid when the dough went into the oven.

The crumb also suggests that the dough was neither under weight or under fermented:

Despite the less-than-stellar focus, it's easy to see that there is a small zone of compaction around the sides and bottom of the loaf.  It appears that the center of the loaf, which is the last to expand as the heat reaches it, has compressed the outer layer.  My read is that there may actually have been slightly too much dough in the pan, though not nearly as overloaded as my first attempt.  The bread was certainly easier to chew than its predecessor.

The results of the tang zhong showed up less in the form of a "shreddable" crumb and more in the form of a non-crumbly crumb that stayed moist.  Achieving a wispy, ethereal crumb would probably have required twice as much time in kneading as I used.  I'm happy for the way that the bread didn't dry and crumble, which whole wheat breads are prone to do.

For next time, then, a small reduction in dough quantity, keep the tang zhong, and work on shaping for more end to end uniformity.  I'll probably also drop the oven temperature by 25-50F from Hamelman's recommendation.  Although he is known for his preference for deeply colored crusts, my opinion is that less is more for a pain de mie style bread crust.


rossnroller's picture

Yozza's sourdough bread baking class


Some time ago, Yozza (Derek) started running bread baking classes for the public after hours at his place of work, an educational institute near Fremantle, Western Australia, that runs commercial cookery courses (among many others). Yozza worked for years as a pro baker, and although his official position at the institute is essentially clerical, he has never really taken his baker’s cap off. When I first visited him some years back (after we linked up through TFL), I noticed containers of starter sharing space with paperwork in his office! I do believe there was also a 25kg bag of flour propped up in a corner.

Yozza is a high energy person lit up by all things baking. I struggled to keep up with him on that first visit as he led the way at frenetic pace to the wood-fired oven he had managed to convince the institute to have installed. He had organised some students to lend a hand in its construction during some weekend busy-bees. The effort had been worth it. It’s a fine-lookin’ fine-cookin’ son of a gun. Yozza was clearly proud of it, and justifiably so.

In fact, the WFO was the reason he had invited me on campus. I had developed a sourdough pizza that I was very pleased with. I thought it better than any dry yeasted one I had turned out of my domestic oven in my years of pizza baking and experimentation, and mentioned in a PM to Yozza that I’d love to see what a WFO would do for it. No sooner said than invitation issued! That’s the sorta bloke Yozza is.

Anyway, the pizza night was a lot of fun. I wrote it up on my TFL blog (includes a pic of the WFO): see Yozza and Rossnroller’s Great Wood Fired Oven Adventure.

That was a while ago, and Yozza is now approaching retirement. He hasn’t lost any of his fervour for baking, though, and his energy levels have not dropped in the slightest. No chance of him going gently into that good night – way too much bread to bake, and knowledge to share!

I believe he’s intending to keep running the public baking classes post-retirement and that’s just as well. Somehow, I don’t see him being able to stay away from the campus bakery area he has made his own over the years. Indeed, if the institute management has half a clue – rare for management in my experience, but let’s not get bitter and peripheral – they won’t let go of an asset as valuable as Yozza just cos he’s retired. All that means is more time to share his pro wisdom and love of all things floury with students, the public – indeed, anyone remotely interested.

I’ve tapped myself off track somewhat, so time to impose a bit of self-discipline. To the baking class, then.

There were twelve attendees in all. Most were friends or work colleagues of Yozza’s, many with little or no baking experience. This night was invitation-only. The main focus was sourdough. Yozza’s objective was to fine-tune his content and presentation prior to advertising the class to the public. He’d asked if I would consider writing up a promo piece for the local paper, and I was happy to oblige. Besides, as a sourdough nut, I was interested in comparing and contrasting Yozza’s modus operandi with my own.

During my pizza night visit, I’d been struck by the vast differences between the pro and amateur baking worlds. So it was again this time. It’s largely down to a matter of scale. I do one 1kg bread at a time, hand-mixing in a plastic basin, bulk proofing in a 10L plastic container, using baking paper as a couche (often torn, scungy and singed from multiple bakes). I use Sylvia’s wet towel steaming method during the first 15 minutes of the bake, which I subsequently micro-manage by reducing the oven temperature at set intervals to achieve the finish I like. All very attention-intensive. That is the luxury of the amateur baker.

Yozza, on the other hand, weighs out kilos of flour, water and starter on a commercial set of scales that make my little domestic Target battery digital job look like a kid’s toy, then dumps the lot into a whacking great Hobart spiral mixer, turns it on and stands back while it does its thing.

The institute ovens are high-tech marvels. They take 6 trays (I think) of bread or buns per bake, and heat up at a rate of one degree per second. There is digitally controlled steam injection, and steam reduction. A fan, similarly precisely controlled. And all sorts of other functions I didn’t catch. At $8K each, pretty reasonably priced, too, for anyone who wanted to start up a small bakery.

Cinnamon scrolls a-baking in one of the two ovens


But of course, the contrasts between pro and amateur bakers are not simply down to equipment.

For example, Yozza’s dough shaping is deft and fast-motion in contrast to mine. I tend to be fussy and fastidious; he takes a dough ball in each hand, which he tightens and shapes in two quick dragging and rolling motions that seem to morph into one. The results beat my best efforts…and in quarter the time. 

The class was well organised, packing two sourdough breads and some yeasted cinnamon scrolls into 3.5 hours. Yozza had prepared his ‘Black Sesame Sourdough’ the day before, baking it early in the class, then consigning it to the cooler so we could sample it sooner than the usual two hour post-bake minimum.

The second sourdough, his ‘50% Wholemeal with Home Brew Stout’ (a stout and wholemeal flour soaker is one component of the formula), we made from scratch.

The class appraises their scoring of Derek's 'Black Sesame Sourdough'


With the trusty old Hobart making easy work of the mixing, Yozza took us through assessing gluten development via the window test (which I never do at home). He then moved to stretching and folding the dough, which he spread out across the benchtop like a fleece. The dough was then left to proof with a couple more S&Fs at 45 minute intervals. Towards the end of the class, it was weighed out into 500gm loaves and shaped, Derek mentoring and sometimes coming to the rescue if impending disaster loomed. Each participant was given a foil container of shaped dough to take home and bake next day.

Baked straight out of the foil tin at home, not the most aesthetically appealing finish I've ever managed, but the bread was delicious. The stout lurks in the background, adding an enticing maltiness to the flavour profile.


Speaking of which, Yozza gave us a sample of his home-brewed stout during the class, and very pleasant it was: dark but smooth and mild, with a lovely fine, creamy head.

One of the attendees, who once worked with Derek as a baker, owns a small property in the middle of some prime wine country in the state’s south-west, and he treated us to a couple of bottles of his own wine – a respectable sauvignon blanc. Went well with some lavishly buttered slices of Derek’s ‘Black Sesame Sourdough’. Oh, and one of the hospitality students brought in a tray of home-made chocolates. It was all too delish to worry about the cal hit.

Which didn’t stop there! Each attendee was given a dozen cinnamon scrolls to take home. My partner also attended the class, so we ended up with two dozen. I scoffed two with a cup of tea when we got home, my partner one, and we had another two each next day. The rest are stored away in the freezer. They might have to stay there a while! We’re trying to lose weight prior to a coming travelling stint in Thailand. Were on track to be in reasonable shape, but we have a bit of work and abstinence in front of us after Derek’s class!

glazing the cinnamon scrolls


With effective advertising and promotion, Derek should have some packed classes in front of him. If I recall correctly (and chances are I don’t), he’s intending to charge the public a paltry $85 per person. Outstanding value for a fun evening of baking education and mentoring from a true pro, and an array of tasty baked indulgences that go on giving for days at home!

Thank you Derek!

Cheers all


breadsong's picture

Kneading Conference West 2013 - Day 1

local wheat, ripening in the sun

Hello everyone,
I attended the third annual Kneading Conference West this past weekend – a celebration of local wheat and grains, and a wonderful gathering of people interested in breeding, growing, milling and baking with them.

We couldn’t have received a warmer welcome – Dr. Stephen Jones and the other people hosting this event made us all feel right at home.

Once again, the hard-working Conference organizers brought us the most interesting speakers and presenters, creating a schedule jam-packed with so many great seminars it was difficult to choose which ones to go to. And everyone at WSU Mt. Vernon outdid themselves with their hospitality – we were very well taken care of by the staff, volunteers and caterers, with delicious meals and treats at the tasting events.

One of the lovely details – fresh flowers gracing our mealtime table

It was a pleasure meeting so many friendly people, and to see people I’d met before at this Conference.
The spirit of friendship and generosity was everywhere – people exchanging contact information, tips, formulas, experiences – and bread! The same gentleman who brought a beautiful wood-fired miche to share last year, did the same this year and this time I was lucky to be there when he sliced it and offered it for tasting. The crust had rich, caramel, roasted flavor, the crumb flavor was superb, with beautiful wheatiness and acidity. Check out this gorgeous bread, and crust!

I am not surprised there were so many people there I’d seen before at Kneading Conference West - the event keeps getting better and better, and continues to provide a great opportunity to connect with other bakers and to understand more about milling and farming.

To read more about this year's Conference, please see these posts:

Notes on the seminars and talks I attended on Day 1 follow:
“Bread Culture” – Dr. Darra Goldstein
“Yeasted Crackers” – Naomi Duguid and Dawn Woodward
“The Role of the Mill in Community Life” – Tom Hunton

Keynote Address – “Bread Culture” – Dr. Darra Goldstein

The hospitality experienced at the Conference and was a theme touched on by Dr. Darra Goldstein in her keynote presentation, “Bread Culture”. 
Dr. Goldstein took us through a beautiful slideshow of paintings and images depicting the relationship between people and bread through the centuries: bread as a basic necessity to survive, the labor to get bread to the table, bread as a symbol of charity, heavenly abundance and faith providing sustenance, bread and salt as the expression of hospitality in Russian culture, bread as political, bread becoming art, bread becoming Wonderbread. 
Some of the images (this is one of the images in the slideshow) showed people holding bread close to their heart or carrying bread close to their body. Dr. Goldstein suggested we should bring bread close to us again, to effect a cultural change.


“Yeasted Crackers” – Naomi Duguid and Dawn Woodward


It was a pleasure to see Naomi Duguid and Dawn Woodward working with yeasted cracker dough, and I was glad I stopped by to catch some of their discussion about their beautiful crackers.

Checking on things in the wood-fired oven

Here were some interesting things Dawn and Naomi mentioned:
- baking on a baking stone helps the cracker
- when baking with more flavorful grains, less sugar and salt are required
- the miller’s art comes through when tasting flavor differences in coarse vs. fine grinds
- interesting patterns can be imprinted on crackers, using the bottom of a whisk, for example
- a pasta machine can be used as a ‘sheeter’ to get cracker dough really thin
- lentil puree (lentils brought just to the boil, then pureed to a thick paste), when added to cracker dough, makes a supple dough

Turbinado sugar, sparkling in the sun, finishing this sweet cracker

Everyone got to enjoy Evelyn’s Crackers later in the day – with gorgeous cheeses from Gothberg Farm, Samish Bay Farm and Golden Glen Creamery, and brew from Skagit Valley Malting. Truly refreshing! :^)



“The Role of the Mill in Community Life” – Tom Hunton

Tom Hunton gave an really interesting talk about the work he and his family are doing down at Camas Country Mill in Oregon.  He talked about the mill being a community food hub, connecting growers, consumers, restaurants and baking schools, and food banks – by defining specific needs, facilitating intentional growing, and creating custom mixes at the mill.

Tom also talked about their focus on education and farm to school outreach. In addition to supplying Oregon school districts with local wheat for cafeteria programs, they have relocated the Lower Fern Ridge Schoolhouse, built in 1888 and in use until 1936, to Hunton’s Farm  – and are restoring it to use as an education and community center.  The school operated in Alvadore, OR and Tom said it was the last piece of living history there – it is lovely to think this building will not be abandoned or destroyed, but used once again for education, teaching kids (and adults) about farms and wheat, and how flour is made!

The Lower Fern Ridge School, relocated and awaiting its new foundation

(more about this in Floyd’s post)

Next post:  Day 2!

2012 Kneading Conference West posts: Day 1Day 2, Day 3

pmccool's picture

A variation on Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread

It was time for a break from the whole-grain breads that I have made, more often than not, in recent months.  Even so, I wasn't looking for an all-white bread, either.  In thumbing through the second edition of Hamelman's Bread, I came across his Sourdough Seed bread.  It calls for a bit of rye flour, and a generous helping of flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds.  Although there weren't any flax seeds on hand, I figured I could bluff my way through it with a bit of improvisation.

In casting about for something to substitute for the flax seed cold soaker, I came across some oatmeal that had been milled from oat groats while playing with the Kitchen Aide grain mill attachment.  Okay, so oats are a cereal grain, which isn't what people usually mean when they refer to seeds.  And these are ground up, not whole.  Work with me, people, this is improv.  So, flax seeds out, equal quantity of oat meal in.  Cold water out, equal quantity of boiling water in.  Now we have an oat meal scald, instead of a cold flax seed soaker.  

Since my starter was at a healthy stage of development in the refrigerator, it went straight into the liquid levain with no preliminary feedings.  By next morning, the levain was bubbly and ready to go.  The oat meal scald was also ready, although not nearly so demonstrative, which was very much in keeping with its Scottish reserve.

Before mixing the dough, the sunflower and sesame seeds were toasted in the oven.  Some stayed rather pale, others were a beautiful deep brown.  After toasting, they were allowed to cool.

Per the instructions, the soaker (scald, in this case), the levain, the seeds, and the final dough ingredients were all combined and mixed.  Mixing was done by hand, rather than by machine.  The resulting dough at first appeared to be somewhat dry, since it required some work to get all of the flour absorbed.  Once past that stage, it switched to being a rather sticky dough and stayed sticky throughout.  This may have been an artifact of the oat meal scald.  After mixing to a rough dough, it underwent another 8 minutes of slap and fold kneading.  By the end of that workout, it was showing good gluten development.  

The dough was shaped into a loose boule and placed in a plastic-covered bowl to ferment.  About an hour and a quarter later, the dough was given a stretch and fold, then reshaped into a boule and returned to the bowl for roughly an hour and a half of additional fermentation.  I was surprised when I uncovered the dough in preparation for shaping by the scent of peanut butter.  It wasn't really that, on closer consideration, but that was how my brain first interpreted the the toasty/oily fragrance of the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in the dough.

At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough was divided in two.  Each piece was pre-shaped, allowed to rest for a few minutes, then given a final shaping as a batard.  Final proofing was in parchment couches with side support.  It took nearly three hours of final proofing before the bread was ready for baking; kitchen temperatures were in the 70-72F range yesterday.  

Baking was pretty much as instructed, with steam.  I chose to go a few minutes longer with the bake to get a darker crust color.  The bread was removed from the oven when the internal temperature was 207F.

While I would have liked additional oven spring, that may not be a reasonable expectation, given the load of the seeds and the scald.  Both loaves have a lovely ear.  The coloring of the grigne shows that the bread continued to expand throughout the bake.  I had noticed a lot of condensation of the steam on the surface of the loaves a couple of minutes into the bake, which helped keep the crust soft and allow good expansion.

Here's another picture of the baked loaves:

The crumb, when I cut some slices for toast this morning, has a range of bubble sizes:

None are especially large, but, when you look at the seed distribution, there really isn't much they could have grown without banging into a seed of some kind.  The crust was initially very hard.  After 24 hours in plastic, it has softened somewhat.  The crumb is very moist and cool, some of which I attribute to the oat meal scald.  The flavor is definitely tilted in the direction of the toasted seeds,with plenty of nutty and toasty notes.  I can't distinguish the oat meal or the rye flour as individual flavors, although I am certain that they are part of the background grainy flavors.  The crust contributes hints of caramel, as well.  Overall, it's a very good bread that I enjoyed toasted and expect to enjoy as the foundation for sandwiches.  My thanks to Chef Hamelman for creating a bread that is still good in spite of my unanticipated variation.