The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Yerffej's picture

KoMo Flour Sifter Attachment

Does anyone own one of these Komo sifters and if so,  how well does it work?


davidg618's picture

Fun Weekend Bakes

Saturday evening's dessert: Peach Upside Down Cake. (I had my piece sprinkled with a few drops of Amaretto.)

and Sunday morning's bagels. (Ciril Hitz Baking Artisan Bread, CHEWY Bagel formula converted to natural levain.)

David G

I676's picture

Mark Bittman's Whole Grain "Sourdough" Article

So Mark Bittman had a piece in the NY Times today or yesterday on the deliciousness of whole grain bread, and how sourdough is the best method for making it. I tend to agree (warning: rank amateur's lay opinion), but I don't think that any of his recipes are actual sourdough. Instead, his sourdough rye just uses a sponge made with instant yeast and fermented overnight...strains of the Leahy no-knead bread phenomenon Bittman popularized? Nothing wrong with Bittman's rye recipe, but calling it sourdough seems like a real stretch.

Anyhow, an interesting read. And I must say, he makes a good point about why hobby baking is so alluring.

[Edit: I read his rye recipe too hastily. My bad. (Very bad.)  He has you starting it with a pinch of instant yeast, but letting it sit at room for a few days with daily refreshment. That may not be a dogmatically perfect method, but surely lactic acid bacteria will grow and acidify the environment in that amount of time. It won't be a mature starter, but it seems like the resulting bread could be called sourdough, if we're not being too strict. The only question is whether wild yeast will have taken over at that point--or ever. I don't pretend to have any idea what happens when you put instant yeast in a starter and then ferment it for a few days. Surely the LAB come.]

Kneads_Love's picture

Challah -- Don’t Try This At Home

This is a post about how NOT to bake a challah. Not that it wasn’t delicious. It was. We totally just scarfed down, like half of it, still warm from the oven. I know… we’re shameless. But still and all, making it was a nightmare.

Here is the recipe.

Note: Do NOT follow this recipe. Even though this is maybe the sweetest, richest, eggiest challah I have ever tasted; chewy and doughy, with just the right amount of crust, there are 10,000 things wrong with this recipe. Baking it ruined my day. Maybe my life.

Sponge (Quick Starter)

Dissolve: 1 packet dry-active yeast

Into: 8oz Water (warm)

The mix: 1 cup (4.5 oz) All Purpose Flour

Chillax the starter for like 10 – 15 min.


Mix: 2 oz water

With: ½ cup honey

And: ¼ cup Vegetable Oil

And: 2 Eggs

And: 2 Egg Yolks

Beat together.

Add Starter.

Then mix in: 15.5 oz AP Flour

And: 1.5 tsp salt

I know what you’re thinking, “ok, so what’s the problem?”

The problem is that the consistency is like a thick pancake batter. Except it sticks to everything it touches.

I dumped it onto the counter and tried to knead it. Have you ever kneaded batter? I slapped it, stirred it, swirled it, pounded it, and scooped it. 25 minutes later, the counter, my hands, my arms, my shirt, the cabinets, were covered in sticky, wet formless dough. I alternated between using my hands and using a scraper to try to keep everything in the middle of the counter.

So, I decided to add some flour. Pouring the flour onto the counter and onto the dough and mixing it in. For 3 cups of flour I labored on this beast (yes, I know that I just used “a cup of flour” as a unit of time.)

It finally took on some shape. Still very sticky.

Oil a bowl and let it rise for 90 min. (try to get as much of it off of your hands and arms and into the bowl as you can.)

After the first rise, separate it into 2 balls. Let rest for 5 min. Cut each ball into 3 balls. Let rest for a few more minutes.

Roll out into strands. More flour was essential to being able to work with the strands.

Form 2 braided-Challah-shaped-thingies (Some folks refer to these as loaves.)

Mix 1 egg with about a 1/4 cup honey  and paint the loaves.

Let rise for 60 – 90 min.

Paint loaves again.

Bake at 375 for 35 min. Rotating baking pan after 20 min. When you open to rotate, also cover the loaves with some foil to prevent over-crusting.

Try to take it out when the internal temp is around 195. After 10 min, I poked it with my digi-pen and it was 205. Time to take it out.

Cool on wire rack to prevent bottoms from getting soggy.

The loaves were a touch misshapen but not as bad as they might have been.

I want to find a recipe for challah that is as sweet, eggy and doughy as this one but which is easier to work with.


Crider's picture

Crider Sells Out

I'm approaching the age of sixty and I've been baking regularly for about ten years and doing it by hand. But a bug got in my soup more than two years ago when txfarmer posted the breathtaking blog "Sourdough Pan de Mie - how to make "shreddably" soft bread". She wrote and demonstrated about intensive kneading and how that was the secret to those amazing loaves. She showed different windowpane characteristics which developed as she cranked her mixer for rather long periods of time.

I was intrigued, to say the least. I even played around with long-time kneading by hand. I remember how I spent fifty minutes hand kneading a white dough until it finally showed signs of over-kneading. Not practical. A mixer is definitely needed for that kind of thing. But I never really liked the way home mixers appear to beat the hell out of the dough. It seems they spin way too fast, especially compared to commercial mixers, and especially compared to fork mixers and falling arm mixers. There were (are?) actual countertop falling arm mixers Artofex made. Santos still makes a fork mixer that gently turns the dough. It sells in the US, but $1,200? Not only couldn't I afford something like that, I'd rather use that kind of money to lie on a warm beach in Hawaii right now.

The truth, probably, is that these home mixers really aren't being harsh on the dough at all and I'm just clinging to my superstitious hand-knead ways. Temptation came when I saw a video on Youtube of somebody demonstrating a little Bosch MUM 4 Compact mixer, and when they turned it to speed one to incorporate the ingredients, it was slow — real slow. I loved that! I downloaded the manual for that machine to see if it is willing to operate on speed one indefinitely. It is!

Weird thing is, Bosch USA still doesn't admit they sell the things. All they feature on their website are the big MUM 6 Universals. But Pleasant Hill Grain happily sells them whenever they have some to sell. One ninety nine! You could get six MUM 4s for the price of one Santos fork mixer . . .

When it arrived I didn't have any flour milled or sourdough started for a big loaf, but I did have a sack of all-purpose white flour in the cupboard and yeast in the 'fridge. What could be more fun than a sandwich loaf? Haven't made a white sandwich loaf in years. I didn't do txfarmer's Pen de Mie, but I did a lean loaf at 65% hydration. I stood there and stared at the mixer for fifteen minutes as it gently, very gently kneaded the dough round and round on speed one. It was fun watching. Do you all stare at your mixer when it's kneading? Could have gone longer, but maybe next time. The dough felt and handled wonderful. Flour, water, salt & yeast. Why do supermarket bakeries refuse do make a simple sandwich loaf like this?


evonlim's picture

my obsession with figs


Dried black mission figs, dried white USA figs, turkish dried brown figs, fresh turkish figs and fresh Japanese figs..

In the history of foods the fig is one of the earliest fruits to be desiccated and stored by men.  Sumerian civilization, Phoenicians, Ancient Greeks and old Chinese promoted fig culture and gave it sky-scraping fame. In China it has been grown since one thousand years back. Ancient Greeks offered figs to each other as precious gifts. Greek players used it to increase their potency and muscles.  

 Antediluvian king of Pontus Mithridates had ordered his citizens to use figs everyday to keep them away from diseases. It is said that in ancient Rome and Greek, farmers and slaves were given figs on a daily basis to increase their working capabilities. 

The fruit have both nutritional and medicinal values therefore it is regarded as functional food. It has property of keeping people physically and mentally strong. Dry fig has nutrition values more than its fresh variety. Protein, carbohydrates, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, iron and high amount of fibers are its main constituents. It contains second highest amount of calcium after Oranges.  The major section has sugar which forms 51 to 70 %of the whole fruit.

Beauticians recommend it for beautification and personal care. Eating figs prevent cracking of lips and premature wrinkles. It puts off bad breath. The milky juice of green fig has necrotic property and can be applied to soften the thickening of skin of toe (Corn). Its sodium-free, cholesterol free, fat free and high fiber properties make it ideal food for dieters.  For those who are planning to quit smoking, figs can be an alternative. For long time it has been used to treat skin pigmentation, warts, mole and blisters. It is used as a medical dressing which applied on infectious skin to get rid of abscess. Its sugary pulp is ideal for making sweetener for dieters. 
Softening and soothing effects of figs provide relief from respiratory tract inflammation, cough, colds and aching throats. In folk medicine it is used as a demulcent for the irritation of soft skin tissues. Due to anti-bacterial properties it can inhibit bacterial growth.

For chefs and bakery product makers fig is a favorite ingredient for making of deserts, jams, jelly, cakes, pies etc. Adding figs to food products enhance both their taste and dietetic values. Presence of a substance known as humectants makes figs useful to keep the bakery products fresh and moist for long time. 

In south East Asia, Anjeer and Guava blended, together to make a healthy and refreshing fruit drink. In Mediterranean countries its extract is added in alcohol and tobacco. Dry roasted figs are pressed and grounded to use as alternative to coffee. In America fig puree is part of many sweet recipes.  Combination of figs and milk ensure sufficient supply of proteins, calcium and iron.  

In western countries green figs are available in can and tin and added to yogurt and cream to make deserts.

Figs are rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Soluble fibers help to lower blood cholesterol while insoluble fibers prevent breast and colon cancer and heart attack.

in my case, this is how i enjoy fresh and dried figs...


Black mission figs in country boule


black and flaxseeds sourdough


fresh turkish figs on toasted sourdough bread with walnuts and swiss chard


Japanese fresh figs on toasted sourdough bread with grilled gorgonzola and smoke salmon



Health benefits of figs
  • Fig fruit is low in calories. 100 g fresh fruits provide only 74 calories. However, they contain health benefiting soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely for optimum health and wellness.

  • Dried figs are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. In fact, dried fruits are concentrated sources of energy. 100 g dried figs provide 249 calories. 

  • Fresh figs, especially black mission, are good in poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidants such ascarotenes, lutein, tannins, chlorogenic acid...etc. Their anti-oxidant value is comparable to that ofapples at 3200 umol/100 g.

  • In addition, fresh fruits contain adequate levels of some of the anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and K. Altogether these phyto-chemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.

  • Furthermore, research studies suggest that chlorogenic acid in these berries help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus (Adult onset) condition.

  • Fresh as well as dried figs contain good levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates, and pantothenic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

  • Dried figs are excellent source minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. 100 g of dried figs contain 640 mg of potassium, 162 mg of calcium, 2.03 mg of iron and 232 mg of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation.

enjoy... a fig a day keep the doctor away too :)



dmsnyder's picture

Baguettes made with firm levain

I wanted to make some baguettes today. I had some excess active firm starter. I usually make sourdough baguettes with a liquid starter, and my best sourdough baguettes take two to three days to make, but why not try a formula for one day baguettes with firm starter?

I decided

  1. To make 3 ficelles weighing 200 g apiece.

  2. At 70% hydration.

  3. Using 25% pre-fermented flour.

  4. And to use a bit of instant yeast to have the baguettes done before dinner time.


Total dough

wt. (g)

Baker's %

AP flour



WW flour



Medium rye flour









Instant yeast

1/8 tsp






Firm levain

wt. (g)

Baker's %

AP flour



WW flour



Medium rye flour






Firm starter







Final dough

wt. (g)

AP flour






Instant yeast

1/8 tsp

Firm levain






  1. Mix the firm levain and ferment for 12-14 hours at 70º F.

  2. Mix the flour and water in the final dough to a shaggy mass and autolyse for 30 minutes.

  3. Add the salt, yeast and the firm levain is 12 pieces to the dough and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.

  4. Ferment at 70º F for 2-2 1/2 hours with folds at 40 and 80 minutes. The dough did not double but showed many tiny alveoli. (Visible through the walls of my glass bowl.)

  5. Divide into 3 equal pieces and pre-shape as balls or logs.

  6. Rest for 20 minutes.

  7. Shape as baguettes.

  8. Proof at 70º F for 45-60 minutes.

  9. Transfer the loaves to a peel and score as desired.

  10. Bake at 460º F with steam for 12 minutes then in a dry oven for another 8-10 minutes. Note: These are light and thin loaves. For larger baguettes, the baking time would need to be increased to a total of 22-25 minutes. If a lighter-colored crust is desired, the oven temperature should be decreased to 450º F.

  11. Cool for 30 minutes (at least) before eating.

 I treated each of my three baguettes differently, as seen. I made one into an epi de blé, one into a seeded baguette and one was made as a traditional baguette.


The crust was crisp and the crumb was tender – just a bit chewy. The crumb structure was nice and open. The flavor was good, but not great. There was no perceptible sourdough tang and less sweet flavor and less complexity than I want in a baguette.

I think this formula, with the added yeast, resulted in a short fermentation that did not allow for full flavor development. In addition, the levain I used had been taken from my refrigerated stock starter and only fed once. 

My judgement is that this formula is worth playing with. Next time, I will use a starter that has been fed at least twice and will omit the instant yeast.





kap1492's picture

Mure-Peyrot Boulange Lame

I am interested in purchasing Mure-Peyrot Boulange Lame from I know you can make your own version but would rather have one that has a solid body and a curved blade. Does anyone have this particular item? If so what is your feedback, good/bad?

Does anyone know if you would have to purchase the replacement blades made for this specific model or can you purchase doubled-edged razors from a pharmacy/Wal-Mart? Buy the looks of it, it looks like the replacement blades have a universal design to razors used for shaving?

punkchef77's picture

sweet french bread

So this is my first post on this site. First I just want to say this site and all the members of the community are awesome. I am a school trained pastry chef and things have changed quite a bit sense I was last in the industry. Things like stretch and folds and autolysing were not used a decade ago when I was in school or in a commercial kitchen. This site has brought me up to date on quite a few things and for that I am thankful.

So on to my bread. I live in Sonoma County CA and also have lived in San Francisco. Growing up in the North Bay I have been very fortunate to have great bread everywhere. There are several great boulangeries in the area that produce what they call a sweet french bread. Being school trained I know that such a thing might be misnamed (and in France might get you some stern talking too). Normally french bread is a basic four bread ie flour,water,salt and yeast and sometimes starter. The bread in particular I am trying to re create also contains malt and shortening listed as ingredients. So in following with two of my favorite boulangeries I am also going to call this sweet french bread (all my chefs are probably going to yell at me for this lol). 



Note-I know I am going to catch flack for this but all my measurements are in volume (my scale is busted and I'm kinda broke)

Also I am super lucky to have Keith Giusto baking supply within 10 minutes of my house. Centeral Milling flour is awesome and if you have a Costco in your area I suggest picking up some of the organic APF. Its the same as the Bee Hive lightly malted organic APF and about half the cost.


1-1/2 c High mountian (bread flour 14%)

1/4 tsp Instant yeast.

1/2 tsp Diastatic malt

1 c cool water

Mix the above and let it do its thing for at least 4 hours 

Main dough

All of the sponge

1-1/2 c High mountian

2 tsp Shortening (melted and sloghtly cooled)

2 tsp Non Diastatic malt

1-1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 tsp salt

Mix all but the salt yeast and salt autolyse for 30min.

Add salt and yeast knead for 7-8 min speed 2 on KA

Let retard overnight in the fridge.

Shape into baguettes let proof in a couche then bake at 525F with steam for the first 10 min then lower the oven to 450F for about 15 more minutes.

I will post photos ASAP.






dazzer24's picture

Uk Flour

I'm baking crazy now. A few colleagues are buying loaves off me at work too so I'm considering buying in some larger sacks of flour-16kg seems to be the usual. I'm absolutely bewildered by the choice available. I've been using a very strong canadian white for my sourdough loaves which I like very much but its only available in the supermarket in 1.5kg bags. I recently ran out and used Allinsons very strong. It seemed less flavoursome but a little softer crumb. So perhaps I should be cutting one with the other to get the best of both worlds?

So I'd welcome any feedback from Uk based contributors on whom they use. I'm looking for someone whom I can order from online-unless someone knows a miller in North West England I can visit.

Marriages?Wrights?Doves?Shipton?Bacheldre? and there are many more I'm sure!

Help!(many thanks in advance for any contribution;)