The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Big Al's picture
Big Al

Probing vs. Tapping


Recently I have read with interest that using an instant-read temperature probe is much more accurate than tapping the bottom of a loaf to determine if it is done.  

What I do not know is were to find a list of temperatures for different types of loaf.

Any help please? 

Big Al


breadman52's picture

Why ice for steam?

Why do so many home recipes call for the use of ice to produce steam? 

My thoughts are: Ice uses more heat energy to produce an equal amount of steam from the same weight of water.

The ice may last a bit longer.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

Mylissa20's picture

Starter "cycles"?

My starter often seems to work in cycles.  It will be happy and active and bubbly and wonderful, making loaves that puff up like nothing you've ever seen out of whole wheat, then after a number of months it will falter.  I'll get a month or more of half-hearted bubbles and mediocre rises paired with an increased tang.  After a little while, it will pick up again.  I don't think this is normal, but I'm not sure if anyone else has had this particular problem.  I want my starter to be consistent, and I want to understand what is causing the fluctuation.  I keep a fairly liquid starter (I believe it is 100% hydration) and keep it in the fridge.  I typically feed it every 3 days, sometimes more when I bake more often during the week.  I'm not sure if this is related, but I've noticed that often during this time, the hooch does not rise to the top, but settles in the bubbles in the starter or at the bottom of the jar.  That makes it difficult or impossible to pour out.  Any advice?


Szanter5339's picture

Edible two-wheeled

My husband really likes the bike.
Our bike thirty years older than him but thanks to very good condition.
I thought so surprising for a brand new bike! Pleased at the new bicycles.
Sparkles and flashes are edible too!
True said that you never eat.
Tomorrow we will be married 39 years and this is my surprise!
Little presents a simple but a lot of love in it!


ActiveSparkles's picture

Soft Rolls

So, thought I would make a quick blog about my recent success in making soft bread rolls! I have taken a few different methods from various sources and cobbled them together to make a roll which I find to be delicious and wonderfully soft.

The recipe:

625g strong white bread flour (I have tried this with plain flour, was not pleased with the results)
1 sachet (7g) dried active yeast (I use tesco own or allinsons, whatever you like really.)
15g salt
60g unsalted butter (Anything but country life)
400ml warm water (not hot. . you already knew that)

Will also need:
Olive or vegetable oil for kneading and greasing
Full fat milk for brushing
small knob of butter for brushing
Tin foil for covering

Measure your flour into a large bowl, adding your butter in the middle. Add salt to the right and your yeast to the left. Using a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients together. (I am told that you should be careful to not bring the yeast and salt into direct contact before the mixing, hence putting them on different sides of the bowl)

Add about half of your water to the mix and stir it in. Gradually add another quarter of your water while stirring.
At this point, abandon the spoon and dig in with your clean hands! Now, this is where your judgement comes into play. Bring the mix together into a ball, making sure to mop up all of your flour into the ball. You will now add some, or all of your remaining water. I like to use the majority of it, it does make the dough a bit sticky; but this will work its self out with kneading and a little sprinkled flour if needed. (although avoid if possible.)

When your dough is suitably formed and ready to knead, put about a teaspoon of your oil on your clean surface and rub it over. Now turn out your dough on to the surface and coat it once in the oil. Kneading is a personal thing I think, I use a fairly basic press, turn, fold and repeat method. Do this for about 6 minutes, then leave the dough to rest while you clean out the mixing bowl. Knead for a further 4-5 minutes. As mentioned, your mix should be fairly wet, so having a bread scraper and a little flour at hand will be really very useful. Just to stop the nightmare of the dough sticking all over the place.

Lightly oil your bowl and place the dough in to it, turning once to cover. Place a tea towel over the top and leave to rise. The time varies, but at least an hour will be needed. You want it to be doubled in size.

Prep for next stage:
once you feel your dough is almost ready to be knocked back and shaped, you can prepare a few things for the next stage of the rolls. Prepare a baking tray (625g will create 8-10 fair sized rolls, so it will need to be a fair size) by either lining it with baking paper, or as I prefer to do- greasing them with some margerine or more olive oil. (Me and olive oil have a great relationship going)
You will also need to get some full fat milk in a small bowl or glass, along with a brush.

Stage 2:
Lightly flour your surface and turn the dough out. Lightly apply pressure to the dough, trying not to knock all of the air out as you flatten it slightly. Now leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
10 minutes later:
Using your hands, roll the dough out into a rough square shape. If you used plenty of water, this can be easily achieved by lifting the dough in the corners and letting it sag slightly. Now roll the dough in towards you, forming a french stick type shape. Using your hands, roll lightly from the middle out until the dough is roughly the same thickness right across. How thick this is doesnt make a great deal of difference, as we are going to cut it anyway. Using a sharp knife, Divide dough into 8-10 similar sized pieces. No need to worry about weights etc, as long as they look about the same, that will do.

Now to shape the balls into your rolls. Again, whatever works for you. I personally like to fold it into a rough ball, then push my hands together under the ball while using my thumb on the top to push the dough down at the side. Its a hard one to explain, so again, whatever works for you. Just a good roll shape. I like to flatten them down a little, as the water quantity will lead to them spreading anyway. Do this with all your dough and place them on the prepared tray. About an inch and a half or so apart. At this point, brush your rolls with the milk and place it in the fridge, as we will need it again later in the cooking process.

Now cover them with again with your tea towel and leave somewhere warm.
After about 20 minutes, turn your oven on to 180ºC/356ºF. (fan assisted) At this point, I like to pick the towel off the rolls and re-cover it. Just so it doesn't get stuck on them. Leave to rise for another 20 minutes while the oven warms up.

Place your rolls in the middle of the oven for 13 minutes. While they are cooking, cut your self 2 fair sized sheets of tin foil and get your milk back out of the fridge.
At the 13 minute mark, bring the rolls out of the oven. they should be very light coloured. Again, brush them with the milk. Now cover your tray with the tin foil, taking care to fold the foil over the edges so it doesn't get blown up by the pesky fan as you open the door. We are going to leave these for a further 10-15 minutes. We will take this oppertunity to melt our butter. How you do this is entirely up to you. I put some kettle water in a glass bowl, and rest the butter in a plastic bowl over it.

Take your rolls out of the oven and uncover one end to check on the rolls. You can use which ever method of telling "doneness" you like now. I use a probe to check the internal temp has reached 210f. If your rolls are done, uncover entirely and leave to cool for 2-3 minutes. Now rub the butter lightly over your rolls. Not too much, just enough to cover and leave shiny.

If you have one, place your rolls on a wire rack and leave to cool for 2 hours at least.


The finished product!

You should hopefully be left with something like this! Light in colour (thanks to your tin foil) and once cooled, will feel soft and light. They go wonderfully at the side of a meal, or just as a quick meal in their own right. I personally am a sucker for plain old cheddar cheese.

I hope you will consider giving these a go, and letting me know what you think :)

Thanks for taking the time to read my first bread related blog.

txfarmer's picture

Sourdough Pumpkin Cornmeal Bagel with Cranberries - baking and moving

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

I have been baking more, not less, even with all the craziness of a cross country move. The reason is simple: we are driving to Seattle, must use up perishable ingredients. However, time is tight, so I haven't had a chance to post all my baking, trying to catch up here.

Got a big can of pumpkin puree open, so here's a batch of sourdough bagel based one lumos's formula a while ago. I used pumpkin puree as part of liquid, and cornmeal instead of ww, some cranbrrries thrown in for flavor and texture. Very yummy.

The original formula is here, and my modification:
1)120g of cornmeal for that 120g of wholemeal flour in final dough
2)240g of pumpkin puree + 90g of water to replace the water in final dough
3)240g of cranberries mixed in at the final stage of kneading

Still used lye to boil them, hence the great color. See here and here for more details about my lye bagels. Cornmeal gives a nice texture, while pumkin lends a great golden color. Chewy and sweet and delicious.

jimham's picture

Oatmeal raisin cookie ingredients question

I have an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe from a great uncle who has passed away, he worked at a bakery. Apparently these are some really great cookies, but the recipe is in pounds which are not a problem but it does not state how much vanilla and salt to use or the cooking time or temperature. I figure that someone has ran into this before and wondered if you could help.
Thank you

Uncle Bobs oatmeal raisin cookies
1 1/2 lb sugar
3/4 lb Lard
1/2 lb Raisins
1/2 lb Oats
1 1/4 lb Flour
2 Eggs
7/8 cup milk
3 Level tsp soda

PiPs's picture

Miche and more …


What better reason to bake than catching up with family and friends for lunch. On a hot humid Saturday we drove down to Nat’s parents for a lunch with old family friends from her childhood. In our possession was our contribution to lunch … bread. A bread based on Gérard Rubaud’s formula for Pain au Levain.

It’s a bread at 75% Hydration with 15% of the total flour in a stiff 50% hydration starter. Gérard uses a flour mixture of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye for both the starter and final dough.

Much has been written about Gérard Rubaud so I will not delve into this further. I will say this though … I love this bread! His story has been an ongoing inspiration for me.

Gérard Rubaud Pain au Levain

I made two of the Pain au Levains at one kilogram each. I left one with our landlord and the other travelled with us to lunch. The friends we met (one of whom is Sicilian) reside in a northern Queensland town with a large Italian community. He was eager to try the bread and soon our conversation turned to pizza and woodfired ovens. His son has a small business running a pizza oven on a trailer at local events … we had lots to talk about and the lunch was lazy, delicious and full of laughter. The bread was very well received. Sorry no crumb shot as the bread disappeared fast.


Today I woke early to beat the heat and humidity we have been experiencing. The bake was to be nothing new ... 3 grain country bread with two starters ... Consistency was the aim. The night before I spent milling, sifting and preparing starters. Also on a happy note, I have sourced some rye grains that are performing well compared to the previous batch.

I doubled my usual formula as I was making two x 1kg batards and a 2kg miche.

Slap and folding 4kgs of dough was lively start to my day. The dough came together smoothly and with a little help from some icebricks and a cooler bag I was able to control the temperature through bulk ferment while watching it like a hawk.

I proved the miche for 1 hour 45 mins while the batards went straight into the fridge to wait patiently…

The miche was baked first … slightly underproved … damn.

The batards came next … very pleased. Lovely gringe and a dramatic look … happy.

I sliced open the miche in the afternoon and was greeted with plenty of flavour and aroma that will only improve as the days go on.

The evening is around us now and a quiet night waits. The oven is cool and I need a rest.

All the best,



Baker Frank's picture
Baker Frank

Corn Bread

Several years ago Bread Alone sold a loaf they called corn bread that they no longer produce. Although I have gotten close to replicating it I have not been totally successful, I have tried contacting  Daniel Leader several times to ask for the recipe with no response, and have previously written in baking blogs to see if anyone knew this bread and the recipe, and again, without success.

So here I go again, if you are familiar with his corn bread and know the recipe please share it.

Thank you, Frank

OMyStarz's picture

Can a Starter be Too Active?

Hi everyone,

I'm new to your forum and to starters/bread baking.  I've done a little bread machine baking (actually dough kneading) using commercial yeast and maybe a few loaves on my own with my KA mixer, but that's about it.  I've not had any total flops, so I guess up until now I've been pretty lucky.

I started a starter from scratch about 2 weeks ago.  "Bob" was born on 10/28 using bread flour and water.  Yesterday and today he has way over doubled in just a few hours after feeding.  I wouldn't say he tripled, but increased his volume somewhere between 2-1/2 to 3 times.

My question is this normal for a 2 week old starter? 

Also yesterday, when I was washing out his jar I scraped out the tablespoon or so that was clinging to the jar and put it into another clean jar and fed.  After feeding again this morning I'd say this new jar of starter (to be named later) has doubled, 3 hours after feeding today I'd say there looks to be about a 1/2 cup in the jar. 

Does everything sound like it's going alright?  This is my first starter ever and I'm not sure how it's supposed to act at this stage.