The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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varda's picture

Carlisle Farmer's Market

Today, I attended my first farmer's market as a vendor.   Yesterday I baked around three times more bread at one time than I had ever done before.   Miraculously it all came out fine with no kitchen disasters.  This morning I finished up the baking and drove a couple towns over to Carlisle.   I had never been to the Carlisle market before.   I had two reasons for picking it.   One, I figured, given that Carlisle is pretty sparsely populated, that the market might be small enough for me to be able to manage.   The second is that unlike Lexington, they were willing to let me start in the middle of the season.   Sure enough, it was a fairly small and low key market.   The neighboring booth was a lemonade stand staffed by a seven year old and his parents.

So I relaxed and got ready to sell bread armored with my hastily purchased $6 sign from Staples.

There were plenty of baked goods, but only a couple other loaves about, and nothing like mine.   The market officially opened at 8 am, but there were only a trickle of customers and few of those interested in bread.    I figured I was going to be bringing a lot of loaves home, or engaging in some pretty furious barter for corn and squash at the end of the market.   

And yet, slowly but surely over the course of the morning my loaves walked away one by one, and in the opposite order that I expected.  

First to disappear were the flaxseed ryes.

Then went the Cherry Almond Whole Wheats.

The baguettes took longer to go, perhaps because they were a bit pale due to my needing the oven for the Challah rolls.   Finally a woman who would have preferred a Cherry Almond decided to take the last baguette home.  

When it was all over, I had only four challah rolls left out of my starting 18 loaves and 19 rolls.

The crowd seemed to divide into two parts (in my mind of course.)   The people who glanced at the bread, and then walked on as if they hadn't seen anything.    The second group would be almost past, when suddenly their eyes would lock on the bread, and they would circle slowly back, and only after a moment or two remembering to look up and say hello.   Of course, I liked those people better.  

One woman bought a roll, took a bite, and informed me it was dry.   I noticed that as she walked away she was still eating it.    Ten minutes later, she came back and said that after a bite or two she realized how good it was.   She just had to reorient herself from puffy.   

I experienced the limits of my kitchen all in one night.    I reached capacity on my scale (5 K) my Assistent Mixer which started chucking up bits of rye dough all over the place as they got too close to the top of the bowl.   My counter space and oven, and so forth.   But I survived, and sold my bread, and I'm ready to do it all over again next week.  Now I just have to figure out what to make.    

bruneski's picture

Baguette making: second attempt

In my first ever two-bread day (!?!?!?!?), my second bake involved some tasteful Poolish Baguettes.

Note: the preparation of the two breads was done intercalating phases from the two processes.

Thanks to a tip from barryvabeach (the KAF`s video collection you indicated was incrediby enlightening technique-wise) and to a whole bunch of invaluable pieces of advice from dabrownman, the result was of an incomparably higher level of quality than the one achieved in my first attempt.

Curiously, this time around, the scoring was clearly of inferior quality, due to my experimenting with an improvised lame that seems to be very popular: a curved razor blade attached at the end of a wooden hashi. The much better scoring performed in my first baguettes was executed with a very sharp 3-inch-blade knife with a short handle. Next time, I`ll have to think about which instrument I`ll resort to for the scoring.

Following dabrownman`s suggestions, the final dough`s hydration was increased to 75% (from 67%), while the poolish`s hydration was decreased to 87.5%. Both worked extremely well, even though the higher hydration might be partially responsible for the poorer scoring this time around.

The additional flour in the final dough was autolysed at 65.6% hydration. Mixing the poolish with the autolysed flour was a bit of a problem since the latter was a rather firm dough, while the former was a very wet dough. A lot more handmixing than probably advisable was necessary to incorporate the poolish into the autolysed flour. Fortunately, it eventually came out right.

Incorporating the remaining 10 g of water with the salt dissolved in it was quite easy (using dabrownman`s suggested technique).

Slapping-and-folding (another dabrowman`s suggestion) was fun, easy and incredibly effective. 

[included on July 27, at 3 pm GMT] Bulk fermenting took 2 hours with one stretching-and-folding at the 1-hour mark. [included on July 27, at 3 pm GMT]

Preshaping (as cylinders, not rounds), dough relaxing and final shaping were done following Hamelman`s instructions from the videos indicated by barryvabeach. The 3 shaped baguettes were a little over 16 inches (40 cm) long and quite thin (immediately after shaping).

[edited on July 27, at 3 pm GMT] Proofing took a little over 90 minutes 2 hours with one stretching-and-folding at the 1-hour mark since room temperature was a cool 70 oF. [edited on July 27, at 3 pm GMT]

The steam machine (thanks again, dabrownman!) included a lot of small lava rocks (yes, I discovered I had a bunch of pebble-like ones in my garden!) in an aluminum tray and two pans containing rolled-up kitchen cloths covered with boiling water. These contraptions worked great!

I found it necessary to extend the baking time to 35 minutes (instead of the recommended 25) as the baguettes still seemed too pale. At the end, I added another 5 minutes in a steam-less oven.

It all worked wonderfully, with the exception of the little glitch mentioned above.

The baguettes were quite good looking, even though the scoring was of poor quality. The crumb looked quite nice, with a fair amount of small-ish holes. The crumb was also very light and tasty. The crust was good looking and great tasting! It was quite crisp but fairly thin!

Well, ... this is (almost) the whole story! Thanks again, barryvabeach and dabraownman!!!

Note: all pics were taken with artificial lighting (but no flash)!


bruneski's picture

Swedish Rye Bread: 2nd installment

In my first ever two-bread day (!?!?!?!?), one of the breads I prepared was the delicious, grain-loaded Swedish Rye Bread.

Based on the improved recipe I developed with the invaluable help of several knowledgeable TFLers, this time it included a grain soaker (another tip from Karin!) and a cornstarch glaze (another tip from Khalid)!

The final formula is 45%-rye (by weight) and has final dough`s hydration set at 75% (by weight).

As a bread-baking apprentice, it seems I can already count this bread in the LEARNED column!

Since it's come out of the bread machine/oven less than 3 hours ago, crumbs shots will only come tomorrow.

Take care!

Note: all pics were taken with artificial lighting (but no flash)!

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Almond and lemon brioche

“Let them eat brioche!”, said Marie Antoniette when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat. This is a “pain brioché”, which is the poor version of the regular brioche, because we're gonna add less butter and less eggs. We're gonna give it a twist adding the zest of a lemon and almond meal, almond flour or ground almond, however you call it. As a result we're gonna eat an amazing brioche, so we will have breakfast like kings, and we won't be afraid of the guillotine.

- 3 medium eggs (150 gr)

- 120 ml milk

- 400 gr strong bread flour

- 50 gr almond powderl

- 3 tbsp brown sugar

- 5 gr salt

- 75 gr softened butter

- Lemon zest

- Vanilla extract

- 6 gr instant yeast or 18 gr fresh yeast

- One egg for egg wash

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl, and flour, almond powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest and yeast in another bowl. Mix everything, and knead. You can use an electric mixer, or you can mix it with your own hands. In ten minutes the dough should be smooth and silky. The add butter little by little. Knead until dough becomes smooth and silky again. Let it rest about 1 hour and 30 min.

Put the dough on a floured surface. Shape four or five buns. Put them into a greased tin. Let them rest about 1 hour. Brush the buns with egg wash and using a bread lame or a razor blade, score each bun.

Bake about 35 minutes. First 15 minutes the temperature should be about 190C (375F), and last 20 minutes reduce heat to 160C (320F). Cover with aluminium foil the last 20 minutes to avoid it becomes roasted.

Let the brioche rest two or three hours before you slice it. If you want to keep it tender, keep it into plastic bag.

More info:

bsandusky's picture

Autolyse and poolish

Hi everyone, 

This is my first post here, but I've been lurking on the forum and gathering inspiration for some time now.

I've recently been working on experimenting and improving my French-style bread baking. Over the last bit of time, I've been baking usually every other day and trying different techniques, ratios, etc. What has seemed to work for me has been to really let time do its thing and to work the dough sparingly but deliberately.

So far, I've come up with the following observations for my own baking:

  • Autolyse works wonders; I usually mix only the flour and water and let it autolyse for ~30 minutes before mixing in salt and yeast then kneading.
  • I have been making relatively high hydration doughs (anywhere from 70%+) and experimenting off of the classic French "base recipe" of 1kg flour, 700g water, 25g salt, 15g yeast. 
  • I have adopted the "Bertinet method" or French-style of kneading so that I work the dough as little as possible while kneading it. Sometimes I either forego kneading completely or combine with some stretch and folds before bulk fermentation to improve the body of a particularly sticky dough (it's been incredibly humid these past weeks).
  • I find using only KA bread flour gives a crumb that is slightly too chewy for my taste and thus I typically mix some KA unbleached bread flour with KA unbleached AP to get a bit closer to French style flour; though the ash content is not there.
  • I've been using Sylvia's famous magic towel method for steaming the oven when baking on stone; otherwise for boules, I use dutch oven.

So, this brings me to my question. One thing I find still lacking is a strong fermented taste, which comes from a longer, slower fermentation. (It has been so warm, a typical bulk ferment has been 1-1.5hrs, then a 20 min bench rest and similar proof.) I used to bake SD, but let my starter kick the bucket. I am in the process of building up a new starter now from scratch, and will soon be into SD again, but I also want to experiment with using a poolish to improve flavor. 

When doing so, I am curious as to what works best when using poolish with an autolyse ... Should the poolish be started early and then mixed in before the autolyse period? Should I mix flour and water (minus amounts in the poolish), autolyse, then mix in the poolish? 

Essentially, with any pre-ferment either a poolish, sponge, biga, etc. or a levain, when is the best moment to incorporate it into a budding dough if I want to maintain an autolyse period? I am really curious to hear if anyone else has experimented with this.

Thanks, all, for any help, sharing of your own experiences and experimentation, and/or geeking out on this.

- brett


Abelbreadgallery's picture

Can't beat a good Scone!

Plain Scones:

- 225 gr flour

- 55 gr softened butter

- 25 gr sugar

- 15 gr baking powder

- Pinch of salt

- 150 ml milk

- One egg.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and softened butter, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add milk. You’ll get a very sticky dough, but don’t worry. Put the dough on a floured surface. Make a ball. If it is still sticky, add a little bit more of flour. Then shape a circle about 2 cm high. Cut round pieces. Paint with beaten egg. Bake 12 minutes at 200C (392 F).

More info:

Simon280586's picture

Update on dense crumb post - progress!

I recently had a problem with the middle of my Tartine boules being too dense, as I posted here:


I decided to try shaping as gently and simply as possible, and seeing how they turned out. I made a half batch, so each loaf was half the size of the ones in the recipe, so that I could practice without worrying about messing up a big loaf.

I used a minimum of flour, just enough to prevent sticking to the counter but not so much as to interfere with the folds cohering during final shaping. After turning the loaves over from their preshaped rest, the top (previously the bottom) was still somewhat sticky and this helped the folds join together nicely. I took my time, tried to work decisively, only doing the motions I thought were absolutely necessary. I stopped when the loaf looked acceptable, resisting the urge to keep going until it looked perfect.

The result, I'm pleased to report, was very much more than acceptable, both visually and in taste. I think sticking to a single recipe until you are happy with it is a good way to go, rather than jumping from recipe to recipe too often as I've done in the past. I've done batches of this bread 4 times now and it's helped me become more familiar with the dough's characteristics at each stage of the baking process.

Here's a picture. Who can resist a picture? (okay so the picture's at the top)

beaker606's picture

USA Hearth Loaf Pan--Loaf Size Question

I received a USA Hearth Loaf Pan from my kids for my birthday.  I've wanted one for some time so I'm very glad to have it. My question is just how big (roughly speaking) of a loaf do I bake?  As in 1.5 lbs? 2 lbs?

If this has been answered already, I apologize.  I did a search and didn't find anything.

Thanks in advance!




Link to Amazon product description:

Mebake's picture

Laurel Robertson's "Peasant Rye"

At the end of last week, I have been too tired and lazy to prepare any sourdough preferment, although I had an active starter ready. Next morning, I had no bread in the freezer, and the only bread I could make was that from straight dough. I browsed through my bread books, and found none other than Laurel’s book that offers plenty recipes for wholegrain breads, mostly straight doughs; hence the appeal :)

The recipe is “Peasant Rye” from the book’s Rye section. The formula contains some acids in the form of vinegar and cider, to counter the absence of a rye sour. The recipe is also almost 55% Rye flour to 45% Whole wheat.

I mixed the dough by hand, and aimed for almost loose dough. The dough fermented for 1.5 hours, reshaped and fermented again for 45 minutes. Final fermentation was barely 35 minutes, after which they were baked at 460 F for 10 minutes and at 325 F for 50 minutes. As recommended by Laurel, I applied a corn starch glaze to the baked loaves, and returned them for 2 minutes to the oven. In hindsight, I should have applied another layer of corn starch after they came out.


Left to cool for 12 hours, I then cut into one of them and had a slice after my evening breakfast. The bread was dark in color, had a slightly chewy crust, and a fairly smooth eating quality to the crumb. The rye flavor was very well pronounced; earthy, sweet, and satisfying. The whole wheat complimented the overall flavor very well.  For straight, yeasted dough, this rye bread is much better than I’d imagined it to be.




bruneski's picture

Baguette making: first attempt

After some very rewarding attempts at baking a poolish-based grain-loaded Swedish Rye Bread, a biga-based caraway-seasoned Schwarzbrot and a Tangzhong-based Fluffy Milk Bread, I decided to be really bold :-) and try my hand at some simple baguettes!!!

To make it easier on this overly enthusiastic neophyte, I decided to try my hands, literally, at JMonkey's adaptation of Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes.

No bread machine this time around! Not even in its dough cycle!

The whole process, although time-consuming (almost 5 hours from the initial mixing of the final dough to the end of the baking of the baguettes), was easy enough and everything went smoothly from start to finish.

The only problems I encountered were related to my natural shortcomings at (1) kneading the dough, (2) s&f-ing it, (3) dividing and pre-shaping it, (4) shaping the baguettes and (5) baking with steam. There is a whole lot to be learned and mastered about these phases of the process!!!

Surprisingly enough, my first ever scoring of loaves yielded very nice results, even though I used a regular kitchen knife with a very sharp 3" blade.

The baguettes came out very nice looking and very good tasting. However, neither the crust was as crisp as I had expected nor the crumb was as open I had hoped for.

One factor might have been a not-high-enough oven temperature; another, my lack of experience in baking with steam. The rising obtained after shaping the baguettes and/or the oven spring verified while baking, might`ve been insufficient given that the final shape of the baguettes was more hemicylindrical than should have been (the bottom was flatter than should`ve been).

By the way, the baguettes were all baked on the back of an aluminum tray (sorry, no stones available!) in a conventional oven preheated to 460 oF (or at least that`s what I thought). Steam was provided by boiling water in a tray placed at the base of the oven and by some room temp water sprayed on the side walls at the start of the baking process and also after 5, 10 and 15 minutes.

Well, let`s cut to the chase and have a look at some pictures.

The crust

The crumb

So, this was my fairly successful first attempt at baguette making.

All suggestions and comments that might help me improve my baguette making in the future are 100% welcome!

Have a great week!