The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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varda's picture

Pain au Levain with Spelt, Fig Bread, and Broa

I love spelt but not too much of it.  My high percentage spelt loaves have turned out fine, but somehow don't get eaten up, even by me.  Today I made a Pain au Levain with added Spelt and kept the spelt to 21%.   To my taste at least, this is ideal.   The resulting loaf has that special nutty fresh taste that spelt in small enough quantities provides.  

Using Janet's Cadco techniques plus my  new steel plate, I got some good ovenspring.  Perhaps too good.

I also wanted to come back to the fig anise bread.   I baked the La Brea formula several times, and it was a big hit, but I felt vaguely uneasy, as it is very sweet and incredibly figgy.    I decided to take it down a notch by leaving out the fig puree, reducing the sugar, adding some whole grains, and upping the hydration.   The resulting loaf seems just as figgy even without the puree, still quite sweet, and somewhat more interesting with the added whole wheat.   I accidentally added more water than I had intended, by a lot.   Despite being somewhat perplexed by how wet and slippery the dough was, it still handled reasonably well, and behaved properly.   If anything I would reduce the figs and sugar even more, and perhaps up the whole wheat.   In any case, this version was more satisfying to me than the original.   It almost seems that when you get a lot of figs in there it hardly matters what the underlying bread is made of as the figs conquer all.   

Some time ago, my husband and I ate out at a Portuguese restaurant in East Cambridge.    The bread was amazingly good.   The dinner not so much.   As this hardly ever happens (usually a good dinner is accompanied by just so-so bread) I needed to find out more.   The owner told me that the bread was Broa - Portuguese cornbread.    More questions didn't lead to more answers, as it turns out they don't bake it themselves.

I searched around, and didn't find much on Broa.   Clayton had a quite unsatisfying version in his book.   Then a comment on TFL led me back to my own bookshelf.  Greenstein has a recipe in his Secrets of a Jewish Baker, not really the place I expected to find it.   Greenstein uses volume measurements and it has been so long since I've baked using them that I felt all at sea.   I weighed everything and took notes so I would be able to figure out what I had done.   The dough was incredibly dry - almost like putty, and very salty - perhaps I misunderstood.   To make matters worse I used Masa Harina, and that was just a mistake, as the bread ended up tasting like tortillas.   When I went back and calculated percentages, not surprisingly the hydration was around 50%, and the salt was 2.6%!   Furthermore, the method used was very fast - not even a bulk ferment - and so I thought the flavor was pretty dull excepting the lime treatment of the corn flour which was not a plus. 

I went back to it, and decided to do things a bit differently.   I used starter instead of a boatload of yeast, upped the hydration somewhat, used remilled cornmeal for the corn flour (Greenstein's suggestion) and started over.   This was definitely an improvement, but I don't think I've come close to the delicious bread I had in that restaurant.   Anyone know how to make this authentically?

Happy New Year everyone.

Pain au Levain with Spelt   
Spelt140 14021%
Salt12.2 12.21.8%
Starter210  19%
Total Flour670   
Total Dough1147   
Mix all and bulk ferment 3.5 hours in cold house
Cut and shape   
Proof 1 hour until soft  
Preheat oven to 500 - 45 minutes 
Steam 1 minute   
Slash, spray, and load   
Steam 1 minute   
Oven off 6 minutes   
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes  
400 for 10 minutes   


Fig Anise     
Less sugar, no fig puree, higher hydration 
WW85 8529%
Cornmeal12 124%
Hot water142 14249%
Figs115 11540%
Sugar25 259%
Salt5.3 5.31.8%
Anise seed0.9 0.90.3%
145% Starter153   
Total Flour289   
Total Dough727   
Pour boiling water over whole wheat flour 
Stir and cover   
Rest for 1/2 hour   
Mix all but figs until strong  
Cut dried figs in quarter and mix in 
Refrigerate for 24 hours  
Remove and shape   
Proof  for 1.5 hour until soft  
Preheat hot oven to 500  
Steam 1 minute   
Slash and load   
Steam 1 minute   
Oven off 8 minutes   
Bake at 410 for 20 minutes   
Cornstarch mixture  
Cold Water40  
Boiled Water126  
Final Dough   
Corn flour15021% 
 Cornstarch mix   
Total Flour700  
Total Water45064% 
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water 
Mix in to boiling water  
Bring back to boiling  
then remove from heat and cool 
Mix all    
Bulk Ferment 2 hours  
Shape into boule and sprinkle with flour
Proof for 1 hour  
until flour on top cracks  
Preheat 500   
Steam for 1 minute  
Load and steam for 1 minute 
Turn off for 5 minutes  
Bake at 440 around 30 minutes 



Boatguy's picture

Waffle maker - which gets the moisture out?

I have a great sourdough waffle recipe, I think the waffle maker is the problem.

When we bake bread it's critical to get the moisture out of the bread (though preserved in the oven for the crust - but that's a different thread...).  The problem with waffles is that they tend to become soggy within minutes of coming out of the waffle maker.

Is there a waffle maker designed to allow the moisture to escape while baking the waffle?

I guess the bottom line is - which is the best waffle maker and produces a waffle that stays crisp?


christinepi's picture

Hertzberg/Francois Boule question

Being a beginner, I need some help. I followed the Boule recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I halved the recipe, and converted it into grams:

354g 100F water

5.5g yeast

8g salt

450g AP flour.

I stuck it in the refrigerator yesterday after a 3 hour rise at 71F room temperature.

My question is: I'd like to bake it this Monday. Right now it looks like a big bowl of sourdough starter (btw, my sourdough starter is sitting in that same fridge--is there any possibility some beasties could "move" over there?), it's bubbly, and it doesn't smell too yeasty, which I like. However, the thing is highly hydrated. I'm worried I will get in trouble once I want to take it out of the bowl to "cloak" it, as H+F call it; that it'll be so sticky that it'll be unmanageable. Is there anything I could do to it now to "tighten" it up a bit, like some stretch and folds in the bowl? If so, when, how many, how often? Anything else? Or should it be fine if I just leave it alone?

The instructions just say to take it out of the bowl, "cloak" it and let it rest for 40 minutes before sticking it in the oven.

bernadetty's picture

enriched bread

Hello All!

I'm a new member but I've been reading comments on this forum for a while now. Thank you for all the wisdom you shared here. I have a question regarding enriched breads. I've making a challa like bread. I let the dough rise for about an hour ( until it doubles) on the counter. My house is about 72-75F. After the initial bulk fermentation I put the dough in the fridge for overnite. I usually degas it 2x after I put it in the fridge. Next morning I degas again, divide dough and let it rest for ten minutes. After the bench rest I roll them into long sections about a finger width thick...I use oil and water to roll them out. Sometimes my dough fills like there are a lot of air pockets inside the long strands. Could these extra (large) airpockets cause the baked product to be somewhat dry? Shoud I degas the dough before putting it in the fridge? Should I reduce the kneading time? I hand knead for about 5 minutes...Thank you for all the advice you can give me. 

Flourvonsponge's picture

Hello From West Sussex

Hi all,

after taking so long signing up, I've finally got round to it. I'm really looking forward to establishing great online baking relationships with other bakers. Currently, I own a coffee shop/bakery and have been running since March. From the onset, we sold artisan bread made by another local artisan baker who did not have a shop front but supplied many farm shops and food establishments. We also supplemented our range of bread with the loaves made by another artisan baker and to be honest, we were really happy with them. In the last month, we have seen both bakers cease trading- one out of choice and another because the maths just simply didn't work for them. We now are getting our bread supply from a much bigger but still independent Bread supplier. 

So here is here we've done a stupid. In time you guys will realise that I tend to jump in feet first and figure out how to swim later. We've bought a bread oven and I'm now looking after one of the previous baker's two year old sourdough starter (no one told me it's gonna be like looking after a Tamagotchi). It's meant that we've had to have fuse boxes changed, a three phase installed etc. 

I'm not planning on going into production tomorrow or next month. I appreciate that I need to do a lot of planning work. Also, there is the huge reshuffle needed because we now will need someone else to come in and do some of the baking (currently, most of  the cakes in the coffee shop is baked by me and we've been really busy and have been overwhelmed by just how quickly things have taken off). 

So, here's me saying hello, and hoping to eventually be able to contribute to the discussion. Until then, please humour me if I ask stupid questions. 

Theresse's picture

Mixed olives (slightly spicy) left over. How to use in bread?

I just discovered a container (only about a cup or so) of mixed olives that were left out without a lid on the kitchen island since Xmas night.  Some are greek, some are green.  No biggie since they're in some sort of oil (has chili peppers in it), correct?

I'm new to bread-baking but have made a few whole wheat loaves now (one in the boule shape using a banneton so I feel like I *sort* of have made an artisan bread already - ha) as well as other bread-products using my new Ankarsrum stand mixer. :)

So can I use this in bread?  If so, do you have a recipe you can recommend?  I'd be using active dry yeast rather than homemade yeast (forget what it's called - starter?).  I might need as many details as you're willing to share, within reason, for smooth sailing.

Thank you!

p.s. Oh one more thing!  My very old grandma, bless her heart, is upset that her local store no longer sells raisin bread.  So I'd also love a good recipe to make/send to her!  But that one would be for a loaf - she likes it sliced and toasted.  Her favorite I think was Orowheat but I'm not sure.  Thank you again!!

PatrickS's picture

Bread schedule: Is there any reason this won't work?

So I am planning on taking my first crack at Tartine style bread in the next little while, and I think the schedule in the book will have to be adapted to work with my cool home. This is what I'm planning:

Night 1: Make my levain. 1:2:2 starter:water:flour Leave out at room temp 64deg

Next day mid morning if I pass the float test: Mix up my dough and start my bulk ferment. As the room temp will be more like 67deg, I think that the bulk will take all day. I'm okay with that as long as it works. 

That night before bed: Shape the loaves and leave them out to rise all night at room temp 64deg. I'm hoping that the cool house temp will allow me to leave them out and they don't over-proof. 

First thing the next morning: Bake

I haven't read of anyone using this schedule so I'm not sure if I'm crazy to try it. I would love a more experienced take on my plan. 


ROTLB's picture

What does the corn flour do?



in this recipe for soft white baps, what is the function if the corn flour?

i baked them on Christmas Eve so that we coukd have bacon and eggs baps on Christmas Day. They were lovely, but what does the corn flour do?

mrsfetterman's picture

How to strengthen my starter?

My starter "Louise Levain" was born six days ago.  I followed the instructions from the Bread Bible.  The first few days things were going swell, but by now it says it should be doubling after each feed?  It is not.  Not even close.  It is bubbling, but not nearly as much as other pictures I have seen online of what a starter should look like. 

How can I perk it up?

And no, I have not tried baking with it yet. 

Also, I'm a (very enthusiastic) amateur amateur.


Gingi's picture

One Home Oven, Five Hours of Baking, Six Loaves, Pics Inside

Yes, one day off from work -- and instead or resting -- baking!

I felt the need to challenge myself and to make an experiment with percentage of hydration. 60%, 65% and 70% sourdoughes.... I have to admit that the latest was very challenging to handle.

Here are some pics: