The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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clazar123's picture

It's gooseberry season in Wisconsin!

I have a prickly gooseberry bush that was laying flat it was so heavy with berries. Well today it is lightened of its load and I have only a few scratches. Success! So what to do with these wonderful gems?


I have done jam but I want to stretch out a bit. I made some gooseberry muffins this morning and they were quite delicious. Any more ideas?

davidg618's picture

I suggest a contest

Let's have a contest:


Come up with a question that hasn't already been answered on TFL ad nauseum, and a long list of answers (agreements and disagreements) can be found using the "Search" function provided--right-hand side of The Fresh Loaf banner on the home page.

Prize: everyone who enters will learn a new skill or hone an old skill: how to use the "Search" function on TFL.

David G

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Fun with Jason's Ciabatta

It's been a year or more since I've made Jason's Quick Ciabatta recipe, so I made a variation first and followed the next day with his standard recipe.

For the variation, I mixed Jason's standard 95% hydration dough until it started to climb the mixer paddle.  At that time I added enough flour to make a 75% hydrated dough and retarded it overnight in the fridge. The next day, I shaped, proofed and baked the loaves.

Later that day, I made the standard recipe which is always fun for me to make and will be nice for dinner tomorrow with the kids.


CJRoman's picture

Beer Starter?

I go out of my way to bake everything with I look to attempt my first sourdough....I'm wondering: Can I make my starter with beer instead of water? Will there be any flavor benefit? this not desirable given the alcohol content in the starter?

CJRoman's picture

Baked Baking Soda

After my big disappointment with lye...I want to try baked baking soda.

My question is...with the lye, so long as it is sealed you can use it indefinitely (even in its solution form)...will a baked baking soda solution keep for re-use as well??

Also, sometimes I go wild and make dozens and dozens of pretzels at one time...and I'm always curious to know who long a baking soda solution is "good" for when making multiple batches? It seems to get cloudy and icky as I go...but that may not mean anything...



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.    

Elagins's picture

Bagels: is it really "the water"?

The real story on what passes for bagels

phaz's picture

The BlackBerry Starter

 just looking for knowledge from those who have experience with starters created from fruit.  already have a well established starter,but when poking around the garden the other day I came upon some BlackBerry bushes in 1 corner of the property. I've heard of starters created using say wild cherries and raisins, so when I noticed the bluish grey coating on the berries, I picked a few and tossed in an old jelly jar with a splash of water, semi heaping teaspoon of white flour, and a semi heaping teaspoon of whole grain rye and mixed. 2nd day it had doubled in height. 3rd morning it had fallen, so I removed about half and feed as above. this morning, 4th day, it had tripled in height, almost filling the jar. lots of bubbles big and small, and no strange odors, actually smells nice, like strong blackberries. the plan is to keep the feeding up for a few more days, removing half, till whatever is left of the berries is about gone, then try a loaf. advice and suggestions always appreciated! thanx in advance!

Ava's picture

Rye flour in the UK

Hello all,

Does anyone happen to know where to get the darkest grade of rye flour, in the UK? England in particular. I can only seem to find one or two brands, and while the packets don't say anything about grade, they look very light to me.


Thanks! :)

chris319's picture

Starter Wheat Flour

Still no joy with my starter experiments.

I've tried every elixir I've read about and could think of and am still not getting off the ground, so I'm beginning to wonder if the flour I'm using has enough of the right kind of wild yeast to make a vigorous starter. Is this a ridiculous notion? The best I've gotten is some tiny gas bubbles on the surface which eventually disappear and the starter then goes as flat as a week-old glass of root beer.

I've tried, in various combinations, spring water, pineapple juice, milk, yougurt, cultured buttermilk*, beer, wine, honey, vinegar water to a pH of 3.5, organic grape skins and cumin, all to no avail. Having tried such a wide assortment of diluents I'm beginning to suspect something is up with the flour. The room is the right temperature and the starters are properly refreshed. I'm thinking it's not my technique, my diluents, the pH, etc.

The yeast we are after for sourdough is candida humilis fka candida milleri. Packaged baker's yeast is saccharomyces cerevisiae, i.e. the wrong kind of yeast for sourdough, so packaged yeast is a no-go.

It is well established that starter can be made from wheat flour, so suggestions such as "try a little rye", though well intentioned, are off the table.

What kind of flour do successful starter makers like? I've been using King Arthur organic whole wheat.

*Cultured buttermilk made lots of mold, but no c. humilis.