The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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danthebakerman's picture

Budding Bread Baker needs assistance


My name is Dan, and I'm just out of college for baking, and I'm truly giving it my all to be the best baker I possibly can be. I've baked some loaves lately, and I would like you lovely folks to judge them for me. 

This first loaf (above this text) I made ohh... about 3 weeks ago, this was my first attempt. The inside crumb was "closed up" - just like a regular loaf of sandwich bread. 

This was my second attempt (once again, above this text) - Same exact recipe and everything. I'm just using the "Sweet French Bread" recipe from Peter Reinhart's "Brother Juniper's Bread Book". The crumb was the same, I'm trying to get one recipe (along with one hydration level) down before I change anything. This way I can hopefully get my shaping / scoring abilities better. 


Last set of loaves I made, I made these about 2-3 days ago. Once again, same recipe, same hydration level, same proofing time, etc. The only differences that I made here were that I added a bit of dry milk powder to hopefully get better volume and I brushed olive oil on the outside before baking to get a crispier crust. I did score these differently, I scored these the way they're supposed to be scored, with a lame at a 45 degree angle, the other two loaves were cuts straight down. 


Any other information that may be useful - 

For ALL loaves, I used a 50/50 mix of King-Arthur AP Flour with Bread Flour

I only use plain spring water, our everyday drinking water

I attempt to create a steam oven by using a cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven, and I pour boiling water into the pan fast and close the oven door ASAP

I baked all of these loaves just on a sheet pan


If anyone could be of assistance, it would be greatly appreciated!!!!! 


Antilope's picture

Using a Regular Loaf Pan in a Zojirushi Bread Machine

Baking in A Regular Loaf Pan in a Zojirushi Bread Machine. Mine is a BB-PAC20 Virtuoso.

Okay, here's teaching an old dog new tricks. It was hot, I didn't want to bake in the regular oven, but I wanted to bake in a 9 x 5 loaf pan. My toaster oven always gets the top of the loaf too dark or burns it by the time the interior is done. I had used the Zojirushi Virtuoso bread machine's manual dough cycle to knead the dough. Then I put the sourdough in a regular loaf pan to rise in the regular off oven. I was making sourdough sandwich bread. Now it was ready to bake, but I didn't want to heat up the house with the conventional oven.
It looked like a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan would fit in the Zo bread machine with the Zo's mixing/bread basket removed.
I ran a manual bake cycle for 70 minutes. Placed the 9 x 5 loaf pan of sourdough in the bottom of the Zo. The loaf pan rested on the square raised fixture that surrounds the posts that spin the mixing paddles. Those posts are so short, they didn't touch the bottom of the loaf pan. It sat there perfectly as if it were made for a 9 x 5 loaf pan. The heating element surrounded the loaf pan perfectly. I put the loaf pan in the Zo and ran the manual bake cycle. It stated out cold, not preheated.
70 minutes later, I have a perfect loaf a bread, baked in a regular 9 x 5 loaf pan in the bottom of the Zo. The top is nicely browned. The loaf is a regular shape, not a bread machine shape. Best of all, my house didn't heat up.
So that's another use for the Zo bread machine. In addition to mixing the dough, it can bake a regular 9 x 5 inch loaf pan of bread. Next time, I will let it rise in the regular loaf pan in the Zo. Actually the top rim of the loaf pan is 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. In the Zo BB-PAC20 Virtuoso there is about an inch of clearance on all the side walls from the loaf pan.
I've baked several loaves by this method and it's worked great each time. I now let the dough rise in the loaf pan, while it's sitting in the the closed, off, bread machine, in addition to baking in the bread machine.

Here's a picture of Japanese Milk Bread rising in a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan in my Zo Virtuoso. When it rose enough (1/2 inch over rim of loaf pan) I baked it for 70 minutes. This keeps the house cool and makes a more attractive loaf.

Cob's picture

Those Bahlsen gingerbread hearts/rounds?

Are divine.

Cannot get the memory of them out of my head. My childhood was joyous, my adulthood marred.


Anyone got anything close. Cakey, crumbly, yet pastry like and coated in dark chocolate but no jam thankfully. I never get close!



PastryNube's picture

Confused about pastry flour.

I haven't done a lot of baking in my life, but I recently got it into my head that I needed to make my own French croissants. The first batch I made was using a recipe that called for all purpose flour and the results were ok in terms of flavor, but the croissants were somewhat hard and not at all what I wanted texture wise. I moved on to another recipe that I found on youtube where the croissants were made using what the chef described as pastry flour. He further specified that the flour should be T-45 and that it should be "very hard". I found this confusing because my understanding was that pastry flour was supposed to be soft. At the time, I just assumed the problem was that this French chef just didn't speak English very well.

In any case, I went on a mission to find myself some pastry flour. The best I could manage here in Toronto was cake & pastry flour until I came upon a grocer that was selling an Italian brand flour ( Molino Soncini Cesare ) that was labeled "cake" on the English side, Dolci ( sweets) on the Italian side, and then had another label glued onto it that said in French "Farine a patisserie" ( pastry flour ). Meanwhile, the nutrition facts on the bag specified that there are 5g of protien for every 30g serving which works out to just under 17%! I took a chance and purchased the flour and when I got home I researched it further and found that the manufacturer was recommending it especially for croissants ( they also had an 11% version of this flour for other purposes). I was in business.

I'm obviously not a professional baker, but by my standards the croissants came out pretty darn well ( pic attached ). They have a delicate flake while also being nice and airy.

So now I'm confused about what it means when people refer to pastry flour since I've now heard it described as "soft",  "hard", as "low protein" and then in my case 17% protein. Can anyone shed some light on this? 


NanooseGuy's picture

Newbie Bakes Pain de Campagne - Help!

This was my first time baking Pain de Campagne and I had a few problems so I would appreciate any and all comments and/or suggestions.

I followed Reinhart’s Pain de Campagne formula in the BBA, using Roger’s (Armstrong, BC, Canada) unbleached all-purpose flour (a high protein/gluten flour around 14%). To begin, I followed Reinhart’s formula for making a pâte fermentée. I ended up with dough at 78°F, which I placed in a bowl and set on the counter for 1 hour, as per instructions. At this point, the dough had increased significantly in size, at least 1½ times, so I put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

The next day I was ready to make bread. By  this time the pâte fermentée had more than doubled in size so, rather than letting it sit for an hour on the counter, I immediately cut the pâte fermentée up into small pieces and, following Reinhart’s Pain de Campagne formula, proceeded to mix all the remaining ingredients using a mixer with paddle, then dough hook. After mixing for 1 minute with paddle and 5 minutes with dough hook I had dough that was smooth and was clearing the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl. The temperature read 77°F. I cut off a piece and tried the windowpane test but the dough tore. Also the dough was very sticky (rather than tacky). I decided to continue mixing and to add some flour. I mixed for an additional 5 minutes, adding at least 3 tablespoons of flour to the dough. The dough temperature was now 82°F and I tried the windowpane test again, with better results (the dough still tore a little however), and the dough was still a little sticky as it still stuck to my fingers after the test. I decided not to do any further mixing (because I had mixed for over 10 minutes on medium speed and the dough temperature concerned me). Instead, I placed the dough in a bowl on the counter, covered it, and waited until the dough was 1½ times in size (as per instructions). This took about an hour.

Now for shaping. I cut the dough into 3 pieces, weighing each, so that I ended up with 3 pieces of 303 grams (10.6 ounces) each. I shaped these pieces into a baguette, a batard and a boule and set them aside to proof. About an hour later, when the pieces had grown in size 1½ times (as per Reinhart’s instructions), I scored the batard and the boule and, using scissors, “epi cut” the baguette. I baked the 3 pieces (boule and batard on parchment paper directly on my pizza stone while the epi was on parchment paper on a cookie sheet on the rack nearer the top of my oven.

One of my problems was with the crumb being “dense”. As you can see from the boule photos (the other two bread pieces have already been eaten) there are no large holes. Also the 3 pieces were all small. Being a new formula, I was not sure how large the bread pieces should end up being.

When shaping the baguette, I started with dough weighing 303 grams (as previously mentioned). After shaping, I had a baguette that was approximately 2” in diameter and 15” long. With equal sized dough pieces, my batard, after shaping, ended up being about 3” at its thickest and about 8” long, while the boule ended up about 4” in diameter. The boule photos show a boule of 5½” in diameter after baking.

I let these pieces proof for about 60 minutes, until they had grown in size 1½ times. I gave the boule a poke test and the dough slowly sprung back, but not all the way. I could see an indentation where I had poked it. This suggested to me that it was time to bake.

The pieces were baked initially at 550°F, with steam (I poured water into cookie sheet on bottom of oven and sprayed oven side walls twice). After steaming, I turned the oven temperature down to 450°F. The Epi came out after 25 minutes (202°F internal temperature) while the boule and batard took another 5 minutes baking, at which time I turned off the oven, cracked the oven door open, and left them for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.

So what went wrong? Did I proof enough? How big a boule should I expect from 303 grams/10.6 ounces of dough? How big a batard and baguette? What can I do to improve the crumb?

If a recipe/formula says that it makes a 1½ pound loaf of bread does this mean that the dough weighs 1½ pounds? Is there a correlation between the two?

Thanks for your help.

bruneski's picture

How much powdered sugar should be used ...

... to replace granulated sugar in a bread recipe?

Is there a general rule for this type of substitution? By volume? By weight?

Would the proportion depend on the type of bread?

Unfortunately, I only have powdered sugar end brown sugar readily available.


Antilope's picture

Tangzhong in a Bread Machine

Here is my Buttery Buttermilk White Bread recipe. It makes a Wonder Bread like loaf.

It's a favorite of my family and friends who request it all the time.

Buttery Buttermilk White Bread for Bread Machine with Water Roux

This bread machine recipe makes a nice loaf buttery white bread. It also uses buttermilk.

Tangzhong Method - Water Roux

In addition this recipe uses the Tangzhong water roux method to make a tender, lighter,
longer lasting loaf of wheat bread.
The Tangzhong water roux method was developed in Asia. It is a roux of water and flour
heated to 65-C (150-F). The roux is thick and creamy and a translucent white color, similar
to the texture of pudding. The cooled roux is mixed with the other wet ingredients. Its use
results in a lighter, fluffier bread with a longer shelf life.

The Tangzhong water roux is usually made from 5% by weight of the total flour used. It is
mixed with a 5 to 1 ratio of water (by weight). The water used in the roux should be
subtracted from the total liquids used in the recipe.

Buttery Buttermilk White Bread for Bread Machine with Water Roux


Tanzhong water roux
1/2 cup (120 g) water (for Tanzhong roux)
3 Tbsp (25 g) Bread Flour (for Tanzhong roux)

Bread Dough
All of cooled Tanzhong Water Roux from above
1 egg (50 g)
1/2 cup (120 g) Buttermilk or Plain Yogurt
3 Tbsp (45 g) Butter, softened
4 Tbsp (30 g) Non-fat Dry Milk or Dry Coffee Creamer
1 Tbsp (12 g) White Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 tsp (7.5 g) Table Salt
3 2/3 cup (425 g) Bread Flour
2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet (7 g) Bread machine yeast or Instant yeast

I make the TangZhong roux in an 1100-watt microwave, heating 1/2 cup of water mixed with 3
Tbsp bread flour to 150-F, forming the roux.
Use a pyrex cup. 120-gm (about 1/2 cup) room temperature water, 25-gm (about 3 Tbsp) Bread
Flour. Mix well with whisk.
-Microwave 25-seconds. Stir, take temperature. Will be about 125-F.
-Microwave 11-seconds. Stir, take? temperature. Will be about 145-F.
-Microwave 11 more seconds. Stir, take temperature. Will be about 155-F.
The roux will be thick and creamy like pudding and a translucent-white color.
Cool to below 130-F, mix with other wet ingredients.

Combine all of the cooled prepared Tanzhong water roux, egg and Buttermilk. Mix well.
Add to bread machine.

Drop the softened butter into the bread machine.

Add the non-fat dry milk, granulated sugar, salt and Bread Flour to the bread machine. Add
the yeast to the bread machine.

Set machine to BASIC or WHITE , MEDIUM COLOR, 1 1/2 LB LOAF.

Press START.

During first few minutes of kneading, adjust dough, as needed, with flour or water to form a
smooth, firm, non-sticky, non-crumbly dough.

Yield: One 1 1/2 lb loaf of bread.

Ingredient weights are also given in grams for those that prefer to weigh recipes.

quinn_hartly's picture

!!! Dough liquifies? (also, new)

I have a dough that magically liquifies.

I've made lots of the bread in the past, and was semi experimenting with a recipe - I was trying it using some of my sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast.

The dough initally came together as any other dough, though a bit on the sticky side. I completely expected it to take extra long to rise, which I didn't mind at all. I let it go for 2-ish hours.

But instead of rising in any way, or even just remaining the same, the dough had become a thick, sticky batter. I assumed I had not added enough flour, so I kneaded in more until it came back to a slightly sticky tackiness, then left it again.

And it liquified again.

And again.


I feel like I'm losing my mind, and I can't find a clue anywhere why this might be happening. So far I've added 3 cups of flour, and am on the brink of throwing it out sheerly out of frustration, but I really don't want to waste it.

PS: Apologies if this is in the wrong section, I am new to the site.

varda's picture

The Dog Ate My Baguette

I have been making a lot of baguettes lately.    I had a particularly promising one the other day - took a bite, left the room, came back to find the dog eating it.   That's what happens when you make a lot of baguettes, I suppose.   

My husband asked me if I was driving myself crazy with making all these baguettes.   The answer?   No, I'm just trying to learn how to do it.   And you have to make a lot to learn.   So there it is.    And fortunately unlike some of my rye-ier efforts, he actually likes to eat the endless series of practice rounds.  

Today's entry?   A lower hydration overnight retarded sourdough version.   It rolled out a lot longer than I expected - 20 inches - as I did a long rest after the preshape.   It surprised me that the shaping was much easier with this long rest and it didn't seem to get overproofed.    As my baguette trays are 16 inches long instead of proofing on the tray, I placed it diagonally on a 16 inch sheet seam side down, covered with couche, and supported the sides.  

It sang like crazy coming out of the oven and looked ok if a bit mottled - I'm not sure why.

I was thrilled with the taste.   My best yet without question.   This had exactly the smooth creamy crumb texture that I have been striving for with an absolutely crisp and brittle crust.   The sourdough gives it a deep flavor, with not a hint of sour.  

Since I rolled it out so thin it had a bit higher ratio of crust to crumb for every bite, than I might have hoped.   So at least a shade thicker and shorter next time.  

      Final   Starter   Total Baker's %
Salt3 31.6%
Starter70  22%
Mix all by hand - a couple minutes 
Bulk Ferment 1 hour  
Stretch and Fold in bowl  
Seal container and refrigerate for 13 hours
Remove and preshape  
Place upside down in couche  
Rest 1.5 hours   
Shape and place diagonally on 16 inch sheet
Cover with couche and support on both sides
Proof for 1.5 hours   
Slash and bake at 450 for 30 minutes 
steam at beginning   
Rotate at 25 minutes  

If you ask am I likely to be posting any more on baguettes, I will have to quote Winston Churchill.  

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

After all, I still haven't fully explored hydration or yeast vs starter or retardation time or starter plus biga or...

And just in case you are wondering if my dog story is a bit too shaggy...

Does this look like a shaggy dog?



jofl's picture

Tartine country loaf..again

Need some advice here, 

im used to making good loafs using leavens and different starters from scratch. My problem is with regards to texture.

i cannot get the large bubbles and open texture in my loafs as shown in the Tartine bread book. I am not using the Dutch oven as part of the process - I don't have one, but I am loading my fan oven with steam before putting the bread in.  Is this the cause? 

Im getting good bread with excellent crust but with a tight texture.  I have never come across the Dutch oven process before so guessing what it's impact may have on the finished loaf.

please advise