The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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SpartanArtisanWantabe's picture

Michigan Hearth Room

I am planning to add a hearth room to the back of the house with an indoor Alan Scott style oven. I have studied this quite a bit but still have lots of quesions, and am looking for some feedback/advice from those who have travelled this road. I've been baking for about 15 years in my home oven and make 6-8 loaves a week for friends. These days I am making almost entirely wild yeast leaven breads and feel like I could sell or give away as much as I can make. A few of the big questions I have are...

1.) How big? I am planing to build the 42 x 48 inch artisan oven as I think I can bake approximately 15 boules at at time. Is this too big?

2.) Is there anyone out there in the West Michigan area that has built an A.S. oven that I can visit and check out?

3.) For those of you that have built an Alan Scott oven, do you have any tips or suggestions for things that you would do differently? That is, do you have any lessons learned that you can pass on to save me time, costs or effort, or ensure that the oven is a success and that I can get it permitted and my consturction approved?

kamamav's picture

flat starter & sticky dough after proofing

OK, I am new at sourdough, but have been baking many years. I have a wonderfully sour starter that bubbles real busy; however it does not expand more than 2x its volume with regular 12 hour feedings. I started with a 1-1 WW & water recipe and let the natural yeasts develop. It took about 10 days to really start working itself up good. Between my baking I store in the fridge, removing and bringing to room temp every 2-3 days. I feed and wait for action, then return to the fridge till I need it or need to feed again. I use 2-1 flour to water, alternating WW and AP for feedings. I will keep out for 3-4 feedings.

I tried using for loaves and typically get hard, overmoist and over crusty loaves. I tried 1/4 tsp ACV in my last feeding before using the starter for the 2 loaves in the pic. I am wondering if that even helped considering the density of the loaves. We ended up using it for french toast that was ok at dense it didn't want to soak up the milk/egg!

 Now, I think my hair is falling out! I am ready to throw a loaf out now that has been proofing in the oven with the light on since yesterday! Yes, yesterday! Starting the night before last, I kneaded all the ing together and let it set to rise overnight. In the morning after proofing 8 hours, my dough turned very sticky, too wet to knead without another almost cup of flour added. Beautiful 2nd proof after 2-3 hours, then discovered the same stickiness problem! I had to add another good anount of flour just to knead again. Now I have this very stiff dough in my oven scored and resting. It has risen by about 1/4 of it's original size and I'm afraid to touch it! I am so frustrated I want to just throw everything out! I love sd and thought I was determined enough to figure it out! Now I am ready to just go buy a commercial loaf and ditch the whole starter for good!

pysiek's picture

is this possible that rye starter is too strong ?

Hi there, 

this is my first question here. For a long time I was only a reader here but lately I started to have some difficulty with my bread making technics and need some advise.

I am baking different types of bread and using different types of flour, most of the time I prefered to use my own starters.

I made rye starter around 3 years ago and I was using it at least twice a week. Last few weeks when preparing the bread dough it "behave" normally during knead-rise-fold etc process and only once in oven it almost exploded ! The bread is not only with holes, the bread is one big hole inside ! I have  not changed the type of lfour or proportion of bread mixture so this is really wierd to me. After a few disasters bread loafs I decided to de-creased the amount of starter. After adding only half of usual amount of starter the bread was mostly fine but again the big holes accumulated on the top of bread and very dense near the bottom. 

I am quite happy to keep my experiments but ... also need daily bread :-D

What do you think ? what I am doing wrong ? 



AnnaInMD's picture

Braided bread pan

This would be an easy way of baking several different breads or cakes at a reasonable cost.


dakkar's picture

Sourdough Experiments

Based on the recipee from but with modification. Used blueberry (it is the season!) in the first one. Winning combination!
Which lead me to, mmm, chocolate and blueberry... I wonder.
So I added over 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the mix. But as I was short on flour, I also added some whole wheat (go figure). Despite all the changes in the recipee, it turned out quite good! The crumb is not as developped, but you can definately taste the cocoa flavor.
Another day, anothe experiment!

mcs's picture

Sinclair's Bakery - July update

Hey there everyone.  It's been a couple of months since my last update so for those who haven't been keeping track on Facebook, here goes.

The farmers' market season is just getting rolling.  There are plenty of events here in the Gallatin Valley, plus some in nearby towns and counties.  I decided not to pick up any wholesale accounts until after the market season has slowed down later in the season.  Today was my third time selling at the Gallatin County Farmers' Market, and Wednesday was my 5th evening market in Livingston, MT.  Livingston is just north of Yellowstone National Park and just under an hour east of Belgrade, MT.

And just so you don't think I'm just standing around taking pictures of the scenery, here's some filled rolls that I sell at the evening market.  The ones with the white sesame seeds have shredded beef in them, the mixed seeds designate chicken teriyaki filling.  Thanks Michelle for the suggestion on the toppings :)


This is the cross section of some croissant dough I made that I was particularly proud of.  Nice, huh?  When it comes out like that, you just go 'aaaaaaaahhhhhhh'.

Here are some strudels I was making yesterday morning while it was still nice and cool.

Below are some croissants I baked up at the market today in Bozeman at the fairgrounds.  "Quick, I need to get a picture before the customers come!"  A vendor came to get one before the market started.  I told him they were currently in the oven, and when he asked how long he'd have to wait, I turned the timer around so he could see it.  "Two and a half minutes," I said.  How's that?

Buckwheat Flax and Sour Rye 400g mini loaves


Next week, I'll be trying the market at Big Sky and possibly testing the waters here in Belgrade at the evening market they have on Thursdays.

After a short hiatus from the baking world because of my move, it's nice to be back in the mix and to be hearing things like, "I used to live in Paris, and this pain au chocolat is better than any I ever had there!" 

I had one customer two weeks ago who told me, "My wife is very particular about her baguettes; she's French.  I'll take one and if she likes it, we'll be back next week."  This week he came back with a smile on his face and his wife.  "Well, I told you I'd be back if she liked it.  We'll take two!"  His wife chimed in, "Three."  :)

Another woman, probably in her late 70's, and with a thick accent came back and bought three baguettes.  She told me, "Last week I got one of your long breads, and it was the best bread I'd ever had, so this week I'm getting three!"  I asked her, "Do you mind if I ask where your accent is from?"  She said, "Switzerland.  Basel"  I told her "When I was a teenager my family and I traveled to the Engadin Valley and I enjoyed the bread and pastries so much, I decided I was going to become a baker."  She smiled.

Anyway, that's the short of it; word is spreading fast and all of the good bread and pastry loving people are coming out of the woodwork.  If you'd like to see more pictures, you can check out the bakery Facebook page here.  All of the photos are set to public view, so you shouldn't need a FB account to see them.

Happy Baking everyone.


Alnair's picture

Proper Hydration

I currently have a rye sourdough starter and a regular Pain au Levain going, just a couple days in for both of them. I'm having a hard time deciding whether or not they are too dry or not. I actually added about a teaspoon of water to my Pain au Levain because it was very dry and crumbly and I thought that was too dry, I hope that wasn't a mistake. My rye sourdough also looks dry, but it is at least in a stiff doughlike structure, though I'm reading that perhaps it shouldn't be so doughlike? I'm not entirely sure. I took pictures of each but can't figure out how to upload both onto here. Any help would be great! Thanks.




golgi70's picture

Farmer's Market Week 7 Hazelnut Levain

The Bounty:  Local Greens, Sicilian Garlic, Italian Sausage, Fresh Flowers (for the lady), local pears, raspberry jam (again its so good particularly with this bread), purple carrots, goat cheese ricotta.  Fun.  



Total Flour 875  Total H20: 664.5   Hydration: 75.9% (I'll make this 80% next time around)

Levain  DDT 76-78 degrees
Starter 75g
H20 167g
Wheat 75g
Artisan 75g
Hazelnut Flour 16.5g (not counted as flour)

6-8 hours (I made this on the warmer side to move it along quickly and not get too much twang)

Artisan 562.5
Wheat 125
Hazelnut Paste 31
H20 460
Caremlized Hazelnuts, chopped 75
Sea Salt 20

DDT 76 degrees
1682 total (2 @ 841g)

Autolyse Artisan, Wheat, and H20 for 2 hours
Add paste and levain and mix for 5 minutes on speed 1. Add salt. Mix for five more minutes. Add nuts. Mix until distributed.
3 1/2 hour bulk with 4-6 french/s+F's
Shape and retard immediately.
Bake 480 Cold with heavy steam for 15 minutes Vent and bake 20 more

Notes/Changes:  Hazelnut Paste might be doing something but not enough and being pricey as it is might be fine to skip on.  Same goes for hazelnut meal in the levain, might not be needed and save money to cut.  You can skip the caramelizing of the hazelnuts and just roast and remove skins(i sprinkled lightly with salt after roasting).  If and when I make again I will raise hydration and add some cocoa nibs for sure.  

And we're off again playing with one of my very favorite flavors.  I'll post formula later on scaled down to 2 loaves with updates and notes and all.  But for now before I head down to the market some photos.  Quickly though.  I had some troubles with the top shelf of my fridge is apparently too cold and blowing the cold air so the best loaves were those I put down below.  This is an easy fix for the future.  It's simple salty wheaty sour with toasty hazelnuts.  

Happy Baking and More to come later, 


JoshCrumb is from the colder slightly underproofed loaves.  Not so bad though.  


JDYangachi's picture

Apology to my much-maligned kitchen

I have been blaming you (and your cool temperatures) for slow proofing.

As you can see, the fault was not yours.

I guess it was time to replace the old(er) -- but not actually expired -- yeast with a new supply.


dablues's picture

Jeffrey Hammelman's Hazelnut, Fig, Fennel Seeds & Rosemary Bread

I want to make this bread but do not have Hazelnuts and can't get them at this time.  I do have on hand, Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts & Pistachios.  I was thinking of using Pecans but don't know how that will go with the Fennel Seeds & Rosemary.  Any input would be appreciated.