The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Elagins's picture

Wanted: Test Bakers

Hi all,

As many of you know, Norm Berg (nbicomputers), a retired baker with over 30 years of bakery experience, and I recently signed with Camino Books to author The New York Bakers Jewish Bakery Book. After months of work, the manuscript is almost finished and our publisher has encouraged us to field-test a representative sampling of the recipes included in the book.

To do those recipes justice and to make them as clear and accessible as possible, we'd like to assemble a group of 120-150 test bakers and start baking by June 1. We plan to wrap things up before Labor Day.

Because Norm and I first connected on this site, and because it's such an important resource to bakers everywhere, we're limiting this invitation exclusively to members of the TFL community.

For more details and a sign-up link, please visit This link is only accessible here, so if you're intereste in joing our endeavor, please bookmark it accordingly.

Thanks so much for your help!

Stan Ginsberg (Elagins)

txfarmer's picture

Pull-apart bread

if pizza and savory monkey bread meet and have a child, it will be this dangerously delicious bread. Recipe can be found here:


Very easy to make, a departure from my usual sourdough and lean artisan breads, but if it tastes so good, it can't be a bad thing!


Fresh mozarella cheese in each dough ball, wrapped in butter and more cheese and herbs, layered with bacon (bacon!), sundried tomato, olives, and green onion, trust me, no one can say no to this bread. OK, maybe vegetarines can, know what I mean.

amauer's picture

Help improve Swedish Sweet Rye bread Recipe (not limpa)

I had a recipe passed on from my Grandma from Sweden. Now the family has so many variations, I can't fid the original. Here is one I made this weekend that is close, but no cigar. The one I remember starts with "make sponge of', etc. It is a dark, heavy dense close grained bread, but very moist and on the sweet side.

For two loaves

1 Ounce cake yeast, 1 cup warm water, 1 cup warm milk, 2 tsp salt, 4 C bread Flour, 1/4 C molasses, 1 C brown sugar, 1/3 C melted shortening, and 2 C rye four. I went with 3 cups of each white and rye.

it calls for a knead, rise double , and loaves, but I left in the frig all night and rose it in the pans.

It turned out OK, but right off the bat I knew the loaves were not dark or sweet enough. It must need more (like double?) molasses. It is a lighter grain than I wanted and not as dense leaving a lot of crumbs as I cut it, and not as moist as I like... Any ideas on how to improve from this recipe?


Newfieguy's picture

Why a starter in the first place?

Hello everyone, excuse the basic Bread 101 question here but why is it some recipes call for a starter and some do not?

I do not want to look a complete idiot but many of you in here are very forgiving to newbies! 

I did not see a definition of starter in the glossary so just thought I would ask!

It seems some folks work on starters for days.  Is it really necessary and when would you use it?

Thanks everyone!

New Newfie guy!

00Eve00's picture

New to starters--Unsure about feeding

I have a 6 day old AP flour starter.  Today was the first day I switched over to AP flour and water from rye and orange juice.  This morning I fed him and he doubled and collapsed in 4 hours so I fed him.  Ive been watching him and I noticed that he's doubling again and it's been about 4 hours.  This has all been happening at 68 F.  

Should I feed him again, but switch from a 1:1:1 to a 1:2:2?

He smells like alcohol (like a fuzzy navel lol) and yeast, and is nice and puffy so I don't think his vigor is due to leuc or other flora....but I could be wrong.

Thanks for your help. :)

dlstanf2's picture

Merlin's Magic (by the book)

After some of the comments on my other post, I tried another recipe, KAF's Merlin's Magic Sourdough. This recipe omitted the sugar, but still used the Vital Wheat Gluten which I used to boost protein and make a softer crumb. I took the recipe, by volume, but I did weigh at each process.

Basic Recipe

½ Cup Sourdough Starter (130gr)
¾ Cup Warm Water (180 gr)
1 Packet Active Dry Yeast
1 ½ Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1 ½ Tsp Salt
⅛ Cup Olive Oil
3 to 4 Cups AP Flour (420 gr/3 Cups A-P F)

I began by making the sponge; starter, water, wheat gluten, dry yeast, 1½ cups a-p flour . Once mixed I let this rest on the counter for 10 hours. This is what it looked liked. I had more than doubled in volume and yeast activity looked healthy.

After 10 hours I added the salt, olive oil, and the remaining 1½ cup of flour and kneaded for 10 minutes or so on top of my stove, best surface I have for kneading. The dough got elastic and had the feel I wanted, something similar to a good pizza dough. Here's the pic of the kneaded dough ball.

Next, I put this dough in the pan to rise for a few hours.

I had more than doubled and it was getting late. Two hours by the recipe, or it could have gone for 12 to develop more flavor. Here I lighlty floured my surface and used the strecth and fold technique to avoid overworking my dough. Then I formed the dough into a smooth ball, about the size of a grapefruit.

After forming the dough into a small boule, I put it on a cookie sheet, lighlty sprayed with olive oil, covered in plastic wrap, and covered that with a plastic mixing bowl, which I refridgerated overnight, another 10 to 12 hours. The recipe called for letting the dough rise for 2 hours and then baking, but it was after midnight for a loaf I started that morning, but it worked into my schedule quite well.

Here's the proofed loaf which I have just scored for baking. Recipe calls for baking at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. I spayed the oven first, then again when I inserted the loaf, and again about 10 minutes later. I used a thermometer to bake to 200 degrees.

This is the resulting loaf.

Baked weight was 683 grams or 1lb 8 1/4 oz. Perfect size. However, the crumb had a soft and finely holed textured, I suppose from the wheat gluten. Almost sandwich bread quality, soft with a chewy crust. While lighlty soured, I want more. I've ben looking for citric salt but haven't found any locally.

I just ate a slice with orange marmalade. Um! Um! Good!!

I'm thinking about making a few tweeks. Like using less or no wheat gluten, adding a bit of WG Rye (1/4 C), and starting with a cold oven. If that doesn't work I'm going with a hotter preheat (425-10 minutes), and then dropping to 375. Maybe I can get some citric salt in the meantime.

Feistywidget's picture

cream-filled buns

Sorry if this is a double post on the forum, but when I tried to post it on the forum initially to my knowledge, it  never bothered posting the topic.  I have a question about what type of filling to use in this recipe.  It's a Japanese dessert called custard buns and traditionally they're steamed (at least to my knowledge they are).  If somebody could please help regarding this I'd appreciate it.  In Japanese, they're called kurimu-pan (cream bread is the literal translation).

I'm trying to figure out what type of filling to use.  I don't want the filling to be so runny that

it ends up leaking out of the bun.


I've narrowed it down to these possibilities:


*Pastry Cream


Feistywidget's picture

custard buns

I have a basic Japanese recipe for custard buns.  Custard buns are filled with some type of cream.  However I'm not sure what to use as the filling.  I don't want the filling to be so runny it leaks out of the buns.  If I could get clarification regarding this I would very much appreciate it.


Traditionally to my knowledge, they're steamed.


I've come up with these possibilities:

*Pastry cream




Mish's picture

My starter dislikes the cold.....? What can I do?

Hi all!

I'm new here - what a wonderful site! I'am fairly new to sourdough too, I have been baking with it for almost two years and still learning. The terminology I use might be "wrong", I hope you still understand me.

I'd like to ask for your help to understand the reason + solution for the problem I have with my starter.

My starter is originally made of juice of wild yeast captured from fruit, and I've been using it for around 8 month (100% hydration). The juice is maintained too by adding some fresh fruit evert now and then.


My usual pattern is:
Sunday baking, feeding. Wait til it rise, and back into the fridge.
Friday, out from the fridge.  Feeding every ~12 hours to prepare for the Sunday baking.
Occationally when I was away from home, it was "starving" for 3-4 weeks but after a 3-5 refreshes it got active again.

The problem started early this year.

It was no sign of life after Friday-feeding. I had feed using the wild-yeast juice to get it up.
Next week, I took out the jar already on Wednesday to feed. No sign of life.
Week after, out already on Tuesday morning to feed. Again no sign of life.
I decided to move the jar to the balcony instead (winter=cold) and it did better. It simply survived more days until it got "flat with no sign of life".
I kept on feeding daily hoping the yeast to grow very strong, and did put it back after one week of intensive feeding but again, flat after few days in the fridge.
Now balcony trick does not work anymore.

Of couse, every time I refresh using the wild yeast juice, it get very active again but it means I add new yeast to the jar so it's kind cheating.
What I want is to have the yeast-guys in the jar to survive from week to week!

Past 10 days, I been trying to revitalise my flat starter by feeding-resting (no bubbles but still... It tastes sour though) I am giving up now. My rye-sour is living in fridge and doing excellent.

I've tried to feed everything from 1:1:1 to 1:3:3 (approx).
The fridge is 6 degrees celsius, room temperature 22, balcony was arond 6-10 deg C. While rising, I put the jar on top of the fridge, where it is around 26 deg.

So what I wish to understand is....
-what is wrong here??
-what can I do to make it survive week to week, using the fridge?

Thanks a lot!



thebreadfairy's picture

"Active cooling", a path to a crispier crust?


I do most of my bread-baking in a convection oven. I have been pleased with the flavor and textures but have been frustrated by my lack of consistency in obtaining crispy crusts when desired especially with baguettes. I have tried the method of "declining oven, door ajar" but this has not consistently helped. After following some recent threads here on the subject, I decided to try something new. So far, in very preliminary testing, I have been quite pleased with the results and wanted to share them with the community.


I am calling the process "active cooling" and quite simply it involves, at the end of the bake, leaving the loaf in the convection oven at the final baking temperature with the convection fan still turned on, opening the oven door about halfway, and letting the loaf cool for five minutes or so in the oven, at which point it could be removed for cooling on a rack. What I found was that, if the crust was hard at the end of the normal bake, it would stay that way during the active cooling and for multiple hours afterwards. Despite the extra time in the oven during the active cooling, there was no significant further darkening of the crust (as would be expected with merely prolonging the baking time) and the crumb stayed as moist as ever.


My theory on why this works is mostly speculation based on a few observations. I noticed that when my baguettes were removed from the oven for cooling on the rack, they would lose 2-3% of their weight over the next hour, most likely representing water loss. From what I have read here, it is this water migration from inside to outside that causes the crust softening. When doing the active cooling, I measured the weight change over the five minutes of active cooling minute by minute. Here is one of my loaves (Loaf was baked at 450° for 15 minutes. 15 min marks the start of the active cooling. Results are loaf weight in grams. Formula is Hamelman's Baguette with poolish):


@15 min=272.5g

@16 min=270.4g

@17 min=269.5g

@18 min=268.2g

@19 min=268.2g

@20 min=267.8g. Take out of oven for passive cooling.

After 1.5 hours more out of oven =265.6g


It seems like the total water loss of ~7gm is virtually the same as with rack cooling but that the active cooling speeds up the process markedly, possibly in a wicking-type process. Maybe, this moving water thru the crust more rapidly diminishes the softening action.


I realize that all this is based on very limited observations as I have tried this with only two very different baguette formulas but the results were so striking that I wanted to pass it along. I also realize there are many variables in the process including optimal active cooling temps, length of cooling time, applicability to different formulas and ingredients that need to be worked out. I would be very interested in fellow tfl'ers' thoughts on the process as well as their experiences if they try it with their own ovens.