The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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  • Pin It's picture

Developing a crusty crust with the distinct "ear".

My daughter and I have been working with artisan breads for about 8 years and we still have not mastered the crusty crust and the "ear" that forms on the crust from slashing. What is the secret to consistantly making bread like this?

PeterPiper's picture

Covering vs. Steaming

I've been working for the last two years to get the right formation, crust, and color on my sourdough.  Pre-heated skillets, pans of lava rocks, sprayers, you name it and I've tried it.  Turns out the best solution is the simplest.  Here is a loaf I made last night by covering the bread with a disposable foil roaster pan for the first ten minutes.



As an experiment, I left the cover on for 15 minutes on another loaf I was baking at the same time.  Here are the two together.


Turns out that extra five minutes makes a real difference, as it allows the dough to stay soft enough to keep ballooning out.  Also it seems to prevent full caramelization and the crust wasn't quite as crackly. 

Overall I'm amazed how easy it is.  No more dangerous steam and cumbersome steam pans.  My roaster pan covers were pretty crinkled and certainly not airtight, but did the trick.  Next time maybe I'll try 8 minutes to see what effect that has.


JoeVa's picture

Is It To My Taste?

Bake, bake and bake, the time passes and you demand more, you want more, you are more exigent.

In my previous post I shared with you a good looking bread but I admitted it was not to my taste. I have to say you that even in my last trip in Paris (March 2010) I didn't find a really amazing bread. I tasted a lot of bread from famous and not so famous bakeries and a lot of bread at Europain Exhibition. Some bread was really good, most of them good, someone bad. Till now I take with me, in my memory, just two or three bread I can say - that's a perfect sourdough!

So I planned a new formula to try the flavor potential of this sourdough bread. It was based on the previous one (85% white bread flour, 10% whole wheat, 5% whole rye. 66% hydration. 25% pre-fermented flour (100% hydration). Short mix with S&F ...

My changes:

  • The preferment was feed (and it is feed) with 97% bread flour 3% whole rye, 100% hydration. This adds a fruity smell.

  • Tested a new white bread flour. This is a strong "type 00" flour (50% extraction rate, low ash content), I think W 340. It could be used for long fermentation. Proteins contents 14% with European measurements (11.8% USA measurements).

  • Longer cold proof. This was not planned but I didn't want to bake early morning before work. So I adjusted the process to accommodate a 20h cold proof at 5°C.

I wanted to take a few shots of the process but I was tired so I took just a photo of my super cheap mixer while waiting my water cools down 2°C.

And here the levain almost ready to go:


The Bread:

Do you think it is to my taste? ...

I'm thinking these very light (empty) bread cannot be to my taste. It seems that the aroma escape from the loaf together with the water.

Next loaf? Maybe a T80 organic miche.

Doughtagnan's picture

Pain de Campagne - With French Flour

After seeing quite alot of  blog entries from my fellow bakers regarding French Flour I thought i'd share a pic of  this loaf made earlier today.  I spent last weekend in France so picked up some Pain de Campagne flour (Francine) from the massive Carrefour Hypermarket outside Caen. I have used it and Francines white flours before with good results though they are more expensive than the flour I buy in the UK.  Total flour weight was 550grams + rye starter and around 350ml of water. Yesterday, I made up a sponge with 250g of the flour & all of the water  then added the rest of the flour plus some olive oil and a little salt once it was good and bubbly.  After a leisurely kneading it was retarded overnight in the fridge, warmed up, shaped and proofed for couple of hours before baking in a cast iron casserole (from a cold oven) for 45mins on max (250c) then lid off for an extra 5mins at 200c. It was even nice enough for a pic outside!, crumb pic to follow cheers, Steve


varda's picture

What is translucent crumb?

I have just got done reading the extended discussion on this list of Gérard Rubaud flour mix, miches, etc. and saw several references to a translucent crumb.   I was somewhat mystified by this phraseology, as nothing could be more solid (if holey) than bread.   However, I just made a sourdough with a mature white wheat starter and bread flour.   Since I have been working on baguettes with a cold retard, I used that technique on the sourdough and let it sit in the refrigerator for 20 hours after some stretching and folding on the wet dough.   Then preshaped and shaped as two small boules.   Lo and behold when I cut into it, it had an almost translucent quality.   But maybe it's just the power of suggestion after reading all those posts, since I'm not entirely sure what the phrase is intended to mean.   I was going to take a picture of my sourdough for this post, but when I went to do it, the last bit of it had mysteriously disappeared.  So what is meant by translucent crumb, and is it a good thing, or just a thing?  Thanks!


Rahneo's picture

Looking for Dense, Chewy Multigrain and Seed Recipe

I'm looking for a European-style dense, chewy loaf, rather than the levain type.

The Noe Valley Bakery in San Francisco makes one and calls it "7x7" bread" (seven grains and seven seeds)


ZD's picture

This weeks fun. A 2.4 kilo loaf.

I started three days ago with tempering the hard red spring wheat to 15% moisture. Grinding and sifting last night to get a 86% extraction. Making and baking today. It was very wet. I might have misweighed or miscalculated. I worked in a little flour and it ended up the best tasting bread I have made in a long time. Made with flour, water, salt, and starter. It was sweat, a little sour, and had a wonderful wheat flavor. I got the red color crust I like. The family thought it was good also.

 A 80% home ground HRS wheat and 20% KA AP flour loaf.

This is the pizza I made for my wife this week.


Some of my son Jack's baking this spring break week.

It was a good week.


Greg R

saraugie's picture

French Flour conversions to American Flour

Wanting to copy Shiao-Ping's latest gorgeous, yummy looking bread T110 Miche, I see that the flour she used is T110.  I searched the web and came up with this chart from another food website.  I cannot understand the science of flour IE: ash content, water absorption rates etc and just need know what the American equivalents are.  I wonder if you who know could tell if these comparisons are correct ?

AMERICAN: Cake & Pastry

AMERICAN: All-Purpose & Bread

AMERICAN: High Gluten

AMERICAN: Light Whole Wheat

AMERICAN: Whole Wheat

AMERICAN: Dark Whole Wheat

wildeny's picture

2010 Masters of Boulangerie

Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie

The result was announced on March 10:

  • Pao-Chun WU, Master Baker in the BREAD category

  • Thomas PLANCHOT, Master Baker in the VIENNESE PASTRY category 

  • François BRANDT, Master Baker in the ARTISTIC PIECE category 

I'm from Taiwan, so I'm very proud of Mr. Wu's achievement, especially after knowing his background.

As the youngest of eight children, Mr. Wu came from a poor family that was raised solely by his mother. He started to work as a trainee after graduated from the junior high school (the ninth grade). His bread, which won the silver prize in 2008, was based on the ingredient that made him think of his mother. This year, the bread that Mr. Wu made for the competition as typical of Taiwan contained ingredients such as Taiwanese millet wine, dried lichee and roses.

In Taiwan, this kind of artisan-style bread is not widely accepted. People still used to pastry-like sweet bread (soft & rich; which was influenced by Japan) or traditional steamed buns. Most bakers do not master in artisan baking. But that has started to change. 

The bread he made for 2010 Masters of Boulangerie (the bottles are Taiwanese millet wine)



qahtan's picture

Cut and come again cake

this is the second date loaf I have made in a week, the first went as quick as a whiz so thought I had better make another, Gerry (husband)likes to have a slice of what my mum always called cut and come again cake, which really was any cake that was not overly rich or creamy, like a loaf cake, maybe currants, dates, cherries or what ever.. qahtan

1 cup butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
2 cups A P flour
4 eggs
level teaspoon BP
2/3 tablespoons very very strong black coffee
and as many chopped dates as you want to put in.. I like lots
Bake slow at 285......