The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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rolls's picture

maintaining scoring implement

Hi, like many of you on this site, my 'lame' is home-made, a choptick threaded through a double-edged razor blade actually  :)


was jus wondering, how do i look after it/clean/store etc and how do i know when it needs replacing. 


also, when i score, do i go fast or slow? ive seen bakers do it both ways, with me though it usually drags.


thanks heaps

ananda's picture

Vienna Flour, and bread types


Brief Post on Vienna Flour

Uberathlete posted asking about Vienna Flour, see:

Elizabeth David (1977; pp.76), in her "English Bread and Yeast Cookery states the following: " 'Vienna' flour was in reality high quality Hungarian or Romanian flour, roller milled, fine, of medium strength and creamy white, good for 'Vienna' bread and puff pastry and yeast cakes."

She also quotes from Frederick T. Vine, "Savoury Pastry" from 1900: "undoubtedly the best flour for the purpose [puff paste] is the first place, flour for paste should be of good colour and finely ground, not too soft or harsh.   It should have a good percentage of gluten, but that gluten must not be so strong that it will pull the rounds into ovals and the ovals into rounds."   Vine goes on to say he found American flour sent for the purpose, to be best suited to making bread only.

David concludes, with reference to England, that "The import of Hungarian and Vienna flours virtually ceased with the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War."

I offer up photographs below of typical breads which may have been made with Vienna-type flour at the time.  These were made during my time studying for my baking quals at Leeds; ostensibly to investigate different methods of manufacturing the same type of bread.   My tutor always used to look very carefully into the bag of Whitworth's Strong bread flour; he always called it "Springs", but that was the old name, and I can't remember the new one.   Whitworth's site is being renovated, so I can't find the right bag, sorry.   Anyway, it had great water absorption, but my tutor explained that by showing us the tiny dark particles in the flour, saying "they are cheating us".   Well, I always thought the bread made that day looked very fine; you can make your own minds up.



Best wishes


kdwnnc's picture

My Favorite Cornbread

So there was a really big batch of chili made last night, so there was cornbread last night, and there will be cornbread tonight.  And, frankly, I don't get tired of it!  I know that there have been several cornbread recipes posted here, but I just have to share this, which is my favorite.  It comes out the oven so nice and tall, is perfectly delicious, and is extremely simple.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs


Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, oil, and egg.  Stir just until combined (do not overbeat).  Turn into a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes.  Serves 8. 

caseymcm's picture

the value of practice

I was just responding to a post about how baking has been a great lesson in the value of practice for me and decided to make a general post about it. Please indulge me a little.
(I'm a lurker and infrequent poster so consider this an introduction of sorts)

I had said:

One of the amazing things about baking to me is how much it's a concrete lesson in the value of practice. I used to do some outdoor sports and played music in school but never had much patience for practice. Maybe I'm just old enough to be more patient, maybe it's that life only allows me enough time to have practical hobbies with practical results like baking. Don't get me wrong, I've taught myself many things in life (like, auto mechanics of old cars, beer brewing...) and I've definitely improved at my career over the years, but I think baking is very demonstrative of the concept. You get very concrete results of your improvement if you stick with it, and people can be so impressed. And even as you learn and gain skill, it still doesn't seem that hard. It seems like, I just throw a few ingredients together, wait a while, manipulate it like this or that, and POW, this amazing loaf of bread pops out! It seems easy, like anyone could do it; and yet there was a time when I couldn't do it.

It's kind of funny, but one of the things that has improved my baking the most, is the fact that I can take bread into work and it will be eagerly devoured. My family couldn't possibly eat as much as I want to bake, we actually don't eat that much bread. But I can try any experiment, taste a slice or two to see what I think and take the rest in to work where it will be appreciated.


To expound on this...I work for a startup in silly-con valley designing chips. When I started we were tiny and the company would order you lunch and dinner every day, as we got bigger and the economy got weaker it turned into lunch delivered twice a week plus a fruit box once a week and bagels and pastries twice a week. This went down to lunch once a week, and eventually lunch was eliminated completely except for special occasions and it's only fruit and bagels twice a week. I'm not complaining or bitter about it, it's better than laying people off, but it's a bummer and a hit to morale. So over a year ago I made the commitment to myself that I would bake something to bring in every Tuesday, and I have without fail.

The best thing about this arrangement, and one of the reasons I'm so faithful, is that it has helped my baking ability SO MUCH. If I'm not feeling that creative I make a favorite fallback, like Pain Au Levain or Pain A l'Ancienne, but sometimes I try something new that I found in a book or read about on TFL. Sometimes if it's complicated I try new things out ahead of time for my family, but as I've gotten better I'm more able to just wing it.
It's not much, just a few loaves every week, but the repetition has been so beneficial. Of course the appreciative feeback of my coworkers doesn't hurt, a lot of them say they really look forward to Tuesdays; and of course (as I know many people here have experienced) everyone says I should open a bakery. One guy even seriously offered up funding and knows the perfect place (near his house of course).

A few months ago my family started a soup swap with our best friends. We trade off making a big batch of soup and passing back and forth a giant jar full of whatever hearty concoction we come up with. Of course I bake bread to go along with it...every week, even if it's not our turn <grin>.
So for any new beginning bakers on here (aren't we all beginners really) the best thing you can do to get better is to bake like mad, freeze some, and give the rest away to friends/neighbors/co-workers. They'll really appreciate it, and you'll get better. I started buying bulk flour at Costco, and a pound of SAF yeast lasts me months, so it's pretty cheap. The hardest part for me is time, so I mostly do recipes that involve long fermentations and retardation in the fridge, you only need a few minutes here to mix things; a few hours there to do some stretch and folds; and an hour or so at the end in the oven. I don't generally do straight doughs that need several hours to do mixing + bulk + proofing + baking all in a row.

Anyone care to share similar experiences?


kolobezka's picture

Which grain mill?


I would like to mill my own wholegrain flour at home but do not know which grain mill works best. Is it better to buy a separate mill - a wooden one from Komo or something like Nutrimill. Or is the grain mill attachement to KitchenAid or Bosch mixer or Champion juicer doing the same job?

It would be great if it would grind also some legume flours, would not be too noisy and would not destroy the nutritional value by overheating.

Any advice and recommandation are welcome!



klmeat's picture

starter weight

I have a question that is driving me crazy , how can a stater be 166% hydration . 100%  would be the total or complete weight . would it be for every 100 oz of flour , I add 166 oz of water ? any help be appreciated , how any thing can be over 100% escapes me . thanks

rick.c's picture

Anis' Baguettes, Question @ dmsnyder &/or mcs &/or you


OK, so I have made this recipe several times and, well, I have not been wholly impressed.  The flavor is delicious, but the dough is in general difficult to work.  I don't and up with anything that resembles David's las post, nor a dough that resembles Mark's in his baguette shaping video,

Not that I would consider myself in a league with Dmsnyder or MCS, I just end up with a dough that sticks to everything, is nearly impossible to form, and slashing it is kind of useless.  I have tried ranges of KA AP & bread flours with no apparent change in the loaves. 

My question is, should I just hold back on some of the water, or is there something I am doing to not develop the gluten enough?

The recipe I used this time is...

300g KA Bread flour
100g KA AP flour
300g Water
8g salt
1/4 tsp yeast

Procedure was

  1. Mix to combine, rest for 20m, kept in fridge from this point on

  2. "knead" I do this by using a fist to spread the dough as far up the sides of the bowl and the folding back in, probably 6-7 times

  3. stretch and fold after 20m, I do this in the air-kinda like stretching a pizza, then folding it back onto itself

  4. retard 20ish hours, remove from fridge and S&F again

  5. let come to temp, usually ~ 2 hrs

  6. pre-shape, rest 20 m, then shape

  7. Let rise about an hour, bake under steam for 10m then dry for 15m

Note:  I don't use any flour for kneading or stretch and fold, or pre-shaping.  These pissed me off some so I rolled them in flour for the final shaping.

This made these 3 loaves


You can see the scores have nothing but color difference going for them, I knew they were going to be this way in such a slack dough, so I went a little overboard.  Also, a crumb shot for david, since I have asked for his input

Sliced too soon, but I was hungry.  It is interesting that the crumb was most open where I couldn't 'tuck' the dough because it was too sticky.  The left side of the front loaf in top picture is what is shown split above.  There was sporadic flour on the counter when I was shaping them and this end didn't get any.


Anyway,  Thanks in advance,  Rick


RobynNZ's picture

Poilane Video

Dorie Greenspan has posted a video clip which I think will appeal to TFLers:

It was too slow on my computer but I found by clicking "share" the video would pause and the next bit would slowly download, so alternating between 'share' and 'play' when it stuttered, I was able to watch it at normal speed.

Victoria CHA.'s picture
Victoria CHA.

Scorching problems with Jim Lahey no-knead bread recipes

I have been using the Jim Lahey no-knead bread method for several months, and with great success. The flour I use is organic, from Natural Way Mills of Middle River, Minnesota: Gold N White unbleached, containing the germ, as well as their whole wheat flour. I get a beautiful, chewy interior and a crisp crust, and magnificent flavor.  However Lahey is a fan of scorched crusts, and I am not. The problem is with the bottom crust, on which, whether I use all unbleached white flour or a mixture of UB white and whole wheat, or rye, or semolina (2:1), there is always a circle of scorching about one inch within the bottom perimeter of the loaf. I use a Lodge cast iron Dutch oven, 5 1/2 quart size. This occurs using his temperature, 475 F, baking dough covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 6 - 10 minutes, until interior temperature is 195 - 200 degrees F.  The last few minutes of covered baking I can smell the scorching begin. I've tried lowering the baking temperature to 450, and while the circle of scorching was very, very light, I did not get as good a spring or as wonderful an interior texture or flavor. Can anyone help with this problem?

sortachef's picture

Greek Easter Bread: Lambropsomo

Sortachef's Greek Easter Bread

 Greek Easter Bread


Makes one 2 ½ pound loaf


4 Tablespoons butter

2 heaping dessertspoons of honey

2 eggs

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1½ teaspoons salt (2 if using unsalted butter)

1 teaspoon anise extract

20 ounces (about 4 cups) unbleached white flour

1 1/3 cup water at room temperature

¾ cup additional flour for bench work

A 14" pizza pan fitted with parchment paper


4 red hardboiled eggs (see Dyeing Red Eggs @ )

1 eggyolk+1 teaspoon water for wash

4 teaspoons of raw hulled sesame seeds


Note: A flexible bowl scraper (or a Tupperware lid cut in half) comes in handy for working this dough.


Make the dough: In a mixer fitted with a flat beater, cream together the butter, honey, eggs, yeast, salt, anise extract and 1 cup of the flour. Beat well for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water and ½ cup flour, beat for a minute; another 1/3 cup water and ½ cup and beat, etc., until you have used up all the water and all but a cup of the 20 ounces of flour. Beat for a further 2 minutes.

Scrape off the flat beater, scrape down the bowl, and put in the other cup of flour. Switch to the dough hook; run mixer 10 minutes on low (mark 2 for Kitchenaid). Scrape down bowl if necessary. The dough is not stiff enough for the hook to pick it up, but this mixing will improve its structure.

Knead the dough: Sprinkle half of the benchwork flour onto a counter or board, scrape the dough onto it and, using the scraper, quickly fold the edges in to the middle. Put a bit of flour onto the dough and let it rest for a few minutes while you clean out the bowl.

Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour as necessary until you have used up the ¾ cup of extra flour.

First rise: Put the dough into the bowl, cover and let rise at room temperature for 3½ hours.

Second rise: Use the bowl scraper to pull the dough in from the edges, releasing the air, and then let rise 1½ hours at room temperature.

Make the braid: Turn the dough out onto a barely floured counter. Cut a 5-ounce piece of dough off and put it to one side, covered. Now, make bulk of the dough into a snake about 2 feet long, rolling it on the counter under your hands to stretch it out. Let it rest for a few minutes. For the next step you will want a clean section of counter 3' wide, with no flour on it or the dough will slip instead of roll.

Roll the dough snake out to 3' long, and cut into three equal pieces of about 12 ounces by weight. Roll each of the three pieces out to nearly 3' long. Your dough ropes should be 5/8" in diameter and roughly uniform.

Put 3 ends together, cross two ropes and throw the third across the Y. Braid until the ropes are used up, keeping the dough slack to keep the braids loose and thick.

Make the loaf: Lift one end of the braid off the counter and slip the parchment lined pan under it, and then lift the other end around to form a circle. Overlap the two ends of the braid by an inch, and push your thumb down in at that point. The first egg will go into that depression.

Adjust the braided ring on the parchment to make it as round as you can, and push your thumb down to make depressions at the other 3 quadrants. Carefully put in the eggs.

Roll the leftover piece of dough into a snake the thickness of a pencil. Around the eggs, snip 4 places with scissors to receive the ends of the dough that crosses over them. Cut pieces of dough to make the crosses.

Final rise: Cover lightly with a cloth and let rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º. If you're using a pizza stone or quarry tiles (recommended), let them heat up for at least 30 minutes.

Glaze and bake: Mix the egg yolk and the water in a ramekin, and brush the egg wash over the dough, being careful not to cover the eggs. For best coverage, brush a second time. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400º. Turn oven down to 350º and bake for another 25 minutes, turning the bread around at halfway.

Let cool for at least an hour before sharing with your Greek friends.

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