The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Whygee's picture

Redhead (NYC) Pretzel recipe? (first try)


I've just watched the S13E05 (Scratch made classics) of DDD and there's good pretzel recipe: (see at 14:00). However, I cannot find the recipe on Food Network's website and was wondering if anybody was able to figure out the proportions for the ingredients.

I'm guessing she's doing some kind of cold ferment because they say the pretzels were in the fridge before they put them in lye water.


nycbaker11's picture

Calling on all Master Baguette Bakers

Hello Bakers...2 years ago I gave baguettes a try and I was so intimidated that I retired them from my baking list right there after lol.  Last week I got the urge to finally give it another try and I went with the Bouabsa version, pretty simple and straight forward but the outcome was eh... pretty lame . 

Crust color was dark but yet pale-ish and thick. crumb was very tight for a 75% Hydration formula, one thing I was proud of was my shaping, these were small ficelles so they are difficult to shape.  I used KA AP flour and maybe that's part of the issue with the thick crust.   I"ll list the formula below  for those not familiar with it and I would appreciate some feedback as to how I can correct this.  

Some things that might've gone wrong -  Underproofed?  they looked fully proofed to me after 1 hour on couche on a warm August morning in NYC.

500 Gr. flour

375 Gr. water

10 Gr. salt

1/4 tspn instant yeast, 

Mix and hand knead for a few min. Richard Bertinet style followed by S & F in bowl at 20 min. intervals for 1 hr.  Left the dough for 48 hrs, instead of the recipe's called 24 ( I don't see anything terrible here but the masters can chime in).

Out of the fridge directly to scaling and preshaping with a 45 min rest, to shaping and 1 hr. proof en couche and baking at 480 deg. with steam for 20-25 min.   I thank you all in advance.



Bara1's picture

Alkali for making noodles


This is my first post here.  I was drawn here by doing a search on Kansui Water in Google.  I've been trying to find a suitable Alkali for including in a dough recipe to make Hand Pulled Noodles aka La Mian.  In China they use a compound called Peng Hui which is some kind of Ash.  It's not available in Europe so I'm looking for an alternative.  Would anybody here have  any suggestion for an alternative which would act on the dough gluten and make the dough more 'stretchy' and indeed hold together better when boiled?  Thank you for any replies.

Matt Edy's picture
Matt Edy

how to know sufficent bulk fermentation?

When bulk fermentation is said to be in most cases, until doubled in volume.... is this mandatory across all types of dough? I allow all my doughs to double in volume, but still have issues around poor oven spring, overall dough strength and a dense crumb. My dough always passes the window-pane test after mixing. My dough also passes the finger poke test before going into the oven, but I feel that the dough should rise a lot more.

Am i correct in thinking that bulk fermentation increases the doughs extensibility and ability to hold more gas, resulting in a higher rising loaf during the final proof?

I mainly make traditional panned english loafs, such as white, wholemeal, and granary (malted grain) with a 12 hour sponge

Maybe i'm not de-gassing my doughs enough? I don't know....

Any help will be much appreciated...

Many thanks

dabrownman's picture

25% Whole Wheat English Muffins Revisited - Over and Over Again - kjknits

We just love kjknits English Muffin recipe and make it all the time.  Well, we make them when we run out of them - without fail.  We just can’t stand not having them in the freezer. It is just not done.

We always tweak the recipe a little bit.  This time we used 1 ½ C of AP, 1/4 C each of Durum Atta and White Whole Wheat. 


We also used 20 G of  multi grain starter (33% each desem, rye and durum atta) that has been in the fridge for at least a week at 65% hydration and 20 g of our yeast water too.

This time we hand formed some of the Muffins and cut some with a plastic glass.  See if you can tell which is which in the pre dry fried and after dry fries shots.

We actually made them the same size as Thomas EM’s (don’t ever look at their ingredient list) by rolling the dough ½” thick this time – ours muight have been a tad taller.

The spring was at least 100% on these fine English Muffins that come out just like Wofferman’s, where I worked as a sack boy what seems like only a couple of years ago when it was really nearly 50.

So soft and tender on the inside when nicely browned on the outside.  Make sure you get them this dark too.  Use a cast iron skillet for best results.

When toasted, buttered and lightly covered in our Dragon Fruit and Prickly Pear Tuna Combo Jam – just delightful for a Sunday morning breakfast.

Try them and you won’t ever buy Thomas’ fine EM’s ever again.

dwfender's picture

Sourdough White Bread

I might be a little addicted to sourdough. It takes a long time for the bulk fermentation, but it's really great knowing that I made this bread completely from scratch. Next I'll need to buy a mill and start making my own flour. Slippery sloap this bread making is. 


The toast is so amazing. It would make an absolutely great grilled cheese....mmmm caramelized onions, cheese and russian dressing. Oh my. 

Next time I'll have to buy a real pain de mie loaf and do it like the professionals. 


anthliz's picture

Trying to make my 100th 'first loaf'

Hi All, 

I have been baking bread my whole life, actually, so this is getting to be particularly frustrating for me. As a girl, my Grandma taught me to make simple yeast breads and Swedish sweet breads and rolls. Everyone in my family has their own twist, and we love baking my Grandma's bread roll recipes at the holidays. I am now all grown-up with a son and enough time on my hands to try to make our own perfect loaf of bread or French baguette at home. I want it to be healthy, yes, so I also play with different combinations of flours. 


(I think) My problems are in three related areas, so let me spell out what I did in my most recent adventure last night.

Problem #1: The recipe

Last week, too too much flour and way over kneaded (using my sister's "French bread" recipe) and then cooked at too low of a temperture. So, I turned to my Hodgson Mills Graham/Whole Wheat flour bag recipe and also the recipe for French Baquette in the Betty Crocker cookbook. 

Mixed and proofed the following:

.5c all purpose (King arthur)

1c graham/whole wheat

3 TBLS brown sugar

1.3 TBLS yeast

1 TBLS Vital Wheat Gluten


This all went swimmingly well. *The first time I have ever in my life even purchased the gluten. I thought that's what professional bakers do??? I think I am wrong about that, though.*


Problem #2: How soft should this dough be (does it matter if it is going in a loaf pan versus baquette?)

Then I added the following by hand - I do not have a stand mixer and always did this by hand with Grandma, so... 

1.5-2c All purpose flour

1.5-2c Whole Wheat/Graham flour

1 tsp salt

4 TBLS Olive oil


This made a moist, soft dough. I tried to not add too much flour. I kneaded it for about 5-8 minutes, let it sit in oiled bowl for 1.5 hrs and it more than doubled in size. Perfect! 


I punched it down, divided in two, and proceeded to gently knead (very very little kneading) as I shaped it into two long 'baguette' loaves and put on an oiled cookie sheet. I covered with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. 


Problem #3: Do I ferment it over night in a bowl? In a pan? What if I wanted to make a nice loaf of bread in less than 24 hours time?

It has been in the fridge 12 hours. I was *going* to come home and bake it at 400-425 degrees with a steamy pan of water under it (and slash it diagonally like a french baquette). But, I can see that the loaves have already doubled in size and are all over the cookie sheet like big blobs of dough. 

Given the current unshaped condition of my dough, I am thinking of reshaping one blob into a loaf pan (oiled) and the other blob into a baguette and seeing how they bake. I will reshape them cold, let them sit at room temp for about an hour, and then bake in a steamy oven. 


This batch won't be my last. I would like to have some simple go-to recipes for basic breads. But, like I say, I think I have a number of problems in my recipe, ingredient selection, and process/equipment. Thanks for taking the time to read about my saga -- I appreciate any tips or advice!


glasgowjames's picture

Staple White Sourdough Formula

Hullo all! My name is James and though I've posted a couple of times on here before, I've never properly introduced myself. I am a contestant on the new series of the Great British Bake-Off, on BBC2 in the UK at 8pm on Tuesdays.

This Tuesday, it is bread week (see for how rubbish we are at plaiting, I'm the first guy). And if you tune in, you'll find out if it is possible to fully knead, prove, boil and bake sourdough bagels in 4 hours. But I thought to mark the occasion, I'd look for some opinions on my own staple of a White Sourdough - this is the recipe I use on a regular basis, using the simple formula:

1:1 Starter; total weight of starter should be HALF total weight of flour; overall hydration 75%

Simple! I really do love this recipe, and encourage you to try it (copied from my brand new blog at , contact me on twitter at @bakingjames) and more than anything, encourage you to criticise it:



A few words on your starter:

Your sourdough starter should ideally be kept at room temperature (18-24 degrees) with as little fluctuation in temperature as possible. The ratio of strong white flour to water should be kept at 1:1 and, to steal the term from beer brewing, the pitching rate should be kept constant (this is simply how much you feed it compared to how much starter there is - try and feed it with about twice the weight of starter that remains after use. If you don't use your starter on a particular day, pour some away to keep this ratio constant). Additionally, this recipe assumes the activity of your starter is high, and that it is used as it is fed with the full amount of flour required for your daily bake every 24 hours, as it is used.


But even if you don't abide by those strict starter rules (I must admit, I often don't), my rules to the perfect simple white home sourdough are simple and easy and should be followed:

  • STARTER should be ONE:ONE ratio of flour and water
  • Use HALF the weight of STARTER to your weight of FLOUR
  • Add enough water to keep the OVERALL HYDRATION at 75%


Easy huh? A worked example:

To make a loaf using 400g white flour, we add 200g starter. This means we have a total of 500g flour and 100g water so far. To bring the hydration to 75%, we can work out that we need a total of 375g water total. Therefore, 275g water should be added to bring it to 75% hydration. Of course, make normal adjustments, and add a little more water if your starter is more active or less water if less active.


Recipe (makes one large loaf):

400g Strong White Flour (just go ahead and order a sack from Shipton Mill...)

200g White Sourdough Starter

275g Cold Water

10g Salt


1. Mix together water and starter and flour until combined. Cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

2. Add salt and knead fully (none of this Dan Lepard stuff) until passes the windowpane test. I would recommend the slap and fold method)

3. Cover and rest depending on what suits you: approx 6 hours at room temperature should be enough. Alternatively, just chuck it in the fridge overnight.

4. Shape (you can preshape if you like: if rested overnight it might be a bit floppy - just shape it loosely, except try and use no flour. 30 mins later just shape again) and transfer to basket or brotform

5. Prove for another 4-6 hours at room temp until done. You can retard this prove too if you like, but I wouldn't do both as the sourness can be a little too much (though works well if starter is on 12 hour cycle), and if you retard this prove you're crumb isn't going to be quite as tight.

*** Baking instructions are my recommended, but just on stone or in a pot I'm sure will be fine ***

6. Preheat baking stone at 240 degrees, then add in a cast iron pot (Le Creuset or similar or a dutch oven) with lid on about 20 mins before you're going to bake.

7. Turn down oven to 210, score and bake loaf in the pot for 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pot and turn out the bread (bread can be frozen or kept back at this point) and bake on the stone for a final time until done (another 20 minutes or so).

Happy baking!

david earls's picture
david earls

Formulas and preferments

I'm a newbie on this forum, and probably a newbie to bread machines - had one for about a year and a half. I bake 2-3 times a week in my West Bend Hi Rise, a spiffo little double-paddle machine that makes a 2-2.5 lb. horizontal loaf. Shortly after I started baking, I departed from both direct method (where you add yeast directly to the dough) and recipes, and moved to indirect method (preferment) and formulas. I don't make many kinds of bread, so my formulas have been thoroughly tested and refined.

It turns out the bread machine is perfect for preferment. I depart again from the usual preferment - I add all the yeast and all the water to the preferment, and none directly to the dough. I'm probably doing this wrong, but I've generally had poor results adding additional yeast at the dough stage (loaves fall). But hey! It works for me.

I departed from recipes after using King Arthur All Purpose (KA AP) flour the first time - I got a salty loaf after measuring the old-fashioned way (more on this below). Now I do everything by formulas, and my bread is just right. In a formula, every ingredient is measured as a percentage of the flour. I bought a small kitchen scale and weigh everything in grams, so my measurements are very precise - much more precise than cups and spoons could ever be. Commercial bakeries use formulas for the same reason - precision and repeatability.

When I bake, I follow this procedure:

1. Weigh the flour. Calculate all ingredients as a percentage of the flour. I have a little spreadsheet that does this for me. I've done these formulas so many times now that I know the optimal amount of flour for each formula in my machine. Optimal size in your machine could be different from mine - not a problem, scaling up or down with a formula is a snap. I like the top of my loaves to rise above the bread pan so the tops brown in the bake cycle.
2. Put all the water into the bread machine (water is typically about 60-70% of the flour weight). Add an equal amount of flour. Add some yeast - 3 or 4 grams for a 2-lb loaf.
3. Using the Dough cycle, mix and knead the starter. Scrape down the sides of the pan while the starter is mixing. Turn the bread machine off.
4. Add the remaining flour as an even layer on top of the starter.
5. Add the remaining ingredients on top of the flour. The flour layer keeps salt and sugar away from the starter. The only "liquid" ingredients I use are butter, oil, or honey - everything else is dry (dry milk, dry buttermilk, rolled oats, wheat germ, etc). There's no reason to add any dry ingredients that don't contain gluten to the preferment.
6. Select the machine cycle that works best for you - I always use Basic. Set the timer on the bread machine to 13 hours (longest cycle time on my machine). Press Start. I always allow the bread to cool a bit in the machine before removing it - this makes the loaf come off the paddles more easily.

I bake my loaves in the machine. I suppose you could remove the dough after the final kneading cycle, shape the loaves for a pan and do the final rise outside the machine, but I don't.

Why does the formula work over the recipe? For precision and repeatability. My first KA AP loaf was the object lesson. It turns out that a cup of KA AP flour (11%+ gluten) only weighs about 127 grams. A cup of Gold Medal Better for Bread weighs about 135 grams. When I measured my KA flour using volume, my dough was about 10% lighter on flour - so it was salty. Now that I measure all my ingredients in grams, the ratios between the ingredients are always spot on. And the formulas make adjusting ingredients a snap. I had a couple of loaves collapse this summer and reduced the water in my formula by 1% - bingo, problem solved! When you get the formula right, every loaf turn out the same.

Why preferment? Well, for one thing both the flavor and texture of the bread is better. Instead of a loaf with every hole the same size, the size of the holes varies. That means a chewier texture and more flavor. And second, the bread keeps better, though I rarely get a loaf through its third day before I've eaten it. And third, it's way cool...

I'd be happy to share formulas if anyone is interested. I'd also love to hear from anyone who's experimented with either formulas or preferments.

mwilson's picture

Super Sour White Spelt Loaf

Here I am again with another highly hydrated white spelt loaf. This time around it's sourdough raised...

I didn't set out to make this sour but boy, I mean wow is this sour!

If ever proof was needed that warm and wet makes for a more sour bread, then this is it!

My firm sourdough contributes a lot of dough strength via its acidity and lack of protease activity. This coupled with much fermentation mean't that even at 100% hydration the final dough became too strong and was impossible to shape without tearing. As a result the loaf looks rather ugly..

Here's what I did...


  • 50g Italian sourdough (taken after overnight, room temp rise)(50% hydration)
  • 200g White Spelt flour (Doves Farm)
  • 200g water
  • 4g Salt

Dough was mixed initially at 50% with 100ml of water, followed by an autolyse before adding the rest of water in 25ml increments to achieve 100% hydration. Bulk fermentation for ~5hrs at 30C with a few s&f's in between. Room temp proof for ~3hrs.


This bread has a very nice acetic acid scented crust. But under that rough and bumpy crust lies a shockingly sour crumb... I can still taste it as I write this.. I really can't emphasise enough just how sour this bread is... The most sour ever...