The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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lizz1155's picture


I've had two attempts at making brioche so far (with two different recipes - one from Artisan Breads Everyday, the other the Ottolenghi Cookbook), but both attempts have turned out badly.   Both of the doughs "spread" during proving, resulting in some very flat rolls (and some indistinct knotted rolls).  Also they had a surprisingly greasy texture after they were baked, leaving an oily film on anything they came into contact with (not entirely sure this is normal).  Any advice on where I'm going wrong would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance :)

Nailed's picture

No New Orleans French Bread 4 U !!!!!!

I just want to say thanks for all the efforts to clone a New Orleans Style French Bread,thos has been one of the hardest things that we had to get use-to after becoming a Katrina Transplant. No more of the "Very best Po-Boy Bread" on earth,where we come from Mamma used French Bread Soliders( U have 2 be a Local 2 know what FB Soldiers are) to wean us from de bottle.We have tried it all,N.O.water,rice flour,commercial flours,different blends of flours,different ovens,on & on& on...& it's still different!-Never like The Real Thing,Some real good bread but not The Great Po-Boy Bread of Home.We had gotten to the point and admitted that we would just have to settle for.....something else,this was fine,UNTIL we decided to open a New Orleans Style Po-Boy Shop & Catering Service out hear in Utah. I hate to just say "they will never know the difference" But I will! We to have the Muffalatta Bread down prefection...Po-Boys no-where even close. I think our next move will be to see if we can have un-baked bread shipped and see if that will help out.If anyone ever gets this right, I'll send you my 1st born,matter of fact I'll send All of Then 1st,2nd & 3rd, OK then just send me yours! Thanks Folks don't give-up it could just Save Someone Biz,or waistline.From the Land-of-PoBoy Detox,Big Blessings 2 U & Yours, Nailed(Robert)

rm1211's picture

Rubbery bread texture


I have been experimetning with sourdough for a wee while now and I feel I'm doing quite well.

I can now bake a bread that rises and has the crisp crust I'm looking for, it has a nice open crumb and good flavour.

However, the texture leaves something to be desired. I'm not sure how to describe it - it's slightly rubbery or spongy. Not unpleasant, but not quite right. The loaf is airy enough.

I've been experimenting with some factors and just wondered if anyone could point me in the right direction?

Could I be over or under kneading the dough? Could I be over or under proofing it?  

One clue that may or may not help - I checked it in the oven after about 25 mins and it appeared larger than when I took it out (ten/fifteen mins later). This may have just been my imagination.

The method I use (alternatives welcome) :

First I take 4oz of 100% hydrated starter and add to it 2oz flour and 1 oz water. I mix and leavfe on the counter overnight. This gives me a bubbly mixture in the morning to which  add 8oz flour, 4oz water, a hefty pinch of salt and a good glug of olive oil. I then mix and knead until smooth and elastic (by hand ten minutes - maybe fifteen). I place this in an oiled bowl and leave in the fridge overnight. I then remove from the fridge and gentle form (in this case into a boule). I don't have a proofing basket so I use a floured cloth in a colander (seems to work). I leave until the dough appears to have doubled in size (around 2 hours today). 

I then place onto a baking stone in a relatively hot oven (400 degrees), bit of ice in the bottom for steam and cook for around 40 minutes.

As above - the crust is crisp and perfect, the crumb is airy with large holes but the actual 'flesh' is a bit chewy/rubbery/spongy/something.

Any thoughts? I think it may be in the proofing stage but I am getting abit out of my depth.

Thanks for any help you can offer. 

varda's picture

how to choose fire clay for a bread oven dome

Last year I made a dome for my kiko denzer style bread oven using earth I dug up out of new garden areas.   I was able to bake all summer but ultimately there wasn't enough clay content and the dome slowly but surely crumbled.   This year, I would just like to bite the bullet and buy clay.   I found a local clay supplier but they sell dozens of varieties of clay and 7 that are labeled fire clay.   Before I call and start asking them questions, I would like to know what I should be looking for in a fire clay.   The supplier is called Portland Pottery.   Their fire clays are named Goldart, Hawthorne 40 mesh,  Hawthorne 50 mesh, Lincoln fire clay, Pyrax, Pyrotrol, XX Sagger.   Also, in their pictures, it looks like they are selling clay in big sacks, which makes it look like the clays are dry.   That seems good to me, since I will need to mix it up with sand and water and starting with dry clay seems like it would be easier.   Is anyone familiar with these clays and/or have any experience building a dome starting with dry clay?   Thanks so much.  -Varda

longhorn's picture

A Trip to Genzano and Forno a Legna da Sergio

Having made Pane Genzano and having found it to be a very interesting bread, I really wanted to experience the real thing on my recent trip to Italy with my wife. We had our hotel arrange a driver for us and rode went about twenty miles south from Rome to the town of Genzano. Since Pane Genzano pops up occasionally on this forum, it seemed appropriate to share my experiences.

We planned our destination to be Forno a Legna da Sergio, one of the bakeries featured in Dan Leader's book "Local Breads" in the section on Pane Genzano. For those not familiar with Pane Genzano, it is a huge, eight-pound sourdough loaf made from very wet (about 74% hydration) dough, coated with bran to solve sticking and baked very dark that has been made the same way in a wood burning ovens for many years. It is the only bread in Italy to have IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status. There are about a dozen bakeries in Genzano that make Pane Genzano and each has a devoted following. More on that later.

Here I am in my red Forno Bravo T-shirt and Sergio (the silver haired gentleman across the counter) in his shop.

Here is the bread rack with the Pane Genzano in the upper right.

A close up of the loaf and the label.

And a close up of our light dinner to show the crumb!

After visiting the bakery took our driver to lunch at Trattoria dei Cacciatore ( The food was outstanding - some of the best we had in Italy - and the house wine was excellent. A great deal! The bread served was clearly not Sergio's but in absence of good communcation ability I asked "Es Pane Genzano, No?" and the owner said "Si, es Pane Genzano!" So then I said, "Pane de Sergio?" and he said, "NO, NO, NO! Es impossible! No, Sergio! Must be Antichi!" This was, of course, accompanied by a generous acccompniment of arm waving and gesturing. And was what I had sort of expected! After lunch we wandered down the street to the Antichi bakery but alas, it was closed for lunch!

All in all we had a great adventure and a great day. Be warned, drivers are expensive. Ours cost about $200 and his English was pretty marginal. The end result was easily the most expensive bread I have ever bought.  And I was able to verify that my Pane Genzano - based on Leader's recipe - is a good representation of the original!  If you haven't tried Pane Genzano from Leader's book I highly recommend it! (It makes only about a 3 1/2 pound loaf instead of 8!)

One last aside! Genzano loaves are famous for their keeping abilities. We bought the loaf on a Monday morning and were to begin a week long cooking school on Saturday. We kept the loaf whole for three days. (Like many large loaves, the flavor is thought to improve for at least two days so this was planned.) Then we cut of just a bit for our light dinner and saved the rest for our cooking school companions as I was confident no one (even the instructor) would have had Pane Genzano before. Well, the bread made great bruschetta on Saturday and Sunday. And panzanella on Monday. And when the bag of bread got left behind on Wednesday, we used it for crostini. And finished it off as bread crumbs in stuffing ravioli. The giant loaf was extremely useful! And delicious!

Mebake's picture

Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish

This is my second try at baguettes, my first was unworthy of a blog, it was overmixed, shaping was lousy, and crust and color were lacking. Now that iam getting the hang of it, i really love Poolish baguettes. The nutty fragrance of a poolish is indeed intoxicating.

I adhered to Hamelman's book instructions, including very moderate mixing times,  but my final proofing was 50 minutes instead of 1-1.5 hours (my kitchen was warm). I did bake boldly, and the baguettes came out crusty and cracked loudly out of the oven, but i admit.. i have left the baguettes for longer than called for 35 minutes without steam, and vented steam from the oven throughout the bake, which caused the crust to thicken, and the baguettes  crust to be extra thick and crumb to be drier than desired. This, however, was a good bake, a far cry from my first baguettes.

EDIT: I did infact stray from hamlman's folding regime. I folded once after 1 hour but found the dough truely undeveloped as the mixing was very brief. I folded the dough again after 20 minutes and then after 10 final minutes.



jefekefe's picture

Tartine To Cover or Not To Cover


I'm new to TFL.  What a great site!  Also, I'm trying my hand at Tartine bread for the first time.  After a long day following Chad's recipe to the T, I didn't see anything about covering the dough in its different stages, namely the bulk rise and the final rise.  One dough was left overnight for the bulk rise and had a slightly tough skin on it in the morning, and the others were placed in the frig for the final rise/retard until I bake this morning and came out with a tough skin.  Does anyone have any insight as to if the skin will affect the bread and if I was supposed to cover the dough in the different stages?  Thank you.

Also, if anyone else has a wood-fired oven, could you tell me if the Tartine recipe works in the oven.  I have built one in my backyard and have loved it for pizza and bread making, but am tinkering with the idea of working more on the bread side of things.  Again, thanks for any help!!!

plevee's picture

? protease in starterh

I normally use my starter weeky but  bought bread for the past 2 weeks. When I got the stater out of the fridge it hadn't risen at all & smelled more acidic than usual. I fed it twice and got no rise and also noted a change in texture; slimey and gelatinous -kind of the way chewing gum goes if you have some food in your mouth.

The last time this happened, the bread I used it in got stickier the more I kneaded it. I was told by the kind people at KAF that I probably had a protease problem. I made another starter which has performed very well till now.

I've now refreshed  tiny amounts of the starter 4 times with no change.

Diagnosis? Advice?


Floydm's picture

Now Available: The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking

The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking e-book is now available for Kindle on for $4.99.

A Nook edition is available on Barnes & Noble's website for the same price.



I'm having a hard time writing much more about it because I really don't enjoy tooting my own horn. I'll just say I'm proud of what we've put together and hope it will a worthy expression of our shared passion for bread baking.

Originally I thought this e-book was just going to be an aggregation of the content and lessons I've already posted here, but in the end Dorota and I put a great deal of work into this.  The community feedback on the first draft was tremendously helpful and many adjustments and additions were made in response.  We also found that once we read through the entire text there were a number of inconsistencies and omissions that are no big deal on a website where you can instantly search, ask a question, and interact with other bakers, but that are a larger problem in a work that is meant to stand on its own.   These past few weeks we've tried hard to remedy those shortcomings and, with the help of friends and family members in publishing, to achieve the level of editorial polish that you would expect from professionally-produced content. In the end, this became a fairly substantial work, one that I hope readers will find an economical yet still high-quality introduction to bread baking.

I would love TFL community members' help kicking this off. A few positive reviews on Amazon and enough sales that non-TFL members notice it when browsing the e-book charts will make a tremendous difference in the ultimate success of this project.

Again, thank you all again for your feedback, words of encouragement, and on-going support.



dmsnyder's picture

Man cannot live by San Joaquin Sourdough alone.

It's much nicer to live with my wife, along with San Joaquin Sourdough, than alone. And if there is any bread that makes her happier than San Joaquin Sourdough, it's the Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread from BBA. So I baked some today.

One of these days, I will try Glenn's variation with pecans and dried cranberries. See Another Spice-Fruit-Nut Bread

And, for those who are wondering, Glenn and I did not discuss what we were baking this weekend. It's just one of them synchronicity things.