The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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merlie's picture

About to give up and/or sit down and cry!

I seem to be destined to never make my own starter ! My first attempt was Peter Reinhart's formula from  BBA. That just sat there , was very runny and did nothing. ( for days!) Next I went to my Tartine book and tried Chad Robertson's method. This resulted in it separating and forming a nasty black skin - never did bubble up or look anything like the pictures. Now , having read many posts here on TFL I am about to toss out my third attempt - PR's method from Artisan Breads Every Day with pinapple juice. I used a 50/50 blend of bread flour and WW flour. ( because Chad Robertson made me mix up 5lbs of it ! ) This attempt looked promising - a few tiny bubbles on day 3 - so I added flour and juice as per instructions and waited.....I stirred as instructed and waited......still no bubbling. When stirred there were bubbles inside but it did not  appear " active and bubbly " on the top. Day 7 came and went. I then decided to go ahead anyway just to see what would happen. Converting it to a Mother starter looked good. I formed a nice ball and followed PR's instructions to the letter, loosely covering it with plastic wrap. It could have doubled in 4 - 6hrs but it did not .As the house is a little below 70 degrees at night I put it in the oven with just the oven light on. Imagine my delight this morning to find that it had doubled ! This pleasure was short lived however when trying to follow the next step. ( "knead for a few seconds and form back into a ball ") It POURED onto my counter like a thick batter !!!  I have scraped it back into the bowl - what a mess.....It was much much wetter than a ciabatta dough. Why did it do this to me ??


So....feeling better now I've written it all down. If there is anyone near Armstrong, British Columbia throwing out starter please throw it this way !

Any communication gratfully received - Merlie

RonRay's picture

No-Knead Multigrain Seed and Nut Loaf

No-Knead Multigrain Seed and Nut Loaf

A previous blog:

Last December a posting by Jaydot caught my interest
Her sister in law had brought a recipe back from South Africa, which seem a bit strange.

Mini Oven suggested it might be South African Seed Bread, while PmcCool suggested it could be a variation on the Cape Seed Loaf.

After I spent some time seeing what Google had to offer on these subjects I concluded the two things they all had in common was a lot of seeds and no sourdough in sight. It seemed like a fun formula to play with, so I set out trying to come up with a reasonable sourdough version of a seed loaf.

By the end of February, I had a reasonably satisfactory loaf - on my fifth try. When I compared notes with Jaydot, I found that she had independently gotten a loaf that her sister in law found acceptable as well.

I picked up her use of caraway seed and maple syrup as something I wanted to try. So, I dropped the Chia seed and brown sugar I had used, and added her idea of maple syrup and caraway seed. Both proved their worth in the eating of my version number 6.

Number Six had nine (9) types of seed, two (2) types of nuts; six (6) types of flour plus maple syrup and toasted sesame seed oil. I was afraid to calculate the calorie count, but I am certain a person could gain weight on a diet of this bread and water, alone.

The loaf was 718 grams going into the oven and 665 grams at the time it came out of the oven. The instant internal temperature reading was 209ºF (98ºC).

The crumb was as nice, if not better, than the previous version 5 and both v-5 and v-6 were by far the best of the six loaves tested thus far. Texture wise, I feel the better crumb is due to the minimal kneading. The first 4 test loaves were all kneaded gently, but in a rather normal letter fold method common to most of my loaves. I felt that the extremely high nut and seed content did more damage to the gluten during kneading than could be offset by any benefits gained. So, in both v-5 and v-6, I basically switched to a no-knead method, and it seems to have made a major improvement in the openness of the crumb.

All six versions had excellent keeping properties, when kept at room temperature in a simple a bread box.

The sourdough was a 3 build levain using KAF AP flour, and was a baker's 94.2%.

The final rise for this loaf was 7 hours in a proof box at 82ºF( 27.8ºC). By that point it was pressing tightly against the FSFilm. I removed the FSFilm, scored top with 1 whole length center scoring. Bread pan place in a Turkey Pan. The bread pan was elevated from direct bottom contact by two SS knives.

The oven stones were removed from the cold oven. One cup of water was brought to a boil and the boiling water then poured into bottom of the turkey pan and the lid placed on at once, and the turkey pan and its contents were all placed in the cold oven on the lowest rack position. The oven was set to 450ºF (232º C).

With this fabricated "Dutch Oven" - formed from the turkey pan - resting at the lowest position, the constant heat of the electric oven's lower element, while raising the oven's internal heat to its highest setting, maintains the bottom of the "Dutch Oven" well above boiling temperature for 15 to 18 minutes. Steam visibly issues from the oven vent from about 3 minutes into the baking until about 18 minutes.

At 20 minutes, the Dutch Oven's lid was removed, oven heat set to 400ºF (204º C) for the balance of the baking, and the oven door held open by about 1/2" (12 mm) to vent any steam during the remaining 25 minutes of the baking. At the end of the total 45 minute baking, the oven was turned off and the loaf removed from both oven and bread pan. The loaf was placed on wire to cool for two hours. Then it was placed in a bread box at room temperature overnight, before being cut.

At this point, I have no ideas on what I may do different when I bake version 7. In fact, I might just repeat making this same formula, before trying any other possible improvements. Perhaps, that will change
but, for the moment, I am satisfied. ;-)

=====Update: March 18, 2011

Version 7 Seed Loaf has a few changes and , to my taste, is even better. A PDF with full details and photos can be seen at this link:




110307 Next blog:



bencheng's picture

Blisters on bagels

I've been making bages using form Ciril Hitz's book formula. After I shaped the bagels I kept them in the refriggerator for about 15 - 20 hours depends on the day.

For some reason all the bagels have tiny blisters on the crust. I've done some research and people said that's because of extended fermentation, but I think the texture and density were about right and I don't believe they were kept in the fridge for too long.

Some said that this is common for hand rolled bagels, but if you have any ideas that I can make smooth crust bagels I'd love to know.






jackie9999's picture

My first Focaccia

I've never made a Focaccia before so thought I'd try the one in BBA. Instead of the poolish I used my starter which I left overnight. I also 1/2'd the recipe...

It tastes very good - and looks pretty - but I'm not sure if it's too 'bready' looking - is it supposed to have big 'ciabatta' like holes?

Janetcook's picture

Starter with a Rotten Egg aroma

I have been experimenting with keeping my kamut/wheat and rye starters out on my counter rather than storing them in the refrig. for the past week.

My rye starter has a very pleasant aroma but my kamut/wheat has a bit of a rotten egg aroma to it that puzzles me.  (My starters in my refrigerator usually give off an alcoholic aroma after being stored for awhile so this is a new fragrance to me....)

I have been taking 5g of starter and giving it 5.5 grams of water and 8.5 grams of flour for a hydration level of 63%.  It is stored on my kitchen counter where the temp. varies according to the time of day.  It can fluctuate a good 10° in any given 24 hour period.  

I have been feeding it every 12 hours unless the temps have been a lot cooler then I have let it go 18 hours.  ( I judge feeding time by how it looks. I roll it up into a firm ball after it is first mixed and once it has relaxed and softened I feed it.)

These are both mature starters and I have been using them for several months now.

If this is a 'bad' thing, I do have back up starter in my refrig. and can use it but I wanted to check here first before starting a new counter batch...

THanks for any suggestions.


intelplatoon's picture

Fridge too cold??

at what temperature will yeast stop working. Ive made a few different batches of dough (brioche, and a sourdough) that i let proof at room temp for about one hour. I then put them in the fridge overnight to finish proofing slowly. when i wake up in the morning and take a look at the dough, which has been in the fridge for almost 9 hours, it doesnt look like it has done much rising at all. Is my fridge too cold? or is the retard method used to ferment only for flavor and not much rise at all. then let it rise at room temp after the fridge? i hope this makes sense. basically the fridge seems to stop my dough completely and i dont think my fridge is much colder than any other? 

Paulthemasturbaker's picture

Scottish Morning Rolls:One Man`s Mission

Hello to all you bread bakers!  This is my blog detailing my adventures in trying to perfect one kind of bread, namely Scottish Morning Rolls.  My attempts have all been unsuccessful to this date and my maiden voyages began over six years ago.  I am terribly embarrassed by this but it has taken on a whole new significance due to the long buildup to even get to where I am now :-)  I shall keep adding to this blog as long as it takes to get it right so it may take some time LOL but am sure with the advice of the good people on this forum I will make some progress, which is what counts, right?  So in a nutshell, this is where we are with it...


The first test bake.(the first officially documented one anyway ha)

I have followed the recipe I found on TFL and shall update with the bakers` percentages which is how the recipe is written.  These rolls are in their final proofing stage which is meant to last 12-18hrs.



emmsf's picture

Pain de Mie Formulas

I was recently given two pain de mie pans, one 9.5 inches and the other an enormous 16 inch version.  But I'm having a hard time finding good formulas for them.  I have one pumpernickel formula, and a pretty decent white.  And I was able to adjust the quantity of ingredients so they both work in either size pan.  I'm eager to try new ones, but they're surprisingly difficult to find.  Does anyone have a few good formulas they'd be willing to share?  Or, better yet, does anyone know a technique for converting standard formulas to pain de mie formulas?  I've tried a few times to convert, but it's incredibly hard to get the quantity accurate so it fills the pan just right.  Suggestions?

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Nancy Silverton's Hamburger Buns...

...minus the yeast, with a hand chopped 100% skirt steak burger and her friend onion rings.

This is essentially a savory brioche dough. I didn't see the need for the yeast. There's a 24 hour preferment (I did most of it in the fridge,) another one for the dough, which is very highly developed by mixer. The long fermentations contribute a lot of flavor that would be missing due to the intensive mix, which is the thing that strengthens the dough and gives it its beautiful even crumb.

This is a great bun or roll for a special filling of commensurate richness. The skirt steak filled that bill. If I wanted a bun for pulled pork or brisket, it would be a different one.

Sourdough makes a fantastic batter for frying. Add club soda, salt, that's it. The results are super crisp. I'm planning to use this batter again in a couple of days for whole clams.

Dwayne's picture

Bread Baker's Apprentice (BBA) Recipe Recommendations

I've owned this book for a while now, thanks to my daughter, and I've baked maybe a quater of the recipies.  I have a list that I keep of breads that I want to bake from it.  After seeing GSnyde's post on "Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch" that bread has now gone to #1 on my list.  Thanks GSnyder.


That got me thinking what are the favorite breads from this book for other people?  There are a lot of breads that I am not familiar with.


So please let me know what your top 3 to 5 favorite breads are from this book.  When the answers stop rolling in I'll summarize.


Here are mine:

1. Focaccia - this is really a fantastic bread!

2. Ciabatta

3. Bagels


Thanks, Dwayne