The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Foster Glen's picture
Foster Glen

Consistency help??

I am a middle school teacher and I have been baking with my students for the last 2 months. We bake on average about 16 loaves twice a week for a total of 32 loaves a week. We are using a modified version of the "Artisan Bread" in 5 minutes recipe (we use a much higher hydration (78%) to get a nicer crumb). The issue is this, the first two bakes (we can do 4 at a time in combo-cookers) are good with a nice oven spring. After that things start to get flatter and flatter. The last two bakes are definitely substandard. Each of the loaves gets the same amount of fermentation, bench rest, and time in the bannetons. I am perplexed why this might be the case. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Do indigenous microorganisms prevail?

I keep reading on the Internet that a starter will change character according to locale. For example, the culture that you created in San Francisco may start out full of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, but if you move it to the east coast, the starter will gradually become overrun with L. barharbor or the like and lose its SF flavor.

But why should this happen? Look at me—I'm not indigenous to New Jersey, and as an Asian I am definitely in the minority, yet I'm still here. Thriving, in fact, probably because I'm just as healthy as anyone and we're not competing over a scarce food supply.

Seems to me that as long as the starter is well fed, the various microorganisms ought to be able to hold their own. But that's just a theory. In actual practice, do imported starters become domestic?


fmlyhntr's picture

25 year old Kitchenaid mixer--grain mill attachment

My Kitchenaid mixer is so old I can only find the manual for it at kitchenaid, not any parts. But I am debating getting the grain mill, but I don't know if it will work on my mixer. Does anyone here know? (Model KSM 5BBU, it's about 25 or so years old).

Thank you,


Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Potato water

The first place I ever read about starter was not in a cookbook or other non-fiction text, but in a historical novel:

…Amanda Whipple was up at five, teaching Mun Ki how to cook American style, and she was impressed both with his clever mind and his fearful stubbornness. For example, on each Friday during the past four decades it had been Amanda’s ritual to make the family yeast, and for the first two Fridays, Mun Ki studied to see how she performed this basic function in American cookery. He watched her grate the potato into a stone jar of almost sacred age and add a little salt and a lot of sugar, after which she poured in boiling water, allowing all to cool. Then, ceremoniously, she ladled in two tablespoonfuls of active yeast made the Friday before, and the strain continued. For forty-three years Amanda had kept one family of yeast alive, and to it she attributed her success as a cook. She was therefore appalled on Mun Ki’s third Friday to enter the cookhouse full of ritualistic fervor, only to find the stone jar already filled with next week’s yeast.

With tears in her eyes, she started to storm at Mun Ki, and he patiently listened for some minutes, then got mad. Flashing his pigtail about the kitchen he shouted that any fool could learn to make yeast in one week. He had been courteous and had studied for two weeks and now he wanted her out of the kitchen. Not understanding a word he was saying, she continued to mourn for the lost yeast, so he firmly grabbed her shoulders and ejected her onto the lawn. On Monday the new batch of yeast was as good as ever and she consoled herself philosophically: “It’s the same strain, sent forward by different hands.” Suddenly, she felt the elderly white-haired woman she was.

—James Michener, Hawaii

Note that she did not use flour to maintain the yeast. I suppose she wanted to reserve her supply of flour for actual bread, instead of discarding it as unused starter. If I'm interpreting correctly, it took three days to get from potato water to a dough that was ready to be baked. Saturday was for building a flour-based starter, then the dough had a long, slow rise—being a missionary, she wouldn't have worked on Sunday—and baked on Monday.  Janet
Davidkatz's picture

Alan Scott Oven:

Ok - 

My steel base for my semi - portable #AlanScott oven arrived!

Next step: Pouring the insulation layer and hearth slab.

RRCme's picture

Fresh Bread that Crumbles Away when Sliced.

I have been baking a while and recently used a recipe that I have made a few times in the past and always came out great.  It is a sweet bread, almost like a Challah.   I made it this weekend and when the bread had cooled.. I tried to cut into slices, but the slices would just crumble away.. The slices couldn't be handled without completely crumbling.   What did I do wrong this time..?  I had used this recipe successfully several times.   

The only thing that got past me was that I did not allow the eggs to reach room temperature before using them in the recipe.. but everything else was the same. I use instant yeast.. so I didn't think that the dough temperature would matter. The dough rose to double size and rose fine during the second rise, after shaping the loaves (braided).

Thanks for your responses.. 

bcsverige's picture

getting more flavor in my pizza dough

hello friends,

I am trying to get some sourness in my pizza dough. We make 25# flour batches and use vitamin c, malt, yeast, salt and of course water. We also use day old dough. we do not have the space to long proof the dough. It is used the same day. Is there anything that we could add that would give it more of a complex flavor?


Thanks so much



kjohnson's picture

How to best salt a crust?

Newbie here, experimenting with an Italian Olive Rosemary Bread. I would like to salt the crust and am wondering about the process of doing so.

*Do I coat the crust after it's done baking ?

*What will best hold the salt sprinkles - butter? egg yolk? water? other?

*Do I use coarse sea salt? I don't want the crust covered with tiny salt grains, kind of looking for a soft pretzel effect.


Ruralidle's picture

Can baking ease depression?

Have a look at this article in the UK's Independent newspaper, which name checks forum member Breadandwine and his blogspot "nobreadisanisland".

Beloz's picture

Pineapple vs water

I started my first starter a week ago. I decided to go with the pineapple juice method because for some reason I thought it would work better. 

I followed this method But I must admit that I might have misread the instructions because I don't know imperial measures. So I'm pretty sure I added too much water as I measured it by volume equal to the volume of the flour. But I thought I got the starter to flour ratio right, which was 1:1/2. 

I ended up starting 3 starters with pineapple juice. I kept only the youngest one and finally worked out the correct ratios and started weighing the ingredients. Today it had totally taken off and last time I checked it had nearly doubled in size. This is day 7.

I also started a starter with the water a few days after the starter described above. And to me it seems to rise equally well even though I started it 3 days later (today is day 4). But what's more surprising is that I can smell the yeast in that one, but the pineapple one just smells sour, can't detect any yeast. 

As an experiment it's totally flawed of course, because I didn't use the same method for both and fed the water starter more, sooner. But I'd be interested to know if anyone else has compared them and what their observations were?