The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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sjscher's picture
sjscher

Determining the Hydration of an Existing Levain

Does anyone know how I can determine the hydration level of my levain?


 


I was given a starter by a friend some years ago, along with instructions on how to refresh it.  As I've gotten more serious about my baking, I've wanted to figure out the actual hydration level so that I can make adjustments for various formulae, etc.


 


It occurs to me that maybe I can just use my friend's ratio of H2O/Flour used in refreshment as the basis of the hydration level.  Do I assume that the existing starter has the same ratio, or will the combination of existing starter + new flour & water have a different hydration level than the new stuff added.


 


In other words: Say I add 100g flour & 130 g water each time I get the starter ready to bake.  Can I assume I've got 130% hydration?


 


Thanks,


 


steve

Nothing77713's picture
Nothing77713

I want to be a baker when I "grow up."

Firt off, I apologize that this is definately a repeat topic, but I have a much wider question to ask than the many topics before, so I thought I'd give it a try.


 


I am currently a hotel and restaurant management undergrad student. I have another year and a half until I graduate. Recently, through my foodservice management class and some lab time in the university union's bakery, I have realized that my dream career is to own/operate my own bakery and cafe. I have been teaching myself to bake at home over the last few months through various websites(KA, The Fresh loaf, etc.) and baking books(I LOVE Peter Reinhart!). I understand the differences inherent in professional/home baking and I am well aware of the failure rate of small businesses, let alone restaurants, let alone bakeries(I am well on my way to a business degree).


My question to the professional bakers on this site is would you please give me any advice you care to give on how to start a career as a baker? I know I need professional training, but do I need to go through a full accredited culinary school, or would somewhere like SFBI professional program be sufficient? What schools/programs would you personally suggest?  And what about internships and apprenticeships? I have atleast four years before I can qualify for a government education grants and loans to attend any kind of baking school and would like to get my foot in the door asap to build up experience in the field. (In fact I need 800 hours of applicable hospitality experience in the next year before I can even get my degree). Would you suggest I beg my parents to pay for workshops and such while they're still supporting me(I know I am VERY lucky) if I can't get hired?


I have tried simply applying for any entry level positions in the few bakeries in my small college town, but in this economy they won't hire what they see on my application(very little experience in food service and college student(high turnover rate, bad attitude, etc.)). Do you have any suggestions on how to get hired in the first place? Should I ask to speak with a manager or baker directly(and waste their time)? Should I bring in an example of one of my own homebaked loaves to show I'm not entirely clueless?


Thankyou for reading my extremely long repeat post, and thankyou in advance for any advice. I would be tickled to death to get any advice at all to help me on my way, anything you care to tell me, regardless of if it relates to what I asked or not...

nirbeltran's picture
nirbeltran

rye/spelt sourdough


well ... thats my favorite sourdough recipe and it has become my basic sourdough recipe .


http://www.artisanbreadbaking.com/breads/sourdough_12_20/sourdough_12_20.htm


 


but this time i replaced 1/4 of the flour in the final dough for whole grain rye flour and 1/4 for whole grain spelt flour . and i have to say it came out not bad at all !!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Blog Sighting

Check out this "Top 50" list, compiled by OnlineDegreePrograms.org. That's our own SteveB (Bread cetera) in the Baking and Pastries category. Very nice blog, Steve---Congratualtions!


 


50 Best Blogs for a Complete Culinary Education

Going to culinary school is a dream for some students, but it's not the only way you can learn how to become a great cook. The web is full of food blogs, and the best of the best - outlined here - couple their recipes and food tips with cookbook reviews, gorgeous photo tutorials, travel stories, food news, and behind-the-scenes coverage of celebrity chefs around the world. Here we've outlined 50 best blogs for a complete culinary education, whether or not you've earned your degree.


Cooking Tips and News


Find recipes, cooking tips, food news, and plenty more from these blogs. Subscribe to their feeds for steady lessons in cooking basics and beyond.



  • the Epi Log: Epicurious' blog covers food news and gossip, top 10 lists, cooking books, baking, cooking tips, and other yummy stuff.

  • Simply Recipes: This popular blog lets you browse recipes by type or by ingredient, and there's even a Simply Recipes Amazon store.

  • Cooking with Amy: Amy has been featured in The Guardian, PARADE and other publications for her smart take on presenting original recipes alongside travel notes and food news.

  • For the Love of Cooking: This is another award-winning blog that features a foodgawker cooking gallery and tasty, classic recipes with clear instructions.

  • Closet Cooking: If you have a tiny student's kitchen, you can make the recipes featured on this blog, like apple pie French toast or spinach and feta lasagna.

  • Start Cooking: Kathy Maister's Start Cooking blog adds photos for each step in the cooking process, to help you master each recipe. You can also watch cooking videos.

  • La cuisine d'Helene: Helene clearly has a sweet tooth, but you'll find solid meals and appetizers to make on this blog, too.

  • The Food Section: Get all kinds of food news, from food technology and kitchen tools to celebrity chefs to food trends in other countries.

  • The FN Dish: The Food Network blogs about shows, shares recipes, and talks about other topics foodies love.

  • AllRecipes.com: Browse recipes for every time of day (and in between), plus community blogs, how-to articles, and your own recipe box.


Culinary Schools and Students


These blogs come from culinary schools or culinary students and can help you understand what cooking school is all about.



  • Eric Rivera's Cooking Blog: This fun cooking blog, full of photos, is written by a Puerto Rican culinary school student.

  • The Dish: This culinary student blog discusses cooking basics, "egg week," and more.

  • The Hot Plate: This is the blog from the French Culinary Institute in New York, and it highlights foodie tours around the city, school news, culinary events, and more.


Baking and Pastries


Some culinary students choose to major in the baking and pastry arts. Even if you've chosen a different route, visit these blogs for scrumptious recipes and photos of bread and desserts that will make you drool.



  • Joe Pastry: Get up close shots of Joe's mixing and folding talents as he whips up cakes, macaroons, and more. Joe also shares tips for leavening, mixing, and bread making.

  • Gluten A Go Go: Learn to make fancy gluten-free cannolis and other desserts on this blog.

  • Let Her Bake Cake: She's trying not to eat everything she bakes, but it must be impossible for this blogger since she makes so many tantalizing desserts from scratch. On Let Her Bake Cake, you'll also find baking tips and baking supplies reviews.

  • Cream Puffs in Venice: Ivonne, one of the founders of The Daring Kitchen, blogs and posts photos of Italian desserts and other goodies on this blog.

  • heavenly cake baker: Get recipes for classic but impressive cakes here.

  • Charm City Cakes: The Ace of Cakes team shares news from the shop here.

  • Bread Cetera: Steve is an organic chemist turned bread baker, so you know he gets it right.

  • My Baking Addiction: This baker is truly obsessed: she has 25 posts for cupcakes, and 17 just for cheesecake!

  • Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit: Get recipes and tips for making pomegranate green tea cupcakes, Meyer lemon cranberry cupcakes, fig and quinoa cupcakes, and more.

  • Zoe Bakes: Bread book author Zoe is also a pastry chef who has worked with Andrew Zimmern and Steven Brown, and you'll find book reviews and favorite recipes here.


Culinary Management and Hospitality


If you want to learn about running a restaurant, check out these blogs.



Food Science 



  • Bringing food chemistry to life: Head to this blog from Oregon State for open conversation about the components of food.

  • Food Technology: Learn about food safety and technology systems used to package, transport and preserve foods.


For and By Chefs


Get a peek into the lives of some of the world's top chefs, and find tips from other successful cooks who love sharing their secrets.



  • Al Dente: You can find recipes, culinary news and kitchen gadget reviews on this blog.

  • Nigella Lawson: Each day find out what Nigella's cooking, or play around on her site for other recipes and "kitchen wisdom."

  • La Mia Cucina: Lisa, another co-founder of The Daring Kitchen, posts cooking challenges for herself here.

  • The Cook's Tour: Here you'll learn about food, wine, baking and travel.

  • A Moveable Feast: Louisa Chu is a chef and journalist who has appeared as a judge on Top Chef. Check out her blog for cooking show previews, and some of the most intriguing food photographs online.

  • Super Chefs: This blog/online magazine is a terrific resource for finding career tips, chefs and cooking in popular culture, and recipes.

  • Ideas in Food: Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot own a consulting business for restaurants and food service companies, and here they share recipes and other food adventures.

  • Chef From Hell: Learn classic American recipes from Chef JP here.

  • Giada De Laurentiis: Food Network star Giada blogs about her foodie and travel adventures here.

  • Cooking Diva: Tropical Chef Melissa DeLeon shares favorite recipes and cooking techniques from Colombia, Panama and more.


Foodie Blogs


These bloggers celebrate food and drink to the utmost. You'll never tire of reading about their love of food, trying out their exotic and comfort food recipes, or scrolling through beautiful photographs of food and travel.



  • Foodista Blog: On Foodista, you'll learn about the history of recipes you read about and get ideas for making all kinds of dishes for breakfast, cocktails, holidays, special diets, and more.

  • Kiss My Spatula: Find tweaked recipes from other blogs, books and newspapers, coupled with striking photos and music pairings for your dishes.

  • Chocolate and Zucchini: This popular, award-winning blog from Parisian Clotilde features recipes, food news, restaurant and cookbook reviews, kitchen gadgets, a recipe index, food glossary and more.

  • Bitten: Mark Bittman writes about food and shares fabulous recipes for the New York Times here.

  • Gastronomer's Guide: Get food book reviews, how-to guides, and food discussion here.

  • Cafe Fernando: Fernando lives in Istanbul, and his colorful, creative blog is filled with fantastic recipes, from muffins and desserts to pasta to Turkish dishes to meat and fish.

  • Serious Eats: Serious foodies congregate on this blog and food community to swap recipes, rate restaurants, take on cooking challenges, and share tips.

  • The Bitten Word: Get tips for mincing garlic while you find recipes for cocktails, holiday meals, party food, sauces, soups, side dishes and more.

  • Orangette: This famous foodie blog is no-frills, but it has over 5 years' worth of recipes, cooking stories, food photos, and tips.

  • Chez Pim: This celebrated blog combines food with travel while sharing recipes and interesting food facts.

  • Mattbites.com: If you, like Matt, are obsessed with food and drink, read his blog for beautiful recipes for entertaining and more.

  • delicious: days: On this blog, you'll get cooking tips and keep up with what other chefs are doing around the world.

  • The Wednesday Chef: If you want to learn how to cook with an international flair, follow Luisa Weiss, an Italian-German editor and home cook in New York City.


Click here: 50 Best Blogs for a Complete Culinary Education - Online Degree Programs.org: Top Online Degrees

Karmel_Kuisine's picture
Karmel_Kuisine

Yeast types

I'm thoroughly confused about yeast.


The King Arthur Flour baking books, which I use a lot, say to use instant yeast.


I just checked out their book on whole grain baking, and in that book, the text says that instant yeast and rapid rise yeast are not the same thing and are not interchangeable.


However, in my supermarkets, there really is no "instant yeast." Just active-dry, and depending on the brand, either fast- or rapid-rise.


There is one store that carries something called "instant yeast;" it's Oetker brand (?), but it's a specialty store.


What's the deal with this?


(I have used rapid- and fast-rise with good results. I have used active dry a lot less).

Nymphaea's picture
Nymphaea

Simple questions on the basics :)

First I should say Hi, my first message here since I joined yesterday :)

I have been wondering on peoples oppinion mostly on how to keep the starter, because I find so many conflicting ideas everywhere about it, and today when preparing some of my new yeast for baking, I noticed it smelt much healthier when I kept it in a bowl with just a cloth over it than it did in the jar I keep it in, which I had thought may be going bad from the smell. So my first question, is how to contain the starter? I have been keeping mine in a Mason jar, with the inner lid upside down so it will not form a seal, and the lid very loose. Would it be better to give it more air?


Another concern is material, everywhere says to avoid plastic and metal, but I see alot of people, including on this site, using tupperware containers for theirs(especially starters on the dry side of the spectrum) This is for tools as well, when working with my starter, would it be best to avoid plastic and metal tools? After my first batch spoiled, I have been using a wooden spoon only with this one, but not sure how much it matters ^-^;;


Thanks in advance for any help you can give :)

chef55's picture
chef55

Pretzels

Does anyone know recipe for Philly Soft Pretzels.  Thanks

pjr918's picture
pjr918

Bread baking class

Hi,


I am a culinary instructor, and I can tell you that it's much easier to have students bake their breads in a pan for the first time. The pan provides the support to make sure the loaf comes out tall and well risen.


If you must teach artisan breads that cannot be baked in a pan, I suggest all the loaves be stood on a peel on either parchment paper or corn meal so they can slide onto a baking stone easily.

wmtimm627's picture
wmtimm627

Durum flour

I recently found an Indian market that sells durum flour in 20 lb bags. To most of us, this is semolina flour. I'm having a hard time finding decent recipes for my bread machine that use this hard wheat flour. The best one I've used so far uses half bread flour and half semolina. It's delicious, but I'd like something different.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Practice recipes-how small can I go?

So, I'm learning much from this website and have a steep learning curve right now. But, like Julie on the movie I must watch my beltline and my husband must too. As he said this AM after devouring half of the delicious (30% recipe) loaf of cinnamon raisin swirl bread, "You have to stop, don't make this again, even if I ask for it!!". Last night it was the "excess starter sourdough bread" that came out with the taste and texture of an unbelievable french bread. And the naan, sourdough whole wheat muffins, whole wheat sandwich bread, whole grain seed bread. That's just this past week.


I'm already freezing and giving a majority of it away to my parents and brother. The other side of the family only likes 100% soft white wonderbread style and sweet breads which is probably 10% or less of what I actually bake.


Anyway, how small can I make a recipe? Can I make it down to dinner roll size and just change the cooking time? I need to practice kneading, stretching, folding, the feel of the dough, retarding, all those things that make bread what it is. Learning what recipes I like to make and don't like to make. Learning how to play dough, shape dough, etc. Braiding was a great project with the Finnish Pulla bread that I made because it got my hands into the "feel" of a good workable dough.


Can I make a recipe with 250 total grams, 150 total grams, how small and still not lose the integrity and learning value from a recipe?


Tracy

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