The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mikaelas2323's picture

What to buy?

I am looking to buy a mixer. My very first. I have always loved the Kitchenaids, but have heard the quality is not the same as my grandmothers. This lead me to do a little more research. I do bake sometimes, but not on a large scale. Enough for my family of 4. I heard that KA fixed their gear housing problems and went back to the metal ones,  but have also read that they don't really handle bread dough all that well. I would probably only be making a couple loaves at a time. But do I really want to buy it and then find out that I want to bake more, and not have a machine that can handle it? So I started looking at the Bosch and the DLX. Both seam like awesome machines. And from what I have read, both would be able to handle small batches well enough. We also do pulled pork and chicken a lot, which was another reason I was looking at a mixer. I know that the KA and the Bosch can shred meat, but what about the DLX? Any ideas or input would be greatly appreciated!

Born2Bake's picture

Mature Culture, and when to build the Levain, as well as other questions

I know to use a culture that rises and falls predictably after feedings.. I understand that much, however. When a recipe calls for the use of a "Mature Culture" to build your levain does it mean...

A)  Use the culture at the deflated unfead state to build your Levain that sits for 12-16 hrs.
B) Use a culture that has been fed, built up until it is at its peak height and would float on water- use that to make your levain that will then sit for 12-16 hours.

Right now I'm keeping a 100% hydration starter that I keep at about 70-72 degrees. I'm currently discarding about 80% of it and then feeding it once daily. Using 70 degree water and the temp of the starter is at 72 after the feed. Flour being 45% unbleached white 45% whole wheat and 10% whole rye.

From what I understand this should take about 2-4 hours to be at peak height "young levain" status, and then start to fall. This is not happening for me. I will feed it at 2pm and  when I wake up in the next morning at 6am it is at its peak high point and has not started to fall. Smells slightly sweet and yeasty as well as ripe fruit. Only after a few more hours it begins to fall Why is this? - I'm trying to wrap my head around the young levain concept.

 Any help/feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

FlourChild's picture

Forkish Overnight Brown and Bacon SD

In addition to Breadsong's post and's post, I have a couple more loaves to add from Ken Forkish's Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.  

I have to say I've really been enjoying baking from this book, it has opened up my repetoire to include a style of SD bread featuring low levain amounts (only 10-12% of the main dough flour is used to build the levain) and extended bulk ferments.  This style is different from Hammelman, and bears some resemblance to Chad Roberston's loaves, though Mr. Forkish seems to be a better teacher and to include more of the details needed for a novice to succeed.  The only drawbacks- and they are small compared to the deliciousness of his breads- are the narrow scope of recipes (no soakers, high percentage rye, brioche, baguette or long loaves, olive bread, fruit & nut bread, croissants, etc.) and the "supersize" scale of both levains and recipes (every recipe is made with 1,000 grams of flour).  

First up is the Bacon Sourdough, which I have to say is one of the best tasting loaves that has ever graced my kitchen.  I followed this recipe to the T, even mixing up the large levain.  Since I like bread best on the day it's baked, I generally prefer to bake smaller amounts more frequently and am not set up for this quantity of dough, so it was a bit of a hassle to find or jerry-rig enough containers, baskets, dutch ovens, proofers, etc.  But the incredibly moist crumb and crisp, red-brown crust on this loaf were superb, and the bacon hit just the right note- plenty to appreciate, but in balance with the crust and crumb flavors.  The photos on this are only of a small demi-loaf made of dough that I siphoned off of the two larger loaves; I wanted a small loaf to try the bread, as the two large loaves were given away as gifts.

The glossy, translucent walls on the larger holes:

The bubbles on the crust:


Next up is the Overnight Brown, a pure levain dough with 30% whole wheat.  For this bake, I decided to scale things back and also tried some whole grain spelt instead of traditional red wheat for the 30% whole grain portion of the dough.  For the scaling, I only made one loaf (50% of the main dough) and scaled back the levain to just a little more than what I needed for the main dough (150g of levain or 15% of what was called for).  Not sure that spelt was the right choice for this bread, it was good but not great.  I'd like to try it again with red wheat.

Here's the loaf, which Forkish doesn't score but rather bakes seam side up for a gnarly, rustic look.

The crumb:

And the bubbly crust that comes from his long room temp ferments:

I also made the levain pizza dough and the high-hydration poolish pizza dough, but my renditions did not turn out as well as the loaves.  They both seemed a bit over-fermented, in that they ended up a little too dense, without enough oven spring, and the flavors were a tad off.  These may be my fault, I suspect both my SD starter and my (commerical yeast) poolish were a little more ripe than was ideal, so I plan to try them again, being more careful to follow the times and temps exactly.  They were both a little harder to shape (elastic) than most of the pizza doughs I mix, which I attribute to the extra acidity from the long ferments.  In the case of the poolish, my pre-ferment only doubled in 12 hours, rather than the triple that is specified, so I let it go to 14 hours (recipe states 12-14 hours) in hopes of getting a bit more rise, which never happened.  This experience has taught me that with Forkish's recipes, it is better to err on the side of underfermenting than the other way around.

All in all, a great book that I've thoroughly enjoyed.


shoshanna673's picture

Hydration Math


I am new to sourdough and am struggling with hydration math!  Can any kind poster help me with a few dumb questions?  I have an established white starter at 65% hydration.  I have not yet baked with it and am now ready to take the plunge.  For my chosen recipe (Emmanuel Hadjiandreou's Seeded Sourdough) I require 160g of starter.  Can someone tell me how to build some starter for baking at 65% hydration (2 feeds at 12 hour intervals?) to arrive at this 160g.  I know, I'm dumb!!  The recipe does not specify a particular starter hydration.  Also, is it possible to change the hydration of my mother starter, and if so, how would I do this?  Or can I just bring the hydration up as necessary for different recipes?  I have a new rye starter currently under way, which is 100% hydration.  Don't want to end up with a frig full of different starters.

I am boning up on hydration, having just come to grips with bakers %s.  I will get there.

Thanks to anyone who is willing to help



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Probiotics in your starter?

I was skimming through a copy of the book  "The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast" by Warnock and Richardson and read a suggestion that one could use a pro-biotic tablet, such as the ones used as a digestive aid, to stimulate a sourdough starter. Up until I read that, I thought the book was pretty much preaching from the same hymnal as many of us do.

I'm not posting a book review here or a critique of the authors work. I'm just curious to see if anyone in this community has done something similar. I've read the contents label of probiotics sold at a local CVS drugstore and the contents don't include any of the bacteria that I'm familiar with from my books and reading. It is certain that I'm not familiar with all the names of all the beneficial bacteria found in starters.

So, out of curiosity and not because I'm having trouble with my starter, has anyone ever tried cranking up their starter with probiotics?




CarolineR's picture

Hobart C-100 Mixer - service manual? any rebuild experiences?

Hi all,

This is for the Hobart enthusiasts who read TFL.  Thanks, btw, for all the helpful posts.  It's been an education.  I have (for the second time) come close to destroying a N-50 by mixing too-large batches of bread dough; after reading the larger mixer search & recommendation posts, I ended up with a Hobart C-100, model 17664. I realized that I might never be able to obtain parts for it, since it's been out of production for over 20 years, but I was able to find one that was never used.  That should mean that all the parts are in good shape (except perhaps for some unseen rust).  The seller thought it had sat in a warehouse all its life - the warranty card and manual packet were still attached to it with wire.  I'm sure the grease has long since drained out of it, and am ready to take it apart and re-pack it. (And I've bought mixer-specific grease for that purpose.)

So I'm wondering if any of you Hobart fanatics out there who have this machine have ever (like breadman_NZ with his N50) taken yours apart and fixed it?  If so, would you share your experiences, warnings, etc?   And does anyone have a service manual for this beast?  I have scoured the web and not found one.  I did find all the user / parts manuals on Hobart's site, and have downloaded them; if this is all there is, I'm glad to have them.  But it would be so helpful to have a real service & repair manual, if anyone has one.



Caroline (in eastern MA)

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Multi Seed Loaf with Rye & Spelt Flour

Since I am still nursing a brand new rye starter to life (finally there with great help from Minioven) I made a bread today with a biga preferment.  I have been craving a loaf with seeds coming out of the yingyang so I stuffed this bread full of cracked wheat, steel cut oats and rye berries.  I wanted a hearty loaf so I used a combination of bread flour with dark rye and spelt flours.

Never used a biga before so it was a new adventure.  Actually, not really.  Same as poolish just drier. 

Now that I have my rye starter up and running, I will be trying a much anticipated go at a danish rye, packed with rye berries.  This loaf today will have to keep me chewing happily till then.  Thanks to Franko for the inspiration.



butterflyblue's picture

Pain de Campagne from "52 Loaves"

I recently made the pain de Campagne recipe from the book "52 Loaves" and while it turned out perfectly edible, and respectably tasty, it was lacking in a couple of ways.  One, no holey crumb.  Two, only so-so oven spring.  Three, (and much more bothersome to me), the flavor was good but not great.  Flavor is the thing I pursue with bread.  Unlike Mr. Alexander, though, I have no wonderful memory of a specific artisan bread to compare my efforts to.  There are no artisan bakeries in my area.  But I've had better flavor from sourdough english muffins where the starter and part of the flour ferment overnight, and they're mixed up with the othe ingredients and let rest for only 45 minutes before baking (it was a very basic recipe with flour/water/starter/salt, so the flavor wasn't coming from other added ingredients).

This is the recipe:

400 grams unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
260 grams levain
60 grams whole wheat flour
30 grams whole rye flour
13 grams salt
292 grams water (room temp)
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast (also called bread machine, fast-acting, or Rapid-Rise yeast)

Here's what I did: the night before baking, I mixed built up the levain. Next morning, I weighed and added the  other ingredients to make the dough.  Autolyse 25 minutes, as per the recipe.  Then I kneaded, although I can't say the dough ever got "smooth".  I hate working with high hydration dough.  I fermented it at room temp. for about 2 1/2 hours.  This was a bit of a departure from the recipe, which says 4-5 hours.  But it also (in the book, but not the online recipe) says that the dough will have risen in that time by about half.  And mine had risen by half in the 2.5 hours.

So I formed a boule and let it rise another 2 hours or so in a colander.  Did periodic poke tests, and when the indentation left by my finger didn't spring back, I took the boule out, slashed it, and put it in the oven on a pizza stone.  Then remembered that steam was supposed to be involved.  Ran and got an aluminum roaster pan, spritzed it with water inside, and put it over the boule. 

I didn't follow the baking time/temp instructions exactly. I can't afford to blow up my oven, so decided not to risk heating it to 500, the max. temp on the dial.  So I set it at 475 or a little lower.  My oven runs hot anyway.  I don't like an extremely brown crust, so I didn't let it get dark brown before turning the heat down, and I didn't let it heat to an internal temp of 210, but 203 or so instead.  Then I didn't let it sit in the oven for 15 minutes after the oven was turned off.  I don't think those things affected the openess of the crumb, because the crumb would have already been set in stone (so to speak) by that time. 

I do suspect I didn't handle the dough gently enough during shaping, which may have affected the crumb.  I'm sure that forgetting to preheat a skillet for steam affected oven spring.  Would not having let the first fermentation go on as long as recommended have affected the flavor?  I have a deathly fear of overproofing.   I'm still mastering figuring out when my sourdoughs have proofed sufficiently, which I also think affected the oven spring.

So, I'd like your collected wisdom - do my conclusions sound right?  Is there anything else I've missed?  How can I get the elusive flavor, or am I expecting too much?

I blogged about this boule here (but with more humor and less exhaustive detail), and my review of the book is here

MANNA's picture

Bouchon Bakery - Choc - choc chunk / chip cookie

Here is my "miz on plas" for the choc-choc chunk / chip cookie I will bake later tonight.

amolitor's picture

Fennel Fig Bread

This was developed from a list of ingredients lifted from the display case at Arizmendi Bakery, in San Francisco. I consulted a few other similar recipes to help out with proportions. The technique is basically a stretch-and-fold approach I lifted from some Tartine recipe in a magazine.


  • 2 T wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 T active starter ("sufficient" starter to get the levain going)

Set out overnight, or until it is sufficiently developed to float. It's fairly cool here, so 10-12 hours seems to work well for me now.


  • all of the levain
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour ("sufficient" flour to make a fairly wet dough)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Mix well, until the dough separates from the bowl stickily, the usual sort of thing. Stretch and fold every half hour or so for about 3 hours, until the dough is getting close to fully devloped (elastic and as smooth as the bran will allow, and starting to get leavened). Mix in:

  • 2 T fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 12 medium sized dried black figs, quartered (take the stems off if there are any!)

You want the dough mostly but not completely developed. You're going to mix in this stuff with some stretch and fold every 15-20 minutes or so, for 2 or 3 turns. So, another 40 minutes to an hour on the bench.

Form up a loaf, bake at 450 for 40 minutes or so. You'll want to bake a few minutes longer than you would normally bake a loaf of this size, for the figs.

The pepper really makes this one. 1 tsp adds a definitely peppery bite, so you may want to start with less if you're not a pepper fan, or if you are worried about big flavors.