The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Fun with Jason's Ciabatta

It's been a year or more since I've made Jason's Quick Ciabatta recipe, so I made a variation first and followed the next day with his standard recipe.

For the variation, I mixed Jason's standard 95% hydration dough until it started to climb the mixer paddle.  At that time I added enough flour to make a 75% hydrated dough and retarded it overnight in the fridge. The next day, I shaped, proofed and baked the loaves.

Later that day, I made the standard recipe which is always fun for me to make and will be nice for dinner tomorrow with the kids.


Antilope's picture

Microwave Mexican Restaurant Sweet Corn Cakes

Microwave Mexican Restaurant Sweet Corn Cakes

Makes 6 cups, 12 servings - On table in 15-minutes

This is a Copy Cat Recipe that I developed for the microwave. I wanted a quick recipe to copy the sweet corn cakes (Mexican spoon bread) that are served at Mexican restaurants like El Torito's and Chi Chi's or sold as a mix at supermarkets. This is ready to eat in about 15 minutes. For a less sweet dish, reduce granulated sugar to 1/3 cup. For a firmer sweet corn cake, microwave an additional 3-minutes.

If you've never had these at a Mexican restaurant, they are similar to a firm, sweet, grits or polenta, with a corn tortilla flavor. The corn tortilla flavor comes from the masa harina flour. A good substitute for the masa harina flour is 1/4 cup of finely crushed Fritos corn chips.

I got the idea of making this recipe in a microwave from Cook's Illustrated. They have a microwave polenta recipe that cooks in 12 minutes.

I made this in an 1100-watt microwave.


1 cup yellow cornmeal, uncooked
1/4 cup masa harina flour (or 1/4 cup finely crushed Fritos corn chips, use in place of masa harina)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 1/3 cup for less sweet)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk
1 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted


Stir all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl, mix well and set aside until needed. 
Mix all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Stir until well mixed.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir out any dry lumps in batter.

Pour into a 3-quart covered, microwaveable casserole dish.

Cover and microwave on high for 6-minutes.

Stir well. Stir bottom and sides of dish well to remove any dry lumps.

Cover and microwave on high for another 6-minutes.

Stir a few times and serve warm using an ice cream scoop or disher.

This gets thicker as it cools and reaches room temperature. If you want a more
gritty sweet corn cake, use polenta corn meal instead of regular corn meal.

I made some tonight as a side dish along with 7 Layer Mexican Dip.


CJRoman's picture

Beer Starter?

I go out of my way to bake everything with I look to attempt my first sourdough....I'm wondering: Can I make my starter with beer instead of water? Will there be any flavor benefit? this not desirable given the alcohol content in the starter?

CJRoman's picture

Baked Baking Soda

After my big disappointment with lye...I want to try baked baking soda.

My question is...with the lye, so long as it is sealed you can use it indefinitely (even in its solution form)...will a baked baking soda solution keep for re-use as well??

Also, sometimes I go wild and make dozens and dozens of pretzels at one time...and I'm always curious to know who long a baking soda solution is "good" for when making multiple batches? It seems to get cloudy and icky as I go...but that may not mean anything...



varda's picture

Carlisle Farmer's Market

Today, I attended my first farmer's market as a vendor.   Yesterday I baked around three times more bread at one time than I had ever done before.   Miraculously it all came out fine with no kitchen disasters.  This morning I finished up the baking and drove a couple towns over to Carlisle.   I had never been to the Carlisle market before.   I had two reasons for picking it.   One, I figured, given that Carlisle is pretty sparsely populated, that the market might be small enough for me to be able to manage.   The second is that unlike Lexington, they were willing to let me start in the middle of the season.   Sure enough, it was a fairly small and low key market.   The neighboring booth was a lemonade stand staffed by a seven year old and his parents.

So I relaxed and got ready to sell bread armored with my hastily purchased $6 sign from Staples.

There were plenty of baked goods, but only a couple other loaves about, and nothing like mine.   The market officially opened at 8 am, but there were only a trickle of customers and few of those interested in bread.    I figured I was going to be bringing a lot of loaves home, or engaging in some pretty furious barter for corn and squash at the end of the market.   

And yet, slowly but surely over the course of the morning my loaves walked away one by one, and in the opposite order that I expected.  

First to disappear were the flaxseed ryes.

Then went the Cherry Almond Whole Wheats.

The baguettes took longer to go, perhaps because they were a bit pale due to my needing the oven for the Challah rolls.   Finally a woman who would have preferred a Cherry Almond decided to take the last baguette home.  

When it was all over, I had only four challah rolls left out of my starting 18 loaves and 19 rolls.

The crowd seemed to divide into two parts (in my mind of course.)   The people who glanced at the bread, and then walked on as if they hadn't seen anything.    The second group would be almost past, when suddenly their eyes would lock on the bread, and they would circle slowly back, and only after a moment or two remembering to look up and say hello.   Of course, I liked those people better.  

One woman bought a roll, took a bite, and informed me it was dry.   I noticed that as she walked away she was still eating it.    Ten minutes later, she came back and said that after a bite or two she realized how good it was.   She just had to reorient herself from puffy.   

I experienced the limits of my kitchen all in one night.    I reached capacity on my scale (5 K) my Assistent Mixer which started chucking up bits of rye dough all over the place as they got too close to the top of the bowl.   My counter space and oven, and so forth.   But I survived, and sold my bread, and I'm ready to do it all over again next week.  Now I just have to figure out what to make.    

Elagins's picture

Bagels: is it really "the water"?

The real story on what passes for bagels

phaz's picture

The BlackBerry Starter

 just looking for knowledge from those who have experience with starters created from fruit.  already have a well established starter,but when poking around the garden the other day I came upon some BlackBerry bushes in 1 corner of the property. I've heard of starters created using say wild cherries and raisins, so when I noticed the bluish grey coating on the berries, I picked a few and tossed in an old jelly jar with a splash of water, semi heaping teaspoon of white flour, and a semi heaping teaspoon of whole grain rye and mixed. 2nd day it had doubled in height. 3rd morning it had fallen, so I removed about half and feed as above. this morning, 4th day, it had tripled in height, almost filling the jar. lots of bubbles big and small, and no strange odors, actually smells nice, like strong blackberries. the plan is to keep the feeding up for a few more days, removing half, till whatever is left of the berries is about gone, then try a loaf. advice and suggestions always appreciated! thanx in advance!

Ava's picture

Rye flour in the UK

Hello all,

Does anyone happen to know where to get the darkest grade of rye flour, in the UK? England in particular. I can only seem to find one or two brands, and while the packets don't say anything about grade, they look very light to me.


Thanks! :)

chris319's picture

Starter Wheat Flour

Still no joy with my starter experiments.

I've tried every elixir I've read about and could think of and am still not getting off the ground, so I'm beginning to wonder if the flour I'm using has enough of the right kind of wild yeast to make a vigorous starter. Is this a ridiculous notion? The best I've gotten is some tiny gas bubbles on the surface which eventually disappear and the starter then goes as flat as a week-old glass of root beer.

I've tried, in various combinations, spring water, pineapple juice, milk, yougurt, cultured buttermilk*, beer, wine, honey, vinegar water to a pH of 3.5, organic grape skins and cumin, all to no avail. Having tried such a wide assortment of diluents I'm beginning to suspect something is up with the flour. The room is the right temperature and the starters are properly refreshed. I'm thinking it's not my technique, my diluents, the pH, etc.

The yeast we are after for sourdough is candida humilis fka candida milleri. Packaged baker's yeast is saccharomyces cerevisiae, i.e. the wrong kind of yeast for sourdough, so packaged yeast is a no-go.

It is well established that starter can be made from wheat flour, so suggestions such as "try a little rye", though well intentioned, are off the table.

What kind of flour do successful starter makers like? I've been using King Arthur organic whole wheat.

*Cultured buttermilk made lots of mold, but no c. humilis.

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Almond and lemon brioche

“Let them eat brioche!”, said Marie Antoniette when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat. This is a “pain brioché”, which is the poor version of the regular brioche, because we're gonna add less butter and less eggs. We're gonna give it a twist adding the zest of a lemon and almond meal, almond flour or ground almond, however you call it. As a result we're gonna eat an amazing brioche, so we will have breakfast like kings, and we won't be afraid of the guillotine.

- 3 medium eggs (150 gr)

- 120 ml milk

- 400 gr strong bread flour

- 50 gr almond powderl

- 3 tbsp brown sugar

- 5 gr salt

- 75 gr softened butter

- Lemon zest

- Vanilla extract

- 6 gr instant yeast or 18 gr fresh yeast

- One egg for egg wash

Mix eggs and milk in a bowl, and flour, almond powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest and yeast in another bowl. Mix everything, and knead. You can use an electric mixer, or you can mix it with your own hands. In ten minutes the dough should be smooth and silky. The add butter little by little. Knead until dough becomes smooth and silky again. Let it rest about 1 hour and 30 min.

Put the dough on a floured surface. Shape four or five buns. Put them into a greased tin. Let them rest about 1 hour. Brush the buns with egg wash and using a bread lame or a razor blade, score each bun.

Bake about 35 minutes. First 15 minutes the temperature should be about 190C (375F), and last 20 minutes reduce heat to 160C (320F). Cover with aluminium foil the last 20 minutes to avoid it becomes roasted.

Let the brioche rest two or three hours before you slice it. If you want to keep it tender, keep it into plastic bag.

More info: