The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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emmsf's picture

Baker's Math and Soakers

I've been playing around with Baker's Math, and I believe I've got the idea.  But I do not know to calculate hydration in a formula with a soaker.  I recently made bread which called for a soaker with quite a bit of water in it.  Much, though not all, of the water was soaked up by the soaker grains.  Do I include the amount of soaker water with rest of the water in the formula for purposes of calculating hydration?  This seems to make sense, since this is basically what happens when calculating hydration in a formula with a preferment.  What about the soaker grains?  Do I add their weight to the weight of the flours, since they consumed much of the soaker's water?  I'm just a bit confused.  If this is discussed in a thread elsewhere on The Fresh Loaf, let me know - I've searched but haven't found it yet!  Thanks for any guidance you can give.

Dowens8's picture

Corn meal burning the bottom of my bread?

I have. A question... Can it be the cornmeal burning the bottoms of my breads? I have. Been making a lot of BBA lately and the last few have had burned, inedible bottoms. It didn't happen during my first ciabatta, but the last few breads have been really dark and hard. Anyone help???? Last night I made pizza and used flour instead of cornmeal, and it didn't burn...

Ruralidle's picture

UK based baking course for TFL users?

Regular readers of the TFL forum will have seen that we have amongst us an expert baker and educator in the form of Andy (ananda).  It is clear from Andy's posts on this forum that he is a very accomplished baker and he has access to kitchens that are suitable for teaching bread baking, the college where he works has even just invested in some deck ovens.  

Having such a resource within our community made me wonder whether we could arrange a course that teaches Artisan bread baking techniques to experienced amateurs (such as myself and most other contributors to TFL).  It is likely that such a course would last at least a couple of days and, given Andy's location in the North East of England, an overnight stay would be necessary for most participants.  However, one great advantage of a course like this is that participants could have a high degree of involvement in developing the course content.

I must stress that this is only an idea at present but, if there are enough interested bakers out there it may be worthwhile exploring things a little further.  It is unlikely that the course could be arranged before June or July 2011.

Is anybody out there - particularly those of us who are UK based - interested?

ssor's picture

english muffins

I had some left over biga from making pain puglese last week. last night I weighed the flour left in a bag, 21 ounces. The biga amounted to about a cup and a half. I scooped that with my hand and mixed it with 16 ounces of warm water and a teaspoon of yeast and 10 grams of salt. I calculated that this gave me about 75% hydration. I mixed the dough by hand and allowed several periods of resting between turning and folding the dough 3 or 4 strokes. After about six hours I covered the dough for the night and refrigerated it, because I have learned that cold dough is not as elastic as warm dough. This morning I speard cornmeal on the table and dumped the dough spreading it to about a half inch thick. I cut rounds with an empty #2 tomato can.
Several years ago I rescued an electric griddle that had no power cord. I removed the legs and handles. It fits perfectly over two burners on my gas stove. On this I baked the muffin rounds. The heat spring was impressive. Going from the half inch cold thickness to a bit over an inch. After they have been turned I could lift them with my fingers to check the bottoms. The texture of the crumb is typical english muffin with nice holes and peaks.
The biga was quite sour and imparted that sour to the taste.
The yield was 14 pieces about 3 1/2 inches across.

Sylviambt's picture

Bronx-to-Barn Baker

Hi all. It's been quite a while since I contributed to this site. Lots of changes in last 18 months: bought a farm, began raising grass-fed/grass-finished beef, sold house, now building farm house, started hosting an FM radio show about sustainable farming and its links to sustainable local economies and community. I've been relying on my bread machine for months, but I'm itching to get back to "real" bread baking. I've signed up for a Hamelman challenge to push me along. A secondary challenge is that my bread books are in storage while the farm house is under construction. I'm relying on a copy from the local library to help me make it through.

Hope you're all staying warm this wild winter.


TylerDavis's picture

high hydration pizza recipe in Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day

I have made a few recipes from Peter Reinhart's book "Artisan Breads Every Day"


Most of them have turned out OK, but only after I added a LOT of extra flour to make the dough workable.  Like 10-15% more than the recipe calls for.  Otherwise I get bater instead of dough.


This is his recipe for Neopolitan Pizza Dough:


680g flour

14g salt

3g inst yeast

28.5g sugar

482g water

28.5g olive oil


Using my digital scale and weighing ingredients exactly, I basically make batter.  It doesn;t even pretend to stick to the dough hook.  So I keep adding flour until I get some workable.

So my question is: am I calcuating 70% hydration correctly? and is it even possible to make pizza that will come off a peel @ 70% hydration?  Or am I doing somethign wrong?

txfarmer's picture

Focaccia and chorizo thyme rolls - Dallas has frozen over. So I baked.


Well, it's been 3 days of ice and below zero temperatures. I lived in Toronto for 5 years, this is nothing to northerners, but to Dallas, a city that has probably 2 sand trucks in total, this is "when the world stops" moment. Even my office closed for two days, which is jaw dropping since the boss is a hardy workaholic. And she's from Romania!Unexpected down time at home, what do I do? Bake breads of course! My starters are still aleep in the fridge, so I mixed up some olive oil dough from the book "Bourke St. Bakery", made two kinds of breads from it.


Olive Oil Dough (adapted from "Bourke St. Bakery")

- first dough (it's exactly the same as the main dough, so you just have to make one the first time you make this dough, after that, just reseve a portion from the final dough and use it as first dough for future loaves. it can be stored in fridge for a few days, and frozen for a lot longer.)

bread flour, 100g

salt, 2.5g, 1tsp

olive oil, 3/4tsp

milk, 1/2tsp

water, 70ml

instant yeast, 1g

1. Mix together into a dough, store in fridge for overnight.

-final dough

bread flour, 600g

instant yeast, 6.5g, 2tsp

water, 400g

olive oil, 20ML

milk, 20ML

salt, 15g

first dough, 180g

2. Mix everything togeter, autolyse, knead well.

3. Bulk rise at room temp (73F) for 1.5 hours, S&F every 30min. Dough is very smooth and soft, like silk.

4. Reserve some as preferments for later if desired, otherwise shape into focaccia. Rise for 15min, brush with olive oil, add toppings, rise for another 15min. I used two toppings: black olive+rosemary, and sliced meyer lemon+lavendar.

5. Bake at 350F for about 30min until golden.


Soft and fragrant, perfect to snack on.


The lemon+lavendar topping is my desperate calling for spring - or at least a break from "wintery mix" and "icy roads". Black olive+rosemary is just classic. Both are very delicious.


I only used half of the dough for facaccia, other other half for chorizo and thyme rolls - good thing that I had all the ingredients in the fridge, no way to get to the store!


The mixture of chorizo, onion and thyme was laminated into the dough as following:


Proof for 30 to 45min, cut into 4 parts before baking. If using the whole amount of dough, cut into 8 portions. Bake at 400F for about 20min.

Very rustic looking, very yummy.


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

gringogigante's picture

How do you "dry" a starter?

If I have a great starter and want to dry a small amount of it and freeze it for insurance, how do I "dry" it?

Zeb's picture

Cider - another of those pesky words that means something different in the UK to the States

I've been talking to DrFugawe who has recently been baking a Nancy Silverton apple bread and this month I am going to bake the Hamelman Normandy Apple Bread.

I have come to realise, and it's probably been discussed here before, that cider in America is not the same thing as cider in England.

The confusion lies particularly with the term 'sweet cider'. To an English person, that means an alcoholic fermented and usually carbonated drink made from pressed apples which happens to be sweet. We have dry, sweet, semi-sweet, sparkling ciders, all alcoholic, and then there's scrumpy too, if you live in my part of the world. 

To an American, it means apple juice pure and simple. Now I know.  It's like corn flour and cornflour, again two different things, or american pumpernickel and Westphalian pumpernickel,  or American cheddar and English Cheddar. Same names, but a world of difference. 

So if anyone else from this side of the Atlantic (England)  is baking from 'Bread', be aware that JH doesn't intend for you to use your local organic cider, he just wants you to use some nice freshly pressed organic apple juice along with your home dried apple pieces.

Having said that is there any reason for not using some good English cider?  I was thinking that if I treated the cider in a similar way to the way Dan Lepard makes barm bread, that would be a good jumping off point for an excellent sourdough. Has anyone here tried doing that?


Happy Baking



Yippee's picture

20101215 / 20110124 Mr. Hamelman's Poolish Baguette Formula


Happy New Year of the Rabbit!  I wish you all a year of good health and many delightful surprises in your baking adventures.  I kicked off my baking in the (calendar) New Year with Mr. Hamelman's poolish baguette formula.  This was also the formula that concluded my baking last year.   Both bakes were full of uncertainties.  As usual, I had to figure out a fermentation process that would fit my schedule for this type of commercial yeast/poolish leavened dough, which I had rarely dealt with in the past years.   I managed to get it to work, but a few more experiments will probably provide further assurance that everything's under control.  


In these two bakes, I tried a different hold of the lame when scoring the baguettes; and employed my favorite 'exit strategy' to shape this baguette dough into a boule when I was desperately out of time.  The new way of scoring was awkward and did not work as well on the baguettes as the old one.   On the other hand, the boule turned out okay.  I got a better idea of what my future cold fermentation schedule for yeasted dough should be. Good news did not just stop there.  The most exciting moment came when I finally produced pictures that didn't seem to come from the underworld.  For the first time, I got pictures of bread that were hubby-approved.   I love looking at them now!   From now on, no more eyesores, I promise.


And here they are:

The eyesores

and the NOT


Some of you have asked about my setup and procedure, which are quite simple, as you'll see below:







Will be submitted to Susan's Yeastspotting!