The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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saltandserenity's picture

Cheese Biscuits

Just made these buttery, crunchy and a little bit spicy cheddar biscuits.  Just the thing to serve with frozen peach bellinis in this summer heat.  Here are some photos and the recipes.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Bread Bottoms - looking at the underside

Bread Bottoms   What do they tell us?  Lots of information there yet we tend not to show them.  Yet we flip over a loaf as soon as we have it in our hands, many times before it lands on the cooling rack.   Some bottoms we don't see, others we do.  Dark, they speak of a hot oven; pale, a cooler one.   The hallmark of an English muffin > two bottoms.  They also leave clues as to what surface the loaf was baked.

In a discussion on evidence of the use of baking parchment, the subject of wrinkles came up.

Parchment Wrinkles.  I'm guessing the wrinkles come from moisture from the bread going into the parchment and deforming it where the dough lies, the outside edges being dry.  In the oven, the paper dries out shrinking & releasing steam which escapes in channels forming wrinkles where the still impressional  dough is touching it.  It marks the bottom like a fingerprint.  No two bottoms are alike.  :)  It's great when the bread doesn't stick and clean up is made easy.

Paper wrinkles like paper does.  With wall paper, one wets the paper with watery glue and lets it "size" until the paper has stabilized before hanging it or risk wrinkles as it dries.  I have not yet bothered to wet the parchment first, let it "size", and stretch it flat to park my dough on it to rise.  There might be a difference, less wrinkles or more.   Hasn't  bothered me enough to test it... yet.  Someone who is about to bake two loaves with parchment, might want to try it and report back.

Playing with those thoughts, it also might be interesting to create a pattern in the parchment that would show up in the baked dough, the bottom of the loaf becomming the top or loaves with signature bottoms.  We've lightly touched the subject before on TFL.  Orgami cranes pops into my head set under the wet dough... or folded rows for a rilled effect.  Cut paper?  Pizza with patterned bottoms?  What could I do with a cool iron and parchment?  So, I started this new thread...  "Bread Bottoms"  What do they tell us?

Dreaming of baking on the surface of relief tiles?  Does your wfo oven leave brick marks on the bottoms of loaves?    What does the bottom of a grilled loaf look like?  What does a bottom look like baked on Iron?  Bamboo?  Perforated pans?  Or baked on seeds?

Show us your bottoms!

sarafina's picture

Rustic loaf out of my Zorushi!


A wonderful friend got a new Zo three months ago and kindly passed her perfectly good older model down to me. I have, since then, been learning how to use it. It's been about 20 years since I was a weekly baker so it took a while to get in the swing of things and to learn how to use the breadmachine, which was totally new to me.

For the last few weeks I have been searching for a way to make a chewier, more open, more rustic loaf, while retaining the ease of the breadmachine one bowl, pretty much effortless baking process.


Tonight I think I have made a real breakthrough!


This morning I dumped a cup of water and a cup of bread flour and a half teaspoon of yeast into the Zo. I programed the homemade cycle to preheat for 15 minutes, knead for 10 minutes, rise for 2 hours, rise again for 2 hours and then stop. In the early afternoon, about 4 and a half hours later I added another half-cup of water, 2 and a half cups of bread flour and a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon and a half of salt.


I set the home made cycle to preheat for 15 minutes again, to knead for 15 minutes, to rise for 2 hours on the first cycle, to rise for 2 hours on the second cycle and then to turn off.


I dumped the dough out gently, it was very sticky but had nice stretch to it and clung together as it slowly gave up it's grip from the Zo bowl. I floured the board lightly and stretched out the dough, folded it in thirds, turned and folded in thirds again and then gently tightened up the loaf and stretched it out into a long wide flat loaf on the pizza pan, sprinkled generously cornmeal, that I usually cook freeform loaves on. I covered it with saran instead of a tea towel because I was worried it would stick to dough.


I preheated the oven to 525 and put a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven.

I let it rise for about an hour and then slid it into the oven on the pizza pan and poured boiling water into the skillet, closed up the oven and let it bake about 20 minutes until dark gold.


My family raved about the taste and texture. It came out so beautiful and more open than any of the previous loaves I have tried. The crust was thin and crisp with nice little blisters all over it, the body chewy and tender.


I have been reading thru the artesian recipe threads, the french bread lessons, the bread machine discussions, the poolish/preferments threads, absorbing all of the knowledge here. I feel like today's sucess was a direct result of all that wealth of information and experience everyone here has shared.

I am SURE I have room for improvment, but tonight?

I am so happy ; -)

Thank you all so much.

hross's picture

Hamburger Bun didn't rise

The recipe I used was very simple; but the dough didn't rise, and the buns are tiny. What did I do wrong? Did I kill the yeast?



1 cup milk 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup butter 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast 2 tablespoons white sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 egg

1. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until very warm, 120 degrees F (50 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture, and then mix in egg. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
3. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Cover, and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes.
4. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
fastmail98's picture

Baguette Shaping...Suggestions Welcome!

Hello, Friends...

I'm practicing making French bread and seem to have the texture, flavor, and crust okay, but the problem that I have is in the shaping. I've been following Peter Reinhart's instructions as to preparing the pate fermentee, mixing, fermenting, and proofing, but when it comes to shaping the final dough, I end up with something between a baguette and an oval. It looks okay, kinda rustic. From what I can see in the video that came with Ciril Hitz's 'Baking Artisan Bread', he uses a wetter dough that takes the shapes like magic. I'm using a dough that is stiffer. From my final dough, I can get a batard or boule, but I need some help on getting a more tubular shape and those wonderfully crafted ends. Here's what I baked up firm or slack should my final dough be so that I can get a better shape? Thanks!


French Bread from Russ

cookingwithdenay's picture

Michigan Cottage Food law, formerly HB5837, signed into law

The Michigan Cottage Food law, formerly HB5837, was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The cottage law allows residents to make and package "nonpotentially hazardous foods that do not require time/temperature control for safety" without licensing and inspection from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.The baked goods, jams, jellies, popcorn, candy, cereal, granola, dry mixes, vinegar and dried herbs, must be created in a kitchen and stored in the residence, which includes a basement or attached garage of the home where food was made.

For more information visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture


trailrunner's picture

ain't no accident...

I had to get rid of starters and Larry's post the other day was the inspiration I KNOW he meant it to be :) I had enough bubbly weekold starter and I added that to his measurements. I added a couple more splashes of water as my KA mixed since it seemed dry and I wanted it to really slap the bowl. All went perfectly. I used my Grandmother's old blue granite roaster to bake. I have another really large one also. I have not tried this but saw the post by another TFL member and decided to give it a shot. Perfect. HUGE oven spring. I preheated my stone at 500 and then placed the covered pot on the hot stone  for a few minutes . It gets hot quickly. I sprayed the loaf heavily with water and placed it in the pot and covered. Baked at 460...lowered temp ...for 25 min and uncovered for 15. internal temp 208. 

Photobucket We should all have such great accidents. Pics of crumb tomorrow after it cools.c

Here is the "other side of the story" LOL. My scoring failed to take into consideration the huge oven spring I would get. Photobucket Lovely fine even crumb : Photobucket closer: Photobucket

ryebaker's picture

new member - wood-fired oven

a brief introduction.  just completed a 3 by 4 wood fired oven, similar but unique from an Alan Scott type design.  cure is complete so we are busy experimenting. some charcoal, some great successes this past week and given the oven seems to stay warm for half a day or more, lots to come.  particularly interested in rye breads, but have Clayton's Breads of France, and working through all the breads in there.

dsoleil's picture

Mash Bread - New horizons...

Hi All,

I've been playing around a lot with mash bread and wanted to share my thoughts and hope some other people might want to give it a try.  For those who aren't familiar with mash bread, Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain cookbook discusses it.  The essence is taking flour or grain and cooking it with water at around 150 degrees for a few hours to get the enzymes to convert starches to sugars.  He uses flour and spent grains for mashing and then adds it to bread for a great addition of flavor and complexity.  After looking further into the mashing process, it is very similar to brewing beer.  When brewing beer, brewers take sprouted grains, cook them at a low temperature in water so the enzymes can convert starches to sugars.  The sugary liquid is called wort.  The wort is then fermented and the yeast eats the sugar converting it to alcohol and beer is born.  So, I thought, how can we use that process or part of it for bread making?  Reinhart says there are very few mash bread recipes around and he's right.  So, I thought I'd add my experiences to the small pile.

I love the purist concept of the baguette, using only flour, water and salt.  Well, here is another grain manipulation that can create sweetness without any additional ingredients.  Since rye has one of the highest level of enzymes, I went with whole rye grain.  It produces the greatest amount of sweetness in the shortest amount of time.

Soak the rye grain in water overnight.  Then, drain the water and keep the grain moist.  In 36-48 hours, it will have sprouted and grown to its enzyme peak.  The sprouts should be 75 - 100% the length of the grain.  I then grind all the sprouted rye in a food processor.  I then measure water at double the volume of the grain.  Heat the water to 165 degrees and add then grain.  Then cover it and put the pot in the oven at 150 degrees for 3 hours. 

What you get is a sweet, watery grain slurry.  Reinhart would call it mash, some might call it wort.  The key here is that the grain is not "spent" from the beer brewing process.  You get the enzymes to work for you for the bread making.  I believe Reinhart uses more water than I do, but I have found 2x the volume of grain to be plenty.  I let the mash cool and then use it exclusively as the liquid in a bread recipe.  Wheat berries will produce a similar effect but will take a bit longer to sprout.  

This is where things get a bit experimental.  Do I have exact measurements and a recipe yet?  No.  I'm going entirely by feel of the dough.  What you will find is that the dough will be stickier than usual.  You will want to judge the dough more by its density than by the feel of stickiness.

I have made breads with both white flour and 100% whole wheat.  With white flour, you will get a complex, sweeter taste with a moist crumb.  It reminded me in sweetness of the soft Hawaiian bread you can buy in the stores.  With 100% whole wheat, you get the sweet complexity, a moister crumb and you can eliminate the typical addition of honey or agave or sugar.  

This has been a very interesting way to add sweetness and moistness to bread without additional ingredients.  It's just grain, water and salt.  For those who love to take a long time to make a loaf of bread, instead of a three-day bread, add this to the mix and it will take 5 days to make a loaf due to the time of sprouting the grains.  You can also make a lot of the mash as it freezes well and you can put into single-use containers.

I hope that provides enough explanation to get people going.  Feel free to add your own experience with mash bread, ask questions, etc.






dmsnyder's picture

Back from Fort Bragg

We're back from 5 days in Fort Bragg with family. I took along 7 breads and, because of menu compatibility and dining out, I only baked once while there. I made a couple loaves of Sourdough Italian Bread which went well with baked coho salmon and grilled veggies.

We did breakfast one day at the Fort Bragg Bakery. They make very good bread and pastries, as well as pizza. They do the pizza's in a gas fired oven built with bricks salvaged from the bakery that was on the same site a couple generations ago and eventually torn down.

On the drive home, Susan and I stopped for lunch at the Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg. Along with our bill, the waiter left us a 2 lb sourdough epi to take with us. It was outstanding with a comfort food coming home dinner of scrambled eggs and tomatoes from our garden.

On a non-bread note I just have to share, I found myself taking all but a couple photos with my new iPhone 4. It's pretty amazing, especially the macro capability.

Begonia at the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens

Fly on Begonia petal

So, we're back home, doing laundry and re-packing for my week at SFBI.