The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

Gadjowheaty's picture

Dough Docker - 2" tines?

Hello everyone -

In my continuing efforts to acquire every arcane piece of fermentation gear possible before I leave this mortal coil (and because I just think they look really, really cool), I'm looking into a dough docker for my Detmolder trials, but I've not seen anything close to J. Hamelman's mentioned 2" tines - the closest I've seen have been about 7/8", in plastic (which appeals to me, more than the metal).  Anyone have one in the length, or otherwise have experience with a dedicated docker they like? 

Many thanks,



ichadwick's picture

What am I doing wrong?

I began a levain last week (Nov 19) and it seemed to go well at first, but then it just seemed to have stopped... or slowed to a crawl.

I started with: 

  • 250 g organic Red Fife flour
  • 250 g unbleached white flour
  • 5 g organic malted barley flour
  • 500 g warm water

It seemed to get started fine - small bubbles, a small amount of brownish liquid on top now and then (alcohol, I believe), smelled okay. But it didn't get really active, although it never showed any signs it was ill (no discoloring).

On Nov 22 I fed it with 250g unbleached flour/250g water after removing that amount of starter from the bowl. It seems to be active still - and the smell is okay. Just not really active.

I added some to a dough mixture yesterday to try and begin a bread, but it just made it mushy. It didn't really take or rise. I put the dough in the fridge after a few hours. Not sure what to do with it - toss it out? Or should I take it out of the fridge and give it another chance?

 My house is cool - could that be a problem? Is it just slow or has it failed?

Our water here is good - low chlorine and low mineralization. I boiled it first to let it shed any chlorine (and then let it cool) to just over 100F.

I didn't stir it until I fed it. Should I stir more often?

Any suggestions or comments?

arlo's picture

Heritage Grain, Ithaca

During the heat of my Thanksgiving rush in the bakery right now (so many many rolls), I received word from a wonderful lady I was interviewed by back in May, named June. She works with New York State in Agriculture and specifically was interviewing about my heavy usage (roughly 90%) of local whole grains. 

We talked and talked about baking, why I choose, and how I can choose to use locally grown and milled grains. What I face with such choices and some more wonderful bread related banter. Near the end, she informed about a handful of bakers to be organized in Ithaca, New York for trial and analysis of some varietal grains -just yesterday I received the email asking to join along to work with some wonderful, gifted bakers, including Mr. Hamelman.

Needless to say, I nearly spat out my green tea, and thought, "Damn..." I'll keep everyone informed as this progresses towards the event date in January.

It isn't just because it is 'that time of the year', but I believe it goes without say, I am truly thankful for such an opportunity at nearly 26 years of age. I hope to make the most of this opportunity and continue my education, to the fullest.



Bread in the WFO, rolls to roll, orders to fill, no need to sleep. Oh and the picture is just a sourdough baguette (one of many) from this mornings bake so far. I haven't posted much pictures lately : (



chris319's picture

Small Ovens for Bread

Does anyone have experience using a countertop pizza oven to bake something the size of, say, a boule?

My big oven is, well, big. It has a huge volume of unused space inside which gets heated up -- way too much space for a loaf of bread or some biscuits. It draws 2,400 watts.

I've tried a toaster oven but direct exposure to the heating elements tends to burn things (especially the bottoms) unless you take elaborate measures to diffuse the heat. I'm looking for something smaller and more energy efficient and which will not burn the bottom or any other part of a loaf.

The first problem I see is that a pizza is flat and a loaf of bread is 2 to 4 inches high, so any oven would have to accomodate the height of a loaf.

Any success stories with pizza ovens? I'm also considering electric skillets and roaster ovens.

Even my big oven had a tendency to burn the bottoms of baked goods due to the direct exposure to the heating elements.

souocara's picture

Help! Too much oven spring I think?

So I am fairly new to bread baking, and am having trouble with a no knead boule type recipe.  My dough has been in the fridge for about a week now, and seems to be in great shape.  But when I bake it you can see what happens in the picture.  I shaped a small round loaf using a softball size amount of dough.  I had a baking stone in the oven preheated to about 450.  I let the dough rest for about 40 minutes (per instructions) before baking it.  I don't know if I am getting too much oven spring, or if it is the way I am shaping the loaf, or something else.  Any ideas?

Sorry, it looks like the picture is rotated.

Thanks for any advice!

decatur's picture

Crust color mystery!

Hello, these loaves are basically Robertson Tartine using KAAF and are from the same bake.  The size differential is due to the lazy baker who failed to weigh the loaves.  The color differential has happened repeatedly (even when I measure weights).  This has happened time and again.  I retard my loaves overnight in the refrigerator in couch lined with linen with encrusted rice flour - I rarely add more rice flour.  The loaves come out beautifully from the couch.   I bake in a home electric oven (old Dacor) and use a steam hood (chaffing dish cover with hole) and steam generator.  Since I cannot fit the two loaves under my steam hood I bake them one at a time.  The bake was done with preheat to 550 degrees convection with a baking stone filling almost all of the rack.  I remove one loaf from refrigeration, load one loaf, steam for 30 sec and turn oven down to 425 degrees.  Leaving steam in place for 18 minutes and removing lid to finish the bake for about 12 minutes.  I reheat the oven at 550 degrees until the stone is hot (using a heat gun to check), take the second loaf out of the refrigerator and do the exact same thing with the second loaf.  The white loaf above is the second loaf in this bake and it is always the second loaf that is whiter!  The crusts are similar in texture and the crumb is the same and very nice.  Has anyone seen this phenomenon?  Any explanation?  Any cure???  Thanks to you all in advance!  Jane

dabrownman's picture

CeciC’s Crackers with Added Yeast Water.

The other day CeciC posted some fantastic looking crackers made without any leavening at all here


As soon as I saw them I new Lucy and I would have to give them a go since we have wanted to make crackers for just about forever.


We followed the recipe except we cut it in half and added 1/4 C if Yeast water levain made for these crackers.  We also used yogurt whey instead of kefir whey.


The first batch was the sesame and flax version made whole wheat.  The 2nd batch was part semolina, spelt and farina with fresh rosemary, pecorino and parmesan ....and a few sesame and flax seeds that were left ver in teh bowl of the food processor because Lucy was too lazy to clean it.


Both versions were very tasty so……thanks CeciC we love these crackers.  They are so easy to make and  the possible varieties are - endless.  No more buying crackers!

 We love hamburgers once a month but the home made tamales are killer too - This one was a smoked pork carnitas with red sauce, habanero jack cheese and sour cream.

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

La Cloche versus Emile Henry

Do you know of any difference in the way the bread turns out?

I already have a La Cloche, but King Arthur has it on sale for $89.98.


varda's picture

Convection - Bagel missing sheen

I have been trying to learn to use my Cadco convection oven.   This  morning, I made a dozen bagels, baked 9 of them in conventional gas oven, and 3 in the Cadco.  

In the picture above, two bagels in back are baked in gas oven, bagel in front in Cadco.   The Cadco bagels came out larger and tastier.   In fact I'd go so far as to say they are the tastiest bagels I've ever made.   But no sheen.   I don't even know where the sheen on a bagel comes from so no clue how to get it here. 

I baked these as follows:   Preheated Cadco to 500F.   Then put bagels in and reduced to 400F with humidity for 10 minutes, and then no steam for 10 minutes more.   The gas oven bagels were baked in 500F oven with no added steam as usual.  

One more question:   I'm also working on baguettes, so this morning I baked two baguettes in gas oven, 1 in Cadco.   As you can see from this picture the scores on the Cadco baguette are completely flat.   I preheated to 500F then decreased to 400 for the bake, again with humidity for first 12 minutes, and none for next 13.   In this case, I sprayed the bagels before putting them in hoping that would help.   No dice.   The flatter profile of the Cadco bagel was because I just proofed it on a tray, and has presumably nothing to do with the oven.

Any suggestions appreciated.   Thank you.

kensbread01's picture

Another Starter Question

So my starter won't start...  and my wife said to let it sit for a few days, which I did.  Last night I noticed it very smelly and bubbly.  So, I decided to feed it and will see if I can make bread again tomorrow using it.  This morning it looked very bubbly on top and had a nice vinegary smell.  I think it is working now, I gave it another feeding.

I'm wondering about starter, mine has only been fed 50/50 blend of flour and water.  It is about 2 weeks old and I had been feeding it daily at the same time each day.  Question:  If you let it sit for a few days at room temperature, can that cause it to develop toxic or something harmful?  I would guess that the baking process would kill any harmful bacteria, but that worries me to some extent.