The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

Creating a dry mix for a single 9" by 5" loaf

I would like to assemble a dry ingredient mixture of flours, salt, sugar and dry milk with a separate yeast packet to give for holiday gifts. I know this is a bit goofy but I think I can make it work. The idea is that the recipient proofs the yeast in a small amount of water, and then adds more water, oil and the mix. 

I am wondering if any Fresh Loafers have experience with this.


cranbo's picture

Opinion on a few flours?

So I've made a connection thru a local restaurant that should help me get access to bulk flours. I'm definitely going to buy 1 50lb bag of GM Harvest King Flour, but I'm interested on any opinions on the following flours:

  • Giusto All Purpose Enriched Unbleached Flour
  • Pendleton Power high-gluten
  • GM Rye Flour

Any feedback appreciated, thanks in advance folks. 

flournwater's picture

Hadn't See It Before ... Looks Like It'd Be Awesome

Perhaps this has been around for a long time, but I hadn't seen this before and when I looked at it I saw the perfect vessel for artisan breads.  Deep covered cast iron pan or shallow cast iron pan with domed lid.

kab's picture

Yeast Rolls

My Great grandmother and great aunt made the BEST yeast rolls. My father got the recipe from them (or as best as they could guess because they did it by look on everything). The directions do not look right, can you please let me know if this sounds correct.

3 packs dry yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
5 cups self rising flour (unsifted)
1/4 cup sugar<br>1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shortening
2 cups lukewarm buttermilk

Dissolve yeast and set aside
Mix flour, sugar and baking soda together in a bowl cut in shortening
Add buttermilk and yeast. Mix Well.
Place desired amount of dough on cloth and roll out. Cut using a cookie cutter or shape into rolls.
Preheat oven to 350 while dough comes to room temperature.
Bake 15-20 minutes.


Does this sound correct? I don't want to try to make them without good instructions

ActiveSparkles's picture

Milk in bread making

Hi guys. I am looking to start using milk in bread making, just as an alternative.

Just wondering about the benefits (if any) and drawbacks (if any)

Also do you replace all the water with milk, or parts of both?
Know it would vary from recipe to recipe, but for basic bread is what I am looking at using it in.



pmccool's picture

Rehydrating dried starter after traveling

This was going to be a blow-by-blow account of reviving a starter that had been dried for travel.  Yeah, my eyes are starting to glaze already, too.  So this will get more of a Readers Digest treatment.  And I'll try to stay awake until the end.  What you do is up to you.

Here's the back story: Man lives in Pretoria, South Africa.  Man has sourdough starter.  Man will repatriate to his home in Kansas City.  Man does not wish to lose his starter or begin a new one after his return.

Still with me?  Good.

Having read two different methods right here on TFL for preparing a starter for travel, I chose to do (drumroll, please) both!  And knowing that some or all of my luggage would be subjected to the tender mercies of either the TSA or U.S. Customs, I wanted to make sure that I had enough with me that at least one packet got through.  Or so I hoped.

Technique #1 involves adding enough flour (if your starter is runny) or enough water (if your starter is more like a dough) to some of said starter to achieve a thick batter consistency that is still smearable.  I don't know if smearable is a word but it is the key.  The traveler (your faithful reporter in this instance) needs to smear a thin layer of the suitably hydrated starter on a sheet of parchment paper and wait a day or two for the smear to dry to until it is roughly as crisp as potato chips.  Or potato crisps, for those of you who are still in South Africa.  The dried smears / chips / crisps can be broken into smaller pieces and placed in plastic bags for eventual placement in your baggage or on your person.  Note that thinner smears = shorter drying times.

Technique #2 involves adding flour to your starter until it is so dry that it is reduced to crumbs.  Some mechanical intervention will be necessary; perhaps the edge of a spoon or maybe a pastry blender or even a food processor.  I can say that a mezzalune is effective.  The more flour you try to force into the dough, the less cooperative it becomes; hence the need for mechanical assistance to cut it into ever smaller bits while force-feeding it yet more flour.  As with the flakes, the crumbs can be bagged for travel.

I strongly recommend that you clearly label each bag so that there is no leeway for interpretation by the various uniformed officials who may have their hands in your luggage at some point.  We all know what happens when we assume, right?

Thus prepared, your faithful reporter placed a baggie of dried starter in every piece of luggage.  And, for reasons yet unclear, every bag and every baggie made it all the way to the proper destination.  On the same day.  

Being somewhat surprised to find myself the proud possessor of a surfeit of dried starter, I did what any American male worth his salt would do: I set up a competition.  Keeping one baggie in reserve as insurance, I combined 10g of flaked starter and 25g of water in one container and 10g of crumbed starter and 25g of water in another container.  Here's how they looked at the start of the competition, flakes to the left and granules to the right:

Pretty exciting, huh?  Other than some fogging of the inside of each jar, they looked about the same 24 hours later so I added 15g of flour of each.  At the end of the second 24-hour period, they were still pretty flat.  There was a whiff of...something...from the granules jar but the flakes jar smelled mostly of wet flour.  By the end of Day 3, there was evidence of bubbles in the granules jar and a hint of expansion.  The flakes jar was still pretty quiet; just a stray bubble or two.

Yep, that's right, the excitement continues to build!

At the end of Day 3, I discarded half of each sample and added water and flour in a 1:2:3 ratio.  I also moved them to some smaller plastic containers.  Here's how they looked after dinner and settling into their new digs:

Just to keep you on your toes, I've switched the granules container to the left and the flakes container to the right.

Some 12 hours later, there was some genuine growth going on:

And from a different perspective:

The crumbs sample has expanded noticeably and is riddled with bubbles.  The flakes sample has expanded just slightly and has fewer bubbles.

And that's pretty much how it went for the next few days.  The crumbs sample consistently out-performed the flakes sample.  Even on a 12-hour feeding schedule, the crumbs sample smelled consistently of acetone which suggests that it was burning through its food between feedings.  The flakes sample never developed a notable yeasty / fruity / sour odor in the week's time that I ran the comparison, although it did get past the wet flour odor.

If your eyes are still open at this point, you can hang on for the wrap-up.

For short-term storage, such as for travel, I would choose the granules approach to drying starter over the flaked approach.  I've done the flakes technique twice now and it required a full week to get back to a sluggish level of activity in both cases.  For longer storage, I'd use the flakes.  Why?  Because it seems to be a more stable form that is less susceptible environmental upsets.

I have some notions about the difference in behavior of the two.  First, the granules weren't as dry as the flakes.  That seems to have allowed the yeasts and bacteria of the starter to get back to work faster, possibly because they were less stressed and did not shut down entirely.  Second, although the organisms were tightly bound in a relatively dry environment, they were also surrounded by food even if they could not exploit it easily.  The down side for the granules is that their higher moisture content would make them more susceptible to attack by molds and other organisms, which militates against using them as a long-term storage option.

The good news is that there are options for the traveler, as well as for disaster recovery.  The easiest way to travel with a starter, of course, is to tuck a small blob in a plastic bag or other container.  That's probably the easiest way to lose it to a zealous inspector, too.

And the reward for any of you who have stayed awake through this entire dissertation?  Pictures of the pain au levain baked with the reconstituted starter, which now smells the way a healthy and happy starter should.  Note that the bread was made at about Day 7 or Day 8; not because of the starter's readiness but because of the baker's schedule.  The starter could probably have been used on Day 4 or Day 5.  First, the loaf:

And then the crumb:

Happy travels!


Urchina's picture

Join the "Inside the Jewish Bakery" cookbook challenge -- starting December 1st!

Hi, everyone!

(Note to Floyd: This is a cross-post from the Books forum, since not everyone who might be interested in a new challenge hangs out there. Please feel free to move this post if it is more appropriate elsewhere. Thanks!)

Those of us hopelessly smitten with Stan and Norm's wonderful new cookbook "Inside the Jewish Bakery" are going to begin a challenge on December 1st of this year. For those of you who have not participated in a challenge before, it's  a group of people who bake recipes from a single book at the same time, and then share their results (both positive and negative). It's a tremendously fun way to explore new recipes in a supportive environment, and a great way to try things you might not otherwise have chosen. 

I'll host the challenge here on the TFL, on a blog, and will set the calendar soon. The challenge will begin December 1st, and because there are so many recipes in "Inside the Jewish Bakery" we'll do it in parts (semesters, for my school-addled brain). The first semester will go through March 2012. December's baking will focus on the simpler (and festive, when possible) recipes, since it's a busy month for many of us. 

If you'd like to join in, the first step is to acquire a copy of "Inside the Jewish Bakery" by Stanley Ginsberg and Norman Berg. The second step is to let me know here that you'd like to join in, and I'll let you know when I've posted the calendar. 

Who's in?




Jay3fer's picture

Why? Why bake sourdough?

I'm a sourdough lover, sometime bread blogger and freelance writer, and I have somehow convinced an editor that I'll write an article about sourdough.  I'd like to talk about reasons for choosing sourdough over tossing in a spoonful of commercial yeast.  I mean, it's not a crime or even a cheap shortcut to use yeast, and sometimes, my sourdough breads don't even taste noticeably different.

So... what are your reasons for choosing sourdough?  Here are some I've thought of, in no particular order:

  • connection to heritage (ie old-fashioned ways)
  • friendship - passing on a starter to a friend or maintaining one from a friend
  • superior flavour (sometimes), both from wild yeast strains and longer fermentation
  • possible digestive benefits, as longer fermentation "digests" some gluten
  • independence from commercial yeast manufacturers?
  • "Slow Food" mentality vs "Quick Rise" yeast

What am I missing?  These don't sound like much, honestly...

rolls's picture

a few questions plz :)

hi, i started my starter a few months ago following the birk st method in the book. at first i would follow the exact feeding amounts of water and flour.  but with time,  i got lazy and now i just keep it in he fridge and from time to time, refresh it, but i don't measure the flour and water.

i don't know much at all really about sourdough, but despite my neglect, it seems to bounce back nicely and looks bubbly.

i have no idea what im doing, and not sure how i can tell if its ready to go solo or not. i usually jus use a small amount with my regular yeast breads.

i'd love any insight whatsoever. is it wrong to not measure when feeding? am i stuffing up the chemistry somehow?


thanks heaps :)

BKSinAZ's picture

Storing Wheat Berries in Vacuum Sealed Food Saver Bags?

The family here has a Food Saver Machine and we were wondering if we can put wheat berries in these vacuum sealed bags for LONG term storage?

If so, do they need to be refrigerated, freezed, or can they just sit on a shelf in the pantry without going bad?

I was going to portion them out per recipe size. For example: if a particular recipe called for 3 cups of flour, I wanted to make something like 50, 3 cup bags of wheat berries.