The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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carrtje's picture

Looking for Squaw Bread

There use do to be a place in town that sold the most delicious squaw bread.  This bread had a tight crumb, and was really dark brown through and through. Dark, like mahagony, or Cherry wood.  It was a little sweet, but still very savory. Anyone have a good recipe?  

owensbt's picture

Spirituality and Bread in Colorado

About three years ago, I was thinking about bread and how this has been the sustenance for people for thousands of years.  In our analytic, fast food culture, I felt like I was missing something people used to know.... cut off from human history.  So I set out to let my body, mind, and experience teach me... to learn answers to questions I couldn't articulate... by making bread.

I set out to make bread the way people have always made it.  With no real measurement, no bread makers or mixers.  The only real "machine" I still use is the oven.  I wanted to "know" bread, not just make a loaf.

I started with a recipe using only salt, yeast, water, and flour.  If I needed to measure, I poured the ingredients into my hands first so I would know what a tablespoon of yeast or a teaspoon of salt actually was.  After about 20 loaves, I could create a pretty good loaf from just touch.

And then began the experimenting... and experience slowly worked its way into me.  I found myself adjusting a bit on hotter days intuitively.  I played with different flours, oil, eggs, milk, and seeds.  I now maintain a starter.  I even tried to put edible flours in loaves (but it didn't work well). 

I learned about myself.  I learned that bread isn't created like a machine is created.  Bread has life in it and that life must be respected.  I have to bend myself around the life of the yeast while gently guiding it... and that is good.  I wonder how that lesson effected groups that lived with each other throughout history.

There is a lot more I have learned and am still learning both spiritually and practically with bread.  Christ as the Bread of Life.  The significance of the removal of yeast for the Jews during passover.... great stuff.

People ask me if making bread in Colorado at a high altitude (about 6500 ft) is hard.  I tell them that it really isn't if you really know the bread.   It is only tough if you are trying to make it follow exactly your recepe.  I don't try to make bread do exactly what it did last time.  I intuitively adjust as I go and it seems to work at whatever altitude I am in.



rainwater's picture

Italian "00" flour and pizza

I've been working with Italian "00" flour, milled in Napoli.  I usually only eat pizza on my two days off from work, because I love it, and I'm obsessed with making my best pizza crust/pizza.  I make a batch with the "00" flour, and my usual batch with King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour.  My usual pizza crust is @75% hydration, but I made my first "00" attempt with @65% hydration.  This was an eye opener!  I have to say, that my pizza crust with the King Arthur flour is better at this point in texture and chew, but it was undeniably noticeable that the Italian flour had a "fragrance", and "flavor" that the King Arthur doesn't.    Blindfolded, I could tell the difference from the scent of the Italian flour.  My next attempt, i went to @70% hydration, and added 1T of olive oil to the Italian flour...this helped...the King Arthur is still winning with texture, bite, and liteness...but the Italian flour is ahead with scent and flavor.....My next attempt, I will make the "00" exactly like I make the King Arthur at @75% hydration with 2T olive oil, which is the same recipe I use for the King Arthur....we shall are some photos of my evening pizza made with King Arthur flour......

Shiao-Ping's picture

Chinese Sourdough Ciabatta with Shallots (Chinese Sourdough - Take 2)

You can see it a mile away, right?    

This time I am trying it with fresh shallots.  The result is refreshingly different; I felt I was back to my childhood when my mother made us swirl shallots pancakes in winter time.  The other version she used to make with shallots were steam buns - you cannot get anything more Northern Chinese than that!  The interesting thing about food is that the same ingredient in different parts of the world is prepared differently and cooked differently.  Chinese would steam their dough, whereas Europeans bake it; Chinese have their noodles with soy sauce whereas Italians have it with tomato sauce; and so on and so forth.     

With this bread, essentially my ingredients are the same as my mother's; where we differ is in the procedure - she steams but I bake; where she uses the instant yeast, I use sourdough culture.    

My formula:  

250g sourdough starter prepared last night @75% hydration  


This morning  

all of the starter

297g strong white flour @13.6% protein

167 g water*

a small pinch of vitamin C  


shallots mixture:

150 g chopped fresh shallots* (about 3/4 cm pieces)

19 g sesame oil

8 g salt  

*The tricky part here is to determine the moisture that will come out of the fresh shallots.  My past experience is that at least 35 to 40% of its weight is liquid.  I aimed to have a final dough hydration of around 79%.  For the sake of calculating how much water I would need, I used 38% of the shallots weight as the hydration coming out of them.  To be sure, I held back some water for adding later until I felt my target hydration was reached.  

Before I started the dough process, I prepared my shallots mixture by adding salt and sesame oil to the chopped shallots.  The salt in the shallots helped draw the liquid out of the green (the liquid is like an intense shallot "juice").   I then mixed the starter, flour and water; autolysed for 20 min, then put the shallots mixture in and kneaded for 3 min at low speed and 3 more min at medium speed until all were combined.    It is important to try to resist the temptation of adding more water as the dough will further hydrate while it rests because of the shallots.  It will not feel hydrated enough when mixing stops.   

The rest is standard.  



It was very cool today; it seemed to have taken forever for my starter to work - 5 hours bulk fermentation and 3 1/2 hours proofing. 



Here are my first ever ciabatta:  

Chinese Sourdough Ciabatta with Shallots  

The crumb  

This sourdough is delightful to taste (to a Chinese, that is).  The sourdough starter has made it exceptionally moist - it feels heavy in your hand and yet it is so light to the taste.  I think the flavor is beautiful (a Chinese would not complain about that).  It is definitely much healthier than the last one I made.  The vitamin C in shallots and vitamin E in sesame oil - how better can it get!

I am indebted to my mother.  Many things I have learnt from her unknowingly when I was a kid are finally making an impression.  


lakelly's picture

Using old bread

This morning I realized I had a loaf of mixed garden herb sourdough left from last Sunday! Yikes! Week old bread. I remembered a section from the River Cottage Bread Handbook on using old bread and tossed slices in olive oil and baked at 450 for ~20 minutes with a flip halfway through. The results were awesome-crispy crust and crumb with the slightest chew in the centers. My 8 year old son and husband (OK, me too) finished them off throughout an afternoon of yard work, but I wish I had a photo to show the golden brown deliciousness!

SteveB's picture


For those interested, the details of a recent bake of bialys can be found here:



DrPr's picture

How do I find out the properties of my oganic flour?

I was so excited to find organic, locally produced whole wheat flour that I bought it before considering that I don't know how to determine whether it is suitable as-is for sourdough baking.  The seller didn't know much about protein or gluten content (and I didn't know enough to ask the right questions, I'm sure). How can I test the flour before baking to determine whether I need to add anything to it? And what would I need to add, if this flour doesn't have the properties of bread flour?

TeaIV's picture

Sordough Ciabatta

I decided to try out my new SD starter and see if it's healthy and working and all. I'm pretty sure it's in good shape. I added it to the ciabbatas I made for a friend of mine, and it made the crumb and taste really extraordinary. Not only that, but I think I've finally mastered the steam technique. this bread had the ultimate crackly crust. it literally cracked when I cut it in half. This is definitely one of the better breads I've made.

P.S. you can see the starter in the background, it's in the container with the red lid :) .




Jw's picture

starter smelled like yoghurt

I should have known something was wrong with the starter. After an overnight to make a starter, it smelled like yoghurt and there were no bubbles at all. No rise in the oven. I guess my starter was too ripe, but I am not sure.

Lesson learned: when you are not sure about the started: stop the proces!

Can I eat the bread? It is a bit sticky, looks wet as well.

Tx, Jw.

flour-girl's picture

Pretzel rolls -- perfect for grilling season

I went on a quest for pretzel-roll recipes yesterday and ended up adapting a few to come up with what I think is a pretty darn tasty pretzel roll -- perfect for sausages or burgers this grilling season.

You can check it out at Flour Girl.

Happy baking! And happy weekend!