The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BKSinAZ's picture

French Bread: Some recipes call for shortning, while others don't. Why?

Just curious.

momotom's picture

Damp, Clumped Area in Baked Bread

I'm a novice bread baker and baked two loaves of challah from the same recipe.  In the deep center of each loaf was a damp area of clumped crumb.  The loaves were well baked and produced a nice crumb in all other areas of the bread.  Does anyone have any ideas what causes this?  Could dough have needed more flour?


louie brown's picture
louie brown

Eric Kayser's Buckwheat Batard, as published by Daniel Leader, and as annotated by Occidental

I haven't been able to find much in the way of suggestions for baking bread with buckwheat, which is a shame because it is so delicious. I can't say much about Kayser or Leader, but I am grateful to Occidental for his post on this bread. It was delicious.

The large holes are the result of incomplete degassing before shaping, a defect, as Hamelman would say. Otherwise, the crumb was very nice:

Hiding under the batard is my first attempt at the tordu shape. Not bad, but not ready for prime time:

MadAboutB8's picture

Tomato, Parmesan and Basil Flatbread from Bourke Street Bakery's

I made Tomato, Parmesan and Basil flatbread from Bouke Street Bakery cookbook this weekend with our home-grown peach tomatoes.

The tomato resembles cherry tomato in size, only with yellow colour. It tastes sweet and mild acidic with a beautiful aroma.

I tweaked the recipe a little by using sourdough starter instead of pre-ferment, which I believe give extra flavour.

The recipe is here.


Jo_Jo_'s picture

Milling flour / flax seed / oat bran

Well I took the plunge and bought a Nutrimill today.  It will arrive on Tuesday, along with Hamelman's "Bread" which I just couldn't resist adding to my order.  I have been reading a lot of the links here about making bread with whole grains, and am thinking of sticking to recipes that have 30% bread flour and 70% whole grain for now.  Just to get me started.  I found one that add's 5% oat bran to the recipe which sounds like a good idea (according to my husbands doc anyway).  The doc's other suggestion was adding ground flax seed to my breads, but I have heard this is hard on a mill and it might gum it up.  I have to admit I have actually never seen a recipe here that contains flax seed, so am wondering if I would do better not putting it into my bread?

I am looking for links that have good information on milling...

I am looking for information on if I will have to sift the flour, like I used to with my hand mill....

I am looking for any recipe's that might contain either oat bran or ground flax seed...

I am also hoping for a loaf of bread that doesn't resemble a brick!  Any pointers would be greatly appreciated....


HLozada's picture

Tartine Country Bread Recipe, tweaking bulk fermentation

Hello everyone!  

I love this website!  It's a real treat if you are a home baker and want to grow in your skills.  

I've been using Chad Robertson's Country Loaf Recipe from the Tartine Bread book with great results.   The loaves are wonderful, with a great aroma and a wild open crumb.  Very nice.  In the book, Robertson talks about how you can tweak the Bulk Fermentation and Final Rise times to suit your schedule.  I'd love to be able to let the bulk fermentation happen slowly during the day while I'm at work, but I can't if I have to be there to babysit the dough and turn it every half hour as he says in the book.

That's my problem.  What is your experience with the 'turn' process?  Have you tweaked it?  Can you get away with turning the dough every hour or just letting it ferment and not turning it at all? 

I would REALLY appreciate the feedback.  Thank you so much!

Mark6221's picture

French Baguette (sp?)


I have been searching the net looking for improvements to my french baguette (sp?), any way, I've seen pictures of baguettes with large air voids yet I can't seem to reproduce in my kitchen. My bread comes out just fine and looks and taste great but I'd really like to bake one with large air voids. I'm new to home baking so I'd need step by step instructions. Thank you in advance,

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Follow-up to "Never saw a dough break down like this before"

Twelve days ago I posted this topic about my troubles with an all white flour version of my successful whole wheat and rye starter.  Since then I have been nursing that starter with multiple daily feedings, and keeping it quarantined from my other starter to avoid cross-contamination.  Based on research, and excellent direct advice, the issue was diagnosed by David Snyder and Debra Wink (Thanks to both of you!) as thiol degradation and I proceeded to try to "feed through it".

I started out by stepping up the interval but maintaining the 1:1:1 (s:w:f) ratio I had been using.  That proved too hectic, and I could not count on getting even the brief mid-day work break I needed to stay on schedule.  Even though I work at home, I seemed to end up on the phone for an hour starting just before the starter should be fed.  It felt like I was not going to be able to make it work that way so I increased the food supply by going to a 1:3:3 ratio and reduced the frequency to every 12 hours.  I also reduced the initial inoculation from 30 grams to 10.  I thank Eric Hanner for his valuable input that led me to this action.

I was able to maintain the 12 hour interval successfully, and true to Debra Wink's assurance, on the 10th day things changed.  I did not know what I was looking for, but Debra was right:  when it happened it was obvious.  What I noticed first was a difference in the matured starter when it was time for the next feeding.  The viscosity of the "discard" was lower and it was much less sticky as well.  It dropped off my spatula almost of it's own accord into the discard jar and left the spatuala mostly clean.  Previously I had to scrape and wipe and eventually wash the spatula to get the stuff off.  The other change was the volume in the jar.  While the bad bugs were in charge there was little loft to the mature starter, even after 12 hours of obvious activity.  After the change it started nearly tripling in 12 hours. 

I decided to try some loaves, with high hopes for something better than the results pictured in the original post linked above.  I made another batch of dough by exactly the same formula and approach as outlined in that post.  Because I was not certain where it was going to end up I took pictures at many of the steps, starting with the dough made up, without the salt, and resting for autolyse:

After adding the salt and completing the first set of stretch and folds in the bowl:

I did a total of 3 sets of stretch and folds in the bowl, and here is the dough after the third set:

The original batch of dough that led me here in the first place had broken down almost completely by the time I got this far.  Results this time are obviously worlds better.  I decided to do a stretch and tri-fold on the bench to get a bit more development, (and because I wanted to get my hands on it and in it to reassure myself it was going to hold together!) so I stretched it out:

and then I folded it up:

At this point I knew I had a dough that was holding up well, with a smooth and supple consistency that had me quite excited, shall we say.  I put it into a dough bucket, let it ferment on the bench for about 30 minutes and then put it in the fridge to retard till I could bake it, what turned out to be some 20 hours later.  Here it is just before going in to retardation:

and again after the retardation, some 20 hours or so later:

I let this rest on the bench for an hour to take some of the chill off, then preshaped:

and then (45 minutes later) final shaped and put them to proof:

I failed to take a photo of the proofed loaves before baking them, but once ready I baked them sequentially in my La Cloche ceramic baker, at 525F for 7 minutes under lid, turned down to 475 for 5 minutes under lid, removed the lid and baked for 17-20 minutes more, until done.  Both loaves were baked to internal temperatures of roughly 205F-207F.

So, after all of that, I pulled these out:

and the crumb:

I found that I am so accustomed to my "other" sourdough that includes both a home-ground whole wheat flour component and a dark rye flour component that on first encounter this bread tasted somewhat bland to me.  As we worked our way through that first loaf though I began to detect subtle flavors that brought the bread to life for me.  It is still a much milder flavored bread than "my" sourdough, but it is also a very pleasant flavor that goes well with sandwiches, and as toast or french toast at breakfast.  Also, because it is almost entirely All Purpose flour, I find it almost too soft and fluffy in the crumb.  This also makes the crust somewhat insubstantial, and I will start increasing the bread flour to gradually work up to a crust and bite that is more pleasing to us.

It has been a rewarding journey, and it was nice to "win the battle" with that whatever-it-was nasty that took over my starter.  Interestingly, although I did have to significantly modify how I was feeding my starter in order to get to this point, I did not have to reduce the hydration.  I maintained the original 100% hydration in this starter all the way through, even to now.  Having gotten this far, though, I think I will split the starter into this original and a lower, perhaps about 60%, hydration version so I can experiment with the different flavors they produce.  The mildness of the flavor of this 100% hydration version may make the differences easier for me to pick up on my unsophisticated palatte.

I want to thank everyone that contributed advice on this issue.  The expertise shared, and the spirit of generosity with which it is so readily shared, here on The Fresh Loaf is a true blessing.  You are helping to make me a better baker.

Thanks for stopping by

dthet's picture

Response: dmsnyder's modification of Hamelman's 70% Rye with a Rye Soaker and Whole-Wheat Flour

I would first like to acknowledge my deepest respect for all of the notable bakers, with special appreciation to dmsnyder, Txfarmer, and others.  Being a retired concert violinist now living in Amery, WI., my new vent for creativity is baking and my constant knead to change things as in violin (bowings, fingerings, dynamics, etc.); thus, I may tweak here and there, to suit my own tastes.

This is a violinist's concerto of the 70% Rye.  My additional passages include added ingredients and increased bulk and fermentation times.  I will provide my list of added ingredients with rising times, as provided by dmsnyder's rendition and interpretation of Hamelman's 70% Rye with a Rye Soaker and Whole-Wheat Flour.  The whole wheat flour was ground from wheat berries in my Vita-Mix "Whole Grain Container."  I used Organic Rye Flakes instead of Rye Chops due to availability.  New ingredients include: Strong coffee, Wild Flour Honey from Amery area, Date Molasses, Ground Carroway, Dutch Processed Cocoa, Toasted Walnuts, and Dark Raisins.  Baking temperatures (in F's) and times are from the Hamelman and dmsnyder recipies.


    Liquid to equal 11.2 oz---Strong Coffee 8 oz, Water 3.2 oz

    Organic Rye Flakes---11.2 oz

    salt---.2 oz


    Medium Rye Flour---11.2 oz

    Water---9 oz

    Mature sourdough culture---.6 oz 

    Wild-Flour Honey-Amery area---3 T

    Date Molasses---3 T

    Ground Carroway---1 T

    Dutch Process Cocoa---1/4 c

Sourdough mixture ripens 14-18 hours at 70 F; mix soaker and add to sourday on 2nd day; the blended mixtures rest covered 90 to 120 minutes.

Final Dough:

    Set aside: toasted and chopped Walnuts---5 oz; Dark Raisins---8 oz.

    Whole Wheat Flour---9.6 oz

    Water---4.8 oz

    Salt---.4 oz

    Yeast---1.5 t

    Soaker---all of the above

    Sourdough---all of the above

On a well-floured countertop, place final dough, add a sprinkling of flour in order to make a large rectangle of dough, add the walnuts and dark raisins. Fold gently until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, divide into two equal portions, shape into boules, place into bannetons (if you have them),cover, and let ferment for 120-180 minutes. Preheat oven to 470 F one hour before baking bread.

Place on parchment and with nnormal steam for 15 min. then lower the oven to 430 F for approximately 40 min. Check the loaf temperature (when it reaches 205 F), remove from oven, cool loaves on rack.  When thoroughly cool place them in a sealed brown paper bag for 24 hours.

Enjoy the rich complexities.

Pictures to follow in this violinist can download them.

David T.




varda's picture

How to paste a spreadsheet into a post without losing formatting

Can anyone tell me how to post a piece of a spreadsheet?    When I copy and paste it looks great in the editing window but loses format such as gridlines when it is posted.   I see other people do it so I know it must be possible.   Thanks.  -Varda