The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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AnnieT's picture

Cleaning cane bannetons

Today for the first time ever I found some bannetons in a thrift store, $3.50 each! I bought the best two but even they have dried dough/ flour? and what looks suspiciously like mildew spots. Would it be safe to wash them, and how can I get rid of the little "freckles"? Any advice will be gratefully received, A.

dabrownman's picture

Apple and Pear, Bourbon Dried Fruit, Ginger with Apple Jam Cream Cheese Puff Sleds

The other half of the puff paste we made the other day was used up on these tasty apple, pear  and cream cheese sleds.  This time I watched them to make sure these didn't over caramelize like the last variety.  I mixed in some apple jam in the cream cheese that is on the bottom and hidden.  Also, we reconstituted dried apricots, raisins and cranberries in some bourbon and also added fresh minced ginger to the chopped apples and pears that were sauted with some brown sugar and mixed spice.   The middle of the sled was docked to keep it from puffing and make a well / seat for the riders on the sled :-)

bryoria's picture

Laurel's Kitchen Buttermilk Bread

I made another batch of 100% whole wheat buttermilk bread from Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book yesterday.  This time I used freshly ground flour (hard red spring wheat) measured by weight, mixed all the ingredients except the butter for 2 minutes and then let the dough sit for 40 minutes in an attempt to hydrate the fresh ground flour a little bit.  Next time I would attempt this without the salt added as per the various threads on this site regarding autloyse - but yesterday I didn't come up with the idea until after I'd already added everything.

After the 40 minute rest I mixed it for 4 more minutes on speed 4 on the KitchenAid and added the butter in cold, small, pieces as per the recipe.  The butter didn't mix in very well so I moved the dough to the counter and kneaded the butter in for another minute or two, then let the dough sit in a covered bowl (in a cold oven with the lights on for warmth).  I let it rise for 2 hours and 15 minutes, giving a stretch and fold every 45 minutes.  Then divided it into two equal pieces, rounded them and let them sit for 15 minutes before forming them into pan loaves. 

I let the loaves rise for 1 hour, then baked them in a pre-heated 350F convect oven for 35 minutes.  They rose in the oven a little more and ended up the perfect size for sandwiches. 

This bread is always delicious and my family loves its softness and flavour for sandwiches and toast.  The fresh-baked heels are amazing and we usually snitch those from the sliced loaf before we freeze it - no one ever wants the heels for toast or sandwiches later anyway!

javajavabug's picture

Biga to Dough Ratio

I was wondering, is there was a perfect biga to dough ratio?

I made an Italian bread, not ciabatta, and I felt like there might have been too much biga in it. In the recipe I used, the biga weighed 17 ounces, a little over half of the weight of the entire bread. The bread was overly chewy and a bit tough. I don't think I over kneaded it either. 

Is there a rule of thumb I should follow when making a bread with a biga?

Thanks so much! 

Calantha's picture

Artisanal Bread in a Rational Combination Oven

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone had any experience baking artisanal bread (read: sourdough, hearth-type breads) in a Rational Combination oven (e.g.  If you have, I would love to hear about your experience and any tips and tricks you have for monitoring humidity and ensuring that crisp, thick outter crust.



ChristLane2930's picture

Bread ??? Name???

I feel bored yesterday and so I started opening our fridge! I saw some fresh strawberries from my in-law's garden, a frozen beef for roasting, and some left-over bulgur wheat! So I got excited and some thoughts made up, why not making fresh fruit salad? I should roast the beef! and I WANT TO BAKE BREADS! So finally I searched whatever I have in my cupboard.

As I said I love to experiment! I enjoy mixing and baking lol! I don't mind whatever I put (anyway it just only me and my husband who's going to eat the bread) So I baked bread which is actually I don't know what I shall call it. Anyway here are some photos... You may name it..... whatever... ^_^

still cooling...

I accidentally cut the hole! :'((

My husband were sooo hungry and couldn't wait to slice the bread!!!!! I stopped him! ( we were actually eating already) I told him I should take some photos first! :)

The crust! sooo crunchy not bitter but slightly sweet instead!


close-up... the crumb is soft! slightly chewy and sweet. there is something that excites we with this bread! the after taste is different! I may say it is delicious! Mon marie m'a dit il est trés bonne! I am flattered or maybe he's just joking! :))

this one? well the same formula but over proofed!!! I have small baking stone and I baked the batard first which is well-proofed. I thought of putting the boule in the fridge first to slow down the fermentation but my husband kept on talking to me and also I was ironing our clothes, in short... I forgot! So this what happened! When I cut the bread it deflates and became ugly! lol! I shouldn't have cut it! grrrrr!

But still for me it's lovely! My husband asked me what's the name of the bread? I said "I DON'T KNOW" :)) :)) :))

Anyway here is the recipe of this unknown bread:

420g T55 flour

30g Rye Flour ( farine de seigle)

30g W Wheat Flour (T150)

20g Farine de Kamut

2 tbs gluten flour

435g water ( do not worry it will absorb by the soakers) whooping 87%!

10g instant yeast ( had to use higher quantity as I need to bake bread before my husband comes back from work)

12g salt de guérande


2 tbs Oat Bran

2 tbs oat flakes

2 tbs bulgur wheat ( this left-over and already soaked in water you may want to soak it separately first as the water content is not included in the recipe or you may adjust the water)

My procedure:

  • Mix all dry ingredients until all incorporated.
  • Add the water and autolyse for 15mins... becareful not to autolyse more than 15mins as the mixture will expand faster due to instant yeast.
  • Put dough in the mixer and mix for 3-4 mins in slow speed. Then rest for 5mins.
  • Again do the 2nd mixing in moderate speed for 10 mins or until the dough reach its medium window pane test.
  • Put the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and cover tightly. Rest for 20mins
  • Put the dough on the working table and do 1 SF business letter style. Put back in the bowl, cover tightly and let rest again for 20mins.
  • Put the dough back on the working table and do one last 1 SF business letter style. Put back in the bowl, cover tightly and let rest for 25 mins for bulk fermentation.
  • (Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 250°C together with your steaming apparatus while you are preparing your dough)
  • After 25mins put the dough on the working table and gently de-gas with gentle tapping.
  • Shape to boule or batard or whatever your choices is.... ( no need for pre-shaping) and proof for 45mins. Do not over proof! otherwise your bread will look like my round one! lol! :))
  • When your oven is ready, 3mins before you put your dough spray the wall of your oven with water to create moisture inside.
  • Then score the dough and put on the baking stone and put 2/3 of boiling water to create steam. I always do within 6 mins of baking I make sure I make steam by spraying the wall and or by pouring ample amount of boiling water that's how I get a wonderful crust color. After 10 mins remove your steaming apparatus and continue baking for 25-30mins on 230°C
  • Turn off your oven and leave the loaf inside with the door ajar for 5-10mins.

let it cool on the wire rack.


We ate the piece after 5hrs. and sooo yummy! I made jambon sandwich with the other loaf for my hubby so he have something to eat at his work!

Eventually... you can modify this by using sourdough starters and do the overnight retardation in the fridge... Well definitely I will do it the next time...

Meanwhile I am making DMSNYDER "Steve's Pugliese Capriccio" and I am still on the stage of refreshing my starter. lol.


pmccool's picture

Some recent bakes

Although my posting has been erratic, baking has continued at a fairly steady pace.

The Saturday of the Easter weekend, I baked Beth Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah from her Bread Bible.  It is a favorite of my older grandson and we took a loaf with us for dinner with he and his parents.  I've blogged about it previously.  By the way, if any lasts long enough, it makes some of the best french toast, ever!  The turban shape is still a favorite of mine for its elegance and simplicity:

I also baked some honey whole wheat bread that same day for sandwiches:

This weekend, I managed to squeeze in a pain au levain with whole wheat, from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book.  One loaf was served at dinner with friends today and one went home with them (along with a bunch of hostas that were getting too big for their growing area.  Loaf:


I had elected to do some kneading for the dough, followed by a single stretch and fold about 45 minutes into the bulk ferment.  My rationale was that I wanted a finer, rather than more open, crumb.  It worked.  Other tweaks included bumping up the quantities by about 40% to achieve slightly larger loaves and using an autolyse of nearly an hour, which is longer than mentioned in the formula.  Otherwise, I hewed to the directions and was rewarded with some bread that is pleasing to the eye and the tongue.  


carblicious's picture


While I'm waiting for my sourdough to bulk ferment (4th attempt in trying to get this recipe to work), I'd like to share my more successful attempt at baking.

Here's my latest attempt of baguettes, using SFBI's poolish recipe.


Don't have a crumb shot of the above baguettes, but here's a section from the weekend before.


While I very much like baguettes (and epis), I'm taking a break and making sourdough and my first sandwich loaf bread this weekend.  Sourdough has been very very painful, as it's often resulted in dense and chewy bread with no beautiful holes.  Based on the wealth of information on TFL, I hope to fix this.   Crossing my fingers.

Juergen's picture

Making a 'pre-ferment' without salt and yeast

Whenever I read a recipe that calls for a pre-ferment, it calls for a biga, poolish or pate fermentee, all pre-ferments which contain yeast. What I'd like to know is if it is also a custom when making certain artisan breads, to use a 'pre-ferment' which contains no salt and yeast, in other words, a dough of only flour and water (technically not a pre-ferment since there is no yeast to 'ferment' anything, but you get the idea).

Having a dough of flour and water stored in a fridge in advance before making a final dough (where salt and yeast are added), should in theory release a lot of flavor from the grain because of enzyme activity in the dough (which is not disturbed by yeast simultaneously acting on the dough).

I am thinking of making a bread this way but I have yet to find a recipe that calls for this technique. Has anyone ever tried this?

dabrownman's picture

Italian Corner - Cellos with Squash Lasagna and David Snyder's Pulgliese Capriosso

The first time I made limoncello I used the skins of 7 lemons per liter of grain alcohol and let the the grain sit on the skins for 20 days to extract the oil from skins and then let it age another 20 days to mello after straining filtering and cutting with sugar syrup 5o-50.  I used 454 g of sugar per liter of water and liter of lemon oil alcohol extraction.  It was a real Amalfi Coast recipe from Villa di Marie but I didn't like it that much even though it tasted just like the too many samples I had in Italy and couldn't get enough of. 


Mandarin left, lemon middle and orange right.  The orange was first to bottle.  When you mix the sugar syrup with the filtered alchohol the 50-50 mix goes cloudy but will clear later as the orange has already done. 

Now, many years later after much trial and error (like baking), I triple the skins to 21 lemons (to get a much stronger lemon flavor), cut the grain alcohol 50 -50 with vodka (to cut the heat of the grain) and let the alcohol sit on the skins for 60 to 90 days before straining filtering and and blending with sugar syrup that now is 340 g of sugar per liter of water (the original was too sweet) and it mellows for another 60-90 days.  I use the same recipe for minneolas, oranges and this year for the first time mandarins .  Folks tell me it is the best cellos they have ever had and I agree.

Finally got all of the varieties in the final bottles this past week.

It goes great with some Grilled Italian squash lasagna and some of David Snyder's Pulgliese Capriosso.