The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
tananaBrian's picture

Update on The Bread Challenge

The Bread Challenge is getting off to a good start!  As of today, we now have 18 bakers signed on, 12 of which are maintaining blogs about their journey.  Plus, I have now put together a blog that aggregates everybody's blogs into one page so you can, at a glance, see the latest happenings with people's individual baking efforts.  You can find The Bread Challenge blog here.

If you are interested in what we are doing, click the Bread Challenge link above and check things out.  We're baking our way through Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman...

Thanks, and I hope to welcome you to the team soon.



jayfoxpox's picture

Lot's of sour dough questions

Hello everyone,

This is my first post in a long time. I attempted to make sour dough  loafs last year but it always gave a really sharp acidic taste that I really disliked. I decided to give it another shot . 

So I'm attempting to make some basic whole wheat loaves.

1) What is the minmium temperature the sourdough ferment at? Last time I placed the dough into a 4C fridge  for 24 hours it was just a dense blob .

2)I'm going for a 50% whole wheat levain ( 68% hydration) approximatively how long  of a bulk fermentation and proof  am I expecting? ( 68% hydration )

3) If I were to decrease the levain to 50% to 25% about how many hours am I expecting it to extend the bulk fermentation(@ room temp)?

4) If memory serves me correct a firm starter is best used when tripled in size ?


I'm thinking of having an ice water bath in an ice cooler ( dough in a glass bowl floating on water with a handful of icecubes )so during the bulk fermentation It will the temperature will start from around  4 C then slowly rise to room temperature hopefully by the time it is fully fermented , anyone tried this?  Hope this works well.

I plan to do the same thing for the final proofing. Hopefully I can get this right so bulk fermentation is 24 hours while final proof works out to about 12 hours.

I'm trying to separate the steps as far as possible so I can hopefully have 1 day for mixing and kneading and bulk fermentation, 2nd day shape and final proof, 3rd day in the morning : toss it straight in the oven . all while keeping minimum time a day working on the dough.


Thanks in advance,





daysi's picture

Sour dough HELP!!!


Hello everyone, I have been following this site for the last couple of months, I learned about sourdough starter and though of giving it a try. The first recipe I used called for 4 days at room temperature and then keep it in the fridge, it was bubbly up to the point when I put it in the fridge then I tried baking with it and the dough didn't rise. So I discarded it. a couple of weeks later I decided to try again, so I used another recipe I found here which called for 8 days at room temperature, I saw bubbles and "active" for the first three days and then nothing happened, the bubbles disappear and by day 7 I added white wine vinegar (what I had available at that moment) so the following day it was alive, then I decided to start baking bagel (recipe found here as well) it called for 100% hydration, now I am not a baker at all, I love homemade, and that's why I am here (in fact I'm a nurse, so I do not understand this hydration language) anyway I did my Google research and understood what I had to do, so I took 1/4 cup of starter and mix with 1/4 cup of unbleached AP flour and 1/4 cup of filtered water. Next day my starter was dead...  :( I went ahead and baked with it but cheated by adding yeast (ha-ha!) because I knew what the result was going to be. anyway even with the yeast my bagels came out very hard like a rock, at first the dough was way too wet, when I boiled them one of them fell apart, and the baking was supposed to take 8 min, mine took like 1 hour.

What am I doing wrong? I discarded the rest of my dead starter, but I see the pictures of perfectly and delicious looking breads I don't want to give up, please give me some advice.

By the way one thing that kills me really kills me about starter is the fact that I have to discard so much flour and I am not the type of person that would do it, I actually collected it and tried baking with mine but the same thing happened, it  didn't work. Also I don't own any baking books, I see many of you praise somebody call Reinhart, sorry I don't know him. I guess he is an excellent baker, I should buy his books.

Thanks for any advice 


dmsnyder's picture

Lame from TMB

Barbara Kraus asked a question about how to get a razor blade installed on the lame handle from TMB (SFBI). I thought some photos would be most informative.

Lame handle with double edged razor blade installed

Tip of handle on which the razor blade gets installed

Close up of installed blade, convex view

Close up of installed blade, concave view

I hope this helps.


P.S. To get an idea of the range of lames available to the french baker, check out this web page (recommend doing so while seated): Meilleur du Chef - Lame de boulanger page 

sortachef's picture

Cascade Cabin Cinnamon Rolls

Cascade Cabin Cinnamon Rolls

 One of my favorite things to do when I'm up overnight at our little mountain cabin is to make cinnamon rolls, with a long slow rise. I get a batch of dough going, and let it sit for a long time in a cool corner, to rise all day. Before turning in for the night I roll the dough out and shape the rolls. Sometimes I make them all the same size, and sometimes I make them look like mountain peaks, the way I've done in this recipe. They're just perfect the next morning with freshly brewed cabin coffee.

Cascade Cabin Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 8 large rolls


For the dough:

½ cup water at 100º

2 teaspoons yeast

2/3 cup milk, scalded and cooled

4 Tablespoons butter

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoons salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup flour for benchwork


For the filling:

2 Tablespoons butter, lightly melted

¾ cups raisins (I use golden raisins)

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons sugar


Make the dough: Mix the water and yeast in a 4-quart bowl and let sit for 10 minutes to foam. Scald the milk in a small saucepan and add the butter to the milk while it's cooling. Add the ¾ cup sugar, the salt and 2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture in the bowl and, when the milk has cooled to body heat add it as well. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon for 200 beats to make a smooth batter.

Add the other 2 cups of flour and work it into the dough to incorporate. Make a ball with the dough, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5 minutes. Clean and dry the bowl.

Long rise: Put the dough ball into the bowl, cover with a lid or a piece of plastic wrap, and let sit in a corner to rise. Optimal temperature for this rise is 55-60º. If you can't achieve this temperature you may have to improvise by putting the dough by a doorway or on a cellar step. Let sit for 8 to 10 hours, punching down if the dough is super active.

Shape the rolls: Roll the dough into a 10" x 18" rectangle. If your cabin has no rolling pin use a wine bottle, as I do. Spread 2 Tablespoons of barely melted butter over the flattened dough.

Cut the dough into equal quarters, and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise at a 20º angle so that one end of each finished piece is 3" wide and the other 2".

Mix the raisins, cinnamon and sugar in a coffee cup and spoon equal portions along the center of each dough piece. When all the raisin mixture is distributed, roll each piece up, starting with the widest end and keeping one side flat as you roll.

Overnight rise: Arrange the somewhat unwieldy rolls in a buttered 8" square metal or glass pan. They'll want to flop some, so let them. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 7 hours at 55º.

Bake the rolls: In the morning, let the rolls sit near the morning fire for an hour to warm up some. Preheat the oven to 425º and, once hot, put in the rolls. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350º and bake for 25-30 minutes more. If the tops get too dark, drape a piece of foil over the rolls for the last 10 minutes.

When the rolls are baked, put down your snow shovel and grab some coffee. The rolls should probably cool for 30 minutes, but I really wouldn't know - I've never been able to wait that long!

Disclaimer: These results were obtained in a mountain cabin with thin insulation and a 40-year old electric stove. Rising and baking times will vary.

For complete text and a few more photos, see original content at

bshuval's picture

Gateau a la creme (Brioche with creme fraiche filling)

Hi all, 

After watching the bread episode on Raymond Blanc's "Kitchen Secrets" several times (it is such a delightful show, and I just can't tire of it), I just had to make the Gateau a la creme. The recipe can be found on Raymond's site:

I used a different brioche dough recipe (I used Ciril Hitz's recipe from his latest book, "Baking Artisan Pastries and Bread"), but otherwise followed Blanc's recipe. It couldn't find creme fraiche, so I had to make my own. I warmed up some heavy cream slightly (just to room temperature), and stirred in a tablespoon of buttermilk. I let this stand, covered, on the counter for about 24 hours until it had thickened considerably. 

The result was amazing. First, it is simply beautiful to look at (especially with the nib sugar decoration on the sides). Second, the sweetness is just at the right level. You might think that because of the lemon and creme fraiche this might not sweet enough, but it is. The amount of sugar in this gateau is surprisingly low, and still it tastes amazing. 

Another great thing about this recipe is that a lot of it can be made ahead. I made the brioche dough earlier in the week and held it in the freezer until the day before baking. The day before baking I took it out of the freezer and into the fridge to thaw. I had prepared the creme fraiche over the weekend, and kept that in the fridge as well (it will keep easily for a couple of weeks). Tonight, I had guests coming at 7. At 5:30 I came home from work. I took the dough out of the fridge and shaped it by hand into the gateau shape. I covered it and let it rest. I then prepared the custard filling and set it aside. After the 30 minute rest, I poured the filling and baked the gateau. After 25 minutes of baking, the brioche had risen nicely and browned beautifully, and the custard was set. The sugar sprinkled on top caramelized slightly to great effect. The gateau was ready before 7. I let it cool for about 30-45 minutes or so, and served it. 

I apologize that I don't have any pictures of the gateau, but it was devoured before I had had the chance to take pictures. 

I really urge you to try this recipe out. I am normally not so excited about a recipe! 

One word of warning: I recommend that you bake the gateau on a baking sheet placed inside a pan with a shallow rim. A little bit of the filling tends to escape, and you don't want to make a mess in your oven.


ilan's picture

Mufleta - Post Passover Fried Bread

Before going into the bread itself (which is simple enough), here is some background:

About a week ago the Jews had their Passover holiday. This holiday lasts for a week during which the religious and traditional Jews are not allowed to eat any bread that its dough was allowed to rise.

This is due to the Bible story of the Hebrew slaves running away from Egypt (the story with Moses – let my people go…). During this quick departure, they didn’t have the time to let their dough to rise and instead of bread they the Matza – bread of the poor – for their desert track.

So, after a week of eating no real bread some factions invented the Mufleta – flat bread that can be prepared very quickly when the holiday ends (at the evening when the bakeries are not open yet).

The recipe:

·         3 cups of four

·         1.5 cups of water

·         1 spoon of oil

·         ½ teaspoon of salt

·         2-3 teaspoons of dry yeast

Mix all the ingredients and kneed it for 10 minutes.

Split the dough into balls in size of about half chicken egg and place all of them on an oiled surface.

Cover with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Put a frying pan on the stove.

Oil your kitchen counter.

Spread the first ball of dough with your hands until it gets to a size of a medium plate about 2mm thick (I consistently failed to get the correct shape out of it…).

Put the dough in the pan to fry while you start spreading the second one.

After the first got a golden color (fried from one side only), put the second on top of it and flip them – the new dough should touch the pan itself. Keep doing it until all are ready.

Once all are done, serve it with butter and honey (combination of the two is recommended). Its nice to spread the butter and honey and then fold it like a crepe or simply like an envelope.

The one I managed to take picture of was way under 2mm of thickness :)

Something went wrong - they came out too dry (I think) but me and my wife finished them all in any case...

It was interesting and different bread experience.

Next bread will be a more conventional one - already made a baguette starter for tomorrow - about 12 hours left.

Until the next post


cfmuirhead's picture

Who can recommend a great bread for toasting?

Any suggestions for a bread that does great breakfast toasts?  I would prefer if it was not all white flour, for health reasons, and a sourdough for flavor and because it keeps a bit longer.   But I am open to all suggestions!

vrauls's picture

Troubleshooting "Hot Cereal" Multi-grain bread

This is my first post and I did spend some time looking through the archives, but there's a lot there. If this is a repeat, I apologize.

I'm obsessed with a bread recipe I saw on America's Test Kitchen and found on the Cooks Illustrated website. It's a sandwich loaf that starts by soaking 7-grain (or 9-grain or whatever) hot cereal in boiling water, then adding a mix of whole wheat and all purpose white flours, yeast, salt, etc. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are mixed in and the dough is risen twice, the second time in bread pans. It's a straight dough, no starter, sponge, or overnighting.

Basically, I've been struggling with this recipe for weeks, turning out tasty but dense flat loaves (and occasional inediable bricks). I'm not a novice baker (I have my own wild-yeast starter and regularly turn out nice loaves of both artisan and sandwich bread) but this recipe is just not working for me.

The dough comes together nicely in my KitchenAid and looks great. It rises exceedingly well in a bowl for the first rise (I've tried both on the counter and in a warm oven) but isn't nearly as active for the second rise. While the TV show had the bread puffed way over the top of the bread pans before baking, mine rarely tops the edge. I've tried punching down the dough as well as barely handling it to shape it. When I bake, it either slowly deflates or (my best effort so far) puffs up and then deflates at the top. My last pair of loaves were the best, and they still clearly are too dense through the bottom half of the loaf and over-proofed on the top edge.

I've tried varying the rising temperature (in the warm oven) and switched out the all purpose for white bread flour. I've tried preheating the oven with the loaf and a pan of hot water in it. I've tried spraying the bread top with water. Yeast and flours are fresh, I rememberd the salt, the mixer kneads well. It's nothing obvious that I can figure out.

The flavor of this simple loaf is amazing and I want to make it work... it's become a personal challenge!

lindab's picture

Diastatic Malt Powder

Hi - I have just discovered this site and am enjoying reading all of the posts about bread making. I live in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada (about one hour west of Toronto) and love to cook (and well, also eat). My goal is to understand enough about bread making that I can be more creative and not have to follow each recipe so closely.  I had no idea there were so many different ways of doing things.  Recently, when reading about bread on the internet, I have come across recipes that include diastatic malt powder as an ingredient - is this something that is only used when baking certain kinds of bread? can it be added to any recipe and what would be the advantage?

Thanks to anyone who responds.

Love the site!