The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Michael 2003's picture
Michael 2003

Bread baking classes?

I live in in Shorewood, just west of the Joliet IL, and have been looking for a bread baking class that is somewhat local to me and have had no success. There's Joliet Junior College but they only offer a basic cooking classes for those looking to go into the hospitality field for work. There are culinary institutes in the area but it's like taking an engineering class to learn how to change a tire, and the experience is out of the question for this one little thing! I even tried chatting up the local bakers, and the Whole foods baker in Naperville is a real baker from flour and yeast to finished product, but I had no success. Perhaps she thought I was attempting to steal her secrets? All I want is to get the basics down and get me going in the right direction. Anyone out here experienced and interested in tutoring?

Janknitz's picture

Thrift STore Find

Our local Goodwill had a half off sale today and look what I got for $1.49 (regular price $2.99)!

I've been complaining of having difficulty cutting my loaves evenly, so I hope this will help.  It needs some cleaning up--I will probably sand it with some fine sand paper because it feels kind of "greasy" .

I have had some good luck at thrift stores lately.  I got my "Apple Baker" cloche for $3.99 and today this.  Yay!




xaipete's picture

Leader's Polish Cottage Rye--the helium really helped with the oven spring!

This was a delicious bread! It was everything I hoped for (thank you David!). This massive loaf had a delightful sourness with a nice rye flavor, a well-developed structure without any hint of heaviness, and a wonderful aroma. I would definitely make it again.

This was a three-build bread: I made the German rye sourdough Thursday night and the rye sourdough Friday night. I used KA bread flour and home-ground unsifted rye (the formula called for white rye so this was a substitution). Everything ticked along exactly as expected. I put the final dough mixture together Saturday morning and mixed it in my Kitchen Aid on speed 4 for 14 minutes (again, thanks for your help on this David!), scraping the sides down twice. After I literally poured the mixture into a dough bucket, I let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 1/4 hours. Meanwhile I scoured the house for an appropriately sized proofing basket for my 2 1/2 pounds of dough finally turning up a basket from a closet.

After rubbing a considerable amount of rye flour into a flour-sack couche, I emptied--again almost poured--the dough into its center. The dough was too slack to shape, so I just lifted the whole thing into the basket, covered it with plastic wrap, and let it proof for another 1 3/4 hours during which time it nearly doubled. I then placed a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, sprayed it with PAM, placed it over the basket, flipped it over and watched the dough come tumbling out.

After three quick scores about 1/2-inch deep, I slid the spreading mass onto a preheated oven stone on the middle rack, plopped 3/4 cup of ice cubes in a skillet beneath the stone for steaming, shut the door, and hoped for the best. As I watched through the oven window I was delighted to see a lot of oven spring. The dough expanded both upwards and sideways increasing in volume nearly 50%. I was very pleased and hopeful. I threw a piece of foil over the loaf after 20 minutes because I worried that it was getting brown to quickly and then checked it to see if it was done at 40 minutes. It registered 96º C. so I removed it to a cooling rack. I was very happy to feel that the loaf was wonderfully light. I knew I had a winner.

Notes: I used the rye sour from Leader's book. It had sat in the refrigerator un-refreshed for a month but seemed to perform just fine after only one feeding and 12 hours on the counter (actually, I let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before using it); no doubt, this is a testimonial to the rehabilitation properties of rye flour.

You can see the hole in the top of the loaf where I injected the helium.
polish cottage rye

I took some more pictures but didn't have the CF card in the camera so I'll post more tomorrow.

Here are some more pictures. Vodka is the traditional accompaniment.

polish cottage rye

polish cottage rye crumb

This is a picture of about one-third of the loaf in its proofing basket; I'm including it so you can see how really large this massive loaf was.

After our dinner of sausages, grilled red peppers, and sautéed onion relish, we enjoyed a fre$h cherry pie. The pie's crust was perfectly flakey and delicious owing to the incorporation of a small amount of solid Crisco with the butter (as usual, I promised myself that this was absolutely the last time I would use the white stuff!).

fresh cherry pie


SulaBlue's picture

Flour for brotforms

D'oh! I forgot to get rice flour to use in my new brotforms. I don't really feel like going to the store tomorrow JUST to get rice flour. Is there a second choice that would work OK? I have KA Bread Flour, stone ground whole wheat, cornmeal, and I have whole quina, barley, wheat berries, rye berries (either could be coarsely ground), oats (could make oat flour, but I think that'd be particularly sticky?) Heck, I've even got a boatload of brown rice that I could grind in the spice grinder if that'd work?

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Pizza dough tearing apart easily- need diagnosis

I was being both parsimonious and curious when I decided to make pizza dough using a 100% starter that had been sitting in the back of the fridge for 3 months without feeding.  To it, I added a small amount of active starter, and let this preferment mixture sit overnight at room temp.  The next day, I proceeded to add the salt, olive oil, and flour to the consistency that I thought was proper.  I then kneaded the dough using the dough setting on my breadmachine. That same day, I tried making pizza.  I knew there was problem as soon as I saw the dough tearing as I attempted to stretch it.  It looked like there wasn't enough gluten development, but it couldn't have been the kneading since I used manual and breadmachine kneading.  Might it be the yeast, or lack of it?  I'm grasping at straws here;  I always read the lack of gluten development comes from inadequate kneading.

ehanner's picture

Honey Lemon Whole Wheat Loaf

A few weeks ago I saw a post with a reference to a Honey Lemon Whole Wheat loaf. As I recall a couple posters had commented that this bread was high on the best breads list for them. A fellow I have high regard for (PMcCool), suggested I would like it, so I decided to give it a spin.

The original recipe is from Bernard Clayton. One of the things Clayton does in this and other recipes I have made is to use very warm water for the mix along with a short primary ferment time and then an overnight chilled proof. Since the dough starts off life warm, it does rise fully while in the refrigerator. I suspect this also helps develop a better flavor. Another component of the flavor being the grated lemon rind, I suspect is enhanced by the warm water helping release the oils of the fruit.

The crumb is about what you would expect from a 40% Whole Wheat mix. The dough and later the bread has a very unusual and surprising aroma with the Lemon. This is an aromatic bread of the highest order. Paul said he liked the way the lemon plays off the WW and I think that's a good description of what I sence. So grab a copy of Claytons book and give this a try.


Marni's picture

Two mostly whole wheat loaves

I bake bread at least twice a week plus the cookies and quick breads that are the treats around here, but I just haven't had the time to post.  That combined with the fact that most of my bread baking is about getting sandwiches made that my kids will eat!  Panned loaves didn't seem interesting enough for me to keep track of, but hey, I'm baking like crazy and sometimes I like to look back and see the results of all the work.  Too bad I didn't get a shot of the eight loaves of challah last week.

So, I made this last week - It's called Clay's Sourdough Multigrain off the King Arthur site.  I rarely follow recipes exactly, this one called for wheat bran and I used wheat germ, also I subbed spelt for one of the flours.   I used Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain cereal for the grain mix.  It didn't  rise a lot, (the recipe said it wouldn't) but it was light and had a wonderful, developed flavor.  But- my kids won't touch it- it has "things" in it.Clay's Sourdough Multigrain

Because most of my bread baking is  sandwich bread, I try to find something different, just to make it more interesting for me.  I think my kids would eat the same bread every day.  This next bake is "Our Favorite Sandwich Bread" also from the KAF site.

Again I changed a few things.  My changes:  I doubled it, I used rice milk for the milk, I subbed Earth Balance margerine for the butter (and used a bit less) and I made it with half white whole wheat.  It needed close to 1/2c more rice milk to get the right consistency.

It rose beautifully and then took off again in the oven.  I haven't tasted it, but it smells great and made nice PB&J sandwiches this morning. I think it's a kid pleaser.  Straight bread, easy to make too.

KAF sandwich loaves


crumb shot


Roo's picture

Dough Divider

I have the opportunity to purchase a dough divider for what appears to be a great price. It is a manual one similiar to the Duchess that Mark has used in several of his videos.

One of my main concerns is portion size and how is that determined.  Basically this thing came out of a Panchero's Mexican Resturaunt.  They are a fast food burrito place.  Is the size of the roll going to be determined on the amount of dough placed in the pan?  Or is it more along the lines of different models for different needs.  One model will only do tortilla's while another model does only rolls, while yet another does only buns.

I would really like to use it to make dinner rolls and perhaps buns if possible any thoughts???

xaipete's picture

Liquid Levain petered out

My liquid levain was going great gun while I had it out on the counter and was feeding it twice a day. I wasn't planning on using it for a week so I put it in the fridge. I took it out yesterday and refreshed it; it rose only a little and had a bunch of liquid in it. I stirred the liquid in, but it is refusing to grow. Any idea what is going on and what I should do from here?


LindyD's picture

Parmigiano Reggiano loaf (a/k/a Hamelman's Cheese Bread)

"Cheese Bread" is a rather drab description of this strongly flavored bread, so I decided to give it the name of the cheese I used.  

The overall formula (which includes a stiff levain) is:

Bread flour - 100%

Water - 60%

Olive oil -  5%

Salt -  1.5%

Yeast -  1% (or half that amount if you plan to retard the bread overnight)

Parmesan cheese -  20%

Half the cheese is cubed and half grated, then added to the dough after it has been mixed to moderate gluten development.

I was unable to retard the dough overnight because of lack of refrigerator space.  

The bread was wonderful lightly toasted and served with a breakfast egg.  It would be a terrific accompaniment with spaghetti, as well as broiled with a bit of garlic, olive oil, sliced tomatoes, and maybe a dash of fresh mozzarella.  

Am betting it will also make excellent croutons and bread crumbs.

This is a great recipe for a special occasion and the quality of the cheese you use will have a major effect on the result.  

Only one caveat:  it will make one very lousy PB&J!