The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Cooked Kamut berries, now what?

Ongoing Kamut experiment... a short one.

Monday Morning:

I have 600g Kamut berries.  Dirctions say how to cook, 2 cups water for 1 cup berries washed in sieve.  I decided to use the rice cooker for my good 4 cups of grain.  By washing, it was clear that the grain was better washed in a large bowl and water poured off the top to remove parts of hulls and dust.  The berries are large enough to drain in a colander.   I then let the rice cooker do the work with 1 tsp of salt.  All the water was absorbed and the grain took on a caramel color with a nutty fragrance. 

Now what?  I was hoping to put this grain into a rye bread but I had to eat some first.  Very chewy.  Very chewy indeed!  Now I'm not so sure I want it whole in my bread.  I was eating chili for lunch so I combined some cooked grain into it.  Uh, ok, not the best idea, but I did get a glimpse of the texture with other food.  The tough chewy berries stood out.  "Roughage" kept going through my head.  I guess the blender is the next step, make the grains smaller.  Will I come out with a pudding like substance?   I have to think about this....  any ideas?  (Meanwhile, starter is being refreshed.)  I need some coffee.


PMcCool's picture

Leader's Soulful German Farmhouse Rye

While it would be self-deception in the first degree to think that I have a lock on wheaten breads, I've been wanting to expand my repertoire to include breads with a high percentage of rye flour.  I enjoy the flavor and have been very impressed by the breads produced by other TFL posters.  So, I thought I'd try my hand with the Soulful German Farmhouse Rye from Daniel Leader's Local Breads.  This bread has been profiled in other posts on TFL, so feel free to search out those entries, too.

I maintain a single sourdough starter that is usually fed AP or bread flour.  Every now and then it gets goosed with a bit of whole rye or whole wheat, based on the needs of a particular recipe.  For this bread, I did two refreshments entirely with whole rye flour to build the rye sour it calls for.  About the only rye flour carried in supermarkets locally is Hodgson Mills whole rye, so it's not like there's a lot of choice in the matter.  Whole Foods and Wild Oats stores have some other possibilities, but the labeling doesn't always make it clear just what they are selling.

The formula calls for a quarter teaspoon each of coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, toasted and ground.  That turned out to be my first point of departure from the formula.  Recalling some earlier discussions on TFL, I substituted caraway for the cumin.  My first attempt at toasting the seeds in a skillet on the stovetop was, well, overdone.  As I was grinding the seeds, the predominant odor was that of something scorched, not something spicy.  After pitching those, I started over.  This time I dialed back the heat and shook the skillet every few seconds so that nothing had a chance to park on a hot spot and scorch.  I also kept a close eye on the fennel seeds.  They started out with a greenish cast, while the coriander and caraway already had a toasty color.  When the fennel seeds' color shifted from green to golden, I pulled the skillet off the flame and dumped the seeds into the mortar.  A few strokes with the pestle released a toasty/spicy fragrance that was much different and far better than the that of the first attempt.  

Despite Leader's recommendations, I opted for hand mixing and kneading the dough, primarily to understand how it looked and felt as it developed.  Now I know why the phrase "wet cement" figures prominently in writings about making rye breads.  Despite what you read in recipes, a high-percentage rye dough will not be silky; nor will it be elastic or responsive.  I'll probably use the mixer for future forays, but I know now what to look for.  The other departure from the formula was to use wet hands and a wet countertop for kneading.  Leader recommends floured hands, but I think that working wet has to be the better choice.  First, you can't work in too much additional flour.  Second, the same components in rye flour that make it so sticky also make it slippery when wet.  That means your hands don't get nearly as gummed up with dough as they would if you worked with floured surfaces.  Keeping a plastic bowl scraper in one hand while manipulating the dough with the other is also a good tactic.  

The dough came together rather easily.  Yes, it was sticky.  Yes, it was sludgy.  And no, it didn't seem the least bit soulful; at least, not compared to a dough made with wheat flour.  The second point at which I departed from the script was to add only half the amount of yeast.  A significant quantity of the rye flour is in the final dough, so I wanted it to have the opportunity to acidify before the yeast took over.  That stretched the fermentation times out beyond the times noted in the formula but I wasn't in any rush.

Leader recommends "dusting" the bannetons with rye flakes before depositing the boules for their final fermentation.  First, things the size of rye flakes can't be "dusted" onto anything, much less the sidewalls of a banneton.  Second, he recommends slashing the loaves with a tic-tac-toe pattern immediately before loading them in the oven.  Every try slashing a dough that is armored, sorry, "dusted" with rye flakes?  It ain't gonna happen, no matter what your slashing weapon of choice is.  (See picture, below.)  And that for a bread that, he says truthfully, isn't going to rise much in the oven.  I'll grant you that the rye flakes have a certain rustic appeal for the eye, but next time I'd rather use them as a soaker or leave them off entirely.

Here's how the finished breads look:

Soulful German Farmhouse Rye

These are compact breads, maybe 1.5 inches high and 7 or 8 inches across.  The rye flakes and the knife handle give you a sense of their scale.  The crumb, not surprisingly, is dense and rather tight.  The soulful part, which isn't appreciable here, is in the flavor.  The rye is front and center in this bread.  The spices, while discernible, are very much in a supporting role.  It's quite a bit different than Levy's NY jewish rye, which has 2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.  The crust is chewy, as is the crumb.  Then again, it's been in a plastic bag overnight.  Left out in the air, it would probably be rather hard-shelled.  It doesn't feel quite as moist as I had anticipated (probably a factor of the whole rye's absorbency) but it isn't crumbly, either.  I think it is probably a very good thing that I used water, rather than flour, to manage the stickiness while kneading the dough.  There's no noticeable gumminess in the crumb, so it appears that I waited long enough before cutting into it. 

All in all, an enjoyable bread and one that should go very well with the ham I purchased this weekend.

Wild-Yeast's picture

Lungwort Leavening

Looking through an old campcraft book I came across the following entry:

from the book Camp Cookery by Horace Kephart, published 1910

On the bark of maples, and sometimes of beeches and birches, in the northern woods, there grows a green, broad-leaved lichen variously known as lungwort, liverwort, lung-lichen, and lung-moss, which is an excellent substitute for yeast. This is an altogether different growth from the plants commonly called lungwort and liverwort---I believe its scientific name is Sticta pulmonacea. This lichen as partly made up of fungus, which does the business of raising dough. Gather a little of it and steep it over night in lukewarm water, set near the embers, but not near enough to get overheated. In the morning, pour off the infusion and mix it with enough flour to make a batter, beating it up with a spoon. Place this “sponge” in a warm can or pail, cover with a cloth, and set it near the fire to work. By evening it will have risen. Leaven your dough with this (saving some of the sponge for a future baking), Let the bread rise before the fire that night, and by morning it will be ready to bake.

It takes but little of the original sponge to leaven a large mass of dough (but see that it never freezes), and it can be kept good for months.


SulaBlue's picture

Sourdough Gingerbread Pancakes

Modified from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa's) recipe for Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

Sourdough Gingerbread Waffles


¼ cups Raisins, Golden Seedless, soaked to soften

¾ tsp Orange Peel -- grated

⅛ cups Crystalized ginger -- minced

⅛ cups Butter

½ cups Molasses

½ cups Sourdough Starter (Liquid/100% Hydration)

1½ cup Milk (more, as needed to reach pourable consistency)


1½ cups Flour, White

⅜ tsp Baking Soda

¾ tsp Ginger, Ground

½ tsp Cinnamon, Ground

⅛ tsp Cloves, Ground

¼ tsp Salt

Pan Spray



Place raisins in a small dish or cup, cover with near-boiling water. Soak until slightly softened. In the meantime zest orange and finely mince your crystalized ginger.

Place the butter and molasses in another small bowl and microwave for about 1 minute until butter is fully melted and molasses is easily pourable. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands until combined. Add in crystalized ginger, raisins and orange zest. Add in sourdough starter and give the bowl a stir until everything begins to combine. Add in the slightly cooled molasses-butter mixture. Continue stirring and add milk in a slow, continuous stream until you reach a good batter-like consistency.

Allow mixture to sit while the waffle iron is pre-heating. Give it one good stir once waffle is hot and pour enough to cover of the ½ of the waffle iron. Cook on the medium-dark setting.

Makes about 4 regular-sized waffles.

I'd have taken pictures but they didn't last that long!

benjamin's picture

Anis Bouabsa baguette (sourdough)

I attempted David's sourdough adaptation of the anis bouabsa baguette... IMG_1777.JPGIMG_1778.JPGIMG_1783.JPG

The crumb was beautifully soft, and this was by far the crustiest baguette I have ever made. The dough is a little hard to work with due to the high hydration, and scoring is particularly challenging! It was well worth it though, and I will definately be making these again!


Happy baking


SulaBlue's picture

Voortman's Windmill Cookies?

Anyone have a recipe for something close to what these taste like, with that same crisp texture? I'm thinking THESE might be close, but the ingredients list for Voortman's Windmills don't mention almond.

Not sure what I'd use for a mold - I've found some, but they're $30 and seems to me you have to do 1 cookie at a time? I'm not quite -that- patient!

blackbird's picture

Walnut cinnamon lemon mini loaf

An old favorite for over 30 years, walnut cinnamon lemon bread is simple, crunchy and chewy.  The basic recipe is flexible rather than perfectionist.  I used frozen orange juice, thawed and room tmperature, back in those days. 

3 cups AP flour

instant yeast perhaps a big pinch

pinch of salt

1 maybe 2 ounces oil

8-9 ounces water

cinnamon as you like, I like it so I may use more than you

walnut pieces as you like, say 3/4 cup

lemon by lemon extract or lemon juice and or zest to your taste ----or you can use orange instead

No sugar or sweetening needed.

Mix all well, you can do some kneading at this mixing time.  I knead in the bowl with my mixing plastic spoon giving 5 minutes or so between a few spoon kneading efforts.

Let rise to double or so, then divide to fit pans, up to three mini pans, kneading is minimal or not at all.   The dough will be a bit wet and clay-like.  I use wet hands to handle it.   Or one big bread loaf pan. 

 Let rise, then into preheated oven at 425F, no steam, cover with alum foil loosely, decrease heat after 20 min to 375F, remove foil.  Baking time depends on your oven and how many times you open the oven.  Say 30 minutes total.  Let cool, or eat warm if it suits you.  Previously I wrote 45 minutes but my mind was thinking of a big bread pan loaf which requires a bit more time.  It is good to check on it so it does not get too dry. 

The simple recipe can be changed by adding eggs when mixing the dough for example. 

I tried a mold but got plenty of spring so it leans.


Eran's picture

Yeast and health


I have just stopped following an alkaline diet which banns yeast consumption. My reasons for stopping were the lack of science behind the approach. However, some things remained with me, like the sugar free part of the diet.

However, for a couple of years now I've been suffering from repeating skin rashes on my legs, which improved dramatically while following the diet. I am obviouly not interested in reversing that process. I have been told that yeast (which feeds on sugar) is not highly recommended untill symptoms are gone.

After reading a few posts here, it seems like some people here are quite educated about the different types of yeast and bateria, and might be able to give me some sound answers.

So I wanted to know:

  1. Will sourdough be better for me?

  2. Is unleavend bread the best?

  3. What about baking powder or self rising flour?

Thank you very much!



dmsnyder's picture

My first Épi de Blé

This was my first attempt at an "épi de blé," or "sheaf of wheat" shape. I made it with Anis Bouabsa's baguette dough. 

Épi de Blé



Janknitz's picture

A Day in the Life of Bread in History


As a knitter, I stand in awe of the work that went into a simple set of clothes in the past-I'm talking about a time before you could walk into the nearest store and buy a ready-made article of clothing, and even before someone of modest means could buy cloth to make her own clothing.  A time when getting a new dress meant first shearing the sheep or harvesting the flax, then spinning the thread, weaving the cloth, and finally sewing the garment-weeks, months, perhaps almost a year, just for a new dress.    

 I have the same sense of admiration and curiosity about bread and how much work it took to produce that daily loaf to feed a family the days before you could buy a 5 lb sack of flour at the supermarket, yeast in packets, and bake it in an electric or gas oven.  Or run to the corner store to buy a loaf (which I know was more possible in the 1800's in most cities, but perhaps not in rural locales). 

 So I'm calling on anyone with an interest in history (an historical re-enactor, perhaps, SCA member, etc.), who has listened to their grandparents' stories, or who has researched this and can tell about a day in the life of bread for a particular time in history and locale (your choice of time and place).

 Here's some of the things I'm curious about:

1.  Approximate time (i.e. 1840's, 1700's, etc.)

2.  Place (if it's an unfamiliar locale, please describe i.e. in the country or a place of commerce, terrain, climate, etc.)

3.  Source of grain (i.e. can most people in that time and place afford to buy milled flour or whole grain or do they have to grow their own?  Where does it come from and how does it get to the consumer?)

4.   Types of grain common to the locale and time.

5.  Source of leavening and how the leavening source is perpetuated. 

6.  Type or types of bread commonly produced.

7.  Describe what type of mixing and  baking vessels might have been used, if any.

8.  How is that bread baked?  What is the source of the heat for baking?    

9.  Describe a "day in the life of bread"-in other words, the baker's day (or days) producing that loaf??? 

10.  Finally, care to speculate how that baker managed time to bake and also get everything ELSE done without modern conveniences? 

I hope this will be a fun and enlightening thread.