The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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KHamATL's picture

Baguette Scoring Help Request

Hi everyone,

I have been reading posts on the forum for many months now and trying to gain wisdom on the topic of baguette scoring.  I have read almost every post on the subject but can't seem to get it right.  Out of about a dozen attempts at baguettes, I have successfully generated a nice ear/grigne one time.  Strangely enough, it was on the 3rd attempt.  Here is a picture:

I have been using Hamelman's Poolish Baguette and Hamelman's Straightdough Baguette for all attempts.  I have been using King Arthur flour and I usually do a 30-60 min autolyze and an extra fold to get sufficient gluten development.  I check the proofing with a "poke test" as most people do.  When the dimple very slowly returns after a poke, I consider it ready to bake.  I slash with a curved lame with a depth of ~ 1/4 in (or what I perceive to be a 1/4 in. It's difficult to say exactly).  I hold the blade at an angle (I think ~30-45 deg) to try to cut a flap of dough.  I cook the baguettes in a 460 degree oven (preheated for 45 min) on 1/2 in unglazed tiles.  For steam, I follow Hamelman's instructions: throw a few ice cubes into a cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf while slashing, slide the baguettes onto the stone, and then pour 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet.  I have followed this method for all attempts.

I think my shaping has improved in the past 4 months and I've tried to vary my slashing technique slightly to see what I'm doing wrong.  Now, I would like to request some advice.  I appreciate any guidance that anyone will offer.  Here are the pictures of my "ear-free" baguettes.  Individual photos can be seen at  Thanks in advance.

On a positive note, I have eaten many many delicious sandwiches from all of this.  Thanks for your help!


eschneider5's picture

Need help figuring out formula for this bread.

I wanted to start a new thread for this.  I need to find out the formula for this bread which is also a sandwich roll.  The roll has a slight sour taste to it, the crumb is soft and chewy, the crust is thin and crunchy.  The crust is the big mystery for me as it is unlike any baguette that I have made or eaten before.  This crust is much thinner than a baguette which makes it great as a sandwich roll.  Help please!

CoveredInFlour's picture

Will all sourdough starters I make eventually taste the same?


This is probably a stupid question, but I've just barely gotten up and running with sourdough, so bear with me. :)

I have a nice River Cottage rye sourdough starter bubbling away in my fridge (started with 1 cup dark rye flour and 1 cup bottled water), and I have a two day old culture of Reinhart's whole wheat flour/pineapple juice sitting my by counter looking slightly bewildered as a newborn baby. :) I eventually would like to turn the whole wheat starter into a white starter, but that's days away.

Having correctly or incorrectly read that sourdough starters take on the flavours of the environment that they are raised in (like kids), would there be a reason to make more than one type of white, or rye, or whole wheat starter? Wouldn't all my white or rye, or whole wheat starters eventually taste the same, theoretically, if they were raised in the same kitchen?

On one site I read a recipe for a starter that calls for milk, sugar, honey and beer - in my snobby newbie way I thought "*That's* not a real starter!", but is it? Would that be considered a "true" sourdough starter? I can see how that would add different flavours to a bread, but I thought a "real" starter was just flour and liquid.

I don't know who I'd be trying to impress with the "trueness" of a starter (I'm assuming there are no bread police, although on France, maybe.. :) ), but having read the well known bread books it seems that flour/liquid is thought of as the "real" way to produce a starter.

Any thoughts?

codruta's picture

very stiff dough for golden raisin bread

hello everybody! Last evening I began to make "golden raisin bread" from hamelman book, page 172. I increased the amount of water with 5 % (from 69% to 74%), after I read on this forum that the hydration given in the book gives a dough that is too stiff. I omited the yeast from the recipe. I did 2 S-F at 40 min interval, with a bulk fermentation of 2 hours. I shaped a small boule and a small batard and I put the doughs in the fridge overvight. The dough was stiff when I shaped it, and it didn't raise in the fridge (maybe just 10%). When I press the batard with my hand it's like a rock, I don't feel air trap inside. I start to thinking that I didn't use the right "rolled oats". I used old fashioned rolled oats, should I have used quick cooking rolled oats instead?

I removed the loafs from the fridge this morning, and I'll wait to see if they raise at room temperature. I don't know what to do, is so hot here, I don't want to use the oven if the dough is bad. Two hours of intensive heat and sweat, just to have 2 doorstops- can be very frustrating.

Overall formula was 348 g bread flour, 87 g whole wheat flour, 325 g water, 9 g salt, 44 g old fashioned rolled oats, 110 g raisins. (The prefermented flour was 15% from the total amount of flour, and the levain was liquid, at 125% hydration).

What did I do wrong? Or this dough is suposed to be dry and stiff?



freerk's picture

a boston brown quick fix

I don't even know what it was I wanted to do; I just ended up fascinated by the fact I had just purchased two tin cans of cookies, and, when flipping open Glezer's book, there was that picture of  that bread sticking out of tin cans; the Boston Brown Bread! So, sometimes if not all the time, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do:

I didn't have nearly enough dough to make it out of the tin cans, but once removed you could never tell the difference:

The bread was... interesting. It's got light molasses in the formula, and all I had was dark molasses. Even though I downed the amount in the formula in favor of some extra milk in the very stiff and dry dough, the end result is still very....molasses. The dried cranberries work wonders in it!

There were some odd discrepancies in trying to recreate the formula. The dough I ended up with wasn't nearly enough to fill 3/4 of the tin cans, even though they had the exact recommended measurements. Maybe I dozed off for a second, maybe the rye was extremely thirsty today, I'll never know.

So, a bit on the dry side for my taste, but very comfy and x-massy to eat (dutch summer sucks anyway), I'm sure when the northern winds return I'm going to give the Boston Brown Bread another spin!




 P.S. You would do me a big favor endorsing my BreadLab iniative. Every "like" will get me closer to realizing a 6 episode documentary/road movie; chasing the best bread Europe has to offer. Thanks in advance!

eusko's picture

looking for a sourdough not-too-sweet coconut bread

Hello, I am looking for a coconut bread recipe prepared with a sourdough (or any other pre-ferment). On the net I have found only quick-breads or recipes which are more cakes than breads. Thanks.

ananda's picture

Inspirational Stories

Here's a fine tale from one of the many inspirational people driving forward the demand for good, honest bread!

Best wishes


breadman_nz's picture

Hobart N50 restoration experience

As  a followup to my original N50 thread:

I'm reporting my experiences stripping down and refurshing my recently-acquired second-hand Hobart N50 mixer (which now will sit alongside my DLX2000). Hopefully it will be useful to anyone else taking this (not too difficult) project on. Unfortunately I didn't take any before pictures (lazy me!), but it was in somewhat beaten-up shape with well-worn paint over most of the base. A nice collection of photos of another person's strip and rebuild can be found here:

Parts were missing - the rubber feet, attachment cap and thumbscrew, no dough hook or beater attachment. The Hobart logo sticker was worn. The gear cover plate was warped. The bowl latch spring was broken. She did run, and run smoothly in all gears, but I had always bought it with the goal of a full tear down, repaint and rebuild.

The N50 service manual helped a little, but it is definitely doable without it. It has some useful tips, such as how to split the motor and transmission housings from each other and also how to adjust the transmission for smooth, quiet operation. The pictures/photos are also helpful. It's worthwhile having in additon to the parts diagrams freely available from Hobart.

Firstly, I ordered all of the missing / worn / broken parts. So far so good. As discussed in the thread above, I ordered some Morey synthetic 'blue' food grade grease (expensive - and incorrect - see below). During the strip down, which is mostly a methodical and logical process assuming you have the usual basic tools, patience and a modicum of mechanical knowledge, all went well. You will need some pin punches to drive out the various shaft pins. Other than that, no special equipment needed. The technique in the service manual of hitting the accessory hub attachment with a hammer in order to separate the motor housing from the gear housing is very worthwhile.

The most major problem in the rebuild occurred at this stage: having removed the motor from the housing, I accidentally dropped the housing on the concrete floor! It was immediately obviously dented - ouch! I completed the tear down, removed all of the old (brown, discoloured) grease from the gear housing and took all of the paintable parts to the powder coaters. There, we discovered that the motor housing wouldn't mate properly to the gear housing due to the dent. Popping across to the engineering shop, I thought all was a relief, as they managed to gently tap the housing back into what looked like was the correct shape, as it aligned and fitted once more to the gear housing. Whew (or so I thought). Got the bits back from the powder coaters, and the bowl lift handle back from the metal re-platers (it's nickle, in case you're interested). Also got some new decals printed using a Hobart logo online:

I then reassembled the gears and transmission and packed it with the Morey synthetic blue... some disgustingly sticky, tacky stuff. Now the real pain - the stator wouldn't fit into the still-distorted motor housing - arrrrgh! It's such a tight fit with no tolerance for variance. I tried filing the fins off the inside of the motor housing - and did get it to fit - but of course the rotor then wouldn't line up within it, while still rotating freely with the starter housing on. Realising that I would need a new stator housing was painful in the extreme - but that's what you get for dropping the most expensive piece of the mixer! Determined to see the project through I bit the large bullet and ordered a new housing which arrived in due course. I finally refitted the the motor and connected it all up. Hit the start switch to test... A loud "hummmmmm", but no rotation!! It turns out two problems were occurring:

1) The blue synthetic morey grease was just too tacky. Although it's a NLGI grade 2 viscocity (the correct one), it is extremely tacky stuff. Changing to a different synthtic but soapy-type grease (similar to the original stuff, but synthetic) - hooray!

2) The contacts on the start switch (not the on-off switch, but the switch at the rear of the housing) were not being adequately compressed. I'm not sure why this is, but I have managed to shim between the rotor and switch so that it turns on and off. It's a fine balance between the mixer turning on properly and having the contacts too close so they're shorting. One day I might take it to the local mixer service agent for a quick look, but for now it's working just fine.

 [UPDATE 26/12/15: the problem with the starter motor was eventually traced to needing a shim (metal washer) on the shaft of the rotor, in the motor housing. Finally working this out had two advantages as the rotor is now correctly positioned a few mm's further to the rear of the mixer. One, the starter works first time, every time without shims. Two, the (17T) drive pinion doesn't strip the (49T) main gear. Don't ask how I found out this was the problem, except know that it cost two replacement main gears to figure out. To assist, the location of the shim sits at part #18 on this diagram: and is listed as "spring, loading" (SL-005-10).

For older model N50's, the location of the shim is at part #14 & 15 on this parts diagram: Part numbers are WS-007-21 and/or WS-007-19.

I made the first batch of pizza dough and a sourdough bread with it yesterday - and it is a fantastic mixer. It's less work than my DLX2000 - in fact it's no work at all, in that I don't have to babysit the initial process to ensure ingredients are properly incorporating, or ensure the dough is still rotating around the bowl properly. I look forward to trying it out with drier pasta and bagel dough later this week.

As you can see from the photos below - it's a custom two-tone colour, since I couldn't be bothered getting the new motor housing poweder coated in the same colour as the other bits I'd gotten done. I like the effect, I've decided! The new motor housing also came with the warning plate attached, and has a larger bolt at the front corner - visible in the first picture - holding it onto the column (which necessitated tapping a larger 3/8th" hole into the column).

Overall, it's been a fun project (dropped housing notwithstanding). I've learnt a lot - and can now pull the mixer to bits in about 5-10 minutes.




diverpro94's picture

Question About Malt Syrup!

I am thinking about buying some malt syrup, but I don't know much about it or have ever used it. For baking exclusively what do I need to look for in malt syrup? Also, recommend me some specific brands. Thanks!

freerk's picture

Pain aux Céréales, based on Erik Kayser's formula

Hey fellow TFL-ers

Erik Kayser's formula's and breads are quickly gaining popularity in my baking ball-book. After giving his Buckwheat Paline a spin earlier, I went for the Pain aux Céréales this weekend, pointed to Don's formula here by Andy (Ananda). It was a great success from start to finish. A great dough to work with, a wonderful balance of flavours and, not unimportant, a great looker!

The seeds

The loaves

 A detail of the crust

and the crumb of course


Happy baking, thank you Don for the formula, and Andy for the pointer!


P.S. You would do me a big favor endorsing my BreadLab iniative. Every "like" will get me closer to realizing a 6 episode documentary/road movie; chasing the best bread Europe has to offer. Thanks in advance!