The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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00Eve00's picture

Sourdough batard

This was quite an experience.

Today's plan of making Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough was a bit out of sorts from the beginning. 

I nearly forgot the salt after the autolyse, but thankfully remembered that.  But it bothered me that my dough was so slack.  I just let it go and made the adjustment, although I didn't do too much for fear of making too dry (I haven't gotten the feel for the dough yet), so the dough was still pretty slack.  Then I realized about an hour into the bulk fermentation that I forgot the rye! Ah ha! Mystery of the slack dough solved. I guess I just glazed right over that part of the recipe.  

I guess sven (my starter) might still be a bit too new because it took 4 hours to finish bulk fermentation rather than the 2.5 hours.

The crumb is pretty nice but I have the hardest time with scoring.  It seems like it opens up to the point where the gringe disappears.  I could have under proofed.  Under steaming is a possibility, but I steam with lava rocks and cast iron with 1c water for 10 min.  I could be simply scoring incorrectly.  There are so many variables.

The flavor, is nice.  It is mildly sour and the "sour" appears when you are just about finished chewing.  I've not had much sourdough so I'm not sure if that's common to sourdough breads.

Ok, sorry for rambling.  Here's the photos.  

I didn't have a good light source, so I brought the bread to the light source (the front door), hence the wooden chair. lol


jsk's picture

Graham Flour Levain

About two months ago I was in a trip to the US. During my staying there I've bought some flours I can't get my hands on here in Israel. One of them was Graham flour. I read quite a bit about it and I've found that a lot of people said it made a hard and unpleasant crust and the coarse pieces of bran and germ made it difficult to develop the gluten.
In that in mind I've decided to scald the Graham flour and make a mash, as I read someone here did successfully. So I started reading about scalding flours (WGB is a great source of info about that). I wanted to make a mash using 2:1 water to flour ration. The process was basicly bringing the water in a pot to about 150F, adding the flour and leaving it coverd for 1.5 hours to gelatinize some of the starches and to start the enzyme activity. After the hour and a half I adedd about 2% salt to inhibit the enzyme activity (a little like in a grain soaker). From ther it went to the fridge overnight.
I've worked up a formula for some sort of a Pain au Levain using 28% Graham, 5% rye and 67% AP flour. The intended hydration was 75% but I needed to add 2% more water as the dough was a little dry (probably because of the mash). I used a white stiff starter (65% hydration). I autolysed for 30 minutes and the kneaded in my KitchenAid for about 8 minutes. Fermentation was 2.5 hours with 2 folds. I then shaped the dough into two 1.75 lb batards and proofed the in a couche for 1.5 hours.
Here are some pics:

And the crumb:

I was very happy with the results. The crust was chewy and delicious and the crumb was open and light. The flavor was very good, slightly tangy and wheaty. If anyone has any questions or want the recipe, please comment.
Happy baking!

ananda's picture

Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel


This is just a quickie to show how I prefer this bread; as a steamed "pudding".   The "Pullman Pan" is ideal to make sandwiches, but I prefer not to bake this loaf.   Steaming time for a 600g loaf is about 8 hours!   Cool, then wrap in linen for 24 hours.   Finally, this loaf can now be sliced for eating; AND, it's so good!

Photographic evidence attached:

Best wishes


wally's picture

A Sunday Carboholic Brunch

I love fresh bagels and croissants, but being a household of one, these present a challenge: I can't (and more important, shouldn't) sit down and eat my way through a half dozen at a time.  The other side of the challenge is the impracticality of making up either dough for just a couple bagels or croissants.

The solution that sort of forced itself upon me, but which I like more and more, involves making each dough up and then freezing it and taking out what I need the night before, where I allow both to thaw in my refrigerator.  An early attempt at freezing fully proofed croissants and pains au chocolat that I wrote about failed because I tried baking them without allowing much thawing at all.  I found that fully proofed croissants will rise nicely if they're given a hour or two at room temperature after being thawed in the 'fridge, but this won't work for pains au chocolat which lack enough yeast power to rise around the chocolate batons. 

So I've taken to shaping croissants and pains au chocolat and then freezing them immediately.  The only drawback is that they need close to 3 hours at room temperature after being taken out of the refrigerator before they've risen sufficiently.

Bagels, on the other hand, are easy.  You simply shape them, allow them to fully proof, and then freeze.  The day before I want some, I just take a couple out of the freezer and put them into the refrigerator where I allow them to stay until I'm ready to boil them.

So, today I decided that a carboholic brunch was in order - why not some of each?

The bagels were boiled in water with some honey for their sheen and a little salt.  A 45 second boil on each side and then topped with sesame and poppy seeds and allowed to dry for about 5 minutes.  Then into a hot oven (about 480 F) for 15 minutes and voilà! 

The 3 hours the croissants needed were perfect for brunch-time.  As you can see, the shaping of the croissants is pug-ugly (apologies to pug owners), but the lamination looked pretty good to me.  And they are deliciously decadent - no need for butter!

Mimosas are my usual brunch drink of choice, but I picked up a wonderful bottle of a pear 'port' from a local vineyard (Fabbioli Vineyards) that they made blending their own pear wine with pear brandy that my friends at Catoctin Creek Distillery made for them using Fabbioli's pear wine. (I can't wait to try the brandy!).

Who says port has to be an après dîner affair? 

All in all a splendid brunch that has me carbo-loaded for the day.

MichaelH's picture

New Baking Challenge....

I have over a dozen of the most popular Artisan Bread books, and have enjoyed them all. I also visit several websites on a regular basis for recipes and ideas. However, I've decided to take a new approach to bread baking for a while.

I am going to bake my way through David Snyder's Blog. When (if) I can reproduce his creations, I will consider myself a baker.




overnight baker's picture
overnight baker

Trip across the channel

I intended to start a blog and leave a post every week with updates of a new loaf or new idea as a way to help me keep on experimenting and learning. So far, alas I have fallen at the first hurdle, after an impromptu trip to Paris I failed to update my blog the first week and haven't done so since.

It's not all bad though as Paris has been a real eye opener. I got into making bread seriously because of a lack of good local bakeries. When I moved to a new flat in a new area last year I discovered my high street had 2 greengrocers, a really good butchers and a plethora of small local independent stores, but alas no bakery! Even a trip to the nearby city centre left me empty handed but for a handful of instore supermarket bakeries and the omnipresent Greggs (a UK bakery chain that provides cheap, cheerful but ultimately soul destroying baked products). A short ferry/train trip across the channel however and it's a completely different story. Around every corner of every street in every arrondissemont the fresh smell of bread could be smelled wafting from a small boulangerie. The whole country must be teeming with bakers to be able to fill all those stores with such a variety of doughy delights. Don't get me wrong it's not as if the UK has worse bread, when you find it some of the stuff is delicious. It's just that good bread is comparitively so hard to find. And it's not as if we don't desire good bread, I recentely read Britons make far more bread at home than our french counterparts (and it's not hard to imagine why). Maybe the lack of good bakeries is a blessing, how else would I have discovered the joys of seeing the first bubbles arrive in a mixture of rye, water and nothing else (still amazes me), would I have ever even come across the words miche, banneton, lame etc. if I had not had to turn to home baking. Somehow however I still think I would prefer it if I had a friendly local bakery to buy at least the occasional loaf from.A small bakery on every street

As this blog has such a geographically diverse readership I wonder what others have to say about the provision of good bakeries in their area, and why some countries seemed to be able to have enough demand to keep a bakery in business on every street whereas others can have a whole town centre with nothing.

LRBY's picture

Sourdough Starter

I just did my first sourdough starter and have made 3 loafs of bread that came out yummy:)  I have had the starter in the fridge for a week and have not feed it since then.  Do I need to feed it before I use it again?   How long can it sit in the fridge without feeding?  Can I just use the discarded part for breads?  Thanks!

mimifix's picture

Teaching the Art of Breadmaking

Greetings everyone! I need suggestions for breadmaking classes.

I already teach a variety of 3-hour adult ed baking classes; but not bread because of the time constraints. Since all baked goods need to be started and out of the oven within that 3-hour timeframe, does anyone have reasonably good bread recipes for the novice breadmaker? I'm hoping that once students are introduced to yeast and starters, and enjoy their first delicious loaf, they will continue the adventure at home.

Thanks for your help! Mimi

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Kansas Wheat Blog

The Kansas Wheat website has a blog section. This month's blog has entries from a trip around the state to check out the crop and start gathering information for predictions on the crop yield. It's a business report, "G" rated material, and is short on literary magic but it's worth the short amount of time it takes to read.

Then you can go to the page that has recipes of breads that won in the state fair and other competitions.

Yippee's picture

20100510 Sourdough Pain de Campgne

This was a simple white bread with small amount of whole rye flour.  The first time I made a similar loaf was coincidently around the same period last year.  Since then, I’ve acquired many new skills and made some progress in making artisan breads.  I felt that I’ve grown in the past year, as a learner, from an infant to a toddler, who is now on her feet confidently and curiously exploring in a giant Breads-R-Us. Thank you again to those of you who have helped me up and walking along this wonderful journey.


I don’t bake very often.  Therefore, I like to take advantage of every opportunity in each bake to experiment with new things. Some of the things I try are new techniques I’ve learned; and some of the things simply come out due to the situation.  Like this time, I wanted to get rid of some of the previously built starters that were not used due to cancelled bakes. They must have been sitting in the fridge unattended for months.  I decided to use them as is and complemented them with a trace amount of instant yeast and a longer fermentation.  Luckily, since I’ve had my proofer, I’ve been able to manipulate the fermentation process at will. Mixing of the dough was done exclusively by machine as usual. Gluten was fully developed and oven spring was superb as I sealed all the vents during steaming. I used the method David (dmsnyder) had shared with me to flour the brotform.  I rubbed rice flour into it and I got the Sbeautiful patterns I’ve always wanted on my loaf. I also found Mr. Lepard’s oil-your-work surface technique a very practical alternative to dusting the counter with flour as it eliminates the clean up of mess afterwards.    


The crust turned out very crackly but was a bit too dark.  I think I need to lower the oven temperature sooner next time.  The crumb was light, springy and fluffy and had a very, very mild, almost undetectable tanginess, which my family enjoys.     


A summary of the formula and procedures is as follows:




 Here are some pictures: