The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mtve's picture

barley crisp bread

Hi there

Has anyone here around made crisp bread with pure barley flour? (no wheat or any other flour added) I tried to make some but the problem is I couldn't make it raise to get crispy. I used yeast, BP, BS... Can anyone help me to make it crispy and easy to chew?

Delbadry's picture

100% Whole Wheat Pain De Mie

If anyone has experience with whole wheat pain de mie, then this goes out to you:

Are homemade pain de mie's usually heavier than store-bought ones? I tried King Arthur Flour's "A Smaller 100% Whole Wheat Pain De Mie" (followed the ingredients and directions to the letter), and the loaf was incredibly dense and didn't fill the pan.

So I adjusted my own whole wheat recipe (no potato flakes or dried milk powder), which includes soaking the flour for 30 mins, and although the bread filled the pan and was definitely lighter, it was still heavier than the loaves I'm used to baking. And even though the recipe was scaled down from a regular 9-inch loaf, it took longer to bake, and I'm not sure I understand why..

The bottom line is I would love to make a 100% whole wheat pain de mie that is almost weightless and fluffy, like the ones in the store. Any thoughts or ideas would greatly be appreciated.. Thanks. :)

pal251's picture

Flour storage and dough storage

Any good reccomendations for a container to store 5 or 10 lbs of four in?


Also would like reccomendations on a tub or container that I can put bread in to proof or store in a fridge for a few days until ready to use.

pmccool's picture

A variation on Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread

It was time for a break from the whole-grain breads that I have made, more often than not, in recent months.  Even so, I wasn't looking for an all-white bread, either.  In thumbing through the second edition of Hamelman's Bread, I came across his Sourdough Seed bread.  It calls for a bit of rye flour, and a generous helping of flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds.  Although there weren't any flax seeds on hand, I figured I could bluff my way through it with a bit of improvisation.

In casting about for something to substitute for the flax seed cold soaker, I came across some oatmeal that had been milled from oat groats while playing with the Kitchen Aide grain mill attachment.  Okay, so oats are a cereal grain, which isn't what people usually mean when they refer to seeds.  And these are ground up, not whole.  Work with me, people, this is improv.  So, flax seeds out, equal quantity of oat meal in.  Cold water out, equal quantity of boiling water in.  Now we have an oat meal scald, instead of a cold flax seed soaker.  

Since my starter was at a healthy stage of development in the refrigerator, it went straight into the liquid levain with no preliminary feedings.  By next morning, the levain was bubbly and ready to go.  The oat meal scald was also ready, although not nearly so demonstrative, which was very much in keeping with its Scottish reserve.

Before mixing the dough, the sunflower and sesame seeds were toasted in the oven.  Some stayed rather pale, others were a beautiful deep brown.  After toasting, they were allowed to cool.

Per the instructions, the soaker (scald, in this case), the levain, the seeds, and the final dough ingredients were all combined and mixed.  Mixing was done by hand, rather than by machine.  The resulting dough at first appeared to be somewhat dry, since it required some work to get all of the flour absorbed.  Once past that stage, it switched to being a rather sticky dough and stayed sticky throughout.  This may have been an artifact of the oat meal scald.  After mixing to a rough dough, it underwent another 8 minutes of slap and fold kneading.  By the end of that workout, it was showing good gluten development.  

The dough was shaped into a loose boule and placed in a plastic-covered bowl to ferment.  About an hour and a quarter later, the dough was given a stretch and fold, then reshaped into a boule and returned to the bowl for roughly an hour and a half of additional fermentation.  I was surprised when I uncovered the dough in preparation for shaping by the scent of peanut butter.  It wasn't really that, on closer consideration, but that was how my brain first interpreted the the toasty/oily fragrance of the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds in the dough.

At the end of the bulk fermentation, the dough was divided in two.  Each piece was pre-shaped, allowed to rest for a few minutes, then given a final shaping as a batard.  Final proofing was in parchment couches with side support.  It took nearly three hours of final proofing before the bread was ready for baking; kitchen temperatures were in the 70-72F range yesterday.  

Baking was pretty much as instructed, with steam.  I chose to go a few minutes longer with the bake to get a darker crust color.  The bread was removed from the oven when the internal temperature was 207F.

While I would have liked additional oven spring, that may not be a reasonable expectation, given the load of the seeds and the scald.  Both loaves have a lovely ear.  The coloring of the grigne shows that the bread continued to expand throughout the bake.  I had noticed a lot of condensation of the steam on the surface of the loaves a couple of minutes into the bake, which helped keep the crust soft and allow good expansion.

Here's another picture of the baked loaves:

The crumb, when I cut some slices for toast this morning, has a range of bubble sizes:

None are especially large, but, when you look at the seed distribution, there really isn't much they could have grown without banging into a seed of some kind.  The crust was initially very hard.  After 24 hours in plastic, it has softened somewhat.  The crumb is very moist and cool, some of which I attribute to the oat meal scald.  The flavor is definitely tilted in the direction of the toasted seeds,with plenty of nutty and toasty notes.  I can't distinguish the oat meal or the rye flour as individual flavors, although I am certain that they are part of the background grainy flavors.  The crust contributes hints of caramel, as well.  Overall, it's a very good bread that I enjoyed toasted and expect to enjoy as the foundation for sandwiches.  My thanks to Chef Hamelman for creating a bread that is still good in spite of my unanticipated variation.


golgi70's picture

100% Wheat (using locally grown Hollis Hard Red Winter Wheat)

So one of the biggest things I've taken from the broad trip was that 100% wheat breads are much better as a smaller loaf.  I've made a few and we sell one at my current work that is scaled at a whopping 40oz and finished in a loaf pan.  It's good but every time I have it it's a bit overwhelming.  This could just be my preference as more than a few have claimed it their favorite loaf.  Regardless Dave Miller's Chico Nut was an awakening for me as the loaf is so pleasant to eat.  I've adapted some of what I liked from his loaf into the creation of my own 100% Wheat loaf.  

I formulated a recipe and went for it.  The results are out of the oven but not yet sliced so crumb shots will come a bit later.  I have high hopes that this will at least be a good starting point for my 100% Wheat.

Levain Build 1:  (this leaves extra to keep)

50 g      White Starter (100%)

100g     Stone Ground Hard Red Wheat

100 g    H20



this took about 6 hours to ripen


Levain Build 2      76 Deg for 3-4 hours

320 Wheat Flour
10 Bran from sifting
150 Whole Wheat Starter (100%)
330 H20

660 Wheat
660 H20
20 Honey
21 Salt

Total Flour 1065 g (this includes the sifted bran put back in the levain)

Total H20   1065 (plus roughly 28 g used during stretch and folds)  1093 g  Plus 20% honey weight 1097 g roughly 

total Dough Hydartion:   103 %

total Dough Weight:       2171 g   

4 loaves at 540 g or 3 at 725 g 

I'll be playing with sizing until I find the magic number.   This time around i went with the small 540 g loaf.

I sifted the entire lot of flour and the removed bran was 1% of the original weight.  I added this to the levain and now know I need a finer sifter.  I was inteding to get some extraction so the extracted flour could gain strenth through autolyse and the extracted be added back in form of levain.  I followed suit anyway since it was already done. 

1)  Make first build and let rise 4-6 hours pending temps

2)  Make second build and autolyse final dough.  

3)  Add salt honey and levain to autolyse and squeeze through fingers until all is well distributed.  Rest 5 minutes

4)  slap and fold until dough is taught.  rest 5 minutes.  repeat 2 more times.  All were done with scaled water used for my hands.  I got a rough idea of added water from doing so. 

5)  Retard dough and give 2 s/f's at 45 minutes.  Then rest for 12 hours.

6)  Pull from retarder and let rest 30 minutes.  Divide and pre-shape using oiled hands.  

7)  Shape:  I shaped two loaves into bannetons, tops down.  I shaped the other two onto a flour couche tops down. 

8)  Bake at 500 with steam for 9 minutes.  Lower to 460 and continue for about 20 minutes rotating as needed. 

The dough is certainly well hydrated but not so difficult to work with.  I wish I had made a larger batch to work with and I will certainly do so but gentle shaping using little flour and letting the dough adhere to itself seemed to work the best.  


I also scored one of each type of shape.  Had a little sticking on one loaf on the way in but all worked out in the end. 

Crumb shot sometime later today.  


These two were proofed in bowls.  The two at the header of post were done on floured couche.  All in all it looks like they held better shape in the bowls.  


Unscored on the left and scored on the right.  Looks like I got a better shape on the loaf to the right more so than the scoring helping it open.  Future tests will be the true judge.

Anyway this bread is simply amazing.  Sour and salty and wheaty and just enough honey to balance but not taste like honey.  Very pleased and will simply play with loaf scaling and shaping.  



phoebe's picture

Bread taste bitter

HI all, 

i have tried to bake ciabatta many times. the apperance and the texture look good, however, the taste is awful. there was bitter after taste. Could anyone help me to solve this problem.


thank you in advance 


isand66's picture

Parmesan Scallion Rolls

I just returned from my latest trip to China for work and was itching to have some decent bread to eat.  China is not known for their bread so I was starting to suffer bread withdrawal.

My starter is in serious need of some tender loving care after sleeping in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks so I had no choice but to make a yeasted dough.

I used a good portion of First Clear flour along with durum, white whole wheat (to get a little healthy grains in there), bread flour and some potato flour.

I used some dried scallions, fresh grated parmesan cheese, olive oil and milk for the liquid.

The final rolls came out nice and tasty with a nice soft crumb.  These are perfect for sandwiches or burgers or just with a smear of cream cheese.




Mix flours with yeast to combine.  Next add remainder of the ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute and then for 5 minutes at speed number 2.  Note:  make sure to leave about 50 grams of milk aside and add only if necessary.  The dough should form a ball and clean the side of the mixing bowl.

Take the dough out of your mixer and form it into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl or dough rising bucket.  Immediately place the dough in the refrigerator overnight for up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 1 hour.

Next gently deflate the dough and form into rolls and place on cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Cover with a moist towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour until the rolls have almost doubled in size and pass the poke test.

Around 30 minutes before ready to bake the rolls, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and prepare your oven for steam as well.  I use a heavy-duty pan in the bottom shelf of my oven and pour 1 cup of boiling water in right before placing the rolls in the oven.

Right before you are ready to bake the rolls prepare an egg wash, paint your rolls and add  your topping of choice.  I used poppy seeds and some more grated parmesan cheese.

Bake the rolls at 450 degrees for the first 5 minutes and lower the oven to 425 degrees until they are nice and brown.

These should take about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly.  When done  let them cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before digging in if you can wait that long.


Lively's picture

Reproducing Sara Lee Coffee Cake

For the past 2 years or so I've been trying to replicate the Sara Lee Coffee Cake - the pecan one... mmmm. They've changed the recipe since I was a kid so I'm replicating from memory. I'm very very close. 

The biggest challenge has been that the old version of Sara Lee was more characteristically bread than cake; the crust was bread like the crumb more cake like. I believe I have that part figured out, but there is a key flavor missing. It's the yeast. My crumb and crust are exactly as I want it, but I need a slightly more yeasty flavor and I am not talking about the mature flavor of well risen bread, but that young slightly under cooked bread kind of flavor. 

I'm using 2 tsp of standard yeast (not instant), I hesitate to use more since the texture is perfect... any suggestions?

Lively's picture


I was poking about the internet looking for an answer and found this site! I don't tend to do much bread in the summer months but finally there's a nip in the air and I was longing for that yeasty smell in my home... I've been baking bread for 20 or so years - my first attempt was a french loaf that was pretty piss poor. Neither my mother nor my father were into making bread although both were very good cooks. Personally, I love bread. 

My current quest is to reproduce the Sara Lee coffee cake. They've changed the recipe since my childhood and I miss it. I'm really close but I'm missing one key flavor - luckily I know what it is. I shall post my question in the "Cookie, Cakes and Pastries" section :)


aka Lively


margaretsmall's picture

How do the commercial bakers get that white fluffy bread?

I've been making bread for a couple of years, progressed from a bread maker to sourdough, etc. A few weeks my husband came home from the supermarket with a generic white sandwich loaf and proceeded to pass up my fresh baked rolls (Reinhart's straun,  since you asked) and made himself a sandwich with the white stuff. I was a bit miffed as you can imagine, then yesterday, having moved onto to Dan Lepards book, I made his sourdough white leaven bread, which I thought tasted fine. When asked, my dear man said it was OK, but he really preferred the commercial sandwich white bread, 'like you used to make'. Actually I can't remember making anything like that, but never mind. So, my question is, how do they do it? I've noticed my rolls weigh about double the weight of commercial rolls of the same size, yet their crumb isnt full of holes, the texture is quite  and even. I guess somehow they get lots more air into their crumb but how? For his sake, I'd like to lighten up my bread.  I guess this is probably a too general question, but my loaves are usually fairly dense, sometimes I can see that they haven't risen quite enough, and I'm working in that. I'm confident that my doughs are hydrated enough. So, any ideas?