The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Julianm's picture

Marketplace for Prepared Foods (Invitation to our beta website)


We've recently launched a free marketplace called Book of Cooks (currently on Beta) to help consumers find and hire local culinary professionals and foodies for cooking gigs, full-time and part-time jobs. 

I'd like to extend an invitation to all bakers and food artisans on The Fresh Loaf to get listed on the book and help us grow it. To explain what it is in a few BookofCooks you can set up an online bakery or "storefront" to sell your cakes, bread, pastries with and link to your photos and recipes here at The Fresh Loaf :=) , your webpage or blog.  

Consumers on the other hand can search BookOfCooks by city for whatever meal or baked goods they're craving, or they can browse the site's online Google maps and archives for links to local cooks/bakers, including ratings and reviews. When they find one that sounds good, they can place an order with the cook for pickup, delivery or even in-home preparation. 

The site is advertising and sponsor supported - we don't charge commissions. Here are some recent press articles and mentions  further explaining how it works.

Please note that the website is in beta--we will greatly appreciate any feedback that helps us improve and make it more useful. Tell us what you like, what you hate, it'll all be super valuable to us as we prepare for our next site release in the fall. 

Finally feel free to visit our blog, our Facebook page, watch our video tour or email me directly: info [at] 

I look forward to hearing from you.



chouette22's picture

Peter Reinhart’s Multigrain Struan & more desserts

Struan is the bread that truly launched his bread baking career, Reinhart says (p. 102). In Gaelic, struan means “the convergence or confluence of streams,” a good description for multigrain breads where all kinds of grains and seeds are coming together (the combinations are, of course, endless).

Because I love breads full of grains and seeds, I have bought Peter Reinhart’s book “Whole Grain Breads.” Most of the recipes in there consist of three parts: a soaker (part of the flour, the seeds and grains and part of the salt are soaked in water or often in milk, buttermilk or yoghurt for 12-24 hours), a biga (to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to three days) and the final dough.

The flour for this multigrain Struan is whole wheat (67%) and to it I added in about equal parts: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, and millet (seeds and grains 33%). Reinhart says that he prefers to cook the millet, but it can also be added to the soaker uncooked. I prefer it that way since it gives a beautiful crunch to the bread that we like very much.

I made a school lunch with this bread for my 15 year-old son and thought he’d tell me upon his return to never use such a seedy bread again. To my big surprise he announced that this was the best sandwich ever.

For guests I made one of my favorite desserts. It’s a Swiss recipe called “Quarktorte” which in English gets translated as cheese cake. Most cheese cakes in the US are made with cream cheese as you all know, in Switzerland however we use a product called “Quark” which is a type of fresh cheese, much lighter than cream cheese (kind of like a firm yoghurt) and very tasty. It comes in plain form (which is needed for this dessert) or in many fruit styles. It is available in the US in some specialty stores, at about 10 times the Swiss price. To substitute I use sour cream light. I had to get used to the different taste, but it works very well. Only the base gets baked, the rest is a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, stiff egg whites, sour cream, whipped cream and gelatin. I always import my yearly supply of gelatin leaves from Europe whenever I go there, thus I have never had to get used to gelatin in powder form, the only one readily available here, as far as I know.

It’s an elegant, fresh dessert that has a somewhat airy texture and the appearance of being very light.

I also made this typical, very common and simple French summer dessert: a clafoutis with apricots and blueberries. It is a very easy and tasty way to use up fresh fruit. The most common version is with cherries.


And finally for brunch at our neighbors this past Sunday I baked these cinnamon rolls (I myself don't like cinnamon in sweets much, I prefer it in savory dishes). They came out very light and fluffy. I used a recipe from the King Arthur site and substituted the potato flakes (which I don't have) with a freshly cooked potato (before cooking it was around 120g) that I mashed finely with a little water. This ingredient, I read, makes cinnamon rolls very soft, and it's true, as several people commented on how fluffy and light they were. 



Nomadcruiser53's picture

Beer and Cheese, mmmm.

Well we went on holidays and I forgot to take my starter along so I had to live on bread machine bread while we were gone. My starter (Bob) survived the 3 weeks home in the fridge just fine. Today I finally had some free time and what I wanted most was Beer and Cheese SD. I used PR's basic SD recipe and replaced the water with beer and added the cheese after the 1st knead and rest.

I made 4 loaves. We just had to cut into them to go with supper, thus a perfect photo op.

This one is a lager and swiss SD. The swiss taste comes through nicely and my Starter seems nicely sour after his 3 week stint in the fridge.

This is an ale and spicy gouda. Wonderful SD flavors and the heat of the gouda is noticable, but not over powering.

wally's picture

More fun with fougasse - and a lesson learned

Last week I tried Hamelman's fougasse with olives recipe for the first time and had a very happy outcome.

However, in attempting to move the bread onto parchment after scoring it, I nearly had disasterous results, since the scoring leaves it without any 'backbone.' So I resolved to do a bake today avoiding last week's hassles by allowing the fougasse to rise on parchment paper.

Trouble is, I was too clever by half in my approach (as the results of my niçoise olive fougasse below attest).

Here's what happened, and, in retrospect, how to avoid my mistake.

The fougasse (a bread of Provence) goes through three shapings after its bulk fermentation:

1- it's lightly shaped into a ball and allowed to bench rest for about 20 min.

2- it's rolled into an oval shape with a rolling pin and then allowed a final rise for about 60 minutes, and

3- picking up the dough, you then stretch it out to about 1 1/2 times its orginal length, and then fashion it into a triangle whose base is about 1/2 of its length. After that, it's scored and loaded for the bake.

My misstep occured in step #2. I lightly floured parchment paper, and then rolled the boule into an oval and allowed it to rise for an hour. Unfortunately, after an hour resting on the parchment, it effectively glued itself to the paper, which made step #3 impossible. In attempting to scrape it off onto a floured countertop, I severely degassed the dough. Ergo the very, very overbaked (shall we just say burnt) middle of the loaf.

With my second bake - a roasted garlic and anchovy loaf - I smartened up and in step #2, I rolled out the dough into an oval on a well-floured surface - not parchment paper. After the hour's rise, I was able to lift if off the countertop without degassing it, and then transferred it to the parchment paper, where I did the final shaping (#3).

You can see the quite different result below.

I get raves about the bread - it's a bit like pizza without the sauce. In fact, someone suggested that a marinara dipping sauce would be a good accompaniment.

I'm surely going to continue baking this. Hopefully, the lessons learned in this round will lead to trouble-free shaping next time!



boathook1's picture


Once I've made a starter how long should I keep it before trying to bake with it? Does it continue to get more sour with age? MY AIM IS TO BAKE A REALLY SOUR LOAF...

I could not be much newer at this... I'm seeking two things:

1. VERY SOUR tasting results.

2. The simplest recipes.

Could I be asking too much? Is there hope for me?! !... I'm willing to learn... My baking history consists of a cookie mix that came in a cardboard container from the freezer dept. of the local Piggly Wiggly [?]... Oh yeah.. I did a few potatoes once too but if I recall correctly I ended up burying them in my back yard.... {late at night too}... I guess it's also worth mentioning that in the divorce papers I was served, my kitchen antics were a key factor in chasing the little woman from my loving embrace... {Have you ever tried reading fine print when your glasses are all clouded with flour powder?... And you're up to your arm pits in dough that is heavier than you can lift?}... A nasty rumor has found it's way to me as well... According to a recent ruling by the courts I'm not allowed to bake within 500 feet of my former wife......

I remain, your humble and curious student..


bblearner's picture

Sourness of Bread

It seems that most sourdough bread bakers are aiming for breads with quite some sourness.  I'm the opposite.  Last Sunday I made two batches of breads following Mr Dimuzio's advice to a blogger here (can't locate the thread now) of a 4-build starter at 1.67 parts flour plus one of 1:1:1 ratio that I want to make pain de mie with.  The results :

Both breads were very sour, the sourest that I had ever made.  Since I followed the method of feeding the starter 3 times before making bread I was able to finish baking my breads within 6 hours from mixing.  The batard on the right was still within 6 hours but the pain de mie took 8 hours in its final proofing.  Both crumbs are very good, particularly the pain de mie - fluffy yet springy.  What should I do to continue to yield this texture without the super-sourness???


ClimbHi's picture

One fire -- Many foods

One of the things I'm having fun with is learning how to use the oven to bake a variety of foods. With a WFO, this is not as easy as it may seem. There's no temperature knob on a WFO, so you can't just turn the heat up and down like in the typical kitchen range. Instead, you have to plan your baking to take advantage of the heat that you have available. This means getting the oven to a high temperature to start, and cook various things as appropriate as the temperature naturally falls.

One trick I've been working on is to cheat a bit and keep a small fire going even after the oven has reached it's baking temp. (Usually, you rake the fire and coals out of the oven once it's heated.) This does two things: It allows me to hold the temp a bit higher a bit longer, and it lets me add smoke to the mix. Here's last weekend's foray into the world of wood-fired cooking. It was hot, we had invited some neighbors over for dinner to celebrate his birthday, and thought we'd do the whole meal in the oven outside so we didn't heat up the kitchen with cooking.

First, there have been several questions about how much smoke a WFO produces. Unfortunately, I thought of this after my fire was already going pretty well, so I didn't get a shot of the smokey first 10 minutes, but here's a shot of the fire so you can see it's going hot & heavy, and a shot of the chimney top. Notice, no visible smoke.

DSCN2760 by you.

DSCN2759 by you.

Once the oven is hot enough that the soot burns off the bricks, it's time for bread. This dinner party was kind of a last minute thing, and I didn't have time the night before for the typical sourdough preferment routine, so I elected to build some Pain à l'ancienne per PR's BBA. That only takes a few minutes to put together on day one, then it's directly into the fridge until the next day, when it only takes minimal work to complete. We decided to make it into a focaccia this time, with a topping of EVO, basil, rosemary, garlic salt. The bread went in with an oven wall temp of around 550° for about 20 minutes. Here's the finished product:

DSCN2763 by you.

Once the bread was out, the oven was still around 500° wall temps, so in went some fresh tomatoes and new red potatoes, cut up for later making into potato salad. I also tossed some oak chips/sticks onto the coals that I had kept in the oven to maks some smoke to flavor the veggies.

Wood-Roasted Potatoes:

DSCN2765 by you.

Wood-Roasted Plum Tomatoes:

DSCN2766 by you.

(These were added to some other veggies that we grilled later, but I didn't get pix of the final medly.)

Here's a shot of the WFO-roasted potato salad:

DSCN2769 by you.

The oven wall temp had now fallen to about 450°, so in went the desert - another peach/blueberry cobbler. I didn't get pix of this one, but I posted pix of one last week. You can see the very edge of the pan in this photo. You can also see how I maintain the coals during this process. I have a steel angle that I slide into the oven to make a box to hold the coals. I add small pieces of wood on top of the hot coals to maintain them and to generate smoke when desired.

DSCN2767 by you.

Once the cobbler was done, I left the door open for a bit until the oven wall temp fell to around 400°. Then I built the fire up just a bit and added a bit of additional wood, to get things really smoking. Then I loaded some dry-rubbed ribs, and sealed the door almost tight so the fire would continue to smoke without either heating the oven further or going completely out. Left them cook for about 4 hours in the falling oven. Fifteen minutes before dinner, I mopped them with some Jack Daniels BBQ sauce (I gotta learn how to make sauce that good!) and here's the final product -- fall off the bone, don't-care-how-messy-you-get-eatin'-'em good, ribs.

DSCN2768 by you.

Everything was very tasty, and we never went near the kitchen stove.

I'm gonna wind up fat as a house. ;-(

Pittsburgh, PA

Kroha's picture

sourdough starter questions


I started a rye sourdough starter today, as described in Hamelman's book, 450 g water and 450 g organic whole rye flour.  The consistency is a very thick paste -- is that OK?  My husband says I need to add water.

I am also pretty confused about maintaining it.  Again, I have read what Hamelman said about it, but it just does come together for me.  After I develop a mature culture, I plan on baking with it maybe once a week, sometimes maybe not even as often as I like to bake different types of breads.  How should I handle my starter?  Do I need to keep feeding it every day even if I won't use it?  Would I discard some every day as well?  How far in advance of baking does it need to come out of the fridge?  After I take it out, do I need to do anything to get it readsy to go?  I guess I am not understanding the science behimnd managing a starter -- is there an explanation someone could provide, or maybe direct me to a resource where I could read up on this.

Thank you in advance!



althetrainer's picture

Chunky garlic loaf

I returned from my 9-day vacation and couldn't wait to bake breads... what's wrong with me?  LOL  Anyway, nothing too exciting but I discovered chunky garlic bread and fell in love with in while I was away.  So I made one free form loaf and the sandwich loaf is onion sesame, both sourdough. 


wally's picture

Hamelman's Fougasse with Olives

Having battered myself attempting to conquer (well...make peace with?) baguettes - hampered by still developing scoring techniques and an old gas oven that simply won't retain steam - this morning I decided to treat myself to something less daunting.  I've been looking at some of the flatbread recipes in Hamelman's Bread, and his fougasse recipe caught my interest.  It's simple and has a pleasing scoring pattern (no gringes, thank you very much).

fougasse with olives

The bake turned out nicely, I think, and the reaction of my pub companions with whom I shared the loaf was positive.  It yielded a nice crust, and a chewy crumb infused with flavor from the olives and the olive oil.  This is a wonderful snack-type bread that will disappear quickly, as it should.  With its large area of crust, including that around the decorative slits, it's not meant to store but bake and eat soon as it's cooled sufficiently.

I diverted from his recipe just a tad - instead of a small pinch of yeast in the pâte fermentée, I substituted 15% of my 60% hydrated sourdough starter.  The only noticeable difference was a slight hint of sourness to the pâte fermentée the next morning which I enjoyed.

The one challenge was moving the fougasse to my parchment covered peel.  Once you score the risen dough (I used a pizza cutter which worked well), the cuts tend to spring open immediately.  This is nice.  However, attempting to lift the fougasse onto the peel was a nightmare, as the cuts made it impossible to lift the dough without it stretching in every direction.  At first I looked at what appeared to be a hopeless mass, but with some patient rearranging I was able to reconstitute its shape.  In the future, I will probably do the final shaping and slashing with the dough on the peel to avoid potential disaster and aggravation.

Otherwise, it's remarkably simple and the the finished product elicits a very high "oooohhhh" factor when shown off.