The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mwilson's picture

Pandoro, light, rich and buttery

My first effort making Pandoro was a huge success!

see more on my new blog...

I will include my recipe as soon as I can.

jklarsen's picture

I want BIG holes in my bread.


I have been reading all of your wonderful posts on this site for quite a while, and you all seems like really good bakers.

I have only recently jump into the art of baking good breads myself, and though my ambitions are high, i am afraid that my skills still needs some training.

I have one simple question, and i realize that the answer might not be simple, i still want to ask it.


I am currently set on making breads like the Rustic light Rye loaf and Tartine style breads. One thing they have in common apart from being very delicious is the big air holes. Now here comes the question.

What is it that makes these big wonderful holes? - because i have made 60% hydration breads, and 80% hydration 100% wheat breads with yeast and or sour dough, and although my breads have been great, they have only had semi-big holes, and i want the big holes ;-)

Can any of you help me in my quest?

Kind regards,
Jan H.


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Sourdough Pioneer Bread

Last month, I posted about my work on developing a formula for the Pioneer Bread recipe from the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Being quite pleased with my effort, I said that I'd get to work on a sourdough version of the same bread. After some work with my ADY yeast formula this past weekend, I baked that loaf and feel pretty good about it as well. I do concede that the slashing needs some work but I like the flavor, so does Mrs PG.

It turned out to be relatively stress free in that the most work was the flagrant calculator abuse to figure out my starter quantities. I have yet to master using a spread sheet.

I've indulged myself by posting some chatter about the loaf at my blog

I think the formula is fairly solid at this time and it may be one of my entries in the Leavenworth County Fair. Before I lock into that, I want to try using butter in place of the sunflower oil in the recipe. I have the most current version of the recipe in a seperate document that I can forward in either an .odf for Open Office users or a .pdf attachment for everyone that is interested in a copy. Just leave a message for me here at TFL and I'll send it along. Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

dablues's picture

Freh Vegetables, Blanch & Freeze?

My neighbor gave my husband fresh okra, fresh green beans, fresh, jalapeno peppers, fresh tomatoes, and fresh red peas.  There are only 2 of us in the family and I have never dealt with how to handle fresh vegetables.  What do you do with the peas after shucking them and you want to freeze them?  Do I blanche the vegetables first and then freeze?  Tomatoes will be eaten right away.  No problem there.  Hot peppers I normally don't buy them until I need them for a recipe and I don't want them to go to waste so wonder if they can be frozen.  Okra, never ate it and don't know what to do.  Fresh string beans,  blanch & freeze.  If someone could either let me know if blanching & then freezing is the right way.  I would hate to waste any of these fresh vegetables.  Thanks!

maxwellion's picture

The Sourdough for the Working Parent

OK, so I don't have kids (yet), but at the moment I'm pretty much treating my 3-week old starter like it was my own flesh and blood (I need a dog!).

Can anyone recommend a recipe suited for busy schedules? I'd hate to keep my baking to the weekends only, and I have a lovely starter that I'm itching to use all the time. I'm at work for 8 hours of the day,  so anything I can leave for a long time, and that doesn't require much dough nursing would be great. It would also be a perfect opportunity to ditch the not very successful recipe i'm using at the moment.

NB: I'm using a white 50/50 starter with 100% hydration if that helps.

Thanks for your help


CSBaker's picture

oat flour tortillas?

So. last time I was at Whole Foods I  bought a bunch of oat flour, thinking in my    Newbie brain, that I would make some oat bread.  Turns out, oat bread is made with oats (learn something new every day).  Anyway, now I am looking for something to do with all of this oat flour, so I was thinking tortillas.  I usually make my own tortillas with half AP and half bread flour, and I like those results.  Any idea what would happen with oat flour? 

wassisname's picture

A Very Different Result

     I've been hung up on this line from Tartine Bread regarding the Country Rye ever since I read it:  "Use a medium-fine grind of whole-rye flour as opposed to a course pumpernickel rye, which will yield a very different result."  And that's it, end of paragraph, end of story.  He just leaves that hanging there like I'm not going to wonder day after day just what sort of "very different result" it would yield.  Yeah... no, that won't do at all.
     It just so happens that I have a large amount of stoneground whole rye in my freezer.  I don't know where it falls on the official grind-o-meter, but judging by the big flecks of bran and the fact that it is described as "Graham" rye I'm thinking it's a ways away from medium-fine.
     I re-worked the formula a bit.  I increased the rye and all of it went into the starter.  My ww starter doesn't always react well to sudden white flour feedings, and since the numbers worked out nicely as well... why not.  I stayed pretty true to the process in the book so I won't post that here, but I will say that, since I don't own a Dutch oven of any kind, I baked on a stone and steamed according to the wet towel method described in the baguette section of the book.  This has become my steaming method of choice - simple, safe and effective.

The numbers:

The result - Yum.  A little over-proofed maybe (I cut the timing too close with the bread that went into the oven before this one) but still got a nice spring in the oven.  The crust shattered and flew when I put a knife to it.  The crumb was very light and moist with just enough sourdough spring.  The flavor was very well balanced.  Caveat: I've never baked a light rye like this so I don't really have much basis for comparison, but I could eat this all day long.

So, was it a very different result?  I don't think I care so much anymore, I'm too busy devouring this bread!
This one I will be baking again.



tarade's picture

Help with Ingredient Adjustments PLEASE!

Hello All,

I've done *very* basic recipes, but got feeling ambitious this weekend and wanted to re-create a sandwich from Panera Bread, their Turkey Bacon Bravo sandwich.  It is made with a tomato basil bread with a slight sugar/honey glaze on the crust, turkey, gouda, bacon, and a thousand island-like dressing.

I found a recipe online for the tomato basil bread but when I made it, it came out like a dense brick.  It still tasted alright and the house smelled wonderful, but not something I could make a sandwich on.  I've tried it 2x already, hoping a little tweaking will get it right but so far, no dice.  It doesn't rise a lot so I think I need to adjust the amount of yeast in the dough, but not sure how much or what else I need to I'm hoping a knowledgeable bread enthusiast will be able to help me get it right the third time.

My goal is a soft but durable sandwich bread with a chewy if not slightly crunchy (and not overly browned) crust.  I only have the option of either a glass standard 9x5 loaf pan or metal one, and a aluminum cookie sheet - which is the best for my needs?  I know if I want "sandwich" bread I should probably get one of those covered pans but I just don't have anywhere in my area that sells them so I can't get one right now.

As for the recipe:

  • 2 1/4 t. yeast
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1/2 c. warm milk
  • 1/4 c. minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder 
  • 1/3 c. minced sundried tomatoes
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 c. flour (1 c. all purpose, 1.25-1.5 c. unbleached white whole wheat) 

After mixing/kneading, I let it rise about an hour in the bowl, knead again a little, put in a greased bread pan and let rise another hour before popping in the over and cooking at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temp of at least 190 degrees.  It also has some sugary glaze on it but I'll worry about getting the bread right first before tackling the glaze.

Any pointers you could offer would greatly be appreciated, thank you so much!!!Tara


Athanasius's picture

What purpose does kneading/mixing serve?

First post from a long-time lurker -- apologies for the length.  I'm a regular baker, and I've baked some bread most weeks for the past decade or so.  I also dabble and experiment a lot.

Recently I've started wondering about why we actually knead/mix beyond just combining ingredients.  A friend who was asking me about the value of folding got me onto this question -- I started researching folding and ended up wondering what kneading/mixing actually does that can't be done as well (or better) by additional folding where necessary.  I'm not talking necessarily about the "no-knead" methods that have been in vogue for the past few years, which generally depend on a very long fermentation to develop gluten, though perhaps they also bear on this question.  I assume that for "standard" method breads, the initial knead/mix must be in part replaced by additional folding and perhaps modifications during shaping.

When I first started baking, I generally used the oft-touted "windowpane test" to know when I'd achieved adequate mixing/kneading.  A few years back I read things which have shown me that that isn't necessarily the best criteria.  Hamelman is one source that gives some detail:

Appropriate development does not necessarily mean full gluten development....  If our only goal is dough volume, a lot of yeast and maximum gluten development in the mixer is the method of choice.  Maximum volume is one thing, however, and maximum flavor another, and a mixing technique that favors utmost volume will also compromise flavor. [p. 8, emphasis in original]

Hamelman goes on to point out that mixing incorporates oxygen, which is important for gluten development, but he points out that too much oxygen ruins flavor by destroying carotenoids.  Elsewhere, he also notes that the oxygen incorporated during mixing is consumed within minutes by the yeast (p. 13); I'm not sure whether that has any impact on the ongoing gluten development, though.

He then contrasts heavy mixing with very light mixing, describing the latter thus:

[I]magine that the dough is mixed very slowly, on low speed only.... Gluten development is at a minimum, as is the oxidation of the dough.  Bulk fermentation lasts for many hours, punctuated by a number of folds, and the dough slowly reaches maturity. The carotenoids are not oxidized out of the dough, and the bread flavor is superb.  Loaf volume, however, is comparatively small, because of the relative lack of physical dough development. [pp. 8-9]

In the end, Hamelman argues for a middle course, which develops dough strength but doesn't destroy flavor.  Most books seem to agree, and many even say that, short of overmixing in a professional mixer, you're unlikely to overdevelop the dough in an initial mix.  But in the description I've quoted here, it seems that the effects of little kneading are mixed (pardon the pun) -- the dough requires more tending (folding, and a longer fermentation), but the flavor is greater.

Yet I wonder about his conclusion that the loaf volume is necessarily "comparatively small."  In my experience (which is not that of a professional baker), it seems that proper shaping and added folding (if necessary) contribute a lot more to final loaf volume than extensive mixing or a long initial knead.

In fact, I've taken to running experiments in the past few months, making a lot of familiar recipes, but skipping the mixing/kneading beyond getting the ingredients moist and well-mixed.  I add in a couple extra folds during bulk fermentation as necessary to achieve the kind of dough strength I want.

And, in the end, I don't feel like loaf volume is smaller.  If anything, it seems to be slightly larger than I've generally had.  I haven't gotten around to side-by-side comparisons yet, though in any case, if some of my loaf volumes are smaller, the difference is not very significant.  I haven't noticed a difference in flavor, though it certainly isn't worse. 

But it seems to me that the only real trade-off is maintenance.  In the traditional baking routine with up-front mixing and kneading, I spend 5-10 minutes doing serious initial mixing.  In the "no-knead" (or perhaps "minimal knead") case, I'm forced to tend to the dough for a couple minutes for every 45 minutes or even more often during bulk fermentation.  While that additional maintenance can be bothersome, I'm generally already tied down for one or two folds anyway, and if I do an autolyze, that extends my initial time commitment as well.

So, in sum, I guess I have two questions:

(1) Is there something I'm missing here?  Is there a major advantage to enhanced initial mixing, either something you've read about theoretically or something you've observed in your own baking?

(2) If the advantages aren't that significant, why is the standard method found in the vast majority of books so focused on a long initial knead/mix?

rossnroller's picture

Wanted: a great recipe for a classic American Apple Pie!

Pls excuse this excursion from breads, pizzas and thangs generally yeasty. Still on the baking page, though - so not the worst of transgressions, I trust.

After the great response to my request for an authentic Jewish New York deli rye, I'm thinking there is no better place to put out a call for a GREAT classic American apple pie recipe (with home-made pastry, of course). Sooo...anyone? I promise to toast you with a slice piled high with whipped cream and icecream (well, that's how I like to have it...but open to correction from the culture of origin, although I should declare I can't promise to mend my evil ways in this respect).

Best of baking!