The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dyarza's picture

A whole lot of starter!

Hi everyone,

I am reading Nancy Silverton's Breads From The La Brea Bakery.  I am very intrigued by using a natural starter as opposed to yeast, and really believe when she writes about the benefits to the flavor and texture of the bread, but I can't get past the sheer amount of material that gets used, and specially wasted.

After some quick spreadsheet calculation, it would take 25.12 Lbs. of flour to get the starter going, and after that, to keep the starter fed three times a day it will take 32.2 Lbs. of flour a week.  Nevermind the cost, what bugs me the most is that so much is discarded.  Unless I am making 12 loaves a day, so much starter goes in the trash (I can only give my friends so much).

Right now I am baking just a bout every weekend, starting with making a poolish on Friday night, etc...

Is there a way to make a lot less starter and still have it perform well?  I get the feeling that Nancy's response would be no, it is the kind of thing you have to commit to.  Maybe I should just stick with yeast?

My father keeps a starter that is a lot less work and he bakes every three days or so, but the results are less than spectacular (don't tell him that).

Anyway, any insight anybody might have would be appreciated.



foolishpoolish's picture

Granary Cob


hullaf's picture

Using whey as liquid substitute

I've just tried a "30-minute mozzarella" recipe, and it turned out wonderful, but the book it came from said that the leftover whey can be used as a substitute liquid in bread making. Has anyone tried this? Book reads: "whey contains milk sugar, albuminous protein, and minerals." So, is the part that is called "albuminous protein" same as the serum protein in milk and thus has to be scalded (just below the boiling point = 190F) before it could be used? The whey in the mozzarella cheese making process only got to 105 degrees F. 


mcs's picture

Peasant loaf?

Hey there everybody,
So I'm courting some new business even though we're not quite open yet, and one of the prospectives is a wine and cheese/gourmet shop. The owner was describing something he desired for the shop in addition to some of the stuff I already offer. Anyway, I said, "Like a peasant loaf?" and he said, "Exactly." I asked him what ingredients he specifically was looking for and he said, "Kalamata olives, and possibly rosemary."
So, does anybody have a kick butt recipe for a loaf that has at least olives in it? Thanks.
For those interested, I'll be posting pix soon of the finished bakery!


MaryinHammondsport's picture

Sourdough Banana Bread

This recipe is a modified version of Floyd's !0 Minute Banana Bread recipe shown at the lower left on the home page. It incorporates most of the suggestions Foolish Poolish made just recently and a change or two of my own. I just happened to have some over-ripe bananas and some left-over starter this morning, so I though , "Why not?" It's delicious and so tender it almost slices itself!

Sourdough Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350° F

In a food processor, combine and pulse until broken up:

1/2 stick of room temperature butter (4 ounces/60 gr.)

2 eggs

2 -3 fully ripe bananas, broken into chunks


In a large mixing bowl combine and stir:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (214 gr.) (could be partly whole wheat, but not more than 1/2 cup)

1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (100 to 150 gr.)

3/4 teas. salt (4.5 gr.)

3/4 teas. baking soda (3.5 gr.)

1/4 teas. baking powder (3.5 gr.)

1/2 teas. cinnamon (1 gr.)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Also add up to a cup of sourdough starter. I used a scant cup of batter-consistancy starter, and it was just right. Thw weight here will vary -- some starters are heavier than others. It would be ok to use a liquid measure of 8 oz., more or less, here.

Stir all together very very well.

Optional ingredients to add at this point:

1/2 to 3/4 cups chopped walnuts, or

1 tablespoon poppy seeds, or

1 to 2 tablespoons flax seeds

I would not use more than one of these options.

Grease an 8 1/2" X 4 1/2" loaf pan or two smaller ones. Turn batter into pan(s).

Bake at 350° F on a middle rack. It should take 30 or so minutes if in two pans and about 40 in just one. Test by poking a toothpick into the center of the loaf; if it comes out clean, the bread is done.

Let sit in pan(s) for 5 minutes or so, then turn out onto a wire rack.

This is going to be my favorite use of left-over sourdough, I can tell that!

Sorry, no photos; I put it in two 8 1/2"X4 1/2" pans and the loaves are way too flat to be proud of, but they taste great.

Thanks to Foolish Poolish for getting me started on this modification and to Floyd for providing the basic recipe.








GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

Outdoor bread baking, gas grill and attempt #1

I tried my hand at baking bread on the grill this past weekend.  With summer upon us, and daily temps at 100 degrees, sometimes higher, it is necessary to forego the kitchen oven and hone my breadbaking skills in a 'cooler' environment. 

Since I normally do the grilling, I had an idea of my hotspots ahead of time.  I'd researched the web, and the many links of TFL to understand that this was a venture where I shouldn't expect perfection, but as with an bread baking, note that with due time I might surprise myself with the results. 

Remember my pizza stone that was unfit for the kitchen?  I'd thrown it out into the garden to use as a stepping stone.  Oh yes!  It's true.  I went for that gem, scoured it with a non-suds steel wool pad, doused it with organically compounded dish soap, washed it some more.  Returned it to the outdoors to air dry, retrieved it and slathered it with olive oil.  Placed this little gem outside to bake in the sun and returned a couple hours later.  Rubbed a paper towel over it and placed it on the center rack of the grill, over an old toaster oven rack.  (I wanted to build a bit more insulation around the stone and grill rack.) Shut the grill door and fired up all four burners to the low setting.  I allowed them to heat for 15 minutes, while back in the kitchen I was proceeding with last minute details for the first loaf:  egg white/cream wash, slashing and a covering of sesame seeds.  (Next time I will slash first, wash and then apply seeds...the wash made the surface a bit tricky to cut).

Back out to the grill, carrying the loaf (set upon a bit of parchment for easy slide to the stone), and my old stew pot I planned on using as a cover/cloche.  Open the grill, slid in the loaf, covered and went inside for a cooler 20 minutes.  Back at that time, removing the cloche item, I would find the loaf burnt on the bottom, but a lovely golden brown on the top.  (what to do, what to do....surely it can't be done in a mere 20 minutes?).  Carried the cover into the kitchen and with furrowed brow set about to panic.  Threw caution to the wind and went quickly to retrieve the loaf.  Picking it up I discovered how hollow it sounded, and the wonderful camelized smell.  I knew I was on to something.

Round two, or, loaf #2.  I turned two of the four burners off, leaving only those in the center on low, dusted the crispy-fried remnants of parchement off and allowed the oven to build even heat for about ten minutes.  Redux of earlier loaf final prep and I am back to the grill for a second attempt. Slid the loaf onto the heated stone, this time leaving the cover/cloche in the kitchen.  Returned the cover on the grill and went to time this prize for 15 minutes.  ... tic, tic, tic.....Lift the cover and note that the loaf is NOT burnt, but a beautiful golden color on the bottom, yet the top is far from being browned.  Quietly lower the lid on the grill and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.  Final result?  Not a golden browned loaf atop, but none-the-less an absolute in all other ways.  I had an open crumb unlike anything I've ever accomplished in all of my prior baking attempts.  With such success I had concluded that I'd never eaten better bread....I truly was a convert to this new way of baking.  Today I will be attempting trial #2.

The camera battery is recharging as I type. 

Joe L's picture
Joe L

Italian Lard Bread

Anyone have a recipe to make this bread that was made in some Italian Bakeries back in the 60's in Brooklyn.

I'll describe it from memory- Round loaf with hole in the middle. The bread was braided and included the following

ingredients: pork fat ?, pepper. I have not seen it in years, I believe a few bakeries in Brooklyn still make it.

Does not include ham or salami.


ehanner's picture

Jewish Rye re-visited

I had promised to bring 4 loaves of Jewish Rye to a 4th of July party this weekend so I dusted off my Favorite Rye recipe. I've been thinking about Norm the last few days and thought I remembered he had made some suggestions on Deli Style NY Rye. After digging around I found his suggestion for a max 40% rye sour component and a warmer oven than I usually use for this.

The bottom line is I made a last minute change and cut my sour to 40% of the dough flour weight and kicked up the temp to 410F. Usually I use about 60% sour. The finished loaves didn't blow up as much as usual so they look better. I still got a nice rise and good color and they smell great. I won't see the crumb for a few hours but everything looks good so far. I did have one loaf blow out in the center that I don't know how to deal with. I stopped slashing these since it didn't seem to help. I gave them a light wash of corn starch in the middle of baking and again at the end with a sprinkle of Kosher Salt as you can see.

One other change. Norm suggested using light rye which I did with these. Normally I use whole rye. The light rye seems more refined and the dough was smoother. Over all the changes I think make this a better bread. We'll have to wait for the corned beef to know for sure!

EricNY Rye-revisitedNY Jewish Rye-revisited

Mac's picture

How to maintain a starter that is in the refrigerator

Hello all:

New to sourdough so this, I'm sure, is a basic question.  I have a great starter and made two, really tasty, loafs of sdb.  I put the starter in the refrigerator but am unclear on how to maintain it while it's in the cooler and not being used.  The next question is when I'm ready to bake again what is the procedure to get the starter out of the refrigerator and ready for baking.

 A point in the right direction would be most appreciated.



fredsambo's picture

French Bread

Well I finally went ahead and signed up, I have been a reader for quite some time. I am a professional baker by trade, but love to mess around in my conventional kitchen as well. I needed some old dough for my next adventure, so I decided to make a nice straight yeasted bread. I also noticed that some of the bakers cover the loaves in the oven to simulate injected steam, so I decided to try it!


The formula for the dough is pretty simple and based on Joe Ortiz's Direct-Method Compagnon:


1/4 ounce active dry yeast


1 3/4 cups cold tap water


3 2/3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour


1 3/4 teaspoons salt


I mixed the yeast with a little bit of warm water and then poured the rest of the water into the wet mixture. After adding two cups of the flour, using my Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer, I mixed with the paddle on first speed for two minutes. Then added the salt and the rest of the flour, graduating to the hook. Then I mixed on first speed until the flour was somewhat incorporated, and then 12 - 15 minutes on 2nd speed. The doulgh was velvity and somewhat slack when it came off the mixer.

Next I cut three small pieces out and shaped them into little boules. I set all three boules in the fridge, in glass bowls, coverd with plastic wrap.


About four and a half hours later I grabbed two of the boules from the fridge (the other is my old dough for tomorrow), flattened and reshaped them, and then covered them with a cloth, on a floured board, for about 45 minutes to an hour.


I scored them and put them right on the stone in my oven at 450 degrees, covered by a large cooking pot. I prepped this "cover" by pouring hot water out of it right before I put it in the oven, being careful not to touch the boules with the cover. After 12 minutes I carefully removed the cover and then baked them for another 15-17 minutes.


So here is the result:




I am pretty happy with the look of the crust, the crumb is dense as I expected from such a short proof time. Overall it is dense and chewy but with zero taste: