The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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breadbakingbassplayer's picture

12/8/09 -Pizza

Marni's picture

How firm is a firm starter?

I'll start by admitting I feed my starter by feel.  So far it has worked well for me.  When I must, I weigh the feedings.  I plan to make the sourdough challah posted in the blogs (dmsnyder) and started firming up my starter last night.  I followed the advice of Susan (in San Diego) who kneads flour in 'til it is still kneadable, but quite stiff.  I put it in an oiled plastic bag for the night and woke up to this:

It is at least 3 times its original size. I thought firm starters shouldn't expand so much.  It was fun to find it like this though.  So, is it good to use like this?  It sank right away so I plan to feed it for use tomorrow.

Thanks for any advice.


fenchel2c's picture


I made my first batches of Brötchen ever and used King Arthur's European-style bread flour.  Altho I need much more practice forming the rolls, they were crispy and had a nice color on the outside.  However, the crumb was dense and chewy not like the soft and airy texture I remember.  I used the white flour Master Recipe from 'Artisan bread in five minutes a day' with one variation; adding 3 egg whites.  How can I get a softer and airier crumb?

diverpro94's picture

Sourdough Problem(s)!

So I made a sourdough starter a week ago. It looked done, because it was sour smelling, had bubbles, and had a hooche. I made a spounge with it by adding 1c water and 1c flour (I used ap). I let it sit for about 12 hours, but it would not make the dough rise, I let all of the rising and proofs sit for like 3 or 4 hours and NOTHING! I kept on with the recipe and it turned out as a extremely small loaf with an extremely small crumb almost like it was just cooked dough, but there were a FEW larger crumbs. What was wrong? Was it just that I didn't allow enough time for rises or was it my starter? I'm confused!!! How long does it normally take to rise sourdough? This was my first atempt ever at sourdoug, so my knowledge of sourdough is as small as the sourdough loaf I made.... :o(

SylviaH's picture

Sourdough Challah inspired by David dmsnyder's front page post

I love challah and have never tried Glezer's sourdough version.  I don't have her book.  I was so inspired by David's post I thought I would attempt it.  I added some golden raisins because I knew my husband would love them in the loaf so I added some to the 3 braided challah.  The round 4 strand loaf is plain but my favorite shape.  I only did a couple of things different.  I used the lesser amount of starter 200 gms.  I hand mixed everything and didn't use a rolling pin in the final shaping..I guess that comes from not ever wanting to use one on my pizza dough.  It took them nearly 6 hours to proof.  It's pouring cats and dogs here and pretty cool in my kitchen today.  I've been out most the day running some errands so the long proofing time worked out perfect.

Here's what I got and I will post a crumb shot a little later when they are cooled.

I also posted J. Hamelman's Country Bread..I think it has a wonderful flavor..maybe it's all that pre-ferment..but it's delicious! 

The Crumb and tasting!  This is a very, very delicious Challah.  The addition of the golden raisins complimented and added to the complex flavor of this bread that my husband and I both love..that little burst in your mouth really is great.

to add the raisins with my hands I shaped the dough into a round flat circle and laid them on top and then rolled the dough up firmly and then rolled and lengthened it into the rope.  When I do this it keeps my raisins from going on the outside of the loaf and burning. 


Jefferey Hamelman's Country Bread   I will definately make this bread again...and with a little more patience..the flavor is very nice!






cranbo's picture

Bittman/Lahey No-Knead Bread hydration

So I've made no-knead bread before and was a bit disappointed. But recently I got reinspired to try the Bittman/Lahey version as published in the NYT:

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 5/8 cups water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mark Bittman was on "Good Food" on KCRW with Evan Kleiman a couple of weeks ago, talking about this recipe. What's interesting was that in his interview notes, he mentions the weights to use. However, someone please tell me how 1-5/8 cups water weighs 345g! :)

I measured these ingredients, and here's the comparison:

Flour: 428g (me), 430g (Bittman) (3 cups)
Water: 385g (me), 345g (Bitt.) (1-5/8 cups)
Table Salt: 8g (me), 8g (Bitt.) (1-1/4 tsp)
Instant Yeast: 1g (me), 1g (Bitt.) (1/4 tsp)

What's interesting about this, is that the water listed is close to 89% hydration! As a result, the dough is extremely wet and goopy, almost like a batter! Here are baker's percentages (using a nice dough calculator); I'm using ADY instead of IDY:

Flour (100%):     430.37 g  |  15.18 oz | 0.95 lbs
Water (89%):     383.03 g  |  13.51 oz | 0.84 lbs
ADY (.2%):     0.86 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.23 tsp | 0.08 tbsp
Salt (1.8%):     7.75 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
Total (191%):    822 g | 28.99 oz | 1.81 lbs | TF = N/A

My questions are:

  1. 89% hydration can't be right, can it? Did I do something wrong here?

  2. How much water do you use when you make this recipe?



SallyBR's picture

Need advice on stencil....

I know lots of people here do amazing job adding design to breads, making a stencil and sprinkling flour on it.

I tried to do this for the first time, and well.... there is room for improvement


I post a photo here of my final product, and if anyone is interested, a full blog report can be found here


what have I done wrong?   SHould I brush off the flour after baking?  ALmost nothing stuck to the bread once I did that.  Did I add too much flour? Too late in the baking?  Wrong flour? (I added rice flour)

I realize my stencil was too big for the size of the bread, but even if I correct that, I think my technique might have problems too




CaptainBatard's picture

Cranberry Walnut Bread

I wanted to make this Cranberry Walnut Bread for Thanksgiving but the timing did not allow me to do so. This is basically the same bread as seen at Bread cetera  and a slightly different version at WildYeast. The bread went together with out any real hitches. I did deviate from my usual methods...I mixed the bread by hand using the French fold method seen at Steve's site and here. It worked very nicely until I added the walnuts and presoaked cranberries. The dough got very sticky from the extra moisture on berries even though I did blot them dry. It was just a temporary setback...the dough absorbed it in a short time. I shaped the loaves and tried the fendu method for the first time and was very impressed how much they opened compared to the slashed one. The bread had a nice crumb and taste.



murphalert's picture


So, I love Saltine crackers, who doesn't? Is there any way to make them at home. It seems like a fairly simple combo of flour, water and salt, but i'm sure it's not as easy as it seems. Does anyone know of any recipes?

colmin's picture

Cleaning Grinder Millstones

I just got a used Marathon Uni-Mill grinder, and when I took it apart to clean it thoroughly, I found old, hard layers of dust caking the stones. How do I get these clean? Do I have to send them somewhere to have them dressed (is that the term?)? Thanks!