The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Britvic55's picture

Damp doughy crumb

          I’ve been trying my hand at bread making recently and considered the no knead method that was demonstrated in the New York times (and on countless YouTube videos) to be the sort of bread I was looking for, an artisan crispy crust with open crumb texture. Easy I thought....


            The problem I seem to be encountering is the bread seems doughy,damp almost crumpet like in texture, even though the crisp crust exists.

I have tried cast iron pots and Pyrex dishes, higher temps, lower temps and longer bake times but seem to get the same result whatever.


I follow the basic, now classic recipe every time, 3 cups strong flour, ¼ teaspoon instant yeast, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 ½ cups of water and I have even weighed out the flour to ensure accuracy but still spongy doughy inside.


I am beginning to wonder if it’s the yeast, I notice that the dough has risen really well after 12 hours but is somewhat deflated by 20% or so after 18 hours and doesn’t seem to second rise very well.

Could I be using the wrong yeast...?

It seems impossible to find ‘instant yeast’ in the UK, there’s ‘easy bake’ and ‘quick acting’ and so forth but not any of the US stuff that seems to be mentioned on the US recipes that produce this perfectly baked bread.


At the moment I’m using Allinson easy bake yeast which is not hydrated in warm water, the tiny granules are just put into the dry mix.

I follow the recipe religiously and have even brought home calibrated temperature probes from work to ensure my oven temp and the temp within the Dutch oven, i.e. Pyrex dish or cast iron casserole pot are correct (235 degrees c) the dough is proven on the kitchen work top in a covered dish and the ambient temp is around 18 – 20 degrees c as a rule.


I can’t really let a loaf of bread beat me and I’m not the sort of person who gives up very often but I’m running out of variables here so any help or advice anyone can give me would be very much appreciated.

nbicomputers's picture

Coming out of retirement

With Christmas and Thanksgiving right around the corner I thought I would start this blog to let everybody on this site know what an old retired Baker with over 25 years experience in the baking industry does for the holidays.  Well this year I'm going to do pretty much the same thing that I do every year which is come out of retirement.  Even though there are only three people in the house my wife my son and myself my home turns into a small commercial bakery.  I literally produce enough products to feed my entire apartment building.  Being that you can only produce so much product in a home kitchen at one time a production schedule is required and must be kept to.  This is where my experience in professional bakery comes in handy.

While much of the actual baking does not start until the middle of November many things can be prepared in advance and frozen for extended periods of time such as puff pastry pie crust and Danish pastry.  The first step is in obtaining the raw materials. I have planned my  trip to bakery supply house to purchase: 50 pound bags of different flous, fresh yeast, macaroon paste and several other ingredients not available in regular supermarkets.  My shopping list is as follows
one bag king Arthur special patent flour,
one bag all trumps high gluten flour,
one bag pure as snow cake flour,
one to pound block fresh yeast,
one 50 pound cube BBS, [Baker's special shortening],
one cube HiMo Shortening (a special high water and sugar holding shortening that will emulsify rather than curdle)
one 11 pound bar choc coating
and 1 quart egg shade. 
Some of the materials such as macaroon coconut that I need in very small quantities will be ordered by mail order even though it means I need to pay a lot for these few items I just don't have the room to store a 50 pound bag of coconut.  When all is said and done by Christmas Eve I will have produced between 40 and 50 pounds of assorted cookies along with cakes and pastries and Breads.

As I began preparations in my little home bakery I will update this so all that are interested can follow along with the calendar what is made and when


Nov 13 tomorow is starting day

puff pastry dough and pie crust for the frezer and if i have time maybe il do the cheese filling.

scottfsmith's picture

Pain Ancienne WW version?

Hi I have been baking bread for many years but only recently decided to try to bake artisianal breads.  I also decided I wanted to stick with WW flour, or at least no white flour, since I am already eating too much of that.  My first goal is to make a simple WW "baguette" in the pain ancienne style.  Here is more or less my current recipe:



400g flour 100%

340g water 85%

8 g salt 2%

<1/8 tsp yeast



You will see I am also trying to keep it simple.. get the simple version right first I figure.  I am using no starters bigas etc - just instant yeast.  The low amount of yeast and the high hydration are techniques I have gotten enamored with in my pizza dough making, along with a very long room-temperature fermentation.  


The recipe itself is pretty simple (and partly inspired by JMonkeys recipes here): mix all together in the early evening and leave out.  When it has risen do a stretch-and-fold.  If still awake when risen again do another.  Next morning early do another s&f, rise, and one last s&f.  After the final rise I gently dropped it on to parchment and gently stretched into a crude loaf shape with wet hands.   Immediately baked the loaf at 450F (no proofing following pain ancienne) and steamed the oven following pain ancienne again.  The final products have been nice, with a crumb that is quite airy, similar to a baguette.  I like the taste a lot.  However, they are too flat and wide.  I was planning on working on slightly less hydration and/or using a lot of bench flour when the final loaf is shaped to help hold it a bit perhaps (this also follows the pain ancienne recipe in Reinhart).  The loaves initially have a very nice crisp crust, but it quickly softens.  I am wondering if the high hydration is also keeping the final loaf on the moist side. Your thoughts appreciated.  I would particularly like to know if there was some recipe for a WW pain ancienne style baguette out there which I could draw from.  I have Reinharts WW book and did not find anything in there.





JMonkey's picture

Poolish baguettes and a flying sourdough round

It's been a while since I posted, mainly due to ramped up work and family obligations, but I've not stopped baking. And, despite the fact that both of these breads are white, the vast majority of my baking is still 100% whole grain.

But, dangit, white bread -- I just can't quit ya.

I was particularly pleased with the poolish demi-baguettes that I made for dinner last night. I had my first acorn squash of the season, and had made a soup with it. For some reason, poolish baguettes seemed just the right accompaniment.

These are, without a doubt, the best looking baguettes I've ever made. Took a lot of less-than-perfect loaves, but I think I now understand how to shape these buggers so they don't look like a string bean with big bulbous ends, how to time them so they still have some room to spring in the oven, and how to slash them so they look like ... well ... a baguette.

The insides were lovely.

Today, they were starting to get stale, so I cut the leftover baguette in half and broiled it with some mozzarella, which we ate with a chopped up tomato from the garden. These were about 12 oz each, with 33 percent of the flour in the pre-ferment and a hydration of 66%. I used about 1/16 tsp of yeast in the poolish (135g of water and flour, each) and then about 2g instant yeast in the final dough (270 flour, 135 water, 8g salt). The poolish ripened for about 12 hours, but it's pretty cold in my house -- mid 60s at bestt.

Earlier in the week, I also made a white sourdough (20% of the flour in a thick starter at 60% hydration -- the starter was 100% whole wheat, and the overall hydration was about 75%) which I let retard overnight outside. It was lovely, but the top seemed as if it wanted to peel away. Was probably a little underproofed.

Again, I was pleased with the crumb.

Hopefully, things have calmed down enough so that I can post a little more frequently. I've missed this community!

chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

Fanoos Ramadan"Ramadan Lantern"

Fanoos Ramadan or Ramadan's Lamp or lantern is one of the Egyptian traditions however it is known in many other Islamic countries now. The tradition started in the year 358 AH (Hijri) on the 15th of Ramadan when the Fatimi leader El Mo'ez Le Deen Allah enered Egypt, and the Egyptians recieved him with lamps and torches. And since then the Fanoos has been known as one of the main symbols of Ramadan and most of the people own it and light it in Ramadan, especially children. There has been also varios songs related to Ramadan talking about the Fanoos and the Mesaharaty - some one who wakes people up at night in order to eat before fasting. The tradition fanoos contained a candle in it, while today's ones have different shapes and using battries and LED's instead of candles

During the competition , that i told you about it, i tried to make " fanoos" from " la pate morte" or the dead dough,i really do not like the idea of decorative stuff using eatable ingredients, so i made a small one, i do not like to consume a lot of flour and oil , just to decorate non eatable and decorative dish because some people die from hunger, anyway, here you are the pics of my fanoos,

In this picture, i put a real candle, the necklace also from the pate morte" actually it is not a necklace", muslims use it in praying and mention allah"I saw it also in the hands of christian nans, they use  it too, i saw it when i was in my christian nans school " la mere de dieu".

but i do not know its name in english " what a shame!!!"

I use my fanoos to decorate our dinning  room table during the whole month.

Anyway did you like my fanoos???

kconvey's picture

Cinnamon bun recipe

Hi all, I am new here, and I hoping that someone will have the recipe I am looking for.  I used to work at a coffee shop while in college and we got these cinnamon buns in that we more like shortbread or shortcake dough, almost cookie like but cake like. They were dense and not as fluffy as a regular cinnamon bun.  They also didn't have any glaze od any kind.  Has anyone had something similar or made them?  Thanks for your help...

Marni's picture

What am I doing wrong?

So here's the thing, I'm no expert, but I can definitely bake a tasty loaf of bread. Most times, my bread comes out as I expect it to, or at least pretty darn close to it. I have always baked with *gasp* volume measurements, but since reading so much about how weight is better, I have tried following some formulas using weights. Without exception, they have failed. My recent attempt was not a total failure, but was not what I expected. I used the formula for Susan's loaf that David Snyder blogged about a few days ago. The bread hardly rose at all, had
practically no oven spring (I used a cloche), and is slightly rubbery and damp inside. The crust was not at all crisp by the time it cooled. The taste itself is quite good. Slightly tangy and sweet. Fragrant too.

I have to admit, I could not use those exact ingredients, so I substituted WWW for rye and added a gram or so of vital wheat gluten since I didn't have the high protein flour. That might be what caused the problem. Does anyone know?

Also would too few or too many french folds be a problem. The kids kept distracting me from keeping count. This was the first time I have used french folds ( I've been watching the videos posted on the site) and loved watching the dough develop. It's really a fun technique.

My last thought is that maybe I relied too much on weighing and didn't try to correct the dough at all. It was a pretty firm dough and usually
my sourdoughs are wetter and softer.

Thanks for any insights.


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chahira daoud's picture
chahira daoud

pumpkin yeast bread " recipe & preparation steps"

Hello everybody,

It was my first attempt to use pumpkin in baking ,i was totally amazed from the result, the bread was light , veeeery delicious, my kids could not wait even to fill its slice with any filling, so i will put the recipe and try it, you will not stop making it.

I got the recipe from a french book" i think that the original version was in english because the author is australian, i do not know exactly, her name is Ann wilson , the book name is " Pains et petits pains".

I love the book because 99% of the ingredients used are familiar in Egypt,except " Rye flour"< we do not have, can you send me some pleaaaaaaase, hahahaha,There is a pumpernickel recipe,and i can not do it ,do not you feel petty for me????

Anyway , i will show you the pumpkin kind that i used in the recipe,

That is the only kind we have in Egypt, and we use pumpkin rarely, that is a shame !!! we have very good pumpkin harvest.So i tried to use and create a lot of recipes " in which pumpkin is a main ingredient".O.K, i will start now, here is the recipe:-

7g. yeast" i used fresh yeast , about 1 tbls"

1/4 cup of pumpkin boiling water " in the recipe they boiled the pumpkin, i did not , i cooked it in the oven, i made it puree, and i left it in a strainer to get rid from its juice, and i used this juice to prepare the dough"

4-41/2 cups bread flour.

1 tspn salt

1 cup of pumpkin puree " about 300 g. raw pumpkin", it was different with me because this kind of pumpkin is veeery juicy, i got a lot of liquid from it"

1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin water.

1 beaten egg.

2 tspn water

pumpkin seeds for decoration.

instead of explaining i will let you with the pics, and feel free to ask about everythink , that you think it is not clear.

First the pumpkin from inside:


Here is my lovely yeast" i am in love with yeast"

I gave it to eat " some sugar " i made for her some massage , then i cover her to take a nap,she became now very good and happy,

I started to prepare the ingredients, then making the dough.

I kneaded it for 10 mn,it turned soft and smooth like a baby skin.

I put 2 drops of olive oil on it to prevent it from sticking . then i covered it with a clean towel " of course"

shshshshsh, i warned all my family members, not to disturb my baby" i am fool , am not i???"

it is ready now , let us start the game,i re knead it for 2 mn.

I took 1/4 the dough,

then the remaining dough, i made with it a ball, and i put it in a sponge cake pan after oiling it and

sprinkle it with flour" i used corn flour"

I glazed it with the beaten egg, then i decorated it with the rubbon.

I glazed it again, i let it to rise.

My oven was too busy this day, so i let it more than an hour" it became like a monster" oh!lalala!!! 


I forgot to tell you about the pumpkin seeds.

I baked it on 210c.

here it is:


I forgot to take a pic for it after removing it from the pan.

So on my second attempt, with another shape , i did, voila,

And the Crumb??????

I will let  to you the judgment!!!!!????

Sorry for taking too much time, but i think the details will be so helpfull for beginners.

Thank you , and for all the yeast & bread making fans, a big hug from me to you.

Chahira DAoud , Alexandria , Egypt.

P.S: wait for my " pate morte" lantern & our feast cookies & biscuits.

gmask1's picture

100% Sourdough Rye - my second success!

I figured that I'd make myself a blog rather than posting back into the forums all the time. No point cluttering up a perfectly good forum with my one-track-minded baking experiences! 

Last weekend I took another shot at the 100% Sourdough Rye recipe kindly passed on to me by a good work colleague. My previous attempt had been a fair to middling success, and I was confident that this would turn out even better than the first. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the loaves turned out, given my total inexperience in making bread. 

Here's how they turned out: 


and the interior:


What I'm most happy about is that the resulting loaves - apart from tasting great - have my mind working to figure out ways to improve them. The scoring didn't take, so I'll need to think about different ways to work the scoring out. Plus the surface tension is probably not right, so I'll need to work on my folding.

Lastly - for my own benefit as much as anyone else's - this is the recipe I've been using successfully (all credit to OliverN from my work. I've made a couple of small annotations over time). Any suggestions or variations are absolutely appreciated!

Stage 1:

Mix together

4 x cups rye flour.

3 x cups luke warm water

2 x cups starter.

Leave for 16-24 hrs, until the mix has a domed top.


Stage 2

Mix into previous mixture

3 teaspoons sea salt

4 x cups rye flour.

Leave for 12 hours.


Split mixture into two bread pans and leave for a couple of hours (I never do that though). For rye flour you do not need to kneed it. I just flatten the mixture and roll into a log.

Bake in 180 preheated oven for an hour. 

sharsilber's picture

Diastatic Malt Powder

I have been baking challah bread for about a year and am planning to make about 30 next weekend.  In order to bake a few a day ahead I have been looking into some natural products that extend the bread's shelf life.  Has anyone used dastatic malt powder in their yeast breads?  Does it really help keep it fresher longer?

I would love some input.