The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BettyR's picture

Help With My Bread Please

I keep getting these holes in my bread.

The taste and the texture are really good but I keep getting these cavernous holes; can anyone tell me what I’m doing wrong?

staff of life's picture
staff of life


I just spoke with a woman today who had come back from Germany.  She said she had enjoyed Laugensbrot there, which to me, basically sounds like a pretzel in bread shape.  Anyone have any more info or a recipe?


dmsnyder's picture

Humidity versus Steam

All the "artisan baking" (I know the adjective is "artisinal," Mike!) books I have provide instructions for humidifying the oven to approximate the function of steam injectors in professional bread ovens. Some recommend using ice cubes. Some recommend hot water. Some recommend humidifying the oven before putting loaves in. Others humidify after loading the loaves.

 I think it is Maggie Glezer in her recipe for Dan Lepards Country French Bread who recommends putting ice cubes in a pan before loading to "humidify" the oven and putting hot water in a skillet after loading the oven to "steam" it.

 Can anyone comment on this procedure and clarify 1) the difference between humidifying the oven and steaming the oven, 2) the difference in the timing of adding water (in whichever form) on oven spring and crust formation?

And, has anyone tried the garden sprayer method Glezer recommends? If so, does it really yield a different result than throwing hot water into a hot skillet?



MissyErin's picture

BreadBakingDay #10 has been posted! Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate!

BreadBakingDay #10 is up - please join in!  For those of you that aren't aware of BreadBakingDay - its a monthly event where people from all over the world bake bread for a specific theme!  This month's theme is Breakfast Breads!  All you have to do is take a picture of it and submit it - all the details are at:

Zorra at started this fun blogging event for all of us to particapte in! 


foolishpoolish's picture

Sorry - More Bread Woes! (Does it never end?)

Once again, my sincerest apologies. Yes it does seem like every post I make seems to reveal another of my baking woes. Sadly, frustration has set in once again. The situation is serious enough that I am actually developing a new appreciation and taste for supermarket white sandwich bread since it's about the only thing in the house that is made from flour and yeast and edible.

Well, to get to the latest failure. Today, I tried a straight sourdough as a test for lower percentage inoculation before trying the pain de mie recipe that Pat (proth5) kindly posted recently.

50% White Bread Flour, 30% Wholewheat 'bread' flour, 20% Whole Rye
70% Hydration
2% Salt
13% starter (white starter at 100% hydration)
Proofing at a warmish 80 degrees.
Well and truly mixed and folded/kneaded to give excellent windowpane.

Predictably, I encountered the same problems that have become all too familiar these past few months. Namely:

*Loose dough which did not hold shape after being formed (puddled within 10 seconds of removing any support)
*Close crumb (cannot get large bubbles in that dough)
*Poor rising. I was shooting for about 5 hours rise time. Any more than this and I would have an overly sour end result (sour soup - it's happened umpteen times before)
*Could not slash dough. I've just bought a new serrated edge knife which should be fine for scoring. I've practiced and practiced and practiced but as yet, I've not managed a single decent slash on any loaf I've tried to make I've watched video after video, read tutorial/post after post...what am I doing wrong??!!

This is just the most recent in a whole run of failures which wouldn't bother me so much except that I'm just not learning from my mistakes. I've tried to absorb all the great advice and help here but nothing is working! Nothing! Any time I think I've got a handle on a situation and I try to make something that approaches tasty bread, I find myself back at square one. Irritatingly, none the wiser as to what went wrong. I think in the last 3 months I've had maybe 2 vaguely edible results (4 including pizza and pita bread) With the increasing prices in flour, this is fast turning into both a mental (and financial) black hole.

The weird thing is my starter is apparently really healthy. It's been doing extremely well (even more so than in previous months on account of the warmer weather) I just wish I could put it to good use! As I have mentioned in previous posts, the starter seems to have a '2 peak' behaviour which results in an initial rise (with fewer larger bubbles) peaking at 2 to 3 times the initial volume. This is accompanied by a sourish smell. The starter then subsides somewhat. The bubbles get smaller and increase in number accompanied by another rise (not as dramatic as the first) and a fruity, yeasty smell. I usually feed and harvest my starter at this point (typically 18 to 24 hours after feeding depending on how warm it is) As a desperate shot in the dark - am I perhaps leaving it too late to use my starter?


proth5's picture

Flour lab test results

The tests results are in! (It takes so little to make me happy.)


This particular batch of wheat was tempered for 48 hours with 20% of water added by weight of the grain.


It was then ground as follows


1 – Coarse pass sifted through #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

2 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

3 – Medium coarse pass sifted through a #20 sieve – contents of sieve removed from process.  This was about 20% of total weight

4 – Medium fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

5 – Fine pass sifted through a #30 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

6 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve retuned to mill

7 – Very fine pass sifted through a #50 sieve – contents of sieve returned to mill

8 – Very fine pass – results combined with the rest of the flour


This is a lot of passes and a lot of sifting and it take me about an hour and a half to do this for 2 pounds of wheat berries with my hand turned, steel buhr Diamant mill (brief tea breaks included.)  However, the multiple passes are actually easier to do than fewer more aggressive passes and the sifting steps decrease the amount of material that needs to be ground in each pass.  The resulting flour is fine and silky and bakes up pretty much the same every week.  I am milling hard white winter wheat.


The flour was stored for about a week before taking the samples.


I had a very small number of tests run – I still need to produce some bread each week, – so I selected those which seemed to be under my control.  Falling number seems to simply be high in these types of flour, and although I am adjusting ash when I extract material from the process, I haven’t been focusing on ash content (but that would have been my next test if I had enough flour.)


So the results are:


Moisture                      10.4%

Farinograph (14% MB)

            Peak (min)  7.00

            Tolerance (min)  9.00

            Absorption  68.6%

            M.T.I (BU)  25

Starch damage %   6.23


The moisture is low despite my addition of water in the tempering process.  This tells me a couple of things.  One, the Mile High City is dry.  Two, I need to get going on getting that moisture meter.


But the other numbers are within what is considered to be required for good bread making flour.  The starch damage is actually on the low side – probably reflecting my “many small passes” approach – but still will within range.  M.T. I. is also on the low end of the range and is not really troubling given how gently I mix my bread.


The bread has been bearing this out, but it is good to have the numbers.


So even with my low tech setup where I hand grind, hand sift, guesstimate moisture content and adjust grind by look and feel – a reasonable quantity of good quality flour can be produced on a regular basis.  My hands on process not only takes the place of a trip to the gym, but gives me some quality time to think about the stupendous journey of the grain or wheat as it goes from field to table.


Now if I can just find a lab willing to give me an analysis of the critters in my levain…


Happy Milling!

qahtan's picture

too much butter, but it worked

I milled some whole wheat berries today to make the same roll dough but with 25% whole wheat flour swapped for white.
Some how the dough was not quite right as I had to add a fair bit more white flour to get a dough that I was able to handle, hmmm strange????
Any way I now see that I added 8 ounces of melted butter instead of 4 ounces,,,,,,  This is the results, the finished loaves and the crumb, it tastes wonderful and the texture is great..... :-))) phew.

PaddyL's picture

I did it!

I made baguettes using a non-commercial yeast starter, just flour and water and those lovely wild yeasties.  Gorgeous crust, lovely soft insides, softer than I thought they'd be actually, but crusty baguettes nonetheless.  My first real sourdough bread.  Feels great!  Oh, and they're whole wheat.

Barbarainnc's picture

Newbie here- ISO : Meltaways

I’m interested in a recipe called Meltaways. It is neither the cookie or candy. I went on the net and found bakeries that make these. I emailed a bakery in Rhode Island, they use a Danish dough, roll it out like making cinnamon rolls, spread with a cream cheese smear, roll and cut. They are baked in muffin pans, and when they come out of the oven, while still in the muffin pan, they use a wooden paddle to flatten them a bit, dump them on trays, and when cool frost them with a sugar icing and nuts. Another bakery said they use a Sweet Yeast Dough to make their Meltaways. 

Another person emailed this to me:
The meltaways I used to make in the bakeries was made using Danish dough. Rolled out like for a cinnamon roll, smeared with either Cream Cheese filling or plain buttercream, then folded from the outside edge to the center from both sides. It was then folded on itself so it looked a little like a horse hoof. Rolls were cut about 1/2 to 3/4 of inch thick, placed onto pans, proofed and baked. I never did glaze them after the oven because they always seemed to break apart. You could spray them with simple syrup if you like. Once cooled they could iced using the string method (so they don't break) and serve.

Have you ever heard of them? If you can add anything else please let me know!!! I can make cinnamon rolls but would like to learn all I can about Meltaways.  :) :) :)

dmsnyder's picture

Janedo's "Basic Bread" take II

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

Janedo's basic bread - Crumb

This is the second time I have baked Janedo's Pain au Levain (Sourdough) recipe for what she calls her "basic bread." Since I cannot truly duplicate the flours she uses in France, I am liberated to experiement using different combinations and proportions of American flours.

 The first time, I used a combination of King Arthur First Clear Flour and Guisto's White Spelt flour. This time, I fed my starter with KA Organic Whole Wheat Flour and used KA Bread Flour in the dough. The Ingredients were:

160 gms Starter
307 gms water
540 gms KA Bread Flour
10 gms Salt 

 The dough seems just very slightly less hydrated than my last attempt. As you can see, the crumb was denser, as expected. It was very chewy. The crust was a bit crunchier and less chewy than the First Clear/Spelt version.

 Overall, the taste was less sour this time, and the whole wheat flavor was less apparent than I expected. This was a bread that would be an excellent sandwich foundation, but it was not my "target" bread. I think the combination of flours was too strong.

 So, what flour combination should I try next? KA Artisan Flour with a little spelt? Or a little whole wheat? Or Golden Buffalo and spelt? Hmmmm....