The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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JOHN01473's picture

Help with starter please

Help with starter please

I keep having this problem with my wheat starter.
I take a 100g of starter and add 100g AP flour and 100ml of water.
I mix up and then generally have to add more water as it is too thick.
I mix up to where it is as thick as double cream
After 12 hours there is a layer of brown liquid

I scoop it out with the discard and feed.
I am trying to maintain a 1:1:1 starter.
I have read other blogs where maybe this is due to underfeeding.
A strict 1:1:1 seems too thick or should I just accept that it is thick.
Any advice would be good.

thanks - the baking bear



Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

How do I make a link in my post?

How do I make a link in my post that people can click on and it takes them to another web page?


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Gluten Development Techniques - What to do!?

Something that I have been wondering lately since learning how to make Tartine's Country Loaf.

Is there a reason that any other technique to develop gluten would be used other than the 'in-bowl pull-fold and rotate' method??

Why all the mess, and flour/oil waste, the sore arms and stress?

There MUST be a reason why the whole world has not switched from the painful old-fashioned kneading process to Chad's (originally French) method.  Right?  If there are, please enlighten this lazy amateur.


Grenage's picture

Poor rise while proofing croissants.

Hi there,

I've not made bread with shop yeast very often, in fact I've probably made under 20 non-sourdough loaves; still they have all risen as quickly as one would expect.  I am however having massive problems with getting proofing croissants.

After seeing one of Txfarmer's posts on croissants, I figured I'd give them a go - the recipe and steps are great, and I've not had any problems with the handling or other details.  All goes well until I roll them and leave to proof, they just will not rise at all.  They rise in the oven, and the small amount of yeast in the poolish does develop as desired, so I know that the yeast is not dead.  I have been using Allison dried active yeast, and the proofing temperature was 18-20C; proofing duration has been as long as 6 hours.

So either the yeast is not ideal for the purpose, or I am doing something very wrong.  Not that the results haven't been good, but the lack of proofing is really hampering a more open construction.   I beg thee, veterans of baking - spare my sanity.

meirp's picture

Daily sandwich loaf

 I've been baking this bread on a regular basis for almost 4 years (several a week). It has long become our go-to sandwich bread. My clients (read family) only like crusty bread - even in their sandwiches - this loaf combines a good crust with a smooth crumb. It's got whole grains, is a bit chewy, but isn't dry or heavy. I also make this as a pure sourdough, in which case, it's very different: crustier and larger holes. Below recipe is for baker's yeast version.

Ingredients Weight in grams (Volume in brackets)
Bread Flour 200
Whole Wheat flour 150
Whole Rye flour 150
4 tbsp seeds (I usually use half sesame, half flax)

Water 375
Instant yeast 3.1 (1 tsp)
Salt 6.375 1 tsp
Date syrup (Silan) 21.5 (1 tbsp)
Olive oil 13.5 (1 tbsp)

Starter 50 (1/4 cup) - I add this even for commercial yeast version (I think it adds flavour, but maybe it's my imagination).

Combine ingredients, except for salt (first dry, then wet). Mix well, then autolyse for 20 min. Add salt. Knead for 10 min. (or dough cycle in bread machine for 20 min.). Bulk rise until doubles (approx. 1 hr. for room temp. of 25 deg. Celsius), then punch down and fold, repeat bulk rise until it doubles.  I preheat oven for at least 45 min. at 250 Celsius with a pizza stone. Put in loaf pan and proof for 10 - 20 min. until top just starts to rise over edge of pan. Bake @230 Celsius deg. (less for convection oven) for 45-50 min (until internal temp. is 200 deg. F). Produce steam for first 10 min. of bake. Turn out loaf directly onto pizza stone for last 20 min. to get good crust and colour all over. Cool on rack for 2 hours.


Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

Put two 1/4 thickness Solid Concrete Blocks in the gas oven and WOW! Much more even cooking.

This isn't FDA approved so proceed with caution if you try this but it worked for me! I was trying to find a way to give my cheap gas oven a little more even/radiant heating so I picked up a pair of 1/4 thickness (about 1.5" thick with the usual dimensions in other directions) concrete blocks from Walmart's garden dept. I popped these in the oven (wrapped in foil to protect the oven and the bricks) and fired it up... they are almost a perfect fit! So far I've had them in there for about a week or two and I like the results. It adds about 10-15 minutes to the preheat but it's a very even cooking now. I've made several bread loafs and a DiGorino pizza. Everything I've put in there has turned out great. The crust in the store bought pizza REALLY stood out. It was fluffy and soft and it was actually done very evenly. We all thought WOW! for the first time about a DiGorino pizza. Usually we make fun of their slogan (the whole delivery thing) when we eat one of those. This time it really was a great pizza. I was surprised.


While I was at it I also added a Steam "feature" and it's also worked great. I added a big canned tomatoes can (28 oz approx) with the label and glue removed (important) and with a tiny hole punched from a drywall screw head (Drill bit holes were too big I thought) and this filled 3/4 with water and place in at the end of the preheat gives a nice steamy oven for the first half of a bread (or pizza baking). It's really worked great! And it's adjustable by the size of the hole.

RebelBakingCompany's picture

Hamelman's and "Flipping"

I tried Hamelman's bagel recipe this weekend...and will never let go of it! But I do have a few questions:

1. High-gluten flour *not* bread flour...where do you buy this?

2. I felt the bagels lacked the flavor that my other recipes have. Should I add more salt?

3. I was very surprised that his recipe did not include malt powder IN the dough. Might adding it improve the flavor? Will that affect other ratios?

4. I noticed there was no egg wash and I felt they were much paler than other recipes. How can I improve this? Normal for this recipe?

I also tried "flipping" the bagles this go-round, although I don't have a bagel board. I'll admit, the shape was very nice. But it seems to be a small benefit. Anyone disagree? Any techniques you'd recommend?

Skibum's picture

Ahhhh . . . biscotti!

Double chocolate and sweet biscotti:

It ws time to bake another batch of DaveG's fabulous double chocolate, hazelnut, chipotle biscotti  and also try the seeet biscotti recipe he provided.  To the half batch of 2x choco, I added 1 tsp of expresso coffee powder, was out of hazelnuts, (aka filberts) and used alsonds instead.  The hazelnuts provide a better flavour balance to the cocolate and chipotle, but hey, almonds work too!

I have been working through Carol Field's, "The Italian Baker," and checked her biscotti recipe also, which looked much like Dave's.  In the end I used the TIB recipe because, horror of horrors, I had no lemon zest -- my only lemon had been previously zested!  Now the TIB recipe is forgiving in that you can use either lemon extract or zest and/or orange exract or zest. I used lemon extract and orange zest for half the batch and baked according to Daves's loaf style 2x bake instructions, rather than shape the TIB cookie rounds.   I have not been able to stay away from these biscotti, oh my do I love the subtle flavoring!

Today I added lemon zest and some chopped almonds to the last half of the sweet biscotti dough and baked it up.  The lemon zest kicks the flavour up a good notch or two.  I think next batch, I will do half with lemon zest and half with orange zest.  At the pace I am eating these things, I may have to do another batch in the morning, (oink, oink).  The TIB biscotti recipe is listed at the end of this post.

A little ciabatta and salami by the campfire:

The last camping days of the season are now but a distant memory that ski season.  The photo was taken at a campsite along The Icefields Parkway, in Banff, Alberta Canada.

Bake ON TFLoafers!  Brian

Biscotti, from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field

160 g unsalted butter

200 g sugar

1 Tbs honey

2 eggs room temperature

Cream sugar and butter and add eggs one at a time and cream.

1/3 C + 3 Tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp orange extract or zest of 1/2 orange

1/2 tsp lemon extract or zest of 1 lemon

500 g flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

11/2 Tbs or so coarsly ground almonds to top

1 egg for glazing

I bake @ 300F 20 munites turning halfway, chill 15 munites or so then slice on the diagonal 3/4" thick, turn on sides and bake for 20 munites @ 300F turning halfway, then turn the slices over and bake for another 20.  Yumm

varda's picture

Whole wheat bread with freshly milled Massachusetts wheat

I'm back with new tools.    Ever since Andy (ananda) started posting about baking with local wheat, I've had it in the back of my mind.    However, local in my case means New England, which isn't exactly known as the American bread basket.    In fact I more or less assumed that Massachusetts wheat was an oxymoron.    I did however, keep my eyes open, and found several farms in the area that grew wheat.    The closest however, were not that close, and I had no mill, and, and, and...  But time goes on and new opportunities arise.    With my birthday coming up, my DH asked me what I wanted and I said a mixer.   I picked out a fancy one and was ready to pull the trigger, when I realized that I simply didn't need such high capacity, and would do quite well with a much more modestly priced model.   That meant that I had "saved" a lot of money, so my husband decided to throw in a mill.    With a new mill coming, I needed wheat.   In fact I needed Massachusetts grown wheat.  

I called a friend and convinced her that she absolutely needed to drive west with me to see the leaves (and incidentally buy wheat.)   She agreed that was absolutely necessary, so the other day we went west.    That is 3/4 of the way across Massachusetts to the little town of Gill, where lies a farm called Upinngil, which sells its own wheat.    I tried calling beforehand to see what they had available, but no dice - they didn't answer.    When we got there, true they had 50 lb sacks of wheat in their store, but they were soft red winter wheat, and hard white winter wheat, neither of  which were what I had in mind.   One of the nice women there said that I should come back in two weeks.    That was hardly possible, as my first trip out there had already strained the limits of practicality.   Fortunately at that moment in walked Mr. Hatch, the farmer.    Told of my plight, he said, no problem.   I have some hard red winter wheat out at the cleaner (not the cleaners).   I'll just drive over to the field and pick some up for you.   Phew!   So with a 50 pound sack of wheat in my trunk, mission accomplished.   And yes, the leaves were lovely as well.

Yesterday the mill and the mixer (Bosch compact) arrived and needed to be put to use.   So I got my starter going, and today started milling and baking.   Not knowing my mill very well yet, I milled pretty coarse, and wanting to get to know the wheat, I decided to make all the flour in the final dough my fresh ground whole wheat.      This meant over 75% coarsely ground whole wheat, which is not something that I'm all that familiar baking with, as I usually keep whole grains to 30% or below.   

I have just cut and tasted, and who knew that Massachusetts wheat would be so good.   Mr. Hatch said that he had been growing it as feed for 20 years, but only in the last 10 has he started selling it to bakers who are interested in local foods.    He also told me that a CSA near me makes regular trips out to his farm for milk, cheese, etc.   So it may be that in the future, I won't have to make the trek if I can meet up with them.  

In any case, I think my whole wheat baking needs work, and I am excited to learn more.

The third new tool I used for this bake was a single edge razor for scoring, taking a tip from breadsong.   I love the control it gives.  

Of course that's not quite as exciting as the KoMo Fidibus 21  shown here resting after it's first milling.


Here's to local farms:

and local wheat:

I used my WFO today probably for the last time of the season.    Now I need to wrap it up tight so it can get through Sandy unharmed.

And finally, I'll close with the a bit of Autumn splendor:  first Tartarian Asters (over 7 feet tall)

and mums which can't really compete with the leaves this time of year:

Update:  Just changed the title of this post from ...freshly ground... to ...freshly milled...   It ain't coffee after all.

baybakin's picture

Catch-up baking

I know I've been slacking on the posting lately, so here's my pictures post of some recent breads I've done.

Dmsnyder's SF sourdough take IV (

Changes: replaced all flour for Central Milling's type 70 high extraction flour.  Bulk ferment pre-shape instead of post-shape.  Baked in a dutch oven.
This one turned out quite sour, not quite boudin-sour, but still very nice.

Monkey Bread:

Using my house sweet dough, balls of dough are dipped in butter then rolled into chopped walnuts and raw sugar.
Baked into a bunt pan covered in butter and sprinkled with sliced almonds.

xfarmer's sourdough Croissants: (

They came out a bit toasty, my oven runs a tad hot.  Made a few into breakfast sanwiches.  Sharp cheddar with egg and ham, served with some nice coffee (dab of cream)