The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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tananaBrian's picture

The baker is living in my ciabatta... :(

I think it's called the "Baker's Bedroom" or the "Baker's Pantry" or some such thing when your loaf has a large open cavity under the top crust, right?  Well, I made the biggest, baddest, bedroom (or pantry) you've ever seen today!  I made Jason's Cocodrillo Ciabatta ("Quick Ciabatta") last week and 2 of 3 loaves had a good distribution of holes in the crumb, and a nice pattern of large and small holes.  One of the three had the "baker's bedroom" syndrome however.  This weekend, I made Reinhardt's first Ciabatta recipe, the one without mushrooms, and got the HUGE "baker's bedroom" ...on all three loaves.  This was also the first time that I baked on a baking stone, my new fibrament.  I got GREAT oven spring too.  In the Reinhardt version, the crumb below the big cavity did not have a large number of larger holes and had a more even pattern (of smaller) holes instead.  I find this to be more typical of breads made with higher levels of gluten, e.g. bread flour.

Jason's ciabatta was made with all-purpose flour, and the loaves were turned over when shaped (to allow bubbles in the dough to distribute more evenly.)  Reinhardt's recipe is made with bread flour, and the loaves are not turned over at any time.  From what I understand, the large cavities are created by lots of oven spring combined with the dough not being extensible enough to rise with the spring, and the crust tears away from the rest of the dough as the gases expand.  As adjustments for next weekend's attempt, I'm thinking of the following: Shorter proof time, use all-purpose flour rather than bread flour, whole bake at 450 F rather than 5 minutes at 500 F followed by (yeah right) 30 minutes at 450 F, and maybe mist the loave during the final ferment followed by dusting with flour just prior to baking rather than dusting with flour prior to the final ferment.  My oven measures accurate temperatures, as verified by a electronic thermometer (with 5 degrees or so) and the bread baked twice as fast as Paul thought it should, and the internal temperature when I thought it looked done was 205 F ...exactly as it should be.

What do all of you think?  What might be the problem?  What might be the cure?  Are my adjustments a good idea?



PS: I thought that the 'quick ciabatta' ala Jason also tasted better than the 2-3 day poolish-based ciabatta out of the Reinhardt book (Crust & Crumb.)  BTW, if you request it quick ...I can take photos if you like.  Bread doesn't last long around here.



alliezk's picture

Summer Zucchini Bread


This morning after my spinning class I stopped by the local farmers market. While I was there I picked up some beautiful dark green zucchinis and immediately thought of the wonderful spicy taste of fresh zucchini bread. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember - a family friend shared it with my mother ages ago. Hope you enjoy!

Zucchini Quick Bread
This Recipe will make two good sized loaves. I have often doubled the recipe to make four and find that the bread freezes well.

Preheat oven to 350.

3 Eggs
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 Cups (loosely packed, coarsely grated) Zucchini *
2 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon All-spice
1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

Optional - 1 Cup Chopped Nuts
* Do not peel! The color of the bread will vary depending on the color of the zucchini. The darker the zucchini, the darker the color of the bread. Personally, I prefer a darker loaf.

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.
2. Add the sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla. Beat the mixture until think and lemon colored.
3. Stir in the fresh zucchini.

 Green Mess

4. Sift together and add the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Generally, I tend to ignore the spice measurements and just dump them straight in. I love a strong spice flavor. When I make this bread, the dry ingredient mixture tends to be a light brown and very fragrant.
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients in two portions. Fold in the chopped nuts if desired.
6. Pour mixture into 2 oiled and floured loaf pans and bake for about one hour or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
7. Invert the pans onto a cooling rack and allow the loaves to gradually fall as they cool completely.

Finished =]

cfmuirhead's picture

How to convert recipes using US flour to UK-type flours

So many recipes on this blog and in many of my bread books use US-type flours, quite obviously,  But I am in England and baking using US recipes does not always seem to work well, probably due to the flour.  Does anyone know the equivalence between what is US All-purpose flour and our British flours, for example?   We have Bread Flour and Plain Flour.  I think our plain would be similar to US pastry.  But I think our Bread flour is lower in protein content than the US AP flour.  We also have Canadian Bread Flour, with higher protein content that our Bread Flour, but perhaps not as high as US High Gluten.  I am wondering whether there is a easy way to increase protein/gluten content of one flour to approximate that of another.

Even more confusing is Wholemeal/wholewheat; we have both 'normal' wholewheat and bread wholewheat flours.  Do the US recipes use the same wholemeal flour say for muffin (where we would use normal wholemeal) and also for bread-making?  

Anyone can throw some light on this confusing floury matter?    And, oes this protein content really, really matter?

richawatt's picture

My take on bagels

Hi all, I would loke to post my take on bagels.  I have been trying time and time again to get what I thiink is the perfect bagel.  I have kept a log of all my attempts, and have narrowed it down to a couple key elements that have to be done to get the perfect bagel. Oh and sorry for my spelling...I just can't.....

1. First is hydration.  Using King Aurther bread flour I have found that 55 to 57 percent works well.  I have tried all three 55, 56, and 57, and they all have the same outcome, 57% is just a little easier to work with. 

2. Over-proofing...My first couple attempts failed miserably, they were way too big, kind of wrinkley after baking..just not the shiney tight crust I wanted. I use an overnight ferment in the chill box just like the BBA recomends, but if they look like they are the size you want after the bake even before you boil them then they are way over proofed. In my experiance I have found that they will be almost the same size in the morning then when I put them in the the prior night.  DON'T USE THE FLOAT TEST RECOMENDED BY THE BBA, THEY WILL KEEP PROOFING IN THE REFER AND BE TOO BIG WHEN YOU BOIL THEM.  I have actually had some take on water because of the open interior structure from proofing.

3. All that being said, I use less then 1% yeast. 

4. Go and get some malted barley will be rewarded with flavor. I got mine at whole foods. 

5. I used honey instead of sugar, I think it gives a better flavor and not only helps with color in the bake, but helps the very dry dough come together better, same with the malt syrup. 

6. Boiling water.  Less baking soda is better...more will give you a nice color, but it will taste just like a pretzle.  I use 24 cups of water with 2 tsp of soda, and a half cup of brown sugar...I was putting 2 tbsp of malted barley syrup in, but it's too expensive.  The brown sugar seems to work just as good at giving a nice flavor and color. 

7.  Use the rolling method of shaping, not the poking, you get a tighter skin and degass the dough if there is any in there.  You can see a vid on you-tube about shaping

All that being is my formula. 

55% hydration. Makes 6 bagels....I had to cut it in half because of how many batches I was making.

496g KA bread flour

272g water

9.92g salt

4.50g yeast

24.8g malted barley syrup

12.4g honey...I used a light amber honey, nice dark color and a rougher flavor

1tsp olive oil....sorry I didn't convert that to grams

-Mix dry...add COLD water, and let autolyse for 20 mins.  then add the honey, syrup, and oil and bring the dough together.  Turn it out to your work surface and cover with a towel. 

-After ten minutes divide to 4.5 oz portions and roll to a balls. cover and wait ten minutes. 

-roll and shape the bagels, and put them on a sheet pan lined with parchment and sprayed with oil.  cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight. 

-next morning, pre heat to 450, get water ready,  boil for 1 min each side, top and bake for around 20 mins rotating pan half way through.






caviar's picture

proofing box

I've read several places on TFL about hooking in an inline voltage thermostat to get the right temperature for proofing. Has anyone actually done this and if so how was it done? What i'm finding is that a heat (resistance) source has to be at least 2.0 amps. Is it any different than hooking in a light switch and is there a certain kind of digital thermostat.




SylviaH's picture

Ciabatta Rolls with 1-2-3 formula for leftover starter.

Ciabatta rolls using Flo Makanai 1-2-3 formula.  The hydration was so wet when I mixed the formula using King Arthur bread flour.  I though it best to try making some Ciabatta rolls.  I pre-heated the oven and stones at 485 and baked under a foil cover for 10 min. uncovered and continued till nicely browned.  The rolls were a little warm when sliced to have with our dinner husband said they had a delicious flavor...usually he says very little.  They were very tasty.  I mixed the dough and did stretch and folds with my hand.  I also posted these in Flo Blog where she gives the 1-2-3 formula instructions.


A nice way to use up that left over starter!




jleung's picture

Baked red bean buns

Baked red bean buns

and this is how I like my red beans :)

Molecular biologists love genes, and how different gene products interact with each together to generate many of the complex biological processes that keep our body in one piece (or in the case of disease, how all of this falls apart). Why does someone behave in a particular way? It's because of his or her genetic makeup, some say. Others say there is an equal influence from the environment, or what the individual is exposed to.

I'd like to argue that this is particularly true with first impressions. As a young child in Hong Kong, there were certain smells and sights and sounds that flooded my senses: the freshly steamed rice noodles drizzled with soy sauce, peanut sauce, hoisin sauce and lightly toasted sesame seeds wrapped in paper from the street vendors, the dazzling array of colours from the fruit and vegetable stalls, the constant buzzing and honking from people riding bicycles, buses or taxis, and of course, the aroma of just-baked buns and loaves, wafting from the bakeries.

I'm going to paint in broad strokes and say that Hong Kong bakery-style buns are, in general, very different from those that you can find in European bakeries. True, both place an emphasis on texture and flavour and shaping, but with Hong Kong style buns you're looking for more pillowy-soft crust and crumb, often flavoured with additional ingredients like coconut or sweetened pastes or cubed ham and shaped into individual serving buns.

While I have been on a preferment/sourdough, blistering crust, multigrain kick lately, Shiao-Ping's recent TFL post on Chinese Po-Lo Buns (Pineapple Buns, or 菠蘿飽) evoked memories of these buns that I love so dearly. Some impressions just die hard.

These baked red bean buns (焗豆沙飽) are for those who love Hong Kong bakery-style breads, and for those who sometimes complain that my loaves of bread are "too crackly and crusty." ("How come they don't taste softer, like cake?")

Baked Red Bean Buns

- basic sweet dough, like this one, this one or this one
- lightly sweetened red bean paste (I used canned, ready-to-use paste but you can certainly make your own)
- egg wash: 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- sesame seeds, optional

After bulk fermentation of the dough, I divided it into eight portions of ~45g each, and shaped them based on a great photo tutorial posted by hidehide here.

Final proof: ~30-40 min.

Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 17-20 min. until golden brown.


Full post here.

hamptonbaker's picture

plastic bannetons


Recently, I purchased plastic bannetons for producing boules. I have tried to spray and then flour them and just flour them. Currently, I am using them to make Pain au levain, using Calvel's formula out of the Taste of Bread. Anyway this dough seems very sticky, I like the bread and don't want to change my method of a secondary fermentation time of three hours; However, I can't get the dough to fall out of the basket. It absorbs all the flour and won't fall out without destroying the shape, is there a trick to this? I really don't want cornmeal on the top of my bread so what to do?

balabusta's picture

Sourdough Baguette

I wonder why the recipes I see for baguette include a preferment, but, in general, not sourdough. Is a sourdough baguette an oxymoron?

After some experimenting, I now make a SD baguette that I think surpasses the flavor of a traditional baguette.



balabusta's picture

Steam Time

How long should dough be steamed in the oven?  In his book, BREAD, Jeffrey Hammelman states, "From 4-6 seconds of steam is ample." (p. 100) in 460 degree oven.  In stark contrast, in BREAD BAKING, Daniel DiMuzio states, "The quality of the crust in hearth loaves in enhanced by exposing the loaves to steam for the first 5 - 10 minutes of baking." (p. 130)

That's a huge difference.  Any reasons for this disparity?