The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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fladad's picture

Flours and measurements

New here and to baking bread.  I've been using all purpose unbleached flour are there any adjustments I should be making when a recipe calls for bread flour or all purpose flour?  Aslo is there any conversion charts on this site, I've noticed some recipes are given in pounds instead of cups, how many cups in a pound, grams in a tablspoon, etc?  Thanks in advance

qahtan's picture

Should it or shouldn't it

 Although I have been making bread etc more years than I care to remember I have a question.

 I always like my loaves baked in pans to have that deep expansion place just under the crust like this of James beard  bread pictured from here in T F L.  Should it look like this or should it be how can I say 'closed'.  qahtan

sour cream bread

MaryinHammondsport's picture

A Quick Way to Convert Volume to Weight in Grams

I just had one of those "duh!" moments, and wanted to share.

If you have become enamoured of converting recipes to grams, as I have, you probably have noticed that there are no conversions tables that cover everything an adventurous baker might want to use. I've been relying on actually weighing out things and keeping notes. Then it hit me -- a resource I have used for other food calculations is available right on the Web and it covers everything you can possibly think of -- or almost.

Go to

and you have easy access to the USDA tables of food data.

At the upper right on the Nutrition Data home page are two boxes where you can enter the food you are looking for. Suppose you want to convert 1/4 of pistachio nut meats to grams. Type in pistachio and pick the category Nuts and Seed Products in the drop down list, then hit Search. you will come up with 3 listings for pistachio nuts. Click on the one you want, and you will be taken to a page with all sorts of information, much of which is not relevant to bakers, but right near the top you will learn that 1 cup of pistachio nutmeats weights 123 grams. If your recipe calls for 1/4 cup, divide by 4 and you are there -- 31 grams.

i checked on what types of flours were listed; there are several dozens. From experience I know that must common ingredients are covered. I've used this resource for purposes other than baking for years, and there is very little that is not listed. I find the organization here much easier to deal with than the USDA site.

I'm just embarrassed that it took me so long to realize I could use it this way.

Mary in Hammondsport where sunshine is finally melting the half inch of ice that fell yesterday.

CountryBoy's picture

Sourdough Starter Barely Starting

I am 15 days into a Hodgson Mills Rye flour starter and I have bubbles but only a 50% expansion of the starter.  The ambiant temp is about 66 degrees.

I am using 1:2:2 (starter. flour, water) but it is looking pretty weak.

Do I try

  1. 1:3:3 or more...
  2. Pineapple juice..a dash
  3. A bit of yeast..a dash
  4. More patience..a lot


mike721's picture

5 pound Sourdough Miches

This is a picture of some really big ( for me at least) 5  pound miches that I baked for my Boy Scout troop's dinner, these were 10%
whole wheat, 90% bread flour,made with 'Mikey's NJ' starter, and a big hit at the dinner.

Not the best photography, but you can see how pretty these were
5 pound sourdough boule

I like using part whole wheat ( or rye) in my sourdough, it makes a bread that is definitely not made with plain white flour, but it is white enough  to use as an everyday bread, rather than being a whole grain type of specialty bread. I have been making these loaves with both my own starter  and with one from Carl's friends, both work well, the 'Carl's Oregon Trail'  starter rises a little faster and makes a less sour bread with a rather pale  but tasty crust, the 'Mikey's NJ ' starter rises slower but makes a more  sour loaf, with a richer golden brown crust that I love.

My procedure is to refresh the culture the day before, then after 14 hours  make the dough. About a 4 or 5 hour bulk fermentation with 2 foldings during  it, then the boules are shaped, risen for an hour, and then retarded  overnight. The next morning I take them out of the fridge ( or  the winter I retard there), give them 3 or 4 hours to warm up and finish  proofing, then into the oven at 550 with steam, reduced to 450 after 5 minutes. These big ones I baked for an hour, then lowered the heat since they were getting dark, and left them at 400F for another 20 minutes to make sure they were done. Internal temp was 205 when I took them out of the oven, the crust was crackly and delicious and actually stayed that way, instead of softening as it cooled. I guess that extra baking time helped.

 Mikey in New Jersey


bwraith's picture

Reconstituted Whole Grain Mash Bread

Reconstituted Whole Grain Mash Bread

This is a recipe idea I've wanted to try since I started milling and sifting my own flour. My milling and sifting process results in a few grades of flour and bran, but in total they represent the entire contents of the whole grain. My idea was to process the different grades of flour in different ways, hopefully resulting in a better whole grain bread. In particular, I very much enjoyed the flavor and texture of the mash bread recipe from WGB by Peter Reinhart, which I blogged a while ago. This recipe is derived from the mash bread recipe and some other ideas in WGB, but it takes advantage of the fact that I have available various separate components of the whole grain flour. The resulting bread, made as described below, is very good, maybe my favorite whole grain bread so far.

I've posted a spreadsheet in xls and html format showing the recipe and sourdough timing. I'm not providing a whole recipe in the blog in this case. Since the ingredients will vary so much, and I used particular output from my milling and sifting process, it's more of an idea than a recipe. Anyone who tries it will have to carefully read WGB's mash bread recipe, look at my spreadsheet, and then make up a recipe to fit available ingredients and/or sifting equipment. I've also posted some additional photos.

To make this bread, I first simmered the bran and very dark coarse granular flour from my milling and sifting process for a few minutes. The idea is to soften the high fiber components of the whole grain flour. Then, when the simmer cooled to about 165F, I added "golden flour", which is higher ash content flour from the first and last siftings. I maintained the temperature at around 150-155 for a couple of hours to get a dark, sweet mash. The mash was refrigerated. Meanwhile, I fermented a levain of whole rye, whole spelt, and some of the whiter flour from my sifting process. In the morning I combined the mash, the levain, and all the remaining whiter flour from my sifting process along with some salt and malt syrup to make the final dough, which rose and was baked later in the day.

Admittedly, this is difficult to duplicate at home unless you have a couple of fine sieves and access to a coarse stoneground whole grain flour. However, a similar recipe should be possible by separating out the bran and larger particles with a fine sieve, simmering that, then adding some of the remaining flour to make the mash, then using all the remaining flour in the final dough.

Using store bought ingredients, another similar version could be to use store bought bran for simmering, a high extraction artisan flour (like Heartland Mill Golden Buffalo) for the mash, and white flour for the remainder. Yet another version might be to use store bought bran for the simmer, store bought wheat germ and white flour for the mash, and white flour for the remaining flour. Or, it would probably work to use store bought bran for the simmer, whole wheat flour for the mash, and white flour and store bought wheat germ for the remainder. All of the above are the same in spirit, which is to reconstitute the components of whole wheat flour in total, while simmering separately the coarser bran, mashing darker flour, and then adding lighter flour to the final dough.

Very roughly, the bran should constitute some 10-15% of the recipe, the dark flour added into the mash should be about 25% of the total flour, and the rest should be lighter flour. Wheat germ, if used, should total about 3% of the weight of flour. Evaporation and some mash left in the pan means you have to estimate the remaining water and flour in the mash, in order to then have the right amounts of flour and water in the remainder of the recipe. Another interesting flour to try in the mash, if you are going with a store bought duplication, is first clear flour. The character of the "darker" flour I added to my mash is somewhat like first clear flour.

Also, as in all the WGB recipes, you could easily make this a yeasted recipe by replacing my levain with a yeasted biga and adding some yogurt or other fermented milk product to bring up the levels of fermentation acids in the final dough.

The resulting bread has a soft, dense crumb, which is normal for mash bread. However, the unique flavor from the mash and the soft, spongey texture more than make up for the somewhat more dense crumb. The lighter color results from the fact I milled and sifted a 50/50 combination of Wheat Montana Prairie Gold and Wheat Montana Bronze Chief. The Prairie Gold berries are hard white spring wheat berries, which have a much lighter color of bran, resulting in a lighter color. I also prefer a mixture of white and red wheats, which results in a milder but not bland flavor that I prefer to either 100% red wheat or 100% white wheat. The more dense and soft crumb makes it an excellent bread for sandwiches or to use with tahini, peanut butter, honey, and so on. I had some this morning for breakfast, and it is one of my favorite whole grain breads, if not the all time favorite.

krusty's picture

Yeast-risen cornmeal bread (no-knead)

For those familiar with the no-knead method, here's a recipe that I formulated and tried last week.  The result surpassed my expectations. 

For one loaf:

250 grams unbleached white flour

100 grams fine-ground cornmeal

2 tsps (10 grams) vital wheat gluten

275 grams water

1/2 tsp instant yeast

1 tsp sea salt 

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Let the dough rise until doubled, or refigerate overnight, and leave it to come to room temperature and rise.  Either way, it will take about four hours.  Shape the dough and let it rest for an hour, lightly covered with plastic wrap.  It will rise some more. 

Bake covered at 500 for 30 minutes, then uncovered at 450 for ten minutes.

ltlmccomas's picture

German Rye Farmers Bread

We have a good friend who is German.  He loves a bread that he calls "Farmer" or "Peasant" bread.   He does not have a family recipe.  I have been baking bread for twenty five years and he doesn't like any of my recipes.  It is starting to hurt my feelings!  I know it is a rye bread. I know it is a sourdough bread.  And I know it is dense and has a very thick crust.  He says "The crust is everything."  So, I was searcing the archives and I found the following recipe and it sounds just like the bread he describes to me.  But I am having problems with the conversions of weights.  I am comparing this recipe along side two others.  Does the recipe call for 5 1/2 cups rye flour, 1/2 cup wheat flour,  5 tablespoons sourdough starter, 5 tablespoons yeast, 4 tablespoons salt and 2 1/2 cups water?  That seems like a huge amount of yeast for so few cups of flour.  And so little sourdough starter?  I was going to use the recipe for Sauerteig Sour Dough Starter.  My ego can't stand another rejection!  Are my conversions correct? 

Farmer's Rye Bread

570 gm Rye Bread Flour
60 gm Wheat Bread Flour
500 ml Water
16 gm Sourdough
13 gm Salt
15 gm Yeast
4 Tablespoons Brotgewürz or mix of Crushed Fennel, Coriander and Caraway

Mix all ingredients into a dough and knead till smooth and elastic. Let rest 30 minutes. Put into the desired shape and form and eventually bake in preheated oven 200°c for 65 minutes.

Here is one to start out on. I think the spices make the "difference" you refer to.

The rye can also be reduced and wheat increased, add part of flour mixture and water to your starter to increase starter to about 300 gm. Let stand until it doubles and then add rest of ingredients (I would add a two teaspoons of brown sugar to rest of water) with or without the yeast to make dough. It is not necessary to let rye dough double before shaping but I do recommend using a lined or flowered bowl or basket to proof before baking (top of loaf down). Gently overturn onto baking parchment, spray with water, score and bake. A cold oven can also be used add aprox. 10 minutes to baking time if round loaf. Should you happen to overproof, and this can easily happen, reshape, or roll it up using a little more flour and let it proof again.

Mini Oven

nbicomputers's picture


        I have heard from the board owner that a few members have had a few unkind things to say about some of the postings that I have placed here.  Thinking about this I kind of thought that those that people deserve an explanation.

I      don’t normally talk about this but it is nothing that I am ashamed of its just personal but here goesI was forced to leave the baking industry due a really serous illnessA few years back I was diagnosed with colon rectal cancer. This was not a polyp but full blown stage 3 cancer.

       Well I was not about to let this stop me being a tough old some bitch I fought this with all I had The result is I’m still here my even though the last blood tests were not great.Well the drugs that I took to fight the cancer 4 years ago were relatively new on the market and there side effects were known but did not really have any long term studies done yet.

     The drug combined with the borderline diabetes I also have cause a neurologic condition which make my feet feel like their in cement buckets making being on my feet for any length of time impossible.  It also has the same effect on my hands which are num most of the time.  If you notice most of the typos are a missed the key I am trying to press and hit the key ether next or underneath. I also had a small stroke during the chemo-rad treatments

     Sympathy  I don’t want like I said I’m a tough old some bitch and 4 years after the diagnoses I’m still here with the five year survival point just around the corner. I since all this happened I have been trying to pass all that have learned to others that, like myself love to bake.

   I have already done this with my 20 something year old son who is presently employed at Peter Kelly’s latest 4 star restaurant in Yonkers as the pastry chef.

     With all this extra time on my hands I needed to something to keep myself from going crazy. I started a small consulting company setting up and designing of computer systems for bakeries.  I expanded that to other markets and a small retail computer service business, also consulting on some new projects for product development that because on contracts a cannot talk about

      Without a professional kitchen at my command and thinking about my early days when baking I started doing research on ways the home baker could get the same results from a home kitchen using professional formulas that have been reduced to amounts that can be handled in a home kitchen.     And modified methods and equipment that can be found or made  with easily located materials ( all though some things specific to recipe or two that you just can’t do without  (like making chicken soup without chicken you just can’t do it)    A book is in the works but I don’t know if I have to time to finish it.

    So that’s it,  If i offend it is not my intention to do so,  if I talk as though time is short it’s because it is.  If I post something that you don’t understand, ill explain it  all can call me on Skype or email or phone.

    I offer My experience here to expand the already large base of information from all the other bakers here   And if you do not want my help feel free to ignore me I don’t offend easily.   

      With so few young people going into the baking industry  (they all want jobs behind a desk with nice clean hands)  soon the only way you will ever get to taste something other than wonder bread and ho ho’s will be to make it yourself. 

   How would you even know about it if you never saw, smelled or touched it  (children born today will never see touch or listen to a 33 rpm record)  and while there are many good books there. Most of them (that I have read) seem to hold back a little something or not explain with adequate detail so the home baker never really has a chance to make something as good as the author can. 

    So that’s all folks I just want to help and pass on what I have so it does not get lost and the generations to come don’t end off living off of wonder bread.

Ps:  if any one reading this does not know where the expression “that’s all folks” came from ask your parents better still if you’re lucky enough your grandparents to explain it to you am sure they will happy to!

PPs: this was copied and  paste from microsoft word and it would seem that all the formating was lost. i formated it.

Susan's picture

Same Basic Recipe/Different Handling

One-DayOne-day, 100g starter

Sponge-basedSponge-based, 50g starter

There were a couple of differences:
The One-day dough subbed 40g WWW, and added 1/8-cup sesame seeds
The Sponge-based dough added 1T oil.

Amazing difference, huh?