The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davidg618's picture

A novel approach to pastry dough making

Watched Cook's American Test Kitchen on PBS today, and saw, what was for me, a very novel approach to making pastry dough.

The ingredients began with the usual: flour, butter, shortening, and cold water.

Then it got interesting. In addition to the water, an equal amount of vodka was added.

The result was a wetter than usual dough, that after the usual chilling, rolled out more easily, stayed together excellently, yet after baking was flaky and crisp.

The chef stated that alcohol and flour will not form gluten, like the water and flour will, and most or all of the alcohol content evaporates during the bake, leaving the dough wetted only with the usual amount of water that would normally result in a rather dry, and less manageable crust.

I'm happy with the pastry dough I make--flour, butter, lard, and water--but this is too interesting to not try at least once.

David G.


hansjoakim's picture

Reasons to bake #18: Cold and miserable weather

The pain au levain with whole-wheat from "Bread" that I blogged about a few weeks ago, is quickly becoming one of my favourite levain breads. Here's one that I baked yesterday afternoon:

Pain au Levain

I'm always amazed by the fact that these levain breads only contain three ingredients: Flour, water and salt. It's fascinating how three so simple ingredients come together and, given enough time, produce delicious loaves. This loaf has a subtle and mild taste, and I usually eat it plain in order to fully enjoy the flavour.

In my last post, I wrote about a new rye starter that I made. The initial motivation to get a new one going, was to see whether there would be any significant difference in flavour compared to the stiff, white starter that I've had for about a year. The rye starter is incredibly active, and I've been keeping it on a 1:10:10 (starter:flour:water) diet, with feedings spaced roughly 12 hours apart. The resulting loaves taste pretty much like those leavened with the white starter, so I guess one of them will eventually be cut loose... We'll see. Anyways, below is a multigrain sourdough that I baked with the rye starter (no commercial yeast):

Multigrain Levain

It's approx. 20% whole-rye (all from starter), 10% buckwheat and the rest bread flour. Multigrain soaker contains the usual suspects (i.e. flaxseeds, quinoa seeds, oat bran, rye chops, sunflower seeds). I gave the dough a 2 hr. bulk followed by proof overnight in the fridge.

I also baked some croissants over the weekend:


It's been a long time since I had a go at these, and I've definitely felt the cravings for buttery, flaky croissants for a while. I used the straight dough version from Suas' ABAP, and let the dough ferment 45 mins. at room tempertaure before I degassed and retarded the dough in the fridge overnight. Lamination (three single folds) the following morning, and makeup and final proof the following afternoon. A nice evening snack and splendid petit dejeuner the next morning :) They turned out alright, but rolling and shaping still need practice.



Finally, a humble carrot cake:

Carrot cake

A very moist, soft carrot sponge and cream cheese filling made this an enjoyable dessert! Three pretty large, shredded carrots went into the sponge batter (baked in a 15 cm cake ring), but I think even more could go in there to give it a stronger flavour of carrots. The most enjoyable bit was actually making small, cute marzipan carrots :)

DonD's picture

The Right Flour for Baguettes: All Purpose Flour or Bread Flour

I have looked at a lot of recipes for Baguettes and there is no concensus as to whether All Purpose or Bread Flour is the most appropriate. The breakdown is as follows:

Jeffrey Hamelman: BF

Peter Reinhart (Crust & Crumb): AP

Peter Reinhart (BBA): 50% AP & 50 % BF and also either AP or BF

Daniel Leader: AP

Dan DiMuzio: BF

Michel Suas: BF

Joe Ortiz: AP

Richard Bertinet: BF

Personally, being a Libra, I compromise and mix 2 parts AP to 1 part BF and have had good results. I am curious to see how most people feel.


M2's picture

Video: Stretch and Fold Technique from Peter Reinhart

Not sure if this video has been posted or not.  Great technique from Reinhart:



jembola's picture

Rinehart, Hammelman, or Lepard?

With the kids home for the summer, I pretty well abandoned my bread baking/learning routines but school is coming and I'm ready to get down to it again.  Meanwhile I got some birthday book money (the only way I get to buy books these days) and am looking to order two books.  Trouble is, there are four on my list. I'm hoping you folks can help me.  Which two would be the best combination for a wanabe whole grain bread/sourdough bread baker?

Peter Rinehart's Whole Grain Breads

Peter Rinehart's Bread Baker's Apprentice

Dan Lepard's Handmade Bread

Mark Hammelman's Bread

guyshahar's picture

Gluten-Free Sourdough Loaf

Hi there

I have recently become very interested in Sourdough baking, and, being Coeliac, need to make gluten free bread.  I have evolved the recipe below - the dough proofs really well and the taste is great.  The only problem is that the inside of the bread has a sort of uncooked quality about it every time.  It is fine when well-toasted, but not really edible as untoasted bread - it is quite moist and a little sticky.  I thought this might have something to do with the cooking time, but I increased this significantly - and tried it at both higher and lower temperatures, and it didn't solve the problem.  I substituted brown rice flour for some of the sorghum flour last time, hoping that this would make it drier inside, but it made no difference.

Does anyone have any ideas what I might be doing wrong?  The recipe is below.



200g Sorghum flour

100g ground Quinoa

100g Tapioca flour

100g Potato starch

75g Chestnut flour

25g ground Hemp seeds

25g ground Flax seeds


120g starter

10g salt

1 tblspn live yoghurt

¼ tblspn baking soda

500ml water (around 30 degrees)



1     - Put starter and 300ml of water in a large bowl

2   – Stir in ground quinoa, hemp and flax, chestnut flour and half of the sorghum flour (may need to add a little more water if not enough)

3   – Add the live yoghurt

4   – Leave for a few hours in a warm place.

5   – When risen, remove a small amount to use as the basis for the next starter.

– Add the rest of the water, and stir in all the remaining ingredients  (may need to add a little more water if this is not enough).


7   – Put in a bread tin and leave to rise for a few hours.

8   – Cook at 180 degrees for around 40 minutes.  Remove from tin, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

– Leave for an hour or so, then eat.



wally's picture

Hamelman's Pain au Levain

Today I baked loaves of the pain au levain that we created in the French bread workshop at KAF.  The recipe we followed there varies slightly from those found in Hamelman's Bread in that no rye flour is involved.  The baking temperature is also lower - 220° C versus the 240° C in his book.

I also scaled this to produce two 500g batards:

Overall formula

500g sir galahad (or KAF's AP) flour  (85%)

88g whole wheat flour  (15%)

400g water  (68%)

11g salt  (1.8%)

First build

11g sir galahad

4g whole wheat

9g water

3g culture (I maintain my starter at 60% hydration)

The first build should take place approximately 30 hours before the bake.


52g sir galahad

8g whole wheat

36g water

27g first build

The second build is mixed approximately 18 hours before the bake.

Final dough

437g sir galahad

76g whole wheat

355g water

11g salt

120g levain (this is the weight of the levain after backing out the 3g of original culture, although given the small amount I left it in)

The final dough mix occurs approximately 6 hours before the bake. Desired dough temperature is 76-78° F.

Mix ingredients except for the salt and levain until they just come together.  Autolyse the flour and water mixture for 20 - 30 minutes. Add the salt and chunks of levain and mix on second speed until moderately developed - with a stand mixer this took me about 5 minutes.

Dough undergoes a bulk fermentation of 2 - 2.5 hour with two folds. I went for 2.5 hours with folds at 60 minute intervals.

Divide into two equal pieces of dough, lightly round and bench rest for 20-30 minutes.

Shape into batards and allow a final fermentation of 1.5 - 2 hours.  I placed my batards seam side up on a well-floured couche.

Score, load into preheated oven to 220°, steam and bake approximately 35 - 40 minutes.  If using an unvented oven, crack the door slightly once the dough begins to show color.  (I misted both batards before placing them in the oven, and then misted them twice again at 2 minute intervals and I think it helped my cuts remain moist enough to open during the bake).

The end product was two 13oz loaves. I'm pleased with the outcome.  My slashes opened moderately - these are about the best gringes I've produced.  And the crumb shows good oven spring as well.

Oh - and being lazy and cheap, here's the flipper board I used to move them from my Home Depot couche (kudos to Eric and others who pointed out that a painters drop cloth is basically a couche - but so much cheaper!!) to my baking stone:

Yes, if you look carefully you'll see that it's actually the serated cutting insert to a box of food service wrap.  Completely jury-rigged, but it works!

I like this particular bread!  Good for basic sandwich use and especially with a good cheese or tapenade.


alabubba's picture

What I baked this week

This is my first blog entry here on TFL so here goes:

It started out like most weeks. I knocked out a couple loves of basic white bread on Monday.

My scale arrived from on Tuesday along with my new solder sucker and I was anxious to try it out but didn't want to get too much bread on the counter so I decided to wait. Wed completely got away from me and I didn't even cook dinner (McDonalds to the rescue) so along came Thursday and I decided to convert my usual recipe from cups to weight.


I also made a large batch of Portuguese sweet bread using a recipe from this thread (holds99)

On the upper left is the basic white loaf, all the rest is from the sweet bread recipe. (Note, I did not double the recipe. It makes a bunch of dough.


I baked a loaf of basic white again on Friday, using some Seal of Minnesota Flour that one of the grocery stores in my neck of the woods decided to carry in #50 bags (for $16.00) and it was FAB.

I usually use walmart brand cheep AP. I would post pics but we ate the evidence. Will post pics of the next loaf. I had about 20 percent more rise and the crust and crumb rival Wonder Bread! It didn't make it past breakfast the next morning.

So Saturday rolls around and my daughter (20yo) decided she wanted my wife's French Onion Soup. And she wants it in a bread bowl. (I love a challenge)

So I have been wanting to try a version of Ruchbrot (from this thread)


What I came up with was this:

650g Whole Wheat Flour

150g Rye flour

200g AP flour

650 ml water (100° f)

2-1/2 tsp yeast

2-1/2 tsp salt

--1 egg for wash--



Mix everything together in a large bowl. knead everything together into a smooth dough. Let rise until doubled. Form the dough into small boules. Preheat oven to 450 ° f-475 ° f. Wash with the egg to help seal the crust. Let rise until almost doubled and bake for about 25 minutes until done. Internal temp of 195° f


I let them cool and sliced the tops off, pulled the guts out and filled. They held up beautifully, No leaks at all. even after 6 hours, no leaks.

Oh, and did I mention the bread was YUM, Earthy, Hearty, and robust.



SofiasDad's picture

Favorite commercially available starter?

Hi all, This is my first post on this forum. I have been busy reading many other posts to see if my burning question has already been answered BUT people seem to skip over this part in most discussions.

Until last year I owned the King Arthur Flour sourdough starter and kept it alive and happy for three years and used it every ten days or so. I can't honestly say I ever noted any detectable tang in the breads I made with it - I have no doubt I was not using it correctly. It died when we moved to San Diego and I haven't replaced it yet.

I wonder if I should buy from KAF again or try the Carl Griffith, Goldrush, Ed Wood, Fermented Treasure starters. Does anyone have a strong preference?


Thanks in advance, Michael

erg720's picture

Altus & formula

Hi guys.

Does anybody know how do we build formula that have an altus (left over bread)?

I mean, is this is part of the flour/the water or what? 

Thanks, Ron.