The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ArieArie's picture

It has been a few months now..



Its now a few months since I discovered and started reading this forum. I must say I learned a lot from the very experienced members here.


However I find it hard to contribute as I am not formally trained nor did I have such resources as the Internet or popular books when I started baking bread, 35 years ago.


I do things a bit different than the common wisdom, so my not much of my experience actually apply. Not to mention that I did not have the professional terminology to describe what I'm doing (but I'm learning).


I developed my bread making over the years by trial and error (lots of errors) and here is how I make sourdough bread. 


My starter I'm using now is probably over 15 years old. I made it myself by mixing flour and water and natural fermentation. I dry a sample of the starter every year, and now my freezer has many many ziplock bags with dry starter..  


I always have a small plastic jar in the fridge that is 3/4 full of starter. When I decide to make bread (at least once a week) I put the WHOLE jar of starter in the mixer bowl and add all the water I would use for the bread and half the flour I would use for the bread.



I mix well until homogeneous, and let ferment for 8 to 10 hours (temp dependent).

once it is nice and bubbly I return  some of the fermented mixture to my starter jar (same amount, 3/4 of the jar), and that is my starter for next time.


Now I add to the mixing bowl all the other dry and liquid ingredients and make the bread. From now on the process is pretty conventional. 


I almost never "feed" the starter as I use it and renew it once or twice a week. When on occasion I can not make bread, and the starter gets too hoochy, I discard 3/4 of it and add fresh flour and water in ratio of, what now I know is called, 100% hydration (I guess that is "feeding")..


there are some things which I learned about making the bread, which I believe, are specific to my starter: the starter is very lively, but can not go through more then 2 full cycles of fermentation. The third rising is too slow and low.    If I ferment the mixture for over 12 hours it damages the structure of the dough (gluten I presume) and all loaves become focaccia.. :)  


for the many years I am baking bread I was using volume (cups) to measure flour and liquids, and for the most part the breads were consistent. But as friends and family started baking my bread I needed to figure out what the stuff weighs, and now I use weight to measure quantities. I also learned which flour work best for me, and now I use Beehive Patent Flour, unbleached, from Honeyville Grains, or King Arthur unbleached bread flour, or in a pinch, Gold Medal - better for bread - unbleached unbromated ...


I have posted my recipe on line:  and click on "Bread"



atlanticsunrise's picture

"Panera" type bagels at home?

I'm looking for a bagel recipe that yields bagels like you would get from Panera Bread or somewhere like that - I have made several different recipes and none of them have turned out. I made some sourdough ones yesterday and even retarded them overnight hoping for the blistery surface, etc. and they are smooth surfaced and although they are chewy and taste ok, they are more like a supermarket bagel. The recipe I used called for a lot of starter (as opposed to the 2T. used in most of my recipes)... I don't know where to start for a recipe. Any suggestions would be welcome. TIA.

yozzause's picture

50% rye sour dough


i recently aquired a couple of kilos of rye meal from the local bakery that belongs to a friend of mine he had been dabbling in making a ryebread he gave me some to play with.

So the other day when i was refreshing my sour dough starter i decided it was time to have my go at this BREAD

I USED 200g  rye flour, 200g white flour, 200g starter, 10g salt, 2 bantams eggs, 1 teaspoon full of black strap molasis,

435g water ( from memory)

i mixed the dough @.6.00 am and took it to work with me. i allowed a straight forward ferementation till 12.00 noon knocked back and following recovery shaped into a boule and placed it back in the bowl lined with a floured teatowel upside down by the time i got home it was pretty well full proofed and as my daughter had just cooked a chicken the oven was hot and ready to go.

The loaf went in at just over 200 degrees for 40 minutes. The result was quite good and i dropped off a sample to the bakery this morning and my colleagues here thought it was super.

i shall make this one again and do the retard for 12 hours for comparison      


logdrum's picture

Anyone "go rogue" with a spiral dough hook?

Has anyone tried using a KA spiral dough hook on a model not specifically listed as intended for its use? I have a 20 y/o KSM5 (5 qt.) that is driving me nuts w/ the dough climbing up the "c" hook. Otherwise, it's a great machine that hasn't given me one second of trouble in 20 years of use.



sjscher's picture

Determining the Hydration of an Existing Levain

Does anyone know how I can determine the hydration level of my levain?


I was given a starter by a friend some years ago, along with instructions on how to refresh it.  As I've gotten more serious about my baking, I've wanted to figure out the actual hydration level so that I can make adjustments for various formulae, etc.


It occurs to me that maybe I can just use my friend's ratio of H2O/Flour used in refreshment as the basis of the hydration level.  Do I assume that the existing starter has the same ratio, or will the combination of existing starter + new flour & water have a different hydration level than the new stuff added.


In other words: Say I add 100g flour & 130 g water each time I get the starter ready to bake.  Can I assume I've got 130% hydration?





Nothing77713's picture

I want to be a baker when I "grow up."

Firt off, I apologize that this is definately a repeat topic, but I have a much wider question to ask than the many topics before, so I thought I'd give it a try.


I am currently a hotel and restaurant management undergrad student. I have another year and a half until I graduate. Recently, through my foodservice management class and some lab time in the university union's bakery, I have realized that my dream career is to own/operate my own bakery and cafe. I have been teaching myself to bake at home over the last few months through various websites(KA, The Fresh loaf, etc.) and baking books(I LOVE Peter Reinhart!). I understand the differences inherent in professional/home baking and I am well aware of the failure rate of small businesses, let alone restaurants, let alone bakeries(I am well on my way to a business degree).

My question to the professional bakers on this site is would you please give me any advice you care to give on how to start a career as a baker? I know I need professional training, but do I need to go through a full accredited culinary school, or would somewhere like SFBI professional program be sufficient? What schools/programs would you personally suggest?  And what about internships and apprenticeships? I have atleast four years before I can qualify for a government education grants and loans to attend any kind of baking school and would like to get my foot in the door asap to build up experience in the field. (In fact I need 800 hours of applicable hospitality experience in the next year before I can even get my degree). Would you suggest I beg my parents to pay for workshops and such while they're still supporting me(I know I am VERY lucky) if I can't get hired?

I have tried simply applying for any entry level positions in the few bakeries in my small college town, but in this economy they won't hire what they see on my application(very little experience in food service and college student(high turnover rate, bad attitude, etc.)). Do you have any suggestions on how to get hired in the first place? Should I ask to speak with a manager or baker directly(and waste their time)? Should I bring in an example of one of my own homebaked loaves to show I'm not entirely clueless?

Thankyou for reading my extremely long repeat post, and thankyou in advance for any advice. I would be tickled to death to get any advice at all to help me on my way, anything you care to tell me, regardless of if it relates to what I asked or not...

nirbeltran's picture

rye/spelt sourdough

well ... thats my favorite sourdough recipe and it has become my basic sourdough recipe .


but this time i replaced 1/4 of the flour in the final dough for whole grain rye flour and 1/4 for whole grain spelt flour . and i have to say it came out not bad at all !!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Blog Sighting

Check out this "Top 50" list, compiled by That's our own SteveB (Bread cetera) in the Baking and Pastries category. Very nice blog, Steve---Congratualtions!


50 Best Blogs for a Complete Culinary Education

Going to culinary school is a dream for some students, but it's not the only way you can learn how to become a great cook. The web is full of food blogs, and the best of the best - outlined here - couple their recipes and food tips with cookbook reviews, gorgeous photo tutorials, travel stories, food news, and behind-the-scenes coverage of celebrity chefs around the world. Here we've outlined 50 best blogs for a complete culinary education, whether or not you've earned your degree.

Cooking Tips and News

Find recipes, cooking tips, food news, and plenty more from these blogs. Subscribe to their feeds for steady lessons in cooking basics and beyond.

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  • Closet Cooking: If you have a tiny student's kitchen, you can make the recipes featured on this blog, like apple pie French toast or spinach and feta lasagna.

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These blogs come from culinary schools or culinary students and can help you understand what cooking school is all about.

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Some culinary students choose to major in the baking and pastry arts. Even if you've chosen a different route, visit these blogs for scrumptious recipes and photos of bread and desserts that will make you drool.

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  • Bread Cetera: Steve is an organic chemist turned bread baker, so you know he gets it right.

  • My Baking Addiction: This baker is truly obsessed: she has 25 posts for cupcakes, and 17 just for cheesecake!

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Culinary Management and Hospitality

If you want to learn about running a restaurant, check out these blogs.

Food Science 

  • Bringing food chemistry to life: Head to this blog from Oregon State for open conversation about the components of food.

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Click here: 50 Best Blogs for a Complete Culinary Education - Online Degree Top Online Degrees

Karmel_Kuisine's picture

Yeast types

I'm thoroughly confused about yeast.

The King Arthur Flour baking books, which I use a lot, say to use instant yeast.

I just checked out their book on whole grain baking, and in that book, the text says that instant yeast and rapid rise yeast are not the same thing and are not interchangeable.

However, in my supermarkets, there really is no "instant yeast." Just active-dry, and depending on the brand, either fast- or rapid-rise.

There is one store that carries something called "instant yeast;" it's Oetker brand (?), but it's a specialty store.

What's the deal with this?

(I have used rapid- and fast-rise with good results. I have used active dry a lot less).

Nymphaea's picture

Simple questions on the basics :)

First I should say Hi, my first message here since I joined yesterday :)

I have been wondering on peoples oppinion mostly on how to keep the starter, because I find so many conflicting ideas everywhere about it, and today when preparing some of my new yeast for baking, I noticed it smelt much healthier when I kept it in a bowl with just a cloth over it than it did in the jar I keep it in, which I had thought may be going bad from the smell. So my first question, is how to contain the starter? I have been keeping mine in a Mason jar, with the inner lid upside down so it will not form a seal, and the lid very loose. Would it be better to give it more air?

Another concern is material, everywhere says to avoid plastic and metal, but I see alot of people, including on this site, using tupperware containers for theirs(especially starters on the dry side of the spectrum) This is for tools as well, when working with my starter, would it be best to avoid plastic and metal tools? After my first batch spoiled, I have been using a wooden spoon only with this one, but not sure how much it matters ^-^;;

Thanks in advance for any help you can give :)