The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Boulanger's picture

Stretch and Fold with a spatula

In a recipe I found on this forum the procedure ask for:

''Using a rubber spatula or a plastic scraper, stretch and fold the dough 30 times''

I use the strectch and fold technique when I make BBA's Pain à l'ancienne but I am not familiar with this procedure. Is there a video that shows how to do it with a rubber spatula?




Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Proofing Baskets

I'm ready to try proofing baskets. Is there a preferred brand or source or is this something I can  "wing" at home with a mixing bowl and cloth lining? Tricks, tips or other?

Ford's picture

Front Page on Wall Street Journal

For those who might have missed it, "The Fresh Loaf" and sourdough made the front page of The Wall Street Journal today, Monday, May 3, 2010.  The bottom of the page, but the front page, none-the-less -- and continued on page A6.


petercook's picture

French bread: times and temps

I have been working on re-creating a New Orleans style French bread (not baguettes). I'm very, very close to what I want, but one last thing evades me--- the paper-thin, shatteringly crisp crust. I am now on test # 47 and I am getting a wildly open crumb which exactly what I want. The interior is ever so slightly moist, The crust is a deep golden brown. And it has a very nice depth of flavor. All of that is great. Question: Is it possible to get that paper thin CRISP crust at home? If so, how? In brief, my shaped loaves are 15" long and about as big around as a link of Italian sausage. Shaped loaf weight is 330 gram.  The loaves go into a double baguette pan (the kind with hundreds of tiny holes), bagged tightly and retarded over night in the fridg. In the morning I put the shaped loaves (still bagged) on the counter to proof. Because I use such a small amount of yeast the proofing takes 4-5 hour. When I think the loaves are ready I poke a floured finger into one loaf and there is about a 50% spring back. I always bake the loaves using steam in the beginning. I put a heavy cast iron fry pan on the oven floor when I pre-heat for 45 min. I made a contraption that pours the water down into the super hot fry pan after the loaves are in the oven and the door is closed. The result is a lot of steam. All of that is what I do every single time. Ok, now, times and temps: I have tried every variation that I can think of; from a starting temp of 485 for 10 min, followed by a temp of 375 for another 20 min. I have tried a steady temp of 375 for 30 min and everything in between. Thinking that the amount of steam for a given amount of time might have an impact I have tested that. I am now using an amount of water that creates steam and then evaporates in about 9 min. I always get a nice oven-spring of about a 40% increase in height. I even adjusted the times and temps to bake for 45 min. As you might expect when I bake for longer times I get a progressively thicker crust (which I don't want). When I think the loaves are ready, I turn the oven off and crack open the door a few inches to dry the crust. When I pull the loaves out of the oven the internal temp is 205 F and the crust is perfect BUT 5 min later it begins to soften. 15 min later the crust is as soft as white bread from the store. I don't know if this is a clue but when I make small sandwich loaves, 110 gram, (using exactly the same formula and methods, I get a perfect little loaf that has exactly the crust I want, paper thin and crisp. Anyone who has any thoughts on this matter, I would appreciate hearing from you.  P.S. I talked with the baker at a local market and even though his French bread tastes like cardboard he at least gets a perfect crust.

bnom's picture

Test driving my new Fibrament-D stone with my fave SD formula bread

I got a new stone last week and have made two batches of a sourdough formula I've developed.  First the stone is a 15 x 20 Fibrament-D and I love that I can bake three longish loaves.  However, my first bake was disappointing...I got pretty flat loaves. I suspected the error was mine and not the stones.

So I changed two things. I let the first proof happen at room temp--68 degrees--until doubled in bulk (about 6 hours), and then cold retarded for 8 hours (muy prior loaf was proofed at 80 degrees). I also tried to develop better surface tension when shaping (one loaf I shaped/scored better than the other and it's pretty obvious in the pic which one that is).  I'm really happy I went back to a cooler proof.


Here's the formula:

The formula:

300 g firm starter

620 g water

750 g unbleached AP flour (530 g Morbread 12% protein, and 200 g Whole Food AP)

50 g coarse ground wheat berries

50 g coarse ground rye berries

23 g salt



althetrainer's picture

Bread sculptures

Little man has been asking to make bread sculptures so I am going to just keep the pictures here.  We've made a crab bread two day ago and his monster bread yesterday.  Today, I made an alligator bread, stuffed with ham and cheese.  This one is a bit different than the other two because this is a unbleached sourdough alligator.  Took about 6 hours to rise before baking.  Very fun to make.



Sedlmaierin's picture

Hamelman's Roasted Potato Bread with Onions

This bread seemed really easy to make and it has an excellent flavor! After quizzing my family and friends they all voted for the version with onions, so that's what I made. Not having made or eaten potato bread before,I had no idea what to expect and the only thing that surprised me was how relatively soft the crust turned out to be-it was nice and crunchy when coming out of the oven, but softened upon cooling.I assume that is because it is relatively moist,with the potatoes,onions and oil. I really enjoy the effect that the olive oil has on the flavor-it makes it fruity,rich and creamy!

I left the skin on my one, huge potato and just chopped it fine-that means there are very small pieces of potato still visible in the bread and the skins gives it a nice marbled effect.

The one thing that did not work out that well-or let's say it only worked well on one loaf-was the fendu shaping.And it was entirely my fault-on the succesfully fendu shaped loaf I really used a lot of flour,which I then had to knock off before folding and final proofing.Which made me think,oh I won't use as much flour on the next one, just a little bit..lo and behold, it just didn't turn out that well-it didn't open up as nicely and the rolling pin stuck just a tad when I tried to get it out.Live and learn.

Here are pictures:

So far this challenge has been a lot of fun-I would have never made the potato bread otherwise! It is a lovely bread that I will definitely make again.


ilan's picture

Pecans and pumpkin seeds sandwich bread

My path of research in bread making led me another step. This week I made yet another sandwich-bread and added different stuff into it.

I saw that in the several recipes most of the liquid in such bread consist of milk. It should make the bread richer in flavor as milk in oppose to water have a taste and in addition it contain some percent of fat.

All is good and well in theory. I already baked bread with water and bread with milk.

This time, I made two batches of the same recipe but in the second I replaced 2/3 of the liquid with milk.

Both bread looked almost the same. If there was any visual difference I failed to see it.

The crust on the milk bread was softer while the one with water was crunchier. There is a meaningful difference… I like both.

Another thing I wanted was thinner crust. So instead of baking at high temp with steam for 15 minutes (as I done in my previous bread) I reduce the time to 10 minute. The crust was good but thinner.

 To enrich the bread I added Pecans and Pumpkin seeds to the dough and sprinkled the top of the bread with Sunflower & Pumpkin seeds.

I didn’t use any preferment here, It was aimed to be a quick bread making. So, I used 3 teaspoons of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. This reduced raise time to 1 hour + 1 hour. I must try this same bread with the longer method to check the flavor difference. But this will be my project for next week J

I didn’t punch down the dough after the first rise. I just roll it out of the bowl and formed it. It looses enough air in any case.

Additional thing I tried with both loaves was to score them right after I formed them into loaves. This is because when I try to score the bread right before baking, it loose height. I should look for a razor blade as my knives (sharp as they are – 8” knife is too big) are not good enough for this job.

The Dough:

-       3 1/4 cups flour

-       3 teaspoons yeast

-       1 teaspoon sugar

-       1 ½ cup of water (replace 1 cup of water with milk)

-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt

-       ½ cup of chopped Pecans

-       ¼ cup of Pumpkin seeds

-       ½ egg

-       ½ egg for glazing

-       Sunflower seeds for topping

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, egg and water (or milk) into a unified mixture and let rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt Pecans and Pumpkin seeds knead for 10 minutes. Let rise for 60 minutes.

Form into a loaf and let rise for another hour.

Bake in high temperature with steam for 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat (180-170c) and bake for another 40 minutes.

Until the next post




nfierman's picture

What are the principles for a lighter/softer crumb?

My whole wheat breads, even with 1/2 or more general purpose flour, come out pretty dense.  I am looking for a lighter, softer crumb.  What are the key principles for doing that?  Thanks

SylviaH's picture

What I baked today-All day!

This is what I baked today!  I started out this morning making some sourdough waffles for the freezer.  Mike likes to have a ready snack of frozen waffles.  While I was making some of J.H. Vermont sourdough bread I spotted a couple of pears that were just perfect for poaching, aahhh a pear tart for dessert tonight.  Since I was going to busy baking, I saved one portion of the bread dough for a pizza dinner tonight..the oven and the stone all would be nice and hot and it would be an easy dinner so I could tend to my baking.


                                                                         Pear Tart with Amaretto Liqueur 





                                                              J. H. Vermont Sourdough 

                    One very large Pepperoni Pizza made from some saved bread dough!