The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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alex's picture

Hi, from London, UK. My first time.


I am a student from London, UK. I only just started to take bread baking more seriously last week. I managed to bake up to 5 batches of baguettes, since using different techniques. I found that everything turned out as it was supposed to, apart from the taste of the bread at the end. They all taste different, which i guess is right, but not how the book describes them to taste or how i tasted them from actual bakeries. As a result I started earlier this week to cultivate liquid levain and maybe next week stiff dough levain to see whether or not that will make a difference to the taste. I also looked around online and as a result stumbled across this site/forum and was amazed by the fact that there were so many bread lovers here, and everyone discussing their ideas amongst each other.
I understand that the flour off course also plays a major part in the taste. Are there any suggestions as to where i can look for the right type of flour in London?


Leah Vetter's picture
Leah Vetter


I just started baking 3 months ago.  i started with no-knead bread and have moved on to usingng recipes from THE BREAD BAKER'S APPRENTICE.  I've been using a Kitchen Aid mixer to mix and knea  I've done French Bead, Pain L"Ancienne, Pugliesse and Pain de Compagne. Everything I bake tastes delicous but I have never achieved the kind of crumb I see in the photographs (those great big holes). i'd appreciate any advice from you experienced bakers.



ClassicAles's picture

Origins of S.F. Sour Dough...

Hello All;

Wanted to stop in and introduce myself. I've been a craft brewer (home brewer) for several years now and tend to be on the teckie geekie side of things. I've brewed many styles of beer and like the hobby. Why am I telling you this? It all has to do with the history of sour dough yeast and where the San Francisco taste was born.

You see, a style of beer known as "Steam Beer" which is kept alive thru the diligent marketing of Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing uses a very unique beer yeast. This yeast is unlike any other in the brewing industry. It has a flavor profile that fits uniquely between the classic lager and ale yeasts of which there are literally dozens in commercial use world wide. But there is only ONE San Francisco brewing yeast! Now imagine yourself 150 years ago in S.F. and you are a commercial bakery and you use a lot of yeast to bake.... Where are you going to get yeast.... From the bakery supply store or the brewery down the street! I think you'll agree that back then, they didn't know what was going on with the yeast, they just know that it made the beer... ah hum... the bread taste great! And the brewery was glad to sell or give it away because believe me... when you brew beer, you produce a HUGE amount of yeast in the fermentor.

When German brewers came to America and migrated to the west coast during the gold rush, they naturally took their 'old world' skills with them. One of these skills was brewing beers. The problem was, they had no ice caves in which to "lager" (a german word for 'store cold') their beers. As a result they did the best they could with the yeast they had carried half way around the world. Over the decades this yeast evolved to produce the classic BOLD tastes that are associated with Anchor Steam Beer. I've used this yeast, fresh from the yeast banks and using the standard recipes for french bread have produced some very fine 'sour dough' breads. They taste way better than the "bakers yeast" you'd use in the recipe and produce that famous 'west coast' taste that everyone loves.

You can acquire this yeast, use yeast ranching techniques that are easy to find on the web, and keep the yeast culture for months or years and have San Francisco Sour Dough bread anytime  you want without having to keep a starter that will itself evolve and mutate into something else over time.

Go to and look for WL-810 San Francisco Lager Yeast or go to and look for 2112 California Lager yeast. These are the same yeasts, and are "banked" for commercial purposes. You will be amazed at the taste if you follow the directions for the bread, but use these liquid yeasts (yes they ARE that fresh) to make the starter/sponge. And depending on where you live, you can order from almost any homebrewing supply house on the web. A couple I've used that have very fresh stocks are and

Enjoy and just remember.... Beer is known as 'liquid bread' for a very good reason.... ;-)

Try it.... You'll like it!


ClassicAles - Artisan Brewer and Baker

fugalh's picture

Gauging Growth Stage

I've been reading and thinking about sourdough growth. Most instructions refer either to time or to the activity of the start. It is asserted in at least a few places that different starts may be "faster" than others though I have a hard time believing tha if one is to believe that the dominant species in those starts are L. sf and C. milleri.

It seems to be a common belief that when the start or dough has risen as high as it goes and stops rising, that the start activity has peaked. In other words, that it enters the transition to the static phase. But I wonder if this isn't an erroneous assumption. Dough, and especially the more fluid starts, are hardly airtight. I think the only thing that can be said is that an equilibrium has been reached where gas production is at least high enough to counter gravity to the extent that the gluten structure will allow it to rise.

It seems like this may even be true even early or midway through the exponential phase, or well into the death phase. Or maybe not—I'm not sure and this is my question. Does anyone know of a good way (without scientific instruments) to estimate the growth phase of sourdough? Particularly, the transition to static phase, but any indication that it's in static phase would be useful.

gothicgirl's picture

Carrot Coconut Cupcakes

I had a craving for carrot cake the other day.  It was one of those cravings you try to ignore, but in the end you submit because, like it or not, you did not try all that hard to avoid it in the first place.

Carrot Coconut Cupcake

Submitting to my desire also gave me the opportunity to play around with a recipe.  I always enjoy that!  I did not just want carrot cake, I wanted carrot cupcakes, and I did not just want carrot, I wanted carrot coconut.  I do not bake with coconut often because my husband, and main test subject, dislikes the texture of it.  Did I say dislikes?  I mean loathes. 

Regardless of the likes of my husband my mind was set on carrot coconut, so on the way home from work I picked up a few things and set to work.

Carrot Coconut Cupcake 

The original recipe for the carrot cake is my father's.  It is an excellent, moist, and very dense carrot cake, but I knew with all the eggs and oil it would make a very poor cupcake.  Besides, I hate getting a cupcake with a greasy liner!  Yuck!

So, I made some modifications, such as reducing the eggs, replacing some of the oil with applesauce, and adding some buttermilk to thin the batter and to add a slightly tangy note to the cakes.   Adding the coconut helped add moisture along with the grated carrots, so in the moistness department I figured I was good.

Carrot Coconut Cupcake 

The original cake calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda for a 9″x13″ cake which is quite dense.  I wanted fluffy cupcakes that would dome proudly inside the liners so I added an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder.

My modifications resulted in tender, moist, flavorful cupcakes with a slightly chewy texture from the shredded coconut.  Even my husband, who avoids coconut like the plague, said they were pretty tasty ... coconut aside. 

Carrot Coconut Cupcake Fixins' 

Carrot Coconut Cupcake   Yield 24

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded coconut

Heat the oven to 350F and line your cupcake pans with paper liners.

Sugar, Eggs, Applesauce, Buttermilk, Oil, and Vanilla

In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, oil, applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Blend until smooth and well incorporated.

In a smaller bowl sift the dry ingredients, then pour the dry onto the wet and whisk until the dry ingredients just moisten.

Folding in the Carrots and Coconut

Add the shredded carrots and coconut and fold gently, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Fill the cupcake liners 1/3 of the way full.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the center of the cupcake springs back when lightly pressed. 

Carrot Coconut Cupcake Fresh from the Oven 

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for three minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.

Carrot Coconut Cupcake 

I frosted my cupcakes with a simple cream cheese frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting   Enough to decorate 24 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 - 8 oz bar of cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Blend the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well mixed, about five minutes.  Add the vanilla and blend to combine.

Add the powdered sugar and blend on low until the powdered sugar is moist, then blend on high for thirty seconds to remove any lumps.

Carrot Coconut Cupcake

Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator. 


Posted on - 3/17/2009

jackie9999's picture

Stone VS parchment paper on stone?

I getting ready to make my first pizza and have a question about using a stone vs parchment paper on stone. Is there a big difference?

I have an inexpensive stone I use for breads and I tried a store bought pizza directly on it and it stuck. Even my bagels stuck, so I use parchment paper and have no problems at all. But I wonder if the pizza crust won't be as good as it could be if I don't use the paper?

Another question I have, while I'm asking, I notice the gas in my oven seems to go off/on more often with the stone..possibly it's my imagination? I suppose I'm asking are there any possibly bad side effects to your oven using a stone?


flournwater's picture

New and Confused

I've only been on board here for a few weeks.  I find that my account includes a list labled "Track" for those posts I've shown some interest in.  Some of the items on the list haven't shown a post of any kind for more than four weeks and It gets a bit difficult after a while to maintain any sense of this list and I can't identify any method for clearing out the list.  When, if ever, do these fall off the list?  Can anyone tell me how to manage this never ending list of information that I'd rather not deal with on a day to day basis?

tysonmc's picture

Dinner Rolls

Does anyone have a really, really good dinner roll recipe.  I need to make some for a bridal shower. 

Kuret's picture

Suas Scones and new toys!, --Image Heavy--

It is my girlfriends birthday today so I decided to make her a special breakfast! I had eyeballed the butter scones from Advanced Bread and Pastries before but seeing as how they are so rich I didn't want to make them save for a special occasion. Here in sweden a scone is more akin to Soda Bread than the sweetish style scones you get in Britain och America.

I managed to make them up the day before without my girlfriend noticing and refrigerate them overnight so that I could bake them for here first thing in the morning. I think they turned out pretty good, and my girlfriend did like them so I'm set!

Butter scones


I have also finally taken the plunge and aquired a Pullman pan for myself, maybe a 1.5kg loaf of tasty toast bread is too much for a two person family but maybe a 2.5kg loaf of Vollkornbrot might not be enoguh? hmm.. might have to share any attempts at Vollkornbrot with friends or there will be leftovers for ever! Here the pullman pan Is shown beside my regular breadpan.

and here is how a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread turned out, tasty! This is the same bread I have blogged about earlier, with a formula developed by me. Unfortunately the picture is insanely yellow, but that is due to poor lighting when I took the picture.

This is a secret too, but I have also made two mini cheesecakes for tonights dinner wich I am making for my girlfriend, hope that they are tasty..


Floydm's picture

Rainy day

Very wet here this weekend.  Good for rainbows...

and also good for baking!

I made buttermilk cinnamon rolls this afternoon...

and a couple of loaves of my daily bread to eat with a big pot of soup this evening.