The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
DonD's picture

A Message of Thanks

In this season of Thanksgiving, I thought that it would be appropriate to give thanks to all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.

As a first generation American, I feel blessed to be part of this great country and its diverse demography. To me, The Fresh Loaf Community is a microcosm of what this country is all about. The exchange of ideas, the help and encouragement from its members to each other is heartwarming. It all helps us to become better bakers but more importantly to be better people. It is even more amazing that our Community has become a Global Community.

We would not have this forum but for the initiative and dedication of Floyd who has put in tremendous time and effort to maintain this site for all to benefit. I have come to admire and respect Floyd even more as I got to know about his selfless dedication to those less fortunate than us. So to Floyd, a heartfelt 'Thank You'.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Family as well as to the entire Fresh Loaf Community.


Ps. Congrats, Floyd on The Fresh Loaf being included in Peter Reinhart's new book 'Artisan Breads Every Day'.

txfarmer's picture

Auvergne Rye Baguette with Bacon


This one is from "Local Breads", a book I have love/hate relationship with. All 4 recipes I've tried so far from this book have turned out beautifully, however, with so many errors, I have to do extensive research online before trusting a recipe from there, such a shame, I would've loved to bake more from it. This one is super delicious, how can it not be, since bacon makes everything better, not to mention the already delicous baguette!


I followed the recipe closely, except for two things:

1)I kneaded minimally (2 minutes with my KA at speed 4) after autolyse and did a couple of folds during bulk fermentation, while the recipe instructed to knead the dough a lot longer. I like open crumb for my baguette, so I didn't want to over knead.

2)I put in all of the starter build by mistake (195g rather than 125g), luckily I realized it early on, so I adjusted water, everything ended up OK. With the extra starter, I did manage to get 4 baguettes, each about 310g, while some other posters have mentioned that they could only get 3 of 360g ones.

I put the shaped dough in the fridge for 12 hours, took them out and left at room temperature for 75 minutes before slashing and baking. They had great oven spring and the slash opened up well:

And ears one can lift up with

Fairly open crumb with visible bacon bits

The bacon flavor permeate throughout the bread, the best part is the crust - extra crunch and fragrant with the bacon fat.We ate this one straight without anything else, so yummy!

nicodvb's picture

Kneading rye?

I need advice on how to best treat rye flour for the preparation of rye bread.
First of all let me explain what I do. I regularly prepare a 100% rye bread: 30% of the flour is in the sourdough, 30% is in the hot soaker (where rye is coarsely chopped) and 40% in the last dough.
Dough idratation is 80%.
I don't use anything else than water, rye, sourdough and salt, thus no yeast, no added gluten, no coloring, no sugars, no malt etc. Overall no shortcuts and no tricks.
Cooking was a problem in the past but now it's solved. Taste is excellent, but there's still a problem with consistence: the inside comes out a bit irregular and crumby like this:

not as regular as this one (the best rye bread I ever tried)

I know there's almost no gluten to develop, so -at least on theory- kneading extensively would likely do more harm than good, but I read everything and its contrary in recipes: some say to knead extensively (20-30 minutes), others say to knead just enough to give some consistence to the dough.
I always knead with hands wet in warm water for little time.
Would a kneading machine work the dough better, maybe for longer time?

I'd like to read your advices and your experiences in this regard: knead for long or for short time, by hand or in a robot? what would be the advantage of an extensive kneading?


Salome's picture

South tyrolean Farmerbread (Bauernbrot)

I undigged an old and beloved recipe, which I somehow just didn't bake in the last time. It's a rather simple recipe; I got it from a woman originating from South Tyrol, she calls it her Farmerbread (Bauernbrot). It's a sourdough bread which can be altered fairly much.

This time I used only whole-grain flours, although the recipe originally asks for high extraction flour (partly).

I posted the recipe for the first time here in my very first forum post when I was asked to share some of my favourite recipes.

The recipe below is how I did yesterday.

The resulting bread remains one of my favourites, it has a fully developed flavour, is pleasantly "heavy", moist, somewhat chewy. Perfect for a hearty sandwich, for instance with a strong cheese or ham. My today's sandwich is made with this bread, a bean spread, cucumber and radish slices. Yum!

the lady of South Tyrol told me that she alters the recipe according to what she's got on hand, sometimes she increases the rye percentage, sometimes she makes it completely wheat. She reccomends to add 150 g of walnuts as well, but this amount seems to be fairly little to me. but I've never tried it yet. I could imagine that a toasted seed-soaker (especially sunflower seeds, flaxseeds...) would work outstandingly.




(1) "Preferment"
250 g whole grain rye flour
250 ml water
200 g ready to bake sourdough (100% hydration whole grain rye)

(2) final dough
1 kg whole-wheat flour (original: 500 g whole-wheat rye, 500 g high extraction wheat flour)
750 ml lukewarm water
27 g salt
1 tablespoon honey

3 tbs Vital Wheat gluten (can be excluded)

1. Prepare the sourdough (200 g), let it ripe.

2. Mix all the ingredients of (1) in a bowl ("Preferment"), cover it and let it rest for 12 hours on a warm spot.

I'm sure that the "preferment" could be substituted by a normal whole rye sourdough, without this extra step. Just mix 335 g flour, 335 g water and 30 g ripe culture and let it fully ferment. But this must me quite harder to digest for the yeasties, so if you have time it's maybe worth to feed the dough in two steps.

3. mix this "preferement with all the other ingredients of the final dough. Knead the dough for at least 15 minutes (by hand). This time I added vital wheat gluten, but I didn't feel much of a difference compared to my earlier bakes.

4. for the first fermentation: cover the bowl and let the dough ferment until it feels light, it should slightly less than double. This took me around four hours, but be aware that sourdough can differ a lot depending on dough and room temperature! I had the same recipe fully fermenting in two hours in summer.


for the baking in pans: grease two or three pans ane it with baking paper. (I don't know how big american pans normally are, so just divide into two or three pieces as you feel)

For baking as hearth loaves: Shape like discussed here (ff)

5.  let the loaves rest until they've risen quite a bit (slightly less than doubled, until they feel "light")  watch your dough and judge yourself.

6. preheat your oven as hot as possible (450°F) , steam well, put the breads into the oven and lower the temperature to 420°F, lower the temperature gradually during the rest of the bake, ending at around 390°F. I baked for about 50 minutes.

7. Let cool and let the loaf set over night.





Floydm's picture

2009 Book Guide (with 2010 update)

2010 Update: I can only think of one major bread book that came out this year, Tartine Bread. It is definitely a contender for bread lovers who live in the Bay Area.  Other than that addition, I think this list is valid for 2010.

This fall we are blessed (or cursed, depending on your budget) with the release of three books about quickly and easily making artisan-style breads at home.

I've read all three and enjoyed each. Inevitably I've been asked which is my favorite and, frankly, I don't think I have a favorite. Even though they are purportedly about the same thing, they are quite different books. There are common techniques used in the three books, but the tone of the authors and the selection of recipes is different enough that they don't seem to overlap as much as one would expect.

So rather than try to pick a favorite or make a recommendation of a single book to give (or get) this holiday season, I thought about my various friends and family members and which book I'd give them.

To my parents I would give Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François's Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My father has already borrowed my copy of their previous book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and had pretty good success with the master recipe there. I think the healthier recipes in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day would appeal to them and Jeff and Zoë's enthusiastic and encouraging tone is great for people who want to bake great bread at home but who aren't really foodies.

To my sister who lives in the Sonoma/Napa Wine Country and has easy access to great local breads, cheeses, and wines, I'd give Peter Reinhart's new book Artisan Breads Every Day. Peter's book has a great selection of recipes from his previous books adapted to use a quicker, easier technique that'd be perfect for a young professional who loves to eat well and make good food.

To my foodie friends who got into the no-knead bread technique when it spread around the internet a couple of years ago, I'd give Jim Lahey's My Bread. Jim's "bread-in-a-pot" technique got the no-knead craze started and is covered in more detail in the book, but it also contains a number of soup and sandwich recipes that would appeal to the foodie in your life.

To the aspiring culinary student or professional baker, Dan Dimuzio's Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective is a great new textbook about artisan baking. Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes remains a favorite of many of the higher end bakers on this site, so it might be a good candidate too. I've also been told be reliable sources that The San Francisco Baking Institute's founder Michel Suas's Advanced Bread and Pastry is the most comprehensive book on baking in the English language.

To the bread geek who already has a number of bread books, I'd try to find a good bread book they might have overlooked. Dan Lepard's The Art of Handmade Bread (also know as The Handmade Loaf) is a wonderful book that hasn't gotten the attention in North America that it deserves. I'm also a big fan of Daniel Leader's Local Breads.

Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice remains one of the best introductions to artisan baking and was the primary inspiration for this site, so if you like what you find here and don't have a copy, I would certainly recommend you pick a copy up.

davidjm's picture

Secrets for successful Clay Bread Oven


Secrets to successful Clay Oven Usage

I'm still relatively new to this, but I haven't seen the information below in other places.  I welcome your comments and suggestions from your experiences as well.  They will benefit the whole community!

First, go ahead and buy the book by Kiko Denzer "Build your own earth ovens" ( $15)

Insulated Hearth Subfloor:

In Kiko's book, he recommends using plain sand as a subfloor for the hearth.  That is the cheapest way to do it, but for $50 more, you can have an insulated subfloor that will hold heat much better than sand.  Build a form the size of the top of you base at least 2" thick.  Buy a bag of Portland cement and 2 big bags of vermiculite from a plant nursery.  Mix the two at a 5:1 ratio (vermiculite:Portland) dry.  Then add water and mix until you get an oatmeal consistency.  Pour into the form.  Smooth out the top.  Make sure it's level!  Let dry for at least a week.  Then you will set your fire brick directly on top without mortar.  The clay walls will hold it in.  Ideally, you would have 4-5" thick subfloor.  I found that I loose heat out the floor faster than the walls with 2" thick subfloor.

Oven Dome:

Kiko, in one of his blogs, actually says the ideal height of the dome, no matter the size of the floor, is 16".  He plans to add it to the next edition of his book. In the present edition, he gives a percentage formula. 

Firing the oven:

After a couple miserable failures, and combing the web for advice, I finally figured out how to successfully fire a clay oven.  Here's what I learned.

You really need good seasoned oak to make it get hot enough. 

Buy an Infra-red thermometer ( $80).  It is worth it.  You'll need to chart out the heating behavior of your oven at least one time.  Then you can use it to give you a frame of reference during a heating. 

And, plan to spend at least 3 -5 hrs heating it up, depending on the size of your oven.  My oven floor is 28" wide by 31" deep, and 20" high ceiling inside.  It is a relatively large oven.  I found that I have to fire the oven for 4+ hrs to get the temp high enough. 

Think in terms of heat saturation of the clay walls and floor.  Noah Elbers at Orchard Hill Breadworks ( says he fired his clay oven 6 hrs before he attained proper heat saturation. 

The outside walls are a good guide as to heat saturation.  In my oven, I need the outside walls to gain 100 degrees in temp before I am near having proper saturation; even more if I want to bake a larger quantity.  (This is where an IR thermometer comes in handy!)

I think firing time depends on how much you are baking too.  If you are only doing a couple pizzas and no breads, then you don't need as much heating time.  But if you're going to maximize your baking potential, you'll want a long hot heating.

I took hundreds of data points of my oven during a firing, and I put my findings into a graph.

(The upper lines are inside temps.  The lower lines are outside temps.)

Couple observations from the graph:

  1. You see a big jump in internal temp at 75 minutes when I put in a few pieces of nice seasoned oak.  After which time, the internal temp continues to grow.

  2. Inside temp reached 1000+ degrees F at its peak.

  3. The rate of heating of the outside increased after the good oak was added and steadily gained in temp until the fire went down to coals.  (I rake the coals across the floor and let sit for 30 min to heat the floor uniformly.)

  4. After that time, the outside temp remained relatively constant.

  5. You can see clearly how after the fire is taken down to coal at 255 minutes (or 4:15 into firing), we immediately start losing inside temp at a steep rate.  Coals stayed down for 30 minutes and then raked out. 

  6. Once the oven inside temp reaches around 450, we see a leveling off of the rate of cooling.  I think that if I had fired the oven another hour, the inside temp would have leveled off at a higher temperature.  That would have given me addition time in the pizza and bread baking range.  As it was, I got about 90 minutes worth of baking time on that firing.  My max capacity in that firing was: 14 pizzas, seven 30" baguettes, and 6 whole grain loaves.

I hope this is helpful.

Let's hear some of your secrets!



Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Liberty Hill Farm's Pumpkin Crescents

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, so I thought I'd get in a quick blog entry before things get really busy... and to prove that I really do make breads once in a while. I found this recipe while searching The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook (vol. 2), for a vegetable dish to take to my sister's on Thursday. I'm Still undecided on the vegetable, by the way, but these sounded perfect for the Thanksgiving table, so I had to try them out. (I get side-tracked easily.)

My thought was, If they turn out well, I'll freeze and take them, and if not, we really don't need the extra starch anyway. Well, I'm taking them, and I kinda hope they don't all get eaten, because I'm already thinking they'll make a mighty fine bread pudding. I think the dough would be good for other things too---like warm caramel pecan sticky buns.... Okay, enough of that! Time is running out, and I have to decide on a vegetable.

Pumpkin Crescents
makes 3 dozen rolls

2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter [the recipe calls for shortening]
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
more butter, softened

This is how I put the dough together:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, then mix with the pumpkin, sugar, egg and salt. Add half the flour, and then as much more as needed, a little at a time, kneading until a firm, elastic dough forms. Add the butter in small pieces and continue kneading until it disappears and incorporates into the dough. Add a little more flour if the dough becomes too soft and sticky (you're going to have to roll this out later).

Round the dough and place into a greased bowl. Let rise until double. (The recipe says about 1 hour in a warm place, but that's not likely with only one package of yeast---mine took 2-3 hours.)

Deflate the dough and divide into 3 equal portions. Round each piece and let rest 20-30 minutes. Roll out into 12" circles, and spread with the softened butter. (It will take around 2 tablespoons per circle.) Cut each into twelve wedges---a pizza cutter works best for this. Cut a small notch in the center of the curved edges. Stretch each triangle from the curved edge to the narrow point, and then widen the curved edge to open the notch by pulling out from the other two corners. Roll up, beginning from the notched edge. Place the rolls on lightly greased sheet pans, with the points tucked underneath, and curve into a crescent shape. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 400F for 14-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Adapted from the recipe by Liberty Hill Farm, Rochester, VT

winterberryfarmer's picture

"Cheater" overnight sourdough

So, I admit it. I love to cook and never really did much baking. Had a bread machine and it was little used. Saw one of the 'no-knead' sites and was intrigued. Started reading (and of course buying 'stuff.') Tried Anis Bouabsa's recipe on this site for baguettes and nailed it. Been bubbling a starter for a couple of weeks and the first try (no-knead) was terrible; flat and ugly though 'tasty.'One problem has been the whole "time" thing; 18 or 21 hours is just too much; add an hour to warm a cold pate and it is worse.  Ever the tinkerer, I boiled down a few ideas and my wife, daughter of a Maitre Cuisinier de France, told me at lunch, "well, you hit it this time." Last one to try today, but I had to admit that I nailed it. So, for those who might be interested, my 'cheater' sourdough, semi-no-touch, overnight and in time for kids lunches bread:

Before bed, toss the following into the Kitchenaid with the dough hook:

1/2 cup +1T sourdough starter (mine's virulent)

13 oz bread flour (KA)

3 oz white whole wheat flour (KA)

1T vital wheat gluten

1.25 cups water

1.25 t salt

mix on low-med until combined and it forms a ball

turn mixer to medium for 30 seconds more

20 minutes rest

5 seconds at low+1 speed

20 minute rest

5 seconds at low+1 speed

20 minute rest

5 seconds at low +1 speed

dump into a bowl, cover with plastic, leave overnight in a warmish place

6AM or so:

scrape dough onto floured surface

spread gently into a rectangle, using as little flour as possible

fold over in 1/3rds,(letter folds)

fold over itself in half

rest 20 minutes

gather dough into a rough ball and place into prepared proofing basket

into a warm place for 2 hour rise

preheat oven and LaCloche/LeCreuset on top of stone, to 500 degrees (at least 1/2 hour)

gently invert risen dough into LaCloche/LeCreuset, place lid on top, and bake 45 minutes at 500

remove lid, reduce temp to 450 and bake 15 minutes

remove bread to cooling rack for an hour.


You could probably cut proofing time short by 1/2 hour and still have enough time to cool, cut, make sandwiches, and make the kids' bus. Alternatively, you could simply start earlier the night before. For me, the times work. The slightly shorter initial ferment is more than compensated for by using twice the normal amount of starter. The machine 'folds' combined with the extra gluten do wonders for the crumb and the relatively high moisture content/high temp/LaCloche causes an intense oven spring. The taste is magnificent, the crust is a nice compromise between crisp and chewy.  

In most things I do, I tend to let the machines do my work. Here, the Kitchenaid was exactly what I needed. I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts.



JoeVa's picture

Pizza Margherita (Naturally Leavened)

Pizza is bread, bread crust.


I think a good pizza should have:

  • good dough: naturally leavened or proofed with indirect method like poolish or biga (that is: small amount of fresh yeast and a lot, a lot of time). I said "pizza is bread" because the actor in pizza is dough first, then the topping.

  • no more than 2 topping ingredients: mozzarella, pomodoro (tomato). I never eat and I do not agree with super topped pizza with "strange and exotic" topping. The biggest hazard I can do is mozzarella, pomodoro ciliegino and rucola (?garden rocket?) ... sorry I forgot olive oil and origano or basilico.

  • fast baking: the best pizza is baked in a wood fired oven at about 460°C in 00:01:30 / 00:02:00. In no more than 2 minutes the thin dough should cry, springing and browning.

There are a lot of pizza experts all over the world but the best pizza I ate was in Napoli. Is there a secret? I don't know! So my pizza is simple and good, not as good as true Pizza Napoletana, but I can't do better ...

Overall formula

Bread Flour 100%
Malted Flour 1.5%
Water* 65%
Salt 2.5%

*water should be adjusted with the absorption rate of **your** flour.

Preferment: 15%-20% of the total flour (bread flour) is prefermented at 100% hydration. Remember to subtract the flour and water from the final dough ingredients. I usually do a 1:2:2 feeding in the morning (08:00) so that my starter is ready after lunch (14:00) and I can mix the dough for pizza dinner.

Dough consistency: soft dough


  • Mix all ingredients except salt (desired dough temperature 26/27°C)
  • Autolyse 00:30, then add salt on top
  • Mix at medium gluten development
  • [Puntata]Rest for about 01:00.
  • [Staglio] Divide and shape small ball (220-250g)
  • [Appretto] Proof 04:00 at 25°C
  • Bake on stone at the high temperature as fast as you can.
When pizza is removed from the oven I add a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt on top.
I use a small electric pizza oven with baking stone and 400°C temperature (G3 Ferrari) - this is my baking trick. With this oven I can bake in about 5 minutes! Not fast as a wood fired oven ...                                                





Bottom (blistered crust and brown spots):



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Amaranth Starter

Inspired by Charles Luce gluten free millet starter (following instructions in The Bread Builders, by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott)   I startered a sourdough starter using amaranth...

I am repeating part of the thread below so that when I use the starter with gluten flours, it will not be confusing in Charles's gluten free thread.  The discussion can be carried on here about using amaranth sourdough starter in gluten breads.  I also want to try his recipe for millet bread but use amaranth starter.  He has much more experience than I with gluten free breads and this has interesting and fascinating overlaps I'm only beginning to discover.

Nov 16 // make a starter.  It smells much like corn.  For obvious reasons, I didn't rinse the grain first but put it directly into a blender to turn it to flour.  Then I mixed 60g with 60g water and it sat 57 hours (instead of 48) 16°c to 17°c 

Nov 18 //   I added 60g more amaranth flour and 60g water, blended well  16°c.

I'm hoping it will make the amaranth tastier, milder maybe.  This could be the "trick" I've been waiting for.

Nov 19 //   I got life!  I forgot it again, it is 24 hours since I fed it and it is bubbly and rounded and even a little bit risen!  Amazing!  Can't smell any "sour" still smells like wet amaranth (yuck) or wet corn but I know it is active.  I stirred it and forced it to collapse.  In stirring I can feel the bubbles or pockets of gas in the starter.  Now to dump half and feed again but in the warmer room to help develop the yeasts.  I will also start washing the amaranth and adding the water then blending before adding to the starter.   The photos are before and after stirring:


Nov 20 //    First thing was to smell my starter.   Na ya...   ... went for cooked rolled oats this chilly foggy morning.  When I discard today I plan to try a glutinous 10 grain flour and we will see if it lifts it.  I've not yet aquired xanthum gum and millet flour.  I would be interested in mixing the amaranth starter in a palatable mixture of GF flours.  Maybe the Montana Mix that Charles mentions and suggests on his blog.   Amaranth can be quite strong in flavor and smells of Autumn.   Wet leaves and mushrooms, truffle  come to mind along with dry red wine and soaked beans ...thyme.  Charles Luce seemed to also be in a similar lock of the senses and on the above mentioned thread writes: 

...walked through my neighborhood, which is quite Hispanic, smelling the smells and thinking of your question. Potato starch flour comes to mind, as does banana flour, yuca (tapioca)flour and corn masa (used for making corn tortillas in Mexico). Maybe coconut flour too. Then I read that porcini (Steinpilz) work w/ amaranth...

I had read that amaranth was often combined with banana and chocolate, also seems to be used more in cakes and sweet recipes...  I use a fine metal coffee filter for washing the grain.   Coconut milk.... interesting.

Okay, it's evening now and I'm looking into my starter and the smell is....getting sour and the amaranth is taking on a milder smell.  This looks promising!  This is good!  Ooo can't wait for the bread!  I mixed it 1-2-3  120g starter - 240g water - 345g 10 grain flour  autolyse  and work in 1 tsp salt.  Three hours in the kitchen then into a cool room for the night.  To bake tomorrow.  Better plain for the first loaf,  then come more taste experiments.

Now I'm working on the remaining 120g of starter.  I am rinsing 60g amaranth and will dry it before milling and adding.  It dries nicely in a smooth dish towel, the grain doesn't seem to stick at all.   This time I feed it 60g amaranth shortly blenderized (no water but the tiny seeds seem to slip avoiding the blades) mix well and after 3 hours tuck away into the fridge.  I'm liking the smell of the starter, I really do.

Mini Oven