The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dmsnyder's picture

This weekend's breads

This weekend, I baked a couple sourdough baguettes and a bâtard using the mixing and fermentation methods described in the posts about Anis Bouabsa's baguettes. For these breads, I used 90% AP four, 5% WW and 5% rye. Interestingly enough, the flavor of the bâtard seemed much better to me.

These were nice, but the real star attraction was the Cherry Pecan Pain au Levain. I made it according to the formula and method recently posted by mountaindog. (

This is a spectacular bread. The flavors are wonderful and, at this point when the first batch is just cooled (well, almost just cooled), the bread dough, the cherries and the pecans each sings its own sweet tune.

This bread would be good with butter, cream cheese or a fresh chevre. In fact, it is pretty darn good just by iteself.

My wife's verdict is: "This is wonderful bread!" Now, she says such things fairly often, but this afternoon, she said it twice, separated by a minute or so. In Susan Speak, this indicates "I want to be certain my judgement has gotten through to you.  You will make this bread for me again!" To which I say, Amen!


Happy baking!


Karen the Mouse's picture
Karen the Mouse

new mill, need advice

I was thrilled to find a Magic Mill II for $15 at a yard sale. I've started milling flour and baking breads with the freshly milled flour and am amazed at how much better the taste and texture are with fresh flour. I also find that I can make a 100% whole wheat loaf which isn't gritty or heavy, something I've never succeeded in doing with whole wheat flour I've bought at the store.

I was able to download a manual for my mill, but it left me with some questions:

1) How fine do I want to grind my flour? I know this depends on the kind of bread I'm making, but if someone would give me some general guidelines, I'd appreciate it.

2) What can I grind in the Magic Mill? I've done wheat, barley and spelt. Can I do corn? What kind of corn? Chickpeas? Any other beans? Anything else?

3) Where can I find some good recipes for breads made with freshly ground grains? Can someone direct me to a good website or a book? I've baked breads for years, so I'm pretty comfortable with experimenting, but I'd like some new ideas, especially ideas for incorporating less common flours like chickpea or barley.

4) Any warnings on what to do or what not to do with my Magic Mill?

I'd appreciate any guidance or suggestions anyone has.


ejm's picture

six strand braiding video

I mentioned earlier that 6 strand braiding is easy and attempted to show my technique with text and drawings. But I could never have managed this without watching the linked videos on that post.

So we took it upon ourselves to make a video of my two-hand braiding technique as a supplement to our text/drawing instructions.

  1. Take the 2nd from left strand in your right hand and the 1st from the left strand in your left hand. Your right hand goes all the way over all the strands to the right (keep hold of that strand); your left hand goes over two strands to the center.
  2. Take the 2nd from right strand in your left hand your right hand is still holding the strand that is now 1st from the right strand (just a moment ago, this strand was the 2nd from the left...). Your left hand goes all the way over all the strands to the left; your right hand goes over two strands to the center.
  3. repeat 'til finished. Tuck ends under.


The bread recipe and more braiding photos are here:

Happy Braiding!


(edited to put video at the top of the post so it's more easily seen)

trhoma6432's picture

Italian peasant bread in brotforms

This is the first time I have attempted to proof and shape my Italian peasant bread in brotforms. I have made these loaves many times before but have always shaped them on my couche. These are the second loaves I have attempted to score. I did two loaves of sourdough last week and posted those on the site. The recipe I use comes from Bernard Clayton's 1973 edition, The Complete Book of Breads. The crust came out nicely chewy and the crumb was excellent being silky smooth. This is also the first time I used Caputo 00 flour instead of KAF unbleached bread flour. The difference was amazing in texture; nothing against KAF which I will be using in my other breads. My wife was very impressed. 

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Kneading evil?


Let's hear your thoughts...
Why all the Internet chatter about no-Knead bread?

My personal thoughts are that it is related to everything else we sacrifice for convenience.

For example, look at this thread on LifeHacker:
(Read the comments)


I love kneading, it's better than Therapy, one of the best Stress reliefs.

Note: I'm not picking on LifeHacker, that's a great site for tips, DIY, self help, etc.

Adelphos24's picture

Sourdough Croissants

So I have been mucking about with my wild yeast sourdough starter a lot over the last few weeks. I made pain poilane, and a traditional american style sourdough, and was thinking..."what else can i do with this starter?"

The answer? Sourdough croissants!

I know this could fall in the pastry category, but decided that the wild yeast starter aspect kinda throws it into the realm of the sourdough junkie. I've gotta say, they turned out great. I even made some with chocolate in the middle. I wrote more about them here:

Hopefully this will spark some interesting sourdough ideas. I'd love to here more. I'm planning on writing about the chocolate ones tonight.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Back to the active dry: Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal Bread

So my sourdough starter isn't ready yet. I've decided I'm going to baby it a little longer with three stirrings a day and lots of love. That being the case, I still needed to bake. This came about because I had oatmeal for lunch today. Strange lunch, I know, but sometimes you just have those cravings that must be heeded. I envisioned this as a soft-crusted bread with a dense but moist crumb and a decently caramelized crust. I wanted a little maple flavor, as well as the flavor of the brown sugar. I almost got it, but I think that this is still a work in progress. Not using instant oatmeal may be a start. It also needs a tad more salt than the teaspoon I put in. The only thing I'm lacking to make it completely from scratch is the maple syrup, which I'll get on friday, and I'll bake it again this weekend from old fashioned oats, brown sugar, and maple syrup. For anyone who still wants the recipe, it is below. I think I'm starting to get the scoring thing. These didn't blow out on the bottom. They were also better proofed than my last loaf. I let them sit for about an hour before baking. The real test of any bread making, for me anyway, is the appearance of the crumb. This is, by far, my best for a more dense loaf. I'm really loving what I'm learning here. I'm having a lot of fun baking (sometimes more than my boyfriend, our daughter, and I can eat, but it's proving to be very educational. Recipe: Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal Bread - Take One Prepare the oatmeal: 1 packet instant maple & brown sugar oatmeal 1/2 cup water Mix and heat for 1 minute. It will be almost done, but not quite. Allow to cool to just warm. Assemble the rest of your ingredients: 3 1/3 cups flour 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast 2 tablespoons of butter 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar (very lightly) 1 egg, lightly beaten 2/3 cup milk (lukewarm) 1 1/2 tsp salt Disolve the yeast in the milk. In your large bowl you use for mixing the final dough, mix together the oatmeal, sugar, and egg. Once incorporated, mix in the milk. Once all this is well mixed, add 2 cups of flour and the salt and mix until you get a thick paste. Add the rest of the flour in 1/3 cup increments until it's almost all in. If your cups are the same as my cups, it should take all but the littlest bit of the flour. If not, you want the dough to feel very sticky and barely hand-kneadable. Once mixed together so that there's barely any flour left in the bowl, rest for 10 minutes. After the resting period, turn the dough out onto your kneading surface and "knead", as well as you can, for a few minutes. 5 or so. Bulk ferment should be about 60-80 minutes. Mine was on the longer side because of the temperature of my kitchen. I stretched and folded the dough three times during this time. Got very good gluten development. Preshape and allow to sit for 5 or so minutes. Shape loaves, then proof for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Score and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 and bake until a thermometer reads 200 degrees or so.

crunchy's picture

A Fruitful Weekend

Last weekend I finally had time for baking, after a long and exhausting week. Continuing the exploration of Hamelman's book "Bread", I ventured into the Detmolder method section. I love ryes and I love a good challenge, so naturally the three-stage 90% rye had to be made. My rye starter is always very lively, but to my surprise, it was going out of control by the end of the third build. The final dough was a sticky mess; in fact, it resembled clay more than any sort of dough. Hamelman warns not to add more flour even if the dough is tacky. I stuck to his advice. This is what came out of the oven.

I waited a day before cutting into it to let the crumb set fully. This loaf was sweeter than any other rye I've made before. The crust was delectably crunchy and almost nutty. The crumb was dense, as could be expected of a 90% rye, yet moist and airy.Det90ryecrumb

That same weekend I also made a whole wheat muligrain (pg.169). Hamelman recommends some grains, but leaves the choice largely up to the baker. I used a combination of wheat and rye berries, corn meal, millet, and sunflower seeds. The flavor was incredibly rich and deep, with a tender whole grain presence in the middle and a lingering sweet honey finish.

And finally, there was a Vermont sourdough (pg. 153), also delicious. The dough was a pleasure to work with. This book is a tremendous resource, I can't recommend it enough.

Dwu3193's picture

Best supermarket flour

I recently discovered that Cook's Illustrated had done a tasting test on supermarket AP flours to discover the one for the home cook. However, it's only available to subscribers and people who sign up for a 14 day trial. But I frequently forget to cancel those trials before they stop being free so truthfully, I don't want to risk screwing up my credit score. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone here knew how they ranked the flours, or if there's anyone who subscribes to CI and can look it up. I know they rated Hodgson's Mill flour very high, but it's not available where I live, so what are the other well-rated flours?

johnevans1's picture

Le Cloche defeat

  I have tried cloche baking without success. I thought the idea was to get "BROWNED" bread. My loaves rise well following a King Arthur recipe for cloche use but the bread is not brown. I have had to turn on the broiler(UGH) to brown the loaves.

   My oven is an electric convection which bakes the breads faster than the recipe calls.( internal temps to 200 degrees ) The loaves reach 200 degrees  without being browned. I leave the cloche cover off for the last ten minutes of baking and spritz heavily. 

   What to do?