The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Carb Junkie's picture
Carb Junkie

Running new bread machine empty before using to make bread?


I have just purchased a West Bend High-Rise Horizontal breadmaker through Amazon.  I bought it because of the many good reviews.  A few of the reviews said that one should run the breadmaker through a whole cycle while the pan is empty, prior to baking any bread!  Has anyone heard of this practice?  It is not mentioned in the manual.

Thank you!

varda's picture

Syd's White Sandwich Bread

White sandwich bread may not be as exciting as many but it sure is delicious.   Especially following Syd's poolish formula.    I have made this several times but never felt I had the proper pan for it.   Fortunately my  husband came through for my birthday.    I completely stopped buying bread and bagels from the supermarket after I started baking two years ago, with the exception of sandwich bread - industrial varieties of which can be quite good.    That may have to stop.   This bread is bursting with flavor unknown even to Pepperidge Farm.   Syd's instructions are clear and simple.   Thank you Syd (wherever you are.)  




leenaud's picture

Artisan or Rustic bread

What is a fool proof way to make a high % hydration loaf with large irregular holes. I've tried a lot of recipes, some of Peter Reinhart and also Jeffrey Hamelman, but so far no luck. Thanks in advance for any feedback

pmccool's picture

Gilding the lily

Believe it or not, Floyd's Sweet Potato Rolls can be made even better.  And I wouldn't even have known that but for a bit of Thanksgiving serendipity.

My youngest daughter and family had been in town for a visit the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.  For one of our meals, she made Elizabeth Karmel's Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash.  Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite things and they play very nicely with a bit of bourbon.  Needless to say, the dish was delicious!

A few days later, I was planning to take some rolls to our older daughter's home for Thanksgiving dinner and decided that the sweet potato rolls would be in keeping with the day.  As luck would have it, there was about 3/4 of a cup of the sweet potato bourbon mash left over; just the perfect amount for the rolls.

The dough came together nicely and the rolls baked up prettily, filling the house with their fragrance.  They tasted even better than they smelled!  As our daughter put it after taking a bite, "It's like Thanksgiving in your mouth!"  

So, if you feel the need for a bit of self-indulgence, I'd highly recommend this.   In effect, you get a two-for-one deal, since the sweet potato mash is worth doing in its own right.


Beyondthebread's picture

Working with Pan au Lait / Milk Bread

Hi, this is Daniel Rios (Beyondthebread).  Here is a photo from my latest blog entry using a pan au lait (milk bread) recipe.  I used the dough to make monkey bread, shown here, and will be posting Friday and Monday with 2 more uses for the same dough.  Here is the recipe I used --> . I hope to find bakers who love to talk bread and can add their expertise to my posts.  Come check out the recipes and pictures on  Let me know what you think and share your stories of baking.

I have been a professional baker for over 7 years now and have now started my own website to share everything that I can about my experiences and whatever experiments I decide to try out.  You will be seeing me on this site more often, now that I have found it.  I hope to meet other professional or baking enthusiasts who share my love for all things baking. 

joyfulbaker's picture

Levain with 2 starters redux

Just baked my "regular" sourdough yesterday and decided it truly is the best bread ever.  It's Hamelman's 'Levain with 2 starters,"on pp. 162, 163 of Bread.  It makes keeping that second, rye starter worth every minute it takes (not very many at that).  We just cut into it last night after it had cooled about 3 hours, and hubby and I (just two bread-loving retired folks) went through at least a third of a loaf that weighed 2 pounds!  I shaped it as a chubby batard.  I didn't photograph the second loaf (which was a little under 1 1/2 lbs., more of a baguette-like shape but a little chunkier) because it went into the freezer right after it cooled.  I slashed both loaves with a single center cut.


I hesitate to reproduce the recipe because of copyright restrictions.  (If anyone has knowledge of getting around that, let me know and I'll see if I can comply.)  I pretty much bake it as Hamelman directs (there are no errata listed for this recipe).  My only tweak is the sprinkling of seeds on top, which I often do.  I combine sunflower, sesame (black and white), fennel, flax and poppy, along with freshly ground sea salt (not too much), which I keep in a small plastic container in the fridge.  I use that as a bagel topping as well. 

This is our regular table bread, and I often retard it overnight (up to 18 hours at 42 deg. F., Hamelman advises), which makes it a 3-day affair, with the starters being mixed the night before mixing the dough.  We had visiting relatives from Israel in October who said this is the best bread they ever ate (my sentiments exactly)!  This time I felt like baking it the same day as mixing, and it was at its best!  So delicious!  I think it may be because the flour was very fresh (K.A. bread flour and B.R.M. whole rye, both just opened yesterday).  My autolyse time was short (15 minute), as I had a dr. appt.  in the middle of it all.  I did two S & F's (somewhat sticky dough, manageable with wet dough scraper and wet hands), and I baked it on a stone (preheated in 500 deg. oven 45 minutes before loading) with the usual steam (pan of steaming hot water beneath and spritzing 4 or 5 times the first 10 minutes).  After 15 minutes, I turned the oven to convection (my K/A electric oven automatically converts Hamelman's 460 F. to 435 F.) after removing the steaming pan--carefully.  I actually lowered the oven 10 degrees for the final 10 minutes, as it sometimes gets a little too dark.  Total baking time is 40-45 minutes.  So, if you have Hamelman's book (or a copy from the library) and if you're willing to whip up two starters (he has directions in the book for both white and rye starters), it's worth it!  The flavor is unbelievably delicious, and it keeps in a paper bread bag for the better part of a week (I bought 500 of them from a local supplier recommended by a local bakery) and then makes great croutons.  I'm saving the second loaf for a dinner party hosted by a member of my book group (an amazing cook and former caterer).



alabubba's picture

Structural Gingerbread for Gingerbread House

I am looking for a structual gingerbread recipe that tastes good. It will only set for a day or too. Plan on having the grandbabies decorate it on christmas eve, then eat it on christmas day. I have a good recipe for structual gingerbread but its not anything you would want to eat. 

Anyone have a delicouse and sturdy gingerbread recipe they would like to share.



Szanter5339's picture

Cottage cakes.


foodslut's picture

Beer instead of water for poolish?

Here's my formula for a beer bread I make from time to time:

Question:  I typically use the beer to make the poolish instead of the water to jack up the flavour of the pre-ferment.  The results have always been good (which I guess is the ultimate guide), but could it be better if I used the water instead?


hanseata's picture

Geoffrey Chaucer's Onion Tart

Before I grab my cooke's knyfe I just have to share this. Enjoy!

Onion Tart

à la Geoffrey Chaucer

225g plain shortcrust pastry

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

25g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 onions, finely sliced

Salt and black pepper

2 teaspoons caster sugar

A quarter teaspoon each of grated nutmeg and ground ginger

2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

425ml double cream

Large pinch of saffron strands


On a floured board roll pastry that it be thinne,

Caste thereto with thyme and line a deep tinne.

Trimme the edges neat with a cooke's knyfe,

Then bake it blinde at gasse mark fyve.

Melt the butter and oyle in an heavie panne,

Covered wiv a lidde, as knoweth every man.

Then adde onyons in slices fine ywrought,

And caste thereto sugar and salte.

Cover the panne and turn the heat down low,

Stirre every while, else the onyons stick to.

Remove the lidde and seethe for ten minutes mo,

That the sauce reducteth and darke growe.

Strewe thereto nutmeg grated, tho keep some by,

And grounde gyngere, and return to the fyre.

Lightly beat the eggs and zolkes together,

And season wiv both salt and black pepper.

Heat the crème till just warme with saffron rich,

Then adde the eggs for to mix.

Spoon the onyon sauce into the pastry case,

Then pour egg and crème custard into the base.

Bake in the oven for minutes xxv,

Til golden brown our tarte be.


You can find this and, also Virginia Woolfs "Clafoutis Grandmere" and Raymond Chandler's "Lamb with Dill Sauce" here: