The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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alabubba's picture

What I baked this week

This is my first blog entry here on TFL so here goes:

It started out like most weeks. I knocked out a couple loves of basic white bread on Monday.

My scale arrived from on Tuesday along with my new solder sucker and I was anxious to try it out but didn't want to get too much bread on the counter so I decided to wait. Wed completely got away from me and I didn't even cook dinner (McDonalds to the rescue) so along came Thursday and I decided to convert my usual recipe from cups to weight.


I also made a large batch of Portuguese sweet bread using a recipe from this thread (holds99)

On the upper left is the basic white loaf, all the rest is from the sweet bread recipe. (Note, I did not double the recipe. It makes a bunch of dough.


I baked a loaf of basic white again on Friday, using some Seal of Minnesota Flour that one of the grocery stores in my neck of the woods decided to carry in #50 bags (for $16.00) and it was FAB.

I usually use walmart brand cheep AP. I would post pics but we ate the evidence. Will post pics of the next loaf. I had about 20 percent more rise and the crust and crumb rival Wonder Bread! It didn't make it past breakfast the next morning.

So Saturday rolls around and my daughter (20yo) decided she wanted my wife's French Onion Soup. And she wants it in a bread bowl. (I love a challenge)

So I have been wanting to try a version of Ruchbrot (from this thread)


What I came up with was this:

650g Whole Wheat Flour

150g Rye flour

200g AP flour

650 ml water (100° f)

2-1/2 tsp yeast

2-1/2 tsp salt

--1 egg for wash--



Mix everything together in a large bowl. knead everything together into a smooth dough. Let rise until doubled. Form the dough into small boules. Preheat oven to 450 ° f-475 ° f. Wash with the egg to help seal the crust. Let rise until almost doubled and bake for about 25 minutes until done. Internal temp of 195° f


I let them cool and sliced the tops off, pulled the guts out and filled. They held up beautifully, No leaks at all. even after 6 hours, no leaks.

Oh, and did I mention the bread was YUM, Earthy, Hearty, and robust.



SofiasDad's picture

Favorite commercially available starter?

Hi all, This is my first post on this forum. I have been busy reading many other posts to see if my burning question has already been answered BUT people seem to skip over this part in most discussions.

Until last year I owned the King Arthur Flour sourdough starter and kept it alive and happy for three years and used it every ten days or so. I can't honestly say I ever noted any detectable tang in the breads I made with it - I have no doubt I was not using it correctly. It died when we moved to San Diego and I haven't replaced it yet.

I wonder if I should buy from KAF again or try the Carl Griffith, Goldrush, Ed Wood, Fermented Treasure starters. Does anyone have a strong preference?


Thanks in advance, Michael

erg720's picture

Altus & formula

Hi guys.

Does anybody know how do we build formula that have an altus (left over bread)?

I mean, is this is part of the flour/the water or what? 

Thanks, Ron.

avatrx1's picture

Is firm starter more potent that a 100% starter

In recipes that call for a firm starter but don't specifiy, what is the purpose of the firm starter.  Do you get more "bang for your buck" so to speak with a firm starter vs a standard 100%?

I'm becoming more familiar with using a starter and my bread gets good oven spring, but now I'm faced with a recipe that calls for a firm "levain" which I believe is another name for starter.  They don't specify how firm.  Can't I just use the 100% and modify the recipe by reducing the amount of water or will that have an impact on the rise I ultimately get when I assemble the final dough for baking?

Is there a general rule of thumb for yeast vs starter amount?  Specifically tuned to hydration of starters? use X starter to replace Y yeast?

I'm determined to get a handle on this.




clazar123's picture

Does chilling the berries keep the flour cooler?

My mill really heats up the flour.CAn I chiil or even freeze the wheat berries prior to grinding to produce a cooler flour?I grind 8-16 cups at a time so it wouldn't be difficult to put in a ziploc in the freezer.

High Desert Jack's picture
High Desert Jack

Totally Frustrated Jason's Quick Ciabatta

After drooling with envy over Jason's quick ciabatta ( it's incredible crust and open airy texture I am compelled to ask for help.

Long time lurker, ten year hobbyist bread baker - and supremely frustrated. 

If anyone has the expert knowledge and hands on skill to actually crack this problem, I will be eternally grateful.

My doughs all slump, are all so sticky as to be near impossible to work with and never hold the intended shape. 

Here's the set-up, the Back Story. First, I live at 5,000 in high desert, average humidity usually under 15%. Every dough I make slumps. Whole wheat, white, bleached AP, unbleached bread flour you name it. I've got a Log with over 18 variations of flour listed. Once my dough is formed, it slumps. And doesn't rise. New yeast, old yeast, even proven sourdough starters from Sourdough International out of Idaho. Quality flours from King Arthur, or a high end bread flour from Italy, or store bought God knows what kind of flour from Wal-Mart and everything in between. Spring water, tap water, even tried distilled water. Salt in at the beginning or salt later after the yeast is working. Sugar added to the yeast water or not added. Makes no difference. Slump. Not enough of whatever to stand up and hold any kind of form. 

Hand kneaded, no kneading (5 Minute Artisan Bread), Danielle Forstier's 800 slaps against a counter top or Kitchen Aid and dough hook still my doughs slump to a flattened flat bread. I make a decent foccacia by now, but the interior is so dense I consider it the zenith of failure. If I proof the dough in a proper banneton, after turning it out on a peel, it slumps, then sticks. (yes, not only does everything slump but no matter what hydration level EVERYTHING sticks) If I form it for a baguette in a wicker basket lined with parchment paper to get the proper elongated shape, then ever so gently turn it out it slumps. If I get a half way decent rise occasionally for a boule, on parchment and slip it into a cast iron dutch oven, that rise collapses into a squat and it bakes in a squat. 

And forget the lame and slash. The few times I dared the bread sighed and gave up the ghost. What resulted was like making crackers. 

If I decrease moisture so I can firm up a dough enough to form a ball, it will slump. If I make a dough with that little moisture (approaching less than 50% hydration), it will stay formed but no oven rise at all and the crumb is as dense as can be. If I increase moisture (to nearly 90%) expecting escaping steam to aerate the crumb, no joy. It is so sticky and loose it cannot be handled at all. And does not rise. No holes. I've turned out a 90% hydration dough repeatedly on parchment, slid it onto my bricks and no airy crumb. Pretty much nothing but just flat condensed bread. If I proof the yeast and it foams beautifully, if I don't proof and add it into the mix (5 Minute Artisan method) it doesn't matter. If I use fresh dated packets or Red Star from a jar doesn't matter. 

My 2 year old oven is perfectly fine, a sealed all metal bottom which I lined with half-thickness firebricks. When the oven thermometer reads 500 (separate from the built in thermometer), in goes dough. 500 degree bricks make a great caramelization on the bottom, but the rest just lies there like a boneless drunk after a binge. (tossing in boiling water is a snap in this oven, since it's sealed). 

I'm stumped and significantly frustrated. I've kept logs so I know what works and what doesn't and so far I have 238 pages of what doesn't work. Jason's Quick Ciabatta was the last straw. That's the most beautiful bread I've seen. That's the crumb and oven spring I'm looking for and six months of precisely following his directions has produced nothing but flat tasteless bread.

One loaf, just one success is all I'm asking. Anybody with enough experience know what's preventing my succeeding? Your help will be sincerely appreciated. 


cake diva's picture
cake diva

Recipe wanted for soft multigrain sandwich bread

My daughter is asking me to bake a fiber-rich sandwich bread that has the mouth feel and texture of soft, commercial breads, e.g., Aunt Millie's, Klosterman, Butternut.  Like many of her generation, she favors soft crumb to the rougher, more substantial artisanal bread.  I searched here but found mostly hard-crusted breads.  Does anyone have what I'm looking for? --- cake diva

Salome's picture

Two books to order

I decided to order two english bread books to my uncle's home, who will come and visit us in a couple weeks. Books are probably everywhere cheaper than in Switzerland, this way I will be able to save around 30 Dollars, which is a lot for a student like me.

Now, question: which books? I decided to order for at least 25 $, because otherwise I'd have to pay for the shipping anyway. I rather spend my money for books only. ;)

I've already got Reinhart's BBA and Hamelman's Bread.

I was thinking about one Whole Grain book, either Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads or Laurel's Kitchen Bread book. I'm not sure which one I should take. I'm looking for a good book with interesting formulas. not only american style pan loaves. I do like hearth breads as well. It seems to me that Laurel's Book includes more formulae, but I don't know what kind of bread they are. I don't mind a couple enriched, sandwich style loaves, but I'd like to have some lean doughs as well. Do I find this in Laurel's book? Reinhart's on the other hand seems to have less theory and less formulae, but a section with hearth breads. is it worth it?

Secondly, I'd like to buy a book which includes formulae which consist out of a variety of grains, not only white flour, some sourdough . . . They can be time consuming, but please, not only! I don't want to have three day-projects all the time. A preferment - fine, sourdough - fine, but to fussy recipes don't fit into my schedule. I was thinking about Leader's Local Breads. I know about the errors in the recipes, but I think it wouldn't matter to much for me as I mostly use weight measurements? And I've already got quite some experience with baking, so I hope that I'd be able to correct errors if I find some?

Any other propositions?

I'd be very happy about some help to make my decision. And I promise to post about my baking which will result out of these books. ;)


gtprice's picture

A Never Ending Search!!!!!!!

For more years than I care to remember, Ive had an urge to make bread using natural leavening, ever since I picked up a lttle booklet on "Sourdough Bread," which included a packet of "sour dough starter;" at the San Franciso Airport while on a business trip long before my retirement in 1987. Mostly my efforts have been a disaster; because, I now believe, I've concentrated on the "sour dough" concept, trying to capture and propegate "natural yeasts," I must have a brown thumb when it comes to raising wild yeasts!!!!! Recently I abandoned my fixation on "sour dough" for I'm really not that into the unique taste; and now believe that what I really yearn for is the ability to make a good loaf of bread with leavening that I have nurtured from an initial package of store bought yeast, without any further use of such. It just seems so unnatural to have to buy and use a package of store bought yeast every time I make a loaf of bread. If I have to buy the yeast I might just as well buy a loaf of bread!!!! Today I produced my first loaf of edible bread using only 1 cup of flour, and two cups of, what amounts to a third generation, sponge.

I did this using a bread machine, because I'm also not that into hand kneading, and all that sticky dough.  

So here's my recipe

Starter: First Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp suger, two cups all purpose flour. 1 pkg yeast.

           Second Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, two cups all purpose flour

           Third Day - Remove two cups sponge, place in bread machine bucket. Allow to breed for several hours. Add 1 cup flour, and process on basic bread cycle. Then add two cups of water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 cups flour to remainder of sponge.

Repeat third day routine for each subsequent loaf.

So all you "Artisen Bread" bakers out there - sent me your comments - favorable, or not!!!!!!

Julianm's picture

Marketplace for Prepared Foods (Invitation to our beta website)


We've recently launched a free marketplace called Book of Cooks (currently on Beta) to help consumers find and hire local culinary professionals and foodies for cooking gigs, full-time and part-time jobs. 

I'd like to extend an invitation to all bakers and food artisans on The Fresh Loaf to get listed on the book and help us grow it. To explain what it is in a few BookofCooks you can set up an online bakery or "storefront" to sell your cakes, bread, pastries with and link to your photos and recipes here at The Fresh Loaf :=) , your webpage or blog.  

Consumers on the other hand can search BookOfCooks by city for whatever meal or baked goods they're craving, or they can browse the site's online Google maps and archives for links to local cooks/bakers, including ratings and reviews. When they find one that sounds good, they can place an order with the cook for pickup, delivery or even in-home preparation. 

The site is advertising and sponsor supported - we don't charge commissions. Here are some recent press articles and mentions  further explaining how it works.

Please note that the website is in beta--we will greatly appreciate any feedback that helps us improve and make it more useful. Tell us what you like, what you hate, it'll all be super valuable to us as we prepare for our next site release in the fall. 

Finally feel free to visit our blog, our Facebook page, watch our video tour or email me directly: info [at] 

I look forward to hearing from you.