The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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lakelly's picture

Using old bread

This morning I realized I had a loaf of mixed garden herb sourdough left from last Sunday! Yikes! Week old bread. I remembered a section from the River Cottage Bread Handbook on using old bread and tossed slices in olive oil and baked at 450 for ~20 minutes with a flip halfway through. The results were awesome-crispy crust and crumb with the slightest chew in the centers. My 8 year old son and husband (OK, me too) finished them off throughout an afternoon of yard work, but I wish I had a photo to show the golden brown deliciousness!

SteveB's picture


For those interested, the details of a recent bake of bialys can be found here:



DrPr's picture

How do I find out the properties of my oganic flour?

I was so excited to find organic, locally produced whole wheat flour that I bought it before considering that I don't know how to determine whether it is suitable as-is for sourdough baking.  The seller didn't know much about protein or gluten content (and I didn't know enough to ask the right questions, I'm sure). How can I test the flour before baking to determine whether I need to add anything to it? And what would I need to add, if this flour doesn't have the properties of bread flour?

TeaIV's picture

Sordough Ciabatta

I decided to try out my new SD starter and see if it's healthy and working and all. I'm pretty sure it's in good shape. I added it to the ciabbatas I made for a friend of mine, and it made the crumb and taste really extraordinary. Not only that, but I think I've finally mastered the steam technique. this bread had the ultimate crackly crust. it literally cracked when I cut it in half. This is definitely one of the better breads I've made.

P.S. you can see the starter in the background, it's in the container with the red lid :) .




Jw's picture

starter smelled like yoghurt

I should have known something was wrong with the starter. After an overnight to make a starter, it smelled like yoghurt and there were no bubbles at all. No rise in the oven. I guess my starter was too ripe, but I am not sure.

Lesson learned: when you are not sure about the started: stop the proces!

Can I eat the bread? It is a bit sticky, looks wet as well.

Tx, Jw.

flour-girl's picture

Pretzel rolls -- perfect for grilling season

I went on a quest for pretzel-roll recipes yesterday and ended up adapting a few to come up with what I think is a pretty darn tasty pretzel roll -- perfect for sausages or burgers this grilling season.

You can check it out at Flour Girl.

Happy baking! And happy weekend!


gothicgirl's picture

Grilled Mushroom and Ricotta Pizza on Sourdough Wheat Crust

Posted on on 6/12/09

I have been on something of a pizza kick lately, and not those commercially prepared pies with flavorless cheese and mushy veggies.


I can directly pin-point when this all started.  It began at the Mushroom Council lunch when Chef Kent Rathburn made us a grilled mushroom pizza.  I knew in that moment that I would be making a pizza with grilled mushrooms.  This is the result.


I used mushrooms that were available at the grocery store, portobello and white button, and added some red pepper for extra flavor.  I will say this, grilling mushrooms is an easy way to add a soft smoky flavor and meaty texture to a pizza, and it may be the only way I do it from now on!


I decided that instead of sauce I would just put diced tomato on my pizza, and along with some lovely fresh mozzarella cheese I would add some creamy ricotta.  Of course, I added some pepperoni.  It is my favorite topping.  I'm not ashamed to admit it either.


The crust is homemade, and I decided almost at the last minute to add about 1/4 cup of my sourdough starter to it.  The starter added a nice tangy bite to the crust, which has a crisp exterior and a soft interior.  If you do not have any starter do not fear.  It is entirely optional, and the crust is still beautiful with out it.

Grilled Mushroom and Ricotta Pizza on Sourdough Wheat Crust   Serves 4-6

Sourdough Wheat Crust:
1 cup water heated to 95F
2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup sourdough starter, optional
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 teaspoon salt

Grilled Mushrooms and Peppers:
1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Other Toppings:
Ricotta cheese
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
Diced tomatoes
Fresh oregano, minced
Fresh Basil


Prepare a sponge by combining the water, yeast, starter, sugar, honey, and what flour in a bowl.  Stir to combine and allow to sit covered, at room temperature, for ten minutes.  The sponge may not be terribly foamy or bubbly.


To the sponge add the remaining ingredients and mix with the dough hook on low speed for 3 minutes. Adjust the hydration as needed (the dough should be tacky but not cling too much to your fingers).  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 8 minutes.   Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a ball on a lightly floured surface.


Transfer to a bowl coated with olive oil, turn once to coat, and proof for two hours, covered, at room temperature.  After the initial proof, degas the dough and store, covered well, in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or up to three days. 


Pull the dough an hour before you are ready to bake it.  While the dough warms up prepare your toppings and heat your oven to 500F with a pizza stone on the bottom rack, if you have one.  


With the flat of a knife crush two large garlic cloves.  Mix them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Add the sliced mushrooms and bell pepper strips and allow sit five minutes.


Transfer to a perforated grill pan and cook, over a very hot grill, until starting to soften, about five to ten minutes.  Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.


Divide the dough into two large or four small balls and, using your hands, stretch it into a thin circle.  


Transfer the dough to a pizza peel that has been dusted generously with corn meal.  Top the pizza with a thin layer of ricotta, diced tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella, pepperoni, and the grilled mushrooms and peppers.


Cook the pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and brown and the cheese has melted and begun to brown as well.


Allow the pizza to rest for five minutes before slicing.  Top with torn fresh basil.



sdionnemoore's picture

Windowpane test

I have made a few of the recipes in PR's BBA book. Tonight, as I was mixing for the Anadama bread, I had a problem with the dough being too wet. So during knead time I was forced to add probably a cup of flour, little by little, in order to get something akin to the dough he describes. But when I go to do the windowpane test, the dough, as it has once before, kind of rips and tears apart. It's not smooth and thin and light, like I've seen in videos of the windowpane method.


Does this mean I am not kneading enough? Should I wait and get the dough as close to workable before starting knead time? And why am I having to add so much extra flour anyway? I did make a few changes. *gulp* I used regular cornmeal instead of coarse and had to use 4 T honey because I ran out of molasses. The only other thing I did differently was to use a mix, about half and half, of bread flour and white whole Wheat, instead of the all bread flour he suggests. Did those changes have huge impact on the dough consistency? 

davidg618's picture

Herb bread ideas?

Except for the parsley, which I cut back big time, my herb garden is at its peak. I'm looking for something outside the box to try, I'd like to marry herbs with sourdough, but that's a wish, not a contraint. Anyone have any off-beat, and flavorful herb bread ideas to share? I have lots of fresh basil, thyme, dill, mint, rosemary, french tarragon, chives, marjoram, Greek oregano, sage, and a little new growth flat leaf parsley. If your bread calls for dried herbs, no problem, that's just an extra twenty-four hours with the dehydrator.

Thanks up front.

David G.

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Coffee Roasting

So I figured there might be people in here into other artisan sorta stuff.  Here's some coffee I roasted this morning.  I was going for a City+ roast and this coffee particularly has a strong aroma and flavor of blueberries when roasted.  Ethiopian Harrar Horse.  This is a particularly fruity lot I had stored away from a few years ago.  The uneven color is a characteristic of this bean.