The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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johnster's picture

"Big-City" Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies?

I know chocolate chip cookies is a rather mundane topic.....but, I've found EXCEPTIONAL chocolate chip cookies at bakeries.  First, I though that it was only in Chicago.  Now I live in Boston (MetroWest, anyway) and I've found the SAME cookies.  Does anyone have a recipe and technique to share?


The cookies: NO gluten development that I can feel.  They fall apart in your mouth.  Very light, when they do so.  The shape is a bit odd in that they don't taper to the edge much, at all.  Very cylindrical, that way.  The surface has little shallow cracks.  Nicely sweet flavor. 


Does anyone else know the cookie(s) that I am talking about?  Better yet, does anyone know how to make them!


I hope to hear many suggestions!



SteveB's picture

Ciabatta using Double Flour Addition/Double Hydration

For those interested in the double flour addition mixing technique, its application in the production of ciabatta can be found here:


clazar123's picture

Is this a record?

9 days-capture to loaf!

Thursday :

    I brought a small container of flour/water (25 g flour/equal g water) to my basement office to capture the local yeast, after reading how people order sourdough culture from all over the world.


By Friday afternoon it was bubbling


By Monday it was really active.

I took it home,started discarded half/ feeding it twice a day for the next few days.


By Wednesday it was easily doubling itself so Wed night I started feeeding it (no discard) so I had enough to use for a Saturday bake.


I baked an absolutely ideal,perfect loaf of French, sourdough bread using just a basic recipe. I don't have a camera but it had perfect crust,perfect crumb, it "sang" coming out of the oven and was San Fran sour! WOW!

So-9 days capture to perfect finish. I even impressed myself! I am making another loaf today and hope it turns out the same.

If this had been my first experience with sourdough I would have wondered what all the hoopla is about with all the posts on how to do a good sourdough. Having baked many bricks, I am really appreciative of the wonderful outcome of this project and all the knowledge this forum has provided.

maawallace's picture

Parisian Raspberry Macarons

These little guys aren't nearly as difficult to make as one might think by the prices they command in french patisseries. It is a sugared, egg white and almond powder exterior and then whatever interior you like. Here, I used both raspberries and raspberry jam. Also popular are caramel, chocolate ganache, pistachio ganache, and many, many more.

I won't put up a recipe now as I don't have it with me. If there is a bunch of interest, I will find the recipe I used and post.


cleancarpetman's picture

Clay Baking--I have decided to throw myself under the bus!

       I have read with great interest the discussions about clay baking, La Cloche, flower pots, homemade cloches and Romertopfs.  I am a man of few means so I am not going to run out and buy a La Cloche, pretty as they might be.  But I frequent thrift stores and have accumulated various kitchen tools over the years that have confused and confounded their original owners who then cast them off unused or lightly used.  I paid $2.99 for my baking stone, which I thought divinely appeared on a recent visit just as I was interested in slack dough baking.  I have also never paid more than about $5.99 for new Romertopfs and have about a half dozen in various sizes.  I have baked bread and sourdough in these pots before and appreciated the "brick oven crust"  I soaked top and bottom, used Crisco in the bottom and proofed in the room temp bottom, placed all in a cold oven and baked at 475F. I am a different baker today and it bears a new look.  I have one "fish" Romertopf that is a longer oval that I have never used but am now excited to try.
     I have admired qahtan's homemade cloche everytime she has shared it and I believe its in the budget. So, what I am proposing to do for my own edification and for the good of all is to commence some clay baking comparisons.  They won't be necessarily comprehensive or scientific or "done by an expert' but I am willing to give it a shot.  I have a new 3.2 megapixel camera phone that I am dying to put to use and learn that end as well.

Let the trials begin!!



scardanelli's picture

Mixing and RPM's

I've been reading Michel Suas' book Advanced Bread and Pastry and in it, he writes about the number of rpm's in the mixer that are needed to develop dough to a certain stage.  For optimal development, or what some call the improved mix,  Suas writes that a dough must get 1000 rpm's in 2nd speed.  This is just a baseline number, as many things can effect the amount of mixing time needed (type of flour, amt of dough being mixed, etc.).  I was curious as to what the rpm's for various speeds were for my 5qt kitchenaid artisan mixer.  I just heard back from kitchenaid, here's what they said:

The planetary RPM's for the 5-qt. tilt-head Artisan Stand Mixer are as follows:

Stir speed - 60
Speed 2 - 95
Speed 4 - 135
Speed 6 - 180
Speed 8 - 225
Speed 10 - 280 that means that after 4-5 minutes on stir speed for incorporation, it will take roughly 10 1/2 minutes on 2nd speed (1000/95) for an improved mix. 

I haven't tested it out yet, but I thought others might be interested.  I think the overall feel and look of the dough is more important, but it's nice to have a general idea of how long it should take.  Let me know what you think:)

Paddyscake's picture

Steaming Mad..ness

The majority of us have tried different steaming techniques..professional steamers, ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, ice cubes in cast iron pan, spraying the loaves, spraying the oven walls, drip pans, pouring water into hot pans, pans with water heated during the preheat and combos of these techniques.

I have found that heating 1/4" hot water in a metal pan during the preheat gives me an oven full of steam by baking time, so much so that I have to be careful and keep my face away from the oven door when I open it to avoid getting a steam burn. Even after loading the oven, a few minutes later I see steam coming out the vent.

I recently tried the suggested method of pouring 3/4 cup hot water into a sheet pan that had been preheated with the oven. I thought even better was to use boiling water. Quite frankly, it seemed that I hardly had any steam compared to the way I had been doing it.

Does the temperature of the water poured into the pan make any difference? If I had used just hot water vs boiling would there have been more steam? It looked like it evaporated almost as fast as I poured it.

I do remember (I think) that someone said what was being produced was vapor not steam by most of these methods. 


One caveat for all new bakers..If you have glass doors, be sure to cover with a dry towel when pouring water to avoid cracking the window.

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)