The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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pjaj's picture

Greetings from Oxfordshire

I've been a member of this site for little over a week and made a few posts on various topics.

I’m a retired engineer living in England, near Oxford. I’ve been trying to bake bread for at least the past 30 years, but my early attempts all came out like house bricks, “very substantial” and “filling” were the most flattering comments. I could never get the dough to rise much again after knocking it down and putting it in the tins. Then I was lucky enough to install an oven (Neff) with a bread proving setting (about 30 degrees C) and I’ve never looked back.  I now have a baking day whenever we run out of bread and make about 10 loaves at a time. The purists amongst you will wince when I say that we freeze the bulk of the cooked loaves, but it works for me.

I’ve always used our trusty Kenwood Chef Major (UK food mixer) which can easily handle the dough from 1kg of flour, and has mixed 1.5kg betimes. Although I’ve tried lots of recipes, including Peter Reinhart’s  and sourdough, my family’s favourite is a granary bread made from Doves Malthouse flour. Doves is an organic flour miller widely available in UK supermarkets and health food shops.

  • 1kg bag Malthouse flour

  •  Scant 600ml warm filtered water

  • 2 tsp Doves dried yeast (I find this better than other makes)

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1tsp sugar (any)

  • A good glug of sunflower oil (or similar)

Mix the dry ingredients; with the mixer running add the oil and then the water. Keep stopping to scrape down the mixer bowl and adjust the hydration until the dough forms into a ball on the dough hook and the bowl is clean. Kneed at slow speed (1 – 3) for about 4-5 minutes, stopping now and then to scrape the dough off the hook.

Mix a second batch and rise them both in the proving oven.

When doubled in size, knock down and combine both batches, kneading them together. Of course, if you are mixing by hand, you can make them as one, but I’m lazy – let the machine do the hard work. You should have about 3.3kg of dough. Cut into 3 equal pieces and form into loaf tins (Tefal 9X5X3in = 23X13X7cm – can’t get these any more – best non-stick heavy aluminium pans I’ve ever had - suggestions please). Allow to second rise until the dough is domed to the rim of the tins, and then bake at 220 degrees C for about 35-40 minutes. The loaves will fall out of these tins. If they look a bit underdone, quickly return naked loaf to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Cool, eat or freeze.

I’ve had passable success with sourdough recently, but the loaves have spread too far after shaping and come out too flat. In general I’ve found that the hydration recommended in most recipes is too high for my liking and reducing it by 5-10% makes dough that is less sticky and keeps its shape when baked without a tin. I cannot get on with high hydration recipes.

Today I’ve been baking pizzas. For these I use Jamie Oliver’s recipe - 800gr Canadian very strong white flour (Waitrose) and 200gr of semolina, 650 ml warm water, salt, sugar, yeast and olive oil.

Enough rambling.

SulaBlue's picture

"Seed Culture" vs. "Starter"

I am using Reinhart's method (based on Debra Wink's 'Pineapple Juice Solution') from the Whole Grain Breads book. I've completed the phases of the seed culture, but now I am looking at the Mother Starter section on pg 67. Again, I'm going to be faced with a HUGE amount of starter!

What, exactly differentiates the final stage of the 'seed culture' from a 'mother starter' that prevents me from using it as a starter, other than the hydration levels? I would, preferably, like to keep to a smaller volume of starter. I suppose, of course, that I could also simply half the ingredients listed and keep the same ratios. I would like, in the end, to end up with no more than about 2 cups of starter. While my starter is bubbly, it smells only lightly of beer atm - fairly young and weak, I think, after its last phase feeding. And yet it looks like he is taking it and easily quadrupling the starter? Can't I simply double it instead of quadrupling it without bad results? I have no idea why Reinhart has this idea that one needs to keep 6 cups of starter on hand.

SulaBlue's picture

Sub for Molasses in Israel?

I'm trying to share my recipe with a friend in Israel - and got to the molasses and went &*^!@. She doesn't even know what molasses is. What's a substitute for that part of the world? If she were in the UK I might think treacle. What about honey? Am I correct that it's in there as a sweetener for both flavor and a sugar-boost for the yeast as well as to help with the caramelization of the crust?

ques2008's picture

chocolate almond danish ring

Finally got myself an inexpensive digital camera and would like to show off one of my "creations" which is far from original.  I'm sure many of you have made this danish ring.  I got this recipe from  Cooks Country is a great web site, by the way, and would like to know how many of you are members and whether or not you use your membership.  They seem to have a gold mine of knowledge with truckloads of practical advice.  I'm thinking of signing up.

Anyway, I'm showing pictures of the (1) preparation for the dough where I slather it with the filling, (2) the finished product and (3) the product partially gobbled up.  I halved the recipe, and didn't quite succeed with the cutting and the turning upside of each slice, but the recipe gives a step-by-step.  I'll try it again one day, and hopefully, get the technique right!

Picture 1:  Prepping the dough.

 prepping the dough


2.  Danish ring fresh out of the oven:

danish ring as it came out of the oven

3.  And now, as it was partially eaten (closer look of slices - as you can see I did not quite do the slices with flying colors!)

partially eaten ring



burnit's picture

griddle bread?

Hi all

Went to a Gyro shop. They poured a flour batter like pancake on the grill. It came out like a muffin texture and would fold around gyro meat without breaking apart. It had a little corn meal in it also. I have not been able to find a recipe close to this. Any ideas? Thank you.



xaipete's picture

My New Baking Stone

I bought a new baking stone at Sur La Table last week. It is a lot heavier and thicker than your ordinary baking stone (14 x 16 x 5/8). I'm really impressed with how it is performing. My oven is definitely getting and staying hotter and my breads are cooking more quickly and getting browner. My new stone, made by Best Manufacturers in Portland, OR, is lighter in color than ordinary stones and seems to be made of a different type of material. Anyway, I highly recommend it. It was worth the $42.

Baking Stone


teddybakes's picture

Hydration % question

I'm new with sourdough and awful at math, it makes a wonderful combination for it.  I have a question for converting a wet starter to a firm starter.  If my starter is at 100% hydration, that means I am feeding it equal parts flour and that.  However, I am getting confused as to how to change it to firmer hydration %.   For example, if I want to change it to 70%, do I just feed it 100% flour and 70% water?   Do I need to adjust those amounts to take in account for the 100% my starter is?  I've searched around on the forums and I'm still pretty confused.  Sorry if this has been asked a million times before.   I appreciate any help....and I hope that I've worded this without being too confusing. 

amazonium's picture

"Whey" to go!!

I recently made my first foray into the world of cheesemaking (with the end result being a beautiful and tasty mozzarella!) and had almost 3 quarts of whey with which to deal. Being the non-waster that I am I googled uses for it and read here that it is good for making bread. Oh baby, is it ever! I used my basic no-brainer recipe, substituted the whey for the water, and yowzers, it rose like crazy and  tastes wonderful! I have a quart of cream being 'cultured' at the moment and tonight I should have freshly made European-style butter to spread on bread. Mmmmmmmm. Plugra be damned! I think we breadmakers are an adventurous lot, so I highly recommend trying your hands at mozzarella and bread with whey!


rolls's picture

anis baguettes - most beautiful bread but stuffed up scoring-

hi all i made anis's baguetttes today. i found it to be the best ever baguette recipe. the dough was beautiful and the baked bread was delicious. my only problem was with the scoring. it dragged. i may not be using the right tools. but still, even though it deflated i still got beautiful holes in my crumb, albeit, not like anis's!

i made up the dough as directed on previous posts by jane and david. slap and fold till comes together but still rough, then the three stretch and folds (which i did in the wide shallow bowl i used to mix the dough), during first hour. this is where the dough came together beautifully (very satiny). i just forgot to autolyse after mixing.shaping was simple, easy and fun. i shaped the same way he demonstrated in the youtube video.

this recipe is definately worth repeating over and over. i'd also like to try it as a boule or batard. has anyone tried this?

my scoring is still not working out for me. does anyone have any tips? i bought a packe of razor blades but maybe they are not sharp enough? i also have a bread knife and tomato knife. the bread knife works alrigh if i flour the loaf first (this is what i noticed).

thanks. would love to hear about everyone else's experience with this recipe.

JIP's picture

Seasoning Bannetons

I recently ordered a couple of 1.5 puond oval brotforms and was wondering something.  I have seen somewhere a description on how to properly season them in preparaion for the first bake. From what remember it involved oil and baking them at a very low temp.  If anyone remembers or knows where something like this is I would appreciate a link.  These are the first I have been able to afford and I don't want to trash them right out of the box.