The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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chayarivka's picture

sourdough honey cake

I usually bake a yummy buckwheat rye honeycake, but I would like to try a sourdough version. Does anyone have any tips or recipes for sourdough cake in general? Or specifically, honey? If it needs fat, I would prefer to use oil rather than butter or margarine.

afjagsp123's picture

Right kind of grain to mill for Italian loaf?

My Nutrimill just arrived this afternoon, and I'm rarin' to go! I know I'm going to love the whole grain, but I also want to continue baking my Bread Baker's Apprentice Ciabatta, Pugliese, etc.... recipes using home-milled grains.

Is there any way to replicate high protein bread flour milling whole grains at home? I have a bucket of WM Prairie Gold and a bucket of WM Bronze Chief.

I think I know the answer :( but I thought I'd ask if anyone in this corner of the forum has been able to get this type of flour out of their mill.

pmccool's picture

Bread camp at The Back Home Bakery

I had the pleasure of spending a week working as a baking intern for Mark Sinclair at his The Back Home Bakery in Kalispell, Montana.  Other than the sleep deprivation, it was a thoroughly enjoyable week of measuring ingredients, washing dishes, mixing bigas and doughs, washing dishes, stretching and folding dough, washing dishes, pre-shaping and shaping loaves, washing dishes, making pastries and fillings, washing dishes, scraping the workbench, washing dishes, packaging the finished breads/pastries, building friendships with Mark and Sharon (his wife), and washing dishes.

A typical day would start at 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning.  We'd begin by pulling bigas from the refrigerator (they had been mixed the previous afternoon or evening) and measuring the ingredients for each bread.  Most of the breads were mixed in a 20-quart mixer, except for the baguettes, which were a larger batch that was mixed in the 60-quart mixer.  The other exception was on Saturday morning, when about half of the breads were mixed in the 60-quart mixer because of the larger batches being prepared for the Kalispell farmers' market later that morning.  Mark also pulled 2 or 3 frozen pastry doughs from the freezer at about the same time so that they could be thawed and ready for sheeting and shaping during a lull in the bread production.

After mixing, the bread doughs were placed in a proofer.  Most were given 3 stretch and folds at 45-minute intervals.  After proofing, the doughs were shaped and placed on sheet pans, then put back in the proofer for their final proof prior to slashing and baking.  The baguettes, again, were an exception to this general practice; they received a pre-shape, then a ferment at room temperature, followed by a final shaping and final room-temperature ferment before slashing and loading into the oven.  Mark uses two convection ovens; one is electric and the other is gas fired.  All of the baking is done on sheet pans, rather than on a deck or stone.  Neither oven is steam-injected, so Mark throws a can of water on a cast-iron griddle sitting in the bottom of the oven when a bread requires steaming.  

What I haven't conveyed well is the overall planning that Mark does in deciding which doughs are mixed first and which are mixed last.  Based on experienced he has gained and on the particular day's product roster (it varies from day to day), Mark sequences the production steps so that he can maintain a steady flow of bread or pastries in and out of the ovens without creating bottlenecks or gaps.  And it's all subject to change, depending on the activity of the doughs.  There are anywhere from 1 to 4 timers in use at any given point and each step of the process for each bread or pastry is noted on a sheet of paper.  If it didn't get written down, it would get lost in the ever-changing flow of the work.  A couple of examples may help to illustrate just how important time management is in a bakery.  One: "If you have time to stand around, you've probably missed something."  Two: Mark muttering "That timer rules my life" as he leaves the dinner table to put the rye starter in the refrigerator for the night.

I encountered several surprises during my week at The Back Home Bakery:

- Mark produces a variety of pastries, using both croissant dough and puff pastry dough.  I had preconceived that he was primarily making breads, but that was a misconception on my part.

- Mark uses Wheat Montana's AP flour, which most other milling companies would label as a high-protein bread flour.  Still, he produces incredibly tender and flaky pastries and robust breads using that same flour.  The man knows what he's doing.

- Aforesaid pastries, still warm from the oven, make a spectacular breakfast.  My wife ran out of adjectives by Thursday.

- Mark is something of a Renaissance man: teacher, coach, log home builder and baker.  And very patient with a well-meaning but sometimes-addled assistant.  I'm sticking with the sleep deprivation defense as long as I can.  

Saturday was the biggest production day of the week because of the Kalispell farmers market, so we were up at 1:00 a.m.  Sharon also pitched in, so there were three of us banging around in the bakery, trying not to trip over each other.  That morning we produced and packaged:

- palmiers

- bear claws

- croissants

- cherry croissants

- blueberry croissants

- cheese danish

- pain au chocolat

- apple strudel

- ham and cheese croissants

- sticky buns

- sour rye bread (based on Eric's Fav Rye)

- rustic white bread

- buckwheat-flax bread

- baguettes

- Sal's rolls (torpedo shaped, made from baguette dough)

- Portuguese sweet bread (shaped as rolls)

- Kalamata jack bread

All of the above was loaded in the van, along with the booth and display fixtures, and ready to roll by 7:30.

Here are a couple of pictures from that morning:

Sharon, wisely, bundled up for the chilly morning.  Mark's concession to the cold was to change from shorts to jeans and put on a cap.

Sharon waiting on early customers.

Mark's commitment to putting out a high-quality product is paying off.  He has loyal customers who come looking for their favorites and who are very disappointed if they arrive too late and find that item has sold out.

I'm very grateful to have had a week working with Mark and getting to know both he and Sharon.  Should you have the opportunity to pursue a future internship, I can highly recommend it.


DonD's picture

Pain Paillasse Revisited


When I first saw the twisted shaped baguettes posted by Shiao-Ping on her blog, I was intrigued. Then I read the posting by Chouette22 on the Pain Paillasse by Aime Pouly and found out that it is an Artisanal Bread made in Switzerland, I was fascinated and wanted to know more about the man and his breads. I purchased Pouly's book 'Le Pain' and studied it thoroughly.

Having spent one year of college in Geneva in the late sixties, I have always had a soft spot for the beautiful country of Switzerland. Although, the Pain Paillasse was not around when I was there, I was determined to try to duplicate it. Problem is the recipe is a closely guarded secret that Aime Pouly only shared with two of his most trusted friends.

From the description and photographs of the basic Pain Paillasse, I understood it to be a Levain and White Flour based Baguette where the high hydration dough is twisted like a wringed towel before proofing and baking without any scoring. Although Pouly refers to his preferment as Levain, his formula for Levain is a mixture of Flour, Water and Yeast at 100% hydration so my guess is that it is really a Poolish instead. However for my first attempt, I decided to use a Poolish preferment made with a mature Liquid Levain instead of the Instant Yeast (similar to the Whole Wheat Levain that Hamelman described in his book). I chose the Liquid Levain to control the sourness from the production of Acetic Acid. To balance the sourness of the Levain, I used the principles of the Gosselin Pain a l'Ancienne formulation first published by David Snyder to extract extra sweetness from the dough.


Flour Mix

300 Gms AP Flour

150 Gms Bread Flour

30 Gms WW Flour

20 Gms Dark Rye Flour

Levain Poolish

125 Gms Flour Mix

125 Gms Water

25 Gms Mature Liquid White Flour Levain (100% Hydration)


375 Gms Flour Mix

200 Gms Ice Cold Water + 50 Gms Water

9 Gms Atlantic Grey Sea Salt

1/8 Tsp Instant Yeast

 Pains Paillasse Proofing

 Pains Paillasse

 Pain Paillasse Crumb


1- Make Levain Poolish and ferment overnight for 8 hrs until tripled in volume.

2- Mix remaining Flour Mix with the Ice Water for 1 min. at low speed w/ flat beater and autolyse overnight for 8 hrs.

3- Mix Levain Poolish, Dough, Salt and Yeast with remaining water using flat beater on low speed for 1 min. Switch to dough hook and knead at low speed for another minute. Let rest for 30 mins.

4- Stretch and fold in the bowl using the James MacGuire method 4 times at 1 hr interval.

5- Dough should have nearly doubled in volume by the 4th fold. Divide dough in 3 and preshape into rounds and let rest 15 mins.

6- Shape into long baguettes, flour generously and twist baguettes before proofing for 45 mins.

7- Bake in preheated oven at 460 degrees with steam for 10 mins.

9- Continue baking without steam for another 12 mins at 430 degrees.

10- Turn off oven and let rest in oven with door ajar for 10 mins.

11- Remove baguettes and cool on rack.


The dough developed nicely during fermantation and was quite extensible but at 75% Hydration was not easy to handle. Generous flouring during shaping helped.

Oven spring was good, the crust had deep golden color and was quite crunchy. The crumb was cream color, fairly open with medium softness and a slight chewiness. The taste had a hint of toastiness and a slight tang balanced with a sweet creamyness (which is the trademark of the Gosselin Pain a l'Ancienne). Overall, I was quite pleased with the results. Next time, I will try using all AP Flour with a touch of Rye and a true Poolish which I think will be closer to Pouly's formulation. I would be curious to hear the detailed description from someone who has tasted the authentic Pain Paillasse.




cbtb's picture

plexiglass proof box top

Hi All,

This is my first post. I have a culinary team building cooking program in NYC and to relax love to bake bread... I also use the breads for my problem is that several years ago I bought a plexiglass proofing box top that fits nicely over a half sheet pan.  I love it. Now that I am a maniac and will bake all weekend long I need more and can't find any. Does anyone know #1 what I am talking about and #2 where to find more?

Many thanks for your help/



Mitch550's picture

KitchenAid Spiral Dough Hooks Question


Bed, Bath, and Beyond is showing two spiral dough hooks. One is the burnished model KN256BDH at $19.99, and the other is the coated model KNS256CDH at $17.99.

I am aware of the warnings about not using it on any machine for which it wasn't intended but I'm willing to risk it because the problem with the dough climbing up the "C" hook is driving me crazy and if my Pro 6 burns out as a result of using the spiral hook I really don't care because I hate the machine the way it presently functions.

So, does anyone know the advantage of one over the other of these two dough hooks offered by BBB.  The fact that one is "coated" might imply that there would be less chance of anything sticking to it, and yet that one sells for less money than the burnished one, so that leaves me with the question as to which one is the better choice for yeasted dough?

Any input on this would be most appreciated.


Update 09/21/09

Well I took the plunge and ordered the burnished spiral dough hook from BBB the other day.  It arrived within a few days and I tried it out today with a formula I've been using that utilizes bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, vital wheat gluten, a biga made with some of the bread flour and an autolyse made with some of the whole wheat flour.  The total weight of these ingredients was 450g / 1 pound, which is half of what the Pro 6 supposedly can handle with these types of ingredients.  The spiral dough hook worked like a charm and the dough did NOT climb the hook, as opposed to what it did last week with the "C" hook -- nor did the mixer give any indication of laboring.  For this experiment I limited it to one batch because I figured if it couldn't handle this why try something even more demanding.  Next time I will try with a double batch because I don't have the time or inclination to do one batch at a time.  If it can't handle the double batch it will be time for me to consider a new mixer, possibly/probably the Electrolux DLX, even though I hate to spend so much money. I'll post the outcome of the double batch for anyone who might be interested.

Two points:

The mixer ran for about 3 minutes at the lowest setting and about another 3 minutes on setting #2.

BBB has the wrong model number on its website for the burnished spiral dough hook.  They are showing it as KN256BDH when it is really KNS256BDH.  The photo is correct; it's the model number that's wrong.  I ordered the item as shown and got the one in the photo, which, of course, is what I wanted.


Update 10/3/09

I forgot to say above that the dry ingredients also included cooked oatmeal and toasted rolled oats and that the total of all of the dry ingredients was approximately 450g.  A few days ago I made a double batch, which totaled approximately 940g of dry ingredients (and a total dough batch weight of approximately 1600g) and the spiral dough hook worked fine, the dough didn't climb up the hook, and the machine did not overheat or appear to be having any problem at all.  I ran it for 2-1/2 minutes on Stir and 4 minutes on speed #2 and wound up with a nicely developed dough.





tssaweber's picture

Bread of Basel


One of my favorite bread is the "Basler Brot" or bread of Basel. It is a Swiss cantonal bread and as I was born in Basel of course I favor this over other cantonal breads like the bread of St. Gall, or of the Ticino. An exception is the rye bread from the Valais, the Walliser Brot, as I spent the other half of my younger years in this region.

If you belief the history than this bread was the first time mentioned in 1792 in a bread book. And still as of today it is the runner in many bakeries in Switzerland.

The shape is longish oval and it is always baked as two loafs sticking together at the front. For all of you who have difficulties with scoring, this is the bread to go, because it has none. I also like the dark rather thick crust which gives it the wonderful taste.

The oven temperatures from the old days with the wood fired ovens are not attainable in a private household environment, but I was able to get good results with 550˚F during the steam period and finishing the bake with 450˚F.



 TFL Crumb Shot

Unfortunately I was not able to copy paste the adapted recipe as it is in table form and TFL doesn't allow to import published spreadsheets/*.xps files. But for those who are interested I have a printable version and an Excel version on my blog. Due to the higher ash content of European flour I have adapted the recipe to American flour and reduced the hydration to 68% instead of the 80%. The Excel spreadsheet let's you change the final dough amount, default is 1500 grams.


Salome's picture

Autumn the third - Painted Bread

I have to confess that I'm not very busy these days. I've got a lot of free time because university hasn't started yet and in addition to that, I'm very limited in what I do because I've got some weird inflammations in my feet. And my friends are all working or have already started school or . . . I can't go and hike, I can't meet friends, but I still can bake! The more time consuming, the better. I'm keeping myself busy and happy this way. And my family well-fed ;-).

A freshly baked bread and some "colors" - That's what you need for painting a bread. In my case, it's Hamelman's "Rye Sourdough with Walnuts" but without walnuts. It's basically a bread made with sourdough, 50% whole rye flour and 50% high gluten flour. (in my case, normal bread flour with some Vital Wheat Gluten.) I tried a dark color and a white one, but the dark was not visible on the rather dark crust. For the dark one I just over-caramelized sugar until it was very dark and then added some water, let it cool and mixed it with egg yolk. The white is a corn starch - water blend.

I baked the bread as usually and started to paint with a normal brush as soon it was out of the oven. The crust is hot and makes the water of the colors evaporate. Nothing easier than that! After the "art work" was done, I baked it for another few minutes, no more than five. Et voila, a bread that will impress everybody.

The flowers and leaves are all out of our garden. I've been saying for the last couple days that the falls has come and here's now the proof. it is autumn. And it's beautiful.


yozzause's picture

meat cooking

The wood fired oven has worked wonderfully well for both pizza and bread to date with great results, but it is now time  to some serious meat cooking i would be pleased to hear from some of the woodies on their exploits with meats.

Some of the students here at TAFE are interested in cooking  / baking a whole piglet in the near future for their graduation.

I am going to have a bit of a practice day with a number of items chickens, pork legs etc on a friday after the students have finished with the oven for pizzas at lunch time. (cant waste that heat)

 Any suggestions on cooking with some fire in or out meat covered or uncovered as a bit of a giude could save me from re-inventing the wheel

I have added a shot of the oven built from plans from traditionaloven showing the size  

regards yozza

chuppy's picture

Best baguette you've ever made...

Hello bread lovers,

I have been baking bread for about 4 yrs and would like to know what your favorite baguette recipe is and if you could post a picture of it. I have been looking for an awesome recipe, but have not been successful in recreating one just yet. Can't wait to see what others have done!