The Fresh Loaf

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turosdolci's picture

Dolceacqua & Apricale -The Riviera dei Fiori

The story of michetta:

The Marquis Doria sent a young bride who refused to give herself to him to prison to die. The population of Dolceacqua rose up and forced the Marquis Doria (1364) to stop this abuse of power and on the 16 of August there is a festival to celebrate the event.  The women of the village created the “michetta” to celebrate this occasion.  It is now the symbol of love and freedom. Michetta are small sweetbreads similar to a raised doughnut.


DonD's picture

Aligning Gluten Strands

I understand that the purpose of the stretching and folding of the dough during fermentation is to strengthen it and to align the gluten strands. Hamelman and many others advocate stretching and folding the dough on the bench in 2 directions perpendicular to each other in essence keeping it on the X and Y axes. James MacGuire advocates stretching and folding the dough in the bowl rotating it 180 degrees so essentially creating multi-directional axes. Does anybody know if in theory the 2 methods will produce the same results as far as elasticity, extensibility, oven spring and openess of crumb is concerned? Is it possible that the Hamelman method is better for elongated bread such as baguettes and batards while the MacGuire method is more suited for round loaves like boules and miches? Any thoughts and comments are welcomed. Thanks.


Yolandat's picture

Euchre Rolls

 I saw the blog as I was wondering though TFL for Bridge Rolls. I didn't know what they were or what they should look like so I checked it out. I am playing euchre with some of the women that I work with. it is an excuse to get together and drink lots of wine and nosh and gossip and yes play a little euchre. Hopefully these little Euchre Rolls with go with the Port Salut cheese and whatever anyone else has brought along. 

Tuirgin's picture

Bagels from The Bread Baker's Apprentice—Updated

I just posted a blog entry discussing the bagels I've been making and wanted to follow it up over here in the forums with a couple questions.


I've used longer boil times and have compared KA Sir Lancelot HG flour to bagels made with KA's Bread flour and find there's only a slight difference in chewiness. These bagels are good, but the inner bagel is still surprisingly soft. What aspects of bagel making can affect the chewiness outside of boil time and gluten content of the flour?

Surface Texture

After increasing the amount of baking soda, and adding malt syrup to my water, the exterior is getting much closer to what I expect from a bagel, but it's still quite soft/chewy. Shouldn't a bagel have a bit of a crackle or crispness to the outside? Is this something that only moving to a lye bath is going to achieve?


Since these are the best bagels I've ever had, I'm guessing that I've never really had a good, traditionally made bagel. What should the crumb look like? Should it have a tight crumb, or should there be some noticeable holes to it?

That's it for now, I think. Although I can't recall all the various posts I've found that have helped me this far into my bagel making, I want to thank the members of The Fresh Loaf forums as a whole for all the great info. I've been lurking until now, but have found the site incredibly helpful. It's helped me improve my bagels, fix my sourdough starter, and given me some ideas on how to deal with kneading and pain in my hands and forearms. Much thanks to all of you!


UPDATE—2010-06-12 10:26 AM

I made a batch of dough up Thursday afternoon using King Arthur Sir Lancelot (High Gluten). I retarded it while the bagels were still extremely sluggish to float. Rather than spraying the bagels with oil to keep them from sticking to the plastic bag they were stored in, I sprayed the plastic bag, itself, and arranged it so that it wouldn't make contact with the bagels; i.e. the spray was just insurance in the event that the bag was moved so that it touched. This morning I boiled them for 90 seconds per side. And rather than sticking the whole tray of bagels in the oven, I removed the bagels from the tray and cooked them directly on my quarry tile. I cooked them for approximately 15 minutes.  The bagels were a rich brown with a slight reddish tinge. They had crust—there was a discernable crackle as I passed the knife through them. Biting into them, there was resistance—at first a slight crunch and then chewiness. The upper half which was covered with my everything mixture—Maldon sea salt, black and white sesame seeds, dehydrated garlic granules, and poppy-seed—was less crusty, both because of the seed coverage and because my range just isn't able to achieve an ambient temperature beyond 450ºF. The bottom, which was in contact with the baking stones, was perfectly crusty. There was a slight pretzel-like flavor to the bottom crust. I assume that's because pretzels and bagels both have a gelatinized crust from an alkaline bath. At any rate, the bagels were as close to perfection as I think I can come with this particular formula and my existing range. In fact, they were so good that my wife and 3 daughters wouldn't shut up about them and some of the sounds being made were rather alarming.

Next I'll try some different formulas. I should have Jeffery Hamelman's Bread any day now, and I picked up Mike Avery's small book, Back to Bagels. I want to thank everyone here for your comments and suggestions. It was a huge help. Thank you!


Tuirgin's picture

Bagels from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

 Plain, Asiago, Everything, and Rosa al Bianco

Back in March my wife sent me to a food blog to read about the "Best Pizza Dough Ever Recipe." In the post, Heidi Swanson gives some background to her discovery of Peter Reinhart's Neapolitano pizza dough along with an adapted version of the recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It seemed a bit detailed, but it sounded good and a few days later I gave it a go.

I'll admit I had a rough time of it. It was my first time working with wet dough—to date I'd only made some quick breads and some rather disappointing bread sticks, and this was a whole different beast. The first pizza went everywhere. The second was little better. Did I mention the smell of carbonized semolina flour? Altogether the pizzas were a mess, but they were still good enough that it showed promise, and it got me interested in checking out Reinhart's books.

Ten days later my wife surprised me with copies of The Bread Baker's Apprentice and American Pie. I switched to the AP Neapolitano dough and I've now made the pizzas 3 times. It's the best pizza I've ever had. Our favorite pizza so far is the Pizza Rosa al Bianco.

In the same time, I've been exploring a variety of bread recipes from BBA. For myself, the European style breads, and for my wife a variety of sandwich loaves. But one of the formulas has overshadowed all the others. First I made bagels for us. My entire family raved. Then I made bagels for my wife's co-workers. And then my mom wanted some for her school. I have been making between 2–3 dozen bagels per week for the last month or two. And thanks to some snooping around the forums here, my bagels have consistently gotten better with each batch. I have to admit it does feed my ego when people constantly tell me that my bagels are better than anything in town and that I should open up a shop. Most of the bagels I've had around here don't even begin to compete with these. Panera comes closest, but there are a few people insisting that these are better yet. I agree that they're good, but I'm still hunting for the perfect bagel.

In the meantime, I'm very proud of these and love making them with a couple tweaks to Mr. Reinhart's formula. The few changes I make are as follows:

  • Liberally add more flour—I need to measure this, because I'm consistently adding more flour as the dough seems fairly wet
  • Toss the proof times out the window—since I have to hand kneed 1-2 batches at a time, the bagels are often ready to be retarded just as soon as I have them shaped
  • Increase baking soda to 1/4 cup per pot of water—1 tbsp wasn't sufficiently gelatinizing the outer dough
  • Add malt syrup to the water until the water is tea colored (with thanks to those who have posted Jeffrey Hamelman's techniques)—without the malt, the bagels come out of the oven very pale

I've also experimented with some different toppings. I liked the ginger, garlic, sesame bagels I turned out, but my wife wasn't a fan of the ginger zing. The favorite topping, by far, has been my adaptation of the Pizza Rosa al Bianco from American Pie. I mince the red onion—is there any reason why everyone seems to use rehydrated onion for bagels?—and chop the pistachio nuts and rosemary smaller than I would for the pizzas. It still gets a huge heap of parmigiano reggiano and gets spritzed with olive oil before going into the oven.

Bagel Rosa al Bianco

There are still a few things I'd like to figure out. No matter what I do, the bagels don't have the texture I expect—the inside isn't quite a chewy as I think they should be, and I've tried using KA Sir Lancelot HG flour as well as boiling longer. The crust is also surprisingly soft. Chewy, yes, but shouldn't the crust have a crispness about them?

Regardless, these bagels are certainly satisfying. Everyone from my 2 year old daughter to my recently-vegan parents begs for them. And this makes me very, very happy.

dmsnyder's picture

Mid-week baking

I usually don't get to bake during the work week, but this was a slow week so I got some afternoon time at home. Last night, I made pizza with dough I froze a couple weeks ago.

I had used Peter Reinhart's formula from BBA. I'm going to get the hang of stretching pizza dough yet. My wife generously consented to eating pizza once a week or so, providing me more opportunities to work on it. She is so supportive ... at least in agreeing to eat one of her favorite foods.

Yesterday afternoon, I also mixed the dough for San Joaquin Sourdough and baked it this afternoon.

San Joaquin Sourdough with peaches and nectarines from this afternoon's farmers' market


 I made this with a firm (50% hydration) starter that had been refrigerated for 6 days. I did not refresh it before mixing the dough. It was plenty active.

Because I used a firmer starter than my usual 75% hydration, I increased the water by 10 gms to get my usual dough consistency. I kept the same ratio of starter to flour by weight, so the actual amount of pre-fermented flour was higher than usual. The flavor that resulted from these variations was slightly but noticeably more sour.

It's been fun, but I'm back to my customary work schedule for the rest of the week.


Candango's picture

English Muffins - The old fashioned way

Be careful out there, among the English.  With these words, a long time ago, I set out to make English muffins from scratch.  Why bother, when Thomas'es were just down the street at the market?  I worked for the State Dept and was serving overseas, in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, etc, a long way from the supermarket down the street.  I had access to basic ingredients, and finally settled on a recipe which would make about 17-19 large English muffins at a go.  I didn't have an electric skillet (220v would have caused havoc with most electric appliances brought from home and I had limited transformers.  So cooking was done by elevating the quarter-size baking sheets about 2 inches or so above the low flame or electric element on the stove, using small skillets or other heatproof items as supports.  The muffins were on a sprinkling of coarse corn meal directly on the baking sheets, where they proofed and then later cooked.  As others who have written about English muffins here, I found it best to test and turn the muffins over after about 4-5 minutes, to insure mobility and to prevent burning.


Rather than use a liquid batter, the recipe I finally devised was a straight dough with the addition of mashed potato.  Recipe follows: 

English Muffins

Dry Ingredients        Wet Ingredients

2 C Flour                       1 1/2 C milk
2 T sugar                      1/4 c water
1 t salt                         1 T Butter/oil
1 T yeast
1 C mashed potatoes     1 egg

4 C flour (reserved)

Corn meal

Mix the dry ingredients. (Start with only 2 cups of flour. The mashed potatoes may be real or instant, depending on time and availability).

Warm the wet ingredients (baby bottle temp, warm on the wrist, not hot), and add to the dry ingredients. Beat for two minutes, then add the egg and one cup of the reserved flour. Beat two minutes. Add flour by the cup and continue beating until the dough mass comes together. I had a KA stand mixer part of the time overseas but also did it by hand.  The mixer is easier, if you have it, but not absolutely essential.  Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead for seven minutes. Lightly grease the bowl and put the dough in and cover with a cloth and allow to rise until doubled, about one hour. Gently punch it down and allow to rise a second time, about 50 min.

Roll out the dough to about 1/2  thick on a floured surface. I used tuna cans (opened at both ends) as circle cutters to cut the muffins.  Of course that was back when the cans were tin and could be opened at both ends.  They are now a blister-formed aluminum, I think, and only open on one end.  Oh well, I am sure you can find suitable alternatives.  Save and reroll the scraps.  You should get about 18 good sized muffins from the recipe.

Liberally sprinkle corn meal on two cookie sheets and then place the muffins on the cornmeal. Cover and let rise about 45 min.

The trick now is to cook them. You can gently use a spatula to transfer them one at a time to a skillet, but I found it easier to arrange a support for the entire cookie sheet about 2 " above the heating element. With the heat on medium to low, the muffins will begin to cook. After a minute or so, test that the muffins are not sticking. After about 5 minutes, turn one over and check the bottom. Gradually turn all of them over to cook the other side. When all are nicely browned, remove the cookie sheet from the stove (replacing it with the second batch), and let the first batch cool. Split, toast. Makes about 18.  They freeze well and will last for months.  Thqaw them out and fork split them befopre toasting.  Enjoy.

OK, It is a lot of work.  But then, we were the only ones in Luanda, Angola or Brasilia, Brazil or various Central Asian cities at the time who had toasted English Muffins for breakfast on the weekends.



ginnyj's picture

Can I use aluminum covered baking pan to bake recipes calling for 500 degree oven?

I picked up at a garage sale, a  large aluminum, baking pan and lid with the label "Household Institute" on the bottom.  I see it's an oldie but a goodie.  Would it be ok to use for the recipes that call for putting the pan in a 450+ degree oven to preheat and then placing the bread in the pan?

I don't have anything else that would work, expect possibly a covered pyrex bowl, and do not want to buy something new for $50+++ dollars.  I don't do a lot of bread baking.




txfarmer's picture

Mr. Potato Bread from "Bourke Street Bakery"

Another bread from the book "Bourke Street Bakery", using the same white sourdough dough as this hazelnut current bread. The potatoes were roasted until barely soft and chopped to big chunks, so that they don't get lost in the dough. I have had too many potato chunks disappearing into the bread, I might have over-compensated and chopped them "too big", however they are delicious though.

The book has quite a few breads using the same basic dough, with different add-ins. The flow is very easy: 2 hours of bulk rise, shape and into the fridge overnight, take out and rise again next morning, then bake. Last time I let it warm up for almost 2 hours, this time it was 1.5 hours, judging from the scoring mark and crumb, I think 1.5 hours is better in my case. Other than roasted potato, there's also fresh rosemary to complement the flavor. Original recipe also used a little soy flour and nigella seeds, I have neither, so I used equal amount of buckwheat flour and poppy seeds, a nice subtle effect.

I am still trying to get up enough courage to try the pie and tarts formulas from this book. It's 100F+ here in Dallas, not the best time to make pastry dough, but cool weather is 4 months away, sigh...

Mike E's picture
Mike E

Thin, crispy crust evades me...

I have been making sourdough for the better part of 6 months now as our only source of bread at my house. My family, for the most part, loves it. It is mildly sour in the crumb, an tastes pretty darned good. Our only complaint (mine and theirs, equally..) is my crust. I usually end up with a pretty dark crust, which some of us mind, but not others.. but mostly, the crust is very thick and very tough, bordering on chewy as well. If you don't re-toast it in the toaster, you're in for a tough time of it.. it can get like beef jerky sorta, being pretty tough to get through, esp. for a five year old. Not long ago, we wet to NYC and experiences Amy's Bread in Chelsea Market.. and I just about died of jealousy. The crust from her bread as so fantastic! It was so light, crispy, and so really fantastically delicious. I know they have fantastic ovens there that beat me hands down with my electric range.. but I do steam my loaves with a spritzer a few times in the beginning few minutes of the bake. I also use a large baking stone in my oven, and I start the bake at just over 500 degrees (high as she'll go..) and a bit later turn it down a few degrees to finish off the bake. My question is, I'm willing to do whatever tests and experiments need to be done at my house to get it right, eventually, but what, generally, do I need to do to thin out my crusts a bit and get them crispier and not so tough?