The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I can't believe you bake all your own bread!

jj1109's picture

I can't believe you bake all your own bread!

is the reaction I mostly get at work when I mention that I do actually bake all the bread we consume at home. "We haven't bought bread for, oh, over a year now" I mention. The usual response to that is "oh, you got a bread machine did you? I have one, it's great, etc etc." Then I say no, sorry, I use my hands - the last few months I have returned to the good old hand knead (over my Kenwood mixer), which is why I made bread in the first place - I greatly enjoy the sensation of bread making, the changing of the flour'n'water paste into a smooth, soft dough, wonderful to touch and stretch! Also, given my three year old son likes to help, have this great big mixer going round and round tempts little fingers (he's really very good with it though) and I'd prefer not to go down that path...

One thing I do still use the mixer for is a new (to me) sourdough rye sandwich loaf formula from Peter Reinhart. It calls for the starter to be made wholly with rye flour, with the description of "it should look a little like potters clay" being a little inaccurate - the stuff is exactly like clay, in both colour and texture! At around 67% hydration, it's heavier than I usually use, impossible to stir with a spoon, so the first time I made it I got both hands in there (as is my usual method) and promptly was amazed at just how much stuck to me - I think out of a starter that was supposed to be 250g, there ended up being around 150g left in the bowl when I was finished. After that little effort, I use the Kenwood to mix that every time! This has very quickly become the favourite for sandwiches in my household, overtaking multigrain extraordinaire and marbled rye from BBA. Here's some pics:


Whilst I was on leave from work, I had plenty of time to read and bake. Actually, I had very little time, having to prepare my son's new room for him to move into (don't ask me how much I hate painting!) and we spent a week away (luckily there was an oven so I could keep baking!) however on the home page of TFL there's a link to a Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid from Floyd, I made the mistake of looking at that when my wife was over my shoulder... results are below ;) I can now attest that Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid is a resounding success as well!

The bread I keep returning to, however, is the one I first wrote about on TFL - Susan's Original Sourdough, as interpreted by David. I guess this is my "daily bread", the one I know the best, and the one people at work ask me to make for them! It's my most reliable formula, and always yields great results!

880g, no cold retardation

440g, no cold retardation

440g, 24 hours cold retardation

And finally... you should always smile, even when bread making. You can imagine my double-take after dipping this slice in my soup... and the resigned sigh from my ever-patient wife as I grabbed the camera!


ehanner's picture

Nice looking breads jj. I'm especially impressed at how evenly you sliced the sandwich loaf. I've made that rye sandwich loaf a few times and you are right, it is messy and hard to handle. I did discover that if I keep a small bowl of lukewarm water on the counter and keep the counter and my hands wet that I can do much more with it than trying to use the dry method. It's really not any mess with a scraper and plenty of water.

Your boules look great!

The smiley face in the crumb is a sign of contentment in the dough. The yeasty's must like you!


giertson's picture

I'm not sure that crumb is smiling, but rather screaming because its face was just dipped in soup.

jj1109's picture

I'll give that a shot this weekend :)

jannrn's picture

Just GORGEOUS loaves!! But I HAVE to ask, where did you find a pan for your loaf of Sandwich bread???? I found a Pullman but it turned out to be for Fairies or other VERY small creatures!! My bad for not asking the dimensions....I guess it would be great for making finger sandwiches....or bread for my 4 year old grandson....but I want an AFFORDABLE sandwich pan!! Any suggestions?????

angeliaw's picture

I would like to know what loaf pan you use and how you get the perfect slices!  I have been trying to find a way to "make" a loaf for sandwiches that resemble the loafs from the store.....appereance only!

Thank you for sharing!

jj1109's picture

thanks all for the comments! I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, I inherited these from a family member, and they are big! - about 12x5", if I recall correctly (I'll check when I get home from work). I usually bake around a 3lb loaf in one.

As for perfect slices... thanks for that comment :) I use a bread knife and cut it by eye. Practice makes perfect, you know!

summerbaker's picture

Delicious looking stuff!  I love the beautiful cream cheese braid, which I've been wanting to make for a while now. 


gildee's picture

Hello, I am new to this site and had said my first attempt at bread making would be zucchinni bread but I still  purchase low carbohydrate bread by Nichols Bakery but was wondering if any of you have any ideas or recipes for low carb bread of any kind, I simply do not know anything about bread making and it would take years for me to figure this out.

Thanks for any help I can get.