The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Intro from MD

sewcial's picture

Intro from MD


I guess it's about time for me to introduce myself. I am Catherine, a grandmother of 9 --soon to be 10, a mother of 4, DH and I are both retired now so I am busier than ever.  I have so many hobbies that I can't seem to find time for them all but I seem to find time to bake.


I joined this forum a few weeks ago, looking for help when I was having trouble getting artisan breads to come out like the descriptions in the book. I've been so busy baking and asking questions that I haven't gotten around to introducing myself. I have gotten lots of helpful suggestions and answers and I think I'm well on my way to a new adventure in breads. I have a lively stiff sourdough starter living in my fridge. Before joining, I bought Local Breads by Daniel Leader and plunged right in...then the breads came our heavy. Since joining, I've bought The Breadbaker's Apprentice and I love all the color photos showing just how the breads should look. I'm using Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads and King Arthur's Baker's Companion from the library and I might have to buy them, too. I will get Rose Levy Berenbaum's Bread Bible from the library tomorrow. My cookbook shelves are full, so I don't know where I'll put these hefty volumes, but they are all so nice. 


I've been baking bread since childhood. First it was a special treat to have homemade bread, then, after I had children, it became our daily fare. I got my stone grinding flour mill in 1976 and am still using it. Our children grew up on whole wheat bread and they wondered how their friends could eat "wonder bread".  They would say it was called that because people would eat it and wonder what it could be made of. 


Although I still love my old standby Honey Oat and Wheat Bread, I have always wanted to be able to make crusty white breads with a tender crumb. I'm happy to learn that the trick is the stone and the steam. 


 I'm still not quite sure what I was doing wrong with the first white breads I tried, but I'm over it. I must have been underproofing because I sure kneaded enough. Now I am using the fold and rest with a plenty long fermenting and proofing whenever it seems feasible and the breads are coming out just heavenly. 


I made Norm's Onion Rolls today and they look beautiful!  We will eat a couple as soon as DH gets home from doing jury duty. They will be deliciousf illed with barbecued pulled pork and homemade applesauce. Thank you, Norm, for sharing your expertise and recipes from the past.


Thanks to Floyd for hosting this list and for all the members who so generously offer their helpful tips and suggestions.




jannrn's picture

Hello Catherine!!

Welcome to TFL! I too am a grandmother but so far only 1 (Lord knows he is enough right now!!) and mother to 2 beautiful daughters! I have been baking breads for 34 years and had no idea just how much I DIDN'T KNOW until I stumbled upong this site!! The people here are SO friendly and just full of information!! There are SO many recipes and more hints than one could even hope to put in a book!! I have baked breads all over the country being a Travel Nurse for the last few years, and never had any problems until I came to Florida....
FORTUNATELY for me.....there are SO many brilliant people on this site, I now know what the problem WAS!!
 I hope you continue to enjoy the site and if you are interested in sharing your Honey Oat and Wheat bread recipes, I would be grateful!!

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

sewcial's picture

You are so right about thinking I could bake bread and learning how  much I didn't know! I had never used sourdough and thought all sourdough bread tasted sour. While visiting our eldest daughter, she showed me her book, Local Breads by Daniel Leader and highly recommended I get it. As soon as we got home, I did just that, but was having no end of trouble getting the bread to rise and have a nice open crumb. That was when I searched and found this forum. 

I spent most of my childhood in FL, from age 7 till I married. I'm interested to know what the FL problem was with bread baking. I do know the humidity and insects make it nearly impossible to store wheat or flour for long times. I'm so glad I don't have to live there any more. 

I'll try to post the recipe for my Honey Wheat Oatmeal Bread. It is my family's favorite, keeps fresh about a week at room temp in a plastic bag or Tupperware container (maybe not so long in Florida). It might be a bit sweeter than some people like. I actually did share it here, but forgot which thread and I now will add some tips that I've learned since joining the forum. The loaf in the photo was a 2-3 days old when i took the picture.


Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread


This hearty whole grain bread has a very tender crumb and nice elasticity. It also produces a light tender crust.If you prefer your bread less sweet, just reduce the honey and/or sugar.


1 ½ cups water

½ cup oats (rolled or steel cut)

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons sugar, or use all honey

2 ½ cups warm water

2 tablespoons active dry yeast

8 cups whole wheat bread flour

¼ cup oil

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon lecithin (granules or liquid)

8 cups flour -- whole wheat high protein bread flour (My wheat is 16% protein. I am using Prairie Gold hard white wheat). I grind my own flour just before baking so I believe it retains all its nutrients. I recently learned, that if you grind and do not bake the same day, the flour should be aged at least 2 weeks before baking. You can also add a bit of diastatic barley malt if your flour is not high protein.


Separate out 4 cups of the flour.

1/4 cup oil

1 tablespoons salt 

Optional: 1 Tablespoon lecithin if you have it (liquid or granular)—I add this to many of my baked goods to help control cholesterol. It is totally optional and not necessary for the success of the bread.

(-Optional: 2 TablespoonsVital Wheat Gluten _Add this is your flour is not high protein/high gluten.)

3. Add oil, salt and 4 cups of the flour (also optional additives like gluten, lecithin) to foamy yeast mixture. (Or just add the water, sweetener and yeast with the oil and salt to the flour). Stir and beat about 300 strokes by hand or 3 minutes by mixer at medium speed. The batter should be cohesive and should sheet off the beater. 

*Making two loaves, you can fit all of the flour in a Kitchen Aid or larger mixer and knead by machine, if you wish. I usually make 4 loaves and I have to turn it out of the bowl by this point because the large amount of dough is too much for the mixer.) Some day I will get a Bosch and can do up to 6 loaves in it.

Add enough more flour to make a soft dough. Stop with the mixer before it starts to climb up the beaters.

Now use a large wooden spoon or flat stirrer until it is stiff enough to scrape it out onto a floured surface to knead in the rest of the flour in by hand.

4. Turn out onto a board (or a formica table top) and knead the remaining flour into the dough until dough is elastic and not too sticky. -- No less than 7-8 minutes. Thorough kneading here is important. 

You may use slightly less or more than the remaining 6 cups of flour, so have an additional cup or two ready in reserve for kneading, if needed. Actual amount of flour varies with humidity, etc. (If you have high humidity, you could just reduce the water a bit at the beginning).

If I run out of ready ground whole wheat flour, I will just finish the kneading with white flour. It doesn't really matter whether it is all purpose or bread flour since this last flour doesn't get its gluten activated so much anyway. It's just to keep your hands from sticking to the dough.

5. Place dough in oiled bowl; turn it over to oil top of dough, cover with a warm damp cloth or plastic wrap and place in a warm place free of drafts to rise. (usually 30-40 minutes). While dough is rising, generously grease 2 loaf pans.

 6. Punch down dough and dump it out of the bowl. Knead lightly, cut into 2 evenly sized pieces. (I weigh mine at just about 2 lbs. each.) Cover with a damp cloth and let them rest 10-15 minutes. Shape into loaves and put into the well greased pans, oil the top of loaf, cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise till double in bulk (30-45 minutes).

*Due to variations in humditity, etc, and the amount of extra flour, you may end up with a bit more dough than your two pans will hold. If I have extra dough, I make a small loaf or a few rolls. My recipe for 4 loaves usually results in 5 loaves, especially since I began adding the oatmeal to the recipe.

7. When bread is nearly risen, preheat the oven to 350’. If you have been using the oven for a rising spot, be sure to take the loaves out. Brushing tops with egg white before baking makes a lovely brown top, but I usually just oil the tops. Sprinkle tops with poppy or sesame seed, if desired.

Bake about 45 minutes at 350’ F.


Tips I've learned since joining The Fresh Loaf Forum:

1. I learned that you can soak the oats overnight instead of cooking them. If you want to do this, just pour the boiling or simmering water over the oats and let stand overnight. In the morning, you are ready to bake and the oats have already cooled to room temp.

2. I learned that I don't need to proof the yeast with the sweetened water. Just add it and water together to the flour when ready to begin mixing.

3. I also learned that the "rest and fold" method works nicely with this recipe. If you choose to try that method, I suggest you add all the measured flour (plus a bit extra if the dough still seems sticky after a 10 minute rest). When I did it, I tried to make the dough wetter since I didn't have to knead it by hand. Then I slashed it. It spread way too much in the oven, going out sideways instead of upward. The loaf in the above photo was made by my regular kneading method. 

sewcial's picture


I forgot to convert this to weights, but it is made by the older, "approximate" type of measuring. I fluff, spoon and scrape the measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients. Next time I bake this, I will weigh as I measure to give a more accurate idea of amounts.

My new scale was defective...went screwy and started running through numbers instead of giving a reading. The replacement should be here any day. Not sure when I'll convert this, but, when I do, I'll post the weights.


sewcial's picture

I originally had 1/4 teaspoon of salt in the oatmeal soaker and I omitted it when I rewrote the recipe, thinking (from things I've read in the books) that the salt should be added after the yeast had worked on the flour a bit. Then, last night, I read more, thoroughly, the front sections of Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads and he says you *should* put salt in the soaker and/or mash. I read so late I can't remember exactly why, but it does something good to it. So, add that 1/4 teaspoon of salt back into the oatmeal at the beginning.

I still might try once more to use a pre-ferment in this recipe, but I'm not sure if I should mess with something that is so tasty as it is.