The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi to all from Philly area

et109's picture

Hi to all from Philly area

Hi all,

My name is Jack and I am a recently retired USPS maintenance supervisor from the Southeastern suburbs of Philadelphia, PA.

Since retiring at the end of May, I have spent a lot of time my watching grandkids swim in my backyard pool, my tomatoes and cukes grow (bell peppers didn't seem interested in doing so) and perfecting my Sudoku skills. One day, towards the end of August, I got the idea in my head that I wanted to bake some Italian bread. So with absolutely no experience in that area and not realizing the possible addiction I was heading for, I went out and bought some King Arthur bread flour and a few packets of yeast. Shame on me, if my wife had seen what was coming she would have hobbled me and put a padlock on the oven door.

Since that fateful day, I have probably constructed 16 loaves of bread and made a miserable attempt at making danish pastry (it came out more like bread than some of my bread). A few of those loaves did get over an inch in height though and to tell the truth, even the worst tasted pretty good. Recently, my ears are continually assaulted by the plaintive cries of my granddaughters, "PopPop, can I have another piece of bread?".

I wandered into "The Fresh Loaf" as I was googling the internet for everything from "autolyse" to "Baker's Percentages" to "hydration". I never realized how many other breadheads were out there, kinda makes me believe there is hope for me after all. I'm hoping to learn a lot from all of you.

Since my bread has gotten a little better I've uploaded some pics hoping to maybe get a discussion started. Ideally, some of you will give me some constructive criticism. Feel free to cut my bread up as much as you want. (my son just did, about half a loaf's worth).

These are 2 loaves of a semolina Italian bread, the recipe for which came from

and is called

"Semolina Bread from a Professional Baker"


2 loaves of semolina bread


I used a cornstarch wash and steam, neither is in the recipe.


Cut loaf and slices

The bottoms split on one side of each loaf and I'd like to have more large air pockets

LindyD's picture

You live in Philadelphia?  Get thee down to Fantes at 1006 S. Ninth St. and buy yourself a digital scale so you can ditch those inaccurate volume measurements. 

You might want to pick up a brotform or two during your visit - or at least look at them.

If Fantes carries books on artisan breads, spend some time looking through their selections.   Or check the TFL's list of recommended books.

Of course, there's a ton of good material here, too.  Check out some of the videos as well.

BTW, your bread looks nice....but if you really want to be able to control crust and crumb, you need to start scaling your ingredients. 

Happy baking!

et109's picture

Thanks for your welcome, Lindy.

I am quite familiar with Fante's. I've never been to their 9th & Christian St. Store, but I visited them when they had a store in Springfield Mall. In fact, I am currently waiting on delivery of a 15 x 20 pizza stone from them. It's backordered :(  I am using a mechanical scale right now, but the digital is a high priority for me. Any recommendations on a brand or model? The brotform is new to me, I'll have a look in their on-line catalog. BTW their service has been great with online orders (for me anyhow).

The brotform sounds interesting, I've had probs earlier with the dough spreading out as it proofed using the above recipe and I compensated with a little extra flour. I suspect that helped cut down the air pockets.

As for the material here, I don't know where to start, LOL. I've checked out some of the lessons and will be reading them thoroughly, but I'm like a kid in a candy store , trying to decide which piece to try first.



LindyD's picture

You live in the area and have't visited the main store?  Wow.   I'd love to spend a few hours there - but I also like spending time in a good hardware store.  Must be a Venus/Mars thing.

I think the TFL Handbook will serve you better than the lessons.  There are tons of recipes to choose from throughout the site, but do check out the blogs.  A good number of them feature stuning breads and some good info on technique.

Two outside blogs well worth visiting are   and

Both are by TFL members who are fabulous bakers.

As to equipment questions, the search bar here is very useful.

Bake, read, learn, bake, and enjoy.


proth5's picture

I've been all around this great big world and one thing I cannot stop craving is a real hoagie.

On a real hoagie roll.

From a truck.

From Philly.

You're a lucky, lucky man to have those at your fingertips.


Happy Baking!


et109's picture

Thanks again, I'll check out the blogs.

As for going to the main store, I don't know if you've been there or not, but the Italian Market area is brutal for parking. The people in South Philly put their parking places in their wills and leave them to their favorite kids. Besides, if I did go, I'd probably wind up spending the rent and food money, then my wife would go hungry and live on the street, more importantly, I wouldn't be able to afford ingredients.

et109's picture

Tks, Pat.

I like hoagies, but a good cheese steak is better. Pat's and Geno's get the press, but I think Phillips at 21st & Passyunk Ave has a better one.

And as far as I'm concerned the bread (roll) makes either one of them.


proth5's picture

You can simulate the fillings, but only in the Philly area can you get those rolls.

You will be a hero on these pages if you can come up with the formula for a real hoagie/cheese steak roll.


et109's picture

Since I am partially of scandinavian descent finding a recipe for hoagie rolls (real ones) would send me to Valhalla. When I was dating my wife, she lived about 5 blocks from the Amoroso bakery. This was before they became a "big" player and changed their rolls. I'd stop there and go in the back door and buy a dozen 12" rolls right out of the oven. I usually arrived at her house with 8.


highmtnpam's picture

Welcome will love this site!  Pam (from the high mountains of Colorado)

et109's picture

Thanks for the welcome Pam.

Don't think I'm much of a breadhead yet, but I'm on my way, Lol.