The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

An introduction from a Kiwi~

malkouri's picture

An introduction from a Kiwi~

Good evening fellow forum members!

This is my first true post; i've asked two questions so far, but then realised I hadn't actually introduced myself to everyone! So this is it, my introduction. Im a Kiwi, born and bred (A New Zealander, for everyone not quite with the jargon). Im fifteen years old now and have a deep passion with bread, having started baking it properly about half way through this year after my friend gave me a bread book as a gift -- "New Zealand Bread Book", by Alison and Simon Holst.

I've baked the 'new-age' style loaves (quick-rise, butter-filled recipes) and am now venturing into the artisan-style area of baking, managing to fit around three loaves into a week with all my commitments as a student (and social commitments, being a teenager!). My task for tomorrow is to go hunting for a jar to start a starter in, and then bake a whole-wheat loaf that ill invent on the spot; can't afford an eight hour first rise or anything ridiculous, so ill cheat a little and add a few teaspoons of sugar.

So that's that, a brief little introduction. Im loving the site already, with the vast amounts of information in front of me whenever I want it, and I think ill be on here quite a bit from now on.

Thanks folks for letting me in (:

RobynNZ's picture

Gidday Malkouri

Welcome to TFL. I live on Waiheke.

I took a look to find your questions, sorry I missed them, when you first posted them. This is a very active website and you will have more chance of your questions being noticed if you go to the forums and post a new forum topic.

I have Alison & Simon Holst's book out of the library at present, but I'm not at home today although expect to be back there tomorrow evening. Is the question about rolled oats from that book? If it is, I'll take a look at the whole recipe and get back to you on this point tomorrow night.

First post ever, and regarding a relatively simple ingredient; whole rolled oats. A recipe book I have recommends adding them in small amounts for an interesting flavour and texture, so I thought I would give it a try tomorrow.

But what do they mean by small amount? A quarter of a cup? Total flour is 420g whole wheat flour. And how much extra water would I need to add? Im using 375mL at the moment.

 px; -webkit-border-vertical-spacing: 0px; font-size: 10px;">Any help appreciated (:


And your second question:

hello, i just made the lesson 1 bread and the crust was so hard we almost broke our teeth eating it. our oven tends to burn things so i cooked only 40 mins instead of the full 45. i'm thinking i may have over cooked it. the inside was kinda soft... a little tough maybe. I know it's not really supposed to get golden brown because there is no sugar in the mix but it stayed chalk white. i thought it was supposed to get a little bit of color. i also may have added too much yeat. the little packets of yeast we have comes in 2 1/4 teaspoon and i figured what's a 1/4 teaspoon going to hurt. Just need help figuring out if I over cooked it or added a little too much yeast. please help me out. :)

It sounds to me as though your oven's dial is not accurate, if you find that the oven often burns things. You can buy quite cheaply oven thermometers to hang inside the oven. Using one of those you'd get a better idea of the relationship between the number on the dial and the actual temperature in the oven. Here's what another TFLer, Chuck has suggested when using such a thermometer

Another possible reason is your oven isn't as hot as you think it is. It's quite common for ovens to be "out of calibration" by 50F! Buy an inexpensive dial oven thermometer and put it in your oven. Check it several times and figure out the middle temperature. (Electric ovens commonly -and quite normally- cycle between 25F below the desired temperature and 25F above the desired temperature. If you check the thermometer just once, you're likely to catch it at one or the other end of the cycle, and so get a screwed up impression of you're oven's real average temperature.)

Otherwise you could try dropping the temperature. Floyd recommended 375F (that's 190°C) so maybe try 180°C and see how you go. Where do you place the bread in the oven? I'd go for the middle shelf, for this type of bread.

What kind of yeast are you using? What is the brand and what does it say on the packet? Using a lot of yeast the dough is fermented quickly, but working a bit slower will produce better flavoured bread. Nevertheless it's unlikely that the extra yeast contributed to the hard crust. Did you let the dough double as Floyd recommended? How do you work out when it has doubled? If you let it overproof then the crust could have been affected.

I see a couple of comments about sugar. You are correct that sugar will add to the browning reaction, but the fact is that the flour too contains 'sugars' which is what the yeast use during fermentation. If we let the dough overproof all that 'sugar' gets used up and pale crusts will result. There are numerous types of  lean breads made of just flour, water, salt and yeast which have wonderful golden crusts. 

It is a very good idea to find one recipe that you want to work with and make it a few times, each time you make it you will learn something new. It is tempting to try lots of different things, and you could do so , but it is worth keeping working at that basic recipe in parallel  improving your techniques.

I can see you have already worked out that bread baking is fun. TFL is a very friendly place and people will be happy to answer your questions, but do put them in a new topic in the appropriate forum so they get noticed.

I await your answers to my questions.

And on a personal note, very sad news, from the coal mine today. Times like this NZ is like one big family, isn't it.


malkouri's picture

Thanks Robyn! Fellow Kiwi =D

Im afraid that second question you quoted me as writing wasn't actually mine; I didn't post that (: I wonder who did? And if their name is similar to mine! Hmmmm...

And just so you know, the rolled oats didn't appear in any of the recipes; they were mentioned in the ingredients section at the back of the book, which is why I was interested.

The Pike River Coal Mine disaster is horrific, and a definite scar on what appears to have been an otherwise safe industry, relatively free of disasters for the last 43 years. The last miners to die in a New Zealand coal mine was in 1967, and the introduction of OSH standards has improved the record substantially. As a country, we have certainly come together in this time of need.

habahabanero's picture

Hi Malkouri (and Robyn), good to see some fellow southsiders on the forum - I'm in Aus at present, but will be back in windy Wellington in 3 weeks time. Moving back to NZ I'll no doubt have to find a supplier of good flour again - not always as easy as it sounds like it is in the USA - shops here in Aus sell mixes for bread machines but no plain stuff (- and when you say you bake bread people assume you have a machine). Any recommendations would be appreciated.

I can highly recommend Peter Reinhart's 'The Bread Baker's Apprentice" (AKA "BBA" on this forum) to you if you're just starting out - maybe a good Christmas present?

With regards to the pale inside (crumb), the main determinant of crumb colour is the flour you use - if it's a highly purified bleached variety, the bread will have little taste and be quite pale - hence my quest for good flour. What kind of flour are you using, what do have access to? (where in NZ are you BTW?)

can't afford an eight hour first rise or anything ridiculous

As many of the forum members will tell you, flavour takes time to develop, as does patience. The theory is that if dough is allowed time to itself, the enzymes in the wheat will digest the starch to sugars - making for more flovoursome bread. I find it easy to be patient when my dough is in the fridge though! So I often make a hybrid of the "no knead bread"  (also check it out on youtube)  and the Pain al'Ancienne from the BBA - which I then bake under a stainless bowl for the first 1/3 of the baking time. Will post the recipe if you're interested.



RobynNZ's picture

Hi there

I always feel very satisfied with the flour here. I figure it's my job to draw the best out of the flour. I buy 'plain'  'hi-grade' and 'wholemeal' from the supermarket. I get a wide variety of grains and seeds from an organic shop and also from Binn Inn. Various rye flours I tend to get from a company that also has an online shop, check out:

As you'll be in Wellington you might find Neville Chun in the Hutt a good resource.  I think he brings in some flour from Australia. You'll find him on TradeMe

Wellington has plenty of those "can't beat it on a fine day" days at this time of year, should ease the return a bit.

Cheers, Robyn

RobynNZ's picture

Hi again Malkouri

My bad, that second question was from the poster below you on the 'lessons' thread. I guess I should copy & paste that answer to the actual poster!

I chose not to comment on these words

and then bake a whole-wheat loaf that ill invent on the spot; can't afford an eight hour first rise or anything ridiculous, so ill cheat a little and add a few teaspoons of sugar.

thinking that getting the oven sorted was more important. Reading those words however I thought you might be suffering from 15 metre confidence [when I was young this was the distance swum to get the first swimming certificate, the expression means having confidence beyond ability, can't say I've heard it lately :-)] I agree with Habahabanero, reading and baking from some more bread books will help you understand why I say this.

As you are in Auckland I thoroughly recommend the library to you. With amalgamation there are now 55 libraries from which we can source books and requests are now free. There are lots of good bread books available. As it happens I have BBA out at present too and Tartine and Artisan Baking Across America (I went online & requested books which weren't available prior to amalgamation, but they accepted my purchase request for Tartine as they did earlier for Hamelman's "Bread")

Following along on TFL will help you learn more too.

Goodnight, Robyn

RobynNZ's picture

Hi Malkouri

Yesterday on RadioNZ National's “The Panel” one of the panelist said she'd heard that Alison Holst was to be the next Governor General. When I was on the ferry this afternoon, listening to my car radio, Alison Holst came on to The Panel and played along with the jokes (scones for Knights & Dames etc) but made it clear that there had been no shoulder tapping for the GG role. One of the panelists said he regularly clips the column she and Simon contribute to the Dom Post and generally makes whatever it is, adding 'I always feel I can manage your recipes, but am often intimidated by chef's recipes'. In response Alison said 'that is always our aim, to help people get the confidence to make something from scratch, that is tasty and appealing so that when it is presented to children they don't say 'yuck'.'

I hadn't opened the Bread Book til this evening but I can see that in writing this book it has clearly been Alison and Simon's aim to encourage people to make a successful go of baking bread, so that they keep engaged. The recipes all have quite a large quantity of yeast in relation to the flour, which speeds the process. This means that the gluten has to be pretty well developed, early on, so that the dough has enough strength to 'balloon' with the gas produced by the yeast. (Here on TFL you will tend to see less yeast, longer times and of course when it comes to sourdough, you truly learn that patience is a virtue.)

I assume that you have been working with the Wholemeal Bread recipe on page 11. There's a lot of water in the formula, so I am not surprised that you have had a bit of a struggle kneading it, without adding too much more flour. If you are tempted to add lots of flour you'll end out with a heavy loaf.

I seem to have a problem with kneading; whenever I need, the dough sticks A LOT to the benchtop. I ensure it's dry before I start, and i've done it both lightly floured and not floured at all, but every time I always have to add a lot of all-purpose flour to get the dough to a good consistency i.e. a half cup at least, throughout the ten minutes of kneading. Am I just doing it wrong?

In response to your query, LindyD's comments and suggestions were good ones, have you tried them?  You'll have read on page 7, the recommendation to use a plastic scraper to lift the dough from the bench. Do you have something along those lines? Some people find an old credit card or similar does a pretty good job. I don't know how 'cheeky' you are but you might try phoning/writing to Bakels in Penrose (ingredients suppliers to the baking industry) and asking them if they knew where you could get a plastic dough scraper. They use them as advertising give-aways and might just send one your way. I inherited mine, so I've never been on the look out for one. Perhaps they are sold in kitchen shops here.... Alison Holst's online shop doesn't have any.

As there is a rest period immediately after the initial blending of the ingredients included in the instructions (this technique is known as 'autolyse', during this time the flour and water start developing together), I think you might find the following quite useful:

1. Mark Sinclair's demonstration of 'stretch and fold in the bowl'. I realise he starts his dough in the mixer, but I think you might find it easier to work that wet dough in the mixing bowl as he does, with his plastic scraper:

2. Richard Bertinet's method of kneading. Here's a couple of links. Don't be put off by the sweet dough containing butter and eggs, it's his method of working with the dough, I'm encouraging you to check out:

I'm interested that the instructions are to hold half the flour back from the autolyse. I suggest you experiment with mixing all the ingredients from the get go and see which way you prefer doing it. The timing recommendation is for '15 minutes or longer'. Now I realise that time is of the essence in your busy teenage life, but I'd also recommend adding increments of 5 minutes each time you make the bread and see what happens when you do a longer autolyse. With that much yeast in the formula, you might find that if you are taking the autolyse longer, it might be better to add the yeast and salt when you start kneading, otherwise you run the risk of overproofing. (Most people tend to add these 2 after the autolyse, but this is another thing you could experiment with). That's why I said in the post above it's worth working with one basic formula, when you make one change at a time in your method you can 'see' what that does.

Now to your rolled oats question. As a starting point, I suggest you try swopping 15% of the flour with rolled oats (the big flat ones, not the instant cook type). So in the wholemeal bread recipe, that would be replace 63 grams of flour with 63 grams of rolled oats. (I just weighed some by dropping them by hand into a cup measure on my scale and that came to around half a cup, but it's good to see you're working in grams). Add them at the beginning with the water, they'll likely soak up more of the water than the flour would but as there is so much water in the recipe, I wouldn't add any water to make up for that.

Considering your need for speed and following on from habahabanero's no-knead suggestion, you could also try the no-knead recipes in the book, a little bit of work today, a little bit of work tomorrow..... And perhaps you might find Peter Reinhart's latest book “Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day” which is available from Auckland library a good next step on from the Holsts' book.

Have fun experimenting!

Cheers, Robyn


habahabanero's picture

You have the typical Kiwi pragmatism when it comes to flour, which is always commendable. Getting the best out of plain ingredients is a virtue, but it can only take you so far. If you look at the colour of the dough being produced in BBA (especially the Acme dough - which is golden yellow) it is obvious that we can improve immensely on the bland white stuff available.  As far as I've read colour equals flavour - so I'd be very interested if anyone knows of a source of high quality flour in NZ.

RobynNZ's picture


Hello hababanero

I responded to your request for any recommendations, I'm sorry I seem to have misunderstood what you were requesting.  I didn't realise that you already had experience making artisan-style bread with flour in NZ. Your comment to malkouri about bleached flour had led me to this conclusion. Bleached flour is not available at retail level here.

At the end of 2006 when the NY times published Jim Lahey's No-Knead formula, I made a few loaves. I was very taken by how yellow the crumb was and wondered what kind of process had taken place during the long fermentation but my food technology education was focused on milk proteins so I didn't have a ready answer nor did I feel the need to research the matter. In this last year or so making all my bread and reading a lot about breadmaking I have learned the answer. Prof. Raymond Calvel recognized that the intensive mechanical mixing processes which had come to be be used by French bakers was bleaching the dough. This oxidation destroys the carotenoids which contribute to the flavour and colour as well as nutritional value of bread. So when I said it is my job to bring the best out in the flour, I was referring to care with techniques, such as not overmixing. I didn't much care for the bread I made following Lahey's formula, in particular the crumb was too moist. I suspect if I made it again now, with the knowledge of bread making technique I now have, I would make a much better bread.

Here is a link to the relevant section of Calvel & McGuire's“The Taste of bread”

Take a look too at Larry's notes from a class at King Arthur, with James McGuire & Jeffrey Hamelman

I have travelled widely and have had the good fortune to eat all manner of good bread,  I am also a trained taste panelist. While it is subjective I feel qualified to evaluate bread.   I am pleased with the flavour of the bread I make and so choose not to be offended by your inference. I tend not to make white bread, but when I do e.g. baguettes, I use sourdough, I maintain my starter in a manner that the bread made from it is predominantly 'wheaty' not sour in flavour. Generally I prefer to include some rye or other grains in my breads, and most often make multigrains. Today I have made Hamelman's Pain au levain with Whole Wheat Flour. The conditions here are perfect for bread making just now, I didn't even need to make any adjustment to the water temperature.

When I first started this adventure I was puzzled that both Hi-grade and Plain flour labels show protein levels in the mid 11% range, so I called the technical department of one of the milling companies. I was told though there is wheat grown in NZ, there isn't sufficient for demand and the bulk of the flour here is milled from Australian wheats. Also that the flour sold to consumers through the supermarkets is milled from semi-hard wheats, the 'Hi-grade' product is made from the harder varieties of these semi-hard wheats and the Standard/Plain flour from the softer of the semi-hard wheats. Of course now I know that the protein content on the label doesn't give a direct indication of what gluten development I might expect, anyway. Using these flours I am able to make loaves that look every bit as good as those we see on the pages of TFL or in the beautiful bread books. That I can now do so, I have the people posting here to thank for sharing techniques and recommending good books. I pay attention to detail as I work and am rewarded with good bread.

I am not sure what your definition of high quality flour might be, what problems you have had using NZ flour in the past or what breads you make other than the hybrid No-knead Pain al'Ancienne you mention above, so I am not sure how to answer your request for information on sources of high quality flour here. As there are few NZers contributing to this site, you may not receive a response to match your needs. Perhaps if you wrote to one of the following (depending on what style of bread is similar to your preference) they might be able to assist you better than I am able to do:

Rachel Scott, her phone number is given in this link:

Moise Cerson at the French Bakery in Greytown

Olafe Blanke at Global Baker Dean Brettschneider Zarbo Bakery

Ingo Diehl of Diehl's German Bakery

or the aforementioned Neville Chun who will know more about the Wellington situation and who makes organic artisan bread for the Steiner school in the Hutt and  brings in organic flour from Australia. He is a very kind person, when I lived in Wellington in the early 80s I frequented the family's now closed nursery Zeniths, since my return to NZ I have purchased a couple of yuzu trees from him and chatted though email about our mutual interest in sourdough. I have seen organic Australian flour on sale in small cotton bags at the organic shop I buy various flours (spelt, amaranth, quinoa etc), grains and seeds from. I recognized the brands from Shiao-Ping's posts, but concern about how long it had been sitting on the shelf and the price! tag meant that I have not tried any of them.

Here's some more information from Auckland: