The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first loaf

SimonBakes's picture

My first loaf

Hello fellow forum addicts,


well after two weeks of  reading and contemplating what to make, i decided to go with a very basic formula and try my first loaf. not gonna lie, i just watched the Good Eats episode about break making, and used that. figured that after this first try, i could then work my way through the book i bought (baker's artisan thingy) and go from there.


well the results were good...not great, but good. the bread was beautiful, but there was something a tidy bit off about would not smells exactly like fresh bread...just a little bit off somehow.  i felt there was a bit of a lack of salt (the only measurement i didn't follow exactly), so that might have been it. the whole thing was a bit chewy as well, for lack of a better word. the crust had a crunch to it, but also some elasticity. maybe i didnt let it rest long enough ? (like 25m)

more info : bought a clay pot plate from hardware store, preheat the over at 400 for a while, had a water pan where i put boiling water as the bread went in. i followed the receipe on GE exactly, which included a preferment, then the next day a first mix, autolyse, then let rise, form, rise, bake to internal temps of 205-210 (mine was 207 after 50m).  might be forgetting a step, but i really did exactly as it was mentioned in the show for this first experiment. next up : cooking from the book.


all and all, a good first experience. it did make some terrific sandwich and breakfast toasts, so i'm happy. it was good enough that i will certainly make some again very soon (like right now).



pictures : 


before the oven, with way over done knife cuts (went with crazy sharp japanese knife and overestimated the dough resistance haha)


then right off the oven : 


and finally, picture of the crumbs (i think its what you call it right?!)



thanks for watching. any input/criticism appreciated.

Simon Bakes

arlo's picture

It looks very nice for your first loaf, you are well on your way to some great successes in bread-dom.

Now you mentioned a clay-pot, and a watering pan. Did you place the loaf inside the clay pot covered up? If so, you should not need to steam it with a watering pan. That may have been an issue. While the loaf is inside a dutch-oven, or clay pot, it will produce enough steam on its own to properly help with crust formation and the rise.

SimonBakes's picture


my poor english got the better of me (that and the lack of sleep).


what i have is the plate that goes under a clay pot, so its a big flat circle with little edges going up. so i put the loaf on that, water in the pan, and closed the oven for almost 50m.

SimonBakes's picture

how important is the tightness of the ball when you make the final rise ?


i struggled a bit getting it tight, and it shows in the first pictures. what kind of effect does that have on the results ?


will work on improving that next time.

Ford's picture

I think it looks great!  You say it is a bit chewy and the crust had a crunch.  That sounds as though you were making the typical artisan bread without enrichments (milk, butter, egg etc.).  If so, that is the way it should be.  I think your slashing is not too deep.  If you want more of a grigne, turn the blade about 45±° from the vertical.

Congratulations and welcome to the world of home-made bread. 


HeidiH's picture

It's absolutely beautiful! 

clazar123's picture

You want to tighten the skin so it holds its shape but not too tight to restrict the expansion during baking. Just takes practice and paying attention while you are learning.

Chuck's picture

This looks great for a first loaf. Often a first loaf doesn't rise hardly at all, or comes out very misshapen, or is inedible, or... (Maybe the "brick" you escaped this time will come back to haunt you later:-)


i felt there was a bit of a lack of salt

The amount of salt can make a huge difference in the taste of the bread. The size of the crystals (for example table salt vs. sea salt) makes volume measurements of salt problematic; this is one of the best reasons to use weight measures (grams?) on a pocket scale instead. Your tastes may very well be different than the recipe writer's, so sometimes you will have to "adjust" what the recipe says - just write it down on the recipe so you'll do the same thing again next time.

the whole thing was a bit chewy

This is likely a result of the gluten content of the flour. For less chewy bread, try a lower gluten flour (perhaps the same brand of flour, except their "all purpose flour" rather than their "bread flour"). The gluten content of the flour will affect other things too, like how quickly an autolyse works, how much kneading is needed, how much the dough rises, and how much water is needed (all these differences are fairly small though; if you're looking at something like "half again as much" of anything, you're well beyond what might be due to the gluten content of the flour).

picture of the crumbs (i think its what you call it right?!)

The inside of the bread is called the "crumb" (no 's'). Bread is a combination of the outside ("crust") and the inside ("crumb"), hence the title of a popular bread cookbook by Peter Reinhart. A closeup picture of a cut face featuring the inside of the bread (sometimes sliced on both sides so a bit of light goes all the way through it) is called a "crumb shot"  ...and is desirable here on TFL.

moma's picture


your loaf looks delicious :)

happy baking!

bakinginQuito's picture

C'est simplement magnifique! Very good job voudrais la recette, svp. Cheers from Quito. Paolo

SimonBakes's picture


thanks for the comments and pointers. i will be trying something different very soon and see how that goes.


the recipe is from Good Eats. can be found on youtube @ :

yogiwan's picture

You mentioned that you used a clay baker but not what kine.  The glazed bakers work a lot differently than the unglazed.  The unglazed should be soaked before putting them into the oven and it is strongly suggested that you do not put them into a preheated oven as this could cause them to crack.  The mositure absorbed in the baker through soaking will be released as steam during cooking.   This has worked very well for me (and I am only a few experiences ahead of you) with the lid on.  Then I remove it for the last few mintues to get the crust nice and brown.  Works with the lid on as well but I like the crunchy top that I get by taking the lid off.

The  glazed clay baker work more like a regular bread pan but has come unique characteristic that come only from this style of cookware.

qahtan's picture

 baked in my clay baker... qahtan

SimonBakes's picture

Hi there folks, and thanks for the comments coming in.


to make myself clearer, its not a clay baker or anything like that...its a clay plate...a terra cotta flower pot bottom if you will.


here's a link to something similar. i just took the largest my hardware store had. its unglazed and came from italy. worked pretty good for something at 8$.

hanseata's picture

For a first loaf your bread looks really nice - much better than the "bricks" I produced when I started out.

Welcome to the community,


ChrisFaris's picture

Hi first sourdough is pictured here.  I made this from starter I made myself, capturing wild yeast in Chicago.  This is a basic sourdough, starter, bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt and water.   I kneaded it, formed it into a nice ball, let it rest for 30 minutes, punched it down and then split into two parts that I formed into two nice small loaves and put into greased loaf pans.  I let it rise for 12 hours, plus, but didn't have time to bake I refrigerated it after wrapping the pans in plastic wrap.  The loaves had risen really nicely in the 12 hours, but everything collapsed when I took it out of the fridge after returning from work...the loaves baked in there pans on a pizza stone heated to a solid 475 F, but reduced to 375 once I put the pans on the stone.  I also put a pan of water in the oven, sprayed the dough and sides of the oven with water to increase steam.  I baked for 45 minutes until the bread registered 190 degrees with internal thermometer. Overall, it tastes really good, a bit 'dense', but not really brown...the crust is 'crunchy' but not really dark...the crumb is not super airy either...kind of like moist Irish soda bread, but not as dry.  Thoughts on making this better?  I know I should have baked it immediately after the proofing, but I had to go to work.  Thanks!


Also, how do you insert a picture into the text...I'll add that, but not sure how to do it.



Salilah's picture

Hey Chris!

You might want to start a new thread - so you get answers for yourself!

Inserting a picture - first question, when you are typing in, above where you type, do you see what might look like a green "tree" - between the text symbols and to the left of a " mark?  This means rich text is being used, and it's the easiest way to add a photo...  Sorry no more details at the moment - I haven't looked it up before posting, sorry!