The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mkelly27's picture

So I find this cool web site about Artisan Baking, only to find out I have been registered for it for a year and a half. Go figure.

Anyhoo, if you read my intro from "Mid-Michigan check-in" you will note that this isn't the first dough I've thrown.

I became intrigued with Sourdough lady's pineapple juice starter so I started one myself on May 6, 2007 using orange juice. Needless to say it went fantastic as I now keep 2 batches alive and healthy (it's that Engineer / Redundancy thing) This weekend has been my test bed for my new culture and I can say without reservations that it has to be the best thing to ever come out of my oven.


My first Sourdough LoavesMy first Sourdough Loaves


I basically took my starter and created the BBA barm, then replaced the poolish with the barm in my regular Ciabatta recipe and left out any other yeasts.

I'm just getting used to this posting of bread porn pictures, but I'll get better. I'm considering a studio for the photo sessions along with some cheesy guitar music in the background

tattooedtonka's picture

Today was a good day so far.  I was able to produce two great loaves of Normandy Apple Sourdough, two loaves of Brownbread, and I have a Olive Sourdough in the fridge for baking in the morning.

Here is the Normandy Apple Sourdough, using my starter Miracle Max for the build.

The crust browned up real nice, but I feared it may be a bit too crunchy.  As the loaves cooled though the crust softened up nicely.  The crumb is nice and moist with the apples making a really nice kick of flavor.  The loaves arent even fully cooled yet and the first loaf is half gone.  The family loves it.  And to think they all looked kinda puzzled when I had so many starters growing in the kitchen.

Next up was Boston Brown Bread.  I deviated from the recipe in that I used frozen blueberries in place of dried ones.  I thawed, drained excess juice and then added with my liquids.  I was hoping for a very overpowering blueberry flavor.  I didnt quite achieve that though.  The molasses in the recipe came out a little stronger than I would have thought.  They are good still the same, but not exactly my cup of tea.



Okie Dokie, after that, I have a loaf of Olive Sourdough that has already been shaped, it is just doing an overnight retardation in the fridge.  I will update the finished product after Mondays Bake.


Floydm's picture

I walk out the door and all hell breaks out here, eh? Thank you JMonkey for doing your best to stay on top of it. I owe you a bottle of wine.

The people spammer has been banned and I've deleted all of the old people spams.

SD Guy has been banned. His ISP has been banned. Every IP he has ever used has been banned. I'm sure he'll figure out a way to sneak around it, but he is banned for good this time. As soon as I figure out it is him, I will kill the account again.

This is the fourth time he has been banned.

I have bent over backwards to try to accomodate him. He is the only person I've had to ban (except for plain old spammers). I don't even think I've had to ask anyone else to mellow out but once or twice. Every drama on this site that has happened in the past year has involved him. The rating feature, which took me a weekend to program, was one attempt to try to accomodate him. So was redoing the front page and the comments list to allow multiple conversations to occur simultaneously. It isn't worth it. I won't allow that kind of vemon on this site even if the baker wins the James Beard Award. That does not mean I hate him or have it out for him, but that won't go here.

I know he has at many times (most even) been helpful. People who still want to ask him questions can find him on I don't think it will take you long to figure out which user he is.

zumnoor's picture


I've been searching for bread bowl recipes and have not been so successful. Somehow, the recipes that I came across  don't seem foolproof and I have no confidence baking them. I've found many recipes on this site super reliable and if someone can share a good recipe for bread bowls, it'd be much appreciated. Winter is approaching and my family would love to slurp our soup from a bread bowl. Also a recipe for kugelhoph is much more appreciated. Thank you to all who respond to this.

smartdog's picture

This is my fourth challah. I decided to stray from the traditional braid "out of a pan" to braiding first, then letting it rise in the pullman pan today. I am pleased so far. It's hot out of the oven, so I will post the cut picture later this evening. ;)

 Challah loaf

Luv4Country Soaps

browndog's picture

vienna rye w/ beer & cardamom

Yesterday was a spring day so pretty it made your heart hurt, sunny after days of storm, air so sweet and gentle on your skin it made you feel five years old. I baked a Vienna rye to use up leftover beer (yes, leftover beer) and tried my hand at pain rustique, which other people have dispatched so credibly around here. Having also lately tiptoed into Ciabatta territory, I'm amazed to find myself not utterly defeated by these somewhat wetter doughs, in fact there's a real charm to their water-balloon nature. Like picking up worms or climbing on a plane, I feel I've faced a demon and survived. Texture and consistent results are still birds in the bush but this handful of feathers has got me feeling jaunty..






smartdog's picture

My first attempt at using my new KAF pullman loaf pan. The recipe I used was their insert that came with the pan. It's cooling as I type this, so I won't have cut pics till sometime tomorrow.

pain de mie loaf

pain de mie 2

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dolfs's picture

Many a Sunday my wife and son buy a boule at the local farmer's market which they call Spinach Cheese Bread, even though it has lots of other veggie stuff in it too. They like it, so for last week's baking session I decided to try and make my own.

First problem was no recipe available on the Internet that seemed to make what I wanted. So I had to make my own. I decided to use frozen chopped spinach, mild gouda cheese (what else to expect from a Dutchman), and I also wanted to have a portion of whole wheat flour in it. I've made whole wheat bread before and using a poolish did wonders for my schedule as well as for the dough and overall taste. So, I decided this one was to use a poolish too!

I've also been working on a spreadsheet the allows me to do all baker percentage calculations (helps with recipe scaling and design). While I was at it, I added an ingredient database to it with cost information, hydration information and specific gravity for ingredients so I can correctly convert weight measurements to volumes for those we like to bake that way. You'll find a PDF of this recipe here.

A few words about the spreadsheet

The spreadsheet's yellow cells is where you input your desired values (this includes ingredients). A "Y" in the "Pre" column indicates an ingredient that is part of a preferment. A "P" indicates an ingredient that is a separately created preferment. Although there are different options for baker's percentages when using preferments, I have chosen to express everything as percentages of dough in the overall recipe. Note that tap water temperature, mixer friction and baking loss are specific to my situation (and an estimate I am still refining for each type of bread for the loss, mostly evaporation, and friction).

The component temperatures are to be entered on the bottom, if you want to be precise with final dough temperature. If necessary it will calculate how much ice to add to the water if it needs cooling (rarely the case in my home baking). The spreadsheet automatically adjusts for the number of components that have a temperature specified so if you do not enter a value for the preferment (presumably because you are not using one), the factor will be 3 instead of 4.

Some measurements in the "US Weight" column are given in tablespoons etc. The spreadsheet does this if the actual value as a weight becomes so small that, with most scales, you can not accurately measure. Since I have (pretty accurate) specific gravity values for the ingredients, I can quite reliably (subject to all the fallacies of measuring volumes: packed, spooned, shifted) give the volume. I use a scale accurate to 1 gram myself, but for these small amounts, a small measuring spoon workds great (I have a set for dashes, smidgens, and pinches as well).

Hydration is calculated by computing the water content of all ingredients that are composed 50% or more of water and adding them up. That catches water, milk, eggs etc., but does not count water content in dough. Cost is based on a home baker buying pretty regular ingredients in a super market. The exception is that I use KA prices for my flour as I will not use the cheap stuff.

The recipe

Making the poolish is straightforward. I make it the night before and leave it on the counter (about 68F), and it'll be close enough to ready the next morning around 11AM. The amount of final dough in this recipe is about right for an 8" banneton (scaled up from what I used to make the one in the picture above, which got misshaped whe inverting onto the peel). Nevertheless, it is borderline not enough to knead properly in my KitchenAid so I finish with manual labor.

In the last minute or two of kneading I add the cheese (room temperature, cubed in 1/4" pieces), and spinach. I made the mistake of not squeezing enough water out of the thawed spinach, so my dough got too wet and I had to add flour (not represented in the recipe because you should squeeze it out).

Next bulk ferment, about 90 minutes in my case. I did a fold about half way through. Next degas and preshape. Twenty minutes relaxing and final shaping.

I preheated oven at 500F, with water for pre-steam added in a baking pan in the last few minutes. Invert the bread out of the banneton onto parchment paper on the peel. Scored in a \ | / pattern, a sprayed with water. Into the over on baking stone, more water in the pan for steaming. Spray oven walls with water twice, 30 seconds apart after putting loaf in the oven. Then reduce to 475F.

Baked for a total of 35 minutes, oven vented for last 10. Here was the result.

JMonkey's picture

I baked quite a bit this weekend, but, though it may seem I did nothing but bake, I really didn't. The nice thing about baking, especially now that I'm using the stretch and fold technique instead of traditional kneading, is that there's actually very little hands-on time required, except for bagels -- I'm sure it would work, but I don't want them to ferment that long before popping them in the fridge. So I still sometimes need to knead.

Saturday morning, we had sourdough whole wheat bagels. This time, though, I used a wet, 100% hydration starter. I think the sourdough tang was more pronounced, but it could very well be that I tasted what I expected to taste.

Later that evening, we had Desem bread. This loaf was not my best. Once again, I put the loaf on a hot stone and put the bell top the cloche over it. Once again, I pinched the edge of the loaf, which gave me a flat, burnt edge and prevented full oven spring. Still, it was tasty and the crumb was relatively open. It went beautifully with the broccoli, red pepper and cheddar chowder. Also, I highly recommend this recipe for baked peas.

That evening, I made two loaves of our weekly sourdough sandwich bread. %&*#$@Qing bread STUCK on me. Well, just one loaf. And it didn't rip in half, it just sort of opened up the side a bit. Salvagable. I knew I wasn't being thorough enough greasing the pan. That'll teach me.

Today, I had to be a bit creative. I was eager to make a recipe for Spelt Focaccia from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grains Baking book. But I also had a meeting directly after church for our environmental committee.

I had a plan.

I packed the biga, all the dry ingredients in a big Tupperware, and a small Tupperware with the wet ingredients. Then, just before the meeting, I mixed it all up. After the meeting was done, I folded it, put it in the back of the wagon, and hauled the dough and my daughter back to the house (it's less than a mile away). Mission accomplished. The topping: roasted onions and olives.

I paired it with a simple salad and cream of asparagus soup.

The focaccia was good, though next time, I'll use plain olives instead of kalamata. Far too salty.

Next week, my folks are up and we're heading to Providence, RI, to try Al Fourno, the birthplace of grilled pizza! I'll report back. (Last week, btw, I visited the Cheese Board in Berkeley, Calif., which makes just one type of pizza every day. A real hole in the wall joint, with a sourdough crust. I loved the place -- we bought a bottle of wine and sat down in one of the six chairs they've got beside the three-man jazz band playing that night. The pizza? Eh. Was OK, but I wasn't wowed.)

AnnieT's picture

I have been spending waaaay too much time reading all of the interesting comments and hints - love the way people jump in to help. So I decided I have to try to do this "blog" thing - my kids think it is hysterical that Nana is learning such skills. Hope you will bear with me. I made a loaf of nkb today, using 1 cup of white whole wheat and 2 of bread flour (both King Arthur.) My dough was slightly firmer than the last loaf so the folding and shaping was easy. I placed the ball of dough on a square of parchment and dropped it into my banneton, and placed that on top of my propane stove which has the pilot light on still. I have tried several baking containers and have gone back to my stainless steel Dutch oven. I bought a Lodge preseasoned one and got charred bottom crusts each time, and I even bought a wide terracotta flower pot which worked well as long as I remembered the square of parchment over the hole! I was getting gummy crumb and scorched crusts when I tried to bake the bread for a longer time. I also figured I was dropping the dough and deflating it, hence the square of parchment paper. Now I lift the paper and gently lower it into my heated pot - great oven spring and no more gummy crumb. I am pre-heating to 450* and baking for 30 minutes with the lid on, then lowering to 400* for another 20 minutes. The crumb isn't as "holey" with the bread flour but the flavor is good. In case you think I only make the blob in the pot as I think someone called it, last week I made Mike Avery's Micha ( I think) bread using the stretch and fold method he shows on his video. What fun, and so delicious.

Maybe I should have introduced myself first? I am retired and live on Whidbey Island near Seattle. I have a senior one eyed Pug and recently adopted a senior Bengal cat from WAIF, the shelter here on Whidbey. Plus we live in a senior park. My only 2 grandchildren are here, and they LOVE Nana's bread. My son here is building their house and my daughter-in-law is the gardener on a large private estate. My other son lives in Paso Robles, CA, and I recently sent him some of my sourdough starter. He seems to be having fun with it and impressing his friends - they made pizzas last week. Not quite sure what the rules are about rambling. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy The Fresh Loaf, thank you.


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