The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mountaindog's picture

I made this last night from BBA. My slashing is improving but I don't seem to get them deep enough to get "ears". Here it is right out of the oven:


Anyhow, this poilane miche from BBA tastes very good, crust is very chewy and flavorful, crumb is even and slightly chewy - not dense, and softer than I thought it would be but since this bread is meant to last a week it needs to be to keep from getting too hard too fast. Since this uses a lot of whole wheat flour, I suppose the holes are big enough, I am pretty happy with the rise since this is only my second sourdough attempt at all. Here is the crust and crumb shot:


mountaindog's picture

After getting some good advice from this site following a failed first attempt at wild yeast sourdough, I continued to feed my starters every morning and moved them out of my 60F kitchen and into a 70F location. I finally saw what an active sourdough starter should REALLY look like (notice the rise above original fill lines in marker):


I have two active starters going now, the bottom is rye and the top is 75% white/25% whole-wheat.

So now I was able to make my first successful sourdough pain au levain. It came out pretty ugly as I need to practice my slashing on these wetter doughs more, but the crust came out really crispy and chewy. I could have gotten larger holes and a better rise in the crumb, but I had let it go too long proofing and it almost overflowed the basket, so I had to fold the dough a third time and let it proof again, but I was running out of time so baked it when it was not as risen as it could have been. Still, the taste was absolutely wonderful and texture nice and chewy without being dense! Really nice flavor, some slight sour bite but not at all overpowering, other flavors hard to describe.


I was on a roll, so I also whipped up some BBA Pain A L'Ancienne again, very easy recipe, chewy, crusty, very tasty:


And finally, I was able to make some saffron buns for Christmas breakfast from the recipe on this site, but with no dairy, by substituting soy creamer for the milk and a vegan soy spread for the butter. I am allergic to dairy. They came out great, my dairy-loving family and friends loved them! This particular soy spread is meant to be used for cooking as well as a spread, and in my opinion, tastes much like unsalted butter. The buns tended to spread out more than rise very high, and I am not sure if that is due to my dough being very hydrated, or if using real milk and butter would give a slightly better rise. I intend to try the BBA cinnamon rolls next with the same substitutions. I'll be doing more sourdough baking this week as I am on vacation and have guests coming for a big New Year's Eve dinner. Happy Holidays to all!


Thegreenbaker's picture

At the moment I am lingering between the recipes from lessons 1 and 2. Slowly improving my skill in kneading and learning my observing the dough as it rises and with little things I do differently.

I made a double batch of lesson one basic bread dough two days ago. One loaf was for us, the second for Xmas day at the brothers house.

I left the second rise an extra hour (or thereabouts) and the breads lookd as though they might collapse. They were light and a bit wobbly and the air holes in the top were visable. So I quickly put them into the preheated oven and came out with the best breead I have made in all my trying. They were so tasty, and the texture was wonderful. They were full of small holes. some bigger and were nice surprises :)

I am sooooo happy. All night my partner heard about nothing else.

I will attenmpt lesson three soon (after we come back from a few days away)

I also was given The Bread Bakers Apprentice yesterday :) So I am so excited about trying out Peter Reinhearts recipes :)

yay for good bread!

KNEADLESS's picture

Santa came thru last night with a couple of items from the Baker's Catalog and I have a few questions:

Received a round clouch and the instructions all say to put your dough into the cold clouch and then put it in the oven. Has anyone used a ceramic clouch with the kneadless batter, putting the batter into a hot clouch. Will the ceramic crack?


Also received lidded pain de mie for making square loaves. Does this give a crisp crust or no crust at all?



Happy holidays eveyrone and may all your dough rise next year.



beanfromex's picture

I returned from my three week vacation in Canada late on wednesday morning.

Yesterday I baked two loaves for neighbours and today I bake a 18 cup batch of dough ( ciabatta.) I will take this to the neighburs midnight dinner to celebrate.

I did not get to bake too much at my families homes..I was too busy cooking chicken enchilladas for my nephew, who at 18 can inhale them.

Tomorrow I have two couples coming for a traditional turkey dinner. so...Iwill keep this short as the brownies are due out of the oven in any moment..

Happy Hoidays to all,

Be well


beanfromex in southern mexico

pmccool's picture

Friends of ours are fond of panettone, so I thought that I would try making some for them as a Christmas gift.  After much browsing, I decided to use the recipe for Il Panettone Milanese, located here:  One of the things that drew me to this one is that it uses a naturally-yeasted biga, instead of commercial yeast.  I figured that my sourdough starter (which isn’t especially sour) would yield a good biga and it did.


I should say at the outset that I am pleased with the result, especially since the recipe yields two panettone that are in the medium to large range; one for the friends and one for the baker.  There are some things to address, but it is a very satisfying first attempt.  Here's a picture: Panettone


However, I’m not sure that I would use this specific recipe again, since it does have a few quirks.  For instance, the directions for the second-stage dough don’t say when to add the egg yolks (I put them in with the rest of the wet ingredients) and they call for water that isn’t in the ingredient list (I chose not to, since there was no indication of quantity and it looked like a repeat of the instructions for the first dough).  The recommended baking temperature is 380F, while Reinhart’s formula recommends a baking temperature of 320F.  Since I was improvising with soufflé dishes (one glass and one ceramic) in lieu of panettone molds or papers, I dropped the temperature to 360F and still wound up with rather dark crusts, even after covering them loosely with foil.  The recipe gives no indication of baking time, other than that a skewer should come out clean after inserting into the panettone.  I pulled them out of the oven when the internal temperature reached 185F, which took almost 1-1/2 hours.


I gave a slice to an Italian acquaintance from Milan and asked for a critique.  The first thing that she noted is that my panettone is denser than what she is accustomed to Italy.  While I followed the directions and allowed 6 hours for the second rise before baking, it didn’t achieve that almost lacy sponginess of a traditional panettone.  There are probably five factors at play.  First, additional time for the second rise would probably have helped.  My acquaintance says that a friend of hers bakes it frequently and allows it to rise to a point where it is almost ready to collapse.  While mine had more than doubled in size, it hadn’t yet reached the wobbly stage when it went into the oven.  Second, by baking it in soufflé dishes, the dough had room to expand sideways quite a bit before being forced to expand upward.  A regular panettone mold would have encouraged more vertical expansion, which may have improved the texture.  Third, this is a very rich dough, especially with fats (a pound of butter and 12 egg yolks!).  Fourth, there is almost 2 pounds of fruit in this recipe.  With that much fat and that much fruit weighing it down, the dough is going to need every bit of help it can get to fully expand.  The last factor, and I don’t have a way to address it, is that Italian bakers have a special rack for inverting and suspending the panettone as it cools.  That keeps it from settling and reducing in volume before it is cool and firm.  I didn’t notice much, if any, settlement which isn’t too surprising since the crumb wasn’t as spongy as it should have been.


Her second observation was that the candied fruit peel was somewhat bitter.  I had noticed that both the orange peel and the lemon peel that I purchased used the full thickness of the peel.  Since the white pith can contribute bitterness, that is probably the culprit.  I’ll opt for making my own candied peel from just the zest of the lemon and orange in future attempts.


The third observation that she made was that the finished bread was drier than the panettone to which she was accustomed.  I had expected it to be very moist because of all of the butter and eggs.  Maybe the recipe writer meant it when she said to add water to the second dough.  If only she had said how much!  A wetter dough might also have been able to expand more during the final rise.


The good news is that the flavor was very close to what my acquaintance knew and loved, so she was happy to have the slice that I brought for her.  I’m happy to know that my first attempt is close to the mark on this most important point.  Almost everything else can be tweaked and adjusted to get closer to a traditional panettone’s texture. 


Best of all, my friends were delighted to receive their panettone.

sewwhatsports's picture

A few months ago I took a class with Jeffery Hamelmann in Vermont on Naturally Leavened Breads.  There were 11 of us in the class and suffice to say, it was amazing.  I learned so much.  But translating what you do in class to the home environment is not always as easy.  It has teken me 2 months and many tries to finally start getting breads that resemble what we did in the classroom.  I have done 2 recipes of pain au levain and they have truned out wonderful.  I would like them a little more sour and think that I will try to retard my next loaf to see if it will be more acidic.  I have a few pictures but they are blurry but I will try to get a better shot soon.  The one problem is that my crust seems to be getting over done, darker than what I want.  I have cut down the time a bit but next time will drop the temperature.  I have checked my temperature of the bread and it is over 205 degrees when I take it out of the oven. 

A question concerning the bake.  I have been using the convection setting while doing my breads.  Could that account for the darker crust and is it better to use the basic bake setting.  I also have a special bake sertting that is supposed to decrease the over browning of bread.  Are there any thoughts on the use of regular bake versus convection bake.  I do steam well with my breads (cast iron pan and hot water) so that is not the problem.

Sourdough loaves

dasein668's picture

Just finished my first "sourdough" loaf. Or maybe I should say "naturally leavened" 'cuz it sure isn't sour! I made a starter 5 days ago, feeding daily, and it certainly leavened the dough, but not a hint of sourness. Great crumb, and the flavor was great too, if I had been comparing it to a "standard" dough.

Maybe my starter just needs to age?

I also had some trouble with the dough sticking to the banneton during the 4 hour secondary. I salvaged it OK, but it looks a little silly:


Here's a shot of the crumb:

sefie ebrahimi's picture
sefie ebrahimi
Thegreenbaker's picture

Since I found this site and joined up, I have been baking ever 2 or 3 days. FOcusing mainly on the "basic loaf" recipe from lesson 1. My bread making has improved with each loaf. My kneading skills have improved immensely and with it my bread quality.

I have had trouble making rustic loaves and had resorted to baking in a tin. Which is fine, it tastes grerat, but I love rustic loaves. I was dishearted. But a few days ago, I had my first success quite by accident. I'd left my bread to rise and noticed that it rose UP not OUT like all my previous attemps at rustic loaves. (they became tasty flat breads, with tooo much crust and not enough centre :S)

So I punched it down and crossed my fingers.  After the second rise (which is all I have been doing) it was high and round. I heated the oven, steamed it and gently placed the loaf inside. There wasnt much (if any actually) oven spring, but it baked beautifully. The crust was hard and crackly, the crumb nice, little small bubbly holes through out, and best of all, it was a lovely looking rustic loaf!  YAY!!! I was so happy. All I could talk aout for the next half hour was my triumph. lol.

I then moved on to lesson two. I made that loaf rustic also, but it didnt rise as high as the previous loaf. I am becoming confident in my baking skills and look forward to the day I can post a pic of my home made sourdough bread made with home made sourdouch starter! I've a long way to go yet!


 The-not-so-green-baker *wink*




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