The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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longlivegoku's picture

I have been on a quest for several months now to build a brick oven. I bought Alan Scott's book and also ordered some building CD's from a guy in Australia named Rado. While Alan's book was amazing (I will be re-reading it here soon) I ended up going with Rado's plans for what he calls a Masterly Tail oven. He gives amazingly detailed pictures of each step along with instructions for the mixtures needed. I think in all, I received 1000 photos of him building an MTO. Anyhow, I'm less than a month away (hopefully) from finally being able to bake and thought I would post some pics of the progress so far. It's been fun and a challenge to build. Fireclay was the only ingredient I've had trouble finding locally. I ended up running out yesterday while building the arches or there would be more done at this point. So it goes!


Hearth with wall

One arch

maggie664's picture

Have made this 3 times for my cafe and it sells rapidly. Blueberry and cream cheese combination is a new flavour combinatiion for New Zealanders. I drizzle a little lemon juice icing over the braid which adds to ita appeal. Thank you for the recipe as muffins are becoming passe

JMonkey's picture

A comment from Joe Fisher in this lesson I put together got me thinking about trying a really wet starter to see how it turned out. I usually make my sourdough with a 50% hydration starter (1 part water to 2 parts flour) which makes a really stiff starter. What if I reversed it? What if I had a starter at 200% (2 parts water to 1 part flour)?

Well, I tried it. On Wednesday, I converted part of my stiff starter to a 200% hydration starter and fed it about three times before making bread.

The result?

It was still sour, but a different kind of sour. Less tart, more smooth. I liked it. Now, it's possible that my starter hadn't fully adjusted to the super wet environment and I had some stiff starter microbes hanging out, I dunno. But I'm beginning to think that time and temperature may be much more important to the sourness of one's bread than the starter itself.

Anyway, I'm still keeping my starter stiff. Less chance of a spill in my cramped fridge, and it's easier to give away as a solid dough that a liquid. Fun experiment though!

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Boy was this a busy weekend! Had the day off today, so I spent part of it baking.

First, the 'basic' sourdough recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Always a big winner.

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Had a bit of a blowout on the boule ;) It probably could have used some more rising time before going into the oven. The oven spring was beautiful!

Here's Pane Siciliano, also from TBBA. It's a wonderful recipe. The interior is soft, almost fluffy, and the exterior has a nice crunch to it. The sesame adds a welcome nuttines.

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The one on the end was supposed to be a spiral, but rose into something that looked remotely beehive-ish, then fell over :)

And here are my favorites in the looks department. I butchered a Pain de Campagne recipe in a bread book. The recipe was a 4-day recipe that told you to make a starter from scratch. I decided to use my rye starter (Clyde!) as the base, and modify the recipe to suit. Recipe follows.

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It's comforting to know I can basically wing a recipe, and the experience from dozens of loaves lets me come out with a finished product.
The one that looks all knotted up is just that - it's a square knot made with 2 long pieces of dough. I put shallow slashes in it to make it look like rope. I think it came out pretty cool! I'm bringing it to my father-in-law who is a Boy Scout Scoutmaster.
Oh, and the donut is an off-cut from making the square knot :) It was delicious! teehee

Starter recipe:

9oz rye starter
5oz flour - bread and whole wheat in about a 4:1 ratio
4oz water

Mix, let sit overnight.

Bread recipe:
6cp bread flour
4tsp salt
1 1/2 cp water (+/- 1/2 cup or so to suit the flour)

Mix everything together, knead about 10 minutes until dough passes the windowpane test, proof 3-4 hours until double. Punch down, shape, proof 2-3 hours until double. Preheat to 450F, bake on a stone 25-30 minutes.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Submitted by Mini Oven on June 17, 2006
Taking a tip from SourdoLady and since I had a little orange juice (that I didn't mix with Campari) I tried mixing it with oat flour. I'm curious if it is any faster than the process I used for my wheat starter. Smells like breakfast (like the OJ got poured into the cereal). What do you think of "Breakfast in China?" Smell it once a day. It is three days old and maybe I'll add more orange and oats. I'm very patient and it helps to park it out of the kitchen. I refuse to "watch the pot." My other starter is on holiday... no name. No guilt when i pitch it.
Bought more wheat flour and I'm back to step one. Seems like every bag has it's own idea of how it should be baked. Yesterday, hocky pucks, today I added oat flour and they came out super. It's enough to drive me crazy sometimes.

Strong Oat Starter

June 21, 2006
Breakfast in China or Chinese Breakfast is officially a starter. I added more flour and orange juice and within the hour it had gone thick, bubbly and doubled. Smells wonderful. Now the orange juice can go back into the Campari. In this heat, 44°c the ice cube tray is wearing out but my Chinese Breakfast is keeping cool in the living room. I think the name is too long... Chuzhou Sourdough is also a possibility and our ancient nearby park including Lang Yashan Mountain. O heck, let's be Chinese and call it: "Sourdough Breakfast with SourdoLady on Lang Yashan Mountain with Oat flours in her hair" in honor and praise to SourdoLady.

Tonight I will add one cup white wheat flour and 8 oz water, beat it and mess with it in the morning
Next Day: Mixed it real good and Took out one cup starter for the fridge. Then one cup for my recipe (780gm loaf) and the rest went into dry dock taking dulke's advice and pouring it out on baking paper on a tea tray to dry.

June 22, 2006
I didn't use any baker or commercial yeast but did a 3/4 cup each flour and water poolish using my Chinese Breakfast bowl with some of it still clinging to the sides ( as I moved the starter to a bigger bowl). Today as I came back from the market, the dough had trippled and still on the go. (It wouldn't degas by dropping or banging the bowl.) I shaped some rolls aprox. 95 -100gm each and will have some fun with my scissors.

Today I will test out my new stainless stone. Now I know some of you will think it's not "earthy" but steel doesn't come from outer space and this particular plate was fashoned with lots of TLC. I bake with baking paper because of the fantastic non-stick lift I get, and it doesn't breathe either. As the bread lifts, it also separates from paper and "stone" so I think the major point of the stone is to give that continous concentrated heat right there at the bottom center of the loaf and has less to do with "breathing." I'm curious, did anyone ever try baking a loaf on a hot cast iron pan or griddle?

Yep, Oat Starter
Submitted by Mini Oven on June 25, 2006
Yes, Oat starter and it formed rather quickly too!
Well I don't know if it is the heat or air pressure, my dough in the air-condition room or because of the nature of the yeast but it seems to produce a lot of rise in the first 3 hours and then get lazy. By the time I want to bake it, it gets down right sleepy. I got a picture of my Barley loaf (later please) and granted it is a little flat. Seemed the longer I let it rise, the worse the skin tention, it developed rips and tears and wouldn't hold a shape. I did use a lot (over 50%) of barley flour, like I would with rye and also white wheat and oat flour. I kneaded with wheat. It also stuck to my heavily floured cloth when I tried to basket it. So it did get knocked around.

The next loaf, will be a white wheat/oat one with pure oat starter. If it acts the same, then I'll have to skip the doubling rise and shape after a 30 minute rest from kneading. If that doesn't work, I'll add comercial yeast to stabilize it. I'm at or just below sea level and I need all the lifting help I can get! The bread does taste sour enough and barley has a slight bitter taste that I'm not used to. Make better bread sticks snacks for beer and the next Argentinian game! Now, That's an Idea!

And the next loaf...
Submitted by Mini Oven on June 27, 2006
And the next loaf is taking it's dear sweet time. Isn't it funny, just when you think ya know something, your dough has other ideas? But I think I know why, I'm always experimenting and what I did last time with my starter was to feed it and pop it back into the fridge. a couple of days have past but I guess that just wasn't long enough for my cold (5°c) starter. I will go back to my old habits of leaving my starter out till it rises and falls. But I think there is still something funny going on and will figure it out.

While I was waiting, I whipped up a batch of Sweet Corn Raisin Bread and like the recipe with only two changes: honey for sugar and nutmeg. I used real medium ground cornflour and also added the flour very slowly, very slowly, with lots of beating in between. Very nice skin this time and you are soon to see what my scissors has done. (If I can only get my picture to be accepted by this program.)The house smells lovely! It was fun to see something rise the way it should.

Barley flour 25%
Submitted by Mini Oven on June 29, 2006 - 8:18am.
At the moment, I've got problems and I think it's the Barley flour. Seems everytime I use it, my yeast refuses to cooperate. I was noticing that barley can be full of alpha-amylase. Could too much of this be killing my yeast? My loaf has been sitting in a 23°c living room since noon yesterday. It never really doubled so after 8 hours, I did a final fold and shape and put one in the fridge and left the other one out, covered to rise. It's now morning and nothing. Pulled the loaf from the fridge and set them both outside where it's warmer. We are expecting thunderstorms soon.

The oat starter on the otherhand is brewing away. How can this be? I cut the loaf to look for bubbles and some are there, not what I'd expect. Reshaped into rolls, and stuck into a plastic bag to rise. I am going to start a serious experiment to test my starter and the reaction of the flour to it. I will take two spoons of starter, put into two small bowls and mix one with barley flour and the other with oat. Could it be that barley neutralizes the pH? Add to my experiment: two more spoons of starter, two bowls, barley, oat, but with a little orange juice in each. I need a control so one bowl gets only starter. Covered all five bowls with plastic wrap and wait for a reaction.

My husband is telling me to stop breaking my head over it and go back to adding comercial yeast. Looks like this batch are doggy biscuits. Is there anything I can do without overworking the dough?

Letting the whole grain flour soak for an hour helped a great deal and the satiny texture looks good. Even now the surface is intact and smooth. Unfortunately it just lies there. :(

11:00 ....Dough 1 cm higher. I just baked the buns, cut them through first to look for bubbles, a few. Then stretched them into sticks. After one hour, baked them. they did puff up in the heat. Broke one open, does have air pockets. Taste? Bitter but rye like with aftertaste like chewing on aspirin. Crumb? Still hot but not bad, no soggy or heavy spots, little tiny bubbles. Suggestion? Forget Barley bread and leave it for beer and whiskey production. If I bake with it, then in very small quantities under 10%.

Oat/barley experiment looks so far like this: after 3 hours, nothing much going on in all 5 bowls and hard to see bubbles. So at 11:00 added to all bowls: 2 tsp water, tsp white wheat flour, pinch of sugar, stir one minute. Plastic wrap back on and wait.
15:00 Looks like no bubbles in barley-water, and very little action in control starter with white wheat flour... AHA! Barley with orange is thick and bubbly, so is oat and orange, pulling up second is oats and water. What does this mean? What did I do? Develope an oat starter that only works with oats or orange juice? (And I complicated matters by alternating oat and wheat flour when feeding my starter.)

For all practical purposes, since I'm not about to add orange juice to every recipe, the starter I made only works with oat flour. White wheat & Oat Sourdough Bread recipe will need oat starter for the oat flour and commercial yeast for the wheat flour. But will the sour have a chance to develop? Guess I should bring my wheat starter back from holiday. Then if I want pure wild yeasts I would have to use TWO starters for my sourdough bread. Does anybody else have a combo going on? I was looking through the write ups and can't find anything specific. Is this covered in Bread Baking 101?

rmk129's picture

This blog entry is so that I don't forget what I did to make this loaf when I lose the scrap piece of paper I wrote it on :)

50% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread 1 1/2 cups proofed white sourdough starter 1 1/2 cups warm water 2 Tbsp oil 1 Tbsp brown sugar 3 cups whole wheat flour ~1 cup of white flour 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten

Baking schedule: -mixed together all ingredients (except salt) until moist -20 minute autolyze -added salt -kneaded with mixmaster for ~5 minutes 0 hrs->put in greased, covered bowl for first rise 2 hrs->folded dough 4 hrs->folded dough 5 1/2 hrs->shaped dough into two small round loaves and put them in my basket & tupperware "cloches" lined with floured dishtowels, then tied a plastic bag around the cloches. I put one in the refrigerator to retard overnight, and left the other out for the second rise. 9 1/2 hrs->sprinkled semolina flour on the exposed portion of dough mass (still in cloche), then carefully inverted onto baking mat, scored, and put in preheated oven

Still in oven right now...unbelievable oven spring!!!

Floydm's picture

I made a simple dough this morning with the intent of making some type of a picnic bread today. Something with cheese and onion, perhaps olives or sausage mixed in. But then we ended up picnicing at the lake today as well. After a long day in the sun, I just couldn't face the prospect of baking in 90 degree weather. Actually, it wasn't the baking as much as having the house heat up, particularly the upstairs bedroom, which get sweltering on hot days. So I froze the dough for a later date.

The heat did not stop my son, however:

His toy broom, which has hardly a bristle left, has recently been transformed into a peel. A super peel, perhaps?


He spent a good half hour loading and unloading loaves in the oven (hot tub lid) while we made dinner.

rmk129's picture

Thanks to this site, I baked my very first sourdough loaf today after two weeks of preparation :) Yippeeee!!!

It certainly is not the perfect loaf (quite flat), but I am just happy that I grew yeast from scratch that caused any rising action at all (thanks to a mixture of Floydm & sourdolady's starter recipes and advice)...
Here is a pictoral account of my adventure...Day 1 is the day I began making my homemade starter.
Day first big day of "bubble action" in my homemade starter!!!
June 16 003
Day 9...getting more ambitious with a white and a whole-wheat version of my starter
...and also a mini-mug of raisins soaking in rum for a bread-pudding and many supplies for drinking yerba mate! :)
June 16 009
Day 15...this is what my starter looked like after proofing it overnight for 15 hours
(no, I didn't sleep that long!)
I think I added 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water to 1/2 cup of active room-temperature starter the night before, but I have no idea if this is the correct method???
June 24 007
Consistency of proofed starter after stirring...
June 24 008
I used sourdolady's recipe for Deluxe Sourdough Bread

Initial ingredient mixture...let rest for 30 minutes
June 24 009
After kneading
June 24 010
After approximately 5 hours at a cool room temperature, there was definite evidence of "yeasty action"!!!
I was SO happy :)
June 24 013
A few hours later, I thought the dough was ready for shaping (even though it had not quite doubled in size)
I like to call these wet masses of dough my pre-shaping "globs"
June 24 015
I shaped one using a basket as a cloche (it is still in my fridge unbaked), and this one I tried as a freeform oval
June 24 019
Both shaped loaves went into the fridge overnight.
In the morning, the oval loaf was significantly flatter, and there were chunks of ice on the baking mat!!! Yikes!!!
I took the oval log out and left in on the counter for 8 hours, during which it magically transformed itself into a Ciabatta loaf sitting in a puddle of water ;)
Whoops! Maybe I let it rise for too long?
Oh well....I thought the final product was yummy (slightly sour taste) and I loved the texture of the crumb.
Thanks to a World Cup game that captured my attention (Vamos Argentina!!!), the bottom was quite black, but I am getting quite adept at scraping black bottoms into the garbage can :)
Final product--My First Sourdough Loaf!!!
June 24 020
June 24 023
Pizza crust from starter leftovers....
I mostly followed Floydm's measurements to make a delicious pizza crust
1 cup starter
2 cups flour
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil (my addition)
I had a lot of fun shaping this crust (like he suggestd, just turned it around and around, stretching the dough into an approximate circle), and it turned out well.
Sourdough pizza crust before baking
My husband likes to prebake the crust with olive oil, then bake it for a short time with well for me too!
June 24 012
What was left of the pizza before I remembered to take a photo...sign of a yummy pizza :)
June 24 024

rmk129's picture

Coffee Bread Pudding Recipe June 24 003

Last week I found myself with a huge tupperware container full of staling bread of various types, so I made this bread pudding (from a mixture of different recipes I found on the internet) and it was a big hit at tea time. I want to record the recipe here before I lose the scrap piece of paper I wrote it on as I went... :)
Step 1: Soak raisins in alcohol
~3 days before, I started 1/4 cup raisins soaking in enough rum to cover them (3 Tbsp?). I thought I was going to make the pudding that night, but I didn't have time and boy were the raising yummy when I finally got around to using them!!!
Step 2: Mix and heat liquids to scalding
2 cups light cream
2 cups milk
1/2 cup strong coffee
Step 3: Beat together until smooth
5 eggs (room temp)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Step 4: Mix Step 2 & 3 ingredients together
Slowly!!! (so eggs don't cook)
Step 5: Assemble bread pudding
8 cups stale/oven-dried bread cubes (very approximate amount...I used a mixture of chocolate coffee bread and daily bread).
*I don't have many baking pans, so I simply divided the bread cubes and put them into 2 well-greased loaf pans, sprinkling the raisins and rum (Step 1) throughout the layers.
*Pour warm liquid mixture from Step 4 over the bread mixture and press the bread down so it is well-soaked.
*Let sit 45 minutes
Step 6: Bake!!!
I don't have control over my oven temperature, but I baked them at a "moderate" temperature for about 1 hour (until a toothpick in the center came out clean.
Step 7: Glaze (optional)
I made a quick glaze out of icing sugar, rum and lemon juice and distributed it over the top of the warm puddings.
Step 8: EAT!!!
Delicious warm or cold :)
Another bake from last week (not the most beautiful loaf, but it is beautiful in my eyes!)
Floydm's Rustic Loaf with rye a much-requested favourite of my husband's family :)
They can't get over how long is stays fresh-tasting for, and even the kids love it! Thanks Floydm!!!

June 24 005

timtune's picture

My attempt at 100% Rye Finnish sourdough bread.
It seems that it's hung by the ceiling on a pole all year round. That explains the hole in the centre. It also seems that this bread's suppose to keep all year round especially in the cold & cruel Scandinavian winter. It's gonna be winter here too, in Aus... :)

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Well, since i lack a pole, that also explains the string tied around it. It's hanging in my closet alongside a slab of beef (dun ask why :P), drying and waiting to be tasted in a few days time.


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