The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ericb's picture

It's been a long time since I've posted on The Fresh Loaf. The last several years have seen many changes in our lives, the primary one being that we chose to go "car free" back in December. Doing this is challenging, but not impossible in our hometown of Louisville, KY. While friends and family suggested that we just move on to more "bike friendly" cities (perhaps they're just trying to get rid of us and they figure Portland is as far from Kentucky as one can get), we decided to stick it out in Derby City.

It was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Relying solely on bike and bus (and the occasional ride from a friend) has forced us to become more efficient with our time and cut out unnecessary activities, but it has also led us to meet some amazing people. Who knew that there is an entire "car free" community in our city? Who knew we would have become passionately involved in our upcoming mayoral election? We find ourselves to be constantly advocating, even if only passively, for a city where owning a car will be seen as a burden, where traveling across town will be seen as a well-earned luxury instead of a necessity, and where everyone has the option to travel safely and freely (though not "for free.")

One thing that has had to change is my baking schedule. It is no longer reasonable for me to meander five hours coddling loaves of bread. Instead, I have adopted (and adapted) the five-minute method. It's not perfect, but it has allowed us to continue eating and sharing delicious homemade bread.

Lately, though, I've been getting the itch. A few weeks ago, I decided to make a new starter. Following the recipe in the back of Hamelman's book, I had a vibrant starter within a week. Still not able to carve out half a day for baking, I decided to take a chance oncombining sourdough leavening with the typically yeast-intensive five-minute method.

The results were surprising. In a thousand words...

Vermont Sourdough

As I mentioned before, the method I used was a hybrid. For the most part, I followed Hamelman's directions, although I didn't fuss over temperatures due to the warm weather, and I used a little more water (maybe 1/2 cup) to make the dough easier to work with. The dough rested in a covered bowl for about 1.5 hours. I folded in the bowl one time halfway through, and put it in the refrigerator for the night. 

The next morning, I pulled out the dough, immediately shaped it into small boules (around 1/2 pound each), arranged them on parchment paper, dusted with flour, and covered. After an hour, I turned on the oven. Within 1.5 hours of shaping, the dough was in the oven. 30 minutes at 450, steam for 15 minutes.

The primary way this differs from Hamelman's recipe is that I shaped the loaves *after* refrigerating, not before. Since the gluten develops overnight, less folding was needed, so I was able to reduce bulk fermentation time, too. This saved about 1-2 hours the night before.

Another advantage to waiting to shape the dough is that it is *much* easier to work with cold dough. Following the "five minute" method, I cut chunks of dough, quickly formed them into tight boules (using wet hands), and plopped them seam-side-down on parchment. No proofing in baker's linen, no preshaping, reshaping, no messing with flour all over the kitchen. After an hour of resting and warming up, the dough was ready for the oven.

I realize that this is not a "new" method, and that many others have advocated an overnight cold fermentation. Still, if you're pressed for time, but still want to make naturally leavened bread, you should give this a try at least once.

Happy baking!

wally's picture

We are in high fruit season in the Washington, DC area, with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and especially peaches waiting to be picked and devoured.

I found myself with an abundance of strawberries and blueberries this past weekend, and wanted to find a summery, dessert use to which they could be put.  After looking through a number of recipes, I cobbled together bits and pieces and came up with this one for a cool, refreshing summer dessert full of these fruits - a tart using a faux marscapone and a glaze made from a small amount of jam I made with extra strawberries and blueberries.

It's a delight - and easy to boot!

This makes a single 10" tart.  Total fruit used was 1 lb of strawberries and 1 lb of blueberries.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons ice water

In food processor mix flour, salt and sugar.  Add butter cut into 1/4" pieces and blend just enough to achieve a course mixture.  Whisk together the egg, water and almond extract and drizzle into mixture while pulsing.  Once the dough forms a ball, stop and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Faux Marscapone:

Of course, if you have the real deal at hand, ignore this.  But my local supermarket doesn't carry it, so I used this recipe which produces a credible substitute:

8 ounces of softened cream cheese
3 tablespoons of sour cream
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate

Quick Jam:

½ lb strawberries
½ lb blueberries
2 cups sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice

Cut strawberries in roughly halves and reserve the pointed tops for the final fruit layer.  Place strawberries and blueberries in food processor and chop - but don't puree.  Place the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar is melted.  Bring to a roiling boil and maintain for about 10 minutes or until mixture reaches 220°F.  Remove from heat and cool.  Strain through a sieve enough of the mixture to yield about 1/4 cup of liquid which is reserved for the glaze.  The remainder can be refrigerated and used on those wonderful breads you're baking for breakfast toast!

Final Preparation:

Roll the chilled dough out on a floured counter to a diameter of about 11".  Spray tart dish with Pam or a substitute, dock dough with a fork and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 25 minutes, until nicely browned.  Allow to cool and remove from tart dish.

Spoon the chilled faux marscapone mixture into the tart.  Arrange remaining 1/2 lb strawberries and 1/2 lb blueberries in the mixture.  Heat the 1/4 cup of jam glaze and brush over the tart.

Chill and serve!  Easy and a great way to celebrate some of summer's fruitful delights.


SylviaH's picture



Kingudaroad's picture

   I have recently become a big fan of the high hydration doughs with an overnight cold fermentation. The morning I took this dough out of the fridge, I cut it with my bench knife and flipped the smooth side down on my well floured couche. The knife left a scar on the edges of the bread which left an opening for the bread to bloom without the need for scoring. This may have been my best crust yet. It carmelized very dark and crackly and the taste was fabulous.



I baked four loaves, two at a time, and the only one I cut was the worst one. The two that got baked second had a much bigger bloom, and probably a bit more of an open crumb. Those were given away. I think I needed to either let the dough warm up before shaping. or just proofed a while longer than the one shown below. I did have fun with these and look forward to more experimentation.



RugBoy's picture

Congratulations on your purchase!  I have been using my DLX for about a year now, and I must say I love it. 

Even though it is quite powerful, it's super slow lower speeds work for me quite well. 

Lately I've been experimenting with Semolina flours in my sandwich bread.  This flour is easily over worked, and sereral sources recommend hand mixing.  Even here though, with careful attention, my DLX performs quite nicely.  It makes mixing day almost as much fun as baking days. 

ahhsugar's picture

Let me begin by saying that I'm a newbie when it comes to baking bread.  My experience consists of baking 4 loaves of baguettes every week for the past year or so, and the occasional trial of something different ... such as croissants, raisin/walnut bread, etc ...

I wanted to try a recipe for bagels that I have, but one of the ingredients (barley malt syrup) is causing me great dismay.  I can't find it anywhere.  So, this morning I "googled" it and one of the sites that came up was "thefreshloaf" (it was a subject of a blog).

Oh my goodness.  What a gorgeous site!  I feel like I'm in "bread heaven".  I began browsing through here and a big smile came on my face when I realized that this place is meant for people just like me .... people who love bread!!!  I not only LOVE eating bread, but I LOVE baking it.  I enjoy the entire process of creating something so lovely from such simple ingredients.

I am really looking forward to checking out the recipes here and learning from all of you.  I will probably have a gazillion questions, but perhaps one day in the future, I may be able to help someone else who is just starting out.   :)


bubba3113's picture

I continue to get loaves that are flat on the top or "spill" over the sides of my loaf pans...what am I doing wrong?


Neo-Homesteading's picture


So I tossed back and forth as to if scones are actually bread or not, I know TFL does do general baking posts but for me I'm trying to keep my posting to primarily my bread obsessions and adventures. For this breakfast I decided to make a scone probably my first "more traditional" style scone, in the past I've mostly made biscuits and called them scones. I made these with irish cream and chocolate chips and they were so amazing. I served them with a home made lemon curd and could not be more surprised how well they actually went with one another. I'm hoping to do another scone sometime soon but lately with the high temperatures I'm keeping my baking limited to nights and very early mornings. I have made these and frozen them, baked them directly from the freezer but it does extend the baking time which seems to defeat the purpose. I almost wonder if I do something without chocolate could I just do them like farls or skillet scones?. 


External Link to blog post and recipe:


Neo-Homesteading's picture



So this was about my third time making soft pretzels only the first making them with sourdough. I'm having a bit of a time mastering technique but getting closer with each try. This day my kitchen was hotter than hell so it caused a bit of an issue I believe the pretzels came out of the fridge and then over proofed wicked fast. I've got my shaping more consistent but my problem seems to lie mostly in the water bath. I researched authentic german bagel recipes and even watched a few german bakers videos. I was surprised to find out that a lot of German bakeries don't even do the boiling bath they only do egg wash or they dip them in the lye solution for a second and then bake. I really wonder though does the texture and crust form anywhere close to what I'm accustomed to? I'm highly tempted to actually try not doing the water bath next time, I love soft pretzels so much but they keep coming out so ugly. They always taste amazing and those I share them with dont complain but as I'm trying to master the authentic recipe, I think the outer crust still needs a bit of work. I hope to find the closest authentic german brezel recipe I can. 


External Link to Blog Post:


hansjoakim's picture

They call it the most important meal of the day, and I tend to agree with them. Get off to a good start, for instance with your morning newspaper, a cup of black coffee and some still-hot-from-the-oven breakfast rolls, and you're at least halfway there. Yesterday, I mixed, bulk fermented and shaped some mini-batards from a batch of Hamelman's "Semolina bread with a whole-grain soaker" formula (p. 137 in "Bread"). This delicious and simple formula is extremely versatile; I've used it for regular breads, rolls and some uttely delicious, crunchy baguette-shaped loaves in the past. The durum flour makes the crust crisp and crunchy and the whole-grain soaker adds plenty of chew to the crumb. I rolled half of the mini-batards in sesame seeds and kept the other half plain, before placing them in the refrigerator for proofing overnight (approx. 14 hours). I had also prepared a batch of raisin bun dough, and these were also proofed overnight in the fridge, ready for baking first thing in the morning. Here's a snap of the plain durum mini-batards just before they hit the oven:

Durum bread rolls - proofed


As the goodies baked and filled my apartment with the most pleasant smell, I brewed a couple cups of coffee ("black as midnight on a moonless night", to quote Twin Peaks' Special Agent Dale Cooper) and leafed through the newspaper. Below is a photo of the raisin buns (at the back), the durum minis and some oatmeal raisin cookies (to go with that glass of milk). Enough to lighten up my monday morning!

What's for breakfast, honey?


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