The Fresh Loaf

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louie brown's picture
louie brown

The Accidental Baguette

I had a build going for a bread I am working on, but realized too late that I had forgotten to prepare an ingredient. So when I opened my eyes at 5am on Friday morning and stumbled into the kitchen, I looked at my beautiful levain, ripe and bubbly with nowhere to go, I couldn't just throw it out. The easiest thing was to mix up a straight dough, which I did by feel, with no regard for measurements. I threw in a favorite addition from the fridge, some wheat germ. The dough was way too stiff. It was tearing after just a couple of folds. I just didn't feel like fighting with it. So I made up a couple of baguettes and proofed them in the fridge.

As much as anything, I was interested in another trial of my latest steaming method, using two hot towels, per Sylvia, although not microwaved, with a preheated brick between them, all in a roasting pan. Boiling water is poured over the brick and the towels, which produces very good steam for the entire ten or fifteen minutes. The slimmer one was baked cold from the fridge; the fatter one after about 90 minutes out on the bench.

These are the results. I'm liking the torn crumb shots these days so I include one. For a dough that was so dry, and for a process that was made up as I went along, without formula - or discipline - the results were acceptable. More to the point, the form and the taste were pretty good. The wheat germ is a nice addition. It would have been a shame to waste the levain.





ronnie g's picture
ronnie g


My conversion of Peter Reinhart’s Pate Fermentee and French Bread

To begin, this is just the process I used to work up to 455 grams (just a frac over 16 ounces) of 65% hydration Pate Fermentee.

Build up 100 grams of 100% hydration starter to 455 grams at 65% by adding 129 grams water and 113 grams each AP unbleached flour and unbleached bread flour (total flour added 226grams). 

I delayed adding the salt for 30 minutes.  (Who knows why!  I just thought that if I added the salt straight away it might inhibit the production of the yeast.)

Okay, then knead for 6 minutes until tacky but not sticky.  Well mine was a bit sticky so I incorporated a little more flour before setting aside in an oiled container for the night.  I’m thinking by morning, it’ll be right to go.  We’ll see.  I had a feeling 3:00 AM would be the mark.

No.. I didn’t stay awake all night, but I thought the pate fermentee would be risen and by 3 AM it had, so a one minute knead and into the fridge.  Not too hard to manage.


I didn’t realise that PR’s final dough contains commercial yeast!!!  I thought I was going to convert this bread to a fully wild-yeasted dough.  Oh well, I don’t have time to figure all that out now and I’m sure if I had just left this dough without the yeast it would have been perfectly alright.  It just would have taken a few more hours to develop and I don’t want it too sour.  So commercial (only ½ tspn) it is.  Ten minutes kneading it by hand took it to a nice ‘window pane’ test.   So at 8:30 AM the dough is set aside to prove.  It may take longer than 2 hours to double because of my addition of natural starter to the pate fermentee, I don’t know.   Once again, we’ll see.

I went out for a couple of hours and home by about 10:30 AM.  Oven on for a good pre-heat, then slash loaves (oooh I hope I do it right!)  Here is the result.

As usual the crumb shot is missing.  That's because it is still not that impressive.  No nice big holes!  At lease my French bread looks nice this time.  My first attempt (using a different recipe) turned out like mini bommy-knockers!  These tasted so good we ate two of them for afternoon tea with friends.  They were a big hit!


My Peter Reinhart semi-conversion??

dmsnyder's picture

Brother Glenn coerced me into making Challah over Thanksgiving. Prior to that, the only Challah I'd made in recent years was Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah, which I like a lot, but it does have a distinct tang. So, we made the yeasted version of Glezer's own challah, and it was good. Trying a different formula prompted me to try others.

Today, I made the Challah from Jeffrey Hamelman's "Bread." It is made with high-gluten flour. I mixed this very stiff dough in a Bosch Universal Plus. The mixer rocked and rolled, but it didn't "walk." I don't think my KitchenAid could have handled it. The ropes were a challenge to roll out. They required several rests to relax the gluten enough to permit sufficient lengthening. It braided nicely. I wish I could say the same for the braider! I'm sure I didn't lay out the ropes correctly. Back to the books.

Anyway, this formula makes about 3 1/2 lbs of dough. I made two Challot. They had huge oven spring, and I think they turned out pretty well, in spite of my ineptitude in braiding. Most important, they have a delicious flavor. This challah is less sweet than Glezer's. The crumb is more open but much chewier - no surprise given the high-gluten flour. I'm betting it makes wonderful toast and French toast!

Addendum: The challah did make wonderful toast. The crumb was quite tender. The chewiness is no longer there.


shikse challah's picture
shikse challah

I'm just now taking orders from friends to add to the personal loaves of bread that I make each week.  I wonder, does the amount of yeast need to increase proportionally with increased volume of bread?  I will increase this week according to my recipe, but maybe try cutting back next week.  

dmsnyder's picture

Today I baked in the Lodge Combo Cookers for the first time. I debated what bread to bake and decided on the San Joaquin Sourdough. The results pleased me.

The boules weighed 510 g each before baking. The oven was pre-heated to 500ºF. When proofed the loaves were transferred to the shallow half of the combo cookers which were not pre-heated, scored, covered and baked at 480ºF for 20 minutes covered, then another 15 minutes uncovered.

Boules proofed

Ready to bake

Uncovered after 20 minutes at 480ºF

Out of the oven after another 15 minutes baking uncovered


I'm happy to find that the Combo Cookers work well with smaller loaves that do not cover the base. I did shape these with a very tight gluten sheath, so, even though this is a pretty high hydration bread, the loaves did not spread when transferred to the Cooker bases.


cookingwithdenay's picture

A surprising thing is happening across America; many foodies are trying their hand at baking from home to not only make extra income but sell delicious food products in their community. Today food crafters have more options when it comes to selling their specialty foods, and consumers are seeking out the unusual to compliment their daily meals. Visit any food cooperative, farmers market, or street food festival and you are bound to run across pickled okra, Plumhoney ®, chocolate truffle cupcakes and hot pepper cheese bread.

The new trend is to buy local, from local vendors enjoying foods that literally come from the vendor's kitchen to your dining table. The owner of the Turtle Box Bakery, Abraham Palmer of Carrboro, North Carolina not only mills some of his own wheat; he is working diligently to make a difference in the community by introducing consumers to how products are made from the ground up.

There are home-based bakers like Lilian Chavira, of Gellocake in Okemos, Michigan, who crafted a special kitchen in her basement, so she could create a bakery business operated solely from home. These food crafters have no intention of operating a traditional bakery and prefer to build a loyal group of customers that will purchase their baked goods and spread support via word of mouth.

One of the easiest food businesses to start is a small bakery. They are potentially low risk and depending on where you sell your goods, products can easily be moved from kitchen to customer.

The top 10 states that have cottage food laws, not only permitting but promoting home-based baking and food processing include:

  • Indiana

  • Iowa

  • New Hampshire

  • North Carolina

  • Oregon

  • Utah

  • Vermont

  • Virginia

  • Washington  

  • Wyoming

One of the first cottage food laws documented involved the state of Oregon with a 20 year history in the home food processing business and since 2009 the number of states creating "cottage food laws" as doubled. No doubt the struggling U.S. economy has played a pivotal part in motivating the increased interest in small food processing and home-based baking. It is something foodies can do from their home kitchen, allowing them to work around family obligations.

It should be pointed out that making a profit from a home-based bakery or home food processing business will not be easy. All too often food crafters assume that "if they make it, customers will come." Not so, developing any type of business, home-based or otherwise is challenging and involves that four letter work many wish to ignore; work.

There are few state records on how many home-based bakers and food processors there are across the nation, but one thing is for sure, as long as there is a market for unique specialty food products and fresh homemade baked goods there will be food crafters flexing their creative juices to make that next gourmet treat.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Hopefully this isn't seeming too much like a broken record.  This is now my 10th week of baking Hamelman's Baguette's with Poolish.  After my slightly ridiculous post last week, I'll keep it brief.  This week I used my new postal scale to get exactly 0.067% yeast in my poolish (0.1 grams).  I also decreased my preheat temperature slightly to prevent burned bottoms from an overheated stone, and kept a closer watch on final proof, checking every 5 minutes once the baguettes had proofed 55 minutes.

Poolish after 12 hours






Crust could have been darker--I tried baking for an extra couple minutes (28 total) before turning the oven off, to get a more caramelized crust, but I think I just overbaked them.  Crust a little chewy, but not bad.  Crumb decently open, although not consistently throughout the baguette we had with dinner.  Flavor and texture were good, although the outer edges of the crumb seemed dry (hence my suspicion of overbaking).  A little flatter than some weeks--I tried doing just two "over the thumb" folds in the final shaping, and I think that wasn't sufficient surface tension.

Next week, I'm going to try making my oven a little hotter.  My oven seems to bake cooler than it should, and while I've been assuming that a setting of 485F approximated the desired 460F, that may not be the case.  That, and practice, practice, practice at shaping and scoring.

Matt H's picture
Matt H

I used to love buying the delicious multi-grain breads that were so popular at New England bakeries. At my new home in Northern California, good multi-grain loaves are surprisingly hard to find.

So I set out to make my own multi-grain bread, and thought it would be fun to see how many I could pack into one loaf. Depending on how you do the math, this is about a 17-grain loaf. I don't think you get credit for both white and black sesame seeds, or for brown rice and pearl rice. This was mostly just for fun; I won't pretend that adding 2 tbsp of amaranth does much to change the flavor or texture of the loaf.

17-grain crust

17-grain crumb

A key ingredient is a product I found at a nearby Asian supermarket, the superlative 99 Ranch, a California chain. It's a product imported from Taiwan called Greenmax Fine Multi Grain, a blend of 8 whole grains (the berries, not ground into flour). It's mostly rice and barley seeds and wheat berries, but there are a few obscure grains in there. Job's tears or Gorgon Euryale seeds anyone? I cooked it like rice, and used it just like in Brother Junipers Struan.

The rest of the grains came from raiding the bulk bins at Berkeley Bowl (perhaps the world's best grocery store, if you can out-elbow the aggressive locals). Here are the 17 grains:

1. Wheat (white flour, whole wheat flour, and wheat berries)
2. Rye flour
3. Rice (brown and pearl)
4. Buckwheat
5. Barley flour
6. Sorghum
7. Pearl rice
8. Oats
9. Job's tears
10. Gorgon Euryale Seeds
11. Millet
12. Kamut
13. Cornmeal
14. Sesame seeds (black and white)
15. Suflower seeds
16. Qinoa
17. Amaranth

Anyone out there who can top this by making an 18-grain loaf? :)

SylviaH's picture

I've made this bread many times as seen on my blog, with a biga naturale, overnight fermentation, braided loaves, rolls, and just as the recipe comes from the bread site, listed in the recipes section.  Today I wanted to have a loaf ready for dinner and since I was making my usual sourdough loaves to try out in my iron combo cooker.  I prepared my biga and levains last night.  We love the nutty flavor of the Scali loaves with added sesame seeds.  I especially like making the Scali Hoagie rolls, they are just get for hot or cold sandwiches.  You can shape this bread just about any way you like, a member, weavershouse, does a beautifully perfect shaped batard scali.  The traditonal loaf is braided an very popular in the Italian Boston community of resturants and bakeries.

Just out of my oven and still to hot to slice, I made my usual plain sourdough @ 100% hydration that is one of Mike's favorites.  I tried it for the first time in my iron combo cooker.  The thing I notice most different for baking it in the combo cooker is the color of can become a very rich dark/black tinged crust with a lovely mahogany hue.  I have another 5 qt. DO. but find it awkward to do two loaves at once...especially since the pots are so very hot, a lot of caution needs to be used.  My second loaf is just about ready to come out of the oven...went right in after the first came out without any problems.


                         Scali baking in the oven on a cookie sheet




                                         Scali crumb was still slightly warm as we enjoyed the bread with dinner tonight.






                                                               2 Sourdough boules baked in my iron combo cooker.  The second one is still

                                                               baking and I will post it soon.


                                      Lovely deep mahogany color from using the combo cooker




                        Second loaf just came out of the oven, was baked even bolder.







AnnieT's picture

My California son makes this bread most weeks, but recently he bragged about success after adding 1/3cup of sourdough starter instead of the white vinegar. I don't think his friends are too picky, but evidently this loaf received rave reviews. Not about to be outdone by a nearly 50 year old kid I decided to give his method a try. Had the dough mixed and sitting on the counter when the other son called to ask me to babysit today, yet another half day at school for the girls. When I whined about this to the CA son, not sure how I could fit the bread in, he told me that he had "punched down" his dough twice. Instead of punching down I folded the dough with my plastic scraper, once before taking my elderly pug to the vet. and again before meeting the girls off the school bus. Then we came back here and I shaped the boule and placed it on a square of parchment paper in my 8" cast iron skillet. I have been reading about TFL members different methods of baking no-knead loaves and decided not to use my stainless steel "Dutch oven" this time. I preheated a heavy baking sheet and poured hot water into one half of an aluminum roaster which fit nicely. When the loaf was ready to bake I slashed it, placed the skillet on the baking sheet and covered it with the roaster (minus the water!) Baked for 30 minutes at 425* covered and another 30 minutes uncovered, and the resulting loaf was a beauty, if I do say so. Well risen with "ears" and it sang loud and clear for some time. Too soon to cut it but I'm hoping for great things. Now if I could only remember how to post pictures... A.


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