The Fresh Loaf

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Tommy gram's picture
Tommy gram

Did a 20 loaf batch last month, hand kneaded 10.4 kilograms (23#), lot of fun. Looking for my baker's sheet from that job to post more details.

txfarmer's picture


I have been after a good English Muffin since I started baking breads 2 years ago. I tried the BBA recipe, too bread like, crumb is even and soft, good for a dinner roll, not an English muffin. I tried Alton Brown's recipe. Simple, and gives lots of holes. However the crumb is more like a crumpt. In addition, with a very short rise, AB's EM lacks a little flavor.


Recently I tried Wild Yeast's Sourdough English Muffin (here), jackpot! Not only it gives the "PERFECT" crumb (for me), but also complex whole wheat flavor. On top of that, it was easy to make too! I have read that the nooks and crannies in English Muffin crumb can be achieved by a very wet dough, which is ALMOST overkneaded. Sounds odd, but I do think the rough crumb struture of a EM is indeed similar to a dough whose gluten is on the verge of breaking down. "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" advices to knead a wet dough to pass windownpane, then KEEP KNEADING until it's over kneaded. I trust her results, but dont' want to spend all the effort to "over knead" a dough. I think Wild Yeast formula accompolishes the same goal with a much easier method: creat a sourdough spong, let it fermentate for a long time until the gluten almost breaking down, add a little bit of flour so that it can take shape, proof for a bit, cook and done!


However I did modify the procedure: the original formula wants me to knead well after adding the flour, then pat the dough out flat and cut out rounds of dough. That is hard to do if the dough is very wet - and the dough simply has to be wet for good results. What I did was to skip kneading all together, we are not after gluten formation here anyway. Simply mix with a spoon, then scoop chunks of dough(I use a scale to make sure of their sizes) on a baking sheet, use WELL OILED hands to shape these little puddles of wet dough into flat disks, let proof, then cook them in English Muffin rings. Easy and prefect. Since I don't have to knead/pat/cut, I can affort to up the hydration even more.


Sourdough English Muffing (Adapted from Wild Yeast)


100% starter, 55g

AP flour, 80g

WW flour, 50g

milk, 140g

1. Mix and let rise for 12 hours. (I let it go longer than the original instruction since I want the gluten to almost break)

-Final dough

AP flour, 35g

salt, 1/2tsp

baking soda, 1/2tsp

agave nectar (or honey, but agave nectar tastes so great), 1t

all of sponge


2. Mix with a spong, then scoop chunks of wet dough onto a baking sheet (wiht bakign mat or parchment paper), each chunk is about 73g, 5 chunks in total. The size matters here, if the dough chunks is too large, it won't cook through/rise well. Well oil/water your hands and nudge the dough chunks into rough disks.


3, cover and let rise for 45min (73F), until very light


4 I don't have a griddle, so I cooked them in a cast iron pan. Preheat for 5min on medium low heat, with muffin rings inside. The pan and rings were all lightly oiled. Lift the parchment paper/baking mat, and flip the dough onto your oiled/watered hand, drop into the ring. Don't pick up the dough, do the lift and flip, it's much less sticky this way, and you can preserve most of the air bubbles.

5. Cook on medium low heat for about 5min before flipping, during that time, the dough would rise to the rim, or even over the rim a bit. Flip and keep cooking until done, about 15min in total, flipping every few minutes.


Let's look at the crumb, it'd my idea of a perfect EM


But of course, I only cut one for the picture, the rest I did the proper way: fork split, look at all that nooks and crannies!


Butter and jam has no way to escape!


Perfect for a breakfast sandwich too, with a lot of sauce of course


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I posted two great videos at my blog, about shaping and scoring a baguette. I was hoping to post them here but can't get the embedded videos from youtube to work, so just go to the link.


MadAboutB8's picture

It's the third time lucky for me making croissant. Well, sort of.

I think my third time yielded decent croissants but they are still far from what I want to achieve. I'm now on the mission to practice making croissants every week until I can make it well. My partner is quite pleased to learn this, as well as our neighbors who are more than happy to be guinea pigs.

There are some issues with this bake. The temperature was too warm to work with butter and dough lamination. So, I ended up chilling the laminated dough overnight, then shape the croissants first thing in the morning when room temp was around 27C. The dough was fully fermented and butter was set, which made it a little difficult to roll. This could contribute to my not-so-flaky croissants.

I used the recipe from Bourke Street Bakery cookbook and halved the recipe. The recipe used pre-ferment and has about 58% hydration. I also made pain au jambon (inspired by the same menu item at Tartine Bakery) using half of the croissants. Pain au jambon tasted very good. Because ham and cheese were rolled inside croissants, it infused the flavours into the pastry and created nice internal moisture, the salty buttery goodness.

Recipes and more pictures can be found here.

 With me-made strawberry jam, perfect for breakfast


 Pain au jambon, inspired by Tartine Bakery

 my croissant and Mr Chad Robinson's


rossnroller's picture

I've just gotten back after a month travelling, most of which was spent in Vietnam. One of the most notable influences of French colonisation is the proliferation of baguettes in the Vietnamese diet. In Saigon (that's what the locals call their manic city, and it's a far more romantic and exotic name than Ho Chi Minh City, so I'm going with it), most baguettes are the rice flour ones that appear in Vietnamese bakeries all over Australia, and probably the States. I find these a bit boring to eat and didn't bother photographing them, but north of Saigon the baguettes are all wheat...and delicious.

Elaborate cake decoration features in some of the bakery displays, also, although I didn't bother with sampling any of the cakey stuff. Too much other interesting fare to get yer tonsils around!

I thought TFL readers might be interested to have a look at some of the baking-related pictures I came back with.


Breakfast baguette, Nha Trang



An 'American breakfast' Nha Trang style



The further north you go, the thinner the baguettes become. They all have something in common, though - they're delicious!

Hoi An breakfast baguette

...and of course a crumb shot, as best as I could manage it:



The following were taken at a Saigon bakery:

NB: 9000 VND = approx 40c AUD/American...not the greatest bargain, when you consider 'fresh beer' (made in 24 hours and surprisingly quaffable) is 25c per glass.





And finally, my favourite shot of the trip:

Basket of baguettes in Hoi An market


Good to have some home comforts back, but I'm still processing my Vietnam travelling experience. Just about every expectation I had was confounded.

I can tell you one thing - they leave us for dead with their MAGNIFICENT fresh daily produce. Fish out of the water mere hours, prawns still flipping, meat from animals slaughtered that day (and sometimes trussed up or in cages awaiting their unfortunate fate), an amazing array of vegetables picked and taken straight to market, and the most spectacular tropical fruit I've ever encountered. I had some pineapple in the Mekong Delta that triggers a salivation response just thinking about it.

Vietnam is one of the great travel bargains left on the planet, but it won't last much longer. If you're interested in going, do it soon.

Cheers all

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I suspect that I'm not the only one that has had an impulse or two to color out side the lines. This time, I got caught up in reading too much and just had to do something I hadn't found in my books. I had read about using using large preferments that were bigas or poolishs but I had to try a pate fermentee. I wanted some bread to go with the all purpose red sauce I was working on and thought that I could make pizza dough for the next night in the same batch. No problem, right? Just mix it up, divide it, put half in an oiled bowl, cover it, and place it in the fridge for a long winter's proofing. The other half was to be bulk fermented, S&F'ed, and then shaped.

Well, I had seen something in Ciril Hitz's book, "Baking Artisan Bread", that used extra dough for a kind of flat bread that was cut in quarters and I thought I'd aim at that. When I got to shaping, I flattened the dough into a circle about 5/8-3/4" thick and wide enough to fill the bottom of a pie pan. Here's what happened...


It's not pretty but I do have the alibi or excuse of inexperience. That sounds better than ignorance, don't you think? The crumb is something else again. We've all heard of baker's houses but this was the first time I'd ever seen a baker's cave.


Don't do this at home kids, it's been done already. If I ever take another shot at this, I'll go with a poolish, much like Hamelman's Pain Rustique formula to give my little mixer an easier day at the job and use a stone so I can have a flatter dough. The dough did turn into a fine accompaniment to the evening's pasta and the pizza crust on Friday night did pass muster. There were no other complaints, digestive or otherwise.

The other folly is that I'm opening up my blog to everyone that's curious or a glutton for punishment or has too much time on their hands.

It's a work in progress; part journal of my baking, part overview for family and friends to look into what's happening in my kitchen and garden, and finally, a way for me to get back into a more thoughtful kind of writing, something I haven't really done since I graduated from college almost 39 years ago. Feel free to peruse the recipes and use them if you think they're worthy. Be sure to leave your comments and share a laugh when you've got one. Over and out.


ananda's picture


Equality and Diversity Competition

My Level 2 Bakery students are very competitive.   Following on from Faye's Nettle Bread, and their determined, difficult yet successful adventures into Practical Exams, the group came up with a theme for their own entry into the College's Annual Competition:

"Breads of the World Arise"

See if you can name some of the breads, and where they come from?


We then worked together to produce a lovely basket and Cornucopia to house the finished loaves.


This was to ensure we made it through to represent our School in the College-wide competition....which we did!!   Some people in this group won the competition outright last year; they seem to be equally determined to repeat their previous success!   Let's wish them well.

And, here's some recent home bread making.DSCF1778

1. Pain de Siègle


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour



Dark Rye












2. Final Dough



Rye Sour [from above]



Strong White Flour












% pre-fermented flour



% overall hydration




  • Build the sourdough from stock over 2 refreshments and 36 hours
  • Combine sour with flour and water and autolyse 45 minutes
  • Continue the mixing cycle by developing the dough and adding the salt to form a strong dough.
  • Ferment in bulk for 2 hours, with 1 S&F after 1 hour
  • Shape and proof in a banneton for 3 hours prior to baking
  • Cut the loaf top and bake with steam for 50 minutes to 1 hour DSCF1771> DSCF1772
  • DSCF1774

2. White Leavened BreadDSCF1775

Chewy and moist Sandwich bread made with a natural leaven and a retarded fermentation process


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Wheat Levain



Strong White Flour












2. Final Dough



Levain [from above]



Strong White Flour












% pre-fermented flour



% overall hydration




  • Build and mix as above
  • Bulk ferment for 2 hours, then shape loosely and retard overnight in the chiller
  • Shape and proceed to final fermentation and baking, as above.DSCF1780DSCF1781
  • DSCF1786


Both of these are really tasty breads for our daily sandwiches whilst at work!

Best wishes to all


ehanner's picture

Recently we have had a few posts on people having issues getting the No Knead Bread to turn out a wonderful as it should. Jim Lahey has just published a new book called "My Bread" that I thought might be fun to take a look at. It isn't an expensive book at $16.60 and has many variations on his original recipe as well as many popular variations of offerings at the Sullivan Street Bakery.

I thought I would start with the basic formula which is all Bread Flour. It almost came to pass but at the last minute I swapped out 5% of white for rye. I love what a small amount of rye does to a simple white flavor. All of Lahey's formulas call for 400 grams of flour and 300 grams of water and 2% salt. The variable is the yeast which runs from 1-3 grams depending on the additions. The resultant hydration is 75%.

One concern about the KNB process is that the chance of mixing a smooth silky dough with no lumps is diminished by minimal mixing and no kneading. After my initial mix, I went to check the dough after an hour and found many clumps of partially hydrated dough. I know that these clumps will result in inconsistency in the crumb. So, I deviated from the script and did a frissage, (squishing the dough with the heel of your hand while sliding it across the counter) which broke up the clumps. Now I have a smooth cool dough that will set at room temperature for at least 12 hours.

Somewhere along the way, the NKB process took a turn towards what I would call normal breads in that Lahey now wants us to do a second fermentation after a brief shaping. The book calls for flouring a towel and setting the bread in a bowl to "proof". I used a linen lined basket and let it proof for 2 hours.

Interestingly, the procedure calls for the final ferment (proof) to be done seams down and baked seams up. No slashing is called for so the bread expands on the weakness of the bottom seams from shaping. It worked pretty well on the two loaves I have done although I would have liked a better spring.

I baked the loaf in the Lodge Combo Cooker, 15 minutes covered and 15 open at 460F. The internal was just over 203F. I didn't get the wildly open crumb structure that is shown in the book image but it's very appropriate for the bread, and delicious.

There are several very interesting recipes in Chapter Three "Specialties of the House" that are on my to-do list. The Italian Stecca with tomatoes and garlic pressed in the top of a stick. Then the Beyond water section, there are several interesting selections. The carrot bread looks like it would be fun and tasty. It uses home made juice extracted from carrots for hydration. So here is my first crack at the new "My Bread".


Just a little course corn meal prevents scorching on the bottom.


dmsnyder's picture

Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread

Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread crumb

I made this following the recipe in the book. The whole wheat flour was freshly milled. The bread was delicious.

I always end up with a couple hundred grams of extra levain when I make the Basic Country Bread. I hate throwing it away, so, this week, I made a batch of baguettes with it. The 70% hydration dough was hand mixed and fermented for 2 hours with stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes, then fermented for another 90 minutes with stretch and folds on the board at 45 and 90 minutes. I retarded the dough in bulk overnight. This afternoon, I divided the dough, pre-shaped it and let it rest for an hour. Then, the baguettes were shaped, rolled on wet paper towels then in mixed seeds and proofed en couche for 45 minutes before baking at 450ºF for 20 minutes.

Seeded baguettes

Seeded baguette crumb

The flavor was very much like the Tartine Basic Country Bread except more sour. Very nice.


rolls's picture

Hi everyone, these were incredibly easy to make! I picked up a trick by accident, which lead to a better result in the end. The pan was too big (or so i thought) for the cut rolls when i placed them for their short final prove. I felt the space was too large between each bun. but actually they 'poofed' up so much, it was better that it turned out like that :)

 sorry trying to upload some pics but its not working, will keep trying :)

 okay im trying but the upload keeps failing, apparently its too large, the size, can anyone help me out with this? thanks


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