The Fresh Loaf

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scai725's picture


Weeks after my school year's over I finally have time to sit down and relax before flying out to West coast for a conference. I decide to bake a loaf in my toaster oven, enjoy the process, and eat it for dinner. Haven't cut it open yet.

Due to its being a quick practice loaf, I didn't use weight for measuring; instead I used volume


2/3 cup of KA AP Flour

1/6 cup of GM WW Flour

1/6 cup arrowhead mill Rye Flour

about 1/2 cup of water

a pinch of salt

a small pinch of yeast (probably about 1/8 teaspoon)


1. mix all the rye, ww flour, and yeast with water

2. leave it along (and go to meet a friend for a 3 hours)

3. come back mix everything together; and, let the mixture rest for 15 minutes,

4. knead (and leave along for a few hours after to go do other things for 4 hours)

5. shape into a ball and proof for ~1 hour

6. bake at 425F for 25 min with sprayed water for the first few minutes


I appreciate any input and suggestion.

Thank you.


EdTheEngineer's picture

Greetings everyone!

This is my first post, having been lurking here for a few weeks. This is a fabulous website and it has accelerated my learning and increased my enjoyment of my new hobby a great deal. I started baking bread a few months ago as an antidote to revision for my university finals. My initial attempts were flat and dense bricks and puddles, more like squashed soda breads. But since finding this site a few weeks ago I've been inspired to put a bit more energy in and try out some of the techniques I've been reading about and watching on the various youtube videos dotted around.

I thought yesterday that I'd have a first attempt at baguettes, having previously been put off by reading it was difficult to make an actual 'baguette' rather than baguette-shaped sandwich bread. The first hit in the search was the Anis Bouabsa recipe. I wanted to have them ready for this evening's dinner so couldn't quite stick to the method prescribed. My method was:

- Poolish - 250g flour, 2g yeast, @100% hydration. Fridge for 7 hours.

- Allow an hour to warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Fridge for 2 hours then in the pantry (which is about 10 degrees C at the moment) for 5 hours. 

- Pre-shape and rest for 40 mins

- Proof for about 50 mins

I slit and sprayed with water, then put them (on baking paper) on the floor of the Aga, which has had a small pan of water on a higher shelf boiling away for the duration for constant steam. Took about 35 minutes to cook - a bit longer than the recipe says - the floor of the Aga is at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for but my feeling is that having them directly on a nice, big, heavy, high thermal mass aga oven floor is A Good Thing. I don't have a stone slab but I guess putting that higher in the oven would be the better way to do it.

I wasn't expecting much - this was a real step up in shaping complexity (I was guided by the <i>excellent</i> Ciril Hitz videos) and more difficult slashing than my usual cave-man technique. But I was pleasantly surprised by what came out of the oven!

Three Baguettes

You can see my shaping is a bit inconsistant (not to mention wrong in ways that are less immediately obvious to me!) but they just about look the part. They sang and crackled promisingly on the cooling rack and I had to try one before dinner. You know, just to test... it tore just like the baguettes I've had in france and biting in was a lovely crunch followed by tasty chewiness. The crumb was on the right lines, I think:


Baguette Crumb


I'm really quite excited to try this again. Next time I'll plan ahead more thoroughly and give it the 21 hours fridge fermentation that the original recipe calls for. I'll not bother with the poolish stage either (I did it as I thought it might give me the flavours and gluten development a little quicker).

I've been getting quite into using a poolish. I've just come back from a bit of travelling and decided tot to make a sourdough starter until i got back (just so I could be around to care for it) so a poolish seemed like a good stop-gap for getting a bit more flavour out of the flour. For fun, here's a photo of another recent session.

- 1kg of flour (2/3 whole grain 1/3 strong white), 500g of which was in a 100% hydration poolish overnight in the fridge. 

- 20g salt.

- 20g fresh yeast

- teaspoon of dark brown sugar.

Produced a pair of boules, finished in different ways:

Pair of boules

I cut the slashes quite deel on the nearer boule, but the loaf still sprang right up to the point of stretching them out flush with the rest of the crust. Given they have so much spring left to give, should I prove them a bit longer?

Anyway, thanks for reading, now I need to go an feed my new starter!



happylina's picture


After I try to baking country bread from one month ago. Many failed stone bread enter my stomach. So my stomach start to strike now,"I want soft, sweet, oily bread...(^_^)" 

 I have no any special patterns for baking. Maybe baking bread like buttermilk cluster is a good idea for me. I can try to use my pot again(^_^).When I see GSnyde very nice Challah photos in Thanksgiving, I like this Challah so much.  I try to braid my first braiding pumpkin bread this time. I'm not sure, I hope they're also Challah. 

I like pumpkin. So I use all I have, about 400g,I use a bag of milk.


whole wheat flour 100g, all porpose flour 300g, 

Mashed pumpkin 260g, milk 120g, 

Instant levain 1t


All purpose flour 240g, 

Mashed pumpkin 140g, milk 80g, 

Coffee creamer powder 1T,Ice cream powder 1T,

White ice sugar 1T, Salt 1/2t, 

butter 60g, 

Levain all.

At last I get about 1380G pumpkin milk dough.  5/8 for cluster. 3/5 for Challah.



I cut cluster dough to 17 pieces, make them to ball.and seven pieces wrapper with Chashao fillings. After I found the pot size not enough for 2 circle. So I place them to the pot lid.  I have to cut 6 pieces outside ball to half for suitable size.

This cluster baking time  210 degree 10 minutes, 200degree 10 minutes, 180 degree 10 minutes. After baking I  taste Chashao bread, On plate center, bread bottom heating not enough. Maybe I can baking more long time. 




Before baking These braided breads, I place one piece broken earthware pot on bottom of oven. 180 degree 25 minutes. These braided breads baking better than cluster.Even bottom  have good crust. I'm not sure if they get more heat from bottom earthware pot. Or for Only 3 pieces braided breads on bakeware. These braided breads same looking and similiar taste with I often get from local bread shop  "ma hua"-translate name "fried dough twist". Mine just get from baking. "same world,same food". So Now I don't know these breads are Challa, or Ma hua, or only braided breads.

They are all very delicious. And same dough different taste. 

Thanks for good ideas from TFL.





Chashao sourdough get from starter:

I fed low gluten flour to my fresh starter for Chashao bao dough. After 3 days 

looks starter no big holes as before. So I fed all purpose flour. After I get 1 piece 100g dough. Looks it work ok. So I mix with all purpose flour and water. When the dough have wine smell, I mix with low gluten flour,baking powder, sugar and oil. It was Chashao dough now. Cut to 6 pieces, wrapped with Chashao fillings. The dough up quickly. Even I thought one finished wrapping bao was a dough ball.So Made mistake again(Number 1 good wrapped bao broke). This time I wrapped more same looking as ball than last time. Before finish wrapping. I heat steaming pot. after wrapped all. I quickly steamed them. And this time midium high heat 10minutes, midium heat 2 minutes, small fire 2minutes. After stop fire, waitting 2 minutes, Than open pot lid slowly. This time, I get more natural more happy face Chashao bao(^_^).

(Normally steaming sourdough : For get good shape. need enough steam at first. After sourdough already enough hot and steam in pot, can down heat. before stop heat more small fire.  Gradually  down heat. It's good for keeping shape. Even stop heat. need 2-5 minutes more cool.  If no waitting time. steaming food cool quickly. Shape no good. My mother give a word to like that steaming bao or bread"气死"--“die with anger” )


I have a question about starter now. If only low gluten flour can feed for starter? 


Thanks for you reading.

Have a good weekend.



Yippee's picture

My parents love baguettes, especially my dad.  There was no doubt that I wanted to impress them with nice, homemade baguettes. However, I hadn’t made baguettes for a long, long time. The lack of practice in addition to my shaky skills had turned this baguette bake into something rather disappointing.  As you will see, the baguettes were out of shape and the scoring was messed up.  The only thing I probably did right was the handling of the dough, since the alveoli were quite evenly distributed.  But I can’t remember the details now as everything was a blur when I tried to bang out a few loaves of bread simultaneously in the last minute.  Like many parents, my dad was very lenient. He complimented on the flavor and did not criticize the appearance of my baguettes. But I knew I ought to be able to do better than that.


I made these baguettes again today.  Without the stress of packing and catching a flight, I was able to think more clearly.  Every aspect of this bake, from shaping, scoring, to color, has improved except for one thing:  the alveoli were not as evenly distributed.  How I wish I had taken the time to record the details!  Oh, well, I can always try again.  Next time when I come home, Dad, I promise I’ll bring you some decent baguettes.


The following is a summary of my bake:




Here are some pictures:


longhorn's picture

Trying to lose weight as a bread baker is really the pits. It is really cramping my baking frequency! But with the holidays coming I wanted to make some "decorative" bread so I decided to give the Epi another try. While previous efforts were not necessarily failures, I figured it would be a good chance to explore my skills (whatever they might or might not be!)

All of this was complicated by not starting yesterday so this morning I weighed out 190 grams of flour and 10 of rye, 4 grams of salt, 130 grams of water, and a half teaspoon of yeast. While weighing I decided to add some sourdough starter just to add a bit more flavor - about 10 grams. Mixed for about three minutes in the KA, let it sit for about 20 minutes, gave it two more minutes in the KA, and finished by hand. The dough passed he window test. Gave it twenty minutes to get going and popped it in the fridge to ferment while I worked out and ran errands. 

Formed two shortish, thin baguettes and let them rise about 2 1/2 hours. Cut the epi and baked in a 450 degree oven to an internal temperature of 207.

The two epis

I think I will make some more to take to a party next weekend! Seems like a nice, decorative alternative to conventional loaves!


pmccool's picture

Saturday's game plan was to do a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for some of our South African friends.  The aim was partly to broaden their cultural sensibilities (not to mention waistlines) but more importantly to thank them for how pleasant they have made this past year for a couple of Americans who are a long way from home.  Alas, it was not to be.  My wife came down with some sort of abdominal unpleasantness that had her down for the count on Friday and left her feeling very weak on Saturday and Sunday.  Fortunately, she's back to her usual self but the planned activities for the day were pretty much shot to tatters.

With only a few errands to run and not wanting to leave her home by herself, I made up a Plan B which, wait for it, also involved food!  It started small enough and then morphed into something bigger.  It wasn't too long after starting that I thought "I have the whole day.  I could make some bread to give away as well as some for ourselves."

I started with Leader's Polish Cottage Rye, since that is naturally leavened and would therefore take the longest to go from ingredients to finished bread.  I've not made this before but I will be making it again.  It contains just over 25% rye flour (I used whole rye instead of the recommended white rye), all of which is in the rye sour.  It makes a beautiful big miche-sized loaf, just over 1200g in weight.  I missed that note.  I had the oven all set up to bake on the stone, with steam.  When I looked at how the dough was doming over the top of the bannetons, I realized that wasn't going to work.  Then I pulled the stone and steam pan out of the oven and put each loaf on parchment in its own half-sheet pan.  The oven in this house has only two shelves and the coil is exposed in the bottom of the oven, so that left no room for the steam pan.  Consequently, I baked them with convection.  When first transferred from banneton to pan, each loaf spread quite a bit.  Each one had good oven-spring but I wonder whether they might have been even higher if there had been a way to get steam in the oven at the same time.  Note that I'm not complaining about result.  The crumb is smooth, moist, cool and creamy; sorry, no pics of that.  The outside looks like this:

Leader's Polish Cottage Rye

It's the time of year that I usually make Bernard Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits.  I've blogged about this previously, so won't repeat myself here except to say this is a wonderful bread!  It is rather messy and tedious, which is why I usually only make it once a year. Shaping is always a challenge with that much fruit and nuts in the dough.  The fragrance and the flavors are so exquisite, though, that I can't just not make it.  Here it is, all baked, bagged, and ready to go:

Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits

And, just because I knew some friends wouldn't be all that jazzed by rye bread or fruity bread, I decided to make Sweet Vanilla Challah from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible.  This has been blogged about, too.  The shaping is extremely simple, especially compared to a braid, but the result is stunningly elegant:

Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah

So, instead of saying thank you to a few friends, we were able to thank several more.  While my wife would have preferred to skip the whole sickness thing, the end result was much appreciated by others.


hanseata's picture

This weekend was devoted to experimenting with fruit yeast, and a second go at an old favorite. While I was waiting for my apples to ferment, I was also nurturing a levain for David's famous San Joaquin Sourdough. My first trial at the San Joaquin had been okay, but fell short of David (dmsnyder)'s example, leaving room for improvement.

The Apple Yeast Bread was something entirely new, I had never heard of such a possibility before I read RonRay's Blog. Curiosity won over scepticism, and I watched my apples slowly disintegrating in their warm water bath, while producing little bubbles. I also had never tried baking in a Dutch oven, a method for single, "private", breads whereas most of my (professional) baking requires full oven capacity in order to accomodate several loaves at once.

With the results of both endeavours I was quite satisfied. Ron's Apple Yeast Bread proved the possibility of home grown, "sweet" non sourdough yeast, and developed a nice oven spring in its oven within the oven. David's San Joaquin Sourdough had a more open crumb than last time, and both had thin but crackling crust.

I would have loved to keep some - but no bread lasts longer than a couple of days in this undisciplined family. One of the sourdoughs served as the "flowers" at a dinner invitation, much to the delight of our friends. The other two breads, toasted and untoasted, we had for lunch.

Another starter and a soaker are waiting in the fridge for being joined together to "Feinbrot", and my stepdaughter's birthday requires some serious torte baking tomorrow..


Apple Yeast Bread

Apple Yeast Bread Crumb

San Joaquin Sourdough (with 60% hydration starter)

San Joaquin Sourdough Crumb

dosidough's picture

Butter didn't smoosh in my bag on the way to work. Quite handy I think!

Mebake's picture

Recently, i've been suffering from BDS between bakes, or when my bread reserve dwindles.

Should i feel OK with that? I don't know.. am i not getting a Life? Possibly, yet, I may just be another Home Baker. I can live with that ;)

What's itching me further is that i, like many, was diagnosed with a mild Lumbar disc hernisis, and therefore with no Bread on plan for the week end.

I'll be baking, nonetheless.


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler


Alternate titles for this post: "Saturday, Sunday and Monday Baguettes", or "Why my wife thinks I'm crazy, but fortunately isn't sick of baguettes yet".


So following my recent attempts to master the Poolish baguette and the frequent failures which could be attributed to the poolish, I went off and bought myself this scale, which is graduated to 0.01 gram or 0.001 oz. increments (and was selling for an appealing $12.50 last week), more than accurate enough to measure the perishingly small quantities of yeast needs for my 10 oz of poolish, and surely more accurate than trying to eyeball a half-full 1/8 teaspoon.

This is where the madness began.  I was so sure that things would work out beautifully if I could just get the poolish fermented correctly.  When they didn't, I just had to figure out why not.  My long, sad story follows, but if you want to cut to the chase, I think the pictures probably tell most of the story.

Friday night I mixed poolish #1 at 10:30pm with 5.3 oz flour, 5.3 oz water, and 0.3 grams instant yeast, weighed on my shiny new scale.  5.3 oz ~= 150g, and Hamelman specifies 0.2% yeast in the poolish, so 0.3g was the right amount. This was, in fact, wrong, but I hadn't figured that out yet.  Read on.

By 6:30am the poolish was super-active (and maybe already a goner), and when I gave in and mixed the dough at 7:30, it was over-ripe.  I did not realize this until the dough was already mixed, and so I forged ahead.

Saturday Batch: Exterior (They were much paler than they look here)


Saturday Batch: Crumb


Chewy, tough, pale crust, tight, pale crumb, lousy flavor much like last week, although slightly better in each respect.

I was certain I could do better.  After all, I had a scale!  So I gave over my "free" Sunday bake to another batch of Hamelman's baguettes.  Poolish #2 was mixed at 10pm, with 0.25 g of instant yeast.  This was still wrong, but I still hadn't figured it out yet.  This time I took some pictures of the poolish as it fermented--one at 10pm, another at 1am (up with the baby), and a third at 8am, just before I mixed.

10pm: Just mixed


1am: 3 hours in


8am: 10 hours



I screwed up when mixing this time (did I mention I was up with the baby at 1am?) and added too much salt.  As I'd sprinkled it over the flour, I tried to fix it by scooping up and discarding the top layer of flour, then replacing the flour and starting over with the salt.  I should have just discarded all the flour.  Did I mention I was up with the baby at 1am?

The dough behaved rather strangely--it rose slowly, and was very loose when I was shaping.  Still, it worked, mostly.  I tried experimenting with different shaping methods (two "over the thumb folds, three folds, and the Back Home Bakery "Roll and tuck" method), but promptly lost track of which baguette was which.  I don't think it made much of a difference.  They went into the oven...and came out very pale.  But with nice looking slashes, save for perhaps being under-proofed.  I was, to say the least, puzzled.

Sunday Batch: Exterior


Sunday Batch: Crumb


Again with lousy, pale crust. But there was hope.  The crumb wasn't amazing, but wasn't bad (chasms non-withstanding).  Flavor was actually quite good, although they tasted a little salty. 

There was such potential here.  I wasn't sure if the poolish was over-proofed, but it may have done a little, and it certainly was ripening too fast.  I had certainly screwed up the salt, and that was fixable.  I had to make another batch.  Immediately.

I probably would have worked from home Monday anyway (as a doctoral student, I can do that most days if need be), but now it was for sure.  Poolish #3 was mixed at 10:45pm with 0.16 g yeast.  This was still wrong.  I still hadn't realized it.   I took a picture of the poolish at 7:45, but mixed it at 8:45.

Poolish #3


As I was setting up my tablecloth couche after pre-shaping, I realized that part of the paleness of my recent batches of baguettes was an over-thick layer of flour, imparted by my couche.  Tip: if you can scrape flour off your couche with a bench knife, it is over-floured.  I shook the silly thing out over my balcony before shaping the baguettes.  You almost wouldn't have recognized it afterward, with only the lightest coat of flour left over.

I shaped this last batch of baguettes oh-so gently, and let them sit en couche for 65 minutes. They felt...different when I transfered them to parchment for slashing.  Rounded and light, but strong.  A little too light, truth be told--they didn't want to slash easily.  I think over-proofed, in fact--I let time get away from me and didn't for done-ness at 60 minutes.

And the final results:

Monday Batch: Exterior

Monday Batch: Crumb


Nice, richly colored crust that was nicely crisp to the tooth.  Crumb wasn't as open as I'd like, but the flavor was decent.

After this batch was out of the oven, as I was perusing Hamelman's Bread for insight, I finally, finally realized what was going wrong with my poolish, even with my scale.  0.2% yeast is for fresh yeast.  For active dry, you'd need to use 1/3 as much-- 0.1g.  D'oh!.  Suddenly it all made sense.  Poolish #1, with 3 times too much yeast, was done in 8 hours and a goner at 9.  #2 did a bit better, but may have been  little too ripe at 10 hours.  #3 actually may not have actually been fully ripe at 10 hours, but would have been over-ripe by 12, no doubt.

Next week: The correct amount of yeast in my poolish, a lower preheat temp (my bottoms keep charring a bit), and a more watchful proof.  Victory will be mine!

Happy baking everyone,



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