The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
MissyErin's picture

i said those babies weren't pretty... I didn't realize that one looked like a caterpillar.  sigh... a face only a momma could love.

MissyErin's picture

Hello all...

New to this fabulous site, and instead of just sitting on the sidelines watching (while drooling) at everyone's gorgeous creations, I decided I would post all of my breads up too. I'll start by saying that I have been baking bread for a year now... focusing almost exclusively on whole grains (the full gamut) and my oh my were those first 20 serious house building bricks. Home depot actually contacted me... just kidding... Its been a fantastic learning process. It is so frustrating, though, to work for hours on something that turns out to be a total flop! But I'm thinking positive, right? So... I try to learn from these flops and keep refining and refining..

I have started to really get into sourdoughs, though, and created a starter from PR's crust and crumb (with the organic raisins) and its been great. Its just been mighty chilly in our house in Atlanta, and there has been lots of bubbles after feeding, but not more than a 40-50% rise, which is low for Betty the Barm, and I'd prefer not to think of her as developmentally delayed. Just more of a nuzzler, and she likes it warm! I have to say that the first set of loaves I made were beginners luck. They were perfection. My hubby thought he had woken up to a new wife, one with bakin' skillz. The next set I made were "eh.." and then I made a set of SD rolls to bring to a new years lunch. again... "eh..."

So I was on this site last night until 2am (where did the time go???) and I was so inspired... I started another batch early this morning and they came out of the oven about an hour ago. About a 6 hour cold ferment... after the two room temps at 2.5 hours. Today's SD was based on Susan's posting on her blog and I have to say that they came out super tasty! They don't look nearly as pretty as hers (these are not pretty at all, in fact)... but I would love some criticism (constructive, please!) I used a steam pan and sprayed water every minute for the first 3 min, then at min 10 and 15.

bread 1bread 1

bread 2bread 2


bread 3bread 3


bread 4bread 4


My basic notes are -

1. I slashed all of the loaves, and I tried to make them deep, but they didn't come out with that "easy grip" ledge that I LOVE. Why? Did I need to go a lot deeper with the slash? I used a serrated wusthof knife.

2. Do I need to bake them a little longer to get that warm dark crust that I feel is lacking? I think that the bread would've been much tougher if I had kept the loaves in much longer.

3. I'm going to try to describe this.. the crumb texture seems "squeaky" or plasticy. I don't mean hard plastic, but I mean not like sandwich bread, not a silky smooth crumb. Does that make sense? Its even shiny... why is that. All the SD's I've had in the past have been softer and less "squeaky" or "shiny". This almost seemed more like ciabatta...

4. I need a canvas or couche of some sort.. because the loaves were definitely wider than I wanted and not as tall.

I'd love ANY tips you have!!

Thank you very much :)



Monica's picture

Thanks for the Auburn rye recipe.  There is no mention of rye flour, did you forget about it?

AnnieT's picture

Today was the appointed day so I packed up two loaves, my bread board and knife, a tub of soft butter and napkins, along with a jar of starter. Unfortunately Mrs. T had forgotten she had a meeting and there was a substitute in charge, so things got a little confused. I never did get round to my spiel on sourdough starters, but I left the jar on the desk for them to watch it grow. Sliced the first loaf and the gannets descended!. I cut the loaf in half and then stood it on the cut side and sliced "half" pieces. After a while the sub. started buttering and that went much faster. I heard a few of the kids say they didn't like crusts but all that was left were crumbs! Apart from my grandaughter I got the impression that none of them had ever had home baked bread. Some of the girls were interested but the boys just wanted to eat, and eat they did. Maybe they didn't get much breakfast? Then it was cleanup time and back to work, A.

holds99's picture

I used Danielle Forestier's baguette recipe from her demo on Julia Child PBS video to make these batards.  My oven wasn't large enough to make baguettes so I opted for the batards.  She doesn't use a pre-ferment, only yeast. I didn't get the nice large holes in the interior that are characteristic of French baguettes/batards but I suspect it was because the dough should have been a little wetter and I wasn't gentle enough with the dough when rolling, pinching and shaping it, but they tasted very good.  I'll keep trying. 


Batards - Danielle ForestierBatards - Danielle ForestierBatards - Danielle ForestierBatards - Danielle Forestier

AnnieT's picture

A friend just sent me some comments by Dave Barry, including one I thought rang a bell:"There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'". Maybe 'obsession' would be kinder, A.

ejm's picture

Faux Stowe Crackers

This past summer, one of my sisters-in-law brought most wonderful crackers as part of her offering for a family dinner. My sister-in-law's crackers were fabulous and she claimed they weren't all that difficult to make.

It turns out she's right. Even though they require double baking, they're dead easy. And they're delicious!

I made a few changes to the recipe my sister-in-law copied out for me. One of the changes was to add the left over sludge from building up my wild yeast to the batter. I'm positive that this is not a necessary addition. It's a great way to use up the discards though!

The crackers are made by baking quickbread batter in a loaf pan, allowing the loaf to cool completely and then slicing and baking the slices on a cookie sheet til crisp.

Next time, to get our crackers to look even more like Lesley Stowes' crisps, I'm going to put a fold of parchment paper lengthwise down the middle of the loaf pan to create square slices.

(Faux Stowe Crackers are based on Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps, available throughout Canada and the USA.)

Thegreenbaker's picture

I decided to make dinner early for a change and needed to make some bread as well.

I began the bread so that it could rise while I was doing dinner. It began as my usual loaf, but I thought we needed more grains in our diet (seeing as I had been having porridge each morning for breakfast while I was getting used to the cold UK weather and then while the oven was broken and once it was fixed I have been eating bread for breakfast, lunch and snacks......tut tut tut)

So I threw some oats in a bowl and added hot water. Then after they'd soaked for an hour or so, I added more hotwater and some salt. I woke up some yeast in a bit more warm water with a little bit of goldren syrup and added that to the oat/water mix.

Then slowly added flour. Once I reached a consistency I couldnt stir but it wasnt thick enough to pull out and knead, I left it for about an hour and a half. I came back, and kneaded in almost 2 cups of flour.

Here I decided as I was stirring my barley that I was cooking (for vege barley soup) that it just might go nicely in the dough that I had finished kneading. So I kneaded in about 1/2 cup of cooked, still warm soft fluffy barley. Left it to rise till it doubled, punched it down, left it to rise again then gave it a fold for extra strength and left it to rest for 20mins.

It has made two decent sized batards and is now just proofing on a well floured bench covered with wet muslin.

I will take phots now, and once they are proofed, then again when they are cooked and their crumb. I am curious and anxious as to their taste and appearance......If it works, I have an idea for a nice healthy breakfast bread make with precooked Barley, Quinoa, Brown Rice (Basmati) and Rolled Oasts (if I find them I will use soaked/cooked steel cut oats as they offer more fibre and are worth more nutritionally than the rolled kind) With Wholemeal/wholewheat flour and covered in seeds. I want to try to get the most out my toast....and sandwhich (as well as for my family)

I will how ever try to make sence of the higgledy piggledy recipe above and write it out (and add things) in better order and adjust fermentation times. Might even make it with a preferment of the wholewheat to give it a more developed flavour.

I am pretty health aware and know that my daily porridge oats did much more for me than the yummy toast and toffee tasting set honey I have been eating. lol.


Bo be continued!........................................................................


JMonkey's picture

Though I'm sure I'll be lured away once again by the delights of a good poolish, I'm back to baking whole grains. In fact, last week, I think I may have pulled the prettiest loaf of whole grain sourdough hearth bread I've ever made out of the oven.

Here's the loaf just before it went into the oven.

And the innards.

This bread has quickly become my "daily bread," the loaf I make most often, whether for dinner or sandwiches.

I also took a shot at my own variant of the Dragon's Breath Bread that Eric Hanner posted several weeks back. I tried to make a 50% whole wheat ciabatta with sauteed garlic cloves and cheddar cheese chunks. It was an interesting experiment and made a killer sandwich, but next time, I think I'll chop the cloves up a bit and not bother with trying for ciabatta. As you can see, it didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped, especially since part of the loaf stuck to the peel:

And the crumb ...

Thanks, Eric, for posting that recipe. Was fun!

tattooedtonka's picture

After seeing some of the posts of bread bowls, I figured I would give it a whirl.  I made 4 White bread bowls, which were actually full size boules.  And made Broccoli Cheese Soup from a Panera Bread recipe I found online.

Here are 3 of the 4.  My youngest had little patience in waiting for me to get photos of them all, she was digging in while I was still posing my bowls.  Overall it was a huge hit.  My eldest daughter and I are huge soup fans, my wife is much more finicky with soups.  I got the nod of approval on this one though.  I would higly recommend it to others.

Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe  

1 tablespoon butter, melted (for cooking onions)
1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar 

Sauté onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve



Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries