The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Marni's picture

My wrist was declared healed about two weeks ago, and I am thrilled to be able to stretch and fold (both in the bowl and out) and shape two handed again!

Here is one of loaves I made first:

This is the 1,2,3 formula with the addition of dried rosemary which I soak in warmed olive oil.  I add both the rosemary and oil to the dough late in the first mixing.  This is one of my favorite breads.

txfarmer's picture

I posted a few days ago asking why my lye pretzels are not dark enough, after much reading and some experimenting, I think I figured out why. After I mixed up the lye solution, I didn't let it sit and completely dissolve, so the solution was too weak. The first time, I mixed and dipped the dough right away. This time, I mixed up a 3.5% lye solution (between 3% and 4% is good, the higher the darker, but don't go beyond 4%) with room temperature water, let the solution sit at a safe place for 15 minutes, slowly stir for the first few minutes. The solution heated up at first, then started to become clear and cooled down. After that, dip the dough for 30sec each, bingo, this time I got the color and shine I want. The devil is in the details huh?!


Also made some other shapes, I think they look cute with wide open scoring marks.

The recipe is from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, I did make one change: after reading a suggestion on the web, I used milk instead of water in the formula, I do think it tastes more authentic that way. I loved how the pretzels tasted and looked when I stayed at Germany a few years ago, crispy and hard shell, soft and chewy crumb, and a special "lye pretzel" taste. It's decidely different from American style soft pretzels boiled in baking soda solution (which I also like), good to split open and make a sandwich with. I do need to work on my shaping techniques to get rid of the unsightly holes in the crumb.

I have a whole lot of lye left, will be practicing making pretzels for a while!

hmcinorganic's picture

here is today's loaf!  it turned out well.  I made the french loaf from "The bread breakers apprentice" but tried the stretch and fold technique instead of kneading.  It worked;  I was amazed.  I put the dough in the fridge overnight and shaped them cold on the counter.  I had a hard time getting them off the counter.  I cooked it at 500 (by accident, forgot to turn it down to 450 when I put the loaves in) with steam.  They didn't rise much after removing them from the fridge, and are a bit misshapen from uneven rising and manhandling them onto my stone. Good oven spring though, and the crust color is great.  I heard them crackling as they cooled, which I've never heard before!  I think I have undercooked them before.  I haven't cut into them yet, but will post a picture later today.

bnom's picture

My love affair with my 50 year old GE Hotpoint 40" range has been, literally, on and off these past few weeks. 

I was so excited to get a new 20 inch Fibrament stone (no more stubby baquettes!) but then my bottom element burned up.  So I replaced it (doing the wiring myself) and was back in love again. But then I started noticing that the bottoms of my loaves were not browning up and I wasn't getting good oven spring. And I had been making such nice progress on my bread too. I was so distraought...was it my shaping?  Was the dough too slack?  Could it be  the baking stone???

It finally occurred to me to toss a bit of water on the bottom element. Dead. All the oven heat was coming from the top element (which I thought only came on if set to broil).  What an idiot! What a relief!  I trewired again. Plugged it in, turned it on and POP! The entire range dead. I finally realized it was time to call a professional.  Except for the indicator light it's working again. 

But I'm wondering....should I keep this baby or finally get a new stove.  Are the stoves on the market right now that good?  I was told by a repairman once that they stopped making good stoves around 1960. Is that still true?

Here's what I love about this stove:  Working space between the two burners. Two ovens of useful size. Temps are spot on.  Never have to worry about steam messing with electronic sensors or breaking glass. I can (usually) replace elements and such myself. No hood interfering with my highly needed over the stove cabinet. As vintage as me and my kitchen. 

On the other hand, I could wire gas to the stove for a dual fuel stove (don't want gas oven). I could get convection. Or I could try induction (if it works with Al-clad and cast iron pots). Smaller oven footprint in my small kitchen.  I don't want really want to spend more than 2000 for a stove btw.  

So, TFL'rs thanks for reading this long post.  I'd be very interested in your thoughts. Do you feel passionate about your stoves?  Am I stuck in the 50s?


Yippee's picture

This was another white bread with a small amount of whole rye flour.  I’ve started to enjoy the simple shaping of a boule.  Actually, as they say in the commercial, ‘I’m lovin it.’ It does not require much intense planning or attention to details.   Processing of this type of bread is quite soothing, especially at the end of a long day, to an exhausting body and mind.   My original plan was to make baguettes but it was running late so I switched to a boule instead.

This loaf was quite similar to the previous one except for a few things.  Multiple levains were used in this bake and they were refreshed the night before mixing.  As a result, no commercial yeast was needed this time and fermentation was relatively speedier. Diastatic malt powder was used in anticipation of an extended fermentation. I was still experimenting with my oven temperature in order to achieve the right balance between optimum oven spring and color. The loaf still came out a bit too dark to my liking.  Further adjustment of temperature and timing is needed in next bake. 

I’ve been constantly on the look out for a more care-free way of making bread, as long as the quality of my loaves is not compromised. Retarding is one of the methods that enables me to complete the final proof without being too attentive to the dough. However, I’ve found that the temperature of my fridge is too low for the dough to rise to its full capacity. I’d like to have the dough ready to bake when I take it out of the fridge and not have to wait for it to warm up and complete its final proof afterwards.  Hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice to own a retarder as well? Well, before I have that extra gadget, here’s what I did: During my waking hours, I raised the temperature of my proofer a bit so the dough was about 80% complete of its final proof before I shut down.     The remaining phase of final proof carried on in the fridge overnight until I was ready to bake in the following afternoon. This ‘strategy’ worked out pretty well to further fit bread making into my schedule.

The multiple levains had brought more elaborate depth of flavors to the loaf.  It’s slightly tangier than the previous one as extended, cooler fermentation was employed. The initial light and velvety mouthfeel contrasted distinctively with the soft crackling of crust into smithereens that followed. What a sensation! Everybody in the family was satisfied.

A summary of the formula and procedures is as follows:


Here are some pictures:


Adorabull Deb's picture
Adorabull Deb

I love this site!  After taking the lessons, I can FINALLY make decent bread. 

So now I'm experimenting.  I added one T. beet powder to my favorite white bread recipe. 

Can any of you breadheads* out there tell me why my beet bread isn't PINK in the center?  It isn't even white.  It's brown, like whole wheat!  Only the crust is PINK.  Here's a photo:

beet bread



*so called with much respect and admiration

Marni's picture

After seeing the fabulous Monkey Bread that Txfarmer posted about here, I had to try my own version.  I have to say that hers runs circles around mine- especially as far as the photography, but we enjoyed it.

Because we don't eat bacon ( I rarely eat any meat at all) I substituted a soy bacon.  It definitely is not the same.  Still, it was tasty, fun to make and looked great.  I'm sorry I don't have a pic of the finished product, I didn't have access to a camera at the time.  But here are some work in progress photos:



Chausiubao's picture

First of all, I'd like to say this:



Now that thats out of the way:

I've been taught that thats a textbook example of the improved mix. There's three mixes; the short mix, the improved mix, and the intensive mix. When you pull a window, the short mix tears easily, the improved mix has characteristic "veins" that run through it, and the intensive mix looks very even and opaque. This is how you can judge the crumb of your finished bread before you even divide the dough.

It'd be an understatement to say that I've learned a thing or two while working at the bakery, truth be told, I learned more in my interview with the owner of the bakery (an interview which was 5 hours on the bench of course,) then I did in the few weeks we spent on bread in school.

I wanted to showcase my bakery's breads and the title I wanted to give the blog was, "the soul of the bakery, its in the formulas" but the truth really doesn't reflect that. Formulas are the backbone of any bakery, but its melodies, subtleties, and nuances are what really define a bakery. We make this dough with three different kinds of levain in it. Thats a really unnecessary thing to do, and personally I have a notion that having the three different cultures all together might hinder the growth of the individual cultures since they'll be competing (a fight that the white levain will have an advantage in!). We create formulas, we calculate water temperatures, use our hands to tell us all the things about the dough that we should ever need to know, and we live bread. Or at least thats how it is meant to be. whether we actually reach (or want to reach) this lofty attitude of bread baking is debatable.

I like to think that as an artisan bakery, we bake bread as it has been made in past decades. This involves small ovens, a single mixer, couches, loading boards or peels, and hand shaping. But ultimately, how feasible and how practical is this arrangement? Bread bakers are the eccentrics in an already quite eccentric field. Moving into the culinary field is almost romanticized in our culture, yet many do it for reasons other then the love of the process. The man hours, the physicality, the odd work schedule, all of it pushes away possible bakers. On the other hand, when people need work, all of that diminishes in significance.

If we were to become a chain bakery (either privately owned or corporate) is this a business model that could be passed from store to store to store? Or are we a fad, living a fast, high octane experience that will ultimately and inevitably implode and collapse in on itself?

We definitely make good product, though there's always better; but is artisan baking a relic of the past or an unrealized future?


 Despite the high costs of labor and running an establishment based on perishable food stuffs, we continue to expand and put out good product. And the more I work and throw around thoughts about bread with my colleagues, the more ideas for my own bakery spring spontaneously into my mind.


hmcinorganic's picture

I watched some of the videos linked to from this site.  cool.  I know from my reading and experience that I tend to have bread that is not "wet" enough.  

Watching this video:, I am really amazed that this technique gives well kneaded bread.  What is it about this technique that works?  I don't see how the gluten can develop using this method!  Amazing.

I just made a new starter (pate fermente) for a french baguette, and I attempted to use this technique ( instead of my stand mixer to develop the dough.  it was difficult, but it really worked.  neat.

Someone asked for a picture on my last post.  Here is my latest effort.  I was very very pleased with how this one turned out!  I think I need to bake them longer for a deeper crust.  The crumb on this one is very even with teeny holes.  

half whole wheat baguette

knud's picture


Being a newbie I hope I am in the right forum.

When my bread comes out off the oven it has  a nice crispy crust,  after the bread has cooled down the crust goes soft

Any help will be appreciated

take care



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