The Fresh Loaf

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Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Monday:  My garden is bursting with Spring!  The wind is windy and the birds are joyful!  We have 18°C and the furnace has been turned off.  I've pulled a starter out of the fridge.   A firm rye that was not put into long hybernation (do not fear, my pretties, the prepared starter is the jar next to it also looking none the worse from wear.)  It's wonderful and exhausting to be back in Austria.  Lots of garden work and getting used to stairs again.  Back to the starter.

This overripe goo smells cheese strong and has ice crystals all over it.  (Must have been at the back of the fridge.)  I'm thawing it out and scraping it now to look at the bottom.  This stuff could send me under the table from just breathing it, that with jet lag could be lethal.  It would be wise of me to breathe ever so lightly.  My son thought I should pay a fine, keeping a starter that smelled so strong.  It's criminal!  I laughed and smiled to my inner-bread-self.  I'd be the last one to tell him he could have thrown it out months ago.  Must have been fed last in January. 

(4 pm) I managed to push a top layer aside to get at the most underlying glop.  Rather stiff really, broke some out and reminds me more of fresh yeast consistancy.  It is also brighter in tan color than the top gray layer.  I've mixed water with it and ... um... now some rye flour and we will see what decides to grow.  Oops, got to run out for some rye flour.  Needed milk anyway.  I love being able to read everything on the shelves!  Rye everywhere!  Picked up some spelt berries too.

Tuesday:  (4 am)  The starter sat 12 hours and no action other than it smells sour and no longer like wet flour.  Too much acid for the yeast!  Gotta build up yeasty beasties!  Took out a spoonful and did a 1:5:5 again for the next 12 hours > 20°C in the kitchen.

(8 am)  Cooked some spelt in my rice cooker and because I didn't do too much with water so it would go dry, got some nice browning on the cooked grain...  not a bad way to add color to a loaf...  I ate some for breakfast as a chewy hot cereal.  Spent the day trimming and chipping in the garden.

(6 pm)  Got bubbles! I can see them thru the glass but not on top.  Smells sour but mellow and when I attack it with a spoon the bubbles collapse and I see structure under that smooth exterior.  Very good!  Took out another spoonful and did a 1:5:5 feed plus scrounged around for some old rye bread.  Found sunflower light rye, will have to do and processed it into crumbs, mixed in.  Got that sitting out now until I wake up in the wee hours, but also good until morning if I sleep thru.  


shazron's picture

after much research, trial and error I have ventured into "The Fresh Loaf" a question i have long quired has been answered - why throw 1/2 of my starter away? Im sold on this site! let the bubbles begin as I venture through the talent and skill of you all. Thanks!

diverpro94's picture

I just thought I would share this! It's a speech about bread that Peter Reinhart did at google's headquarters. I was really suprised to see that he used one of Dante Alighieri's allegories! Peter is such a gifted baker, writer, and rhetorician!


saltandserenity's picture

I just made the Swedish Rye bread from Peter Reinhar't Bread Baker's Apprentice book.  An interesting bread but it brought back some interesting teenage memories!

Check it out.


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Saturday my mother and I decided to spend the day together in the kitchen. It's been awhile since we've done anything like this. We decided to make two cheeses and two breads. She is a complete bread newbie and we are both new to cheesemaking so this was an adventure.

Friday night I made a soaker and biga for PR's whole wheat sandwich bread. I also fed my rye starter and built it to 150 grams for "Mini's Favorite 100% Rye".  Gathered all the bread making supplies that we would need. (flour, yeast, bread spices, PR's book, loaf pans, etc). Sent mom the recipes for cheesemaking so that she could prepare.

Saturday morning we set out, having a fairly strict schedule to adhere to. First, mixed the rye bread. I just love this formula. My spices are dried onions, caraway and fennel seed in equal amounts, to total a little more than 1 tbsp for three loaves of each spice. Rye was fully mixed and the clock started on it. I like to give it a full 8 hours unless it looks like it's going to overrise, which so far it never has. I think it might be because I use only 25 grams of starter when building my starter. It certainly isn't because the starter isn't active. My husband prefers the that the bread is as sour as possible so the more rising time that I can squeeze out of it the better.

Next, we mixed up the whole wheat sandwich bread. I love this recipe. I need to work on a better conversion to sourdough as the instructions for using starter that PR has don't work. He calls for an enormous amount of starter (equal to replacing the biga) and it caused my gluten to break down last time I tried it. I think maybe it was supposed to be used in addition to the commercial yeast? Perhaps I'll play around with it now that I just got my grain mill and see what I can do. I'm thinking that if I put whatever is not used in the starter over into the soaker that should work. Then, just use a basic formula for starter/flour ratio to figure out how much I need. Anyhow, we mixed up the sandwich bread, which would be a nice quick bread, ready to put in the oven in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

All was done by hand as mom doesn't have a "real" mixer. Just one of those $15.00 hand held ones. I guess I could have, should have checked out her bread machine but I was a little leary of trying a new gadget with my tried and true recipes. Maybe I'll try it on some pizza dough or something first, just to check out the dough cycle. I wish she lived a little closer (she's 40 miles away) so that I could easily run over and check it out. Rye was until all flour was wet, left to autolyse 20 minutes and then kneaded for about 10 minutes. This was a huge batch of dough, enough for 3 large loaves. The whole wheat was kneaded for 10 minutes, then a stretch/fold at 30 minutes X 1.

Next, we started the mozarella cheese. I took a cheese class about a week ago. That was so much fun. I couldn't believe how much better fresh homemade cheese is compared to store bought! I have been so excited to introduce my parents and husband to it. So, while we had been mixing up the breads, Dad ran to the grocery store for 3 gallons of milk, buttermilk and cheesecloth. After three phone calls and a second trip to the store for the forgotten cheese cloth all was "mis en place". (I had brought the rennet and citric acid for the mozarella) We heated 2 gallons of milk to 90 degrees, added citric acid, then the rennet. Sit, cut the curd, reheat to 105, ladle into a cheese cloth strainer. Boy did we get a lot of whey!! I will be trying whey for my next bread making batch. Has anyone tried whey with sourdough?  We drained the mozarella until very dry/firm. Then we heated at 30 second intervals in the microwave for the fun part-stretching. Stretching is a lot like kneading. Sort of like kneading silly putty. In fact, just like playing with silly putty!!

Popped the whole wheat in the oven and went outside for a gardening break. Did some aphid patrol and washed off the tomatoes. Back to the kitchen for ricotta. That didn't go so well because there was a little tiny, tiny "U" on the label of the buttermilk. It was Ultrapastuerized. Those sneaky boogers!! So, we backtracked and added lemon juice. My mother and I are nothing if not creative! So, our ricotta became a ricotta/queso blanco hybrid which was truely delicious.

Rye bread went in the oven and became "the best rye bread my father ever tasted"

Total for the day-2 pounds mozarella. 2 pounds ricotta/queso blanco. 1 Whole wheat sandwich loaf. 3 loaves 100% rye.

After a day of baking and cheese making I went home and baked a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. I've been dying to find some rhubarb and while hunting for rennet I went to the high end grocery store "AJ's" and also found frozen rhubard. Strawberries have been such a bargain this year and it got me in the mood for strawberry rhubarb anything. This crumble was so delicious. Really hit the spot!!

Sorry, no pictures today. Everything is nearly eaten, LOL!!

hansjoakim's picture

Sometime last week, I built up my rye starter for a run-through of some rye loaves. For some reason or other I ended up with quite a bit more mature rye sourdough than I needed for the loaves I had planned. Too bad to throw it all away I thought, so I put the left-over starter to good use in a pain au levain-style formula. The result was more than I could've hoped for, so darn tasty as a matter of fact, that I worked a bit more on the formula, and baked a few of those rye-sourdough-pain-au-levain breads this weekend. Here's the loaf (and some Swedish hazelnut tarts) from Sunday afternoon:

Pain au Levain with rye starter

I enjoyed slices of the loaf with a salad (spinach, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, mushrooms, in the background), a smear of blue cheese and a glass of red wine. Doesn't get much better than that.

Here's the mandatory crumb shot:

 Pain au Levain with rye starter


I was surprised by how drastically the taste of the bread changes when it is leavened by a rye starter. I tend to bake breads like these with a firm white starter, but now I'm more and more leaning towards using the rye starter instead. There's a distinct sour note to the breads, and a wonderfully tangy bite to every piece of the crust. I was also taken by how crackly the crust became when I baked the bread with a rye starter instead of a white starter; just have a look:

 Pain au Levain with rye starter


All in all, I'm really happy that I mixed up too much rye starter in the first place :)

Edit: Here's a link to the formula.

zorrambo's picture

Boo hoo! My oven broke and I need a new one. The old one was constantly shutting itself off mid-bake. I don't have the luxury to choose any oven I want because I rent from my mother-in-law and she will be paying for it. It must be electric, range-top and not too expensive. Any suggestions? Thank you for your help.

dmsnyder's picture

Maybe this belongs in the "You know you're a bread baker when ..." topic.

I'm going to visit my younger son and his family next week. I haven't started packing, but I have the breads baked. 


This is basically my San Joaquin Sourdough but made with the Gérard Rubaud flour mix. I tasted this loaf's mate yesterday (as in 4 slices). The truth is, Rubaud's flour mix is better when baked using Rubaud's formula and methods, and the San Joaquin Sourdough is better using my usual AP with 10% dark rye. Live and learn. Not that this is bad bread. It's just not astonishingly wonderful. (My grand daughters deserve astonishingly wonderful bread.)


These boules are the San Francisco Sourdough from Michel Suas' "Advanced Bread & Pastry." It's a wonderful bread. I spiked my starter flour mix which already has 10% rye with extra rye and made a very firm starter which was allowed to ferment for about 16 hours at room temperature. I got a bit more sour tang than previous bakes, which was what I was shooting for. 

The crust is nice and crisp, and the crumb is quite open for moderate hydration (67%?) bread.


And, mostly because of how my wife's face lights up when she walks into the house while it's baking ...

The Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut Bread from Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice." 

I feel better, knowing we won't starve in Las Vegas.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to let you know that I found a place that carries malted barley flour in NYC.  I haven't checked the other markets that I usually go to, ie: Fairway, Whole Foods.  I found this at the Korean Market "Han Ah Reum" on 32nd Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue in Koreatown.  It is the Choripdong brand.  They also have malted barley that's crushed.  It's $4.99 for 2lbs. 


Sedlmaierin's picture

Quick recap of the baguette baking:

-followed the recipe apart from the fact that I did not have enough AP flour on hand and sifted some stone ground white whole wheat flour to make up the difference.I think the ratio was about 3/4 AP to 1/4 WWW

-read and re-read about pre-shaping and shaping three times........even though it might not look it, that part seemed to go a lot better

-final proof was for about 1 hour 15 minutes

-the crumb is very light  and has a beautiful fragrant flavor;deeper taste probably due to the inclusion of the whole wheat

overall I feel this is an improvement from the last two tries......if I keep on working on baguette baking I  guess I will have to buy a peel.That was the most frustrating part-transferring my nearly perfect looking risen loaves to the oven-and scoring................let's not even talk about it! I don't know which way to adjust-am I scoring too deeply,does it need to go deeper?

Anyways, am happily munching on these guys!


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