The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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crunchy's picture

Last weekend I finally had time for baking, after a long and exhausting week. Continuing the exploration of Hamelman's book "Bread", I ventured into the Detmolder method section. I love ryes and I love a good challenge, so naturally the three-stage 90% rye had to be made. My rye starter is always very lively, but to my surprise, it was going out of control by the end of the third build. The final dough was a sticky mess; in fact, it resembled clay more than any sort of dough. Hamelman warns not to add more flour even if the dough is tacky. I stuck to his advice. This is what came out of the oven.

I waited a day before cutting into it to let the crumb set fully. This loaf was sweeter than any other rye I've made before. The crust was delectably crunchy and almost nutty. The crumb was dense, as could be expected of a 90% rye, yet moist and airy.Det90ryecrumb

That same weekend I also made a whole wheat muligrain (pg.169). Hamelman recommends some grains, but leaves the choice largely up to the baker. I used a combination of wheat and rye berries, corn meal, millet, and sunflower seeds. The flavor was incredibly rich and deep, with a tender whole grain presence in the middle and a lingering sweet honey finish.

And finally, there was a Vermont sourdough (pg. 153), also delicious. The dough was a pleasure to work with. This book is a tremendous resource, I can't recommend it enough.

Floydm's picture

Taking a break from fence rebuilding, I've updated a bunch of the modules on the site.  I added something many folks have asked for, a private messaging (PM) system, so users should be able to send and receive notes to and from other individual members of the community.  It looks like is a pretty clean, simple, easy to use system.  Let me know if you have any problems with it.

I  don't anticipate any issues, but I should make clear that as site admin I can read anyone's private messages.  I would only do so if someone reports incidents of getting creepy PMs from someone they don't really know, PM spamming, or any other PMs that violate the "honor principle" that governs the way The Fresh Loaf community governs itself.


cmckinley's picture

I am making my first loaf of bread with liquid levain.  It seeems to be rising so assuming that is a good sign!  When you refresh levain do you have to discard some of it or can you just keep feeding it?  I am very new at this but determined to get it all down!  I will post pictures of my finished product.  

scsunshine's picture

I decided to try and make homemade bread, seeing as the cost of the ingredients is less than paying for bread at the store. I have only made regular bread once, when I was very young and it was more than 20 years ago.

I started with the "lesson one" recipe, since the cost of ingredients was minimal, and if I messed it up I wouldnt be out much. After reading some other blogs and other website tips on succsessful bread making, I think the experience turned out well enough for me to want to attempt again!

Although the instructions in lesson one are nice, I do think there are somethings that need to be detailed and somethings that need altered. This is what I did.

  • Reduce salt from 2 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp. I felt it would have made the bread too salty. I have been baking other for a long time and never use salt in the recipes, but I figured it was needed in bread.

  • Mix the salt in with the flour. When baking, I usualy mix dry ingredients first, it seems to make it much easier to ensure that the ingredients are more thoughouly mixed. However, after reading some tips, I did find that this is the best way, as mixing salt with the active yeast packets will actuall kill off the yeast.

  • I used Fleishmans dry active yeast packet. I followed the instructions on the back of the package to proof the yeast. To "proof" yeast add it to 1/4 cup water (100-110 degrees F) and 1 tsp sugar. I used a candy thermometer to make sure the temp was with in range. My water temp was 105-106. The yeast will sit for ten minutes. Since it was very cold today, i thought the water would cool quickly, so I added the same 110 warm water to a large bowl and placed the cup of yeast inside to keep it warm. After ten minutes it was very frothy on top and watery on the bottom.

  • I used warm water to add to the flour, 100-110 degrees F. I didnt add it all at once, but rather had it in a measuring cup to add slowly. I did have to add about 1/3 cup more water than recommend, and then added a small handful of flour.

As I was mixing the flour with water, I noticed that the dough was very sticky and it was clinging to my fingers. So I added a bit more flour until i was able to pick it up with out it sticking to my hands, but yet it still felt "wet"

I also used a glaze mix of one egg white and a splash of milk.

Jw's picture

I had to clean up some 'almost old' flour, so I just made simple bread with the standard recipe this weekend. 

In half of the dough I added a bit more yeast, and then I used a slowrise-overnight method. This is the top-right bread. The bread is not that high, but has more tast. I guess it got too cold, which killed the rising process. 

For the other part of the dough (the larger breads) I used standard yeast, but started that with lukewarm water and a bit of sugar (for about 20 minutes). Standard mixen (a bit kneading, by hand), wait 1 hour, some real kneading and then shaping. wait another hour before I put it in the oven. at 200C. I put some water on top before I put the bread in the oven, repeat after 35 minutes. Sometimes I turn the oven up for the last minutes to get a better crust.

The scoring is also relatively simple here. I sometimes use a string or a sharp knife for better results. The picture below shows the different in structure of the two breads. 

Smakelijk (bon appetit).

SiMignonne's picture

For each cup of flour called for in your recipe:

1 Table soy flour

1 Table nonfat dry milk powder

1 Table wheat germ


Fill the remainder of cup with flour and it's instantly healthier for you!  Or so says my mother's hippie friends ;)

SiMignonne's picture

2 Cup boiling H2O

1 Cup rolled oats

2 1/2 teasp salt

1/2 tablep butter

1/2 Cup honey or molasses

1/3 Cup warm H2O

2 packets active dry yeast

6 Cups white flour


Bring water to boil.  Turn off and add oats, butter and honey.  Let stand for 20 minutes.  Put yeast in the 1/3 C warm water and let rise double.  Add yeast to other ingrediants and then flour.  Beat and knead - May need a little more flour.  Let rise until double in bulk or more.  Make into two loaves.  Let rise until good shaped loaf.  Make in 325 degree oven for 45 min or brown.

Stephmo's picture

Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid represents a dream job for me - and probably most of us - travelling the world and sampling authentic cuisine so you can write a cookbook that will be widely acclaimed and loved by all.  This book is wonderful and is as much travelogue as it is recipe book.  We decided to sample a Georgian recipe for cheese boat breads.  As they described these, they were presented as something resembling a deep-dish cheese pizza.  This can leave a bit of a false impression, as their version is not overpowered by the cheese.  This bread is a great snack or appetizer and could easily push aside garlic bread, breadsticks or crostini.  Even better, you could easily make a meal by adding a simple green salad.

The recipe will make four boats - I successfully halved the recipe with no problem to make only two boats.

2 cups warm water

pinch of sugar

2 tsp. dry yeast

5 to 6 cups hard unbleached white flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. olive oil


6 oz. soft young goat cheese, at room temperature

2 oz. Gruyere, coarsely grated

1/4 cup plain yogurt

These were my ingredients (water and sugar not pictured):

In my version, I've used unbleached AP flour and I am getting through the Fleishman's "bread machine" yeast which is just faster acting, so I need to check my rise at half the time listed in the recipe. 


You will need a large bread bowl, a medium-sized bowl, unglazed quarry tiles to fit on a rack in your oven, a baker's peel or two baking sheets and a rolling pin (optional).

Place the warm water in a large bowl, stir in the sugar and the yeast, and let stand for several minutes until the yeast has dissolved.  Then gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour, stirring constantly in the same direction, about 1 minute, to develop the gluten.  Sprinkle on the salt, add the oil, and continue adding the flour and blending it onto the dough until it is less sticky.

I've taken to using one of my silicone spatulas instead of a wooden spoon for these jobs - it seems to stick less and mix more.  It could just be a psychological thing too:

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic, with a slight sheen. Form onto a ball, and place in a lightly oiled clean bowl or on a lightly floured surface to rise, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

This was my rise after an hour:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  If using quarry tiles, arrange on the bottom oven rack, leaving a 1-inch gap between the tiles and oven walls.  If not, lightly oil two baking sheets.

Gently push down the dough.  On a lightly floured surface, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Flatten each piece out with the lightly floured palm of your hand, then cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the filling.

Since I'd halved the recipe, I only had two pieces - that's a standard cookie sheet that they're resting on at the moment.  I should also note that I have a round pizza stone - I had the stone in the oven getting hot while the oven preheated:

Place the cheeses and yogurt in a bowl, and blend together to a smooth consistency.

This is very straightforward (although "smooth" is relative since you're supposed to start out with coarsely grated Gruyere).  What I will say is that for the bite that each of these ingredients has separately, they come together and seem almost sweet.  Husband said it almost reminded him of cheese danish filling.

Work with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap.  With your hands or a rolling pin, stretch and flatten the dough in to a long oval 8 to 10 inches long, 5 to 6 inches wide, and no more than 1/4 inch thick.  Place a generous 1/4 cup filling in the center of the oval.  Spread to within an inch of the edges.  Roll the edges over to make a thick rim, pinching the sides together to form a point at the ends.  (The bread should look boat-shaped.)  Shape and fill a second bread.  Slide the breads onto a peel and then onto the quarry tiles, or slide onto the baking sheets and place on the bottom oven rack.  Bake until the crust is golden and the bottom is firm and crusty, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Wrap in a towel to keep warm while you prepare and bake the remaining two breads the same way.  Serve hot.

The construction took less than 5 minutes per boat:

I only did one boat at a time, as my stone is smaller.  The bake time was about 14 minutes for each.  The puff was gorgeous:

Before I forget - crumb:

The cheese really complimented the bread and was great stand-alone, although we probably came up with quite a few variations right away.  We thought a sea salt wash on the crust might be a nice add right off the bat (more for appetizers).  Fresh herbs mixed with the cheese were very obvious.  Very light additions of tomatoes, grapes, golden raisins, figs - anything that wouldn't turn into a heavy pizza - seemed like something worth trying with this bread.

If you haven't been lucky enough to try items from Flatbreads & Flavors, this is one of the many reasons why the book is worth checking out!

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

The story thus far:

I've used the starter recipe here and gotten myself a...blob. Nothing but a blob. It doesn't do much, isn't very entertaining, and I can't bake bread with it. However, it smells VERY nicely sour. I don't want to give up on it yet.

I fed it with 1/3 cup of white flour and a little under 1/4 water today. It is the consistency of thick paste.

So as I said in the tutorial thread, if I don't see action by tomorrow I'm going to feed it with 1/4 cup rye flour and 1/8 cup water and see what happens.

I'll keep things posted here so that I don't take up the other thread with personal experiences. :)

JMonkey's picture

MountainDog's blog entry on overnight Colombia loaves struck my fancy, so I made a single loaf for the family. What a hit with my family!

I was a bit pressed for time in the morning, however, since I need to have the loaf ready to make sandwiches (I get up at 5am for work, and I work from home). They should have risen another hour, probably, so the crumb was not as open as it could have been, but the loaves tasted fantastic. It's amazing what a small amount of toasted wheat germ and barley malt will do for a loaf's flavor and color.

Earlier in the week, I also made sourdough pizza.

It's easy to do, and, since I made four doughballs, it allows me to bake a couple and then put a couple more in the freezer for another time. All I have to do is put them in the fridge the night before, and then take them out a couple of hours before I'm ready to shape the pies.

Here's how I do it:


  • Whole wheat flour: 60%

  • All-purpose white flour: 40%

  • Water: 80%

  • Olive oil: 5%

  • Starter accounts for 2% of the flour at 60% hydration


  • Whole wheat flour: 420 grams

  • AP flour: 290 grams

  • Water: 572 grams

  • Salt: 15 grams

  • Olive oil: 36 grams

  • Starter: 25 grams

The night before, I first dissolve the starter into the water, and then add the salt and the oil. Finally, I mix in the flours, until everything is nicely mixed. Then, let it rest for about an hour, and then do three stretch and folds with about 20-30 minutes between each. I then cover the dough, and let it rise all night.

The next morning, I see whether the dough has risen enough (8 - 10 hours is usually enough) and then divide it into 4 doughballs of about 340 grams a piece. Two dough balls go into the plastic baggies in the fridge, while the others go in plastic baggies in the freezer.

I remove the fridge doughballs two hours before baking, and shape them into tight balls. I then cover each with a cereal bowl. While they warm up, I prepare the toppings.

Tomato sauce (for two pies)

  • 1 14 to 16 oz. can crushed tomatoes

  • Oregano: 1/2 tsp

  • Basil: 1/2 tsp

  • Garlic: 2 cloves, diced

  • Lemon juice or red wine vinegar: 1 Tbs

I mix this up, and set it aside, adding salt if it needs it. Some canned tomatoes are already well salted. With the brand I use, though, I usually have to add 1/2 tsp or so.

Cheese blend (for two pies)

  • Whole fat mozzarella, grated: 4 oz.

  • Parmesan, grated: 2 ounces

  • Feta, crumbled: 2 oz

Other toppings are, of course, up to you. I like chicken sausage, black olives and mushrooms, myself. Roasted red bell peppers are awesome. Fresh tomatoes are great (under the cheese), when available, as are fresh basil leaves, added just after the pie comes out of the oven.

Shaping the pie
First, an hour before I'm ready to bake, I insert a stone and set the oven as high as it will go. When I'm finally ready to shape, I generously dust my peel with semolina flour or cornmeal. Then, I make a small pile of AP flour next to where I'll shape. I coat my hands in flour, take a dough ball, coat it in flour on both sides, and then place it on my knuckles. I bounce the dough on my knuckles in a circle, gently stretching the dough with each bounce. When it's halfway there, I place it on the peel, and stretch it all the way out. make sure you stretch the edges apart -- don't stretch across the dough, because the center will be fairly thin and will tear.

Before adding the toppings, I make sure that the pie will move on the peel. Then I add sauce, cheese and toppings and then bake on the stone for 9-11 minutes. I let it cool for a few minutes on a rack before cutting into slices.


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