The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
kap's picture

I use starter recipe of 1 cup warm water, 1 pkg yeast, 3 T potato flakes, 3/4 c sugar and feed every 3 to 5 days with 1 c warm water, 3 T potato flakes, 3/4 c sugar. but it produces bread that is dense and heavy on the bottom. What am I doing wrong.

Wayne's picture

Going through my bread book library last night and discovered that I had two Laurel's Kitchen books.  If anyone out there needs one,  you can have one of mine for the cost of charge for the book.  Seem's like someone was looking for a copy awhile back. If you are interested,  you can email me at

 Think the cost of shipping would be around 4 bucks.


beanfromex's picture

One of the grocery stores here in southern mexico has just brought in REAL hershey's chips in milk and semi sweet.

I thought this was an excellent time to try the Silpat (tm) cookie sheet liners I received from my sister for christmas. I had heard of Martha Stewart endorsing them along with several others,

My oven here is gas and very unstable when it comings to holding a temperature without fluctuating. The end result in cookies always seemed to be a slightly to moderately scorched bottom.

The result, no scorching but a stange consistency. Slightly dry, and almost crumbley as opposed to soft and chewy. I took the recipe right off the package, so the results should have been the same.

 I am hoping it was something to do with the flour, hope in this case NOT being the "thing of feathers" but the desire that my sister did not waste her money buying me something I do not like.

The bread news in Tabasco, is that it is almost non existant.  I only baked a couple of times in January. 

I tried a "beer bread" recipe...absolutely ghastly. I expected something not quite "bread like" as per my definition. but the end results were so far below my expectations that I considered the entire experiment a waste of time.  A dinner party guest had spoken about this procedure...different strokes for different bakers I guess....

One of the friends I introduce to the NYT methods ended up buying a fish poacher to make her bread in. I did not see her first results, but she was happy with it. She wanted a long loaf so the fish poacher was perfect. Though the price of a cheap enamel from the market is 20 US and she spent 90 US in the expensive anchor store here.  

That is all for now,

Hasta luego. 


sewwhatsports's picture

Here is my second attempt at NK bread, but the first that was successful.  I did it in my mini baker from Pampered Chef that was like a La Cloche.  It gave a decent crumb and flavor.  I used my starter instead of yeast with this loaf. 

The last picture is the yield of the day on Jan 25, 2007.  I baked in preparation of going to see both of my sisters and taking them fresh bread.  The NK was split between my kids so I did not get to taste a lot of that one.  The rye is Hamelmann's 66% sourdough rye.  It was a pretty compact but moist loaf.  I think I need to get my starter better for that loaf.  But in a few weeks I will be taking his Rye bread class and will learn from him how he does his loaves. I am sure my results will improve.

sewwhatsports's picture

These are my first attempt at bagels.  They were a little cakey at first but after they set for 24 hours they got that chewy texture. My daughter really enjoyed them.  Next time I will not use as many sesame seeds and will maybe try an everything bagel eventually.

Srishti's picture


This week I made some 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Nut & Seed Torpedoes with walnuts, hazelnuts, flax, sesame & pumpkin seeds:

and Some Sourdough Whole Wheat bagels

I don't think I'd ever like the taste of non-sourdough bagels anymore!!! :)

JMonkey's picture

Now, I'll grant you, whole wheat soybean bread garnished with sunflower seeds sounds like a parody of something you might find in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. And, in fact, you won't find it there.

Well, not with the sunflower seeds, anyway. The original recipe calls for sesame oil and sesame seeds. My daughter's preschool doesn't allow peanuts, sesame or tree nuts (one of her friends there is deathly allergic), so I had to go with sunflower seeds. Yes, it sounds like 70's health-food hell, but truly -- I kid you not -- this sandwich bread is delicious. The flavor is very warm and it keeps for a long, long time.

I love The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Her book taught me how to make light whole-wheat bread; without it, I'd still be churning out high-fiber doorstops. But that doesn't mean I don't think her recipes can't be improved. She's a bit light with the salt (in grams, at least -- the volumetric measurements are on the money), for instance, so I generally add a tad more to bring it up to the 1.8 to 2 percent range, and I almost always add a pre-ferement of some sort.

One other thing to remember -- if you're using cups, Laurel has a very heavy hand. Forget fluffing up the flour and spooning it in the cup. Dig deep and let it settle.

Here's how I made this bread:

The Night Before

Take 3/4 cup or 150 g raw soybeans (roughly 2 cups cooked) and cook them overnight in a slow cooker in plenty of water. If you're brave, let them simmer in a big pot with lots of water overnight -- I'm not that brave. In the morning, mash up the soybeans well.

Mix 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour with a pinch of instant yeast and 1.25 cups or 280 g water. Cover and let it ferment for 10-14 hours. By morning it should be full of bubbles.

The Next Day

  • 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour
  • 2.5 tsp or 17 g salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1.25 cups or 280 g water
  • 1/4 cup of sesame or other oil (I used canola)
  • 2 Tbs lightly toasted sesame seeds (I used raw sunflower seeds)

    Break up the pre-ferment into a dozen pieces and mix it with all the other ingredients except for the seeds and the soybeans. Knead the dough until you can stretch a piece of it into a thin translucent sheet without tearing. This should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, or 300 to 600 strokes. Once the dough is nearly fully kneaded, flatten the dough and spread half of the soy pulp on top. Fold the dough up, flatten again, and spread out the other half. Knead until all the pulp is well incorporated. Then, form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise. When it's ready, you'll be able to poke it with a wet finger and the dough will either not spring back, or will do so very slowly. Divide the dough, form two loaves, roll the loaves in the sunflower seeds and place into greased pans. Cover and let them rise until they crest above the edge of the pans. Slash the loaves as you like, and then bake at 350 (with steam, if you like) for about 50 minutes. NOTE: Laurel directs readers to do two bulk rises and then shape. Since you've got a pre-ferment, I don't think another bulk rise will do much for the bread, but feel free to experiment.

    Soybean bread wasn't the only thing I made this weekend, however. I also attempted a sourdough pizza using the no-knead technique. The dough was 1/3 whole wheat, 1/3 white bread flour and 1/3 semolina, with salt and olive oil. It was pretty wet -- about 72 percent hydration -- and had about 15% of the flour (whole wheat) in the starter. I let it sit, unkneaded for about 12 hours, folded it, and then put it in the fridge for the afternoon.

    Here's the first pizza. Turned out less than OK. Crust was chewy, not crispy, and the flavor was far too sour. The second pizza? Let me just say I'll never forget to re-flour my peel when making two pizzas EVER AGAIN. I had to set the oven on "clean" the mess was so awful, and, in the process of incinerating the mass of cheese, dough and tomato sauce that remained cemented to the oven floor, it set off my smoke alarm at 3am.

    I also tried to get the no-knead thing right for whole wheat: All whole wheat flour, 85% hydration, 1.8% salt, 15% starter innoculation. 12 hour rest, fold, shape, place in a well-floured (but not well floured enough) banneton and proof for 3.5 hours at 82 degrees F. Bake in a cloche, hot.

    Behold! The super sour pancake!

    But I wasn't finished. I still had about 1 cup of starter left over, and didn't want to throw it away. So I decided to make Sourdough Blueberry Muffins. The only changes I made to the recipe behind the link were to use a whole wheat starter, use whole wheat pastry flour and add 1/4 cup milk to get the right consistency. Not bad at all! Very light and not super-sweet with a simlar sourdough undertone to the sourdough waffles I made the week before. So the weekend turned out ... about 50%. Which I'll take -- maybe next week i'll get the no-knead whole wheat sourdough right. Sigh.

    Here's the muffins.
  • Floydm's picture

    This was the best I could come up with:

    sourdough pan loaf

    A loaf of sourdough sandwich bread, slightly gummy and poorly shaped but edible.

    I am humbled. Baking on foreign soil is very difficult.

    Back to my home kitchen this weekend.

    kevroy's picture

    ...who do we see about becoming professionals?

    It took a frantic amount of organization, physical labor and nagging, lots and lots of firm, polite, incessant nagging to get everything done. There was wiring and plumbing and drywall, there were floors that needed reinfoncing, a foundation that needed shoring up. Floor plans had to be drawn up for Labor and Industry codes that needed addressing and inspecting, not to mention health codes with their ensuing inspections. There were work benches and walls and shelving to be built, painting, paperhanging and restoration of the beautiful but crumbling mullioned windows that made the shop what it was.

    Equipment was purchased and installed, most of it used, most of it needing some special attention. We spent the final week doing basic prep work and overseeing the removal of several dead and dying trees.

    In fewer than ninety days from the time we closed in the real estate and business loan we removed the "coming soon" sign, turned the lights on and clicked the key in the lock to open the door of our bake shop.

    Nothing happened.

    Floydm's picture

    Hmmm... yes, well... baking on the road seemed like a good idea.

    My starter made it fine, but I guess I didn't really think about how many little things I take for granted in my home kitchen. Yes, I knew I was going to be without a baking stone or my lame, but those were the least of my problems. Not being able to find a warm enough spot in the house for the loaves to rise enough set me back a bit. Not being able to find semolina flour or regular corn meal (only course ground) didn't help either, and I was unwilling to damage someone else's iron skillet to make the necessary steam, so the crust was going to suffer. But it was the oven that set me back the most. Well, that and the smoke detector, which screamed like a banshee as soon as I opened the door to put the bread in the oven (I guess they don't turn their oven up to the max as often as I do). In the end, the bread got tossed out. The bread may have been salvageable, but after airing out the house for 20 minutes to get the smoke detector to stop I wasn't in the mood.

    I'm chastened. If I try to bake again this week I'll bake something simpler in a loaf pan.


    Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries