The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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bakerb's picture

Does anyone grow & use kefir...I've been growing it for 10 years, or's a wonderful product & it's very easy to grow!   I've made "cream cheese" & "sour cream"'s a wonderful substituted for buttermilk in baked goods & I've made sourdough starters with it.  If you'd like to know more about it, I recommend this site: it's everything you'd want to know about kefir!

I bought my kefir grains from Dom, I'm not sure if he still sells them, but the above site will tell you.


bakerb's picture

Hello...I'm looking for an organic farmer & miller in Michigan, I'd like to buy fresh-ground unbleached bread flour, locally.  I live in Bay City.  Tomorrow I'm headed south (Linden, Michigan) to Westwind Milling Company to try their products.  Does anyone know of another place?  Thanks!

scubabbl's picture

Having a young son is hard on an budding bread maker. So, I've relegated myself to some late night baking. I just pulled this loaf out at 1am. It's just a basic loaf of white bread variation 2 (i.e. liquid milk instead of powdered) from my new newly purchased copy of "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".

Late night bread bakingLate night bread baking 2



Thegreenbaker's picture

I donbt know what I am doing at the moment, but the last 3 batches of bread I have made have sucked.

Seriously sucked.


Undercooked, no oven spring, dense, the only thing I can say is that they were tasty enough.

I tried the 5 mins a day master recipe and I didnt like it. I used whole wheat and that may have been the problem but I found it waaaaaaaaaay toooooo salty for my linking.

I used 1/3 of that to make a loaf and the oven spring was really nice so was the crumb, but I just didnt like the taste. I use the rest as a preferment and added it to approximately an equal weight of flour. I didnt add any more yeast or salt and it turned out nicely. By nicely I say It tasted much better, but the crumb was still a bit moist yet the outside was going to charr if I left it in the oven.

Then yesterday I made my usual oat bread.....and it was terrible.

UNDERCOOKED. My hubby who  a. has a cold and cant taste anything and b. really, hasnt got a highly developed pallette for bread or food said the bread was fine and I even after tasting it before him and deciding it was cooked just moist from the oats....believed him and ate a piece..toasted....nope. TERRIBLE. UNDERCOOKED> It also was almost charred.

I had the oven set to 240 degrees celcius for 10 mins then turned it down to 190-210 for the remainder of the cooking time. It still didnt DO much at all.

I am not happy. What a waste offlour and money.


Thwe only thing I have been doing differently is not sifting the flour and not adding a bit of unbleached strong while flour. Its cheaper to buy organic WW strong bread flour than it is to buy Organic strong white/unbleached bread flour. I also began sifting my wholewheat flour as I suspected a bug infestation, and my bread which was already suprising me with its results, improved immensely. (No bugs though) So I kept sifting. Then a few days ago I decided to try not sifting again because I really DO LOVE the flavour of wholewheat bread (and not ading that 1/2 cup of white flour) and the bits that were cooked well were soooo delicious, the rest was doughy half cooked crud. *sigh* The thing is, I even had window pane! Window pane after autolyse and kneading my whole wheat OAT bread! yet it still didnt do anything :( Perhaps I over proofed yesterdays loaf. It collapsed after I slashed it.

Even my pancakes this morning were undercooked.  I used a mix of white SR flour and my WW bread flour and they were just gloopy on the inside! I wonder if it has anything to do with the flour. :S


I am going to try one more time today. I will go back to my treacle loaf recipe and follow it step by step and see what happens.

Fingers crossed because I am missing my new standard of bread. 


I am going to go bonkers if I cant eat yummy bread again!  :( 

manuela's picture


I found three interesting ways to shape Vienna rolls in an old professional bakers’ manual published in London in 1909. I scaled down the recipe given in the book—which originally called for 17 lb of flour—but I left it otherwise unchanged. The rolls bake beautifully crispy on the outside and have a nice layered interior. —— Clockwise from the bottom in the picture are shown the cannon roll, the horseshoe, and the twin or double roll.
instructions and pictures are here


susanfnp's picture

I made couronne Bordelaise for this month's BreadBakingDay ("shape" theme; deadline tomorrow so all you bread-shapers get yours in quick if you want to participate!)

Couronne Bordelaise

Detailed instructions here:

This is a pretty easy shape to do, and does not require a special banneton although they make them and I was sucker enough to get one. This is a good shape for slashophobes since no slashing is required.

holds99's picture

Nancy Silverton's Sourdough Whole Wheat BreadNancy Silverton's Sourdough Whole Wheat BreadSourdough Whole Wheat BreadSourdough Whole Wheat Bread

I made these loaves using Nancy Silverton's sourdough whole wheat recipe (The Breads From The LaBrea Bakery).  I previously posted the photos individually.  I hadn't made Ms. Silverton's recipe for a few years so it was a real challenge since I had to make the whole wheat sourdough starter from scratch and it took 3 days of T.L.C.  But I managed to get them into the oven without losing them.  She retards the dough in the fridge for 12-15 hours prior to bringing them out and allowing them to rise, in the bannetons, for 3-4 hours, at room temperture.  The large loaves were a real challenge as they barely fit onto the baking stone in my oven.  I doubled her recipe and made 4 boules (2 - 40 oz. loaves and 2 - 28 oz. loaves.  It was a bit dicey getting the large ones into the oven in one piece but I managed to do it.  The photo is the large loaves.  This exercise (getting them into the oven in one piece)  is good training for Cirque de Soliel. Anyway, I was pleased with the results.  As I said in my previous posting, I know the scoring isn't a work of art but I had to work quickly.  I had some minor problems with a single edge razor blade, scoring them, without tearing the skin but it worked out.  Next time I'm thinking about using a long surgeon's scalpel (only kidding). 


bwraith's picture

As I conducted my home ash content tests during the latest home milling and sifting session, a sourdough starter was accidentally started. The home ash content test involves mixing 5 grams of flour with 100 grams of distilled water, stirring it periodically, and measuring the conductivity of the water until it stabilizes, about 24 hours later. All of that time was spent at about 69F, the temperature of my kitchen in the winter. I noticed a familiar smell, something like yogurt, that was reminiscent of the early stages of some of the starter staring experiments I have conducted in the past. The pH was measured and, sure enough it was around 3.4 for all the jars I was testing, even though the jars had various flours including Heartland Mill AP, Golden Buffalo, and whole wheat, as well as various flours from my milling and sifting experiment.

Since the jars appeared to have fermentation activity in them, I decided to give a try at starting one up. After stirring up the slurry in the Golden Buffalo jar, 20 grams of it was mixed with 30 grams of flour to form a fairly firm dough, which was then placed on a shelf above my coffee machine with a temperature of about 79F. It was left there for 24 hours at the end of which it had risen slightly in volume and still had a bit of a sour milk or yogurt smell.

The culture at the end of 24 hours (48 hours from when the first 5 grams was mixed with water) was fed again by taking 5 grams of the culture and mixing it with 22g or Poland Springs water and 28g of KA AP flour. It was placed at 79F above the coffee machine for another 24 hours, and the result was that it had doubled in volume and was beginning to smell more tangy and vinegary like a typical mature sourdough starter. The consistency was a little runny with small bubbles, but it clearly seemed a little closer to a ripe, healthy sourdough starter than it was the day before.

The culture was again fed the same way and returned for another 24 hours to the 79F shelf above the coffee machine. It had risen by about 4x, smelled like a normal sourdough starter, and had the usual consistency of a somewhat ripe firm sourdough starter.

I'm sure it is ready to be used to make some bread. After starting so many of these starters in the last few years in various experiments, I know what a healthy one is like. It went so smoothly, it seemed worth mentioning, as it is a little different from the usual recipes.

To summarize this accidental process:

Day 1:

Mix 5 grams of very fresh whole wheat flour (or maybe white flour, as the Heartland Mill AP smelled much the same, though less intense) with 100 grams of distilled water (saves any trouble with chlorine, alkalinity or other problems with water), stir, and let sit, covered, at room temperature (I imagine at 79F would work, too) for 24 hours, stirring or swirling periodically.

Day 2:

Stir up the water and flour mixture and take 20 grams of it and place in a clean jar. Add 30 grams of white flour, stir into a thick paste or a firm dough, and let sit at around 79F (probably room temperature would also work, though it might take several more days, depending on how cold it is) for 24 hours.

Day 3 and beyond:

Feed the culture by taking 5 grams of the culture, mix with 20 grams of water and 28 grams of white flour. Let sit for 24 hours at 79F.

Probably you don't need distilled water anymore, in fact it may not be needed at all at the beginning either. It may be good to avoid chlorinated water. I use bottled water without any problems, but my well water is surprisingly alkaline and it seems to have been the cause of some problems with starting starters I've experienced in the past.

The culture should be ready when it no longer turns runny after rising by more than about 3x and has large bubbles in it if you cut into it with a spoon. With the feeding above, it should rise by more than 2x in about 4.5 hours at 79F, about 5.5 hours at 74F, or about 7.5 hours at 69F.

It might take several days longer, but this worked for me faster than any method I've tried in the past.

I suppose it's just a lucky but rare event, but it seemed like every single jar in all these home ash content measurements I've been doing have a very similar smell after 24 hours. I wouldn't be surprised if any of them would have started up by just feeding them.

It's also possible that some sort of cross contamination with my active starter occured, except I did these by mixing distilled water poured from a container that I believe couldn't possibly have had any contamination from my active starters. Also, I only stirred by swirling the jars and didn't use any stirrer or whisk. I did use a fork on subsequent days, but that fork had been through the dishwasher and never used to stir my active sourdough starter. I suppose the jar I used may have somehow had some residue of an active starter in it, but I had recently thoroughly cleaned the jars used in these experiments with soap and hot water.

Anyway, I'd be curious if anyone else gives this a try and it works for them, if you're curious to try it. The things that's a little different about this method from what I've read about or tried in the past is the very high initial hydration (2000%) at room temperature followed by immediate conversion to a firm white starter at a fairly warm 79F. I wonder if there is some unexpected advantage to this method.


gothicgirl's picture

This is something I sort of threw together for dinner Sunday.  I say 'sort of' because you can't just throw puff pastry together, but I already had that ready from the night before.  I just layered thin sliced apples with cinnamon and sugar on the pastry, baked it, and like magic it's dessert!

AnnieT's picture

I just took what might be my best loaf ever from the oven - and it sang to me for several minutes! The recipe (from my notebook) calls it Susan and JMonkey's Sourdough, and I had written "excellent" at the top of the page. It is the recipe that ferments 100g starter, 450g bread flour, 310g water and 10g salt overnight. Stretch and fold 3 times, shape boule and place in parchment lined banneton, spray with oil and refrigerate overnight. I preheated my stone to 500* and used the stainless steel bowl method. The amazing thing is that I used my discarded starter straight from the 'frig - I had saved it thinking maybe English muffins so it wasn't recently refreshed. I was also very surprised to see that the dough rose in the 'frig. I took a picture of the loaf and can't wait to check the crumb, and by golly I hope to post the pictures, A.


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