The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ejm's picture

A few mornings ago, I imagined that my wild yeast starter was all ready to make bread. I announced I would make focaccia with it to go with that evening's dinner of puy lentils and sausage. Silly me. I should have known this would be a mistake. My failures with my wild yeast are legion this winter. The focaccia dough failed entirely to rise. Not even a glimmer of a bubble. After several hours. So I stuck the slumping lump of dough in the fridge and made another announcement: I would make chapatis with wild yeast (ha) dough the next day, because they're made without yeast anyway. What a brilliant save!! The chapatis tasted faintly sour but they were absolutely wonderful. Especially when you consider that the dough might have been baked into a spectacularly terrible focaccia.
omelette and chapati
bnb's picture

 I made this recipe with half the amount of yeast called for in the original, keeping everything else the same. I don't like a discernible yeasty taste in bread so this turned out purrrrrrr-fect. No yeasty taste or smell. Moist, soft and delicious.






zhi.ann's picture

My second attempt at using yeast!

I discovered one packet of my yeast, labeled as 18g, results in more than 35 ml (about 7 tsp or 2 1/3 Tbsp) of dry yeast. Is it okay that I store what I don't use in an airtight tupperware-type container, in a dark cabinet?

storing yeast

I started preparing for the pretzels at 8:10 pm using floyd's recipe here.

I wasn't sure how to activate my yeast, not sure whether to mix in or let it sit on top of the water, but I think it worked correctly; at first, nothing seemed to happen but after a few minutes a thickish layer of tan foamish stuff was on the top.

activating dry yeast

My brown sugar comes in hard blocks I have to chop up to make like a powder. It wasn't as fine as it could of been if I kept chopping, but after quite awhile, I put it in there. Is it okay that my brown sugar wasn't super-fine?

not too fine brown sugar

I had to add a ton of flour, probably 550 ml (2.5 cups) above the original 240 ml (1 cup).

I also didn't know how to knead until satiny. After just a minute or two, it seemed smoother than before, but as I continued kneading it quickly became rougher, and after 8 minutes of kneading and not being sure what I was looking for, I moved on. Also, despite the added flour, it still stuck to the cutting board a lot.

This may be because of the consistency being off, but I couldn't figure out how to "roll" my dough into logs. I kind of squeezed them into the logs, rolling as much as I could (not much) to make them round, and I came out with very inconsistent sizes with loops that didn't want to stick at all.

pretzel logs

I used the eggwash.

I didn't know whether to grease the baking sheet, and whether the salt was needed (I always scrape the salt off my pretzels cuz I don't like the taste). I salted one, put garlic powder on one, and left the others plain.

pretzels, pre-baking

At this point (I know better now) I thought I should only turn on the bottom, not the top, heating element for baking. After 6 minutes, my pretzels were so HUGE, they didn't really have holes anymore. Oh well.

The tops weren't browning at all (obviously since I didn't have any heat up there) but the bottoms were turning yucky black, so I took them out.

pretzels, post-baking

You know what? They tasted really good. They taste to me like breadsticks, not pretzels, but still yummy. My husband melted some butter with garlic powder mixed in, and it made a great dip. I liked the garlic powder pretzel best, and wonder whether I could brush them with the butter/garlic powder mix rather than the egg, or in addition?

pretzel inside - yum!

Looking forward to trying this again:
-with both heating elements on
-rolling the dough out thinner so the pretzels will look more like pretzels
-potentially brushing with butter/onion powder, based on people here's suggestions
-anything else people suggest for me 

siuflower's picture

Make you own diastatic malt

You can make your own:  sprout a cup of wheat berries by covering
them with water in a jar for 12 or so hours, dump out the water &
rinse with clean water, and place the jar in a darkish, warmish,
place.  Rinse the berries every day with clean water and return to
their place.

In 2-3 days they will begin to sprout.  When the sprout is as long as
the berries themselves, dump them out on paper towels, dry them off,
and set on a cookie sheet in the sun for a day or so to dry out. Then
put the cookiesheet in a 100F oven for an hour or three.  Do not let
the temp get above 130F or the enzymes will be destroyed.

Then grind the dried malted berries into flour, and use it in your
favorite recipe at a rate of approx. 1t. per loaf.


I am new to this blog but I also could not find any diastatic malt in AL, so I search the internet and happened to find a web site to make your own diastatic malt. I did not saved the web address but I did copy the recipe and I did follow the direction and make my own diastatic  malt. I hope it will help some of you  to make your own diatatic malt. I sprout 1/4 cup of wheat berry instead of 1 cup and grounded it and store in the freezer.



slothbear's picture

  my standard challah for company.  1/3 King Arthur white whole wheat, 1/4 c dark flax seed meal.

Since my husband is out of town, I fished for a Shabbos invitation at a close friend's house. He was going to be out all day, so I volunteered to bake the challah. I haven't made one for them before, and I always do a six-strand loaf for my debut. It has about 1/3 King Arthur white whole wheat, and 1/4 c dark flax seed meal.

suzanneulrich's picture

How do I get good oven spring?  My loaves come out looking just like they did when I put them in.  Am I not letting them rise enough, or too much?  Did I exhaust my yeast?   The crumb is a little dense, but not bad.

carltonb's picture


Announcing SFBI's First Book!

Advanced Bread and Pastry BookThe San Francisco Baking Institute is pleased to announce the publication of our first book: Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach.

Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach is a comprehensive guide to bread and pastry, designed as a resource for colleges and universities, private culinary schools, professionals, and dedicated enthusiasts.Balancing a respect for tradition with modern approaches to method and technique, Advanced Bread and Pastry unites appealing presentation and indispensable instruction. It is written to help today's instructor and baker respond to the recent evolution of ingredients, products, and presentation in the baking industry. The recipes (called formulas) are based on a variety of classic methods and processes. With this strong foundation of knowledge, a baker or pastry chef can develop further skills, experiment with new ideas, and understand any formula.







Carlton Brooks CEBC, CCE

Mesa, Arizona


Karen K's picture
Karen K

I made the whole rye and wheat sourdough rye from Laurel's Kitchen using the steaming method. It is the best tasting bred I've ever had! I would like to show what it looks like but image is too big. I'll work on that. Karen K

dolfs's picture

Today I made Norm's recipe for Irish Soda Bread. Discussion here and elsewhere has me convinced that his Americanized version is more appropriately called Spotted Dog.

Norm's Spotted Dog (Soda Bread)
Norm's Spotted Dog (Soda Bread)

I made 4 loaves. Two loaves were in 7" cake pans, but I used 1 lb 5 oz of dough instead of Norm's suggested 1 lb and 2 oz. The other two were in square pans a little larger and I guesstimated 1 lb 10 oz each. Otherwise I followed Norm's formula to the letter. Mixing was done by first mixing the shortening with the flour, and then adding the remaining dry ingredients, mixing again, and finally the buttermilk and water. I did this by hand using a dough whisk. Since I had 4 pans in the oven at the same time I baked at 350 convection (my oven's thermostat is on the low side so this is not as bad as it seems). Towards the end I even cranked it up to 375F convection to get some more browning. Start to finish (cooling time not included) a little over 1 hour.

Norm's Spotted Dog (Soda Bread) Crumb
Norm's Spotted Dog (Soda Bread) Crumb 

Never made this before, nor tasted it before. The crumb came out really nice and soft, but I think it could have used a little more raisins. Tasted delicious with a little (lot) of butter on top! Thanks Norm. 




See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

AnnieT's picture

I walked over to a local thrift store while my car was in for an oil change and was thrilled to find a copy of The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz - for $2! I was able to do a quick scan while waiting for my car and it looks like a keeper. Does anyone have this book? Any comments, favorite recipes, errors? Now if I could only find a used (slightly) DLX mixer... A.


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