The Fresh Loaf

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holds99's picture

For my first attempt at English muffins I decided to try Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe from her Bread Bible.  The recipe uses a sponge/poolish and is an enriched (with butter and honey) dough.  I followed her recipe to the letter, except for diameter size.  After mixing I placed the dough in the fridge overnight for retardation.  She says it can stay in the fridge up to 24 hours. I left it in for about 12 hours.   The recipe calls for rolling the dough out while it is cold and cutting round 3 1/2 inch diameter  rounds (I cut them 4 inches in diameter).  Place them on a pan sprinkled with corn meal and sprinkle the tops lightly with corn meal, then allow them to rise (covered) until double in volume.

 Rose Levy No. 1Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 1

Photo below: Then place each dough round on a lightly buttered, griddle heated to medium.  Cook on one side for 10 minutes, flip them over and cook on the other side for about half previous time (5 minutes) until they reach an internal temp. of 190 deg. F 

 Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

Photo Below: The front 2 rows are the tops (after being flipped and cooked 5 minutes).  The back 2 rows are the bottoms (after cooking for 10 minutes).

  Rose Levy No. 3

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 3

The photo below is the crumb of the muffin.

 Rose Levy No. 4

Rose Levy Beranbaum's English Muffins: Rose Levy No. 4


In the opening passage of her recipe she says: "This incredibly smooth and supple dough is almost identical to the one for Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf (page 244).  Therein lies the problem. The muffins DO NOT resemble English muffins with the firm texture and craggy holes in the crumb.  The crumb was way too doughy and more like the texture of Wonder Bread than English Muffin. 

With all due respect to Rose Levy, who I think has written a terrific book (Bread Bible), which I bake from frequently---I would be less than honest if I didn't say strike this one from your "To Bake" list.

Dougal has posted a version of Dan Lepard's recipe for crumpets that I plan to try next.  Thank you Dougal.  I'll keep you posted.




ejm's picture

Onion Rings - June 2008

I've been meaning for ages to rave about the onion rings we made weeks ago using Tanna's (My Kitchen in Half Cups) brilliant idea for using up left over sludge after feeding the wild yeast. They were fabulous!! And very very bad for us. Because we want to have onion rings every day. This is not good. I really don't want to have to buy new trousers.

ehanner's picture

Mark's Olive Loaf post got me thinking about the flavors I like and what would work well in bread. There are a few combinations that seem to be naturally delicious in other situations. Garlic/lemon/olive oil for example or swap the lemon with another acid, say basalmic vinegar or some other milder vinegar. The contrast between the elements seems to be what makes my senses perk up. Chicken wings with strong garlic and lemon is good. Mint jelly with hot pepper is a surprise treat. Each is a clear distinct flavor on it's own. Sugar on tomatoes and salt on water melon are two more that make the point.

Recently I bought a quantity of large green olives stuffed with blue cheese that were really good. I've also had stuffed with Gorgonzola that were out of this world delicious. I've used both in bread along with stuffed with garlic with good results.

The thing is, and this is a totally subjective opinion, I like to be able to identify the flavors clearly. There are times when I enjoy a hint of this or after taste of that, like with wines, but for me, good garlic bread makes a statement. 

Along the same line, most of the music written in my life time that has become popular, is clean. That is to say you can identify and clearly hear the primary artist. You get to enjoy the personality of the singer or instrumental. Think about the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Sarah Brightman, Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all share that quality of clean clear, timeless sound. I try to season my foods with the same thought in mind. No screaming allowed, strong clear flavors that add to the base.

Good bread has a certain wholesome aroma depending on the type of bread, that sets the stage. Then if we are careful there is an after taste that stays on the toung that reminds of nuts or wheat fields. Adding a complementary flavor such as olives or savory seasonings or cheeses complicates the taste and (in my humble opinion) needs to be approached with respect for the over all outcome. To many flavors end up being a muddy taste.

Anyway, for what it's worth, that's my approach to flavors. Green tea with lemon and honey, Rustic farm loaf with rosemary, Deli Rye with caraway, apple pie with cinnamon, Bruchetta with basil and feta, Pita stuffed with tomato salad and Chili powder. These are some of my favorites.

Now I'm hungry!


lioness7's picture

Hello out there,

Can the person who produced that beautiful loaf of semolina sandwich bread bless me with their expertise or someone who has baked it since then and had the same results.

I've purchased some semolina flour from my local Wholefoods market but  in reading the receipe, I'm confused because it says something about  using durum flour.

Please instruct me.




paddyboomsticks's picture

Ahhhh. Experiments. Sometimes they go right. Right = Happy Paddy. Prancing about the lounge, lovingly gazing at my creations, and hopelessly covetous; I regret eating the beautiful food I have created! Even though it tastes sooooooo good! Bad experiment. Sigh. Bad = Sad, Angry Paddy. A divot in my brow like a hole in a golf course. Not even Survivor is enough to make me smile. Today was a success. Four baked goods, three experiments, and potentially three successes - two guaranteed.

1. Cinnamon Scrolls
From my lovely friend Sarah. I have been meaning to make these for a while. Sarah said they were easy, and hot damn she was right! I'll be making this babies over and over. Delicious, and surprisingly low on the butter and sugar. Yeasty though. Lord are they yeasty!



2. Danishes From the inimitable Wild Yeast. I confess - I had grave doubts and concerns about this one. The recipe is really (ultimately a little needlessly, in my opinion) complex - there are dozens of steps, with hours rest in between. Puff Pastry traditional works through a kind of lamination process - where you roll it out flat, and butter it - over and over and over. Keeping the dough cold is crucial. It's not a fun process, and in my opinion the gains over store bought puff are marginal at best. This is a different process, it involves rolling out a barely incorporated dough with _huge_ chunks of butter in it. I admit I was skeptical, but wouldn't you be? Look at this! Look at the butter! Ye gods! THE BUTTTTTTTEERRRR!

So you have to roll it out:

*Hands belong to Awesome BakeFriend Pat. Unbelievably, it started to incorporate. The dough - partly because it's so cold - is very stiff. Stiff and yellow. It reminded me of nothing so much as pasta dough in its qualities. After appropriate chill-out times, you have to shape it. Because I need to change my middle name to: "Let's Make A Double Batch!", Pat and I had quite a few danishes ready to go: way too many for my meagre kitchen.... 38 or so...

After, smear on the cream cheese mix, peach halves, morello cherries and boysenberries, then you're good to go!


I couldn't believe it: they tasted as good as the looked!!!


Key learnings from this: Breaking up this recipe as Wild Yeast implies can be done is probably a good idea. Individually, the steps are not too time consuming. All together they are pretty damn time consuming. The biggest step is combining the butter and the flour. That's a lotta rolling!

This said, I think that this recipe could do with some work: all those refrigeration times are definitely not required. They are only there to keep the dough cold. If the weather is cold, or you're able to contain yourself and keep your groping hands off the dough, they won't be necessary.

Also: I would be reluctant to refrigerate the dough to the outside of those time limits. 4 days, etc. is a really long time in the fridge. Too long, in my opinion. Sure it would work, just maybe not well. Finally: don't use too much cream cheese; it will inhibit the rise a bit if you do.


3. Jeffrey Hamelman's 66% Rye Sourdough from Bread. Still getting the hang of Hamelman, I think. His book is a tremendous wealth of knowledge, but the two recipes I have tried so far, whilst not bad, haven't been up there with my favourite recipes.

I am finding his doughs in general have a higher hydration than I would expect, and the dough then has a kind of satiny, silky feel. Also, I'm not getting the proofing rises that I general ly expect from these doughs.

Both recipes I have made so far have stayed very flat in the proofing process, far less than my trusted recipes. I've waited over his leavening times, and still, not much action. I get an oven rise, to be sure. but it's - hmmmm - it's just not quite right.

Despite slashing, I get rise lifting up the bottom of the loaf (hexagon loaves! No fun!). Also I find on cutting the bread that I get a slightly dense, almost rubbery texture - not the soft or chewy texture I generally prefer. This all said, I haven't cut the loaf yet, so the jury's out. Has anyone else tried out this loaf or the Vermont sourdough? The loaves are the front two in the first pic.


4. My Trusty, Delicious Wholemeal Loaf. From Boas, formerly of Folding Pain, now of Grain Power. I have to say; this is the my favourite bread that I have ever cooked, and that's saying something. The flavour is brilliant. The texture: both soft and chewy. It keeps well, and makes great toast. And most importantly, it's practically indestructible - you can screw around with it endlessly and it still holds up. This recipe is fantastic.

What a blissful day of baking! I wish every day was like this!

Rosalie's picture

I'm indexing the bread recipes in all my books (quite a task) and I'm getting a chance to see what all recipes I have.  In one book, "Making Bread at Home" by Tom Jaine, I found this 100% whole grain recipe: German Sourdough Rye Bread.

Your starter uses 60g wholegrain rye flour, 1/4 cup water at 110 degrees, and a pinch of caraway seeds.  You leave that at about 80 degrees for two days, stirring twice a day.  As always, I used my oven with the light on.

Then you make the leaven using 2 tablespoons fo the starter, 1 1/4 cups water at 110 degrees, and 300g more of the rye flour, leaving that for eight hours at about 85 degrees.  Again, I used the oven with the light on.  80 degrees, 85 degrees, I take what I can get.

Finally you take 500g wholewheat flour, 300g rye, 15g fresh yeast (I used 8g active dry), 1 3/4 cup water at 110 degrees, 2 teaspoons salt, and the ripe leaven.  You mix the dry ingredients and make a depression to add the wet.  I was surprised that there was no more mention of caraway seeds, so I just added 1 tablespoon - maybe it should have been 2 (I like caraway).  I also added 1/2 (I think) cup gluten for two reasons:  I really wanted this to succeed, and I have it in my arsenal so I may as well use it.  After you get it all mixed together, you let it rest for ten minutes in a warm spot, then you knead for at least ten minutes.

Next it rises at about 85 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until "nearly doubled".  I was so surprised at how well my concoction rose!

Finally you shape.  He has you dividing into two loaves and baking them either together in an 8.5x4.5x2.5 inch pan or separately in two 7.5x3.5x2.25 pans.  I divided them into eight mini-loaves.  The shaped loaves rise for 30-45 minutes, and the oven heats to 450 degrees.

You place them on an upper rack and bake for 20 minutes (15 for the two smaller pans) at each of 450, 400, 350, spraying three times in the first five minutes.  I just realized that I misread these instructions and didn't bake as long as the recipe called for, but they turned out fine (200+ internal temp) because they were mini loaves.

I simplified the directions, believing all you artisans can fill in between the lines.

Anyway, not bad.

 Nellie considers my German Sourdough Rye Bread by Tom JaineNellie and my German Sourdough Rye Bread: Nellie considers my German Sourdough Rye Bread by Tom Jaine

proth5's picture

“The sun did not shine,

It was too wet to play…”                         From “The Cat in the Hat” Dr Seuss

Yes, a day of rain and record cold in the Mile High City and we all go nuts.  We aren’t accustomed to anything but sunshine.


So I decided to finally write up my two levain experiment.


The question that was innocently asked:  Why does my levain, with my less than precise maintenance routine still live, thrive, and reliably raise bread?  In theory, it should be dead.  But it is not.


BWraith had put forth the theory (and I tended to think it reasonable) that I might be raising a bunch of l. pontis which is typically found in culture with a low feeding ratio.  We also theorized that if I changed the feeding ratio, the levain would struggle a bit, but a transition to a different lactobacillus would occur.


So for the past few months I have been maintaining two levains.  One, my beloved Thing One, fed as usual.  Once a day – Thursday through Sunday, “some” of it is removed and it is fed with 4 ounces each of all purpose flour and water.  No exact feed ratio – just me eyeballing “some” based on- well, whatever it is I base this on.  Sunday afternoon to Thursday evening it is kept in a special refrigerator at 50F.  Thursday through Sunday it lives either on the counter in my kitchen, or during particularly hot days in my cool basement. (Yes, I know, once a day isn’t enough.  And yet, it is…)


Thing Two – created from Thing One – was fed at a 1:5:5 ratio over that period of months.  It never left Thing One’s side – so it lived under the same conditions and schedules.  I was as careful as I could be about cross contamination.


Would they be different in any way?


During the summer I still baked something each week (You gotta eat…).  I alternated between Thing One and Thing Two.  To be honest, I was unable to tell the difference in any of my baking.  Thing Two did not struggle or fail to double at any time.


But if I did any analysis, would they be different?


.2 oz of a ripe sample of each in a container showed me (if it is not clear in the picture) that they were practically identical.  Thing Two was, however a bit stiffer, probably reflecting the fact that the gluten had not degraded as much as that for Thing One – which seems reasonable.

From the bucket


Mixed with .4 oz of distilled water (so that a pH strip could be used) they each showed a pH of 3.5.  It had been theorized that the pH of Thing One should be lower – but no – they were identical.

Thing One pH


Thing Two pH

Each sample was mixed with .4 oz of all purpose flour and allowed to ripen for four hours.  Both rose nicely and well, I’ll be horn swoggled if I can tell the difference.  If I hadn’t labeled them, I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The Builds


So what have I learned?   Uh, nothing?  That the inner life of levain is a deep mystery?  Just how determined those guys are to live?  That I need to get out more?


I have been unable to find anyone willing to determine just which variety of lactobacillus is living in my levain tubs, but would welcome input from anyone who could help.  Or any insight (Bill…) at all.


I really don’t know.  I do know that a practiced hand and eye counts for something in this bread making business and I’ve been tending Thing One for years.  It could be that we just “get” each other.


Happy Baking!

Janedo's picture

I made Anis's baguettes and they came out rather nicely. I was very happy o finally get a good result. But, see, I don't really like yeast bread. Other than sweet doughs, I don't really see the point. So, right away, I decided to take the basic recipe and the techniques and see how a sourdough version would come out. I tried pure sourdough and maintain my dislike. The crumb is just too chewy for my taste. So, the next step was to try it with a touch of yeast. The result was perfect to my liking!

Now, unfortunately I'm having computer trouble.  I can't open Gimp my program that I use to make my pictures small enough to post here. But I posted my results on my blog here:

They could have used a few more minutes baking and my pictures are light (they weren't that light in real life).

I used a firm starter because I really don't like the flavour of a white bread retarded all night in the fridge from a liquid starter. Too soury for my liking. The firm was great for my taste. 

Here's the recipe:

500g T65 flour organic

375g water 

125g firm starter (made the night before from around 30g starter, 90g flour and 40g water) 

10g natural grey sea salt (it really is tastier!) 

1/4 tsp yeast (could maybe have used less, but it worked)


A BIG thanks to Pat (Proth5) who introduced my to folding instead of kneading. I put all the ingredients in a bowl, mixed pretty well, then did 20 folds with the spatula turning 1/5th turn, so I went 3 times around the bowl (as Hamalman explains in his no-knead bread). Let the dough rest 30 min, 20 folds, 30 min 20 folds, 30 min., 20 folds, then after 1h30, in to the fridge for the night.

Next day, the dough is weighed and portioned while cold. Preformed, let to sit for one hour as it comes to room temps.

Oven turned on at 250°C. I wanted that stone HOT!!!! It makes a huge difference for baguettes.

Shaped the dough in  to short baguettes, let rest a few minutes and then stretched them into the desired length (like the Acme baguettes). I made five out of this recipe.

Placed on to the couche, seam side up, let to sit covered 45-60 min.

My husband found me a nice collection of boards in the basement that I rubbed with flour and then sprinkled with flour and semoule. With a thin one I flipped the baguettes and then placed them on a larger one as a peel. I could slide on two at a time.

Poured hot water into the pan in the bottom of the oven, slid in the baguettes, got the others, slid them in and then steamed again.

Baked 25min but could have used a touch more. Anis made his apprentice put some back in the oven that I thought were baked well. Now I understand the problem. They can look baked on top because of the nigh heat, but aren't necessarily.

I think that's about it. Steve if you're around, I put a link to you kneading video because I also use that for my wet dough. It's great!!

I have sleep baby on my lap, so I hope I haven't forgotten anything, but wanted to post because time is so limited these days. It took me AGES to do the blog post! It's long and lots of pics.

Cheers everyone!




sparks's picture

Hi to all of you who make Greensteins corn rye bread.

I have temporarlly stopped making this bread, because I could not find a way to stop the knife from gumming up while slicing it the next day. There is a way of stopping the knife from gumming up, but I have not found the way to do it. If any one accomplishes this, I sure would like to know how you did it. I tried everything imaginable with out getting the results that I wanted. I remember seeing corn rye breads in corner grocery stores many years ago in 5 to 8 pound round loaves,  which they sold by the pound, and they did not get the knife gummed up to slice it. Keep me posted if someone should ever solve this problem.


funtime365's picture

Please tell me where can i buy small quantity of Enzyme in US.Thanks.


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