The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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breadnerd's picture

This weekend I was very happy to find Harvest King Flour at my local grocery. I used Harvest King in my baking classes, and convinced my boss to use it at the bakery I helped start up. I liked its creamy color, and that it was formulated for longer, cooler rises and artisan breads. I'm hoping to find the retail variety similar in quality--so far, so good.


Since Mountaindog has inspired me to look at the Artisan Baking book (I think I'll just start calling it ABAA!), I re-read the ciabatta recipe and found it different than most. Like the Essential Columbia recipe, it has a little wheat and rye flour, and uses a firm pre-ferment (this time a biga). I've been using a wet poolish (or my sourdough levain).


I was pretty good at following the ciabatta formula, though I did use a little more yeast as it's cold here and things have been moving slowly in my house. Of interest, the recipe calls for dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in a cup of water, and then using only a teaspoon of that liquid! I felt it was safe to use an entire tablespoon of the yeast-water--and my biga did perform pretty much as described (just about tripled in size in 24 hours at cool room temperature). Actually it could have been more developed, it was risen but not very light or airy once I pulled it apart. The dough in the formula is described as "gloopy" and they're not kidding. I thought I had my ciabatta dough wet enough in the past, but this was extreme--nearly batter. There's no way I could have benched this as I normally do, so I left it in the bowl for several "turns" (which were in fact more like stirring with a spatula). After a few turns it was starting to develop into dough--much like the NYT no knead bread in texture. The last turn I could do on a floured bench, and I returned it to the bowl for another hour or so of rising. I divided it into four loaves (instead of 2 per the recipe) and made an error in my final proofing--I forgot to put the seam-side down. So, my final loaves were baked 2 seam down, and 2 seam up to compare. In any case I was very happy with the results:



I forgot to take a "crumb shot" but the texture was much better--larger holes, but not too large or out of control. We had roast beef sandwiches for dinner which were literally to die for :) I do like the flavor I get from using the levain, so I might try that next time, with the new techniques learned on this batch!


Also on the hearth this day was a batch of Vermont Sourdough (as I have BREAD checked out from the library):



Apparently trying to video yourself scoring loaves causes some performance problems! I'm going to try to compile a video of slashing and find a way to post the edited version---Anyway, this loaf has some nice ears but the round loaf behind it has a definite "blow-out" that I've conveniently hidden from view!

Wayne's picture

 With floydm's assistance, I think I finally figured out how to post pictures.  Hope this one posts ok.  This recipe is courtesy of "Artisan Breads" featuring Kossar's Onion Bialy's.  Thanks Floyd for your help.

beanfromex's picture

Last week I continued the experiments I have been doing since I learned about this method of bread baking.

I doubled the original recipe and followed the rest of the instructions but for using cornmeal instead of wheat bran ( I had none ).

I was even happier with this loaf. Doubling the recipe will be the norm for me from now on. I might even try tripling it.

I also kept the oven temperature as high as possible, probably about 500F. The crust was deep golden brown tinged with dark brown bits and looked great.

The four women to whom I served this bread have since asked me to teach them to do it. They also devoured the entire loaf, this kind of bread not easily being available here in southern mexico.

For ease, I cannot imagine improving on this method and recipe.

Now that we are going into a warmer season, my bread will be in the fridge, as my kitchen is now about 80F.  

now, if only I can get my ciabatta to work as well......

 Hasta luego.

JMonkey's picture

Many, many months ago, when I first started making sourdough, I tried making sourdough waffles with some leftover starter.

Man, was I disappointed. The flavor was nice, but the recipe said to expect some cool chemistry, and I saw none. What's more, these waffles were heavy and tough. Chewy. I like a crispy waffle with a tender, airy interior. Though the taste was good, these definitely did not fit the bill.

Then, last night, after I'd set up the final build for today's weekly sourdough bake, I had a revelation. I was making a no-knead version of white flour sourdough (odd for me, as those of you who know me know that I'm a health-nut hippie crunchy whole-wheat kind of guy. But every so often, I get a white bread craving, and, besides, we had company coming over. So what the hell?), and I had some starter left over. I hate throwing the stuff away. Glancing over at the unkneaded dough that would essentially knead itself while I slept, it suddenly hit me.

"Duh. You were using AP and whole wheat BREAD flour in the sponge for the waffles. No wonder it was tough. The stuff kneaded itself into bread dough!"


So I went to the freezer, where I had a bag of leftover soft white whole wheat flour (i.e. whole wheat pastry flour -- I grind my own, but Bob's Red Mill sells an excellent whole wheat pastry flour. Their regular whole wheat bread flour? Not so much.) I figured I had enough starter and flour for a half batch of the recipe I'd used before, which made six waffles. Plenty for my wife, my 3-year-old daughter and me. So using the sourdough waffle recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion as a guide, I whipped up a whole wheat version.

What a difference pastry flour makes. These were the lightest, crispiest, tastiest waffles I'd ever had. And, they were 100% whole wheat. I promise, if you make them with whole wheat pastry flour, especially WHITE whole wheat pastry flour, no one's going to know the difference:


  • 6 ounces or about 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbs sweetener (honey, agave syrup, sugar, maple sugar, whatever)
  • 9 ounces or 1 cup and 2 Tbs butttermilk
  • 2 ounces or 1/4 cup of active sourdough starter, preferably whole wheat, but not required. Should be the wet kind (i.e. 100% hydration.)

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

    Mix up the sponge the night before. Cover it and let it sit. The next morning, it should be very bubbly. In another bowl, beat the egg with the melted butter until light, and then mix in the salt and baking soda. Dump this mixture into the sponge -- if the sponge is acidic enough, it should jump when it hits the alkaline baking soda. Mix it all together and then spoon it into a hot waffle iron. You'll know your waffle iron better than mine, but it usually takes about 2-3 minutes. I judge by the volume of steam -- when it starts to dissapate, they're usually done.

    This recipe makes six traditional waffles. If you've got a Belgian waffle maker, I'm afraid you'll have to find out for yourself how many it will make, but no matter. The recipe stands well to doubling, even quadrupeling, and leftover waffles freeze beautifully, so don't worry about making too many. When you want one for breakfast, just pop it direclty into the toaster from the freezer. Delicious.

    If you want to use up more starter than I did, simply double the amount of starter and only add 1 cup (8 ounces) of buttermilk and 5 ounces (1 cup + 1 Tbs) of flour.

  • country-arts's picture

    Hi everyone, I teach bread-making classes, and have really enjoyed making Pain a L'Ancienne.  The flavor and texture is like nothing I've ever tasted.  How long have you found to be the best rising time after shaping/before baking for the biggest holes?  In Reinhart's book, he gives no rising time - it sounds like anytime after you shape the baguettes up to an hour later?  Let me know, any of you out there with experience.  Thanks & Kind regards 

    Floydm's picture

    Tonight I baked white bread.

    White Bread

    Nothing artisan or fancy about this, just good, simple home cooking. The kind of bread you eat right out of the oven.

    I fudged the recipe. It was basically:

    3 cups all-purpose flour

    1 cup very warm milk

    2 tablespoons melter butter

    2 tablespoon honey

    2 teaspoons instant yeast

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Mix in the standmixer for 10. Let rise covered for an hour, shape, place in a greased pan, cover, allow another hour to rise. Bake at 350 for roughly 45 minutes.

    White bread

    Quick, simple, easy, and absolutely perfect.



    anawim_farm's picture

    Please share your experiences or experiments working with your favorite whole grain recipes.  What are your flour percentages, grain content and recipes for your favorite breads? I started baking sour dough wheat and rye breads and would like to try baking with multiple whole grains.

    These photos were an experiment this weekend working with multigrain dough. A yeast and unbleached bread flour Poolish later combined with a mix of unbleached , whole wheat, Oat Bran, Rye flours and milled flaxseed.  Also added to the loaf were tamari roasted sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds and rolled oats.  The crumb was surprisingly light and flavorful, the crust was crispy with a nutty flavor that was accentuated by the tamari oil and browned sesame seeds.

    harmon2005's picture

    I'm new to baking.  Recently tried to make a couple of sandwich breads but mine turns out fairly dense.  I even baked longer to see if that would help but I think it's the contents.  What's the key to making light fluffy breads?

    kgreg's picture

    Many years ago I went to a place no longer open called "The Lincoln Del".  I use to buy a loaf of bread called Egg Bread.  It was not sweet, but very yellow in color and was great.  It seemed very moist and elastic.  Does anyone know what this may be or how I could get the recipe.  I have tried to make it at home, but the consistancy of the bread was not correct. 

    Altariel's picture

    This was not posted in 1969!

    When visiting France as a child (many many years ago) I ate 'real' French bread...slightly sour, porous and sticky and utterly delicious.

    On recent visits it appeared that bakeries sold the same kind of ubiquitous bread sticks one finds in the world's supermarkets.  Has anyone a recipe for the genuine article? I love making bread, both by hand and machine, but this one eludes me. Is there a secret in the flour?


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