The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Floydm's picture

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what this site is for. Part of the reason I've been thinking about this is my recent employment at Mercy Corps, but the disputes the last few days have brought to my attention that we don't all come here with the same expectations about what this site is trying to do. So let me riff a little about what I think think The Fresh Loaf is about. I'll admit up front, I'm not entirely certain either, and as the site has grown my feelings may have changed and probably will continue to do so. Still, some reflection is worthwhile, and hopefully it'll help explain why some things set me off.

The site is a little over two years old. In that time we've had people come and go, but a decent number of regulars have hung around. Many of them (as well as new members) have commented that they don't tend to post to online communities but that this one is different. People here are more helpful, more courteous, less judgmental, more humane than on most other boards.

As the site grows, I'm coming to realize that *that* is what I want to cultivate here. More than the recipes, more than the photos, more than anything else it is the kindness and the humanity that I want to see flourish. Given the choice between this become the most authoritative bread baking site online but run by a bunch of a**holes or a site full of compassionate, caring, but perhaps mediocre bakers, I will hands down choose the latter. That said, I think we have some very talented bakers here and the site content keeps getting better and better. I don't think kindness needs be thrown aside to achieve greatness.

Mercy Corps' motto, which I see and think about every day, is a quote from Gandhi: "Be The Change." In our every day interactions with one another, we can make the world a better place. I honestly think what we've been doing here is consistent with that mission. Every time a baker on one side of the world helps a baker on the other side of the world regardless of borders, race, or religion, we make the world a better place. Every time someone who has been wanting to try to bake something but has been too intimidated to finally tries it because we gave them the confidence to and it brings joy to them and their loved ones, we make the world a better place. Every time we post a tip or a hint we are focusing on our common humanity by sharing our passions with one another rather than focus on our differences and by doing so, in a small way, we are making the world a better place.

As I've mentioned, I worked with Peter Reinhart and the other Brother Juniper's bakers while in high school. I watched how they took something as simple as neighborhood cafe and used it to bring kindness, joy, inspiration, love, and caring into people's lives. They did things far nobler that anything I've done here, such as provide food for the terminally ill and employ a number of people with handicaps that made it difficult for them to find work elsewhere. Their model has inspired me to think about the mission of this site as something more than just exchanging recipes.

I'm continuing to think about how we can use this site to be an agent for positive change in the world, both on micro-level ("offer encouragement to excited new bakers") to the macro-level ("could we do a World Bread Day fundraiser for people who can't even afford to put bread on the table?"). I think we can do more with it.

All that said, I am grateful to the people on this site who come here each day and share their talents and experience. By doing so they enrich my life and the lives of many others.

Floydm's picture

We had a lovely dinner over at some friends house this evening. The only downside was there was no bread or starch of any kind with the meal. Being the carbivore that I am, I was very pleased that I had some sourdough loaves waiting to be baked when I got home.

I haven't baked sourdough in three or four weeks. I was pleased to see my starter is still alive:

Not the best sourdough I've ever made, but not bad. It does seem to have been improved by the fact that we were out for 6 hours and it got an extra long final fermentation.

Floydm's picture

This was the second time today I've prepared a post and then lost it. Perhaps I should take that as a sign and log off.

This is the latest variation on the whole wheat honey bread I've baked. Less honey and with sunflower seeds. Quite good, quite simple to prepare.

Dutchbaker's picture

I have been experimenting with Pugliese lately.  I adapted the Pulgiese recipe from Beranbaum's BB this weekend using my stiff sourdough starter.  I was pleasantly suprised with the results.  It was a nice airy loaf with an open crumb.   The crust was a little tough, but I am still using 100% rice flour to coat the banneton.  I would like to try the bread flour and rice flour mixture next time, to see if I can get a crisper thin crust.


pjkobulnicky's picture

I did a forum post a week or so ago asking if anyone knew more than me about making Joe Ortiz's Pain de Seigle de Thiezac . I didn't get any comments so I supposed the answer was no. So .. here is an update.

This bread is supposed to be all rye made solely with a natural starter. Ortiz humanely suggests that the beginner incorporate a bit of white flour and some yeast into the final dough. Even so, the first time I tried this it was a bear to make. Super glue has nothing over on pure rye dough. And ... pure rye starters that are not soupy wet are, how shall we say this ... subtle in their demonstration of activity. I also feel that Ortiz's transcriptions of bakery recipes for the home baker are poorly executed in print. (Joe ... if you read this I do apologize). He has the recipe starting not from an existing starter but from making a stiff levan from scratch. So ... the novice will spend 2-3 days waiting for something to happen and it may never happen. Or, since the action is so subtle, you may never know if you are successful. Anyone knows that it is MUCH easier to get a starter going with a wet solution. Then, once you have a working starter you innoculate another levan with it.

So, I spent the week getting a good starter going and when it came time to do Joe's recipe, I mixed a bit of the starter into the first levan mixture.

Joe doesn't give weights and Joe makes no mention of proofing temps. So ... I used the usual standard weights for cups of rye and white flour. I did the levan and the first refeshment at room temp (curretly about 60 in our house) over long times. The first (innoculated) levan went for almost 24 hours and the refreshment went for 8 hours. When I put the dough together with the wee bit of yeast, I move it to my proof box at 85 degrees where it went for 45 minutes. Then I shaped it ... not too tough and with less additonal flour to manipulate the sticky dough than with cibatta. I put it into a round shape and put it into a heavily, heavily floured round cane banneton using rye flour. It went back to the proof box for another 45 minutes. The oven preheated (450) with my stone for the 45 minutes. The loaf popped right out of the banneton on to my parchment covered peel. It baked for 50 minutes with another 10 in the turned off oven at the end.


If I can figure out how to get pictures to this site I'll post them. I did upload them but got a blank acknowledgment screen so maybe the image upload fairies were sleeping.


If it takes, here is the loaf:




And here is the FlickrURL:


Here is the crumb:





And here is the Flickr url.




tattooedtonka's picture

Well after making about a couple dozen bagels a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks, I figured I would try Cinn./Raisin Bagels as well as regulars.

I soon found out Cinn./Raisin Bagels are not like making regular bagels.  The shaping really kicked my butt.  Plenty of lumps, bumps, seams, oh what a mess.  I have been making my bagels in 4.5oz. size.  But with raisins I went with a 5oz. weight.  After shaping I was really concerned they would end up looking like bumpy biscuits, but I was happy with the ending results.  Most of the lumps smoothed out in the baking process.

After reading Tigressbakes Cornbread post I decided to give it a go.  She is right in her post, it makes alot of cornbread.  But it is a very good recipe.  I took a shot of the outside and then later took some of the inside, but those photos didnt turn out so well.  Here is what I did have.

After trying this out I decided to give Sourdough Guys "Sunflower Seed Bread" an attempt.   Since I am still wrestlin with my starter I decided to try to adapt it to a White/Wheat bread with a white poolish.  I used his weight ratios for the seeds.  He warned that he didnt go 100% with them, so I figured what the heck, I'll try.  So with that I took the entire added up weight of all flours used in the recipe and matched it with exactly the same amount of roasted seeds (per his spec.).  WOW was that alot.  It was a bit messy, and a whole lotta fun.  I used Mike Averys folding method that I read about thanks to JMonkeys recent post, and here are my results.  ALOT of seeds.......Tastes pretty good though if you dont mind so much crunch in your bread.

Well thats all for now...


mary ann's picture
mary ann

I have an old receipe that requires cake yeast to be crumbled over dough and worked in.


I cannot find cake yeast anywhere, can I use dry yeast.  And what do I have to do with it.  Can I just sprinkle is over the dough and just work in like the cake yeast or do I have to do something to it.  Help

T4tigger's picture

Thing 1 and Thing 2 have given birth to two reasonably successful loaves of bread. I used Rose Beranbaum's 2 day basic sourdough recipe from TBB. I made one loaf with each of the starters. The doughs were made from:

  • 150 g. 50% starter
  • 150 g. water
  • 180 g. bread flour (my first experience with bread flour)
  • 6 g. salt

Her recipe calls for mixing all ingredients, kneading for 5 minutes and then autolyzing for 20 min. After this, 5 more minutes of kneading and then a 1 hour rise. Following the first rise, the dough is folded twice and allowed to rise for another 4 hours. Then the loaves are shaped, put in a bowl lined with a floured towel and given a final 4 hour rise. I floured the towels with both AP flour and corn starch. I had a lot of flour left on Thing 2, so I think I used too much.

Dough slashed and ready for baking. Thing 2 is on the left, Thing 1 on the right

Thing 2 and Thing 1 after baking

Each of the loaves weighed just under 1 pound.

Thing 1 Crumb                                                                                Thing 2 Crumb


The crumb looked pretty good to me, considering that I was using 2 new starters and bread flour for the first time. The tase was still pretty mild, but I expected that since the starters are young and I didn't do a long, cool rise. I tried to taste a difference in the flavor between the 2, but couldn't. The rest of the family devoured both loaves in about 45 minutes!

The biggest difference I noted was that Thing 1, the indoor starter did perform a bit larger and faster than Thing 2. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues over time. Now I just have to figure out how to justify keeping 2 more jars of starter.......

tigressbakes's picture

OK so it's not sourdough, it's not even yeasted. But and this is a big but, i swear it is the best damn cornbread EVER!

In fact, I have just vowed to myself that I can only make this for a special treat because over the course of just today I have lost all reason and have eaten more of this cornbread than i care to admit!

This cornbread recipe is taken from Peter Reinhart's Brother Juniper's Bread Book. cornbread 1

It is the perfect sweetness; I went just a little lighter on the sugar than the recipe called for due to the fact that the actual corn I used was off of cobs that I had frozen fresh from last summer, and I knew how sweet it was. There is a healthy amount of buttermilk in the recipe, and the clincher I think is the generous amount of uncooked polenta (out of the 3 cups of polenta it called for I substituted 1/2 of it with stoneground cornmeal just because I didn't have enough polenta). The uncooked polenta gave each bite a perfect little crunch inside the buttery moistness.

cornbread 2

As you can see, the top developed a nice crispy crunch, it is I must say Cornbread Perfection.

For those of you who dare to indulge here is my exact version - ever so slightly altered from Peter's recipe:


  • 4 cups all purpose white (I used King Arthur organic)
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked polenta + 1/2 cup stoneground organic cornmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1 cup raw sugar granules
  • 2 rounded cups corn kernels (I used frozen corn from farm fresh cobs from last summer)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 3 cups Buttermilk

Mix all dry ingredients together including corn kernels (used fingers). Wisk eggs, then wisk in Buttermilk and butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry and then mix together (I used my hand again) only until all of the flour is hydrated but no more. Pour into a greased pan. I used one that is rectangular, probably an 8X14 or around there. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean from the middle. And it rises! It is big and thick and makes a lot.

So, if you like cornbread, your in for a treat. Make this if you dare, but be prepared!

It is really perfect the way it is, but I am wonderng if a few chopped up hot chile peppers might make it even more sinful!



Erithid's picture

maple1been a while, got behind with trying to graduate, but now thats all over... Here is my return into baking. This came out awesome, It was soft, fluffy, and sweet. My fiance loved it for breakfast.



3 cup flour ( i used ap)

1 cup water

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

1 tbs sugar

1tbs butter


Mix the ingediants minus the salt and butter, then add salt and butter, knead till ready ( i had to add about 1/4 cup extra flour to firm up my dough).

first rise: 1 hour

then roll out and sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar mixture created to taste, roll up into a standard loaf pan ( i used silicone).

second rise: 1 hour

bake at 375 for 35 min then check till GBD. Let me know if it works for you!



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