The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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KNEADLESS's picture

Santa came thru last night with a couple of items from the Baker's Catalog and I have a few questions:

Received a round clouch and the instructions all say to put your dough into the cold clouch and then put it in the oven. Has anyone used a ceramic clouch with the kneadless batter, putting the batter into a hot clouch. Will the ceramic crack?


Also received lidded pain de mie for making square loaves. Does this give a crisp crust or no crust at all?



Happy holidays eveyrone and may all your dough rise next year.



beanfromex's picture

I returned from my three week vacation in Canada late on wednesday morning.

Yesterday I baked two loaves for neighbours and today I bake a 18 cup batch of dough ( ciabatta.) I will take this to the neighburs midnight dinner to celebrate.

I did not get to bake too much at my families homes..I was too busy cooking chicken enchilladas for my nephew, who at 18 can inhale them.

Tomorrow I have two couples coming for a traditional turkey dinner. so...Iwill keep this short as the brownies are due out of the oven in any moment..

Happy Hoidays to all,

Be well


beanfromex in southern mexico

PMcCool's picture

Friends of ours are fond of panettone, so I thought that I would try making some for them as a Christmas gift.  After much browsing, I decided to use the recipe for Il Panettone Milanese, located here:  One of the things that drew me to this one is that it uses a naturally-yeasted biga, instead of commercial yeast.  I figured that my sourdough starter (which isn’t especially sour) would yield a good biga and it did.


I should say at the outset that I am pleased with the result, especially since the recipe yields two panettone that are in the medium to large range; one for the friends and one for the baker.  There are some things to address, but it is a very satisfying first attempt.  Here's a picture: Panettone


However, I’m not sure that I would use this specific recipe again, since it does have a few quirks.  For instance, the directions for the second-stage dough don’t say when to add the egg yolks (I put them in with the rest of the wet ingredients) and they call for water that isn’t in the ingredient list (I chose not to, since there was no indication of quantity and it looked like a repeat of the instructions for the first dough).  The recommended baking temperature is 380F, while Reinhart’s formula recommends a baking temperature of 320F.  Since I was improvising with soufflé dishes (one glass and one ceramic) in lieu of panettone molds or papers, I dropped the temperature to 360F and still wound up with rather dark crusts, even after covering them loosely with foil.  The recipe gives no indication of baking time, other than that a skewer should come out clean after inserting into the panettone.  I pulled them out of the oven when the internal temperature reached 185F, which took almost 1-1/2 hours.


I gave a slice to an Italian acquaintance from Milan and asked for a critique.  The first thing that she noted is that my panettone is denser than what she is accustomed to Italy.  While I followed the directions and allowed 6 hours for the second rise before baking, it didn’t achieve that almost lacy sponginess of a traditional panettone.  There are probably five factors at play.  First, additional time for the second rise would probably have helped.  My acquaintance says that a friend of hers bakes it frequently and allows it to rise to a point where it is almost ready to collapse.  While mine had more than doubled in size, it hadn’t yet reached the wobbly stage when it went into the oven.  Second, by baking it in soufflé dishes, the dough had room to expand sideways quite a bit before being forced to expand upward.  A regular panettone mold would have encouraged more vertical expansion, which may have improved the texture.  Third, this is a very rich dough, especially with fats (a pound of butter and 12 egg yolks!).  Fourth, there is almost 2 pounds of fruit in this recipe.  With that much fat and that much fruit weighing it down, the dough is going to need every bit of help it can get to fully expand.  The last factor, and I don’t have a way to address it, is that Italian bakers have a special rack for inverting and suspending the panettone as it cools.  That keeps it from settling and reducing in volume before it is cool and firm.  I didn’t notice much, if any, settlement which isn’t too surprising since the crumb wasn’t as spongy as it should have been.


Her second observation was that the candied fruit peel was somewhat bitter.  I had noticed that both the orange peel and the lemon peel that I purchased used the full thickness of the peel.  Since the white pith can contribute bitterness, that is probably the culprit.  I’ll opt for making my own candied peel from just the zest of the lemon and orange in future attempts.


The third observation that she made was that the finished bread was drier than the panettone to which she was accustomed.  I had expected it to be very moist because of all of the butter and eggs.  Maybe the recipe writer meant it when she said to add water to the second dough.  If only she had said how much!  A wetter dough might also have been able to expand more during the final rise.


The good news is that the flavor was very close to what my acquaintance knew and loved, so she was happy to have the slice that I brought for her.  I’m happy to know that my first attempt is close to the mark on this most important point.  Almost everything else can be tweaked and adjusted to get closer to a traditional panettone’s texture. 


Best of all, my friends were delighted to receive their panettone.

sewwhatsports's picture

A few months ago I took a class with Jeffery Hamelmann in Vermont on Naturally Leavened Breads.  There were 11 of us in the class and suffice to say, it was amazing.  I learned so much.  But translating what you do in class to the home environment is not always as easy.  It has teken me 2 months and many tries to finally start getting breads that resemble what we did in the classroom.  I have done 2 recipes of pain au levain and they have truned out wonderful.  I would like them a little more sour and think that I will try to retard my next loaf to see if it will be more acidic.  I have a few pictures but they are blurry but I will try to get a better shot soon.  The one problem is that my crust seems to be getting over done, darker than what I want.  I have cut down the time a bit but next time will drop the temperature.  I have checked my temperature of the bread and it is over 205 degrees when I take it out of the oven. 

A question concerning the bake.  I have been using the convection setting while doing my breads.  Could that account for the darker crust and is it better to use the basic bake setting.  I also have a special bake sertting that is supposed to decrease the over browning of bread.  Are there any thoughts on the use of regular bake versus convection bake.  I do steam well with my breads (cast iron pan and hot water) so that is not the problem.

Sourdough loaves

dasein668's picture

Just finished my first "sourdough" loaf. Or maybe I should say "naturally leavened" 'cuz it sure isn't sour! I made a starter 5 days ago, feeding daily, and it certainly leavened the dough, but not a hint of sourness. Great crumb, and the flavor was great too, if I had been comparing it to a "standard" dough.

Maybe my starter just needs to age?

I also had some trouble with the dough sticking to the banneton during the 4 hour secondary. I salvaged it OK, but it looks a little silly:


Here's a shot of the crumb:

sefie ebrahimi's picture
sefie ebrahimi
Thegreenbaker's picture

Since I found this site and joined up, I have been baking ever 2 or 3 days. FOcusing mainly on the "basic loaf" recipe from lesson 1. My bread making has improved with each loaf. My kneading skills have improved immensely and with it my bread quality.

I have had trouble making rustic loaves and had resorted to baking in a tin. Which is fine, it tastes grerat, but I love rustic loaves. I was dishearted. But a few days ago, I had my first success quite by accident. I'd left my bread to rise and noticed that it rose UP not OUT like all my previous attemps at rustic loaves. (they became tasty flat breads, with tooo much crust and not enough centre :S)

So I punched it down and crossed my fingers.  After the second rise (which is all I have been doing) it was high and round. I heated the oven, steamed it and gently placed the loaf inside. There wasnt much (if any actually) oven spring, but it baked beautifully. The crust was hard and crackly, the crumb nice, little small bubbly holes through out, and best of all, it was a lovely looking rustic loaf!  YAY!!! I was so happy. All I could talk aout for the next half hour was my triumph. lol.

I then moved on to lesson two. I made that loaf rustic also, but it didnt rise as high as the previous loaf. I am becoming confident in my baking skills and look forward to the day I can post a pic of my home made sourdough bread made with home made sourdouch starter! I've a long way to go yet!


 The-not-so-green-baker *wink*



tomsbread's picture

I made Hamelman's Country Bread for an uncle who knows his food. He spoked approvingly about the baguettes in France and I was really tempted to bake some for him and get his opinion on my baguettes. It was also an attempt to get my daughter to eat my breads. She is not a fan of hearth breads and I did not want to bake those soft cotton sweet dough breads found all over the country. The only time she liked my bread was a simple plain white loaf. When I asked her why she liked it, she replied that there were no raisins in the bread. To my chagrin, she does not mind supermarket breads but rejects most of my breads, especially when they are walnut and raisin.

Pictures of the breads are in


sefie ebrahimi's picture
sefie ebrahimi

hi i love bread making and this is the first time i am hear

lally1's picture

Recipe in Lesson 2 is sticky, even after kneading with additional flour, roughly 1/4 cup. After first rise and in the pan, still sticky but easier to handle. I used 1/2 cup of warm water right away with the yeast. Next time I know better. Also, I used a bowl with warm water underneath to speed up the rise. I am so pleased with the result. My previous breads did not taste as good and rose as much as this. I, also, used Beard on Bread by James Beard. Thank you so much Mr. floydm.


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