The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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whitedaisy's picture

Last night we had a very cas diner party. My guest where very impressed and amazed that I made the bread bowls. And they ate a whole batch of Italian Bread. This site makes me look soooo good! :o)

Floydm's picture

For my weekly batch of French bread, I tried autolyse again. This time I successfully combined it with a poolish.

My overnight sponge was 8 ounces bread flour, 8 ounces water, and 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast. My autolyse the next day was 10 ounces of water and 8 ounces of flour. I let that soak for 20 minutes, then mixed in the poolish along with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast. I then mixed it in the stand mixer, adding an additional 3 or 4 ounces of flour until I had a dough that was slack but more substantial than a batter.

Fermentation was 3 hours, with 2 folds an hour apart. I divided it in two for final shaping and used a lot of flour so that I could handle it without it sticking. It actually toughened up and shaped better than I had expected.

I let it rise 90 minutes while preheating my baking stone at my max oven temperature, 550. I used to not be impressed by the baking stone, but I've found that if you preheat it at max temperature for at least an hour you do get a significant increase in spring.

I threw them in the oven, added steam, and reduced heat to 475. I think they took about 20 to 25 minutes to bake: the hot stone also reduces baking time noticeable. Very good results, nice open crumb.

I'll try to bake this one again next weekend and post photos.

soxkat4's picture

Well, Betty (my starter) got brought out last night, but after fighting traffic and the crowds in the grocery store and my computer, I just fed her and let her rest. I'm now realising that instead of putting her back in the fridge, she's still in the oven. My recipe calls for using the starter cold, if she's room temp, do you think that will make a difference? I kind of doubt it but I'm curious what you all think.

By the way, she's named Betty after Betty Crocker, the cookbook I got the recipe from. I know, not nearly as advanced as Peter Reinhart, but I like to play/research on several different approaches so I'll work my way up to Peter's barms and sponges!

BeckyBaker730's picture

The raisin bagels turned out superb! Thank you, Floydm, for posting the recipe and instructions. I am already eating my second one! They came out with a good chew on the outside, and softer in the middle. Tastes just like a bagel! The 1 cup of raisins was just enough....each bagel has a good # of raisins throughout. I think next time I make them I will add another teaspoon or two of cinnamon. I used 1 TBS in this batch, and while I could taste the cinnamon, it was not as prominent as I wanted it to be. All I did was add a little extra sugar and cut back on the salt a little. Then I stirred the raisins and the cinnamon into the sponge after adding the rest of the yeast and 1 cup of the flour. I wanted to make sure I got the raisins in before the dough got too stiff. Then I proceeded to work in as much of the remaining flour as possible. Next time I make bagels I'm going to try for a good "everything" bagel with onions, poppyseeds, and garlic. Yum!

I definitely think I am going to send my mom some bagels for Christmas. With this recipe I can boil and bake them early in the morning, let them cool, package them and then mail them later that same afternoon. I think they'll stay pretty fresh that way.

BeckyBaker730's picture

Finished with my bagels for the night. They are now resting comfortably for 20 minutes or so on a sheet pan in a plastic trash bag. When my kitchen timer beeps, I will put them in the fridge for the night.
A few interesting points:
1. I am aiming for a somewhat normal cinnamon-raisin bagel. I combined the recipe from this site with the cinnamon-raisin bagel recipe from, in hopes of achieving a balance between the two.
2. I could not for the life of me get that last 3/4 cup of flour into the dough. I think this might have to do with the addition of the 1 cup of raisins. Instead of 7 and 3/4 cups of flour, I ended up with an even 7, plus 1 cup of raisins and 1 TBS of cinnamon. They look and smell exactly like the cinnamon-raisin bagels I am used to, so here's to hoping they turn out good.
3. Kneading this dough is serious work! I like to knead by hand but this dough just about had me beat. Next time I may surrender and let my KitchenAid stand mixer handle it. It was fun though, especially because all the kneading started to break down the raisins a little, which made the dough smell amazing.
4. I have never made a sponge before tonight. I have to say that is quite possibly the weirdest thing I have ever produced in my kitchen! I'm one of those people who (as a kid) hid wet bread in tinfoil all over the house to make mold for science projects in gradeschool, so I am easily fascinated by weird science stuff. I had to take a minute or two to just poke at the sponge and marvel at the weird foamy texture. :-)

Well, my timer just beeped, so into the fridge they go.

BeckyBaker730's picture

I'm working on some bagels right now, using the recipe on this site and a few ideas from the website. My sponge is rising at the moment. At 7pm I can move on to step 2. I love the idea of beginning bread at night and then making something fresh in the morning. One of my favorite recipes is for buttermilk bran muffins. They keep for 3 weeks in the fridge and you can scoop just what you need to make a few fresh muffins every morning. The recipe comes from Linda Larson at Busycooks.About.Com. So yummy! The buttermilk really gives these muffins a great flavor.

Make Ahead Bran Muffin Batter 5 cups flour 15 oz. box bran flakes cereal with raisins 3 cups sugar 2 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. salt 4 eggs, beaten 1 cup vegetable oil 4 cups buttermilk

Combine flour, cereal, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine. Add beaten eggs, oil and buttermilk and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Cover bowl tightly.

You should chill this batter in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before using. The batter will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
When you're ready to bake the muffins, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched lightly with fingertip. Makes 48 muffins.

Note: I've made this batter 3 times now, and each time it comes out amazing. But, be forewarned that the buttermilk will give the batter a rather funky smell in the fridge. It freaked me out at first, and I thought that after only 2 days my batter had gone bad in the fridge. Not's just the buttermilk reacting with the other ingredients. I went on to use the batter and found out that it was perfectly fine, not spoiled at all. It really does last three weeks...well, it might even last longer, but I don't know because we always end up using all the batter well before the 3 weeks are up!

Well, I'm off to finish step 1 of the bagel-making process! Hopefully these will turn out well...I haven't had a good bagel in months. I had to do the instant yeast/active dry yeast conversion, because all I had on hand was active dry. With any luck I got the measurements right, and tomorrow morning I can bake up some toasty goodness for breakfast.

soxkat4's picture

My first pizza was a success, what a disaster! It seems an oxymoron. Success on the first try? How can that be bad? I’m concerned that I may have jinxed myself, that all further attempts at pizza dough may now be futile. Of course, I still keep trying, recreating, revamping and otherwise attempting to improve both on my skills and the recipes I find. Of course, sometimes I screw up, but usually I have something edible.

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. If I were to live on two things for the rest of my life it would be chili and pizza, of course, I do request the ability to make endless permutations of each! This recipe was collected with others from the internet (thanks be to Google). Unfortunately, I can no longer find the website so I will consider it a serendipitous event…something I needed just then, and there it was.

The recipe yields only one 10

BeckyBaker730's picture

Homemade pizza is a major comfort food for my husband and me, and we really need it today. The holidays are wonderful and all, but sometimes they come with a little too much family strife. The family politics this year are pretty bad, and we're both getting down about it. So I decided a little dough-kneading and cheesy wonderfulness was in order. My pizza dough is rising right now. I started making my own crust several months ago, after I finally got sick of the cardboardy taste of those prepackaged "just-add-water" mixes. My basic recipe is from AllRecipes.Com, but I tweaked it a lot over the number of times I've made it, so it's turned out better each time. It's very similar to the recipe in the "Pizza Primer" on this site, although from looking at that recipe it looks like mine makes half as much dough. As it is, mine makes 2 large pizzas with thicker, chewy crusts, or 4 small thin and crispy pizzas. I do wish I had a peel and a stone to cook it with, though. I just stretch the dough to fit my cookie sheets, so sometimes the bottom of the crust cookes a smidge unevenly.

I think tomorrow I will try the bagel recipe from this site...I LOVE bagels, but always thought they would be ridiculously hard to make (frankly, it was the boiling that always scared me a little). After reading through the Bagel recipe, I think I could probably make a decent batch tomorrow. My husband, a fan of "everything" bagels, would flip out if I figured out how to make a decent bagel from scratch. They are so expensive in the stores around here! To me, there are few things quite as wonderful as a toasty bagel with a little cream cheese and a cup of coffee in the morning. Or any time of day, really.

Anyone have an idea how long homemade bagels will stay fresh? I thought it would be nice to send my mom some homemade bagels for Christmas. Suggestions for wrapping/packaging them? I wanted to bake her something homemade as a gift this year, but she really watches her eating and avoids sugary things, so I didn't really want to make her cookies, fruitcake, or banana bread. Anyone ever tried mailing homemade bagels?

pizzameister's picture

OK, here we go!

I have avoided trying a lot of gluten free recipes till now, because they required the addition of xantham gum. This replaces the stretchiness of the missing gluten. Not that there is anything wrong with this additive, but it is fairly expensive and just seemed "unnatural".

Attempting recipe for Cinnamon Rolls from a book given to me by my daughter last Christmas - About time! Picked up some sorghum flour and tapioca flour - had the xantham gum.

Recipe went together well and is on first rise as I write this. Dough came together well, and some some minor vigorous beating later looks a lot like real dough. Cleaning off the spoon after it sat a bit, I noticed a gummy feel - So what did I expect??? Not quite like wheat dough, but interestingly sticky.

30 minute rise will be over in a few minutes - then to assemble the rolls. I can't wait! I can't wait? We'll see.

There is a recipe for sorghum pizza dough in the book, which may be next on my list. For the most of you, who do not have a problem with wheat, you have no idea what a craving can develop for that chewy mouth feel of real dough. The interesting thing about this recipe is that it is the only GF pizza recipe I have come across, which allowed the dough to be used in the normal fashion - spread it out and add the toppings before baking. The others are very sloppy and require a prebake before topping.

It would seem that the wheat intolerance corrolary to "No Pain, No Gain" Should be "Gain, No Pain"
I do claim copyright to that.

Timer for first rise just went off. Tune in later for the rest of the story!


BeckyBaker730's picture

Just thought I'd post my first entry to introduce myself. My current baking projects include a selection of cookies which I am baking as gifts for my family, and several breads for Christmas. I plan to use the Blueberry Cream Cheese braid recipe from this site for my Christmas morning bread.

Things I bake the most often are: homemade pizza crust, biscuits, and cloverleaf dinner rolls. I also like to make a couple of loaves of bread on the weekends.

One of my baking struggles is sourdough bread. I don't even really like sourdough bread, but I got hooked on the idea of making bread without yeast. After messing up my first attempt one Saturday morning I became determined to make it right. It was me vs. the sourdough starter. I still have not won that battle! I stick mostly to yeast breads and quick breads.


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