The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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.

Naga's picture

Can you get a long way? Who knows. At least, I've signed up here, and have my first loaf rising right about next to me. I probably don't have the right flour, as it's those especially for cookies and cakes. Plus, I have to figure out what 375 degrees on this site is. Is that in Fahrenheit? How much is that in Celsius? And how do I figure out what my oven can do? (I mean, it goes from 1-->8 but doesn't show °C). I wonder how the baker I go to would think about me if I turn up with it and ask "what went wrong!".

Too many questions and so little answers. Just because I saw Yakitate Japan and wanted to make bread like Azuma :p Well, I bet this bread making is just going to be a passing "fad", like I went through many. I suppose it all depends on how succesful this bread will be. Or it's successor. At least I'm learning stuff. Yesterday at the supermarket we went "Wow!" at the Echiré butter we found. High Quality Butter! I wonder if there are a lot of girlz/women that make bread.

Anyhow, signing off now, wish me luck!

timtune's picture

Schiacatta with grapes. Used star-anise instead of anise.. Added a lil fennel seeds too.
If a touch of Chiati was added, it'll be more remarkable. Nevertheless, a nice crisp bread. Best eaten fresh out of the oven. :)

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Floydm's picture

I'm back from Texas. Afraid I didn't find the time to go bakery hunting. The closest thing to an artisan bakery I found was the Au Bon Pain sandwich shop in the DFW airport.

I did get to try one of the cakes from Collin Street Bakery, their pecan apricot cake. I'm not a fruit cake fan, but I have to admit it was darn good.

Glad to see that folks were able to help each other out here while I was out.

Bakenstein's picture

Hi all you busy bakers,

I have been struggling for a while with just not getting that beautiful light open airy texture to my doughs. Its come close at time with Pizzas and flatbreads but no cigar yet.

For some reason I just brought up baking breads with someone and they told me about using water that had been purified by reverse osmosis. Never to use just tap water.
Recently I was at my wits end as I always proof the yeast first and saw very little activity after 10 min. everything was done up to par. Threw it out the batch 2x's.
I opened a brand new yeast packet same result. So with that exact packet I retried everything again. This time with distilled water as you can't even trust the source of bottled water from the supermarket these days.


Beautiful foam doubled in the measuring cup ready to go into my awaiting 14 cups of flour for my weekly Pizza Baking Extravaganza. (Seven Pies one stuffed crust)

Everyone including Holiday company announced it was the best I've ever made. Been making Pizzas every Sunday since August.

Its pretty darn hard to get acclaim from East Coast Italians on Pizza as its a regional Heritage and the birthplace of pizza in the US.

Now for that Chicago Metallic Baguette Pan.....


Floydm's picture

Since we had another half a pot of soup leftover for dinner, I tried the autolyse approach again today (see yesterday's post). Much better results this time.

My dough was real basic again:

13 ounces bread flour
9 to 10 ounces water
2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast (activated in 1 ounce of the water for 5 minutes).

I changed my technique a bit. I mixed the bread flour (all I had in the house) and 9 ounces of the water together in a bowl until the flour was all moist. I covered the bowl, let it sit for 20 minutes, then activated the yeast in another ounce or so of water. I then pulled the dough out onto a well-floured cutting board, poured the yeast/water mixture on top, sprinkled on the flour, and worked the water/yeast/salt in by hand just until mixed in. It was a mess, but it seems to have done the trick: I got a real nice, slow rise, good gluten development, and minimal oxygenation (which causes the crumb to appear yellow).

I did the same folding and baking routine as yesterday, I just didn't try shaping it into rounds.

I kept it pretty slack, so I dealt with it like a Ciabatta.



ciabatta inside

We gorged on it. It was wonderful. :)

helend's picture

Back home and relaxing on Sunday evening after visiting my family for the wekend. Did a batch bake on Friday evening after work to take some goodies down for Mum and Dad. Wish I could have taken the smell of fresh baking too!

At the moment everyone is feeling a little in need of TLC so I made a rich cherry and almond loaf to take along with a large white spelt tin loaf - great for chunky sandwiches and toast. To fill the oven I made a date cake for us to come back to which smelt fudgy and warm when I cut it into chunks. A bit of a marathon but the gluten in spelt flour works quickly and by cooking it all together at 170c in a forced air oven, the moistness from the cakes and the slow temperature lets the bread crust develop.

Back to work tomorrow...

Floydm's picture

I, too, had a doughy disaster today. I was trying to make a simple French/Italian bread using both a poolish (a wet, yeasted, overnight pre-ferment) and an autolyse (a flour and water quick pre-ferment). The poolish was too wet, the autolyse too dry, and when I tried to mix them together I could not get the chunks of autolyse dough to combine with poolish. It ended up having the consistency of chicken and dumplings. I ended up throwing the batch out and starting over.

The next batch turned out better.

16 oz. bread flour
11 oz. water
1 heaping teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt

I combined the flour and water in a bowl and mixed just until the flour was full hydrated. I covered the bowl and let it hydrate for 20 minutes. Then I mixed in the yeast and salt, mixed for about 3 minutes, and placed the dough in covered bowl. I gave it 45 minutes, then folded, another 45 then a fold, and a final 45 before shaping into rounds, placing in my floured baskets, which I covered, and let them rise for a final 75 minutes.

I baked them at 475 with initial steam. They were in for about 25 or 30 minutes. They turned out quite nice:

We had a pot of vegetable soup and a bottle of Chianti with them. You couldn't ask for a better meal on a wet, wintery day.

whitedaisy's picture

Just took my 2nd Challah out of the oven. It is a very nice looking loaf of bread. Gosh, I may never sprinkle seeds or wheat on my loaves again. What a mess! Maybe I'm not using enough wash? The seseame seeds are everywhere!

ELIZABETH's picture

Hi Everyone - What a great site! Question - A new bread has come to my area though it's in short supply so far. I love it and would like to bake something like it but have no idea how to start. Is anyone familiar with Henry's Harvest Artisan Loaf by Grace Baking in Richmond CA? Any ideas about what makes this loaf so chewy? I'm a beginner baker. A recipe that is like this bread would be fantastic. Thanks.


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