The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

peter reinhart

7ardys's picture

I began baking bread in 2009 after being laid off from my job.  It was not a life long desire to bake bread.  In fact, I hadn't even spent much time in the kitchen at that point.  But somehow, I became enthralled with bread baking.  Might I even say, passionate about bread baking.  And because I suddenly had lots of time on my hands, I practiced almost daily.  Not necessarily baking every day, but reading about, or buying supplies for, or tending a starter for baking.    I credit Peter Reinhart's book, Whole Grain Breads with capturing my interest and leading me on to read other bread baking books as well.  For some reason, I kept track of each bread recipe that I made, along with my comments about what I learned, what went well, what didn't.  And I learned many "do not ______" next time.  It's been a fascinating thing -- this study of bread making.  And I am still such a novice. 

Along with being a novice bread baker, I may be even more of a novice internet user.  (Where have I been hiding, huh?)  I only discovered this site today!  A couple of weeks ago, I started a blog of my own about my breads which I call "Ardys 'n Bread".  That's my first name--"Ardys".  I've always felt it was an unfortunate name and probably spent the first 35 years or so, of my life, encouraging the use of nicknames.  Well, at last, my name seems to have come into its' own.   My blog site is  I have been thoroughly enjoying writing about bread, and I've realized that my real goal with the blog is to reach out to other people who might be interested in making bread for the first time, and offering some guidance and practical information on the subject.  Little did I know that I should have been posting my blog with The Fresh Loaf.  Although I have to say, the work of the bakers that I have seen on this site inidicates that they are so far beyond me in experience , that I would have little to offer to this group.  

I am, however, glad to have found this site, and thank you all for welcoming me into the fold of bread bakers. 

P.S.  If you come across anyone by the name of "Ardys" (female name, Scandinavian) under the age of 60, I'd appreciate you letting me know that there is another one of us out there.  I have an aunt with my name, and many times people have remarked after meeting me, "I once knew someone by that name.  She was in her 80's."  I, myself, have never actually met another person with my name (aside from my aunt, and there was a neighbor lady named "Ardis" who died when I was a child).   I believe the name is a revision of the Norwegian name "Hjordis".  (should be a / through the O)  Are there any more of us out there?

Ardys 'n Bread

hanseata's picture

The owner of A&B Naturals, the store that sells my bread, asked me one day: "Can you bake pitas, too?" I had never made them, so I said with conviction: "Yes!"

At least I knew where I could find a pita recipe!

In "Whole Grain Breads", one of my favorite baking books, Peter Reinhart has a recipe for whole wheat pitas - just the right thing for my grain loving customers.

I started my first pita dough. No big deal, until I got to the shaping part. The pitas had to be rolled out no thinner than 1/4 inch (6 mm), and to an 8-inch (20 cm) diameter. But my pitas already reached this thickness at 6 1/2 to 7 inches (16 to 18 cm.)

Pitas are shaped in three steps, first into rolls, then rolled out to 4"/10 cm. Don't skimp on the flouring!

Below: rolling out pitas to a larger round (6 1/2 - 7" or 16 - 18 cm.) Re-flour them, if necessary.

A high oven temperature is key to a pita's proper horizontal separation into two layers. This high temperature has to be maintained during the whole bake, from below as well as from above.

Many cheaper ovens don't heat up to the necessary 550ºF (280ºC.) Without that boost pitas can't produce the large gas bubble that creates a pocket. And without a pocket - no delicious filling!

A baking stone, or a rack lined with unglazed terracotta tiles (like I have), works best for keeping the  temperature stable, even when the oven door has to be opened several time during the baking process. And very hot stones make the best baking surface for pitas, too.

To reheat fast enough after each opening of the door I remembered Peter Reinhart's advice for baking pizza ("American Pie"), where the problem is the same: intermittently switching the oven to broil for a short time.

How many pitas can you bake at the same time? One batch of dough makes 8 (or 6, if you want larger ones.) Peter Reinhart says one at a time, but, of course, being a semi-professional I wanted to do it a little less time consuming.

After some trials, I found that I can put two at the same time in the oven. That's the maximum, with more it becomes very difficult to load and unload them without damage, and to keep control over their baking process.

2 pitas can be baked at the same time. Once out of the oven, they deflate quickly.

Of course, it takes a little bit of experience to slide the pitas into the oven without them folding over in one place, and to extricate them without nicking them with the peel.

But it's not rocket science, a smart child can do it:

  Josh, our carpenter's son, thought it was much more fun to help with my baking than reading his book!

Though Peter Reinhart's original 100% whole wheat pita is very good, I made a few changes to it. I substitute a 7-grain mix for some of the whole wheat flour, and add an overnight bulk rise in the fridge, this is more practical for my baking schedule, and, in my opinion, improves the taste even more. It also has the advantage that I can reduce the yeast amount by 2 grams.

Though I usually cut down on the sweetener in Peter Reinhart's recipes, this whole grain bread needs the full dose.

We like our pita filled with grilled Halloumi cheese, tomato and lettuce - the way we had it in Girne/Kyrenia on Cyprus. And how do my customers at A&B Naturals like them? They fly off the shelf so that I have to bake them every week!

Here is a link to the recipe in my blog "Brot & Bread".

nadira2100's picture


Feeling very frustrated that I haven't been completely satisfied with any loaf I've made within the last few weeks, I decided to make a multigrain sandwich loaf. One that doesn't require a starter. And yes this frustration includes the Portuguese Sweet Bread because, even though it was soft and the crumb was almost perfect and the color was spot on, it wasn't perfect which doesn't sit well with a perfectionist. I also made this bread because I haven't been able to make a sandwich bread that is soft and spongy like so many good sandwich loaves are. Mine turn out dense. 

With this loaf I tried a few things that I haven't done in the past with sandwich loaves. The first being I used filtered bottled water. Again, I think this was part of my problem before and I don't think I'll ever go back to using the tap. The second, most important thing I changed was the kneading method. I've been obsessed with trying to pick up any tips and tricks I could find that will improve my loaves and the Stretch and Fold method really caught my attention. 

Now let me tell you, I had my doubts. But I tried it and I think I'll be applying it in the kitchen more often.  

This particular recipe is from Peter Reinharts The Bread Baker's Apprentice.... Multigrain Extraordinaire. Loved it. I actually can't wait to make it again. The loaf lasted 2 days and that's only because we wanted to save some to make BBQed pork sandwiches from a pork roast I made on Saturday. Here is what I did with a few modifications to the recipe...


3 tbsp Quinoa

3 tbsp course ground Corn meal

2 tbsp Flax meal

1/4 c water

Mix all of this together and let it sit overnight, covered at room temperature


13.5 oz unbleached bread flour

3 tbsp white sugar

1/4 oz instant yeast (or 1 full packet)

1 1/2 tsp salt

all of the soaker

1 1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 c milk

3/4 c water

Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Then add the soaker and remaining wet ingredients. Mix until the dough starts to form a ball and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until everything is fully incorporated. This dough was wetter and softer than I anticipated so I had to keep my area and hands floured pretty often. Once everything seems uniformly incorporated (about 3 min), place the dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 min.

Remove the dough from the bowl and do the first stretch and fold. Place the dough back into the bowl to rest for 30 min. My dough tried to blow another bubble!

Repeat the stretch and fold and put the dough back into the bowl for another 30 min rest. (2 total stretch and folds, 1.5 hrs total of resting).

Shape the loaf and place into a lightly oiled loaf pan and proof until the dough has crested the pan. Mine took an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the internal temp registers 195 degrees. This makes 1 - 2lb loaf.

I was amazed to see how much the dough rose during the second and third resting periods and how easy it was to handle. I was also amazed at how fast it rose, and how soft and delicately delicious the flavor and crumb turned out.

I've never made a softer sandwich loaf before. I also loved the textures of the grains that I used. All I have to say is...BEST loaf I've ever made. Now I believe that I am capable of truly extraordinary bread. 

adamkopp's picture


December 17, 2011 - 6:59am -- adamkopp

Making a Panettone - using recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker Apprentice.  Have my seed starter going for 5 days, getting ready to make the Barm.  Panettone to follow in a few days.  

Any pointers / suggestions from the group is appreciated.


adamkopp's picture

Making a Panettone - using recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker Apprentice.  Have my seed starter going for 5 days, getting ready to make the Barm.  Panettone to follow in a few days.  

Any pointers / suggestions from the group is appreciated.



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