The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

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beanfromex's picture

Wretched sourdough in the tropics...

I used the starter than I have been carefully feeding since last thursday night. All indications were right, smell, bubbles etc..and baked somethng that looked great, and felt like a doorstop. It was a VERY dense loaf, not what I would choose to have again. So I fed the starter and popped it into the fridge...perhaps I will try again next week.

However, today I taught Ramona how to do the cottage loaf from last weekend. Again, excellent colour and crust and a reasonable crumb.  I sprinkled cornmeal onto a greased baking sheet and the bottom crust is wonderful. And used poppy seeds over the egg waah.

Ramona did not get the wash evenly around the lower loaf, so you can see where it dripped and where she missed. ...but she will see this tomorrow and learn from it...

Perhaps I should get her to have a try at the sourdough....

I am going to play with this recipe and introduce whole wheat and seeds into the loaf ..

stay tuned... 

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Pepping up a sluggish starter?

For a while, my starters (white and rye) were very active, rising dough quickly and making light, open crumb.  Now I'm getting very sluggish rises and dense, chewy crumb (most notably the white starter) from the same recipes.  I do get a huge oven spring out of them, so *something* is alive in there!

I feed or use the starter once a week.  When feeding, I keep about 4oz and add 2-3oz of flour and 3-4oz of water to make a poolish-like mother starter.  When making plain sourdough, I make a firm starter from the mother starter, like French bread dough.

I've tried overnight proofs in the fridge, and using a pan of hot water in the oven to simulate a proofing tent.

Any suggestions on making my starter more zippy are welcome :)


A number of tools exist on this site. Such as:


qahtan's picture

oatmeal bread

This is the bread I made on Friday, I started off by soaking
1 1/2 cups organic oat flakes in boiling water and resting it for 30
minutes from there I added a cup of fresh milled whole wheat, 1 cup
water 1/2 cup milk 1 tablespoon raw sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons of
yeast, 2 cups bakers flour, mixed well, rest 30 minutes added 2
tablespoon butter and enough bakers flour to make nice dough, kneaded
in DLX 6 minutes adding 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt.
Removed from bowl, kneaded into a ball by hand, rest until double
plus, size, shape rise and bake, 400' 50 minutes.

Cooky's picture

How long will poolish keep in the refigerator?

Mine has been in there for more than a day, after developing at room temperature for 8-10 hours. Still usable? What's the outside limit?

Any advice deeply appreciated. Thanks!

breadnerd's picture

What tools do you use?

Since I'm a bread nerd, I have picked up a lot of gadgets over the years, but mostly have old favorites. I thought it might be fun to compare what tools we have and how we like them. It might also be helpful for newbies who are just adding to their collections.

So here's a "survey". Feel free to add to this if you think of more, I was just brainstorming here:

1. Mixer: Which mixer do you use, or are you a hands-only purist? :)

2. First Proof: Do you have a favorite bowl or container for rising doughs, preparing poolish, or saving sourdough?

3. Shaping Loaves: Do you use a scale for weighing ingredients or loaves? What do you use for dividing dough and shaping loaves?

4. Second proof: What are your favorite baskets, couches and pans for rising your loaves?

5. Baking: What kind of hearth stone do you use, tools for slashing laoves, and do you use a peel to transfer loaves into the oven? And ovens--what's your preference: Gas or Electric, convection, or do you prefer the weber grill? :)


Don't mean this to be serious (or a competition!) but have fun and show my your toys!  :)



Floydm's picture

Photo Contest: Harvest Season

Let's try something new: anyone up for a photo contest?

The theme: harvest season, since for all of us in the northern hemisphere it is getting to be that time of year.

If you are a site member, you should be able to upload an image here. I created a new gallery for this contest that your images can go in (click on the categories link while uploading the image to select the gallery). You can also just add a comment to this thread linking to any photo of yours you post on your own site or on photobucket.

My first entry:

At this point, I'd say there aren't any rules because there aren't any prizes. Obviously baked goods should be involved though.

If you run into any trouble posting images, email me your image and I can post the image for you. Just be sure to include your screen name and any comments about it so that I can attribute it to you properly.

Updated 9/19: I'm going to start including some of the cool pics people are uploading here, so people don't have to go hunt around for them.

There is wendyshum's rustic bread full of flax, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds:

and beenjamming's sourdough with NY apples:

Whoa! I just noticed Joe Fisher's loaf shaped like a pumpkin:

(click on the image to see a large pic and what he wrote about it)

pmccool's picture

Weekend Bake - New York Deli Rye from BBA

My wife purchased a copy of BBA as a birthday present some weeks back and I finally got around to using a formula from the book; in this case, the New York Deli Rye sandwich loaf. It is a definite keeper. I have been admonished to put a big star next to that particular formula.

The bread is a wonderful base for a corned beef and swiss cheese sandwich, to start with. We'll keep experimenting and see what else works, too. The onions in the bread are a a delicious complement to other savory flavors, but somehow manage not to overwhelm the other components.

Since it was my first attempt for this formula, I made sure to follow the instructions closely. I opted out of the use of caraway seeds, since my wife does not enjoy that flavor. Next time I may try either dill or fennel seeds, since it seems either of those would make a good flavor complement.

The use of commercial yeast, brown sugar and buttermilk in the formula were a bit surprising. I think that the buttermilk (and the shortening) contributed to the finished bread's moistness. For the next attempt, I will probably skip the yeast. My starter seems to have plenty of boost, so the yeast really isn't necessary to ensure an adequate rise. I do need to follow some of JMonkey's recommendations for increasing the sourness of the starter. Mine is more mild than wild in the flavor department, even with having refrigerated the second build of the starter overnight. A longer, cooler rise with no commercial yeast would probably increase the sour flavor.

The other thing that I should have done was keep a closer eye on the dough during the final rise. When I came back in from some outdoor chores to check on it, it was almost 2 inches above the edge of the pan, instead of the recommended 1 inch! Warm day plus commercial yeast--who'd have thought it? Anyway, I got lucky in that there aren't tunnels and that the bread holds together instead of crumbling in the middle of the slice, like some other over-risen breads that I have made.

All things considered, this was a very satisfactory experiment with a new recipe. And it will definitely be back for an encore.

Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Pugliese experiment

So I had to refresh my two starters today (Clyde - 100% rye, and Gertie - white flour), and don't have time to bake tomorrow. I remembered reading in the Reinhart book that you can replace the pre-ferment in a rustic dough with the barm from a white flour - no need to feed and activate first. Hey, I'm game!

So here's the recipe, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice (still my favorite book!):

biga 2cp/10.8oz Fancy or extra fancy durum flour and unbleached bread flour, in any combination (such as 50/50 blend) 2 1/4cp/10oz Salt 1 1/2tsh/0.38oz Instant yeast 1tsp/0.11oz Mashed potatoes (optional) 1/4cp/2 oz Water, lukewarm (90-100F) 1 to 1 1/8cp / 8-9oz

So after refreshing Gertie, I had about 9.5oz of leftover barm. I topped it up to 10.8oz with bread flour, and I had what looked just like a biga! Lovely :)

I used 50/50 bread/semolina flour for the second ingredient.

The dough is a very wet, rustic dough. Here's what it looked like after about 5 minutes on the hook:
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And after dumping it onto my very well floured counter:
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The dough gets pulled and folded, then allowed to rest for 30 minutes. This gets repeated twice more before a 2-hour bulk ferment.

I'm currently in my second 30-minute rest! More pictures to follow...


Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Swedish Limpa rye with candied citrus and cardamom

Here's a pair of gorgeous loaves from Bread Alone.

I made the candied citrus rinds the night before (4 separate boils and rinses!), as well as activated the starter. This morning I made the dough and kneaded in the chopped rinds. I tried some different scores with my homemade lame. I do like the star pattern :)

It smells unbelievable! I'll post a report on taste and texture when I open them up.

I pulled them after the amount of time suggested in the recipe. When I thumped them, they sounded fair, but a bit off. Remembering my lessons from Reinhart, I put my instant-read thermometer in, and it read 140F! The crust was solid and very, very dark, but the interior was still wet! Back into the oven they went, and I left the probe of my in-oven thermometer in it so I could just set the alarm for 190F. I covered the loaves with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. They needed another good 10 minutes.

If anyone wants the recipe, let me know and I'll post up.


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