The Fresh Loaf


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The Fresh Loaf
Need some recipes? But all Im finding are recipes with yeast...

Need some recipes? But all Im finding are recipes with yeast...

Ive even found some recipes with starter + YEAST.

The point of me making the starter was to axe the commercial yeast :)

Am I googling the wrong things, even on this site I cant too easily find a recipe that calls for starter...

After all my posts, I finally believe my starter is active and well!!!  YAY thank you guys, 



Need a recipe idea

Need a recipe idea

Hi All,

The Jewish New Year is on the horizon and I would like to bake a bread for somebody and need a recipe. Would like it to be a Sourdough with Honey and Apples. 

This person has heard all about my sourdough ventures and would like to try it and it is traditional to eat apples with honey. So wish to incorporate both! 

Thanks for your help and ideas. 

- Abe

Last Chance for Oven

Last Chance for Oven

Although I think I have made my decision to stop using the oven for my bread baking I am posting in case there is one more thing I have possibly missed.

Over the last 3 months or so with the help of the amazing Abe, I have had great successes  with adaptations for my Panasonic bread machine. However, it is a different story when baking in the oven. I have not had one completely successful loaf. At best the loaves have baked but still turned out gummy in the middle. I have done all the usual things such as using a pizza stone, pre-heating for a long time, buying an oven thermometer to check the temperature (waste of time as it is so variable very quickly and it says it is 2 gas marks out which I find hard to believe as all my other food and dishes cook correctly).

I have tried to simulate a Dutch oven with a glass cloche over the pizza stone and that didn't make any difference. I have also just tried again using pans.

I am at the end of my tether as my gas bill has shot up and the amount of waste from thrown out loaves has been ridiculous. Other than buying an electric oven as that is the only other thing I can think it could be, has anyone else got any ideas that doesn't involve great expense and will result in a properly baked loaf? Or should I just stick to my very successful bread machine results?

Bloomer crust

Bloomer crust

hi all, 

my my bloomers are coming out the oven with a good solid rock hard crispy crust as I expect them too. However once they cool down they seem to soft and lose this crispy crust. Is this normal?




Rotoflex steaming question

Rotoflex steaming question

I've been baking out of a Rotoflex deck oven the last few months: it is a 4 tiered deck oven with steel decks.  The top gets too hot and the bottom doesn't get good top heat, so I've been cooking on the middle two levels.  I had been using a garden sprayer to steam the loaves, and got acceptable results.  However, I had to leave the door open a lot and be pretty active during the cooking period.  I recently rigged a mister inside the oven.

Here's my question: the level of steam is great, but the bottoms of the lower level loaves are burning pretty bad.  I have it set at 450, but the lower decks are heating up pretty hot.  My thought for a solution is to preheat it to 400 and then cook at 450, but that would really only be good for the first load.  Any other suggestions?

Australian Home Proofer

Australian Home Proofer

I've recently completed my home proofer. My primary aims were to create a safe, waterproof, inexpensive and functional result. I could not justify a Brod and Taylor, landed here in Australia for $250. The main advantage of a proofer to create a stable environment and bring some predictability to the proofing time.

Melbourne winters are nothing like the ones in Northern Europe or Canada, however we do get close to 0°C and for a few months in winter, the outside temperature is well below 15°C. Finding a warm and stable spot in the house at the correct temperature for proofing is not always easy.

Some time ago I had a perspex box made specifically to cover loaves of bread while rising. The box was not cheap. This proofer uses the perspex box but really any plastic box can be used.

The main components of the proofer are the following:

  • Base, made from 6mm ply wood. One of the sides slide out.
  • Heating pad
  • Grill
  • Thermometer and Thermostat
  • Fans
  • Cover

The plywood cost me around $12. I had the hardware store cut it for me and I glued it at home. The joints are secured with panel pins.

The heating pad cost about $8. It can be found in various sites (eBay) as a waterproof "reptile heating mat". I had previously purchased a 7W pad but it did not have enough power to create a stable temperature environment. The 14W pad works well. I guess, the pad should be as large as possible to fit the base of the box.

The grill is something I already had. So not sure of the cost. I use it so that I don't place the container with the dough to be proofed directly onto the heating pad.

The thermostat was sourced from ebay. There are so many to choose from. I would say around $10 would do. Mine cost a little more. A suction pad is used to secure the thermometer to the cover.

The fans are optional. I put them in but don't need to use them. I thought that air blowing over the pad would distribute the heat evenly. It does, but the heat in the box appears to be even when measuring using three sensors (one from the thermostat and 2 from a digital thermometer). They are 2 x 2.54cm (one inch if you must) 5V computer fans. The 2 fans are wired to a RCA plug (because I already had one) secured to the base. I made up a cable with a RCA male on one end and a USB plug on the other. A standard low amp (say 500mA) USB charger is used to power the fans. Its low voltage, low amp and therefore quite safe. The fans cost around a $1 each.

USB plug for fans

The cover as I said earlier is a bespoke perspex box. During summer, I use the box without the base to cover the bread loaves. It seems to quite adequately create a humid environment. You don't have to use perspex, You can use a store bought plastic box for a few dollars.

The wires can all be placed into the box for storage. The one end of the box slides out so the wires can be removed.


Testing the Emile Henry Bread Loaf Baker

Testing the Emile Henry Bread Loaf Baker

I really love creating boules and batards. But there are times that a standard loaf shape just makes more sense. Metal loaf pans never did what I wanted, but a few months back I received the Emile Henry Loaf Baker and today I gave it a try.  

Normally in the summer I only bake breads outside, but because I was baking for a party, I turned on the oven and decided to finally give the new baker a try.

I did a standard pain au levain and decided to bake side by side with a boule to get some comparison. I didn't proof the loaf in the baker because I like my cloche to be hot and thought I would use the same approach. The only problem was the warm weather had caused my dough to expand a little too much and needed a little squish to get in. But it recovered from that quite nicely.

Here are the two loaves side by side. I got pretty much the same results as the boule with oven spring and coloring (The loaf hit the top of of the baker so it was just the right size) I had absolutely no sticking or any problems at all. Looks like it will make nice sandwich slices.


The boule was quite musical today. It sang to me for a very long time. Never get tired of that sound! I have been extremely impressed with the Emile Henry products. Next on the list is the baguette baker.




Refreshing Reinhart's wild yeast for pizza dough

Refreshing Reinhart's wild yeast for pizza dough

PR says to refresh a mother starter, which has stayed in the fridge longer than 3 days, with 4 cups of flour and 2 1/4 cups of water. Of this amount, he uses only 1 cup to make his sourdough pizza. I'm confused as to why I need to make such a big starter. Also, the recipe uses an inordinate amount of sugar or honey. I'm sure the sugar fulfills a purpose, keeping the dough more elastic, but can I cut down on the amount, or eliminate it altogether? 

On the Sea

On the Sea

I'll never take water for granted again

I'll never take water for granted again

I recently moved from Menomonee Falls (near Milwaukee),Wisconson to Eden Prairie (near Minneapolis), Minnesota. I had excellent quality drinking water in Milwaukee and just took it for granted. My SD thrived with no worries and my coffee tasted great.

Now it is a different story in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The tap water has a huge chlorine presence that does not dissipate with standing or heating. The taste is pretty bad. I now understand why people buy bottled water even if it is from another municipal source. My daughter lives 1 town over (about 4miles) and her water tastes fine.

As for using my tap water for bread, I did use it for 1 or 2 sd feedings and Jack (starter) didn't seem to mind. I hesitate to use it for more. I use a pitcher filter (Brita) and it helps slightly with the taste but I use spring water or daughter's water to feed my cultures.

So now I really appreciate all the discussions and difficulties people have had with water and will appreciate good water from now on because that may be something I will need help with in the future.

And as a question-what do I need to know when I look at a municipal water report? Is there anything I can do?

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