The Fresh Loaf


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The Fresh Loaf
A song tasting of new wheat

A song tasting of new wheat

A song of the good green grass!

A song no more of the city streets;

A song of farms - a song of the soil of fields.

A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers handle the pitch fork;

A song tasting of new wheat and of fresh husk'd maize.

A Carol of Harvest, for 1867.  Walt Whitman (1819-1898)

 And so it came to pass that I had an afternoon to prepare more bread and The Husband was nowhere to be seen.  Luxury.  Surveying my cupboard, I spotted some spelt and realised I hadn't used it in a while.  Called "triticum spelta", spelt is one of the ancient wheats - discovered in Neolithic sites which date as far back as 2500-1700 BC.  It is also known as dinkel and, this is nerdy bit, is a hexaploid wheat - eg. it has six chromosomes.  In France, it is known as "épeautre" or wheat of the Gauls!  Hildegard of Bingen couldn't get enough of spelt, particularly recommending a spelt gruel called "Habermus" for which she gave a recipe (spelt, water, apple, lemon juice, galangal, cinnamon, honey, psyllium and almonds….).  According to her, spelt cleans the blood and gives man a joyous spirit.  Worth trying!!  Spelt was also used by the Romans, and for a bit of fun, see the link below to the British Museum site which has a recipe for spelt and whole wheat bread, based on a bread found in Herculaneum.

Anyway, the boule below is based on the "Ode to Bourdon" Basic Country Loaf in Tartine, but I wanted to jazz it up so swapped some whole wheat for spelt.  

Whole Wheat & Spelt Boule

Bread Flour                  300                  60%

Whole Wheat               100                  20%

Spelt                            100                  20%

Salt                              10                    2%

Water                           400                  80%

Levain                         125                  25%

The levain was 50BF/50WW at 80% hydration, used at 6hrs.  Kitchen is about 22C/71.6F.

1. Autolyse - all flour and 380g water, left this to autolyse for 1hr.

2. Mix in salt, 20g water and 125g levain.

3. Bulk Ferment - did a total of 5 S&F every 30mins.  Total bulk was 5hrs.

4. Preshape and bench rest - 30min

5. Shape and proof - this went into a banneton and into the fridge for 12hrs.  Went straight from fridge to banneton, scored with scissors.

6. Bake straight out of the fridge at 250C for 25mins, try to turn down the ridiculous antiquity of an oven, give up, have a glass of wine, then take the lid off to bake for another 25mins, watch the oven at some point drop down to 240C (ish). 

I completely forgot to pre-heat my DO but found that the loaf rose quite well anyway.  Decent oven spring and evenly aerated crumb, I prefer it this way than with massive holes.  Taste was mildly tangy and more so this morning, with a warm, almost sweet nutty taste from the spelt.  The top is sprinkled with sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds which marry up well with the flavour of the bread.  Am tempted to try this with 25% spelt and 15% WW.  Excellent with spicy olive oil, even better with a thin slice of lardo di colonnata and a drop of balsamic. 

O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice!

O harvest of my lands!  O boundless summer growths!

O lavish, brown, parturient earth!  O infinite, teeming womb!

A verse to seek, to see, to narrate the.

A Carol of Harvest, for 1867. Walt Whitman (1819-1898)

Help with baguette scores

Help with baguette scores

Hi all, I've benefited immensely from your help in the past, but I have more questions :)

I've been trying to make baguettes, and have most of it down, except the scoring.  I've watched videos, practiced, experimented with different amounts of steam etc... all without much success.  When I make other breads, my scores open nicely the way they should.  However, when I make baguettes (even when using the same recipe as my other successful breads), the scores end up looking like they do in the attached images.  Flat, shiny, no tearing at all.  What could be causing this?

I've also attached a photo of an example of my other non-baguette bread which have successful scoring just to show the difference.  Technique was exactly the same. 

CookingWithWhiskers says hello.

CookingWithWhiskers says hello.

Just a short introduction....

I have been cooking with sourdough for forty years now (mostly in Nevada).  Currently I happen to live south of San Francisco but good long fermented natural SD is not as easy to find as one might think.  Thus I try to bake a good loaf on occasion...   I am not a professional baker.... not at all.

I am also a little lazy so I make a lot of SD pancakes.    SD Pancakes are an easy way and tasty excuse to keep a SD starter happy and well fed.  Some days I wonder if I could live on them alone.... 

I have recently discovered what many here already know -- a cast iron covered dutch oven lets a home baker make a fine loaf.    

Happy cooking...

new to sourdough, anyone direct me to a good recipe?

new to sourdough, anyone direct me to a good recipe?

Just recently became disabled, I'm a certified chef, but left the cooking scene years ago, got so burnt out. I recently rediscovered my passion . Now having all the time in the world, I recalled my mother having that nasty looking jar of starter  in the fridge all my life, but remember how oh so good the bread it made tasted. SO I made me a starter, and recently made a couple loaves that my family goobled up.. but I personally didn't care for.


Any recipes that have been tested and approved I can be directed to? Thanks

and such a wonderful community this is, glad I stumbled upon it.

100% Whole Wheat Tartine Bread, Baked in Loaf Pans

100% Whole Wheat Tartine Bread, Baked in Loaf Pans

While I love rustic free-form loaves with a bold, crackling crust, complex flavor, and a crumb riddled with holes, my family does like whole wheat bread with a denser crumb, softer crust, and low acidity, in a shape good for sandwiches and toast. I hope that I was able to deliver something to satisfy that need, providing a healthful loaf with the previously mentioned qualities.

Here are some pictures of the loaves, including some crumb shots.

A couple notes

-The loaves were brushed with olive oil before and halfway through the bake, to ensure a soft crust

-The loaves were covered with tinfoil for the last 10 minutes of the bake; another effort to have a loaf with a soft crust

-Everything was done at room temperature, to keep the acidity low.

-Hydration was 92%

-Naturally leavened, no commercial yeast at all


Overall, a fun bake that delivered bread to suit my family's needs. Although I will admit, I did sneak a slice, and it made excellent toast!

I'm guessing the majority of you prefer the sort of bread I described first; the kind with a bold crust, open crumb, and complex flavor. But do you ever feel like having a slice of good "sandwich" bread?


Ken's Artisan Bakery, Portland, OR

Ken's Artisan Bakery, Portland, OR

I visited Ken's Artisan Bakery for the fist time yesterday. I am reporting on my visit and posting some photos in my TFL Blog. Here's a link: Last weekend's baking, or "Let Ken do it."



Last weekend's baking, or "Let Ken do it."

Last weekend's baking, or "Let Ken do it."

This past weekend, I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon, so I wasn't home to bake. I want to assure you my suffering was not intolerable. Susan and managed a long-deferred visit to Ken's Artisan Bakery. 

After checking the hours and offerings online, we went to Ken's for lunch on Sunday, before heading to PDX for our flight home. The bakery was in active production, and new batches of breads and pastries were being brought out for sale and consumption more or less continuously. Ken's offered about a half dozen different breads, a variety of viennoiserie and a few pastries and cookies. They offer sandwiches, salads and soup to eat in or take out. Oh, also Stumptown coffee, including espresso. The work areas are open to the ordering line and tables. There are huge windows on two sides of the corner building which were wide open where we sat on a gorgeous, sunny day.

Here are a few photos:

I had a tuna sandwich on Ken's Multigrain Bread, and we shared a salad that came with some sliced baguette. The multigrain bread was very good. I'm quite sure it was a sourdough bread spiked with some commercial yeast. It had a really crunchy crust and nice tender crumb with some mixed seeds. The baguette was super classical Parisian baguette. I'd bet anything it was sur poolish. It had a thin, crackly crust with a very sweet, wheaty crumb that was quite open. Here's a crumb photo of Ken's "Parisian Baguette:"

I (sort of) shared a Canelé and a cherry and strawberry crostata. Both pastries were very good. We'll have to return - hopefully soon - to try Ken's croissants, which have a stellar reputation and did look delicious. 

So, I'm back home ... with the levain ripe and ready to make Pain de Campagne. From FWSY, of course.



Hard Rolls

Hard Rolls

I am new to this site so hello all. I'm a long time baker and now currently moving into baking in my somewhat new brick oven. I've had it for the last two summers but I've been primarily focused on producing quality pizzas. Now that i have achieved that, I would like to try and produce a quality "what I'll call" Ny/Nj style hard roll.

If anyone knows how to produce this style hard roll please let me know. There’s nowhere near me producing a good hard roll within 400 miles. The first stop I make when visiting family back home in NJ is to stop at the Manville Bakery and pick up a dozen rolls. My Grand Father and Uncle owned a deli nearby when I was a kid and served sandwiches built to order on them and they were amazing!

The type of roll I'm talking about has a thin, hard exterior with an amazingly light inside and a little chew to it. The only down side to these rolls is, they're only really at  their best the same day, the next day they are still good but become more like what you'd buy in NW PA.....

If someone could chime in with a technique and recipe it would be greatly appreciated. 

The Happy Baker The Sourdough dilema

The Happy Baker The Sourdough dilema

As some of you may know I've had serious problems trying to get my Sourdough bread to rise, after posting my problem in the forum many of you guys took the time to give me some advice, for which I'm truly thankful. So for those who hadn't read my question before, here it is, and apologies for repeating myself to those who have.

 I am very new to bread baking only taking it up a couple of years ago, and like many I guess eventually found my way to the mysteries of Sourdough bread. Although I grow a very healthy starter  I am at a loss as to when I can use the starter after its last feed. I keep my starter refrigerated through the week, then bring it out to let it get back to room temperature before feeding with more flour and water, proportionately 120grms flour to 120ml water. I always use Organic unbleached white flour and only ever bottled water.

Within a few hours my starter has doubled in size and looks and smells very nice. but.....when can I start to make a new bread? while the starter is on the rise, at its peak, or when its dropping off? whatever I try, my dough always rises well in the 1st and 2nd proving  but when I turn it out of my bannetton  onto my warm baking stone, the dough just goes flat and looses all the air. the baked bread tastes pretty good but it never looks right.

I thought the problem may lay with when to feed and when to use, was I waiting too long after feed my starter or was I too impatient and making my dough before the starter had time to get going? many many many attempts later and with only some small success more by luck than judgement I occasionally  produced a decent loaf. 

So I was surprised to see the majority of replies I received all pointed to the same single thing - over proving!  All the books I have go on and on about the necessity of a long slow prove which will give me a wonderful bread?

Now I am confident with each loaf I bake that my rise will remain and not drop like a pancake. so In pictures here is my result, I admit its not breathtaking or even modestly wonderful, but to me it is a massive success which will now allow me to improve and  create better breads.

My starter after being fed some 10 hours before it is at the very top of its rise.

Mixing the Flour, Starter, Salt, and water initially in my mixer


After 5 minutes the Dough comes together


I then continue to kneed by hand for another 15 Minutes


Then place in a bowl to prove     

And after 5 Hours I have this...


After gently folding I place in my banneton 


and this is where I have changed my Proving time I only leave for 2 hours for the 2nd proving


Now its into the oven at 200 for 30 minutes


and here is the result........


my only mistake (that I know of) was not to slash the top so when I sliced the bread..

 Still I'm Very Happy. Thanks again everyone



New Built-In gas oven in the UK

New Built-In gas oven in the UK


Our 30 year old and slightly demented gas oven recently decided to cease working altogether. I'm currently having to make do with the microwave on the convection setting. Does anyone have any recommendations for built-in gas ovens in the UK? Sadly an electric oven isn't practical at the moment.

Cheers, Barmbread




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