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The Fresh Loaf
Summer loaf-in

Summer loaf-in

Our new house is normally on the chillier side (~64F) and I am still learning what this means for my wild yeast breads, which seem more sluggish now than in our sunnier former digs. 

Happily, this week's forecast is warm with a chance of oven spring! 

30% freshly milled whole wheat, 70% white, 85% hydration. Made with a levain, Chad Robertson-style. 

Croissant Class

Croissant Class

Hi there, I'm new here and was hoping to get some advice regarding setting up a croissant class. 

I've been making croissants for a long time now and want to share the process with others by hosting classes at a local bakery kitchen. I'm wondering if any instructors or people who have attended a croissant class could weigh in on the structure of teaching such a class. 

I would like to set up the class in the order of how croissants are made (creating the dough, laminating, shaping, proofing, baking), however, as I'm sure you know, I will have to have dough pre-made and ready to go for the various stages of the process. 

My concern is how much of the class should be a demonstration vs. how much should actually be hands on. If I have 8 students, for example, and the entire class (minus portraying how the dough is initially created) is hands on, that means I'll need 8 squares of dough that's rested overnight and ready to be laminated and 8 squares of dough that's ready to be shaped and proofed. And then of course at least 1-2 sets of already proofed croissants ready to go in the oven for students to enjoy right then. 

Any thoughts or experience on how a class like this would go? Thank you in advance for your time!

OT? Whole grain crackers method - a revelation to me

OT? Whole grain crackers method - a revelation to me

Greetings everyone. It appears that crackers are discussed in the TheFreshLoaf forums, so I hope this is not considered off-topic. I love crackers with cheese and dips, so I started investigating whether there were any recipes for whole grain crackers that I might try to make with whole grain flour from my newly acquired Magic Mill III Plus. That's when I stumbled across "Whole Grain Alice". (Her costume is a take-off on Alice in Wonderland, which seems to elude some people. :)

I'm a newbie, but I found her approach to be quite novel. Rather than rolling out dough, her method uses high hydration "batter" that she pours out on a silicone lined 1/2 sheet baking pan. Bakes for 10 minutes and then removes to score (with a pastry wheel) and then returns to the oven. She also uses a "turn the oven off, but leave them in for 30 minutes" approach.

She has a book, available in paperback or Kindle, which I *highly* recommend. She has some great time saving "subcomponent" (my word) recipes for a "Super Seed Mix" and a "Whole Grain Mix". She also has three videos on YouTube where you can see how beautiful her crackers are. Also a few examples on Flickr.

Whole Grain Mix:

The grains you can use in her recipes goes waaaaaay beyond just wheat. I'm planning on trying her method this weekend, but I have no doubt that it will work. As she says, "It's not rocket science".

Type 1050 Flaxy/oat porridge bread

Type 1050 Flaxy/oat porridge bread

The week started off well, this batch of flaxy oat porridge bread tasted some kind of fine.
This is from a formula that's developed into a regular item here, it's made with type 1050 wheat flour from a nearby regional mill, from across the Rhein on the German side. A seperate levain, poolish and flax soaker, each make up 9% of the flour bill, oat porridge comes in at 5%. A 0.5% fresh yeast addition is added to the final dough, approx. total hydration is 78%ish. I slide these into a 240C oven and steam them well, the crust action is pretty decent.
cheers! Joy of gluten 



Today's bake

Today's bake

Well I suppose there is nothing remarkable here except another batch of lovely sourdough for the coming week's consumption.  I have baked my own bread for 40 years or so but I'm a relatively recent convert to sourdough - I had always thought it was overly complicated and wouldn't fit into a busy life.  However, the 'conversion' was painless and indeed very rewarding - I am now a total convert.


This weeks bake is a blend of seeded and white with an overall hydration of just 62.5% with 3% fat (olive oil) and 1% LoSalt.  I have been steadily reducing the salt for health reasons and I have found 1% quite acceptable.  I do vary the hydration according to the flour but for this blend, a lower than normal hydration was required.


The process is a 4 stage build (dabrownman - no fuss, no muss technique) over a period of 12 hours, from 10g of Rye seed to a 50% preferment at 100% hydration which was left overnight in the fridge - the final water and flour being added the following morning.  Then 2 hours BF (with S&F during the first hour) and in this case a 4 hour prove.  The four 500g loaves were baked (seam side up - without slashing) together on two heavy duty baking sheets without any additional steam.  I have tried DOs and baking stones but prefer it my way.   I'm not a fan of big holes in the crumb for 'normal everyday' bread - unless of course, it's a ciabatta or similar

I am always experimenting with other baker's techniques/recipes which is why I find this forum so interesting.  Sometimes my efforts are a complete failure but gradually these have become less and less frequent - I must be learning something!!

Happy baking

How do you name a bread after a place?

How do you name a bread after a place?

I've seen so many breads like that here, other sites and in books. Vermont sourdough, Norwich Sourdough, San Joaquin sourdough, San Francisco sourdough and many more. I want to name a bread in honor of my hometown in the future if it's possible. Thanks.

Probably my last experiment on baking with pots

Probably my last experiment on baking with pots

A friend from other state decided to pay a visit and I was asked if I could bake a sourdough bread for her. Having another opportunity to bake, I said yes of course! Also, this bake would probably be my last experiment on baking with different kind of pots as I have come to the conclusion that a stainless steel pot yields a better result compared to a clay pot. The crust is crunchier and oven spring is good too! This bake has also convinced me to purchase a cast iron Dutch Oven ASAP! No more excuses :)

So here are just a few shots that I managed to take before everybody wolfed down my bread, I was very pleased indeed. 


Looked a bit lop sided, got to improve on my shaping though!


A closer look at the crust.


Crumb shot

Focaccia from FWYS

Focaccia from FWYS

I've made focaccia just a few times, usually as an afterthought when I had some dough left over from another bake. Frankly, it's never been very good. Today, I made a focaccia that was really good. Really, really good! 

This past weekend, I made a couple loaves of Ken Forkish's "Overnight Country Blonde." Since I was mixing the levain anyway, I made a bit extra for Pizzas. Now, the formula in FWYS makes enough dough for 5 pizzas. I usually make 2 pizzas for the two of us. This time, I made enough dough to have 340g left, with the thought I would make focaccia, and that's what I did. 

340g of dough is enough to make a 9" round focaccia in a cast iron skillet, according to Forkish. I made mine in an 8" cake pan. My procedure was as follows:

1. Make Pizza dough according to the Overnight Pizza Dough with Levain. (There was no overnight fermentation for me. The bulk fermentation was complete in about 6 hours.) Divide the dough into 340g pieces. Roll into balls and put in Ziploc sandwich bags with a Tbs of olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

2. 2 hours before baking, take one ball out of the refrigerator. Let it proof at room temperature until increased in volume by about 50%. It should be very puffy.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured board. Gently degas it, turning it over to flour both sides. 

4. Stretch the dough as for a pizza into a 8" round.

5. Lightly oil a non-stick 8" cake pan. Transfer the dough to it, and, if needed, stretch it to the pan walls. Cover with a damp towel and let proof for 30-60 minutes, depending on room temperature. The dough should increase in volume by maybe 30%.

6. Pre-heat oven to 500dF (convection-bake, if you have it).

7. Pour 2 Tbs of olive oil on the dough. Spread it around with your fingers while dimpling the dough deeply all over with your finger tips. With your clean hand, sprinkle the dough surface with finely chopped fresh rosemary, coarse salt and any other toppings. ( I pressed pitted, halved Kalamata olives into half of the focaccia.)

8. Bake for 12 minutes. The top should be lightly browned.

9. When ready to serve, cut into rectangular pieces. Can be cut for panini or used for dipping.

Focaccia in pan, ready to bake

Just out of the oven

Ready to slice



This dough had been refrigerated for 3 days. The flavor of the focaccia was complex with moderate sourdough tang. We ate it at room temperature. The crust was thin and soft. The crumb was delightfully chewy but not at all tough. I ate some dipped in hummus and more accompanying roast wild king salmon, corn on the cob and a tomato salad for dinner.

I will definitely make this again! I'm looking forward to using it for Panini and un-grilled sandwiches as well.

Here are some photos of the other weekend baking:

Overnight Country Blonde from FWSY

Overnight Country Blonde crumb

And a slice of Pizza Margherita

Happy baking!




Summer Farmer's Market

Summer Farmer's Market

This week was the first week of the new summer market in Dryden. Along with a few friends in the Bread Club, we prepared several types of bread for sale. We had a dozen each of Italian Semolina bread, Caraway Rye, and a couple types of Multigrain Sourdough. We also made a couple dozen brioche with different fillings which went pretty fast so I'll have to make more of those next time.

Italian Semolina

The Italian Semolina is from Hamelman's recipe for Durum bread. It uses both a biga and a wild yeast levain. For this I used my new Italian mother culture that my aunt gave me when we went to visit her in the hills of northern Italy last month. I prepared a total of 8kg of dough for about 12 loaves at 650g each. This bread is one of my favorite everyday breads with a thin crisp crust and lovely golden crumb. 

Caraway Rye

Caraway Rye

The caraway rye was also from Hamelman's recipe for Deli Rye. This is a great bread for sandwiches or toast. It is made with 15% pre-fermented rye flour so it develops a nice sour flavor that is great with the aromatic caraway, especially when the rise is retarded overnight in the fridge. I slashed these loaves a bit to early so they flattened out more than I wanted but they still tasted great. I made about 8kg of this as well for a dozen loaves at 650g.

Seeded Sourdough

I also made 2 types of multigrain sourdough. The one pictured above is Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread. This dough is leavened with only wild yeast. I wanted to make pan loaves for this but I didn't have room in the fridge for my large pullman pans so I reversed the time for the bulk and final fermentation. Bulk fermentation was ~8hrs, then it went in the fridge for a while before dividing into 1500g loaves and a final 2hr rise. The flavor was great and the texture was good but I thought the loaves seemed a bit short. I either need to load the pans more or (more likely) give it more time to rise in the pan before baking.

Spent Grain Sourdough

The other sourdough I made (above) was my own creation. It was a recipe I came up with to use the spent starter that comes from feeding my mother cultures throughout the week(s). Basically I had about 1 kg of spent starter (a mix of rye and wheat) in the fridge that I didn't want to go to waste. Going along with the theme of no waste, I also incorporated ~20% spent grain that I got from a local micro-brewery. This results in a pretty slack dough that doesn't gain much height when baking, but has a nice flavor & texture. They weren't the most eye catching loaves so I was worried that it wouldn't be very popular at the market, but after giving out a few free samples this was actually the first type to sell out! I made 6 loaves with the following recipe:


Bread Flour1360g85%
Whole Wheat Flour240g15%
Water (or Beer)800g50%
Instant Yeast32g2%
Spent Brewers Grain380g20%
Spent Sourdough (100% hydration; rye & wheat)1200g75%


I made 2 types of Brioche dough. One is from Hamelman's book and the other is from Reinharts "Crust & Crumb". The Reinhart version has a higher percentage of butter (~80%!) compared to 50% in the other. Both are delicious but I wanted to see which would work better for my production schedule. I filled the Hamelman Brioche with fruit filling (raspberry and apricot) and shaped them into cornetti. The richer Reinhart dough was rolled flat and filled with nutella or cream cheese filling, then folded over. Both were delicious, but I think the Hamelman version rose slightly better this time. The others were kind of flat underneath the filling. I have made the Reinhart recipe in the past with better results, but making all this bread with limited tools constrains the proofing schedule and I think that didn't agree with the richer dough as well. Next time I think I will just stick with the Hamelman recipe and maybe try some different shapes so I don't confuse what filling is where when I am selling them.

So I was pretty happy with the first week at the new market stand. Traffic was low because of rainy weather, but I sold the majority and had a few loaves left to give to friends & family. Hopefully the weather will be better next time.


The ultimate loaf

The ultimate loaf

I am an elderly novice baker and my goal is to bake the perfect loaf.  After many good results and even more sad ones today I have a 'not sure'.  The mix was extra strong flour, toasted wheat germ, a smat of butter and honey, salt water and fresh yeast. The dough was very active and proved well. The resulting loaf is not what I expected. It has a soft crust and the body soft and fluffy.  What sort of loaf have I made?

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