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January 21, 2007



Hi Melissa,
166% hydration is equal "volume" of flour to water,(1 cup flour, 1 cup water) so that may be why your dough was too "wet". 100% hydration is equal "weight" of flour and water which is different than equal "volume" (8 oz flour,8 oz water - would be equal weight).
Happy Baking,


Aha! Now I understand. That makes sense. Thanks so much, Teresa. We are loving your starter!


Hi Lissa. I was timid about slashing too and then one day I just decided to go for it and slashed it so deep (like an inch or more) and spread the dough apart with my fingers a bit. Voila! My baguette was a bit out of shape though as it had bulges on the side. I think DEEP, but not too wide, is the trick.


Hi! I'm a bit late to the discussion, but...

The "wetness" of the dough is called "slack." A slack dough gives you the larger irregular holes and a more open texture ("crumb"), very desirable in an artisan bread and fabulous for toast.

I've been baking our bread about twice a week for almost 10 years. The KitchenAid is gold!!! Do you know that you can get a grain mill attatchment? (And a pasta attatchment, and... that way lies madness!)

Regarding the slashing, try dusting with flour and then cut deep(an inch or so -when in doubt do more) at a 45 degree angle -lovely!

The book "Crust and Crumb" was the big eye opener for me about the why of breadmaking. It really takes it to another level and gives you both the art and the science. It actually explains how and why bread goes stale and how to avoid this (you need some oil in the bread, but it explains what the oil is doing to the flour) and why heating stale bread restores moisture to it. Lots of pictures, too. A fabulous book!

I love your blogs: the concept of tidal homeschooling made me yell, "Yes! This is what we do, we aren't just periodically lazy!!!"

An idea if you are still into breadmaking: when my 2nd child was getting ready for First Communion, we grew bread from scratch. A patch of wheat does not take up much space and we discussed all the farming parables in a new way (if you toss some seed on the sidewalk the birds really do come and eat it up)! Since wheat is a grass, any sunny patch of yard will do. Here in Maryland we planted hard winter wheat (high gluten for bread flour)in mid-October and harvested in early July. You can call your County Extension Office to see what would work for you.

We went through a Midieval thing during this and spent some time as serfs, then knights, then religious, then nobles. Eye opening! Lots of possibilities for interesting "strewing."

The only downside was that the wheat had been bred for combine harvesting and was hard to thresh by hand.

Erik Parsons

Great conversation piece! I found the other comments to be very informative. I really enjoy this blog.

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About This Blog

  • I'm Melissa Wiley, a children's book author and home- educating mother of five. My kids and I are beginning breadbakers. We wanted an informal place to collect notes, recipes, and advice, a place to chronicle our successes and failures. That's what this space is for, and if you've ventured in for a peek, I most eagerly encourage you to jump into the discussion. We are novices, and we're hoping to learn a great deal from wiser and more experienced bakers. We have a zillion questions. This blog is our attempt to collect all the answers in one place.

    Photo credit: Kristen Rutherford. Baking credit: Jane.

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