The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking

Floydm's picture

The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking

A week ago Dorota blogged that she baked her first loaf of bread (very successfully, I might add) as a part of a yet-to-be-revealed project we're working on.  That project is an e-book for new bakers I'm putting together tentatively titled The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking

Most of the content in the e-book so far is repurposed from lessons and blog entries I've posted to the site in the past, condensed and edited into a tighter format.  There is little here you can't already find on the site, but you might have to poke around and read 25 different posts and a couple of hundred comments to pull it all together. Here the posts are already filtered, sorted, and edited for you.

 I've been thinking of this as more of an e-booklet than an e-book since it is much less complete than the "real" baking books many of us already own.  Like my initial lessons on this site, I'm hoping this can provide that first successful baking gateway experience ("I really did it!  All by myself!") that leads folks to become as unhealthily obsessed with bread as most of us have become (unhealthily mentally, I mean, not physically).  At that point we can introduce them to the likes of Mr. Reinhart and Mr. Hamelman and share with them the photos of our starters (each with a name!) and all that other silly stuff only fellow bread nerds will appreciate.  

This e-book will probably not be instructive to the kinds of folks who frequent this site -- in fact, in order to not confuse new bakers like my wife I often oversimplify what we know to be quite complex processes.  Confidence building is much more the goal here than a nuanced understanding of all the factors involved in baking. 

I do intend to make more revisions, one of which is to call more attention to the TFL site at various points ("To learn more, come check out..."), but I've been trying to make it as self-contained as I possibly could without making it meandering or bloated.  That is actually quite a challenge for someone as accustomed to publishing online as I am and for whom hyperlinking is second nature.  

Some but not all of the Kindle formatting is in the manuscript currently, so if you download it be aware that there is extra white space in the PDF and the table of contents links don't all work in the Kindle file. That will come.

I would like to wrap this up and publish it to the Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-book stores in the not-too-distant future.  Price-wise, I've imagined asking no more than $5 for it, probably closer to $3.  Yes, I'd be pleased if it generated some income, but I'd be more excited to see it sell better at a lower price and make its way up the e-book charts on Amazon and thus introduce more people to bread baking (and this community) than it would at a higher price. 

 I'm interested in folks' feedback, both conceptually ("Great idea!") and in execution ("...but your writing stinks!"). If you have a chance to look at it, please email me to let me know what you think of it so far.  I'll leave these links up for the next few days then remove them some time next week when I start making further edits. 


Download links removed 6/25/2011.

arlo's picture

Just downloaded! I will try to read it between all the school work this weekend.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin


Love how right after the 'why we wrote this', you throw them right into the flour! I think anyone with a real sense of bread baking curiosity will be so completely shocked by your confidence in them at that point that they will just comply and try it - at least once - which is what you want them to do right up front. There's no dire cautions, and frankly, you leave them feeling that even failure is a success. It's good, I like it! Where the heck was it about 6 years ago when I used to go shopping for flour or sugar and just stare in amazement at the yeast packages? I really could have used a good kick in the rear back then.

There are quite a few grammatical errors and such, but I know it's a draft. I'll try to drop you a line later today with some thoughts about that first recipe.

You have gold. = )

- Keith

Floydm's picture

Thanks, Keith.  

ehanner's picture

Great idea Floyd. Some initial comments on what I've read so far.

More photos on the steps of the process. It looks like you are mixing on a kitchen towel in the photo but I suspect there is a clear cutting board on top of the towel. Photos that show the handling and shaping and scoring would be helpful.

I would make a bulk purchase of plastic scrapers and mail one to everyone who buys the ebook. This simple device brings order to a messy process and makes moving dough in and out of a bowl so much easier I'm amazed you can't buy one in every grocery store.

You don't mention to use a serrated knife when scoring. Any serrated knife is better than not.

The poolish bread is hydrated at 87% mostly due to the equal amounts by volume of flour and water in the poolish.

In the baking procedure, I think it's asking a lot to get people to remember to turn the oven down after a few minutes and then rotate later. I would pick a single temperature and say rotating might be necessary depending on your oven. Load and set the timer.  Simple.


Floydm's picture

Good tips, all.  So far I've pulled in existing recipes from the site, but it is true I haven't adequately standardized or simplified the directions yet.  

Thanks, Eric.

Ford's picture

You asked for it so here goes.

I think this is a wonderful book to introduce people to baking their own bread.  The book piques the curiosity and gets the neophyte right into the joy of baking!

The book is well written and interesting reading.  It introduces the baking terms without getting too technical.

I think the book could use a little bit of cosmetic editing in the formatting of the pages.  1/ Do not leave a title on one page and the start of the text on the next.  2/ Do not let the list of ingredients be split between two pages.

I would recommend this to anyone just starting out to bake bread.  Thank you, Floyd.


Floydm's picture

Thanks for your feedback, Ford.

The small Kindle screen does make formatting and layout a challenge, but I agree with you that fitting all of the ingredients or all of a step of a recipe on a single screen is the way to go.  To do that I actually need to insert page breaks into the document at every place it is supposed to start on a new screen, something I don't want to do quite yet.  The PDF may come out 100 pages long once I do that, each page containing a just small chunk of text or a single photo.    


sphealey's picture

For the yeast section, I suggest adding a brief closing paragraph along the lines of "don't stress yourself over yeast.  All modern yeasts are hardy and will work well; there is no need for the stress & anxiety that has come to be associated with using yeast."

In fact, I myself would probably put that advice in the Introduction ;-)


tssaweber's picture

Will download and read next week on vacation.

BTW will we ever have a TFL version for smart phones.  It would be fun to TFL at an airport or in the hunting blind....


Floydm's picture

Yes, I very much plan on creating a nice mobile theme for TFL.   This summer perhaps?  

You actually now can go to:

And get a minimalist view of the site.  I wouldn't say it is smart phone optimized, but it certainly loads more quickly on a phone than the full site does.


tssaweber's picture

Thanks Floyd, looking forward to that.

(from my BB)

dstroy's picture

ahaha what a funny image to picture you bread geeks looking up the latest theories on bakers percentages while geared up out in the woods  :)

pmccool's picture

you are one of us.

(Cue the mad scientist laughter.)


dstroy's picture

"gooble gobble" :D

tssaweber's picture

Great results with TFLmobile©!

pmccool's picture


I think this is a very good idea and that it should be very useful to a beginning baker.  It demystifies a lot of the "bread speak" that we like to toss around without feeling like it has been dumbed down.

Some notes:

- Consistency in terminology.  Early on we read about "primary fermentation" and then never see it again.  "Bulk fermentation" shows up later but the reader is left to figure out whether those are the same or different things.  Maybe you should do what you have done with other terms, which is to provide commonly used equivalents and explain that they are the same thing with different names.  

- Make sure that every term is listed in the glossary, too.

- See if you can obtain the services of an editor (maybe barter a loaf of bread?) to tighten and refine the text.  I think you have nailed the style and tone for this kind of document but the actual text can be polished.  I'd volunteer the services of my daughter but she is rather busy right now with disaster relief in Joplin.  Does Mercy Corps have an editor on staff?  Or do you know someone at your local newspaper?

That's what registered as I took a quick scan through the book.  All in all, a commendable effort.  I think this will encourage a lot of wannabe bakers to take the plunge.


Floydm's picture

Thanks, Paul.  I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. I've made some progress on standardizing the terminology, but the job is certainly not done yet, and the glossary is not complete yet.

Regarding editing, I have the good fortune of having family members in the publishing industry that are much better writers and editors than I am.  I do plan on soliciting as much of their input at they are willing to give, but I want to shore up the content a bit more and take another stab at editing it myself before handing it off to them.    


melinda-dawn's picture

Downloaded and looking forward to reading it.

Monday starts my annual 3 months of nothing to do but bake and cook time, and this year I'm feeling very ambitious ........ I want to try a sourdough (I know not in the book).

My husband loves French bread, so that will be Monday's bake. Tuesday will restart my annual campaign to ween the teens off of commercial sandwich breads (maybe this year I will win). Wednesday or Thursday will see me making WW for me.

As a beginner/almost intermediate baker I am looking forward to working with the recipe's in the book.


Candango's picture

Floyd,  This is a great idea and a great "e-booklet" you have hatched.  I just downloaded it and will read it in detail in the next days.  My initial comment, however, is "Great job."  Throwing the reader directly into the flour and then walking him/her through the first loaf of a French bread, with photos accompanying, is a great idea and sure to boost the confidence level of a beginner, which is exactly what you want.  Super. 

I see others have already commented on spelling and editing changes to be made, so I will appreciate that this is a draft and be grateful that you put it up for us to have a peek at before you push it to Amazon and watch it go viral.  Good luck.


GSnyde's picture


This ebooklet will be a great resource for beginners.  Besides agreeing with previous comments about the need for some minor editing, I only have two comments:

1.  I know you want to keep this simple, but I think it's important for beginners to know more about creating surface tension.  You do say that it's important to have a taut loaf, but you should add a bit about how to achieve that in a free form loaf.  Maybe just a paragraph about pre-shaping a few minutes before final shaping, a paragraph describing how to form a boule and a paragraph describing how to form a batard.  Describe your favorite methods and tell the reader there are lots of different techniques.

2.  I think you should give more than just a mention (in Dorota's preface) of  You should give a brief description of what's available here.  Not as a plug, but because there is simply no better information resource for bread bakers of every level, and new bakers should know about it.  The Fresh Loaf is at least as important as yeast, if not flour.

Congrats on a good start to a very worthwhile project.


Floydm's picture

Good points, Glenn.  Thank you for your input.


gmabaking's picture

Summer means grandchildren visiting and wanting to try new adventures. Last summer was quilting. With the help of your new adventure, this summer they can begin their journey into breadmaking. When the booklet is published I'll get them their very own copies.

Thanks for your work and welcome to breadmaking Dorata, it is a journey that never grows stale (couldn't resist that paltry pun)

drdobg's picture

Floyd, this is a commendable project.  It will be a great introduction for the newbies that venture to TFL.  I wanted to have you look over the instructions for the preferment for your Rustic Bread (pp28-29).  Ingredients for your preferment list water, flour and yeast, but directions instruct the mixing of the flour and salt together in a bowl and add the yeasted water.  I haven't seen a preferment with salt added and suspect this was not your intent.


I look forward to the various iterations of the Pocket Guide!


P.S.  And I would echo the chorus of more pictures.

carefreebaker's picture

Great idea. I'm looking forward to baking thru it myself, starting tomorrow.

In your e-book you say:

"Some of the recipes in this book contain the weights as well as the measures. Using the weights is more reliable and simpler, but if you don’t have a scale the measures work fine."

I didn't see the measures, only weights, for your Lazy Man's Brioche??



mrfrost's picture

I too would love to see some of Floyd's classic recipes/adaptations put to weights!

jcking's picture

You'd be surprised how many people new to cooking/ baking don't know the difference between wet and dry measuring cups.


cgmeyer2's picture

just downloaded & will try recipes. so far i am very impressed by the detailed bread instructions. i can give this to my adult children.

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Floyd.

I finally found time to read the "PocketBook." It strikes a nice tone for the beginning/prospective home baker. It has lots of good information. The only outright error I saw was the equation of "bloom" and "oven spring." I would either differentiate them or just talk about oven spring. "Bloom" refers to the opening up during baking of cuts made when scoring the loaf. "Oven spring" is the increase in loaf volume during the bake. 

Some suggestions: 

1. Add a section before the Glossary on "Next steps" with suggestions for those who want to move beyond the basics. This might include learning to measure ingredients by weight, learning more about baker's math and buying some books. 

2. I'd add Dan DeMuzio's book to the reading list. It has lots of good information more briefly written than the same information in Reinhart or Hamelman.

3. Add a section after the Glossary on "Resources." I'd include a few sources of baking equipment and  ingredients and reference to online resources such as Youtube videos and web sites (TFL, KAF, NW Sourdough, WildYeastBlog, Sourdoughhome).

It's a great project and excellent draft.


Floydm's picture

We've done quite a bit more work on this in the past couple of weeks, considerably flushing out a couple of the sections and making many adjustments based on community feedback.  It is coming together. Your feedback -- and the feedback from other folks here -- has definitely been helpful, and your compliments are greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Franko's picture

I've been trying to get back up to speed with TFL over the last 24 hours after some time away on vacation, and came across this post of yours Floyd. After a brief read-through of the book I'd say it's the most accessible and informative book on the basic process of baking bread I've run across so far. I like the easy going style you use, and that you don't wander into too much technical detail, which might turn some first-timers off. As an entry level to bread baking it has more than enough information for a novice to produce a hand made, home baked loaf of bread first time out. If that was the objective you set, I'd say you've met it and then some. For some this book will be all they need to make their own bread, but the further resources you've provided in links to TFL and suggested reading material on the subject will satisfy those that want to learn more. If there's one suggestion I could make it would be to not add more to it than what you have already.

Great concept, and well done!


Floydm's picture

Thanks, Franko.

If there's one suggestion I could make it would be to not add more to it than what you have already.

I agree and find this one of the most difficult challenges, giving the reader enough information to make them feel empowered without overburdening them with too much information.  


PastryPaul's picture

Great little primer, but I think you left out something important in the section on Yeast. Yeast and Salt are mortal enemies and should never come in direct contact. Salt will kill the yeast. That's why most recipes say to thoroughly mix the flour, salt etc prior to adding the yeast. That's also why I prefer to add even instant yeast to the water rather than the dry ingredients.

Regarding conversion to weight-style recipes: Not as easy as one may think

  • Most recipes are based on cups of sifted flour which, for AP, weighs 125 to 130 grams (about 4.5 ounces). They use sifted flour to avoid the issue of how much the flour may have settled over time. Flour compresses very easily. A scooped cup of settled AP can weigh 50% more than a sifted one. A good compromise would be to stir or whisk the flour to loosen it up and then spoon it into a dry measure cup, not scoop it with the cup.
  • There is (hopefully "was") a movement in cookbooks to standardize the weight of a cup of flour at 140 grams (about 5 ounces). This was supposedly intended as a simplifiction but is next to impossible to accurately replicate. It is based, as far as I can tell, on the average specific gravity of different flour types. Unless your recipe calls for equal parts of Cake flour, AP, and Bread flour (unlikely at best), it is meaningless.
  • There are three ways to determine the weight of an ingredient:
    • The first is to weigh each ingredient several times and average the results. This method introduces a very large margin of error for any ingredient that is easily compressed such as flour, baking soda, baking bowder, cocoa powder, ground spices, etc., and will require re-testing of the recipe to ensure successful replication.
    • The second and most accurate way is to get the specific gravity of the various ingredients. This may require some research and/or contact with the manufacturer. Specific gravity is a fancy way of saying how much something weighs in relation to an equal volume of water. So, since a cup of water (240ml) weighs 240 grams, and my AP flour has a specific gravity of 53.33%, a cup of my AP weighs 53.33% of 240... 128 grams. There are 28.375 grams to the ounce, so just divide gram weight by 28.375 to get ounces (about 4.5 in this case).
    • The third way is to make your recipes as you normally do, but taking care to weigh each ingredient carefully and jotting it down in a notebook. Don't forget to weigh and add any little extra adjustments to make to the ingredients.

When we get asked for recipes by customers, we use a combination of the second and third methods to convert large volume recipes to something suitable for the home.

Weight-based recipes are the way to go. In the old days, a good kitchen scale cost upwards of $75 and required careful adjustments. Now a digital scale with a capacity of 11 pounds is about $10. Weight-style recipes also allow the use of Bakers' Percentages which is by far the best, safest, and easiest way to adjust, modify, and build on recipes. Throw out your measuring cups!!!!! (Ok, so that was a little extreme)

A quick note on scales, digital or otherwise: To check the accuracy of a scale, use an unwrapped pound of butter. They weigh exactly 1 pound (454 grams). Most digital scales come close enough as to not matter, but if yours varies by more than an eighth of an ounce (5 grams) write down the variance directly on the scale (use a Sharpie). Add or substract that amount every time you use the scale.


deweytc's picture

Tried to download the PDF file and Adobe said that the file was damaged and could not be repaired.  Any help?

PastryPaul's picture

Just tried again and I had no problems. It may be that the file itself (the one on the server) is not damaged, but there was a network error in the download, so your copy is damaged.

Try again. If the problem persists, upgrade your Reader and try yet again. If it still doesn't work, send me a private message with your email and I'll send you the file.



jyslouey's picture

to include  metric measures.  It's so much easier to work with grms, using bakers' %  when reducing  the amt in a recipe without having to go as far as reducing it by half. - Judy 

Floydm's picture

I prefer metric weights too.  I did not add them to the recipes in this e-book because I didn't want to intimidate novice bakers in the US who probably haven't run into weights in their recipes before and aren't used to metric. I would like to do a metric edition for non-US markets though.

EvaB's picture

will work on my Samsung tablet, but I have Kobo books on it. The premise is great, and would enjoy seeing it and adding it to my collection of cookery books. I have well over 200 different ones including several on just breads. But this one would be nice to have to present my kitchen challanged daughter! She can't cook if it doesn't come out of a box, or is premade. Except for Turkey dinners, but even then the veggies are mostly frozen (and over cooked) but the turkey is great.

Floydm's picture

Kobo seems to be the most popular e-reader in Canada, eh?  I've been looking around while I'm spending the summer in Vancouver and I've not seen many Nooks and Kindles.  Rather I've seen Sonys, Samsungs, and Kobos.  I'd like to figure out how to make it easily accessible up here.


jackie9999's picture

I use a free program, Calibre to convert various formats. I have converted mobi to epub (nooks native format) and vice versa. IMHO it's a 'must have' application for any ebook reader.

EvaB's picture

but you might find out by talking with someone at Kobo, I do know that the book I have bought for download was really easy to read on the tablet, and lighter to hold than an actual pocket book, but that is the extent of my knowing what is what about ereaders, I do know that there are different formats, but other than that, I really don't know what is what. I do know the Samsung phones and tablets use the Android operating system, not windows based systems other phones use, have a couple of books in the book store to find out how to use both my new phone and my tablet but other than that, haven't really played much with either.

My daughter and I took a trip to Edmonton, and we took photos with the phone and the tablet both, and used the tablet to find bus information etc, but haven't figured out how to download the pictures yet either. LOL