The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
ChrisBathory's picture

Dutch Oven Alternatives

February 23, 2017 - 8:39am -- ChrisBathory

I have been baking sourdough for a few months now with good results.

However I still am unable to get the proper crust and colour as I don't have a dutch/cast iron oven, they are quite expensive where I live so I am looking for a cheaper alternative for now

I have attached a photo of an oven safe, porcelain casserole dish. Would this be suitable to bake a loaf in or is cast iron the only thing that will achieve the desired crust & colour.

I have some stainless steel bowls also, but am not sure if those will work


amylearnstocook's picture

New to the forum

February 23, 2017 - 6:44am -- amylearnstocook

Hi everyone! I am Amy. I am a long time reader of The Fresh Loaf but I haven't posted. I am sort of new to bread baking. I started years ago making bread using a bread machine and moved on to using a KA. I've mainly made basic sandwich bread, dinner rolls, as well as boule in a dutch oven. I don't really make bread by hand due to limitations in one of my hands as well as I just love stand mixers. 

Grenage's picture

Shaping sourdough batards

February 23, 2017 - 4:15am -- Grenage

I generally only make sourdough loaves at home, and I've never had problems with boules; they're very easy to shape and get tight.  I've switched to batards, because my partner finds it easier for toast.

Oh the pain.

I can't produce anything particularly well formed, as folding the dough back on itself leads to it sticking to my hands as much as itself.  I'm not even talking a particularly wet dough, just 71% 50% wholewheat.  Online demonstrations all seem to involve 65% yeasted pillows of delight, rather than a regular sourdough.

XRangerD's picture

Now what? A Newbie's problem.

February 22, 2017 - 2:41pm -- XRangerD

Ok, I've finaly gotten a starter to be consistently rising. I've had my patience tested, to be sure, but my starter is doubling (and more) within 2-3 hours. I just discard half, add 2 oz bottled water and 3 oz unbleached flour. The 1 oz starter to 2 oz water and 2 oz flour just never worked.


So now the question becomes, "Now what?" How do I use this beast? When I measure a starter to add to a recipe do I use it while puffed up or stir it down first? I figure stirred down would include much more yeast.

Karl Stephens's picture

Hi, I'm new here can I bake bread in a deck pizza oven?

February 22, 2017 - 12:40pm -- Karl Stephens

So I'm looking at setting up a micro sourdough bakery in my garage on a budget and can buy a twin deck electric pizza oven head height is 150mm. My question is can I make this work for sourdough I would have to self steam I know, but I could bake 12+ large loaves at a time!! I can pick it up for £500, has anyone had any experience baking in one or is the head height going to be an issue, many thanks in advance for any help :)


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Last Sunday I held my third annual Bread Tasting Open House. This year I focused on a couple of areas - 100% rye flour breads, and a series of sourdoughs using different flours. For the latter the formula / recipe / technique was the same for all six of the breads; the only variation was that 25% of the flour was different. The six were:

  1. Amaranth flour
  2. Corn flour (whole corn flour, not the UK version or North American corn starch)
  3. Durum flour (re-milled from semolina)
  4. Kamut flour (stone ground whole Kamut)
  5. Rye flour (whole, stone ground)
  6. Teff flour

The general formula was:

  • Bread flour - 75%
  • Other flour - 25%
  • Water - 72%
  • Starter (100 hydration) - 19%
  • Salt - 2%

With the starter, the overall hydration was 74%. Technique was to mix flours, water and starter and let sit for an hour, then mix in the salt (by hand and with very little mixing). All doughs fermented at room temperature for around 5 hours with 3 or 4 stretch and folds over the first couple of hours. The windowpanes on all of them were excellent - very strong and stretchy. Of all of them, the teff dough was the softest and the corn dough the silkiest. All doughs were then put in the fridge overnight and shaped / proofed in the morning.

The test batch I made first was proofed in floured oval bannetons, then transferred to peels and into the oven on the hot stones (pre-heated to 475F). The teff loaf was almost impossible - it was so soft and sticky that as soon as it was turned out onto the peel it spread into a puddle and stuck. Transferring it to the stones was very difficult and resulted in a bizarre shape!

All had good oven spring, but the corn flour loaf was the winner in this category - it nearly exploded in the oven! The rye loaf had much less spring than the others and the scores didn't open much (although when I made a second batch it had much better spring and burst).

Crumb on all of them was soft and moist, and quite open. The corn flour loaf had large holes and very moist crumb. The rye had a much closer crumb. The amaranth and teff had the most interesting aroma, with a sort of chocolatey sweetness from the teff and a lovely 'fresh hay' scent from the amaranth.

The results of the tasting were a bit surprising, actually. The corn flour loaf was the clear winner with the teff in second place and Kamut in third. The loaf made with 25% durum flour came in last! I asked people to vote for their favourite and their second favourite. Conversations indicated that people felt most strongly about both the amaranth and teff (they either really liked one or the other, or really didn't like it).

It was an interesting experiment! Here are some of the pictures:

25% Amaranth flour:

25% Corn Flour:

25% Durum flour:

25% Kamut flour:

Somehow I missed getting pictures of the Kamut loaf!

25% Rye flour:

25% Teff flour:

The Teff flour loaf was the mis-shapen one, so no picture of the whole loaf. :) When I made these breads for the actual bread tasting I baked the softest ones in the perforated Italian bread pans which made life a lot easier. These loaves not only looked lovely (crust and slashing was nice on all of them) but were easier to make more uniform slices. This photo shows (from top left to bottom right) two each of the Durum, Kamut, Rye and Teff loaves.

I just made a batch of the 25% Corn Sourdough for customers who ordered it after the bread tasting, and it turned out quite lovely!


thoordog's picture

vital wheat protein

February 22, 2017 - 5:43am -- thoordog

A question about vital wheat protein. I have some that was given to me to experiment with. I haven't really done any research on it but don't want it to go to waste. When a recipe calls for bread flour I normally add about 2 tablespoons of it to all purpose flour; does this somewhat simulate bread flour? What would be the proper use of the vital wheat protein?

oo7wazzy's picture

Baking Formulas

February 22, 2017 - 5:17am -- oo7wazzy

HI All Fresh Loaf fans


I want some help on working out my formula for baking sourdough or any bread for that matter. I have the original Tartine recipe for the rustic country loaf that uses 1000g flour and makes 2 loaves. these loaves are quite big so I thought about using the recipe and dividing by 4 to get loaves that are roughly 500g each.

But what I want to know is, if I start with the finished loaf weight eg: 700g, how do I work the formula to get the individual ingredients knowing the percentages of all the ingredients ?




_vk's picture

How do you determine bulk fermentation total time?

February 22, 2017 - 3:52am -- _vk

Hi guys. All my last batches have being a "custom" recipe. I mean, I determined the proportion of WW to BF, the hydration, the add-ins amount and the percentage of levain. 

Then I mix/autolyse/knead and bulk. The bulk and S&F are more determined by my availability then other thing. Every thing is cool. 

But I'm not really sure how I do determine the bulk is enough. Perhaps I wait the dough to double twice. I think... Sometimes I cut trough the dough to see how the bubbles are doing there... 


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