The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Skibum's picture

Well friends, I have had this appliance for a month or so now and LOVE it! Vacuum sealing food in plastic keeps it fresher, longer, saves space in my freezer and compared to double zip locked bags, I can actually see what is sealed and frozen.

My soft pull apart dinner rolls have stayed baking day fresh, shrink wrapped and frozen. You just need to stop the vacuum motor before it squishes the rolls, breads etc. What sold me on the product was the idea, I could re-heat my slow smoked BBQ pulled pork butt sous vide style. I comes out just like day one pulled pork.

As a serious cook, I give this appliance 5 stars and 2 thumbs up!


Happy baking! Ski

will slick's picture
will slick

40% W.W. English muffins

Hello friends, the aim for today’s experiment, will be to modify an existing recipe, (,) to create a formula for 40% W.W. English muffins.


The Will Falzon method, 40% W.W. English muffins


Milk (I used unsweetened Almond) 370G                      61.6%

Water                                                     120G (Divided)    20. %

W.W. Flour                                             240G                     40. %

 A. P.  Flour                                             360G                      60. %

Yeast                                                        21G                         3.5%

Melted Butter                                        32G                          5.4%

Sugar                                                          4G                          0.6%

1 Lg. Egg                                                  (60G)                        10%

Salt                                                               4G                          0.6%

Vinegar                                                        4G                          0.6%

Corn meal (As needed)


1.    The Autolyse

Combine milk, 70G water and all the flour, till the flour is completely wet. Set aside to rest covered for 1 Hour.

2.    Combine yeast, sugar and the remaining 50G of water at 100Deg.F. Mix well, allow to rest for 5 minutes, till frothy.  Incorporate the yeast mixture well into the autolysed dough. Cover and set aside.

3.    In a small bowl combine the melted butter, 1 egg, salt and vinegar. Once cooled, incorporate the egg mixture into the dough. Mix well.

4.    Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes. While still in the bowl work the dough with very wet hands for a few minutes, until a shaggy dough ball is formed. At this point the dough will be very wet and unmanageable.

5.    Cover with well-oiled plastic wrap and a dish towel. Set aside to rise in a warm draft free place.

6.    At 15 minute intervals, preform stretch and folds at the four corners. Continue for one to one and one half hours, until the dough achieves enough strength for a “window pane” to be pulled.

7.    At this point, coat your work surface generously with corn meal. Begin to preheat the griddle to medium heat (350F).

8.    Turn out the dough on to the work surface, coat the top with corn meal.

9.    Using your preferred method, roll out the dough to a thickness of ½ inch.

10.                      Using a cookie cutter or jar lid cut out 16, 3inch muffins.

11.                      Place the muffins on the griddle and cook for 7 minutes on each side. Or until they are well browned and the sides are stiff.


Today’s exercise was mostly a success. However, I rolled out the dough much to thin, (1/8th”) so most of the muffins are way too small. Also I feel the muffins need a little more sweetness. Next week when I revisit and tweak the formula, I will eliminate the sugar and substitute 3 TBS of raw wild flower honey. Also I used almond milk because I realized I did not have enough cow’s milk.

Cooper's picture

So, like an Icarus who flew too high too fast, long before he learned how to build an airplane, last weekend I got too cocky thinking that I could do variations of my own, without having to research proper recipes.  The result was two utterly lifeless loaves, which, albeit still edible, definitely wished they have never been baked at all. 

Since I'm of a firm belief that we can learn just as much - if not more - from failures as we can from successes, I am posting it here as a warning to others like me: "Learn to crawl confidently before you do... well, practically anything else". 

I started with the same simple SD recipe I used a few times before, but decided to split the dough into two parts and make two battards, one with Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and the other with walnuts and figs. After autolyse and final mixing, I allowed the dough to BF for 1 hr. (It was supposed to be 30 min, but it took me much longer than expected to prepare the extra ingredients.)  I then did one set of stretch/fold, divided the dough, flattened each half, spread additional ingredients, and did another couple of stretch/folds. I am not sure where exactly I went wrong, other than I think I loaded waaay to many "extras" into the dough.  Each battard was about 460g of dough, and each received about 70g additional of mixed extras.  As you can see from the photos of the crumb - if you can even call it that - that was definitely too much.

I followed that by my usual stretch/fold every 30 min 3 more times, but the dough, especially one with olives and tomatoes, never became elastic as I expected. I shaped it the best I could, placed into well-floured bannetons for overnight retardation in the fridge, then warmed up for 2 hrs in the morning before attempting to bake. Both loaves stuck to the banneton badly, the one with olives and tomatoes worse than the other one, to the point that both completely ripped when I tried to extract them onto the baking sheet.  I baked with steam for the first 15 min, and they did rise in the oven just a tiny bit, but nowhere close to be called loaves of bread.

I definitely learned my lesson; now I just need to figure out what that lesson was. :-)  Happy baking everyone!


will slick's picture
will slick

My starter is at day five, Slow-Moe2 is looking active and smelling delish! However, still far from a stable strong starter. I needed to bake something, quick bread was just the ticket! One spur of the moment Irish soda bread.

Photo #1 - Good housekeeping recipe, Irish Soda bread.

Photo #2 - Slow-Moe2 at day five after 40g/40g/40g feeding. Such a happy little guy! 

Michael Davis's picture
Michael Davis

I've made exciting progress on my 100% whole grain loaf (pain integral). This particular loaf is made from home-milled whole wheat (77%) and whole rye (23%), and 85% hydration (I also dusted it with some white flour). It's been my ambition since I started to bake naturally fermented bread to make whole grain loaves like this (with good oven spring, open crumb, pleasing taste, and hardy crust). I still have a lot of improvements I want to make but I know it's just a matter of time now :)

The current area that I'm trying to improve is dough structure. Even though I get decent spring, I am unable to shape the dough beforehand into a very cohesive structure, so it just spreads out in the dutch oven pan during the bake. I have a few techniques that I'm going to tweak, and I'll hopefully have an even better loaf to show you soon!

alfanso's picture

For as long as I've been an attendee at TFL University I continually see postings galore for both the Vermont SD and the Norwich SD.  Which, in an odd way, had me keep my distance from them both.  Until today.  Mr. Hamelman's Vermont SD is the first, foundational entry in his book's entire section of levain based breads, preceding even the venerable Pain au Levain entries.  I'd skipped over it before.  

But I had an urge to get back to building one of his ubiquitous 125% hydration bread flour levains after my romance, still underway, with my bastardized rye version of the same.  So now what to bake, what to bake?  Well, here I am.  As with other breads that I wish to make into baguettes, I did some diligent searching for evidence of this being made before as baguettes.  This time there were a very few instances where someone in the distant past did so (drat!).  I was on board anyway.  Stubby baguettes are my thang, if you haven't yet figured that out.

This is a 90% bread flour, 10% rye flour dough with a 125% hydration bread flour levain.  Clocking in at 65% overall hydration it leans toward the more rubbery side of things during the French Folds.  15% of the flour is in the levain.  Next time out I'll give these loaves another shade of dark before venting them.

375 x 4 baguettes.

and the crumb:

Here is the formula at 1000g, and the way that I do it:

Vermont Sourdough        
Jeffrey Hamelman        
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Prefermented15.00%   
 Total Formula   Levain  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%599.2 100.00%89.9 Final Flour449.4
 Bread Flour90.00%539.2 100.00%89.9 Bread Flour449.4
 Rye10.00%59.9 0.00%0.0 Rye59.9
 Water65.00%389.5 125%112.3 Water277.1
 Salt1.90%11.4    Salt11.4
 Starter3.00%18.0 20%18.0   
 Totals166.90%1000.0 245%220.2  1000.0
     2 stage liquid levain build 
     Stage 1    
     Bread Flour44.9   
     Stage 2    
     Bread Flour44.9   

This dough is very workable at the shaping stage.

  1. 2 stage build of the levain.  It will hardly grow and will only display frothy bubbles to indicate ripeness.  Depending on ambient temp each build can take from 6-12 hours.  I refrigerate mine if I'm not ready to start a mix.
  2. levain, flour & water to "autolyse" for ~30 minutes.
  3. Add salt and incorporate.
  4. I hand mix "everything" so: 150 French Folds, a 5 minute rest, another 150 French Folds.  Dough into oiled container and covered.  Dough will be rubbery during FFs and break apart and then come together several times.  This is normal with a drier hydration on some doughs.
  5. Approx. 2 hour bulk rise.  Letter Folds at ~minutes 50 & 100.  Cover and retard for a total of at least 12 and up to ~18 hours.
  6. At some point after 1-2 hours or more, divide, pre-shape, rest 10 minutes, final shape, onto barely floured couche.  Cover couche with plastic bags.  Back into retard.
  7. Oven set to 480dF an hour before bake time
  8. Sylvia's Steaming Towel into oven 15 minutes prior to bake.
  9. Score and load dough into oven.  2 cups near boiling water onto lava rocks in pan after loading.
  10. Oven down to 460dF.
  11. ~13 minutes with steam.  Then release, rotate loaves and continue baking until ~205dF internally.
  12. Vent loaves with oven door cracked for 2-3 minutes.

Caveats & notes:

  • My kitchen remains at ~78dF at all times, as most are cooler, then a little more bulk rise time is suggested.
  • I don't temp the water, the dough, the finished loaves.  
  • For the bulk rise I don't watch the dough, I watch the clock (gasp!).  I know how dough performs in my environment.
  • I do hand mix using French Folds (pinch and folds in the bowl for initial incorporation).
  • I do use a couche instead of banneton and it rests on a jellyroll pan.  
  • The LFs are on the wetted bench with wet hands - no raw flour is ever employed at this stage.
  • Bake directly from retard. 
  • My lava rock pan permanently resides on the lowest rack in the oven.
  • I bake on a granite slab which sits on the rack just above the steam engines.
  • Parchment paper facilitates the transfer from oven peel to baking deck. 
  • If the levain is from the refrigerator I add it to very warm water.  The levain warms up, the water cools down and a happy medium is reached.

Darth Baker

Danni3ll3's picture

This is the last bake that I am making for sale until I am back to being retired so I am super happy how it turned out in spite of a few hiccups. I am not sure how much bread I will be making for us so it might also be a while for that too. We will see. Might have to stick to one day recipes...

Anyhow, this is the recipe:

1. Soak 30 g each of cranberries, raisins & chopped dates in 100 g Earl Grey tea. Cool and add 30 g of kefir. 

2. I didn't do this but the plan was to toast 25 g each of walnuts, pecans and pumpkin seeds. 

3. Autolyse all above with 585 g of water and 652 g unbleached flour, 200 g freshly milled red fife, and 100 g light rye. Let sit for about one hour. 

4. Mix in 22 g salt, 266 g 80% hydration levain and 25g water. Make sure everything is well integrated. 

5. Do 3 sets of folds (usually 30 minutes apart) and let rise till double. I had to run out so gave two rushed folds and I left the dough on the counter. Four hours later, it hadn't risen at all. So I gave it another fold and put it in the oven with the light on and the door cracked as usual. That fixed it!

6. Divide into 3 loaves, do a preshape, rest 15 minutes, shape and put into bannetons. Place in fridge overnight to proof. 

7. Preheat oven to 475F with Dutch ovens inside. Place parchment paper rounds in Dutch ovens and place loaces inside. Drop temp to 450F. Bake 25 minutes, remove lids, drop temperature to 425F and bake another 20 minutes. Shut oven off and leave in oven for 5 minutes. I did the last because they seemed to be browning very quickly with convection on. Might not need to do that if you bake without the fan. 

I had a few slices when it cooled of and all I can say is: "Yum!!!"

dixongexpat's picture

It started out innocently enough. There I was, looking at my starter, and I thought, "Hey, I know. I'll just go ahead and reboot the starter into a straight NMNF batch, really dilute the last of the whole wheat out of it, get it up to 95%+ rye. That's what I'll do." And so I did. Pulled 8 grams out, washed out the jar, put the 8 grams back in and added flour and water, set the timer.

Then I took the leftovers and added it to the leftovers in the fridge. It was a lot. And then I thought, "Hey, since I'm on the NMNF plan now, I won't be creating any new leftovers. Maybe I should go ahead and just use all of this up in something!"

And that's how it began.

So I looked at the usual suspects - pancakes, waffles, etc. But I didn't really need 30 pancakes. So I kept looking and ran across an interesting recipe. 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough. This picture really caught my eye...

Doesn't that just look yummy? And what an interesting shape and scoring! OK, I'm in.

So I put the recipe into a spreadsheet and convert everything to grams. As it turns out, it's a pretty hydrated recipe. Over-hydrated until you get to the last step, which is basically "just keep adding flour until it stops sticking." Sounds like a plan. Also sounds very familiar. *ahem*

It called for a cup of starter, approximately 250g. I have 500g. But I wanted to use it all up at once, so I adjusted the recipe in my spreadsheet. And that would have fixed everything just right, but evidently I have a problem following recipes, even my own adjusted recipes in a spreadsheet. And when I got down to the liquids part, I looked at the wrong column and added the full amount of soy milk and water. *doh!* Fortunately I discovered this before I got to the end, so I knew I would need to adjust the flour back to original levels as well. Actually, above the original levels by 125g. So I did all that and mixed it and...........still too wet.

So I added flour 30g at a time, over and over, until finally I had a nice big pile of dough that I could handle. Holy crap, that's a huge blob! After the first rise I punched it down and added some blueberries in as I folded it. It is now doing its final rise in my dutch oven. It's pushing the boundaries of my parchment paper. This should be interesting!

Pics in a bit...

stu currie's picture
stu currie

these are my first attempt at making English muffins and I must admit, I'm really really pleased with them. The recipe is from tartine by chad robertson.

For those of you who don't own that book, the recipe is a baguette dough that you flatten out on a baking sheet and then let rise like that, I used a 3 inch cookie cutter to cut them out, and then fried them in a little clarified butter for a couple of minutes on each side.

Even my daughter likes them...success!!

IceDemeter's picture

Thanks to alfanso and dabrownman and isand66 and I was inspired and encouraged to take another shot at that whole grain durum, and to push a bit with playing with formulae for results that are more and more *mine*...

The durum got put through the mill a second time, then sifted, and then used in the levain and the dough.  I changed to a 100% hydrated levain, created in a 3-stage build, and it went in to the final dough as it was hitting the "return to liquid" stage about 8 hours after peaking.  I can say that the resulting dough felt totally different than the first round.  I had a feeling that it needed a wee bit of assistance in getting to where I wanted it, so I tossed in 5g of white rye malt (which is why this round is only 99.2% durum), and gradually increased the hydration as I was kneading it until it just felt "right" at just over 75%.  It truly was a joy to work this dough, and I could not believe how silky smooth and supple it was throughout the stretch-and-folds and in to bulk ferment.  Of course - it couldn't totally behave itself and freaked me out a bit while bulking:  no rise, no rise, slow slow rise over first few hours - then, within less than 15 minutes - almost doubled!  I'm so glad that I wasn't distracted and had time right then to pre-shape, rest, and final shape before dropping it in to the bag covered banneton and immediately in to the coldest part of the fridge.

It didn't rise at all in the fridge (which didn't surprise me after the slow start on the bulk), so I let it warm up at room temperature for about an hour while I was preheating the oven.  It apparently liked that timing, since was over 30% increased in volume by the time I scored it and got it in to the heat.  I did 25 minutes covered at 450, then 30 minutes uncovered at 425, then pulled it out of the roaster and on to the rack for a final 5 minutes to hit 208 degrees internal:

For my "daily" loaf, I was also trying a new-to-me grain, and milled some Red Fife.  We really like the 60% WG range, and love having some rye in there (along with the rye levain), and I wanted to play a bit with a toasted porridge, so this one ended up being:

100g fresh milled rye (all in the levain) - 13.3%

350g fresh milled red fife - 46.7%

300g all purpose - 40%

50g oat bran + 50g wheat germ, toasted then cooked in 200g water as porridge - 13.3%

60g dry milk powder + 5g white rye malt - 8.7%

12g salt - 1.6%

Water - 585g - 78% (including levain, porridge, and extra added while kneading)

The scent of this dough is truly intoxicating, and I did feel some difference in using the Red Fife instead of my more usual hard red spring wheat.  I skipped my usual red and chocolate rye malt additions, since I didn't want them to overpower the toasty wheat notes this time:



 The crumb came out a bit more dense than I expected, but it is definitely tender and tastes incredible:

I had fun with every part of this week's bake, and the best part was yesterday evening when my husband had the munchies and decided to disregard our usual "no cutting for 24 hours" rule and took the heel off of both loaves.  He then went back and took another couple of pieces of the DURUM loaf to eat with no toppings / not toasted / just "as-is" because he enjoyed the flavour and texture so much.  THAT was pretty darned near miraculous after last week's version was only saved from the trash by being  paired with bruschetta.

We've got a couple of very different, but really appealing loaves to use this week - both of them good enough for nibbling on "as-is":

It really goes to show that the experts here are very wise - and that you get way better results when you "make it *yours*" and bake happy!


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