The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

CAphyl's blog

  • Pin It
CAphyl's picture

Hello everyone:  I am back in the U.S. after over a month in the UK, where I did quite a bit of baking, but have really spotty internet, so I wasn't able to post very much or keep up on your wonderful bakes.  Lots of catching up to do!

The good news is I think I am getting somewhere with David's Italian baguettes.  The bad news is, I had so many baking mishaps I felt like a hapless beginner again.  You name it, it happened during this trip:

--Overproofing as I wanted the bread to fit my schedule, not the over way around!

--Dough sticking to banneton (crooked loaf, see below)

--I added balsamic vinegar, rather than olive oil (grabbed the wrong bottle.  While the dough smelled great, it did not rise during the bake.)

--Didn't bring the oven up to temperature (I set it about half the temperature I was supposed to have set it at and didn't notice as I using a covered baker.  When I took the lid off, I couldn't figure out why the dough was so white, until I checked the oven temp!)

--Flat as a pancake bakes

I felt like I forgot everything I had learned!  I did have some good bakes (like the baguettes above), which were mostly given away to family and friends. The bad bakes ended up in the dumpster!

You can see the crooked loaf above.  It sort of took a right turn when it stuck to the banneton.

I made a version of the rosemary and cream cheese loaves and these were appreciated by family and friends.

I made both the French and Italian baguettes multiple times, and family and friends seemed to enjoy them.  I was able to find some semolina, and it worked well. Sorry I don't have any crumb shots, as most loaves were given away.

We did some sightseeing and traveled to Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed.  My husband, sister, niece and UK friend went to the castle, as all of us are big Downton fans.  The butler took our tickets, and he was very gracious. That's me in the garden there below, and the castle at left.

While in Liverpool, we attended part of the International Beatles Convention and attended a question and answer sessions with Donovan, Pattie Boyd (first wife of George Harrison and also was married to Eric Clapton) and Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon and a producer at Apple.  Very interesting speakers. Donovan was a real hoot! Below is a view of Liverpool we enjoyed quite a bit.

Now that I am back in California, I will have to get back to baking some new things.  I feel a need to experiment and try some new things, but I sure hope I don't have as many failures!  Looking forward to spending some time on TFL and catching up with all of your impressive bakes.  Best,  Phyllis 

CAphyl's picture

Baked a lot today to take to a friend's house for Father's Day to share.  Made David'd baguettes and my old standby classic sourdough.  I really hope our friends enjoy the bread.

I do cheat and use the aluminum baguette baker, as it works quite well.

Sorry I have been off the site so much. I have been traveling like crazy and baking less.  I've got to come up with a new recipe to share.  I sure loved the cream cheese batards that is currently being featured on the front of TFL. 

As it is really getting a lot hotter, there is less incentive to turn on the oven.  I had it on all morning to bake these breads, and it still feels warm.  Look forward to catching up with everyone.  Best,  Phyllis

CAphyl's picture

I haven't posted a lot as it seems I have been traveling all the time, but I have been baking, so I will share some of those photos.  When I found out that we were so close to the King Arthur Flour HQ during our New England trip, I just had to go visit there.  It was so much fun, and I wanted to buy everything.  Generally, carrying flour in one's suitcase does make it a lot heavier, and I am already at the limit!  I got a gift certificate for my birthday, so I will be ordering a lot of KAF goods when we aren't traveling so much.  When I have been home or in kitchens where I have my starter, I made lots of breads for family and friends.  The photo on the left shows breads baked in my California kitchen; the one on the right was baked in the Midwest for a birthday party for my sister and best friend.

I made a gift basket for a friend who suffered a terrible loss, and she and her kids seemed to enjoy it.  I threw in some cheese and other goodies after I took this photo.  Homemade bread makes such a wonderful gift that I have been buying gift bags and giving it away on a regular basis. People really seem to love it, particularly when it's still warm as it smells so good, as all of you know well.

I was baking so much lately that it seemed like the counters (and me) were constantly covered in flour.  It annoys my husband if I get too much flour on the flour.  Let's just say there were plenty of white sprinkles on the flour until the vacuum was brought out. (In the UK, it's called Hoovering. My husband is expert at it!)

I have been pretty boring in my baking and made a lot of classic sourdoughs and David's San Joaquin baguettes.  I think David would be proud of me, however, as I now know the recipe by heart.  I am always tinkering, however, with all the recipes.

I made some bread for my doctor, and she requested some starter, so I have got her all set up with a jar of starter and an easy recipe to start baking bread and maintain her starter.  She wants to try and bake her own sourdough with her sister.  I really hope it turns out, and they have a wonderful sisterly baking session.

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather and all the best to you in your baking.  Phyllis


CAphyl's picture

Like many of you, we end up having lots of leftover bread from my bakes.  I always like to have a fresh bread on hand, so that leaves the rumps of many loaves to be thrown out or made into bread crumbs. I ran across a recipe in Cooking Light for a sourdough artichoke and spinach strada, and I was intrigued.  On closer study, I saw that the reviews said it was bland, so I spiced it up a bit.  I actually used a chunk of the gluten-free sourdough I baked, cutting it up into cubes.  This is a very filing recipe, so I suggest using more vegetables and fewer bread cubes.  I think broccoli and sautéed peppers would be good as well.  I added a few ripe tomatoes, but don't advise this as they cause the strada to be more watery.  I added onions, hot pepper and mushrooms along with the artichokes and spinach from the original recipe.  My husband and I enjoyed it with a salad on the side. You can also add more cheese to make it really cheesy. I suggest experimenting with the vegetables and cheeses you like.  For meat eaters, I think cooking a bit of pancetta, draining it on a paper towel and then using the fat to cook the onions and vegetables would be a nice idea as well. I think almost anything would work in this.   Hope it is helpful.  Phyllis

Sourdough Artichoke and Spinach Strada


1 bunch of fresh spinach

One small onion, chopped

1 can or bottle of artichoke hearts, drained (at least nine ounces)

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

Dried chile flakes (optional: I used a full dried jalapeno pepper from our garden, and it really provided a kick to the dish. May not be suitable for young children!)

8 ounces sourdough bread, cubed (I didn’t need as much, as I used a smaller casserole dish)

4 ounces cheddar, shredded (about 1 cup) (use your favorite cheese and add more to make it more cheesy)

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (you can use any vegetables you like)

3-6 cloves garlic, minced (depends on how much garlic you like)

Cooking spray

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

1-3/4 cups 1% low-fat milk (depends on the size of your dish and # of eggs; I used 1 cup)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

Dash of ground nutmeg

3-4 large eggs (Use 4 eggs if you use a larger baking dish).


1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat olive oil in large pan.  When hot, add onions and cook at medium high heat for about 4 minutes, until soft.  Add garlic and toss for one minute.  Add mushrooms and cook for several minutes; before they are done, add your fresh spinach and turn continually until it wilts. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. (Try and remove excess moisture from the spinach).

3. Combine slightly cooled spinach mixture with sourdough bread cubes in a large bowl; toss. Add in cheddar cheese and mix thoroughly. Arrange bread mixture in a broiler-safe 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. (I used a smaller, round ceramic dish). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top.

4. Combine milk, Dijon, pepper, nutmeg and eggs in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until set. Turn broiler to high (do not remove pan from oven). Broil 4 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

5. Serve with a leafy green salad.


CAphyl's picture

I have really enjoyed making David's baguettes recently (link to recipe below), both in the UK and back in the U.S. in California.  I use a baguette tray for proofing and baking and that has worked well for me.  I tried the couche cloth to start, but found that it was harder for me in handling a wet dough.

Instead of four baguettes (per the recipe), I make three, using the tray.

I still would like a more open crumb, so I will have to resist the temptation to add more flour to make the dough easier to deal with.  My husband and my friends said they really enjoyed the baguettes, so I will keep baking them and trying to improve.

I also made a few classic batards as well.

It's a lot more fun to bake these than the gluten-free loaf I made today!  Happy baking to everyone....Best,  Phyllis

CAphyl's picture

I keep trying to improve my gluten-free bakes.  It is so hard to achieve anything close to my gluten loaves, but I did have some improvement on this one.  I altered the recipe slightly (see below).  The dough is difficult to work with and doesn't hang together too well, so you have to stick with it. It is also a very heavy loaf...very filling.

The crumb is always a bit dense and wet, and I have to eat small pieces, as it is so filling.  I maintain my gluten-free starter, but I don't bake loaves very often.  Progress is slow, but the loaf was a bit better than the last one.  Phyllis

Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread

I used the start of Nicole Hunn’s  “No-Rye Rye Bread” for this recipe, but altered it quite a bit.  Gluten-free bread is frustrating, but I really wanted to make a sourdough loaf that was edible.

I made a sourdough starter from gluten-free flour and kept it in the refrigerator.  I used Nicole’s recipe, but it is confusing and complicated, so when I refreshed it, I just used gluten-free brown rice, oat and tapioca flours.  It perked up very well.

Here is the recipe I used:


80 grams starter

½ cup plus 3 tablespoons bottled water at room temperature

1 cup plus 10 tablespoons gluten-free bread flour (I used Pamela’s gluten-free  bread mix)




1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm bottled water (about 95 degrees)

3-1/4 cup gluten-free bread flour (I used Pamela’s bread mix)

½ cup whole grain gluten-free flour (I used King Arthur’s WW gluten-free)

1 tablespoon salt

1-1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds



Place the starter into the bowl of your stand mixer and add the water; mix using your paddle attachment for a few minutes.  Add the bread flour until it is incorporated and switch to the dough hook and knead for about two minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and place it in a warm location until the starter has doubled in size (at least 6-8 hours).

Making the Dough

Once the starter has doubled, add it to your stand mixer bowl along with the water. Mix with the paddle attachment (or by hand) for one minute. Add the bread flour and whole wheat flours and switch to the dough hook.  Mix on low speed and knead. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for about three minutes.  Add the seeds and mix until incorporated. Place the dough in the refrigerator in a lightly oiled bowl for at least 12 hours or until it is doubled in size.  I left it for more than 24 hours.

Shaping the Dough

Take the dough out of refrigerator, ease onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place into a banneton coated with brown rice flour (gluten-free). Place in the refrigerator overnight.


On baking day, preheat your domed  covered baker to 500 degrees.  Sprinkle some corn meal  (gluten-free) into the bottom tray and place the bread on top of the corn meal.  Spray lightly with water and score as desired.  Bake at 500 degrees with the lid on for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and bake at 450 for another 15-20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minute before slicing.


CAphyl's picture

Hello everyone:  I have been off-the-grid for some time while I was traveling, as we don't have the best internet access when we are in the UK.  I will have to catch up on everyone's bread posts while I was away.

My visit got off to a rough start when I saw that my starter that I left in the UK for a couple of months (carried over from California several years ago), had gone off, for the most part.  I have never had this happen before.  I had several different jars of starter and most were bad with strange mold.  The one that survived was pure AP flour. I find that the white flour starter lasts much better for long periods than the mix of ww, rye and white that I usually keep as well.  I always have several starters  on hand for this reason.  I slowly built up the AP starter into several different containers and starting my UK baking after the second day of feeding.  Unfortunately, I got sick right after I arrived in the UK and spent the vast majority of the trip resting.  About the only thing I did do was bake as I had to stay in. Unfortunately, when I wasn't feeling well a few batches of dough were over-proofed and had to be tossed.

I baked quite a bit for family and friends, and made David's San Joaquin baguettes twice and they turned out well.

I made my classic sourdough loaf a number of times, in both boule and batard form.

I gave most of the bread away, as well as making sure my husband had plenty of fresh bread! 

We just got back last night, so I have to get my starter going here back in California and get back to baking.  Look forward to catching up on everyone's bakes over the next few days.  Best,  Phyllis

CAphyl's picture

I have never made this bread before, so I thought I would give it a try. I modified the original recipe a bit, as I have described below. Another TFLer found the recipe, and I used that, with some modifications. The original recipe link shows how to build the 100% rye starter from scratch, but I used my existing starter and saved that step.

I really liked the dough once it came together.  For a tartine dough, it didn't seem to have enough hydration, so I added a bit more water than the recipe called for.  After that, and the addition of the salt and the olive oil, I just loved the dough. It had a wonderful silky feel.

Just had some with butter, and it was really tasty.  Very moist, nice crumb. My husband made a corn beef sandwich and really enjoyed it.

I baked it in my LaCloche and had a slight bit of sticking as the dough rose above the lip of the banneton and didn't want to come out when I turned it upside down.  I was afraid of this and had even added more brown rice flour to the banneton before I popped the dough in!  It landed on the side of the LaCloche tray, but I was able to shake it back to a better position.  As a result, the shape wasn't a perfect boule, but worse things can happen. I guess I have learned with enough of these mistakes to make the best of it.

Semolina Tartine

Here is the website that has the original recipe:


50g 100% hydration, 100% rye starter

100g organic dark rye flour

100g cold, filtered water

I started this and left it on the counter overnight at room temperature.  I had mixed the rye with my AP/WW/rye starter mix, so it wasn't 100% rye starter as the recipe called for.  However, it responded beautifully and really popped overnight.  You have got to love a rye starter. It was a bit crazy, but it made about exactly the 250 grams required for the recipe.

Final Dough

250g mature whole rye starter 100% hydration 

200g semolina 

300g bread flour

300g water 

12g salt

30g extra virgin olive oil 


Combine all ingredients minus the salt and olive oil.

Autolyse for about one hour.

Add salt plus olive oil and incorporate. At this point, I really gave it a knead in the bowl to incorporate the ingredients as another blogger mentioned she did not do this and didn't feel she got the proper gluten development and suggested a bit of a knead at this point rather than a turn or stretch and fold.

For first two hours do stretch and fold every half hour.  (I had some schedule issues and let it sit out a lot longer and did stretch and folds over a longer period of time, perhaps even four hours before I put it in the fridge for the bulk fermentation. I really liked how the bread responded and actually seemed to become more like the Tartine dough I have worked with before.

For last two hours of bulk fermentation finish off in the fridge. 

Take out of fridge, do first shaping and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Then do final shaping, pop into your banneton and final proof in the fridge overnight.  (It really came up by morning; I was impressed. It does not need much counter time to pop up, so don't leave it out of the fridge very long before baking).

Bake:  I baked my loaf in the LaCloche covered baker, preheating the lid and bottom at 500F and baking for 30 minutes with the cover on and then 15 minutes with it off, lowering the temperature to 435F convention.  You can also bake with normal steam, 450F or 235C for 40 45 mins, turn the loaves half way through the bake. 


CAphyl's picture

It is one of those days that started with bread and will probably end with bread.  I've got dough in different stages and plenty caked on my hands. I have been experimenting, too, and it's been a bit mad. I have been pushing the limits of cold fermentations and began making one bread and then made another with the same dough!

Today, I baked a baguette that started as a classic sourdough.  I had been bulk fermenting some dough for a really long time as a test (about five days) and decided to divide it in half and bake part of it.  I had waited so long as I had three loaves of the eight grain in line ahead of the classic sourdough. I made a batard from the half of the classic dough for my husband the other day with the first half of the dough (see below). I am not sure why, but I tend to make boules with the classic sourdough and this time I made a batard.  I was glad I did.

After the batard, I had a crazy idea that I wanted to use the rest of the dough to make a baguette, even though this was definitely not dough prepared to be a baguette! I had one bad experience with the baguette-type banetton I purchased long ago and never used it again before this bake (see below).  I shaped the dough last night, and put it in the fridge overnight. I created steam in the oven and heated the stone to 500 degrees, bringing it down to 480 degrees for the first 12 minutes and then down to 455 degrees convention for the last 10 minutes or so. (Thanks, David!)

While not even close to David's San Joaquin baguettes, it turned out OK for a cheatin' type of baguette.  The crumb wasn't as open as it should be, but OK.  My husband really enjoyed it and got annoyed at all of my questions about the taste, size of the wholes, lightness, etc...

Well, I was really pleased with the experiment on the baguettes and may try it again. Call me crazy!

In the last week, I also made some more five grain (it's really eight grain now as I added so many seeds to the soaker) and my usual classic sourdough, which I gave to a number of friends.

I have to share one of my favorite new recipes, which is for heirloom carrots.  It is so simple and good.  We got the heirloom carrots at the farmer's market, and they are just so beautiful.  I used our own fresh thyme, but you can also use rosemary. The recipe is at bottom. 

Today, I am working on three different breads, and we will have to see how they turn out.  One other thing I wanted to mention.  Do you notice that all your devices are clogged with bread photos?  That is the case with me.  I really have to remember to keep cleaning them out, as there are inevitably so many more to come!

Hope all my bread friends out east in the U.S. survived the snow.  Just stay home and bake!  Best,  Phyllis

Balsamic Roasted Carrots

 Author: Isabelle Boucher (Crumb)

Recipe type: Side

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  30 mins

Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 6

Make sure to use tender young carrots for this recipe - the kind sold in a bunch with their green tops still attached - rather than bagged utility carrots. If you can find them, rainbow-coloured heirloom carrots make a particularly pretty presentation.


•2 bunches fresh carrots, peeled and trimmed

•1 tbsp olive oil

•1 tsp salt

•½ tsp pepper

•5 sprigs fresh thyme (I used fresh chopped rosemary)

•2 tbsp honey

•2 tbsp balsamic vinegar



1Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2Slice the carrots in half lengthwise. In a large mixing bowl, toss with oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.

3Arrange carrots in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and scatter thyme sprigs overtop. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

4In small bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the carrots, and gently roll them around to coat. Roast for a further 15-20 minutes or until carrots are tender and caramelised. Serve immediately.

CAphyl's picture

I have never made beer bread before, so I had to do it, inspired by dabrownman's 16 grain and some other wonderful beer breads I have seen on this site.  My husband is a real beer guy, so the first order of business was not to use a beer he wanted to drink.  Someone got him some porter, and it is not his favorite, so I had my start. I should point out that I do not like beer, which is strange for a girl originally from Milwaukee. 

I did a three stage levain build (per dabrownman's recipe) and prepared the soaker.  I wanted to have lots of seeds and grains in the bread, so I kind of morphed dabrowman's recipe and my adapted five grain into one recipe.  Both the levain build and the soaker smelled great, but that hot porter and the seeds really had a wonderful aroma.  Loved it.

It was a very fast bake and browned beautifully.  The crumb was incredibly moist....perhaps I could have used less porter. I think the beauty of this bread is that you can use so many different combinations of flours and seeds.  I wanted to use some of the many different flours I had on hand, and that is why I used kamut and oat flours.  I actually had many more flours around, but just decided to stop with a couple of different ones that I don't use as often as I should.  I also think I was a bit loose on some of the measurements, as I tried to write them down as I went along and I wasn't sure I remembered them quite correctly!

We had some much-needed rain this weekend in southern California, and as the clouds started to clear last night we had a another stunning winter sunset.

I enjoyed the sunset with a glass of Pinot Noir (not beer!), celebrating the big Green Bay Packers win.  My husband drank his beer out of my Green Bay Packers shareholder glass. Yes, you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but once a cheesehead, always a cheesehead.  I was on pins and needles the whole game.  I had to get the bread going after the game to calm down!  I had an elaborate dinner planned, but my husband requested pizza, so that is what we had--an appropriate dinner on a big football Sunday.  Tonight, I am making a new recipe:  risotto with wild mushrooms and peas.  Wish me luck.  Best,  Phyllis

Multi-Grain Sourdough with Porter

Inspired by dabrownman’s 16 Grain and my adapted Five Grain Levain recipes

Sourdough Levain Build

Build 1

12 g rye/wheat/AP starter

15 g water (meant to do 12g!)

12 g KAF white wholewheat

39g total

Build 2

22g water

22g dark rye

44 g total

Build 3

24 g water

24g KAF white whole wheat

48g total

131g Total Levain Build


50g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

10g sesame seeds

5g poppy seeds

45g flax seeds

20g kamut seeds

30g millet seed

30g bulgur

30g pumpkin seeds

30g cous cous

400 grams hot Wachusett Black Shack Porter

5 grams salt

675g Total Soaker

Final Dough Flour

50g kamut flour

20g oat flour

85g KAF white whole wheat

20g dark rye

225 KAF bread flour

8g Salt

100g Wachusett Black Shack Porter (I kept 200 on hand, but did not need more than the 100g.  The soaker was still quite wet, so it will depend on how dry the soaker is to determine the final amount of porter).

Total 508g Final Dough

  1. Prepare the Levain:  Build levain over hours/days.  I eyeballed it to see when it was ready to be built again. It depends on the temperature in your kitchen and other factors, but it has to be at least 6 hours or so.
  2. Build the Soaker:  I heated up the porter before adding it to the seed mix.  (I actually wasn’t watching close enough, and it almost boiled over!)  Stir the porter into the seed mix very well and seal your container tightly.  It really smells great. Leave on the counter for hours or overnight until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Final Dough Autolyze: Mix together the levain, soaker and all final ingredients except the salt. Let the mix utilize for 20-60 minutes.
  4. Mix Final Dough: Add the salt and use your stand mixer and mix for 3-5 minutes on medium speed.
  5. Bulk Ferment:  Bulk ferment at room temperature for 2-3 hours, turning every 45 minutes.
  6. Shaping:  Divide into two loaves and shape into rounds. Let rest 30 minutes.  Final shape into batards or rounds.
  7. Final Fermentation:  Place into brown rice coated bannetons, and put in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
  8. Baking:  With normal steam, 235C (450F) or 40-45 mins, turn the loaves half way through the bake. (I retarded the dough and took it out in the morning. I then let it rest at room temperature for about an hour. It popped up nicely. In the meantime, I preheated the oven for about an hour to heat up the baking stone.) (For this particular bake, I used my covered baker, preheated at 500 degrees, baking with lid on for 30 minutes; lid off at 435 convention for 10 minutes). If you make smaller loaves, watch carefully as this dough was a fast bake.
  9. Cool: On wire rack at least 30 minutes before slicing.


Subscribe to RSS - CAphyl's blog