The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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I was impressed when I cut into the loaf!

Like it when my crumb matches that of my "heroes" (chad or phil (PiPs)).





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Today I baked my standard country levain using my typical formula:

  • 85% AP
  • 15% WW
  • 82.5% Water
  • 19% 50%WW-50%AP-60%Water-50%Fresh Inoculant Levain - 4 hours @27C. 
  • 2.25% Salt (Amounts to 2% after figuring in the starter - may try reducing eventually along with .5-1% water)

Autolyze 1 hour. Add Levain (cut up) and Salt, Mix until the levain no longer feels chunky. DDT 27C.

Bulk ferment for 3.5 hours, with 5 folds every 30 minutes. Your time may vary, its been as low as 3 hours and as high as 4.25. 

Preshape round. Bench 30 minutes. The small loaves were scaled to 500g, the large ones to 850g. 

Shape oblong or round. I used the SFBI's method shown in the Type 70 Formula for Oblongs, Chad's book method for rounds.

Retard 12 hours @45F. Bake with steam @480F, until a rich brown color.

Large LevainsLarge levains- Scaled to 850g. Crosshatch Scored Boules and Bâtard with Single Score.

Small LevainsSmall Levains - Scaled to 500g. Scored several different patterns.

Submitted to YeastSpotting.


PS I am getting a Washington State Cottage Foods Permit! You can check out my website at .

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Today I baked a wholewheat Miche. The formula was as follows:

50% hand-bolted hard white whole-wheat flour, 

25% Hard Red Whole Wheat

15% Soft White Whole-Wheat (next time I will use 15% Hard Red and 25% Soft White)

10% AP Flour (I got lazy because I didn't want to mill more flour on my mill!)

105% Water 

16% Fresh Firm Levain (WW with 60% hydration, 50% inoculant) - DDT 27C

2.25% salt

Autolyze 1.5 hour, holding back 5% water.

DDT 24C. Ferment for one hour at room temperature. Retard dough in bulk @7-8C for, in my case, 12 hours. It could have gone to 15 maybe. 17 if I drop the levain to 13 or 14%.

Divide. Preshape 2 hours. Ferment the final dough at 25-26C for 2 to 3 hours (I retarded again for 5 hours.)

Score. Bake at 450F with steam first 20 minutes, then vented at 420 for another 40 minutes. This bread requires a full bake.


I am pleased with the results, although not totally. Crumb could have been a bit more open, and flavor a bit sweeter and more robust. Next time I will autolyze for about 4 hours and use more soft wheat. All flour except the hard red will be hand bolted. Wish my wholewheats were like PiPs! Maybe his softer wheats help him out some?



PS This bread convinced me that wholewheat bread could be quite enjoyable! I could probably do a good job with fully unsifted WW, too. Or use the bran to make "toadies" and add those in after 1 hour of bulk as a soaker!


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Lately I've been having inconsistencies with the Levain I bake. Sometimes the cell structure is too tight and the taste too acidic, sometimes I get a tight crumb with no acidity whatsoever, indicating a lack of micro-organism activity, and sometimes, I get a beautiful open crumb and just a hint of acidity, which is my ideal pain au levain. This week, I baked my levain (which is always 80% AP, 10% WW, and 10% Rye), with 12% Prefermented flour and using a stiff levain 84-16 (AP:WW) instead of a liquid 50-50 to generate the fermentation. 

Total Formula: AP 400g, WW 50g, Whole Rye 50g, Water 395g (79%), Salt 10g.

  1. Levain: 50g AP, 34g Water, 12g Seed (Liquid), 1g Salt. Mine ripened in 16 hours @ 72F or so.
  2. Autolyze: Mixed remaining flour and water less 25g. DDT 78F, mine read 77 after mixing. Let stand 1 hour.
  3. Mixing: Add remaining water and salt. Pinch together, then do slap and fold until tighter.
  4. Bulk: Mine was 4.5 hours, with 4 folds or so every 30 minutes.
  5. Preshaping; Shaping: I used Chad Robertson's shaping techniques to get a batard shape (see:
  6. Proofing: Mine was about 2.5-3 hours @ 76F or so.
  7. Baking: 480F with Sylvia's Steam first 15 minutes or so, then another 30 minutes to finish.

The bread's flavor was very close to my ideal: Sweet, with a hint of acidity, mostly lactic, and a memorable aftertaste. The cell strucutre was open on most of the batard, though not as amazing as what, say, PiPs does. The bread was probably a little underproofed, judging by a couple of minor blowouts that occured on the loaf's size.

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I baked Ciabatta yesterday. Turned out quite well, the crumb is very yellow. It looks like the one in Ken's Artisan Bakery except more yellow. It is feather-light, with a very open cell structure. Flavor is AMAZING! Last time I tried Hamelman's 73% Hydration Ciabatta with a hand mix and it came short. So I tried (this bake) 80% Hydration, and got the results I wanted. The flour was Shepherd's Grain Low Gluten (11.2% Protein)

BIGA (30% Prefermented Flour) - 150g flour; 90g water, 0.1g instant yeast (I salted mine w/0.8g because of summer temps). Let stand 12-16 hours @ 70F.

AUTOLYZE: Mix 350g flour, 310g water. Let stand 20-30 minutes. I can't remember if I held back any of that water or not. Sometimes when I hold back I have a hard time incorporating the remaining water. 

MIX: Add 1.5g instant yeast and 10g salt (I salted my Biga, so I added only 9.2g salt). Either way, the total salt should be 2%. DDT 76F.

BULK: 3-4 hours. My kitchen was 72F, and took about 4 hours. I did S & F in container 3-4 times during this period, plus some air kneading.

PROOF: Divided into some rectangles and some panini shapes. Shaping is up to you, just don't handle the dough, or gas will be lost. I proofed in the fridge for 3 hours (Oh yeah- and a skin formed, but it was fine!), because I had to go to work (part-time job @ accountant's office. Saving up for college!). I gave 1 hour floor time while my levain baked, then loaded into a steamy (Sylvia's Steam) 500F oven. Crust looked shabby because I fogot to heavily flour the loaves pre-loading, which contributes to the rustic look of Ciabatta. Will do next time!


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I was going to make Pain au Levain in the tartine style, 12% Prefermented flour, warm water in the levain, fermented for 8 hours, 1 hour autolyze. My target hydration was 81%. I poured the (warm) water for the autolyze and realized it felt... runny, not just wet (I routinely do bread in the 80-85% hydration range, but really wet. I looked at my paper where I had made the scaling calculations to make 3 boules and I found, upon double checking, that my dough was 100 percent hydration! 

That was never going to work. I added enough flour to bring the hydration down to 86%, the may I thought was workable (add too much and the levain is too dilute...), and I added salt as well. I fermented it, giving me a super-loose dough, almost as loose as the same dough with 83% hydration and 25% einkorn flour. I decided to make 1 large almost miche-size loaf to compensate for the extra flour and I baked it long and bold. Lo an behold, though, the crumb! That got me thinking, what hydration does Chad really use in his bakes?? I also baked the Barley-Flaxseed bread from his book, using 12% Prefermented flour instead of his 7%. I tasted phenomenal. The poor scoring may be responsible for the slightly dense crumb. Also, Chad's hydrations seem off with the Porridges, I do 80% in the total dough (keeping his %s in the proodige itself).


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Lately I have been learning how to bake baguettes and have been experienting with various formulas and methods. I have never been able to make the usual 66% hydration baguettes work, so I typed 'high hydration baguette' and got weekend bakery's <a href="">80% hydration baguette</a>, which made a good crumb and okay flavor, but was quite difficult to shape and score (obviously) and formed a rather crunchy crust (as opposed to crispy), due to the use of high-protein flour. After increased experimentation, I arrived at this formula, using 75% hydration and all-puropse (im my case Shepherd's Grain Low-Gluten flour @ 11.2-11.7% protein). You will probably recognize elements from other classic recipes on this site (like Pain a l'Ancienne from Gosselin):


AP Flour: 100% (500g)

Water: 75% (375g)

Salt: 2% (10g)

Yeast: 0.5% (2.5g)

AUTOLYZE: Mix 375g flour and 250g ice-cold water together until just together. Refrigerate 16 hours.

POOLISH: Mix 125g flour and 75g warm water, plus .5g yeast together and let stand 4 hours at warm room temperature (80 degrees F)

FINAL DOUGH: Use the remaining water (warmed to 100 degrees F) to "soften" the autolyze. Mix in the salt and yeast, mixing by hand until the autolyze and poolish are completely incorporated (you don't want chunks of undissolved autolyze in the dough!). Now let ferment 3-4 hours, as needed, with 2-3 folds, as needed.

PROOTING: After dividing, preshaping, and resting, place in couche and ferment for 45 minutes to 90 minutes, or retard overnight (I retarded, but forgot to cover with plastic. I got a skin, which kept it from rising properly, forming the dense loaf you see, but formed a great crust! Next time I will proof seam side up, and bake seam side down; covering, so I will  get a crust from the side in the couche, but will get my proper rise!)


NOTE: I tried baking this bread with bread flour and 80% hydration, and got much bigger, nicer holes; but a much less nice crust. Next time I will try my AP flour version at 77% hydration, and maybe give a few minutes floor time).



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I've been avidly baking and reading this site for 6 months now, so I thought it was finally time to join. This week I baked a 50/50 levain using my new liquid levain culture as well as a test batch of baguettes to propare me for an upcoming production for a winery (My town has like 5,000 people and none of them can bake- well none except one:) . Anyways, my levains have usually been going flat inexplicably out of the refrigerator; any tips on how to make a wet dough hold up after removing from a basket?

My baguettes formed a skin when I retarded them, covering them with moistened couche, so I have decided to switch to a trash bag instead. 

My baguette method uses 75% of the flour cold autolyzed, 25% in a 4 hour poolish, and a total of 75% hydration. The skin severely inhibited the overnight rise. Also, I used the "Magic Towel" method to steam my oven :)

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