The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Hi all back to posting after a long hiatus. Inspired by the numerous Tartine 3 breads that have been popping up over thefreshloaf and reminded by a post that is filed under my to-bake list, I decided to make a Polenta Pepita Sourdough over the weekend. 

I mainly followed the Marcus's recipe here: but instead of soaking in boiling water, I cooked up a batch of polenta by stirring it over the stovetop over low heat. Here's my take on it:



1 kg

Bread Flour






Mature sourdough culture






Cooked Polenta












Final dough



Bread Flour



Whole Wheat Flour (15%)






Salt (2%)



Cooked Polenta (15%)



Sunflower Seeds (10%)









Mix all and autolyse for 20 minutes. 
Bulk ferment for 3 hours with 4 S&F at 20 minutes interval.
Proof for 1.5 hours and bake at 230C for 40 minutes.

I think the difference between the two approaches show in the final result. The cooked polenta totally disappeared into the crumb resulting in a softer texture bread but no noticeable specks of polenta. My bread's crumb turned out slightly off yellow rather than the yellow in Marcus's picture. There is no gritty bite of the polenta too.

But otherwise the texture was good with a nice slight chew and sweetness probably from the cooked grains. Next time, I will further bump up the polenta to 20% and try the soaking method instead. Now off to trying other porridge breads!


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Baked 2 loaves this week. Leader's Pain au Levain my staple plain bread and Hamelman's rye multigrain.

No pictures of the entire loaf of the Pain au Levain this time round but here's the crumb shot.

The addition of 22% whole wheat flour and 5% rye flour makes for a tasty loaf. I upped the hydration to 73% and soaked the flour overnight which I think contributes to a sweeter, more complex tasting loaf. The dough is very easy to manage with a few stretch and folds thrown in. Shaping is easy and the extra hydration contributes to a moderately open crumb which makes it a really flexible loaf to go with anything.

For the 2nd loaf of the week, I decided to go for a multigrain bread. Hamelman's rye multigrain is one of my favourite breads to make and eat. The mixture of flax, sunflower, cracked rye and oats gives it a delicious taste and bite. My favourite among the other multigrain variants in bread, I find the addition of a rye sourdough contributes to a nice complexity and sourness. Here's a picture of the loaves. Don't mind the dirty stone!

And here's the crumb shot, studded with seedy goodness!

It has been almost half a year since I baked this but after this bake its in my breads to bake again soon list.


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Back in Singapore after a wonderful time in Vancouver and to celebrate the season I opted to bake Panettone, a once a year special. Revived my canadian starter (thanks Floydm!) which I dried out and made into flakes about a week ago. The starter flakes were surprisingly hardy having traveled with me to numerous places through various temperature changes. But it took just one feeding to get it back being active. Fed it a few more times before shortening the interval to a 4 hours feed and making it into  a 50% hydration stiff starter typical of a Panettone.

Decided to try a new recipe  - Susan's Wildyeast recipe found here: . For the previous two years I went with Txfarmer, Foolishpoolish recipe, but for this year I thought the additional yeast added would be useful to have a more predictable rise time. 

Followed the recipe as in the link. The dough tripled in about 6 hours much less than the 12 hours I was expecting so I tossed it in the fridge to slow it down until the next morning. Final proof time was about 4 hours. Everything moves faster in warm and sunny Singapore! Baked in two 9X5 loaf tins and some additional mini brioche tins. Here's one in a brioche tin all glazed and ready to bake:

Baking did not turn out too well though. Baking all the tins so close to each other resulted in the sides not being adequately browned and firmed up. The mini brioche were still fine but the loaves collapsed on its side soon after I took it out. Oh well I guess when you have collapsed brioche let them eat cake!

All that butter and sugar makes for a good cake. The mini brioche came out more in line with what one would expect a panettone to be - light, fluffy but still so rich.

The chopped almonds provide a nice bite too. Overall I still prefer my old standard recipe. The 100% levain formula provides superior flavour. However this is a good simple recipe if you want something more predictable and less effort. Note that it uses quite a bit of water though. I held back 30g of water as I found the dough quite slack already. 

So that marks the end of 2013 baking adventures. Wishing all fellow bakers in TFL a wonderful 2014 ahead. Cheers!


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Down to my last few weeks in Canada and am now trying to clear a bit of my remaining pantry. Still have a little of the spent grains from the previous spent grain bake which I decided to incorporate in last week's bake. And why not throw in a little beer to make it a beer bread something which I wanted to try for a long time. Recipe was adapted from Dan Lepard's barm bread.

250g Ale (I used a home-brewed Honey Basil Ale)
50g Flour
4 Tsp Starter

Heat up Ale until 70C. Whisk in Flour. Let it cool and add the starter. Leave to ferment for about 12 hours. (While researching on the recipe, I noted that there is a wide variance to the fermentation time from 8-36 hours). I left mine for 20 hours but I felt it could go longer. I used half the batch for my 1st try but it resulted in a dense bread with little fermentation which I tossed out. To remedy the situation I added some extra sourdough starter for this batch.

1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tbps Starter

Mix and ferment for 8 hours.

Final Dough:
150g Barm (About half of the prepared portion)
1.5 Cup AP Flour
1.5 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Spent Grains
2 Tsp Salt

Mix all together and ferment for 7 hours with 2 stretch and folds in between. Preshape and rest for 30 minutes. Shape and proof for 2.5 hours and bake at 230C for 45 minutes.

I must say that this bread really taste great and was well worth the lengthy procedure. Can you really taste the beer? Not really but the barm helps the loaf retain quite a bit of moisture, like a water roux commonly used in chinese styled bread. I would like to think it imparts lots of flavours to the bread as well! 

And the crumb was beautiful from the long fermentation time and high hydration used. It felt like a 75% dough but taking into account that wholewheat was used and the inclusion of the barm, I guess it is about 82%. Not so easy to handle and shape but turned out great. 

The spent greats lend a nice texture to the bread too providing a bit of bite and something to chew on. Just in time for lunch.


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The shorter daylights and colder temperatures have been affecting my bread baking. It has slowed down fermentation resulting in me misjudging the time required to fully proof the bread. Not to mention that it is already dark by the time I am done baking making it harder to take a nice picture of the loaf.

Anyway, back to something simple and comforting for this week - a 50% wholewheat sourdough. A nice hearty loaf with stronger flavours contributed by the wholewheat flour and the levain used. 

This time round I got a bag of Anita's Organic Wholewheat flour to try out and I must say it worked out great. The flavour of the flour is much stronger than the red fife I used previously with a hint of grass and a more rounded earthy taste. It seems weaker than the red fife flour though requiring a few more in bowls stretch and fold to align the gluten structure. The most appealing part of the loaf was the smell of it. There was this really sweet smelling flavour from the crust after it was out of the oven, sort of like molasses. Not too sure what exactly resulted in that, but I guess probably due to the higher heat used, combine with the flour type and long fermentation time. Would need to replicate again to know!

Here's the loaf cut and ready for dinner. Probably cut it a little too soon hence it was still slightly gummy but the smell was so irresistible that I had to try it in advance. 

The smell did not really affect the flavour and dissipated the next day. Here's another crumb shot:

Still aiming for a slightly more open crumb and higher loaf profile. Would probably look into increasing the overall portion of ingredients for the next loaf and give it a little more stretch and folds along the way.


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I came up with the idea for this loaf about a month ago during the cranberry harvest season. With fresh cranberries going for such a cheap price, I decided to experiment with them and create a loaf layering the different flavours together. First, we have the cranberry sauce which I made by boiling cranberries, an apple and sugar together until reduced.

Next up, we have freshly dried cranberries (Hmm that's an oxymoron, but I can't think of a better way to describe it). A whole pound of fresh cranberries shrink into a small box of this glistening rubies:

Since both were relatively tart, I decided to balance the flavours by incorporating normal dried cranberries and walnut. Walnut works really well with almost any type of bread lending its buttery and slightly bitter flavours here to balance the whole loaf.

And here's the recipe (all in cups):

1 Tbps Starter
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Water

Mix well and let it ferment for about 8 hours or until ripe.

To the above add:
2 Cup AP Flour
1 Cup Red Fife or any WW Flour
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Cranberry Sauce
80g Walnut
1/4 Cup dried Cranberry
1/4 Cup freshly dried Cranberry
1.5 Tsp salf

Ferment for 7 hours at 20C. Pre-shape. Rest 30 mins. Shape and proof for 2 hours at 25C. Bake at 230C for 45 mins with 15 mins steam at the start.

I was aiming for about an 70% hydration with 20% walnuts, 15% cranberry. I always think that a fruit and nut loaf works best with a blend of wholewheat and white flour and so I went with a 30% ww formula. Strangely the experience with going back to cups has not been too bad. Given a choice I will still opt for metric as it makes preparation much faster and precise but when working with cups you really have to pay attention to how the dough feel.

I thought that the flavour of the cranberry really shined through...maybe a little too much. If you like it tart, you will like the loaf as it is otherwise I will use all "normal" dried cranberry the next time round to increase the sweetness. The cranberry sauce works well to colour the crumb a light shade of pink. While you can't really taste the cranberry flavour through the crumb, it does add moisture to the loaf and make it quite a bit softer. Overall a great bake for the week! I guessed this was quite popular from the fact that most of it has been eaten by my friends. But after all who can resist a loaf studded with so much goodness?


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Got quite a bit of spent grains from a friend who is into Homebrewing and decided to try making a bread out of it. The grains (mainly barley) were roughly cracked using a hand grinder before being heated for about 2 hours to create a malt extract from them. This means that they are no longer sweet but still lend a nice texture to the bread.

I scoured the web for some inspiration before building a formula that works nicely with my schedule and timing. 

Sourdough Preferment
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1 Tbps starter

Mix and let it ferment for about 8 hours or until ripe.

Main Dough
All of the preferment
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 cup red fife flour
1 1/4 cup water
2/3 cup spent grains
1 1/2 + tsp salt

Combine all ingredients aiming for a 70% like hydration. Bulk ferment 7 hours at 20C. Preshape, rest 30 mins. Shape and proof for 1.5 hours at 24C. Bake at 240C with steam for 1st 15 mins. Reduce to 230C for another 30 mins.

Here's the dough preshaped and resting.

And here's the final product:

While quite a few recipe's called for grinding up the grain further, I decided to keep it whole as I thought it would lend a nice texture to the bread, which it did! However, you do get some husk in the bread, but I find it adds a rustic quality to the bread. Next time I might even be tempted to increase the amount of spent grains to 1 cup. Crumb is reasonably open and moist with the grains contributing a nice bite to the bread. All in all, a nice homemade loaf and probably my best canadian bake thus far!


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Having been inspired by the plentiful and varied apples available during my trip to the apple festival, I decided to make a bread reflecting the season and celebrating this special fruit.

I briefly followed the recipe here: which is supposedly from Bourke Street Bakery since I wanted to use whole apples in the dough. I modified it to use my standard 8 hour bulk ferment dough which means a much lower proportion of sourdough starter. I used one medium size spartan apple cut roughly into chunks.

And here's the result with a crumb shot featuring the lovely bits of baked apples poking out of the crumb.

Overall it was a nice bread with great oven spring (the lower hydration helped keep its shaped too). I am slightly disappointed that the apple flavour was not so pronounced. Maybe it was the type of apple used. Comparing it to a similar recipe, ie Nancy Silverton's Pear bread, I think this could do with a hint of spice or maybe a paste of mashed up apples to flavour the crumb. Texture was quite nice though, with the oats giving it a slightly softer texture.


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Decided to play around with the percentage of the red fife flour to get a better sense of its flavour vs normal whole wheat flour. Made an approximately 40% red fife loaf with the other 60% using Robin hood AP flour. Here's the recipe in cups:

1 spoon of starter

1/8 cup water

1/4 cup flour

Combine and ferment overnight. Mine took 10 hours and was all bubbly and ready to go.

Combine the above with:

1.5 cups water

1 cup Red Fife flour

2 cups AP flour

1.5 tsp salt

Adjust water to get a 70% hydration feel.

Bulk ferment 8 hours at 15-20C with 2 S&F in between. Proof 2 hours at 24C. Bake 240C for 45mins with steam in the first 15mins.

Here's the final product out of the oven

and crumb shot

Quite satisfied with the final product with a relatively open crumb, slightly chewy but soft. The Red Fife is relatively mild at least to the normal whole wheat that I have baked with. But other than that, I do not really notice any special flavours of sort. I must add that the AP flour has been performing really well, definitely strong enough for bread making but not too strong that it becomes too tough or chewy. The bread has a nice wheat taste with a sweetness from the long fermentation and a creamy mouth feel. A very decent all purpose bread to pair with anything.

Still adapting to the oven. I found out that when it is on the "bake" setting only the bottom element is activated and the top is activated when it is on the "grill" setting so I am switching between the two to achieve the level of baking I desire. 


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Finally started baking bread in Canada. With the help of Floyd and the suggestions from others on TFL I got some baking supplies and baked a boule on Sunday. Using cups for the first time in a long while but made a dough that feels like a 67% hydration with 25% wholewheat flour.

Thanks Floyd for lending me some equipment!

Got a small bag of red fife flour to try as well.

Here's the dough just after mixing. Was actually intending to get a 70 - 75% hydration dough but probably packed in too much flour for a cup. Would hold back some flour next time.

Bulk ferment almost 8 hours. Did not expect the temperature to get so hot (25C according to the thermostat in my room). Was hoping for a much lower temperature.

Came back to find an overproofed dough.

But the beautiful hike outside more than made up for it!

Baked in a stainless steel pot for 45 mins at 230C. 1st 15mins covered. Reduced to 210 for 30 mins.

And here's the final product and crumb shot.

On a whole not too bad. Definitely had some overproofed flavours but it was a pretty decent first effort. Mild lactic sourness with a light wheaty taste and slight sweetness from the long ferment. Could do with a longer / hotter bake too or maybe it has used up too much sugars already. Will probably try a higher percentage of the red fife flour to get a better feel of its taste. 


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