The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mebake's blog

  • Pin It
Mebake's picture

This is my take on Karin’s challenge bread. I’ve used 3 freshly milled whole grain flours, which all happened to be from Germany: Whole Wheat, Whole Spelt, Whole Rye; all organic.  The flours account for 60% of the total, while 40% was regular Bread flour for extra lift and lightness. The raisin mush lends a sweet undertone that really pairs well with the nutty/ roasty/ soury flavors.



Prepare the levain by mixing the starter with the flours, cover, and let ferment overnight. Mix the raisins with hot water, cover, and leave on counter overnight. Next day, make an autolyse out of flour and water, leave to rest for 30min to an hour. Later, mix the remaining ingredients together for 5 minutes on speed 1, let rest for 5 minutes, and on speed 2 for 3 minutes. Remove the dough to an oiled container , cover, and let it ferment for 2- 2.5 hours. Apply one stretch and fold after 1 hour.  Finally , divide the dough and preshape into rounds, rest for 15 minutes, and then shape and insert them into floured proofing baskets. After 2 hours, the dough will be ready for baking, so preheat your oven 1 hour earlier. Bake for 15 minutes with steam at 450F (250c), then remove your steaming pan, and reduce the temp. to 380F (210C) and bake for 25 minutes until the crust is dark and aromatic. Cool on wires.

German Organic Whole Wheat (Spring?)

The bread was delicious. Smoky, nutty, slightly sour, and caramel sweet. Good with spreadable cheeses, poached eggs, and smoked Fish.

Forgot to add: Blend the soaked raisins into a mush before incorporating.

Thanks Karin for stirring up our imaginations.



Mebake's picture

I’ve been away from TFL for some time, and that is mostly due to my father death. He passed away two weeks ago, and I had been busy with his funeral arrangements and dealing with the aftermath of his demise. As it happens, he was also my boss at work for 12 years. I will miss his kind heart. May he rest in peace.

Yesterday, I baked some loaves to order. A Lady, whom I met at the last Arts and Crafts Market in Dubai, has ordered 4 types of bread (as a trial) : one each of a Bagel, a Baguette, a Sourdough country, and an Oatmeal bread. I’ve baked the Country sourdough and Oatmeal in one batch, and baked the rest in another batch yesterday.

The Bagel recipe is from (Crust) By Richard bertinet, while the Poolish baguettes are from Hamelman's (Bread). You could notice the difference in Bagel shaping; the ones that were shaped by pinching a hole through a round dough were the most successful.


Oatmeal Bread From Hamelman's BREAD, converted to a sourdough.

This is a Rye Pain au Levain. The recipe is here

As to my plans for a bakery business, here is an update:  I’ve completed the Basic food hygiene lesson and got the certificate. In the next couple of months, I plan to seek an apprenticeship opportunity in a bakery in Dubai. If it doesn’t work, I don't know what I'm going to do.




Mebake's picture


It has been a while since i last posted. I've been away for a 3 week "vacation", so i missed June's crafts market in Dubai. I've returned, though, and began baking for the July Market and my lone client. 

I chose to bake the fastest selling breads: Hamelman's roasted garlic bread, and Olive levain. The third variety is 5 grain Rye sourdough also from Hamelman. I do realize i have to break free from Hamelman's book for the Market bread, and start using recipes of my own. 

The Market started well, with a great footfall gaining momentum as the day approached 12:00 noon, the beginning of the Market in a lazy shopping mall. My first client was my neighbor vendor, who bought olive bread. Slowly but surely,  i had clients snatching away my breads and soon i was sold out in 3 hours. Boy, as exciting as that was, it was boring to stand behind an empty table for the next 4 hours (I'm fasting - mind you). I gave away my business card along with a brochure on the benefits of Artisan bread. I wasn't alone in this (although i admit i should have baked more, but such is the limitations of my 60 cm width oven), my Brit neighbor, has also sold out her entire stock of vegan pastry in 3 hours. The market grew vibrant by late afternoon, much to my regrets, as i sat there waiting for the Market to end. 

So, as dusk drew near, I packed and head home for breakfast. I knew i had to buy me a larger oven.

As to my plans for bakery, I've booked a class on "basic food hygiene" tomorrow. My next step will be to try to seek an apprenticeship, or a temporary job in a renowned bakery. An approved food hygiene lesson along with a medical checkup is a requirement in the food industry here. 

Wish me luck!



Mebake's picture

Hi, fellow and dear TFL'ers

The thoughts and plans of starting a bakery in Dubai have been broiling in my mind for over a year now. As many of you already know, I began taking pastry classes some few months back as I believe that knowing how to make bread alone just won’t cut it. So, I took the classes and collected my certificate and now I think that the natural choice here is to seek an internship / apprenticeship in some bakery.

There are of course many hurdles in the way of doing so. Laws in the United Arab Emirates, specifically those pertaining to labor and food safety, are quite strict and will not allow for internships at food producing factories / outlets, unless you seek a job placement. Due to financial commitments, I can’t quit my current job to work for a bakery / patisserie / hotel / café.. and expect to be paid even remotely similar to what I earn now. Additionally, there isn’t cottage food law here, so if you plan to bake and sell commercially, you’ll have to obtain a commercial trade license like other food businesses. I’m seeking a partner to share part of the expenses, and the passion; I’ve found one so far.

I talked to a bakery owner who declined to offer an internship, but pointed me in the direction of another bakery owned by his niece in another city where the regulations are not as stringent. I paid a visit to the bakery, and noticed that although they produce some pastries (oriental and French), in addition to pita breads, their business model isn't what I’d aspire to.

The question is, am I right in thinking that an internship /apprenticeship at a bakery is a prerequisite to starting a bakery business?  I’m passionate enough about baking, especially Artisan bread, and I’m willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

I’d be happy to know what you guys think, based on your experiences. Any ideas are welcome.

Many thanks,




Mebake's picture

I've finally jumped into the 36 hour sourdough bandwagon. I had some ripe Rye sour on hand, as I created a preferment out of a starter for no certain recipe  (Happens to me often), and decided to give the 36 hour sourdough a trial. With all the rave on TFL, I knew that the method will yield excellent bread.

The Recipe:

Generally, I’ve followed the procedures for the 36 hour sourdough, as written by Txfarmer but refrigerated rye sour after it has ripened for scheduling purposes, and added some flour to the final dough.  First, the bread flour and water were mixed and left to autolyse in the refrigerator overnight. Next day, I mixed the cold rye sour and the autolyse, added more rye flour , bread flour and some water and mixed the dough slowly by hand (I should have used a mixer, as the dough was very cold!). For the next 3 hours, I stretched and folded the dough 6 times every 30 minutes. The dough was then retarded in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Next day, I removed the dough from the fridge and let it stand covered at room temperature for 2 hours to remove the chill. It has risen considerably in the fridge (almost doubled). I dusted my work surface and divided the dough into a boule and a batard, and preshaped both into rough rounds. After a bench rest of 30 minutes, I shaped the rounds and placed them in floured proofing baskets.  After an hour and a half, I preheated my oven with baking stones in for one hour. The loaves were inverted onto a parchment paper lined peel, and loaded. I baked the loaves for 500 F / 250C for 15 minutes under steam, and 20 minutes at 400 F without steam.

I cut into the cooled loaves 2 hours later, as my young son demanded some sourdough bread. I was delighted yet amazed at how he consumed the slice I gave to him: he started by peeling the crust off and eating that first. By the end of the third slice, all that was left was a single shred of a soft inner crumb! If a 6 year old boy prefers an untoasted bread crust as against its softer interior, then the bread must be really good.

The flavor of the crust was nutty/sweet with very good caramel undertones. The crumb was soft, slightly moist, with clean custard like flavor and a slight sour. Thank you, Txfarmer.




Mebake's picture

It was time for the much anticipated Arts and crafts market – Times Square, Dubai.  On Friday, the 9th, I had prepared my display gear, packed and loaded my bread, and head to the Market.

A w eek earlier i had been baking  5 sandwich loaves (600gr each) of “Many seed bread”  from Peter Reinhart’s (Whole grain breads), and 5 boules  (600 gr) of “Roasted Garlic Levain “ from Hamelman’s (Bread).  The whole grain bread was packed in plastic freezing bags and frozen, while the garlic bread was baked fresh on the eve of the Market day. I could not bake larger quantities, as I was suffering lower back pain. In retrospect, however, I could have baked and frozen more in advance; I realized that whole grain breads retain freshness even when frozen! Some hope for me :) 


Upon arrival, I unloaded my gear and bread, and marched across the parking lot to the mall entrance. I arrived at the registration desk at 10:30 am, and there I saw  a queue of some 12 Artisans lining up already! Wow, this has become popular, I thought to myself.  Finally, I registered for July Market (I’m going on a vacation to see the family on June), and picked my table number.  Table No. 395 it was; positioned on the sunlit second floor. I made a trip around the tables, and there are none that sell bread! I believe that most vendors think that bread making  is too much trouble for too low a profit margin.

I prepared my table for display, and sat there waiting. This time, I brought some olive oil for a taster’s dip, as against butter. My first client was a neighboring vendor, an Indian lady, who happened to like my previous market’s garlic bread and bought one immediately. I was delighted to learn that she and her husband absolutely loved it.  Some familiar faces showed up every once and a while, notably my regular enthusiastic bread client who happens to be also a vendor. He bought a loaf of each, and went on on how he loves the bread and that it is alone worth the trip from his home hundred tens of miles away! That felt really heartwarming.  Finally, I had sold all the bread, with Roasted garlic flying off FAST; It was utterly delicious, and intensely aromatic.

I had also printed some handouts on A4 highlighting the advantages of Artisan bread, and gave those away with my business card. I offered many visitors and clients baking them bread on order, but I have yet to hear from any of them. Thus far, I have only 1 client who orders a few loaves bimonthly, and  another prospective client is in the making.  I also noticed again and again, that many ask for gluten free bread, and so felt the urge to learn how to make it.

I happened to visit a multi commodity store earlier this month and as I walked down the food aisles, I noticed that there was Psyllium husk, marketed as a health drink powder. Packed at 100gr each, they were quite cheap !. I also found cheap tapioca flour from the same store.  It was good enough reason for me to seek gluten free flours, so I bought some sorghum and millet flours from another food store.

The recipe that I followed was that of (The bread kitchen) on YouTube. Her gluten free recipe is also dairy and egg free. I weighed the ingredients, and mixed them up with a spatula into a thick batter and poured it into my lined tin. The batter was proofed for 1.5 hours at room temperature, and a thin coating of olive oil was carefully brushed on top prior to baking. I baked it without steam for 40 minutes at 210 C with fan, as directed. I only substituted the potato flour with rice flour.



2 hours later, I sliced the loaf hoping for bread like texture. I was surprised  that it sliced, looked, felt, and tasted like a good 50% whole grain bread, with a hint of spice owing  to the sorghum, I think. I had few slices with my wife for dinner, and it was delicious! Quite hard to imagine that it contains no wheat flour at all.  I shall try substituting millet for roasted chickpea flour, or corn flour in my future GF bakes, or even try leavening it with a GF sourdough starter.






Mebake's picture

Some of you may remember the new flour I picked up from the local mill last month, and didn't have the chance to try it in some bread; I’m now glad I did. Since the flour is French style, I decided to use it to make a Miche.  



Prepare the Stiff levain by adding a tablespoon and a half of your active white starter to the water, and mix well to disperse. Add the T6- flour, mix well, and let stand for 8-12 hours at room temperature until the surface just begins to recede and collapse. Next day, mix all ingredients except the levain and salt by hand or using a mixer for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be shaggy at this stage, so leave to rest for ½ hour – 1 hour. Add the levain in chunks and sprinkle the salt on top and mix to form a dough (5-8 minutes). Do not knead the dough too much at this stage, as it will continue to develop strength as you stretch and fold it during bulk fermentation. Let ferment in an oiled bowl for 1/2 hour at preferably 78 F or 24-25C, then stretch and fold it. Repeat this step 4-5 times, and after 2.5 – 3 hours, your dough will be fermented and ready.  By the end of bulk fermentation, the dough will have risen by 60-80%. scrape your dough onto a heavily floured surface, pat the dough even (Don't knead!) , and form into a round piece of dough. Let rest for 15- 20 min, covered, and during this time, dust your cloth- lined basket with a mixture of all purpose flour and rice flour. Shape your dough into a tight ball, and invert it smooth side down into the basket. Now, you have the choice to either ferment the dough at room temperature for 2-2.5 hours  and bake it (watch the dough, not the clock!), or cover it and refrigerate it for 8-21 hours at 5-10C. I refrigerated the dough overnight. Next day, remove your dough from the fridge, and Preheat your oven with a stone in place to a 500F or 260C for 1 hour. 5 minutes before loading the bread, place your steaming dish filled with wet towels on the bottom of your oven.  When ready, invert the dough on baking paper lined peel/ board and close the oven immediately. Bake for 15 minutes with steam, and then remove the steaming dish and reduce the temperature to 400F for another 20-25 minutes. 


When time is over, remove your bread from the oven. Wear oven mitts, and tap on the bottom of one loaf, It should sound hollow. Furthermore, you may insert a thermal probe into the center of the loaf from the bottom, and the temperature should register 195-200F or 90-95C. If it doesn't, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Leave to cool the bread completely on a wire rack, and ENJOY!

I sliced the bread after 2 hours, and was welcomed by a soft creamy interior, with irregular holes. The crumb was soft, and had a creamy nutty flavor. Most of the flavor was in the crust, which had a caramel/ roasted nut/ sweet/ sour flavors all at once. This flour would make excellent baguettes!

I will try mixing this flour with my standard bread flour to see whether it improves the texture and mouth feel in some of my regular recipes.



Mebake's picture

It has been a while since I last posted here on TFL. I have been quite busy, and there was much in my life to take care of, that I hadn’t had spare time to follow the wonderful bread adventures of TFL members.

As some of you may remember, I had missed my chocolate class back in January this year, and planned for a makeup class in order to complete my amateur pastry course. Yes, I’ve finally done it. Enjoyable, could have been. Messy?, you bet, but it is over now. One more theoretical exam in baked goods, and I’ll be officially done.

Lately, I paid a visit to the local mill which I regularly source my bread and rye flours from. I met the sales person and he offered me new flours, many of which were bakery mixes. I explained to him that I need flours that are free from additives and preservatives, so he offered me his (French traditional), or T65. I was ecstatic about the idea, and bought a bag of 25 kg of the T65 in addition to my regular bread flour. Yesterday, I had a chance to open the bag and see for myself how it compares to my bread flour As shown in the picture, the T-65 ( on the left) is slightly creamier in texture than the bread flour due to the increase in ash content. The bread flour was close to T-60 than you’d expect from white flour, so there wasn’t much of a difference. However, I was disappointed when I read the label.  The “traditional flour” had additives, probably to correct the enzymatic content of the flour. I suspect that bread flour from the mill also contains such additives.  I’ll bake with it soon and report the results here.         

As for Dubai’s Arts and crafts market (ARTE) last Friday, I baked 3 types of bread: The usual 80% Rye, Whole wheat multigrain, and the new entry, Roasted Garlic bread from Hamleman’s (Bread).

The day started out slow, and footfall wasn’t as anticipated. The draw landed me next to the organizer’s table, and she was the first to buy a loaf of each. She is a very enthusiastic and encouraging lady, I must say. My cousin, who I began training to be my baking assistant, has joined me on the market day and brought along his sister’s lovely homemade cheese straws.  I walked around the market, chatting with vendors who unanimously agreed that the business was indeed sluggish. I had passing visitors from Finland, UK, Canada, India, and Germany; the latter being most interested in Artisan bread. The bread that sold most was the roasted garlic bread. Baked fresh the day before, it was packed with sweet garlic aroma!

To kick things up a bit, I sliced more bread, slathered with butter, placed them on a plate and stood by my table offering visitors a taste. I had prepared some printed A4 sheets that contain information on the advantages and uses of naturally leavened artisan breads and distributed those too.

By the end of the day, I had sold close to 40% of my breads. I packed and left home. Driving my car through the parking lot away from the mall , I was thankful that I was able to persevere through the physically taxing days of baking , and make it to the market day. I may downside my production for the next market from 18 Kg worth of dough to 15 Kg , due to my limited oven and mixer capacity.


Mebake's picture

For this past Market day, I've baked the same breads I often bake For all preceding Arts and crafts markets: A Rye , A Whole Wheat multigrain, and a country White loaf.  For This market ,however, I've baked all three of them. a 7 Kg. worth of Rye dough, 5.5 Kg. Worth of Whole wheat multigrain, and 5kg. worth of Tartine’s Sesame bread dough; yielding a total dough of 17.5 Kg!  All bread was baked in three consecutive days, and none were frozen. Phew!

The day began at the registration desk , followed by a random table draw. I was seated in a far corner on the ground floor this time. I prepared the table for display, and readied myself for the big day. Immediately, I began preparing samplers for customers who’d like to have a taste of my breads. I had a chocolate vendor to my left, and a jewelry designer to my right; all were friendly and courteous.

Customers began to show up on my table, and many were interested in Artisan bread. Occasionally, some would ask if I had gluten free breads, in fact, many here appear to have gluten intolerance. I think I might have to learn how to make GF breads soon. A German gentleman accompanied by his family has also shown a good deal of interest in Artisan breads; notably Rye. I quote him saying: “mmm, this is really authentic!”, as he chewed down a piece of the 80% rye bread. That was heartwarming.  A Georgian lady picked up some Rye bread and a Russian, too. I told the latter that I bake Borodinsky bread, and she gasped with a smile cheerfully : OHH, really?!! Apparently, I struck a nerve there. Most eastern European expats living in the region yearn for their bread back home.

Old clients tracked me down, of course, and nailed their share of bread. By the end of the Market day, I had half a boule of sesame bread left that was eventually sold to a neighboring vendor. Had I more loaves left, I would have been sold out too, but this is the maximum capacity my oven can handle.

So, that was it! The Market day drew to an end, so i packed my gear and left. Despite the back ache that persisted throughout the day, I felt a soothing sense of satisfaction and achievement that kept my spirit up. 





Mebake's picture

I've been baking for the Arts and crafts market,scheduled next Friday the 14th of March,  and here are 2 bakes out of 3. I plan to bake Tartine's sesame bread last. When i have spare spare time, and effort, i plan to bake Mark Sinclair's Potato rolls that Mr. Mark has so generously shared with us. 

80% Rye with Rye flour soaker from Hamelman's book: BREAD

Whole Wheat Multigrain from Hamelman's book: BREAD

I'll save the money i earn from the market to replace my oven with a larger one. 






Subscribe to RSS - Mebake's blog