The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mebake's blog

  • Pin It
Mebake's picture

Dear TFLers,

Earlier this month, I have taken artisan II sourdough classes at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Upon my arrival, I contacted David Snyder (dmsnyder) who offered to pick me and my friend from the Hotel next morning. As blogged by David, we parked in the city, and walked up to the ferry building , where the Saturday’s Farmer’s Market was located, and there, we met David’s brother Glenn, (also a TFL member).  

After visiting the Market and notably Acme, and Della Fattoria Bakeries and having some of their pastries, Glenn took us to a high rise building  where he works and the view of San Francisco Bay from his office was spectacular.


We went down and walked across the block down to Tadich Grill. We had some fine grilled fish there, and the place was charmingly classic and vintage. Loved the food and the sourdough on the table.We then headed back to pick up some tickets for the muni (Bus) in order to get to mission district, where Tartine and thorough bread bakeries are. We had some fine pastries and coffee, at Tartine. I bought a Danish Rubrod , since their fresh bake for the day has not yet come out of the oven. I took some photos when they were loading the country white. It was probably around 3:30 in the afternoon by then.


We moved to Thorough Bakery, which is owned by the San Francisco Baking institute, but were not able to consume any more pastry or coffee .In retrospect,  I regret not sampling their wares,  as i found later how good SFBI’s pastries are. Later, we took the muni Back to where the car was Parked and we drove to meet Glenn at B. Patisserie; another Bakery Co-owned by Michael Suas of SFBI. Needless to say, that everything was spectacular. I bought a baguette, and had a Kouign Amann Pastry.  Exhausted from the 16 hour flight, and overfed with Pastry and coffee, we asked David and his wife Susan to drive is back to the hotel. David, his wife Susan , and his brother Glenn were such kind, and hospitable people. I thank them so much for that super fun day.

The following day, my friend and I took the Bart to the city, where we visited The Mill.  We had a late breakfast of almond butter on Whole Wheat toast , and a coffee. We lined up for a bread, too, and picked up an Einkorn loaf. The Toast was very good, and so was the bread. We walked back to the nearest BART station and headed back to the Hotel in order to take rest  for next day’s class.



Next morning at 7 am,  we headed for the Institute.  Our Instructor was Chef Miyuki, who began the day with a lecture summarizing the main points covered in Artisan I class, and introducing Sourdough Baking. After having acquainted with the rest of the students, we were divided into 3 groups, each stationed at a table. On the first day, we had a yeasted levain White bread to mix, proof and bake on the same day. Furthermore, we had to start a new sourdough culture which we are supposed to bake with on the 5th day. Also, we fed multiple levains for Day 2 doughs, and scaled their final dough ingredients.

On Day two, we mixed final doughs for 4 breads:  a single fed stiff levain, a double fed liquid levain, a double fed 70% stiff levain, and a double fed 40% stiff levain. By the end of the class, the breads were baked, and some were cold retarded to be baked first thing on Day 3. We had a tasting session, where all breads are sliced and sampled. The single feed stiff was the most sour of all 4, followed by the 70%  and the 40%.  As expected,  the liquid levain bread was mild with a slight hint of sour. Before we left for the day, we mixed levains for next day’s breads, and scaled their final ingredients. We were scheduled to bake different breads for Day 3:  a Whole Wheat sourdough, a sour Rye, a multigrain, and a semolina bread.


Day 3  began by mixing the scaled dough ingredients for all recipes, one at a time. We then baked the retarded loaves from day 2, which were cooled and stacked away for later sampling, We witnessed firsthand the effectiveness and efficiency of a spiral mixer. We learned when to stop mixing, and how to test the dough for strength. Miyuki demonstrated the stretch and fold in the bucket, in addition to scaling, pr-eshaping, shaping, scoring and baking. It was such a delight to see her skillfully and swiftly manipulate a piece of dough into a seamless elegant shape.  We baked all loaves, and prepared the leavens and scaled final dough flours for next day’s breads.

My Day 4 breads

After having our breakfast on day 4, we proceeded to mix the final doughs of all 4 breads. The breads were: Walnut- raisin, Olive , Ciabatta, and Challah. A Hand mix dough was also mixed to be baked next day retarded as a Miche. Same goes for Day 4; proofing, scaling, shaping, and baking. However, we retarded the Olive and Walnut raisin to be baked on Day 5. I was finally confident of braiding a challah dough, after Miyuki’s demonstration. At the end of the day, we mixed leavens for Day 5, and scaled the final ingredients.

Day 5, has arrived.  I noticed no loss of energy or enthusiasm amongst my fellow students. We were all working with dough as if it were day 1. We began by mixing 2 doughs: a A levain Baguette with a Biga, and a stiffer French dough for decorative shapes. Cold fermented Olive and Walnut raisin were then baked, and then set aside to cool, followed by the 1.5 Kg Miche. Miyuki showed us how to stencil images/letters onto a Miche.  We scaled and proofed the baguettes on linen, and then shaped the French dough into decorative pieces, such as a fendu, a tordu..etc. It is noteworthy to mention, that most of the breads that we baked in class had a small quantity of instant yeast added.


As the last of the baguettes came out of the oven, we headed to class for a recap Lecture. At the end of the lecture,  Michael Suas, the man behind it all, walked in. He congratulated us, and after a brief chat with the students, he distributed the certificates. Before departing, we gathered downstairs for a group photo, and bid the faculty and each other farewell.


As a finale, i visited the Fisherman's Wharf, where Boudin Bakery is. I took a couple of pictures, and bought a chocolate filled sourdough. It was such a monumental Bakery to be in. and so ends my trip.The charming experience of these 5 days will remain etched in my memory for years to come.



Mebake's picture

Been quite busy for the last months, but I have some news for you all.  First, I would like to share some pictures of my latest participation in ARTE (Arts and crafts market, or Artisans of the emirates). Things have been evolving gradually for me, and I have become more confident with higher production volume; I’m now capable of baking 12 loaves at a time in my new oven : Giorik – Magnifico,  a countertop convection oven with humidifier, pretty much similar to Varda and Janet’s Cadco.

The oven bakes well, and I’m beginning to learn ways to generate enough steam while keeping the heat in.  I’ve baked three loaves for the last market: A rye sourdough with sprouted rye, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; a Whole Wheat levain, and a Vermont sourdough with whole wheat. The Rye was baked in pans, while the oven was shut off for the first 15 minutes (steam towels in). The Whole wheat levain, and the Vermont were baked free form on trays. The difference between the whole wheat levain and the Vermont was in the duration of bake with the oven off. The whole wheat levain were baked in a preheated oven that was switched off during the first 15 minutes (all with steam towels in), while the Vermont was baked in a preheated oven that was switched off for only 10 minutes. The result was quite obviously in favor of the latter: the 10 minutes off. The oven spring was improved and cuts opened evenly, and resulted in a better crust overall. I don’t claim that this is a conclusive controlled test, as the whole wheat levain was slightly under proofed, and thus exploded somewhat in the oven; and thus the crust was hard and thick. The Vermont sourdough was retarded (shaped ) and baked after two hours of countertop warm up time.

The sprouted Rye sourdough, my new recipe, is loosely adapted from Hamleman’s 80% Rye with rye flour soaker. It was sliced on the Market day, scaled to 600 gr loaves , then wrapped in paper bag and tied with a craft twine. In hind sight, I should have left a whole unsliced loaf for display. The rye was also a success . The slowest selling bread was the whole wheat levain. The crust was thick, and the flavor was slightly sour, which did not appeal to some clients.  One client thought that the dough was flavored with lemon juice!



Whole Rye flour40217grams
Light rye flour60326grams
Sprouted rye berries843grams
Toasted sunflower seeds5.530grams
Toaseted Pumpkin Seeds5.530grams
Sea salt211grams
Whole Rye flour100217grams
Light Rye flour 326grams
Water 190grams
Sprouted Rye berries 43grams
Sourdough 424grams
Soaker 163grams
Toasted Sunflower seeds 30grams
Toasted Pumpkin seeds 30grams
Sea Salt 11grams
Total 1,216grams

The day at the Market was crawling in terms of visitors’ flow. The sale peaked at noon, as soon as the market started at 12:00 pm. Not surprisingly, the Vermont sourdough was a instant hit, and sold out within an hour. I’ve only baked eight loaves of the Vermont, due to my limited refrigerator capacity, but I’m planning to purchase another tub to retard my dough in bulk. Furthermore, the Vermont sourdough , or “Country White”, was baked early in the morning of the Market day, and was fresh.

Yet, I’m still the only, lonely, bread baker in the Market. I’m puzzled by the lack of awareness for Artisanal breads, especially for Sourdough; quite few of the customers appreciate the flavor. About a month ago,  I had been to Kuwait on a personal trip and visited a sourdough baker at her stall in a local Market called: The secret garden project. It is such a nice community Market, lead by organic farming enthusiasts and foodies. The lady’s alias on Instagram is :  Auntmarie’s bakery, and she makes Delicious , and attractive sourdoughs. Other vendors at the event make sourdough bread as well and sell Tartines , and it seems as though Artisan bread culture has quite caught up with the local foodie scene in Kuwait. What struck me even more is that The lady sold out her entire thirty loaves, mostly sourdoughs, in an hour! The price tag for a 1 Kg Miche was not cheap, but the bread was spectacular ( I have purchased two loaves myself ). I wondered why this was not the case back in Dubai, even though it is touted for being a sophisticated multicultural destination in the middle east.

On another cheerful note, I’ve signed up for Artisan II bread classes in June 15th at SFBI !  I feel I need the hands on experience and the professional training, now that I’m beginning to switch into a new career in baking.  The reviews on the courses from renown TFL members like Dmsnyder and several others on, in addition to the recommendations by the auntmarie’s, (who has attended both Artisan I, and II), were more than convincing.

That is all for now,

Best wishes to all, and Happy baking!






Mebake's picture

Hi, dear TFL’ers

 Wow, has it been a while! Just a quick update of what I’ve been up to during the last two months:

1 – I attended January’s Arts and crafts market. It was fun , but I only sold around 80 percent of my bread (18 total loaves).

2 – I bought a gas convection oven (7 racks), but could not work around connecting it in my rented apartment. (too many restrictions by the building and the gas company). Electrical version was out of question as it needs 90% of my apartment's total wattage. So, I’ve returned the large oven, and had it replaced by a 4 rack electric oven (countertop size). The other oven is yet to arrive, so more on that later.

3 – I attended February’s Arts and crafts Market. The business was slow. I sold only 70% of my bread. The low traffic was, in part, due to my table’s location. But, all in all, it was a good, lively market that has been growing and hosting really skilled Artisans. The atmosphere, also, is very friendly and family oriented.

4 – As to my plans to start a Bakery, I have no time yet to commit to an apprenticeship; too much work /family obligations to look after. Will update everyone when it happens. In the meanwhile, I'm still searching for a local partner, and a suitable location for the bakery.

5 – I’ve changed my Instagram alias from Mebake to : goldenwheatbakeryae. So, you may follow my progress on Instagram, and facebook: GoldenWheatbakeryDubai when I'm away from TFL.

My daughter, acting as my apprenticeship :)

This is a 100% sourdough rye with rye flour soaker and toasted seeds (sunflower, and pumpkin). It is adapted from Hamelman's recipe : 80% sourdough rye with rye flour soaker in his book: BREAD, edition 1.

 Wishing everyone happy days, and happy baking.



Mebake's picture

It has been quite a while, I know, but commitments and chores of life can have a toll on your time. If anyone is is interested in viewing my weekly and market bakes, here is my instagram id : _  (add an underscore after MEBAKE).

 I’ve been contacting two artisan bakeries, mostly franchises, for a chance of an apprenticeship and received mixed responses. One has refused and the other agreed, in principle, to train apprentices. I’ve yet to confirm whether this works for me, given the circumstances. They take in apprentices as full time job, and so I need to free myself of my current inescapable obligations.

On the other hand, I continue to bake at home for the family and neighbors, in addition to the local crafts market. Two week ago, I baked for the November’s ARTE market. The market has evolved into a fully fledged artisan gathering, where numerous Artisans showcase their exquisite handmade crafts, in addition to home-made food. Anything from  pastries ,preserves and condiments, to crackers and cookies were there, and were absolutely delightful to see, and eat.  Here is a link to their website: .

For bread, I baked 3 types: A whole wheat multigrain with tangzhong (left), a 60% rye sourdough with wholewheat flour, sunflower seeds, old rye bread soaker (middle), and roasted garlic levain (right). The market’s footfall was very good, and I received few compliments on the Rye bread from Austrian buyers. I sold out everything, and probably could have sold twice as much.

My next plan is to purchase a bigger oven, to increase my baking capacity from 6 loaves a day to 18. I’ll blog about it when time permits.

Happy holidays to all!  and keep on baking!


Mebake's picture

For October ARTE market, I baked 3 types of bread: Flaxseed Rye , Rye pain au levain, and the popular Roasted garlic bread. I baked a total of 20 loaves, 500 gr each 3 days prior to the Market day.

The footfall at the mall was quite decent in October, but my table was cast to a far corner, so I did not sell out as fast. I had a French visitor who worked in an Artisan bakery in India, and was quite amazed at the fact that such bread could be baked in a home oven. I, of course, explained to her that it was possible with steam and stone, and owed my success to TFL. Another visitor came by , and expressed a keen interest in my bread, when told that it contains no added yeast and that it is naturally fermented. She picked up 4 loaves for her sister, who suffers a yeast allergy of some sort. The roasted garlic bread sold FAST, as expected, followed by the rye pain au levain, and lastly the flaxseed.

I have noticed how chewy and slightly hard my breads were, especially those baked 3 days before the market, which was disappointing. The crumb of the Rye pain au levain would stale faster than I'd like, and so baking all bread in the preceding night will resolve the freshness problem, but that requires a larger capacity oven which I don't own, yet.  Freezing needs space too. 


at the end of the day, all bread was sold and despite the increase in the table rental fees, I managed to break even with a few $$ to spare :)


Mebake's picture

This is a batch of bread I baked and delivered for a regular client of mine. She is my first client outside of the market, and the only one thus far. The breads are: Olive levain, Whole Wheat multigrain, and Oatmeal bread, and 80% rye; all from Hamelman's book: (BREAD). My wife's shaping skills are improving fast! she shaped and scored some of the loaves depicted above. Can you tell? I've gotten her hooked now ;)

As to the 80% rye, i had an old rye bread in the freezer and used some of that in the soaker. The news here, is that I've used a cold soaker (non boiled water) instead of the usual scald. I'm pretty pleased with the crumb and overall flavor. I think I like a cold soaker for this type of bread.




Mebake's picture

Last week marked the return of ARTE Dubai, following a summer break in August. A week earlier, I’ve baked three breads  in 3 days. The first was Rye Sourdough with multigrain, and then a new recipe of mine: Date sesame bread, and finally the all too popular: Roasted garlic bread from Hamelman's book :BREAD. As expected, the garlic bread sold out in 3 hours,  while the date sesame came in second, and finally the Rye multigrain; the word rye multigrain may have mislead many visitors into thinking that the bread is hefty and dense , whereas it has only 20%  rye.

Overall the market was a success, and all bread was sold a few hours before the market closed. Date sesame Bread was well received, and I really liked the balance of flavors this bread offers. The recipe is as follows:



Prepare the levain 12 hours prior to mixing time and let ripe, covered, at room temperature. Prepare the soaker and leave covered also for 12 hours prior to mixing time. Prepare the date puree by pitting dates, and sprinkling over them a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Add boiled water, stir well, and leave to cool completely, then mash the dates into a puree.  On day two, toast unhulled sesame seeds until fragrant and let cool. Mix all ingredients except the Date puree, and sesame, and leave for 15 minutes. Add the date puree and mix to moderate gluten development, then fold in the sesame seeds to distribute well and transfer to an oiled bowl to rest covered for 50 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough, cover, and let ferment for additional 50 minutes. After three folds and 2.5 hours of fermentation, invert your dough onto a floured surface and divide into two pieces, round, and let rest covered for 15 minutes while you prepare your basket/couche. Shape, and rest in a basket/ couche for 2 – 2.5 hours. 1 hour before the dough is ready, preheat your oven with a stone in place and a steaming device near at hand. When your dough is almost ready, fill your steaming devise with water/ steaming towels, and insert it into your oven to heat up and generate steam. Transfer your loaves to a peel lined with parchment paper, score as desired,  and load into your oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 250C and bake with steam for 15 minutes, remove the device, and continue baking for another 25 minutes at 190C. Unload the loaves, and let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing.

The crust and crumb was what one would expect from a 60% whole wheat sourdough but the flavor was outstanding, especially when toasted. The bread had a faint hint of sweetness to it, complemented well with toasted sesame and levain sour. When I bake this bread again, I'll try chopped dates instead of a puree. 

My first attempt at pastry for the market: Butter biscuits with jam and garnished with roasted almond slivers / dried coconut. My wife helped with those.  The biscuits didn't sell well; visitors were all over a macaroon table! so, we'll have to bake something trendy next time :)



Mebake's picture

Odd as it may sound, I did not decide yet what my “go to bread” recipe is , and to rectify that I searched all bread books that I own to sort out the favorite recipe, and came across one I haven’t tried: Whole Wheat Bread from Tartine. I followed the recipe, including cold overnight fermentation of the shaped loaves.  The loaves spent their night in a floured couche in the fridge, but ended up sticking so I had to pry them out the next morning (Note to self: do not underestimate the importance of rice flour while dusting your couche). The loaves did not deflate, but to avoid misshapen crust , I flipped them smooth side down and scored them seam side up. The oven spring was marvelous! 


The flavor of this bread is outstanding! mellow, with subtle flavors, including wheat flavor, but the overall experience is nothing short of amazing. The sour is really in the background with this recipe, which makes it suitable for many of us who dislike a vinegary flavor. I think I’ve found my daily bread.

I've also baked some poolish baguettes from Hamelman's bread, turned them into a Tuna and mayo with Dijon mustard, lettuce, and cracked pepper. Simple dinner, but absolutely delicious.



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.





Subscribe to RSS - Mebake's blog