The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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This wasn't my first Pain Au levain, but surely the best of the bunch. I have baked Vermont Sourdough with increased wholewheat, and Pain Au levain with Mixed Sourdough starters...Those were not successful as i was struggling with ways to please my starter.. But i loved this one! No wonder why so many TFL members bake it frequently.

I increased hydration to 75%. I did not retard the dough, it has a lovely faint sourness. I forgot to autolyze too. I stratched and Folded in the bowl 5 times during bulk fermentation (2.5 hours). Final fermentation was almost 4 hours! This is what happens when your flour is not malted from factory.

The Doughs spread flat in the oven.. but with the help of a 500F stone and plenty of steam, they balooned and came to life..

This is by far the best sourdough i have ever had to date. Crackly crust, soft chewy crumb, and an intoxicating aroma..!!


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I purchased some Pakistani Wheat (for Atta) , and i wanted to see how it fairs in Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain Recipes. I'am not sure of the protein content of This wheat, but i read that Atta flour is between 11.5% to 13% Protein. I milled the berries, and found them to be medium hard. The resultant flour made a coherent smooth dough, and delayed fermentation helped strengthen the dough even more.

Adding Milk, Butter and Honey, helped soften the dough further, and the result was a pliable soft dough that passed windowpane test.

PR's Recipe for this sandwich bread is a real winner, as this 100% wholewheat is transformed into a very fluffy and light loaf which was a true treat, especially when toasted!

I shaped my dough into a tight sandwich load in the manner that Txfarmer does hers as i wanted that shredable texture. My shaping needs improvement.

The flavor was Superb!


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That is ,If My first attempt did yield anything close to a croissant. I Was inspired by Akiko's Post here about her great croissants adapted from Steve's Great website: Breadcetera, and i had to try my luck at croissants.

 This time, i have managed to retain the butter in the layers in the oven, and not ending up with a puddle of molten butter. The Dough lamination went on smoothly, But I had to let the dough chill in the freezer for 25 minutes per session instead of the fridge, due to my warm kitchen.

Chilling my dough in the freezer lead to a prolonged final proof (3 hours), which were not enough. I was too scared to allow the dough ferment in my warmer kitchen, as the butter may melt.

Finally, i actually had Croissants, with Butter in them, and a lovely flaky texture, though not as airy as Akiko Croissants, But Considerably light.

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I promised my self to give Karin's Spelt Walnut Bread a Try, recipe here, and i finally did yesterday, and i was very satisfied.

i milled My German organic Spelt berries, so iam sure this added extra flavor. As butter milk is hard to come by in Dubai, i replaced Buttermilk in the soaker with yogurt. Next day, the dough come together nicely, was soft extensible and lively. Having learned from other TFL members that Spelt's Gluten is fragile, i mixed briefly, only up to the point where the surface of the dough is smooth and tight.

The Whole spelt also ferments 40% faster than regular whole wheat, so i had to keep an eagle's eye on it. It recieved 40 minutes bulk fermentation, and 35 minutes Final proofing.

It did not spring noticeably in the oven, but slashes opened up quite well. It was in the oven for 15 minutes with steam, and 35 minutes without at 350F.

When i cut into it this morning, it was very soft and aromatic. There was a sweet spicy aroma filling the house even afetr 12 hours of switching the oven off.

I tasted it.. and Boy was i impressed. This is one of thise breads that tastes, looks, and smells heavenly. I thank Karin so much for her recipe, and for her well balanced use of Spices..!

Now, Spelt will never sleep comfortably in my Fridge..


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This is My First Ciabatta Ever. The Preferment was not fermented thoroughly, which had some impact on the final color of the bread. The flavor is close to Hamelman's Baguette with poolish, very nutty, creamy! It is a hassle to go through, for the first time. Its a good change from wholegrain breads.




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This is a Whole Wheat Barley Bread I baked yesterday. The recipe was made to include my barley flour.


Day 1:

Mix the Soaker contents in a Bowl until you form a ball. Put the dough in a an oiled container and leave at room temp. for 24 hours.

Mix the Biga contents in a Bowl until you form a ball. Put the dough in a a large oiled container and into a fridge for 24 hours.

Day 2:

Take the BIGA out to warm 2 hours prior to final mixing. Chop the Biga and Soaker into pieces and combine them. Distribute salt and yeast on top, and start mixing, resting 5 minutes after every knead. The Dough is wet, so you'll have to knead with wet hands. Form a Tight ball, and put the dough in a large bowl for 45 minutes fermentation.

Scrape the dough out, and divide it into two, three or four pieces. Preshape, rest for 5 minutes and then shape. Lay loaves in a floured basket for 45 minutes. Preheat Oven with two racks, and a steaming device to 470 F.

Cover the Oven glass, Load the doughs into the oven, and pour a cup of boiling water into a steaming device. seal the vent. 15 minutes later, remove the steaming devise and unseal the vent, and bake for 20 more minutes at 390F.

Cool on Rack for 2 hours befor slicing.

The flavor of this Bread is Nutty Wholesome, with a hint of barly sweetness in it. I think some honey would have enhanced the flavor more. i'll tweak this recipe in the future, God willing.


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This is my first ever walnut loaf. I loved it! It sure pairs well with sour cheeses/spreads. toasted, it is even better! Rye flavor is enhanced after 24 hours. It is basically a 50% Rye, 50% Bread Flour.

I adhered to Hamelman's Instructions, except the High Gluten Flour. My bread Flour is 12.9% Protein, and i increased the water in the final dough due to the high absorption of my Whole Rye (Dover Farm Organic).

I used a 100% Rye starter for this recipe. The Crust was chewy, and the crumb was moist tender, with a slight sourness to it. The walnuts are a blast to have in this loaf. All in all iam quite Happy with this bread and i, God's Willing, shall bake it many times to come.


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This is from Hamelman's Bread, under (Yested Preferments). I used a Pate fermentee of my baguette dough. I also added no yeast to the final dough. Mixing was very brief with turning the dough in a bowl every 30 minutes for 3 hours, developed the dough well. This is my first time to underdevelop my dough, and using my hand to fold the dough intermittently.

What i ended up with is developed yet soft feeble dough that jumped to life in the oven. The loaves were quite lighter in mass, and the crumb was soft and holey.

I, however, forgot to add the salt to the final dough, so the flavor was quite lacking.

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Following 4 sourdough baking disasters in a row, a planned not to throw the dough this time. I sprinkled 1tsp of yeast and baked it 2 1/2 hours later.

The crumb shot above is from a slice at one side of the loaf, while the the crumb below is from the other side.

And the culprit: My starter. The size of the bubbles show a lacto-bacterial fermentation, with very little yeast activity. I have never seen such fermentation cells since i started using sourdough.

I am tending my starter now, feeding it every 12 hours to revive my yeasts.

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Just to finish off 2010 with a "cheerful ending , my starter has failed me twice. Having ventured on to bake Hamelman's Pain Au Levain with Wholewheat, My Doughs have twiced turned slack and headed to the trash bin instead of the oven, twice in a row? that is a killer. Add this to my lower back pain, iam not inclined to bake anytime soon. 

Iam a keen caretaker of my Starter, but lately i was unable to please it. Long story short, i have to keep an eye on it more often, inorder to revive the healthy population i always nourished.

Now i have to watch all the wonderful Year end bakes of my fellow TFl members, and drool on.

EDIT: Light Bulb On! I believe the reason behind my starter problematic vigor has to do with overfeeding right from the fridge. As Underfeeding reduces the number of viable yeasts that ensure fermentation, Overfeeding, seems, also overwhelms the starter, and the end result is same.



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