The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

PiPs's blog

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Saturdays are my day of play in the kitchen. I rise early in our quiet house to bake bread for the week. A boiled kettle, a cup of tea, then I start mixing and planning my day just as the sun pokes through the kitchen window. After mixing, we enjoy a lazy breakfast while I watch the dough and wait. By midday the baking is done, enticing me to cut a slice (or two) for lunch.

Last weeks Dark Rye disappointment also fuelled a rye test bake, but I will save that for another post in the next few days as I am waiting for the crumb to set.

With the rye bake keeping me busy both mentally and physically in the kitchen, I decided to be kind on myself and bake a simple adaptation of the country bread with two starters by using a proportion of wholemeal spelt in the final dough. I think I have found a winner both with flavour and texture.

Milling and Sifting

While last weeks light rye was certainly delicious and moist (with the soaked cracked rye) I found the sharp flavour of using only the rye starter too assertive. The overnight rise in the fridge compounded this further and the sourness became quite pronounced a few days after baking. Using a combination of the two starters and a room temperature proof seems to restore a balance that I felt was lacking in last weeks bread.

I prepared the flour the night before. The wheat was milled and sifted. The caught material was remilled and sifted again before being used in the final flour with the caught bran set aside. The spelt was milled and then added to the final flour mix without sifting while the rye grains were milled coarsely and fed to a hungry rye starter for use in the morning. My usually wholewheat starter was fed sifted wholewheat and 30% wholemeal spelt before being mixed to a 50% hydration and placed in a cool spot overnight.


3 grain country bread with two starters





Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour



Desired dough temperature 23°-24°C






Final dough



Rye starter @110% hydration



Sifted wholewheat starter @ 50% hydration



Sifted wholewheat flour



Wholemeal spelt flour









Last fold, shape and proof


  1. Autolyse flour and water for one hour.
  2. Incorporate starters by squeezing into dough with wet hands until smooth and feel no lumps then knead for 5 mins (I used a gentle slap and fold because of the amount of spelt). Rest dough for five mins. Incorporate salt and knead for a further five mins.
  3. Bulk ferment three hours with three stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 1.5hrs.
  4. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
  5. Final proof was roughly two hours at room temperature (23°).
  6. Bake in preheated dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then a further 10 mins at 200°C. I then removed it from dutch oven and baked for a further 25 mins directly on stone for even browning.

 This is such pleasant dough to work with. Spelt and rye bran are flecked throughout. The kneading and folding gives strength so the shaped loaves hold themselves proudly before being placed in bannetons.

I had massive oven spring considering the amount of freshly milled wholemeal flours … the “Pip” was very pleased.

I played again with the scoring this week. My partner’s nickname is “Rat” so in her ratty honour I scored one of the loaves with a giant “R” … the “Rat” was very pleased.

The flavour for me is a balance between the tang in the rye and subtleness of a wheat starter. This not a boring bread, but it does not dominate the senses either.

… and after a busy day in the kitchen I prepared a simple lunch before we headed outside to continue the rest of our day in the spring sunshine.

Cheers, Phil (and the Rat)




PiPs's picture

One of the foremost incentives for purchasing my own grain mill was rye.

From coarsely milled rye grains soaked and added to wheat dough, to freshly milled flour and a thriving rye starter.

Rye has been on my mind this week … probably a little too much to be called healthy. So with some free time available last night, I shifted thinking into practise.

Rye and Mixing

The first bread is a Dark Sour Rye. The formula is kind of pieced together from bits of knowledge and tips gathered from around the web (namely Danubians formula) This was the first time baking rye in my 8x4x4 pullman pan so quite a bit of guess work went into the amount of dough required to fill it…this will be an ongoing process as I was a still little short on the correct amount.


Dark Sour Rye

Total dough weight: 3kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 35%w
DDT: 29°C

Day before
Rye sour (20hrs @ 28°C)

Starter: 30g
Freshly milled rye flour: 612g
Water: 690g

Morning before
Soaker (12hrs @ 20°C)
Cracked rye: 525g
Water: 525g

Final Dough (29°C)
Rye sour: 1224g
Soaker: 1050g
Freshly milled rye flour: 613g
Water: 275g
Salt: 35g

Bulk ferment for 30 mins. Using wet hands, divide, scale, shape and then place into greased tins seams down dusted on top with flour

Prove for about two hours

Bake in steamed oven at 250˚C for 10 mins then turn down to 190˚C and bake for a further two hours. Turn down to 150˚C bake for one hour. Turn down to 100˚C and bake for a further two hours with oven set to auto shutoff and allow to cool in oven until morning.

We went to bed with the heady smell of caramelised rye pervading the house … it seemed like it was even throughout my clothing.

Oiled and wrapped

When I arose in the morning the tins were still warm and the bread was a heavenly dark chocolate colour. I brushed them with grapeseed oil after cooling, wrapped them in paper and set them aside for the excruciating long wait until cutting. I also  realised late into the bake that I had neglected to dock the larger loaf so I am expecting a flying crust … to be continued ….

The second dough was an experiment in using my rye starter on a sifted wheat bread and overnight rise in the fridge. It was time to get out of my comfort zone as I have been hesitant to retard the dough for fear of over proving. I also used a fair sized portion of soaked cracked rye for some added texture to the crumb.


Quite Light Cracked Rye

Total dough weight: 1kgs
Hydration: 82%
Prefermented Flour: 15%
DDT: 24°C

Morning before (12 hrs)
Cracked rye: 66g
Water: 66g

Final Dough
Freshly milled rye starter @ 110% Hydration: 173g
Sifted freshly milled wholewheat flour: 467g
Soaker: 132g
Water: 293g
Salt: 12g

Milling Wheat

Autolyse flour and water for one hour.

With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starter into dough until smooth and feel no lumps then knead for 10 mins (I use slap and fold). Rest dough for five mins. Incorporate salt and soaker and knead for a further five mins.

Bulk ferment three hours with three stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 1.5hrs.

Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.

Final proof was roughly 30 mins at room temperature (23°) then into fridge for eight hrs.

Bake direct from fridge in preheated dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then a further 20 mins at 200°C. I them removed it from dutch oven and baked for a further 30 mins directly on stone for even browning.

When my daughters arrived home after school and spotted this loaf I was quickly instructed to cut them a slice. The cracked rye was hidden away in the crumb from there prying eyes. It was demolished. Best crust I have had made for a while.

This bread has tang. Not overpowering, but lingering. The cracked rye is soft and barely registers in the mouth.

On a side note...with the formulas, would everyone prefer I use bakers percentages, weights or both. I am writing these the way I construct them, which I understand may not be the best for all people.

Cheers, Phil

** Update

Well as expected my undocked loaves "lost their roof". If any experienced rye bakers have any clues that would be greatly appreciated. I know when I did this bread a few years ago I had the same issue and I think docking fixed it....thoughts?

Tastes fantastic. Dark, rich and quite sour ... but I am not happy with flying crust and I will bake for less time. Crust is not tough just too much colouring on outside of the loaf while lighter inside.

Cheers, Phil



PiPs's picture

How to cheer up sad, sick children?

Chocolate chips!

We have a case of glandular fever in our house at the moment making for a worrying week. Several trips to doctors, blood tests and we finally seem to have a boy with a smile and energy again.

This bake was in fact planned for a 40th birthday party in a park today, but the party was cancelled due to the increasing number of storms we have been having. We had another storm this morning, similar to last Saturday.

I had decided to play with the Tartine bread formula using my freshly milled rye starter and finishing a bag of bakers flour I had in the back of the cupboard. (Much to the delight of my partner) I mixed on a Friday night and baked Saturday morning….fresh bread to take to a party. Oh well…now we have fresh bread for lunch instead.

After the bread came out of the oven this morning and with the day free it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put through a batch of banana and choc chip wholemeal muffins. Perfect comfort food for a sick kid.

The muffins are loosely based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe for blueberry wholemeal muffins and while they are delicious with blueberries I used choc chips for kid appeal. I also substituted yoghurt and milk instead of buttermilk.

The muffins melt in your mouth when still warm from the oven leaving little smiling faces covered in chocolate. Not surprisingly it doesn’t look like they will last long.


Rye Starter Tartine loaf
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 77%
Prefermented Flour: 10%
DDT: 26-27°C

Freshly milled rye starter @ 100% Hydration: 200g
Bakers Flour: 800g
Freshly milled wholewheat: 200g
Water: 750g
Salt: 23g

Dissolve starter in 700g of the water, then mix with flours. Autolyse for 30 mins.

Add salt and final 50g of water. Fold through the dough.

Bulk ferment three hours with four stretch and folds 30 mins apart in the first two hours.

The dough was racing, so after a 20 mins bench rest I shaped it and placed in the fridge for an overnight rise.

Final proof was roughly eight hours in the fridge.

 It was baked straight from the fridge with steam on stone for 10 mins at 250°C then a further 35 mins at 200°C.


After a few months of wholewheat , sifted wholewheat breads and last weeks grain bread these breads are such a treat, so soft they are hard to cut. The humid air has now softened the crust, but it was thin and brittle when freshly baked. What appeals to me most about this bread is the bran flecks contrasting with the translucent crumb. The flavour seemed a happy balance between tang and lightness … it dissolves in the mouth … but …

… it was too close to overproofing for my liking and the oven steaming is still not as consistent as a dutch oven.

Lunch ended up being a generous slice topped with avocado, lemon and cracked pepper…

… as another afternoon storm rolls in across Brisbane.


PiPs's picture

With a rye starter now sitting on the bench for the foreseeable future I thought it was about time to reduce the amount of packets of cracked grains sitting in the pantry that were purchased before my Komo mill arrived.

I have found milling rye quite unlike milling wheat. The flour I am producing has large colourful flakes of bran and soft flour with only a hint of grey. If I am not careful milling, the Komo can become slightly clogged with rye flour when the hopper is filled with large amounts of grains. I have taken to pouring grains into the hopper gradually, being careful not to over fill it or under fill it.

When mixed with water the rye turns an earthy brown colour, quite different to the whole rye flour I have purchased in the past. Oh, and it likes water, a lot of water. I have spent the past week tinkering with the starter’s hydration trying to come to grips with this.

This bread is an absolute favourite of ours. It is not a high towering open crumbed architectural marvel. It is dense, moist and exceedingly aromatic. In the past I have used whole rye flour but for this bake I sifted the rye flour used in the final dough to try and lighten the crumb.

The original formula comes from an experienced baker (a bakery instructor) on the site ( The soaked grains are counted as part of the total flour calculation…which makes it a little confusing at first. Here is a link to the original formula

Any grain sourdough (45% rye, 35% mixed grain, 20% wheat flour)
Total dough weight: 1kgs
Hydration: 76%
Prefermented Flour: 20%
DDT: 29°C


Rye Starter build - 23°C for 12hrs
Starter: 25g
Rye Flour: 120g
Water: 96g
Diastatic malt: 0.5g

Soaker - 20°C for 12hrs
Wheat kibbled: 60g
Rye kibbled: 60g
Barley kibbled: 60g
Linseed: 30g
Water: 210g


Final dough – DDT 29°C
Rye starter: 216g
Soaker: 420g
Sifted rye flour: 150g
Strong bakers flour: 120g
Water: 150g
Salt: 12g


I use a scraper in my right hand to pick up and turn the dough and keep my left hand wet enough to avoid excessive sticking. I did this for about 5 to 10mins …. I was in the middle of a conversation so I lost track of time.

Allow to bulk ferment for 15-30mins.

Mould into smooth balls and roll into rolled oats.

Now this is where things get a bit different from a lot of what I have seen here with regards to rye breads and cracked surfaces.

Danubian suggests we place the dough seam side down in dusted baskets ensuring the top of the loaf is covered in rolled oats. It is then proved uncovered away from drafts. As the proving continues the top of the loaf will break up cracking into islands. Mine took about 1.5hrs.

After proving the dough is placed seam side down (this involves flipping the dough out and balancing on one hand before placing back seam side down) onto a peel or parchment paper.

I baked mine in a cast iron dutch oven

On entering a preheated oven at 270° I reduced the heat immediately to 210° and baked covered for 30mins, then removed from dutch oven and baked for another 30mins uncovered on stone for ensure even browning.

While we sat on our deck in the evening chatting about upcoming Christmas events (must start soaking fruit for fruit cakes soon) and watching possums run along phone lines we were teased and tempted by the aromas streaming from the baking loaf.

All the best

PiPs's picture

We had a bleary eyed start to Saturday after a late evening celebrating my birthday. A dinner out with friends at a fantastic bistro

Taste sensation of the night was baked fresh dates stuffed with gorgonzola, mixed cress salad, pedro ximinez dressing…OMG!!!

Anyway … bleary eyed today.

This week’s bake was about sifted flour and walnuts. I kept it simple, no tempering, no focussing on multiple passes…
The night before mixing – one pass then sift and remill caught material then sift again. Combine the sifted flours. I caught about 10% weight of my original flour, but I am not focussing too much on the extraction rates.

The weather here for the past few days has been very erratic, making my starter builds and bread planning a little dicey. This morning was no exception as a thunderstorm rolled through Brisbane at around 6:30am, dropping temperatures dramatically.

I mixed two doughs today, one with walnuts and the other using two starters (a rye and a firm sifted wholewheat). The rye starter originated from my desem starter and has been refreshed over a week with freshly milled rye flour.

Walnuts and oil

Walnut Bread
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 10%
DDT: 22-24°C

Sifted wholewheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 172g
Sifted wholewheat: 900g
Fresh milled rye: 73g
Water: 855g
Salt: 21g
Lightly roasted walnuts: 3 cups
Walnut oil: 2tbps

Autolyse flour and water for 1hr.

With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starter, salt and walnut oil into dough until smooth and feel no lumps then place in oiled container.

Bulk ferment roughly 4hrs with four stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 2hrs and another gentle stretch and fold at 3hr mark. Walnuts are squeezed through dough after 2nd stretch and fold.

Divide and preshape. Bench rest 20min. Shape.

Bench resting Country Bread and Walnut Breads

Final proof was roughly 1hr at room temperature (22°)…was surprised how fast this proof was.

Bake with steam on stone for 10mins at 250°C then a further 35mins at 200°C.

The walnut oil was mentioned in the “Tartine bread” book and is something I have always wanted to try. It is aromatic and rich, almost intoxicating. A fine walnut bread toasted, spread with honey and ricotta is amazing.

Walnut Bread

Walnut Crumb

Walnut gringe


Country Bread with two starters
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 82%
Prefermented Flour: 15%
DDT: 22-24°C

Rye starter @ 110% Hydration: 115g
Sifted wholewheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 180g
Sifted wholewheat: 933g
Water: 773g
Salt: 25g

Country bread with two starters

Autolyse flour and water for 1hr.

With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starters into dough until smooth and feel no lumps then knead for 10mins (I use slap and fold). Rest dough for 5mins. Incorporate salt and knead for a further 10mins.

Bulk ferment 3hrs with three stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 1.5hrs.

Divide and preshape. Bench rest 20min. Shape.

Final proof was roughly 30min at room temperature (22°) then into fridge for 2hrs and back onto bench for 1hr before baking…it was a messy proof, but the oven was busy….slightly underproved…I love the dramatic look :)

Bake in preheated dutch oven for 20mins at 250°C then a further 20mins at 200°C removed from dutch oven and placed on stone for even browning.

These were baked boldly.

Country breads

Country bread crumb

The country bread was fantastic, I love the dark flavours of the crust. Brittle and thin due to dutch oven baking.

Well ... the desem starter is again happily snoozing in the fridge ... but …

… I now have a rye starter sitting on the bench taunting me …

All the best, Phil




PiPs's picture

Richard Sennet describes the essence of proper craftsmanship as: the fluid process of deliberately setting up questions and challenges in order to solve them and increase ones skills.

This quote reminded me of so many of the wonderful TLF bakers....

The busy weeks continue in our tiny household. My partner and I both had our children staying this week with school holidays as well as her parents for a few days which allowed us to celebrate her fathers retirement.  Amongst all the chaos we prepared a roast dinner and a rhubarb and strawberry tart.

This also meant fresh bread for dinner and parting gifts...

For this weeks bake I prepared two wholewheat boules and two fig and anise batards, all with freshly milled wheat.

Refreshing desem starter

As we had so many bodies sleeping in our house I changed my usual method of milling right before mixing to allow them a more dignified morning wake up. Instead I milled the night before and added all the water and salt and soaked the fresh flour until the morning where I added the ripe starter. The same dough formula was used for both batches with the batards having extra mix-in ingrediants added during folding.

Wholewheat sourdough (with optional fig 'n' anise)
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 10%
DDT: 23°C

Whole wheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 175g
Wheat Flour Freshly milled: 973g
Water: 855g
Salt: 21g

Optional Mix-ins
Figs sliced: 375g
Anise seeds: 15g

Night before
Cool grains from fridge milled before being mixed with all water and salt.

Next morning
With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starter into overnight soak until smooth and feel no lumps then place in oiled see-through container (for checking dough development).

Bulk ferment roughly 4hrs with four stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 2hrs and another gentle stretch and fold at 3hr mark.

For the stretch and folds I tip the dough onto a bench which has been lightly sprayed with a water spray bottle/mister. The water stops dough sticking and I can give it a really good letterfold before placing back in container.

Optional: Figs and anise are squeezed through dough after 2nd stretch and fold.

Watch temperatures and dough like a hawk nearing the end of bulk ferment...I sometimes cut it short by half an hour if he dough is starting to move to quickly.

Preshape and bench rest 20 min before gentle shaping. Shaped dough placed into bannetons with floured cloths.

Adding mix-ins and bench resting wholewheat

Final proof for wholewheat boule was roughly 1.5hrs at room temperature (23°)

Fig and anise proofed in fridge for 3hrs and was baked directly from fridge.

Bake boules in dutch oven at 250°C for 20mins then dough removed from dutch oven and baked at 20mins at 200°C directly on stone for thoroughly browning.

Batards were baked on stone with steam for first 10mins at 250°C then 200°C for 30mins.

Wholewheat boules

Wholewheat crumb

Fig and anise batard

Fig and anise crumb

Breads were very well received and performed admirably at soaking up roast was swimming in it :) The dutch oven really does give theses wholewheat breads the perfect crust....

The overnight soak is something I may use more often with my only issue being that it could be a little difficult to control dough temperatures. I can't say I have noticed any real difference with the bread itself using this method....just another handy option to have.

All the best


PiPs's picture

We cut the miche today, three days after baking...and after a lazy Saturday lunch sent my parents home with half.

This miche was made on the fly...with these thought processes.

Total dough weight: 1.8kgs
Hydration: 82% (Freshly milled flour is thirsty...did not seem this hydrated)
Prefermented Flour: 25%
DDT: 24°C

Whole wheat Levain @ 60% Hydration: 400g
Wheat Flour Freshly milled and Sifted: 517g
Spelt freshly milled: 122g
Rye freshly milled: 100g
Water: 661g
Salt: 20g


Cool grains from fridge milled before being mixed with cool water. Autolyse 1hr

Knead (slap and fold) 20mins with 5 min break in the middle.

Bulk ferment for 2hrs with two stretch and folds in the first hour at 30min intervals as dough needed some strength.

Preshape and bench rest 20 min before gentle shaping into boule. Shaped dough placed into mixing bowl with floured teatowel.

Final proof was in fridge as the miche had to wait for oven. I judged that the size of the loaf would take a while to cool and the proof would be complete in the fridge as the dough was pretty lively...was a good guess.

Baked under SS bowl at 250°C for 20mins then 40mins at 200°C

Really enjoy working with dough this size and was happy with the spring the oven achieved....the rye flour adds a touch of tang and earth. A bread of this size sure gets noticed.

One of my parents dogs, Mr Hermann spent some time cleaning crumbs off the floor.....




PiPs's picture

Well it's about time....

I have been a long time reader and have learnt so much from various bloggers/posters and now I think its time I joined in. Thank you Debra Wink, proth5, TX farmer, DMSnyder, Ananda and Hans Joakim for your inspiring and educational posts.

I guess for my first post I'll show where I am at....

A month ago my new Komo Fidibus XL turned up and I have graduated form being a home baker to a home miller/baker. I love it.....I mean I really love it!

I usually bake once a week (used to be alot more...I am relaxing into it now) I have a "desem" style starter that lives in my fridge @ 60% hydration which gets expanded twice in a cool spot under the house before use...its happy. I used to be a neurotic culture current method works and gives us beautiful bread.

Yesterday was a biggish coming on the weekend and lots of kids staying for a week....they will want to be fed.

1 x Miche @1.8kg (Sifted wheat, whole spelt and rye)

2 x Wholewheat sourdoughs @ 1kg each

2 x Wholewheat raisen and coriander (From Tartine bread) @ 1kg each

Wholewheat Sourdough

Wholewheat Crumb

Raisin and Coriander Wholewheat


Last week Desem's

I love using the fresh flour. I have sourced my grains from two organic millers in Australia (one of them is biodynamic). Kialla is a organic miller just a few hours away who's flour I have used for a few years now. I use there grains for the majority of the doughs (It is strong and thirsty). I build/feed the levain with grain from Four Leaf biodynamic mills in South Australia. I have found there flour softer but more flavoursome.

Was wondering if I would miss white flour...this has not been the case at all. The Raisin and coriander bread was so amazlingly soft...melted in the mouth. All the breads had a mild flavour, no sourness (prefer it that way)

Have not cut the it a day or so until the family arrives....should be just about right then I reckon.

Well that's it for my first post.

All the best





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