The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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David Snyder was kind enough to point me to Susan at the Wild Yeast.  I couldn't do his two recommendations because I have no mixer, so after lurking around Susan's web site, I thought I'd give her Norwich Sourdough a try.  It called for the use of a mixer, but I mixed the ingredients by hand.  This recipe is adapted from Hamelman's Vermont sourdough. 

Susan's instructions were easy to follow, and I followed her steps to the letter...well almost.  I overlooked a few things which may have contributed to the final product being less than perfect.  Entirely my fault.  But as a first attempt, I was tickled pink. 

Here's what came out of my oven last week:




I reduced Susan's recipe by half so that if I ended up with a fiasco, I wouldn't feel so guilty about wasting that much flour.  She said to shape into a loaf, but I was forced to form a ball instead because the dough was very wet.  It was difficult to handle; to my surprise, it still was unmanageable after a 12-hour fermentation/retardation in the fridge.  On hindsight, I should have remembered Susan's advice to hold back on the water.  Next time I'll add the water gradually and not in one fell swoop.

The taste was excellent.  The sourdough flavor was there all right, and I'm glad I gave my starter the TLC it deserved.  I started the culture on the 17th of December but deliberately left it in the fridge for a whole month before using it.  I had read some posts that sourdough novices won't taste the sour with their first bakes, but for this first attempt, I'm glad the flavor came out - firing on all cylinders!

Another mistake:  I didn't take out the pan holding the water for steam after 12 minutes as Susan instructed.  I left it there for all the 35 minutes and while I liked the color, I probably would have obtained a fuller, richer brown if I had taken the pan out.

So, if I were to produce a report card for this initial try, it would look like this:



The crumb had a chewy, dense texture.  I'm going to aim for a lighter crumb with more holes.

And this is where I ask TFL's sourdough experts for some help/advice:

a)  should the stretch and fold technique really replace the standard 10-minute kneading that I normally do for sweet rolls, yeasted breads and others?  My impression is that the folding and stretching should be done gently, but I stumbled upon Richard Bertinet's youtube here, and he was slapping that dough around.  If dough could talk, it would scream "ouch"!  Has anyone tried his method?  He recommends this for sweet dough. He teaches in Bath, England.  Here's the link to that video: Can his method be used for sourdough?


b)  holes:  are they the result of stretch and fold or high hydration, or both?  Stretch and fold - the way I understand it - is primarily to trap the gas, hence creating those holes.  Is this correct?  And then I read somewhere that it's the high water content that brings about more holes.  So the wetter the dough, the more holey the bread becomes?

I welcome your opinions!

Next time I make this recipe, I must:

a)  pour the water gradually

b)  take out the steam-generating pan after 12 minutes

c)  learn David's scoring techniques pronto!

Anything else to add to my to-do list?




ques2008's picture

I wanted to do this at the end of 2009 - my way of saying thanks to everyone here who blogged so enthusiastically, sharing their knowhow.  But client work got in the way, so I managed to complete it only today.

I signed up on TFL about 11 months ago, not having an ounce of experience in bread baking.  After taking the plunge, I realized dough and yeast weren't aliens in my small universe, and I should have made friends with them a long time ago.  So yes, there are a hundred ways to "skin the cat", and I'm learning those ways slowly.  I have now started taking that sourdough journey which I kept postponing.  I won't get it up to perfection in one crunchy chomp, but I will be posting my first sourdough shortly.  I followed the lead by DMSnyder who was kind enough to point me to Susan's wild yeast site.

In the meantime, I've got this cruel propensity for making pseudo bread...and pseudo poetry.  Here's what I think of some of you, and for those whose names I missed, I didn't do it intentionally.  TFL is a great talent magnet, and it has attracted the best and the brightest.  But instead of a blog, I've done a blubfest (in not so nauseating proportions). 



First, hats off to Floyd - our host, Drupal programmer and fund-raiser,

So busy, he forgot our domain, but acted quickly on it - like a laser!

The Fresh Loaf has come full circle, and then featured in Saveur,

Mercy, Mercy!  What he's done for humanity and for our levure!


"It's nice to get up in the mornin" says Captain DMSnyder,

We know why.  With those loaves, he's getting all that fibre.

Generous, he shares a baker's dozen of tips on shaping and scoring,

Greek bread, Suas and torta de patate - in his hands, they're never boring!


Seen ehanner's twisted boules and white thyme bread yet?

Steps look complicated but they'd make an excellent bet.

PMcCool's, "I think I'm starting to get a hang of this" should be our mantra,

He finally found the flours he South Africa!


Hans Joakim - fully disguised as the vampire in Twilight,

His schrotbot, cocoa almond sponge...dare take a bite?

His patisserie so beguiling, seductive...such teasers, my he's a genius,

I read his posts like an addict, they're far from tedious.


Psst...Shiao Ping is looking for Waldo, should we join in the search?

She's shooting birds and exotic fruits up on a perch.

Taking a break from the heat, she prefers to be al fresco,

A fine lady who didn't leave her heart in San Francsico!


Last year I asked Marni about the round challah and she gave me the link,

When it came out of the oven, I was charmed and gave it a wink.

Debra Wink, Debra Wink, what a brain you've got,

Your love for science has made us more an educated lot.


Levieto natural con segale integrale, now that's a mouthful,

But JoeVa made it and he wasn't in the least boastful.

Let's not forget Susan and her wild yeast blog - a real treasure chest,

Norwich sourdough, sesame sourdough, all at their best!


Guess who forgot the salt the other day?  Maxiemolly!

But no matter, she's got that gorgeous array, by golly.

I spotted Milwaukeecooking somewhere in this flood of blogs,

Her sun dried tomato with parmesan, I could give it lotsa hugs!


History trivia for you:  who in 1976 made her first challah?

Hint:  she said, "it cheaper than therapy", ha-ha-ha!

Trailrunner, who else?  Caught a glimpse of Txfarmer's sourdough pandoro?

No doubt it'll pass the test, because he's detailed and thorough.


TattooedTonka posted a step-by-step on bagels,

Was he guided by his dog or by his angels?

Was that SylviaH in New Orleans, forking beignets at Cafe du Monde?

Perhaps...but we know her Christmas panettone had texture and bone (I mean "tone")


1/3.5/4.16 - not lottery numbers but MiniOven's rye loaf formula,

At least she's open and isn't as secretive as Coca-Cola.

Speaking of formulas, DocTracy has a love affair with excel spreadsheets,

Instead of counting sheep, he'd rather crunch numbers...and not bake with beets.


Breads and spreads, critters and crawlers were in davidg618's open house,

Did those delicious smells trolly outside, attracting the neighbor's mouse?

Arlo says he can't stop baking and loves his liquid starter,

Bake away Arlo, but don't let it talkin about your garter.


Stephanie Brim came up with 100% whole wheat needing more honey,

But looks like she's got it down pat, giving Julia a run for her money.

Yippee's milk sandwiches and 3-stage Hamelman 90% rye,

I'd be in her dining room in a second, and don't wanna say goodbye!


Also to MC (Bombance), simusi yoshi, proth5, LindyD, Meedo and Paddy's cake,

I'd love to nosh and quaff, shall I meet you "loafers" by the lake?

Pamela alias xaipete - haven't seen you of late,

Please come back so we can again watch you bake!


Thank you all,

ques2008 (sharon)






ques2008's picture

I want to thank Paddyscake here on the TFL for sharing her raspberry tart recipe last July (divine is the word to describe it).  She said she substituted the mascarpone cheese with cream cheese and used Pepperidge Farm for the crust.  She said despite these substitutions, the pie was just about gone in a heartbeat.

In "Two Pies, One Lie" on my personal blog – – I featured Paddyscake raspberry tart because I did some cheating of my own.  I bought  mascarpone cheese (almost had a coronary when I saw the price) but berated myself for pairing it with a Graham cracker crust that was idling in my cupboard for two months.  On hindsight, I thought it was kind of criminal to buy expensive cheese and drape it on a store-bought crust.  Nature is very forgiving though; this raspberry tart had a silky, delicious, whistling taste.

The Dutch Apple Pie below was taken from the Canadian Living  Test Kitchen.  For this one, I stayed faithful to the recipe ingredients and procedure.  Nothing was tweaked or substituted.


During the fall, there’s a lot of apple picking going on in the eastern seaboard of North America.  Quebec’s apple route is in a town called Rougemont – rustic, postcard-pretty kind of town.  I used Cortland apples for this one.  The ¼ cup whipping cream gives it a different twist.

For Paddyscake raspberry tart recipe, this is the link:

(you need to scroll further down – it's a thread that starts with Pam’s Kalamata Olive bread).

For the Dutch Apple Pie, I reproduce it below.


ques2008's picture

It's been awhile since my last blog (late spring this year) so I promised Floyd - during his fund raising campaign - that I'd be back with another blog soon.

I haven't been "bloggingly" active as I wanted to owing to work mandates, although I stay tuned regularly and admire the works of the active and not-so-active bloggers.  There has been so much to admire here on TFL - the bakers, the baked goods, the insights, the "rhapsodies in blue", not to mention the tips and suggestions from members who are generous with their time and effort so that others may learn.  I have also hesitated a few times about posting a blog because compared to the talent pool of fresh loafers, my baking skills are nothing to write home about.  I must say though that the slow and sometimes painful journey into bread making has had its rewards. Since I started my love affair with dough I've only gone as far as making rolls, breakfast buns and sweet breads.  My sacred promise:  I'll start my second journey into sourdough next year.

Speaking of buns, this is an abbreviated version of my blog at  When it comes to recipes, I know of only two kinds:  keepers and poopers.  This King Arthur Flour recipe is a keeper.  It's the second time I've made it, and each time I've varied the shape.  KAF says to form burger buns, but I was in a playful mood and twisted them instead.  That was the first time.  The second time, I got more ambitious.

Here's what I ended up with:

boule 1


Of course like a dunderhead, I stared and stared, toying with the idea of pouring cement over it to hang as an "objet d'art" in my kitchen.  The wonderful thing about this KAF recipe is that the dough is pliable.  At first I thought I might have to use scotch tape to hold the braids in place, but no - the dough cooperated and followed my nervous fingers without any resistance.  Charming.  As I prepped it for the oven, I felt a strange bond forming, like that of a school-girl crush.

Thank you, KAF, for a winning recipe.

You need not go to my blog to get the recipe because I'll post it right here.  But I did mention Shiao-Ping's valuable insight about coloring.  In one of her posts, she said something about beet coloring that doesn't take kindly to oxidation.  I mentioned it because two fun activities that I indulge in when I'm not banging away on my keyboard are shaping and coloring bread!

ques2008's picture

Hi Folks,

You guys have seen this many times over and I was hesitant to post it, but I really wanted to acknowledge the generous spirit of TRAILRUNNER and MARNI who were kind enough to give me the link on how to make a woven round challah.  This was like a month ago and I finally got around to doing it last Good Friday.  I was quite nervous at first, and the instructions given on the site were rather confusing but I managed to get it right on the second try.  I'll have to do it soon again lest I forget the technique.

I followed the technique posted by Tamar Ansh on chabad dot org, but I took the recipe from triple w sugarlaws dot com for her braided bread recipe.  I find that her recipe seems to have the right proportions because the dough just comes together beautifully.  I've come across recipes where I had to over-knead or underknead but hers was the ideal mix.

So trailrunner (Caroline) and Marni, you did ask for photos, so here it is!

round woven challah


ques2008's picture

I don't know if it's my love for bread baking or my new camera that keeps me in the kitchen, but here's another attempt I just completed tonight.  The recipe is from Lory of Maine whose web site is:  She says people can copy her recipes but she'd appreciate it if they would include a link to her web site.  So my thanks to Lory for sharing.  She's got over a hundred recipes there - goes to show what a dedicated wife and mother and foodie she is.

Since the recipe was for 2 loaves, I decided to make a loaf with one half of the dough and dinner rolls for the second half.  For the loaf, I added shredded cheese and green onions, then I rolled the loaf jelly-style and put it in a pan.  For the dinner rolls, I divided the dough into tiny balls and put three balls in each muffin cup. 

These were what came out of the oven:

loaf and dinner rolls

When the loaf cooled, I sliced it.  Here's what it looked like:

sliced loaf


And here's the final picture - a closer look at the slices:


Here's my question:

Can anyone tell me why that slice has a hole at the top, right below the crust?

Overall, I am happy with the recipe.  I probably shouldn't have spread the shredded cheese and green onions before rolling; maybe it would have been better if I incorporated the cheese and green onions into the mixture during the pre-kneading stage.

I must say though that the cheese and green onions spiked the taste a few notches up.  The loaf definitely had a sharper and more flavorful taste than the rolls.  And Lory did say that potatoes tend to make the bread soft and chewy inside and crisp and crusty on the outside.  I agree.  Those slices were really soft!  I left the potato skins on by the way - so they look like bacon bits but they're not.  A bacon loaf is next on the agenda, though!


ques2008's picture

Finally got myself an inexpensive digital camera and would like to show off one of my "creations" which is far from original.  I'm sure many of you have made this danish ring.  I got this recipe from  Cooks Country is a great web site, by the way, and would like to know how many of you are members and whether or not you use your membership.  They seem to have a gold mine of knowledge with truckloads of practical advice.  I'm thinking of signing up.

Anyway, I'm showing pictures of the (1) preparation for the dough where I slather it with the filling, (2) the finished product and (3) the product partially gobbled up.  I halved the recipe, and didn't quite succeed with the cutting and the turning upside of each slice, but the recipe gives a step-by-step.  I'll try it again one day, and hopefully, get the technique right!

Picture 1:  Prepping the dough.

 prepping the dough


2.  Danish ring fresh out of the oven:

danish ring as it came out of the oven

3.  And now, as it was partially eaten (closer look of slices - as you can see I did not quite do the slices with flying colors!)

partially eaten ring



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