The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ryan Blackwell's blog

Ryan Blackwell's picture
Ryan Blackwell


ive been reading this site for a few months, and have officially been a member for five minutes. 

I keep a bakers journal here at home, but thought it might be enlivening to start a virtual one. I've been baking for three years. Seriously for about six months. I began a sourdough  starter four months ago and haven't looked back. 

Ill be posting recipes, baking schedules and photographs of my loaves--which I make about twice a week. But to start, I'll post a little history and information about my process. 

Mark Bittman taught me to bake. Not personally of course. But hell, maybe one day. 

 How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is still a go to of mine. Not as much for breads, but the point is he got me excited. His recipes are base and delicious. He does a great job introducing just about everything. 

Willing jumped off the Veggie Train a year and a half ago (after a short four year ride), but the book is good as gold. 

Anyway. I started my sourdough using his instructions. And yes, I sprinkled a pinch of yeast in there day one. So for all you purists out there I apologize. But I have to say I've got a robust starter these days that competes with the hardiest. 

My starter, which ill refer to as frank (a name I've never used until this moment) lives on a wire rack in the kitchen next to the fridge.  No fridge for Frank unless I'm away. I try and feed him twice a day but half the week he only gets one meal. He doesn't seem to mind. 

Frank eats King Arthur Bread Flour, with the occasional (three times a week ish) dash of rye. He enjoys his 100% hydration. Frank always drinks before he eats. 

My "Master Recipe" is this, which you'll see is very similar to Susan's from this site. My dearest thanks for her blog:


Starter Poolish 503g

Water.                70-166g (60%-78%) [Depending on loaf]

Flour.                 284g (usually at least 10g rye)

Salt.                    1.5 tsp


I am by no stretch of the imagination a professional. Enthusiast, sure. and for the most part me, my family and friends like my bread very much. I hope to communicate that I find baking bread to be rewarding. I've found there is no need for dogma. Im continuously changing routines and hydrations--figuring out what works for me in my schedule, while pursing a better loaf of bread than the last. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy. 

 And please, all hints, tricks, observations and advice is welcome. I've already learned so much from you all. 


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