The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


davidg618's picture

I've noticed in the forum posts there are, currently, quite a number of  TFL members concerned about the maintenance and vigor of their sourdough seed starters. Being one that doesn't like debates I generally stay away from commenting on those posts. However, in this moment, having been there myself I've chosen not to comment about anyone's concern; instead the following is a description of the simple way I maintain my sourdough seed starter.

A bit of backstory: In the summer of 2011 I was forced to admit to myself that the sourdough seed starter I was using was failing. It had turned extraordinarily liquid, and not at all sticky, despite being kept at 100% hydration. I tried to save it but failed. Thinking I'd been doing all the right things, i.e. discarding approximately half my stash and replacing it with an appropriate amount of flour and water each week  I was at a loss to know what to do next. 

I sought help, specifically from TFL's resident microbiologist, Debra Wink. She responded almost instantly, nonetheless my seed starter had bit the dust, mostly because of my ignorance and uncertainty of what to do.

However, with Debra's nearly daily guidance I nursed a replacement starter to early maturity. 

Subsequently, I had enough intelligence to ask her about maintaining my new colony of yeast and bacteria. She asked me to describe how I'd maintained my defunct starter. I described as above: throw some away, add some flour and water, stir it up and put it back into the refrigerator.

Debra didn't criticize, she simply asked "How often do you bake sourdough loaves, and do you make extra starter"? The answers were "weekly" and "yes", explaining the extra starter was insurance I'd made enough for the bake because I couldn't scrape all the starter out of the bowl. Her reply, "So you've got this perfectly good leftover fresh leaven. why don't you save it for next week's bake? "You only need to save about 20 grams to make enough for your next bake."

WOW! Why didn't I think of that!?

Over the next few months the following discipline emerged. For each weekly bake I make enough leaven to satisfy the loaves to be baked, and 60g extra. I only need 40g, but I still haven't learned how to scrape everything out of the bowl.

I take 40g of the leftover leaven and mix it with 40g of Bread Flour, and 40g of water. I cover it and let it rest for 45 mins to insure its homogeneously hydrated before chilling. "Why so much"? you might ask.

See, I'm a belt-and-suspender kind of guy. As such, I put half of the fed leftover leaven, split evenly into two half-pint Mason jars. 

I so much avoid errors that I won't dispose of jar #2's backup seed starter until I know I mixed its replacement properly.  The approximately 60g in each 1/2 pint jar is then returned to my refrigerator to rest safely for another week.

I don't wash the half-pint jars: never.  I scrape as much of the remaining previous week's leftover seed starter I can from the jars, half fill them with hot tap water, and shake them vigorously to remove the stuff I can't scrape out. When they are clean to the eye (including their plastic lids) I fill the jar nearly full and place both the open jar and its lid in the microwave. I put a chop stick from a nearby Chinese restaurant in the jar, and nuke the set for 1 and 1/2 minutes (long enough to cause the jar's water to boil for 25 to 30 seconds). The lids also are charged with hot water. their screw-on ridges provide the same safety as the chopstick does. 

Most of you reading this know the danger of super-heated water, i.e. water heated in a smooth glass jar in a microwave won't always boil when it reaches 212°F. It will continue, however to collect energy from the microwave until the superheated water is pushed into an unbalanced state. At that point the water will "explode" (instantly vaporize) and cause damage to the microwave and possibly its operator. The chop stick and the lids' ridges provide nucleation centers that trigger boiling at the proper temperature thus prevent violence.

I cool the semi-sanitized lidded jars in the refrigerator before filling them. But I'm not done with them yet.

The yeast and bacteria, although sluggish, are not dormant at normal refrigerator temperature. Over the next three days I monitor their expansion, peaking, and falling. So far it's the same every week, and another indication that all is well with my sourdough seed starter.

I've been practicing this discipline for eight years. My sourdough seed starter residents are offspring of the yeast and bacteria present eight years ago. The derived sourdough leaven I use to bake almost weekly performs exactly as it did the many weeks before. 

I have no doubt that this will continue so long as I stick to this discipline.

I also have a discipline I practice developing sourdough leaven. In simple terms I build the necessary quantity for each week's bake in three progressive builds,  each separated from the earlier feeding by eight hours. I believe this is a fail safe approach using seed starters that spend most of their time in a refrigerator.

Happy baking to all,

David G



dabrownman's picture

The first step I don't have a picture of and if I did I wouldn't put it here because I know you have all chopped up a large onion.  Red onion goes in guacamole and pico and some salsas but it is always white onion for everything else Mexican - no yellow onions allowed:-)  Put some bacon fat in the bottom of the IP and turn it on saute for 20 minutes at 390 F

Then get your Mis en Place arranged in the order that it goes in the pot.  Next in  is the left side of green stuff, a chopped up large tonatillo, half of large jalapeno with seeds and half of a Poblano pepper without the seeds.  These go in after 5 minute of onion sweating but hold back the frozen 4 roasted skinned and seeded Hatch green chilis, and the 3 dried chilis: Guahillo, Ancho,and chipotle for the 3rd addition.

Next goes in the chopped frozen Hatch green chilies  and one whole head of chopped fresh garlic some whole cumin and coriander at the 10 minute mark

At the 5 minute mark, next goes in the 3 dried chilies, bay leaves, some ground coriander and cumin, peppercorns and dried Mexican oregano along with 1 cup each of beef broth and chicken stock and 2 cups of water.  I used Better the Bullion Low Sodium so no salt is needed.  Here is what the pot looked like with the tongue in there and the beautiful portrait of the tongue itself.

Slap the lid on when the 20 minute mark runs out on the saute and set the pressure cooking for 45 minute of high and then let then let it sit for 15 minutes before letting out the steam.  Take the tongue out with the 3 whole cried chilies so that they can cool for 5 minutes before de-seeding the chilies and putting them back in the sauce in the pot and turning it back onto saute  for 20 minutes at 250 F.  See how much the tongue has shrunk in length and how much fatter its.  If yours isn't done, then it back into the pot for another 15 minutes of pressure.

Chop up 2 corn tortillas and put them in the pot to thicken the sauce.

Now the really fun part - skin the tongue getting off that hard outer part.  Do this when it is still warm or it won't come of very easy and you will kick yourself for not listening to Lucy!

Now you have a choice if you want t kinds of Tengua tacos - nplain and Carnitas.  I usually make both.  Slice the tongue into 1/2" thick pieces across the length.  Take half the slices to use later Carnitas and set them aside and then chop the rest into 1/2" cubes and the cubes back in the sauce til it is done thickening up when the 20 minutes is up.  It will look like this before the cubes go back in the port.

And look like this when it comes put to go on a flour taco shell that has Muenster cheese melted on it.  This is the 2nd best taco in the world.

The best taco requires a bit more work and love.  First you want to caramelize some white onion in a saute pan with some bacon fat in the bottom and half way through you want to brown the slices of reserves tongue to get some crispy edges

When it is browned it will look like this

Now you chop the slices into 1.2" cubes and put i back in the pan with the caramelized onions

No you are not done quite yet.  Now you get out some of the reserved sauce and add it to the pan and get everything lovey dovey warm and cozy.

Then you melt some Muenster on some flour taco shells in the Microwave for 30 seconds on high and then pile on the Tengue Carnitas .  Put some cilanto on top with a squeeze of lime if you must and open up a good Mexican Lager which were all brewed by German immigrants to Mexico just like the German Immigrants who made most all the lager beers in the USA.  Now you know why Muenster cheese is preferred by purists on Tengue Carmitas Tacos!  Enjoy!


trailrunner's picture

This Loaf is in a 17” long x 6” wide banneton. A friend gave it to me she had bought it years ago in Germany and never used it. 70% Arrowhead Mills AP, 20% home milled Kamut, 5% milled rye and 5% milled Emmer all sifted and bran fed to levains. 

I used my SD levain, my AYW levain and AYW as part of the liquid. Thus 3 distinct chemistry processes. I mixed everything including salt with a large rubber scraper just till moistened and let it rest 2 hrs. Dough was extensible and poofy by then. Did one lamination and returned dough to bucket. After another hour did one s and f. That’s it. Bulk ferment was 2 hrs. Retarded at 55 degrees for 12 hrs. Baked in my huge 100 yr old granite roaster 500 degrees covered 20 min and 475 degrees uncovered 30 min. 

Amazing open crumb and incredibly tender. Very full flavor and fragrance is wonderful. 

For me this affirms that hands on isn’t necessary and that fermentation times and temps are what makes an open crumb and fantastic flavor. 







Joseph's picture

Hello Fresh Loaf!

I've been perusing the online world of Bread Baking for about two years now in my quest for good bread. I have found the value and flavor in whole grains and true Sourdough breads, the purity of lean doughs and the beauty of artisan bread.
Sadly, I have noticed that almost no one anywhere makes, and posts about, bread as I like it:
FWSY, 100% W.W., Artisan, Sourdough.
After many trials and errors, I have found my footing in the baking arts and feel that, though 'blogging' is NOT my thing and I hardly spend time online, I owe it to the baking community to give people like my the chance to find some info on this kind of bread.

Here is my first post; my hundredth loaf, fresh out of the oven.

   1.8 oz    Starter: 100%H Sourdough, Fed separately on same as below, ~1 oz kept in mason jar in fridge
   8.0 oz    Flour: Hard Red Wheat KAF
   6.8 oz    Water: Cold, Filtered
   1-2 tsp  Salt: Fresh Cracked Sea Salt

Friday ~7:00      Levain: Take Starter (Abuelito) out of the fridge
Friday ~19:00        Feed Starter 0.3 oz Water and Flour each
Saturday ~7:30     Feed Starter 0.3 oz Water and Flour each.
                              Mix 8.0 oz Flour and 6.8 oz Water to autolyse in covered bowl
Saturday ~19:30   Put 1.8 oz Starter on top of dough, fold once
                              Put some salt on top, gently stretch and fold once in another direction
                              Put some more salt on top, gently stretch and fold until incorporated decently, 12-18 times
                           Bulk Ferment: Cover, leaving a little bit of room to breath.
                              Feed Starter again and put in fridge for next week
Sunday 8:30          Stretch and fold dough 4 times, once each direction, in bowl
             8:45       Preshape: Move dough to counter, fold 4 times and place seam side down
             8:55       Shape: Gently tighten, tucking dough underneath
             9:00          Place same side up in proofing basket. I line a loaf pan with damp paper towels. Cover
             11:30        Preheat oven, with whole Dutch Oven inside, to 450F. Uncover Loaf
             11:45        Once heated, transfer bread, seam side down into D.O.. I put it on the lid. Score, put ice cube
                              in with it, cover, place in oven.
                                  +30 minutes: Uncover. Reduce heat to 425 F.   +15 minutes: Remove from oven

I have a very active starter here in the sourlands despite all the cold I put it through
Inoculation: ~11% final dough weight. Salt: IDK, probably about 1 b%, I tend to go light on salt, will experiment
Ferment: 13 hours at room temp. 68 F. Proof: 2.75 hours at room temp. Baked for 45 minutes

---After 5 hours

Texture: Gummy, moist, cooked through. Crust not hard. Smell: Slight sour notes and nonsour smells. Taste: Plain, no tang. Nice robust wheatiness
Fermenting: OK, could use more. Needs better combining.
Proofing: Underproofed.

Skibum's picture

Here you go clazar!

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa (I used Dutch process cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, (I used milk chocolate chips)
  1. Cream butter and sugar together, add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla.
  2. In separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to Butter mixture in thirds, making sure all dry ingredients are incorporated before adding more. Fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Shape dough into a 12 x 4 inch log and place on a well greased baking pan (or use parchment paper) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut loaf into 3/4 inch slices and place back on baking sheet, cut side down. Bake again for 8 minutes then turn cookies over and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Completely cool cookies on a rack then store in an airtight container.

Enjoy and happy baking! Ski

Danni3ll3's picture

Once again, I had some left over levain from my usual batch of 12 loaves and wanted to use it up. I came up with this combo because the daughter complained that the last couple of loaves I made for her were too plain. These have Spelt and Kamut flakes as well as bulgur and a touch of honey. I added a pinch of yeast to try to speed things up a bit because I was putting this together fairly late in the day.




Makes one batard



25 g Spelt flakes

25 g Kamut flakes

25 g bulgur

25 g honey

100 g boiling water



250 g unbleached flour

60 g high extraction Spelt flour (Mill 65 g spelt berries and sift)

60 g high extraction Kamut flour (Mill 65 g Kamut berries and sift)

240 g water

7 g salt

120 g 100% hydration levain (3 stage)

10 g yogurt

pinch of yeast


  1. Mix the spelt, kamut and bulgur with the honey. Pour the boiling water over and let sit till cool.
  2. Place the 240 g of water in a mixing bowl. Add the unbleached flour with the kamut and spelt flour and mix until there is no dry flour. Let autolyse for about 45 minutes to an hour.
  3. Add the salt, the yogurt, the levain and the add-ins as well as the pinch of yeast. Mix on the second speed of a stand mixer for about 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough to a plastic tub and do stretches and folds every 30 minutes for 4 sets. Do two more sets on 60 minute intervals then place in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  5. Tip the dough out on the counter, sprinkle with flour and then shape loosely into a batard with a dough knife. Let rest one hour.
  6. Do a final shape into a batard and place into a banneton sprinkled with rice flour, as well as spelt and kamut flakes. Cover and put in the fridge overnight (~10 hours).
  7. The next day, bake in a graniteware roaster (line bottom with parchment paper) at 450 F for 30 minutes, and then at 425 F for 17 minutes.


Oven spring could definitely be better. I believe that the daughter is taking this one to work so there may not be a crumb shot. 

 ETA: We sliced it here for her to take so here is the crumb. 

SusanMcKennaGrant's picture



Lately I’ve been obsessing over focaccia. Its one of those deceptive breads and its not until you taste an excellent one that you understand there is so much more to focaccia than meets the eye. So much that in Italy these breads are rarely made at home, generally focaccia is left to the professionals who have not just the know how but access to the best ingredients and really hot ovens. Focaccia takes patience, the best flour and absolutely the very best EVOO you can afford. It  is an enriched dough after all, and it is the olive oil that makes all the difference. So use the good stuff and don’t be stingy!  Click on any image to begin the slide show. 

the toppingsyour slicethe crumbhard to resist!out of the oventhe dough

When it comes to Italian focaccia it is generally accepted there are two kinds worth knowing about. One from the north (Liguria), Focaccia Classica di Genova and the other from the south (Puglia), Focaccia Barese. I included a recipe for the Genovese version in my first book, Piano, Piano, Piano for any of you who might happen to have a copy of that book.

Focaccia Barese is made in and around the city of Bari in the region of Puglia. The authentic version uses lievito madre(sourdough) and is made with a combination of Tipo “0” and the semolata di grano rimacinata flour milled from sun kissed durum wheat grown in Puglia. The starter is a stiff one and should be refreshed 4 hours before being used. I used 100 grams of liquid levain,  100 grams of semolina flour and 50 grams water for that refreshment. The curious addition of boiled rice potato to the dough gives it an intriguing flavour and also enhances the shelf life. This focaccia keeps nicely for 2 or 3 days. The formula I used is the most official one I could find, from the facebook page of the Consorzio della Focaccia Barese. It makes two 32 cm (12 inch) round focacce but of course you could modify that to fit whatever baking pans you have.

  1. 200 grams stiff levain
  2. 300 grams tipo 0 Italian flour
  3. 200 grams semola di grano rimacinata
  4. 100 grams potato, boiled or steamed then riced or mashed and cooled
  5. 350 ml water
  6. 10 grams salt
  7. 50 grams EVOO
  1. 400 grams cherry tomatoes
  2. 20 grams olives
  3. oregano, more olive oil and salt
  1. The dough is mixed, divided in two, rounded and left to ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours on a well oiled tray. Most of this oil will be absorbed by the dough during the fermentation period. Spread more oil over the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. After the dough has finished the fermentation generously oil 2-32 cm (12 inch)  round baking pans and transfer the dough to the pans. Press the dough out to the edges of the pans using the tips of the fingers of both hands. Crush the cherry tomatoes in your hands over the dough and spread them evenly, place the olives and sprinkle the oregano oven the dough before drizzling more olive oil and sprinkling more salt. The dough is not given a final proof, it goes straight into the oven once it is shaped.
  2. Bake at 270 C or 550 F for 25 minutes.
  3. When it is finished baking and still hot brush it with even more EVOO!!
  1. you can retard half the dough to bake later for up to two daysretarded and baked the next day
Adapted from  Consorzio Focaccia Barese  Susan McKenna Grant 12


Danni3ll3's picture

Cedar Mountain’s Grass Roots Bread - Take 3


I love this bread! Just be aware that the hydration makes for a very wet dough. I really should have read my notes from before where it mentioned that this dough was quite wet. It does come together with the stretches and folds but I really should have cut back on the water to get a dough that was a bit easier to handle. I also tried to streamline the procedure for the add-ins so that I wasn’t prepping each ingredient individually. By the way, did I mention that this was a very wet dough? ;-)




Makes 3 loaves



25 g hulless oats

40 g wild rice

190 g boiling water

25 g barley flakes 

50 g large flake oats

175 g water



75 g rye berries

75 g spelt berries

75 g kamut berries

75 g Red Fife berries

750 g unbleached all purpose flour

725 g filtered water

22 g pink Himalayan salt

40 g local yogurt

250 g 3 stage 100 hydration levain (procedure in recipe)

Bran/all purpose flour for feeding the levain


Mid afternoon the day before:

  1. Take 18 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 18 g of filtered water and 18 g of bran. I used bran left over from other bakes where it was sifted out. One also can use Wholewheat flour. Let rise in a warm place (oven with the light on and door cracked open - 82F)
  2. Mill the grains and sift to obtain 250 g of high extraction flour. Save the bran for dusting the baskets as well as for another use. 
  3. Place the high extraction flour in a tub and add the unbleached flour to it. Cover and set aside.

The night before:

  1. Place the hulless oats and the wild rice in a heatproof bowl and add 190 g boiling water. Cover and let sit overnight. 
  2. Before going to bed, feed the levain 36 g of water and 36 g of AP flour flour including any left over high extraction flour. Let that rest in a warm place overnight.

Dough making day:

  1. Feed the levain 72 g of filtered water and 72 g of AP flour and let rise 4-5 hours in a warm spot. 
  2. Drain the wild rice and hulless oats. Add fresh water to cover by an inch and cook gently until the wild rice has bloomed. I cooked it for about 15 -20 minutes and then let sit until all wild rice grains had split open. * Drain well.* Cover and set aside to cool. 
  3. Cook the barley flakes and the rolled oats in the 175 g of water until the water has been all absorbed. This was very quick! Add to the hulless oats and wild rice.
  4. Two hours before the levain is ready, mix the water with the flour on the lowest speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until all the flour has been hydrated. This took a couple of minutes. Autolyse for at least a couple of hours.
  5. Once the levain is ready, add the salt, the yogurt, the add-ins and the levain to the bowl. Mix on one for a minute to integrate everything, mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes. This dough is wet! I even had thoughts of adding flour!
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place in a covered tub. Let rest 30 minutes. 
  7. Do 4 sets of folds at 30 minute intervals, then switch to hourly folds for another 2 sets. The dough really came together with the folds. It was amazing to see!
  8. Place the dough in a cold fridge for 3 hours. The dough rose about 30%. 
  9. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~810 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest one hour on the counter. 
  10. Do a final shape by flouring the rounds and flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and fold over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make as tight boule as you can considering how wet this dough is.
  11. Sprinkle bran and oats flakes in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons. I debated leaving the dough uncovered for the night but decided to simply sprinkle some extra flour on top and then covered it with bowl covers. Let rest for a few minutes on the counter and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge for 9-10 hours. 

Baking Day

  1. The next morning, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 
  2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 30 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 20 minutes at 425 F. Internal temperature should be 205F or more.


I got a decent rise considering the hydration. Note to myself: Reduce the water by at least 50 grams if not more!

pmccool's picture

A whole wheat four strand braided Challah from today's class.  The flour is a 50/50 mix of white whole wheat and AP.


Valdus's picture

The above is typical of my sour note experiments. Nice crumb, medium tightness. Golden color. Above is a typical example of my oven spring. I want more, a lot more. 

I want a bursting loaf, something that will rise so high that it scrapes the top of the oven. I have accomplished pretty much everything in a basic sour loaf except exceptional oven spring. Some things I have learned that have improved it are:

  • a tight bread forming, particularly the crust. 
  • A half of cup of water underneath the parchment paper +
  • the parchment paper soaked in water even. 

I have used Raffa's Everyday Sourdough recipe consistently without much deviation. I also moved toward the The NMNF Starter.

I wonder if a low hydration loaf has more or less of a chance to make the sacred spring. You guys don't understand I want an oven bloom!

I am feeding my stiff starter tonight to make Teresa Greenway's introductory loaf tomorrow during the day. If anyone has any questions, feel free. Suggestions on Oven bloom are also welcome. 

 Greenway's recipe is (roughly) 140g starter, 400g flour, 240ml water and 9 salt no autolyse.


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