The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


alabubba's picture

 The simple process still fills me with happy.

Reinharts Neapolitan pizza Dough.

PalwithnoovenP's picture






Hello TFLers! As promised in this post, I am posting the fruit of the long culinary journey I embarked months ago which is a success! But this is in no way related to bread so I hope it does not get deleted! :)

I know many folks here are not only bread bakers; they also have many other talents/passion. Some are wine makers or beer brewers and others, occasional cheese makers. I have seen many people do those crafts at home with success but I SELDOM see someone make their OWN SOY SAUCE. I was always intrigued with the how this favorite condiment of ours is made and the idea of making my own. Now I am a "soy sauce brewer" too. Not really sure if this is technically soy sauce but more on that later.

After lots of researches, I finally knew how to make. Cook some soy beans, let them mold, dry under the sun, ferment in brine, strain and age. You read that right, let it MOLD! Soy sauce is a product of fermentation by a mold which is usually perceived as harmful organisms by those unaccustomed to it; but may delicious food items are created with the help of molds; some cheeses have molds too: more molds, more delicious! So no problem! Soy sauce brewing has also became a highly industrialized process now; made in sterile environments using pure cultures such as aspergillus oryzae so it's even safer.

Since it is impossible for me to find a pure culture and make it in a precisely controlled environment, I went the traditional route which seems even cooler! Imagine making something many think can only come from the store using simple technology and ancient know-how. 

In traditional soy sauce brewing, the native microbes from the environment are what is only used; to whoever the environment is favorable takes hold and flourishes.

Also, I do not have ready access to soybeans so I thought of using other beans and making the undergo the same process and see if it will taste like soy sauce. I even entertained the idea for a baby thesis during high school back in 2008. I decided to use mung beans because it's cheap and readily available. Not really sure if it will succeed (although now there are many "non-soy soy sauces" with each "plant" giving a unique flavor), I still pushed through despite the long time the experiment needs which will be wasted if it fails. You know when you're doing something for the first time, you get excited and impatient. :D

There are many ways to prepare soy sauce which differs by country (China, Japan, Korea), by region, with how the beans are treated (whole or mashed), the source of the microbes (leaves, straw); like I said MANY! All of the steps I did has science behind it backed up by lots of research, it will be just too long if I will explain them one by one.

This is what I did:

1. I soaked mung beans overnight and steamed them for 1 hour. While hot, I spread them on a bamboo tray lined with banana leaves.

2. I covered the beans with another layer of banana leaves and wrapped the whole thing in a thick blanket to keep moisture and heat inside, then I put it on our roof under the sun for the whole day to incubate the beans. The roof is the perfect place because it is extra hot (warm) and far from the animals below.

I took it inside our house when it got dark. Oh! There is already an offensive smell. I continued to that for 6 days; by day 3 or 4, it started generating its own heat. The smell also gets stronger each day, someone doesn't need to be a bloodhound to track where it is hidden by day 3. Here are the beans after 6 days.


Various wild molds of various colors have colonized the beans. The beans are now also cemented by mold mycelia. What exact mold species they are I don't know. They could be aspergillus species because it's pretty hot and humid where I live. Some of them do not look so scary like the white one but a few others look like they could kill.  Green, yellow green, black, gray and various shades in between. Let us look at them up close.

Dark green mold. First time to see this kind of mold. Color is like the green crayon I used to have during kindergarten.

Black mold. Could be aspergillus niger.

Yellow green mold. Could be the aflatoxin (a potent carcinogen) producer aspergillus flavus. Actually, this is the mold that bothered me the most if I will pursue this project.

A gray mold. Could be the same mold as the black one but it's really lighter in real life. It's my first time to see this mold also.

This picture is out of focus, maybe the next picture offers a better view. It is the one surrounded by the dark green molds.

These white molds are the most normal and beautiful looking ones. They are also the ones who bound the beans most tightly. The beans just look like tempeh. They might be different molds that have not just reached the sporulation stage to reveal their differently colored spores.

3. I broke up the clumps of beans (they're pretty hot) and washed them with water to remove spores which can be bitter and excess mycelia. I was bathed by a cloud of spores during this process, I just did my best not to inhale them and just took a bath afterwards. I should have wore a mask together with gloves, thoughts of getting aspergillosis or fungus balls in the lungs ran through my mind for more than a week. :)

4. I returned them to the bamboo tray to sun dry for an entire day. Here is what they look like after sun drying. 

THE SMELL! OOOOOH! I transferred them to a clean glass jar right on the roof where the sun-dried. Clay jars are the traditional fermenting vessels and I would love to use that but the one we have in the house is an antique one traditionally used for vinegar that I don't want to damage that's why I just used a large glass jar. I hope the neighbors did not thought what is this crazy guy doing picking up beans on their rooftop and covering his nose with layers of towels. :P

5. I poured 25% brine over the beans and covered the jar with a net; holes large enough to allow sunlight in but small enough to keep flies and insects out. 

Trying to make the most out of the remaining sunlight for that day.

Soy sauce needs to ferment under the sun for at least 2 months to develop flavor. During this time, lots of biochemical processes which will take us to a science class if I will try to discuss take place most notably the breakdown of proteins; some folks here like biochemists, chemists, can enlighten us further.Care must be made not let it get rained, otherwise it's spoiled. It must also be stirred regularly. I forgot to stir it for a week and I got this:

Looks lovely or disgusting depending on who you are. I think, it looks like corals or a soft surface where you can jump before it swallows you. :P

During rainy days, it stays on my study table.

On sunny days, I bring it outside.

6. I fermented it for 4 months and slowly, the greenish liquid turned into a brownish amber colored liquid. It smelled really stinky but with notes of pineapple during the first 2 months so there were esters forming I suppose. After 4 months, I strained it and boiled the liquid for 20 minutes before bottling. The solids left were the miso that I kept in the same jar but insects found their way there so I had to throw it out.

Here is the finished soy sauce standing next to a bottle of commercial soy sauce. It considerably lighter due to lack of caramel color, also it is more opaque and not as refined.

At the time of bottling, it smells nothing like commercial soy sauce. Now, already aged for 4 months since bottling; it is really like soy sauce! The aroma is 80% soy sauce with 20% fish sauce notes despite being entirely of plant origin, along with a nutty note not present in commercial soy sauce. The taste is complex (possibly from the different microorganisms not limited to molds but also including yeasts and bacteria), a mix of soy and fish sauces with a pleasant nuttiness, just a tad too salty because of an imbalanced bean to brine ratio. I could have use more beans or a 20% brine, perhaps the first option is better. Other than that, very very good and I am really happy about it.

I picture this adventure using this analogy:

Commercial soy sauce is to homemade soy sauce as yeast bread is to sourdough.

I hope you enjoyed this brave or foolish journey of mine into home soy sauce brewing. Thank you and...

Happy Brewing/Baking!

Gill63's picture

 So, Thursday afternoon saw the annual Leftover Christmas Party at friends. Part of the fun is a vague idea, but no certainty of what there is going to be to eat. Christmas leftovers, but quite what,and in what form. I made a turkey and ham pie, and also wanted to take some bread (it is sort of expected, after all, and gives me a further excuse to bake).

Inspiration came from a link in the Christmas edition of Bread Magazine e-mail,

Decided to do something similar using a batch of olive oil dough (recipe from Dough by Richard Bertinet). Top section and bottom row filled with confit garlic and tomato jam, grated Beaufort and confit garlic in the rest. All brushed with oil/butter confit mix before and after baking. Slivers of cooking chorizo added as baubles before baking, and more cheese over the cheesy section.

Oven (fan) pre- heated to 240C and turned down to 200 straight away. Turned half way through 25 min bake.

Rosemary and chopped parsley as decorative greenery.

Have to say, I was pleased with the result, and it seemed to go down very well


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

One of our Christmas traditions is to have strawberry crepes and bacon for breakfast Christmas morning. Which always results in a whole lot of bacon fat in a tin in the fridge. I've been meaning for some time to try this in bread, and didn't have any baking for customers this week, so this was my chance.

The basic recipe is a fairly simple sourdough:

  • 85% bread flour
  • 15% whole wheat flour
  • 68% water
  • 2% salt
  • 25% levain (100% hydration)

Just for a twist, I used whole durum atta flour in place of the whole wheat flour.

I mixed the flours, water and levain and let them sit for about 45 minutes, then added salt, some dehydrated minced onion, crumbled Asiago cheese and a good dollop of bacon fat. I didn't weigh any of these so can't really provide the formula, but I'm sure you could use whatever amount you felt was appropriate. The mixing happened in the Ankarsrum with the dough hook, for only 3 or 4 minutes. The dough was quite nice already, and I plopped it into a flat container to ferment. I folded it three times over the next hour and a half, folding in some diced smoked honey ham (couldn't use the bacon, as we ate that for breakfast :) ).  It was very strong, but soft and silky dough - lovely!

It fermented for several hours at room temperature (not sure how long; wasn't timing it but rather just keeping an eye on it). At the end of the bulk ferment the dough was absolutely gorgeous - smooth, silky, soft and pillowy. I divided it into two loaves and did two letter folds on each piece of dough, then let it rest for about 15 minutes. There were some large bubbles which I chased to the edges and popped. I gently rolled it into 'chubbs' and let them rise in the bamboo risers while the oven heated up (about 45 minutes with the granite stones).

If you haven't made bread with these ingredients, you're missing an experience. Just the smell of the baking bread is so mouth-watering it's hard to wait for it! There wasn't a lot of oven spring because I think the final proof was close to 100%. It didn't collapse, and still felt lively, but was very pouffy. It was the usual bake - 5 minutes at 475F with steam, then 30 minutes at 425F.

This bread is one of the best I've made. The aroma and flavour are exceptional. The crust is tender and the crumb perfect - soft, moist and open just right. I won't be making this for the customers as I don't usually have that much bacon fat on hand, but it's definitely on my list for baking for us!

dmsnyder's picture

This is my first venture into baking with Kamut. It won't be my last. Kamut is a copyrighted name for Khorasan wheat which is an "ancient grain" - one of the ancestors of modern durum wheat. Like durum, it is a large berry that is yellowish in color and, when used in high percentages, gives a yellowish color to the bread's crumb. It is claimed that individuals who cannot tolerate the commonly available modern hybrid wheat can tolerate breads made with ancient grains (eikorn, emmer, khorasan).

Kamut is very high in protein, but not in gluten. It absorbs a lot of water, particularly when used as a whole grain flour. The resulting dough benefits from high hydration and from a longer than normal autolyse.

This bread is said to be 85% hydration. In fact, because Chad Robertson does not account for the water in his liquid starter when calculating baker's percentages, the hydration is a bit higher. This dough is 60% whole grain Kamut. (I used freshly milled flour.) It also calls for another 20% high-extraction flour. (I used Central Milling's T85 Organic flour). Yet, the dough was delightful to handle. It was tacky but not sticky and very extensible. The loaf's crumb is airy, light, cool and tender. The flavor when freshly cooled was not very different from a bread made with common red hard Winter wheat, to my taste. My experience with similar breads is that their flavor evolves over the first 2 or 3 days, though. So, we'll see.

How about some photos?

The bread was very nice for lunch with a lettuce salad with Point Reyes blue cheese, toasted pecans and comice pear.

When I was working on my Pane di Altamura, I made several loaves with 100% fine durum flour and a durum-fed starter. I plan on trying a bread with 100% Kamut. I'm thinking a Greek Pan di Horiadeki.

Happy baking!


bakingbadly's picture

About 5 months ago, on July 20th, 2017, my partner Jana and I (Mr. Zita) opened our bakery called “Bang Bang” in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The name Bang Bang is derived from the Khmer / Cambodian word “Nombang”, meaning “bread”. We specialize in sourdough breads and cakes, with heavy influences from North America, UK, Germany and France. Why so international? Simply because I’m Cambodian-Canadian and my partner is German-British. ;)


  • Shopfront of Bang Bang bakery


  • Me, baker Zita, amidst our bread display

  • Jana's Spinach & Feta Quiche, Cherry Bakewell Tart, & Apple Crumble / Crisp

As a predominantly self-taught baker, with zero practical work experience in a bakery, I expected big challenges---oh boy, was I right! During the first week of opening Bang Bang, I slept an average of 1 to 3 hours per day! Long, weary work days (14+ hours) became the norm; progress also impeded by lack of money, equipment and skilled bakers.


  • Coffee-Almond Brioche Braid (topped with toasted almonds and pearl sugar) & Caffe Latte


  • Cambodia-made, German-traditional smoked Black Forest ham on freshly baked French-style country sourdough (Pain de Campagne), with fresh arugala / rocket, & housemade spiced mustard-mayo sauce


  • Locally produced fresh mozzarella (100g), fresh & marinated sun-dried tomatoes, with housemade sweet basil pesto on freshly baked Italian-style ciabatta

Before opening Bang Bang, it wasn’t our intention to serve coffee, tea, or sandwiches. Our bakery, we thought, would primarily offer breads and cakes. We realized we made a grave mistake after several friends and long-time supporters asked us what beverages they could pair with our (cream cheese) bagels and sweets...

The week before opening our bakery, we hastily bought a new espresso machine, new counters for the espresso machine, and scrambled to find an adequately skilled barista---luckily, we did!


Despite criticisms, after operating Bang Bang for 2 months we decided to close the bakery for a month (October) during the rainy season / low tourist season.

Jana and I were fatigued and exhausted, at the brink of our mental and physical limits, the bakery still understaffed and unable to efficiently accommodate dine-in customers. We needed time to recover, to rethink and reorganize the bakery.

Off we went to Europe for inspiration and rejuvenation.



  • Birmingham, England. Left, The Bull Ring; right, St. Martin's Church


  • Birmingham, England. Coffee, coffee, coffee


  • Birmingham, England. Peel & Stone Bakery

Our first stop in Europe was Birmingham, England (my partner’s home city). Of course, as many as we could, we visited bakeries, cafes and coffee shops. Unquenched by our findings (Birmingham surprisingly had few independent bakeries), we later visited nearby cities Bristol and Bath, and discovered Bristol had a thriving, artisanal bakery scene.


  • Bristol, England. Train Station


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. The Bristol Loaf


  • Bristol, England. The Bristol Loaf


  • Bristol, England. Pinkman’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Pinkman’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. East Bristol Bakery


  • Bristol, England. East Bristol Bakery


  • Bath, England. The Bertinet Bakery


  • Bath, England. The Bertinet Bakery


  • Our hotel room in Birmingham after returning from Bristol & Bath

Never having been in England, or Europe for that matter, I received a number of complaints before leaving Siem Reap. “Why are you going to England?” they said. “Food in the UK is bland and terrible,” and a bombardment of similar comments. To my relief, I found out it was the contrary!

After doing “research” at a plethora of pubs and restaurants (including dining at a Michelin Star restaurant), I concluded that English / British cuisine has something unique and tasty to offer that most countries will find difficult to replicate. Additionally, it was a major learning experience for me. I now understand the British palate better (quite different from North American and Australian), enabling me to cater more effectively to my British customers.


  • My happy team and I (middle)

Stay tuned for part 2 where I summarize our trip to Rome, Paris, Barcelona and London, and the solutions we implemented to keep our bakery going!

Happy baking, all! And hope you had a wonderful Christmas / holidays!

Mr. Zita
Head Bread Baker
Bang Bang



Danni3ll3's picture

My brother requested some bread to go with Xmas dinner so I went back to my adaptation of MutantSpace's bread and changed the seed combo a bit. This was also the bread that I used to do the experiment with baking in a cold oven with a cold dutch oven or baking in a hot dutch oven in a preheated oven. The wider loaves on the right were the ones baked in the cold combo pot and oven. They spread out more and ended up with a peaked appearance rather than a full rounded one like the loaves done in the hot pot and oven. Either way, the bread had a very nice mouthfeel and was delicious! 

On to the recipe (makes 4 loaves of about 650 g):

1. Toast 75 g of sunflower seeds and 50 g each of flax and black sesame seeds.

2. Soak the above overnight with 225 g rolled oats, 90 g of honey, 75 g of butter and 360 g of boiling water.

3. The next day, autolyse all of the above with 650 g water, 75 g freshly ground flax seeds, 550 g unbleached flour, 200 g of freshly milled red fife flour and 202 g of multigrain flour (I use Robin Hood's Best for Bread Multigrain flour). Let sit for at least a couple of hours.

4. Mix in 24 g salt  and 266 g of 100% levain. Mix until everything is evenly distributed and you can feel the dough gaining some strength through folds.

5. Fermentation took about 4 hours. Fold 30 minutes to 45 minutes apart for the first 2 folds and then 45 to 60 minutes apart for the last few folds until the dough feels nice and billowy. I waited till I saw signs of bubbles around the edges. Normally, when I do this, my dough doesn't double but in this case, the dough was rising quite fast and it almost doubled by the time it was ready to be divided.

6. Divide into 4 and preshape into boules. Let rest 20 minutes and then do a nice and tight shape. I have been trying the shaping as shown in this video but I am way more gentle and I don't degass the dough the way Hamelman does.

7. Sprinkle the bannetons with rice/ap flour first and then some rolled oats. Place the dough seam side down into bannetons and cover the dough. Place in the fridge for 10-12 hours.

8. Heat oven to 475 F with pots inside for 45 minutes. Bake seam side up in preheated covered dutch ovens (lined with parchment rounds) for 25 minutes at 450 F and then uncovered for 22 minutes at 425F.

9. If you wish to try the cold oven/cold pot method, what I did was place the dough on top of parchment rounds in the room temperature dutch ovens. I then placed the covered pots in the oven and turned the temperature to 450 F. The oven took 23 minutes to heat up to that temperature. I left the lids on for an additional 20 minutes and then took off the lids and dropped the temperature to 425 F for an additional 22 minutes.

Loaf on the left is the "hot baked loaf" and the loaf on the right is the "cold baked loaf".

loydb's picture

This is a continuation of tweaking Maurizio Leo's Best Sourdough Recipe My first efforts can be found in my blog here.

My goal is to see how far I can push the freshly-milled whole grain percentage while still getting great oven spring. For this pass, I swapped out the 35g bread flour in the levain for whole wheat, and ended up using 250g of whole wheat and 700g of bread flour for the final dough, giving me roughly 25% whole grain. Because of how my freshly milled flour handles water, I ended up adding an additional 80g of whole wheat flour above and beyond the totals called for in the recipe. It was still a very wet dough, but it was much more workable than the first try, and built structure way faster.

The crumb still came out great, though. I'll try pushing it further next time!


Skibum's picture

Merry Christmas fresh loafers! This has been my go to recipe for sandwich bread for some time now. It freezes well sliced and each loaf keeps me for 2 - 3 weeks in sandwich bread. The recipe is a version of Peter Reinhart's recipe for soft sandwich bread and rolls from Artisan Bread's Every Day. I use a natural yeast, a sweet levain at 100% hydration. The current levain is at least three years old.

To finish the loaf, I brushed with an egg glaze and then scored the top, finally getting a good score and a nice grigne. It tells me I judged the proofing right. It is nice to get a great bake in a relatively new kitchen and new oven and at a new altitude and humidity. I am figuring it out.

May all of your Christmas dreams come true and happy baking! 



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