The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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isand66's picture

I love this basic formula that Karin came up with for these German style rolls.  I've made a Yeast Water version and a Sourdough version with great success.  I have been baking so much rye bread lately as a recipe tester for Stan's new book, yet to be released that I needed something lighter.  My Yeast Water starter is no more and my SD starter was not refreshed, so IY would have to do.

On another note, my wife and I were very excited to find out they were opening up a new German restaurant in our revitalized downtown area in Patchogue, NY.  We were eagerly awaiting it's opening and the other night we accidentally discovered that it was open after our original destination was closed for a private party.  All I can say is after eating there it will be the last time I set foot inside.  I can't wait to go back to our favorite German Restaurant, The Village Lantern and eat some real authentic style German fair, and not the poor excuse for German food from this dreadful imposter.

Anyway, back to these German style rolls, which by the way blow away the pathetic attempt at Pumpernickel rolls they served at the aforementioned restaurant.  I pretty much followed Karin's original formula from her blog,  but to make things interesting I replaced part of the 00 flour with Durum flour which is one of my favorites.

I also decided to try an interesting shaping technique to create the tower effect by using a small doughnut cutter.   Immediately after shaping the dough into rounds I pressed the cutter almost to the bottom of the dough.  I thought the final result was pretty cool, but it does make it difficult to toast them :).

I used some smoked sesame seeds, toasted onions and poppy seeds for the toppings after applying a double egg wash.

The Caputo 00 style four really makes these rolls light and airy and the little Durum flour adds an extra nutty flavor and yellow crumb.

Happy New Year to all of my family, friends and baking buddies and followers.


You can download the BreadStorm formula here.

German Weizenbrotchen Rolls Yeast Only (%)

German Weizenbrotchen Rolls Yeast Only (weights)



BumbleBee84's picture

With my recent obsession to perfect my bread making skills and while still waiting for my sourdough starter to mature (it is 8 days old eexactly but it's still not passing the floating test although it has bubbles and smells vinegary I don't know what I am doing wrong there) I decided to experiment;I decided to do a tester loaf and see if I could come up with something edible .

This Boule is made with some poolish and some of the sourdough starter discard (I thought why keep wasting flour when I can use this in some way even if its to just flavour the dough and here's the result!

This loaf sings really loud and my hubby can't wait to dig into this but i'm not letting him!:-P not yet...till it cools completely so I can assess the crumb then we can taste :-)

Definately looking forward to baking some more in the future (it really is addictive) and thank you all members of for all the priceless knowledge and skills shared daily on this site.

Have a very Happy New Year.xx 


nmygarden's picture

So, my shiny new brotforms (Thanks, Ian, for the lead to Lucky Clover Trading) were calling out, "Use us!" And I had been thinking to use some steel cut oats for something soft and hearty... and maybe adding a bonus of cranberries and walnuts. I started with Wooden Spoon's Steel Cut Oat Sourdough formula and made a few modifications that included increasing the WW to 25%, using AP at 25% (running low on BF) and, of course, adding fruit and toasted nuts.

I managed to take the hydration higher than intended (forensically analyzed afterward to conclusions, my 'note to self' register is getting long!), resulting in a loose, wet mix, to which I partially corrected with some AP during slap and folds, bulk fermented at room temp, then overnight in the refrigerator, out for a couple hours before shaping. That's when I knew it was still overhydrated, was a lovely texture, but also a bit of a blob. And a heavy one, at that! Thank goodness it was going into a brotform, lined with a thin cotton towel and dusted with brown rice flour. Maybe it would hold its form... maybe. A couple hours to proof and it was as ready as it was going to get. Turned out onto parchment and it began to slowly sag... sigh. But into the oven it went, without steam, except to spray it liberally with water - I had no cover that would, well, cover it and my gas oven fairly effectively vents off other attempts at making steam.

Oh, well, it may not be pretty, but as long as it bakes well and tastes good, I'll be happy. And it did and it does. A monster of a loaf, more than enough to feed the family when the kids come for a late holiday this week.

Happy New Year to TFL and it's members!


dmsnyder's picture

My Sourdough Starter Routine: FAQ

December 30, 2014


I get questions about how I manage my sourdough starter frequently enough that I decided to put the information in a single blog entry to which I can refer in the future. What follows applies to a sourdough starter/levain containing mostly white wheat flour. Mostly rye and mostly whole wheat starters are different beasts.

Please understand that this is my routine. It has worked well for me for a number of years. I am not presenting it as the only way to manage sourdough starters. It may not be the best way at all for some one else. But, as I said, it works for me, and here it is:

My starter was originally was purchased from KAF in about 2008. (See: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter - 1 oz.).

Taking care of mother

I keep my "mother starter" in the refrigerator. It is fed at a ratio of 1:2:4 (Starter:Water:Flour). When feeding the mother, I mix 50 g starter, 100 g water and 200 g flour to make 350 g total. This is refrigerated imediately after mixing. I refresh the mother every 2 to 3 weeks. The flour feeding is a mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Medium or whole rye.

Getting active

When preparing to make bread, I generally refresh the starter as a liquid starter at a ratio of 20:50:50 (Mother starter:Water:Flour) using the same flour mix described above. This is fermented to peak activity at room temperature (generally about 12 hours). 

This refreshed liquid starter is then fed again according to the specific formula I am following. In other words, the degree of hydration, the flour mix, the ratio of levain:water:starter and the fermentation time and temperature are variable.  When posting a formula, I specify these variables. This may involve converting the refreshed liquid starter to a firm starter.


How long it takes to ferment a starter before it is ready to feed again or mix in a final dough depends on four variables (at least those are the ones I can think of at the moment):

  1. What flours you put in the starter. For example, flours with whole grains ripen faster because of their mineral content.

  2. The ratio of seed starter:flour:water. If you introduce relatively more seed starter, it has a “head start” and will ripen faster. All other things being equal, a more liquid starter will ripen faster than a more firm starter.

  3. The ambient temperature. A warmer temperature speeds up metabolic processes, including fermentation, at least within the usual range of kitchen temperatures. (The Temperature/Metabolism curves for fermentation and acid production are beyond the scope of this FAQ.) This effect can be rather dramatic. As a consequence, any instruction for how long to ferment a levain without specifying the ambient temperature should be taken with a grain of salt. (In fact, adding salt to the levain is one way of slowing fermentation down, but that's another topic for another day.)

  4. The flavor profile you want for the bread you are making. A “younger” levain will generally be less sour. A more “mature” levain will have more acid and make bread that is more sour. (Assuming the formula for the bread is otherwise the same.)

 How can you tell how ripe a levain is?

There is a lot of confusion about the criteria to use in judging the ripeness of a levain. The most common criterion I see is how much it has expanded, and “doubled in volume” is most often the specific criterion. The problem with this is twofold. First, unless you are fermenting your levain in a graduated container or have marked your container yourself, doubling is hard to measure accurately. Second, I don't think doubling carries the same meaning for liquid as for firm levains. And, at no extra charge, here is a thirdfold: Depending on the flavor profile you want, doubling (even if you could measure it accurately) may be too much or not enough.

So, as implied, I use somewhat different criteria depending on the levain's hydration, and I do use a container that is graduated, and I do use a semi-transparent container, so I can view the internal structure of the levain, not just its surface. My container is also tall relative to its diameter and has relatively straight sides. It is more like a cylinder than a bowl. This provides support to the ripening levain that permits greater expansion.

My Sourdough Starter Fermentation Container

Ripeness criteria for a firm levain

A firm levain is one with a hydration level of around 50%. That is, it contains half as much water, by weight, as flour. A firm levain can expand in volume a lot more than a liquid levain. So, volume expansion is actually a useful criterion for ripeness. A doubling in volume is generally associated with enough yeast activity to raise your dough well, but it may not be ripe enough to have fully developed flavor. I usually let my levain triple or quadruple in volume before I mix it in the final dough. In addition to volume expansion though, I look for an extensive network of large and small bubbles throughout the levain. I can see these through the walls of the container. I look for a well-domed top of the levain. And, last but not least, I look for any signs that the levain has had a decrease in volume, which indicates excessive ripeness. This is indicated by a concave surface, rather than a dome.

There is a lot of wiggle room between “ripe enough to raise dough” and “peak of fermentation, just short of collapse.” A less ripe (“young”) levain will make a sweeter bread, one with more creamy flavor from lactic acid formation. A riper (“mature”) levain will have relatively more vinegar-like, acetic acid sourness. Besides the criteria already mentioned, the aroma of the levain tells you the relative prominence of lactic versus acetic acid. You could use your sense of smell alone to judge when your levain is at the point of maturity you desire, in order to achieve the flavor profile you want for your bread.


Firm Levain, just fed

Firm Levain, 10 hours after feeding. Note: Approximately doubled in volume. Full of bubbles. Domed surface. I regard this as a still "young" levain.


Firm Levain, after 10 hours. Note: Domed surface. Some bubbles on surface.

Ripeness criteria for a liquid levain

A liquid levain is one with a hydration level of around 100%. That is, it contains equal weights of water and flour. A liquid levain cannot expand as much as a firm levain. Quite simply, all those water molecules get in the way of connections between folds of the long gluten molecules that provide structure to a firm levain and a bread dough. Now, a liquid levain does expand as fermentation produces CO2 gas, but this forms bubbles that rise to the levain surface and pop rather than getting trapped in a gluten web and causing levain expansion. If you use a glass container or a semi-transparent plastic one to ferment your liquid levain, as it ripens you can see the internal structure of the levain become full of tiny bubbles – almost like a mousse.  On the surface, you see bubbles forming, faster and faster as the levain gets riper, until they actually form a froth on the levain's surface. The surface of the ripe levain often has a "wrinkled" appearance.

As with a firm starter, one can choose to use the liquid starter “young” or more “mature.” With a liquid starter, as with a firm starter, levain recession or collapse indicates that you have let your levain over-ferment.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbly interior.


Liquid Levain surface after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbles forming. Surface just beginning to wrinkle. This would still be "young."

The consequences of levain over-fermentation

Over-fermentation implies any combination of several bad things. The yeast may have fermented all the free sugars they can get at. Reproduction and fermentation will both slow down. The levain may not be as potent in raising the dough to which it is added. The levain may also contain excessive amounts of metabolic byproducts, especially organic acids. A little acid is good for both flavor and gluten strength. Too much acid is bad for yeast growth. An optimally ripened levain has positive effects on gluten structure, but, over time, protease activity increases, and those enzymes will degrade gluten. (That's why a very over-ripe sourdough starter that hasn't been fed new flour for a long time gets more and more liquified.)

What's missing?

There is another important variable in my routine for sourdough starter feeding and use, and that is the manipulation of fermentation temperature. Temperature effects the rate of yeast and bacterial growth and metabolism dramatically. Different metabolic processes are favored by different temperature ranges. Temperature changes can change the flavor of your bread. However, that is an advanced topic which is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

 The one temperature manipulation I will discuss is cold retardation. I often refrigerate my levain, usually at the point that it is nearly fully mature. I do this for two reasons, primarily. The first is, quite simply, my convenience. If I have to go out (or go to bed) at the point that a levain is going to be optimally ripe and ready to mix into a dough, I will stick the levain in the refrigerator, maybe for a few hours, maybe for a day or even two. The other reason I refrigerate a levain is to make it more sour. Especially a firm levain will generate more acetic acid in a cooler environment.

If I have refrigerated my levain, before mixing it into the final dough, I will usually let it come to room temperature. Sometimes, I will let it ferment further at a warm temperature, for example 86 dF in a proofing box. It is appears almost over-ripe already when it comes out of the refrigerator, I usually use warmer water when I mix the dough, so the over-all dough temperature is no excessively lowered by cold levain.

 I believe I have addressed the questions I get asked most often about my sourdough starter care and feeding. As indicated, there are additional more advanced topics I have not addressed in this FAQ. Maybe I will another day. 

I hope this helps.

Happy baking!


emkay's picture

My final loaf of 2014 is the overnight country blonde from Ken Forkish's FWSY. I did everything by the book except I increased the amount of rye from 5% to 10%. I bulk fermented for 15.5 hours (at 64F) and proofed the shaped dough for 3.5 hours (at 77F). I baked at 450F for 45 minutes using my Le Creuset marmitout (aka cast iron combo cooker) with the lid on for the first 25 minutes.

The bread was moist with just the right amount of sour. It turned out as perfect as I hoped it would. 

I began 2014 as a sourdough newbie awestruck by the wonderful bread showcased on this site. I end the year a little less green, but no less amazed by the talented and wonderful bakers here. A big thank you to the TFL community for the support and wisdom shared everyday.

Happy New Year and may your 2015 be filled with family, friends and bread to share with all!

:) Mary

a_warming_trend's picture

For my first real post, I'd like to share the results of this little experiment: I wanted to test the merits of the long cold fermentation vs. the long cold proof.

Both loaves had the same ultimate flour content and hydration (80%). As for the long ferment, I know that 300 grams of 100% levain seems high for a loaf with 500 grams of total flour, but I've had good results with that percentage of levain in my short baking tenure.  I halfed the amount of levain for the long proof, because I have been disappointed with overproofing with that technique in the past. Also, I know that my dollop of cream cheese is unorthodox, but it's my little "secret" ingredient in sourdough...I just like to keep it interesting! 

Ingredients for Long Cold Ferment:

300g 100% hydration levain

300g AP flour

50g WW flour

250g water 

11g salt

Dollop cream cheese 


Ingredients for Long Cold Proof:

150g 100% hydration levain

375g AP flour

50g WW flour

325g water

11g salt

Dollop cream cheese

For both: I mixed flour and water and autolysed for 2 hours, then added levain and salt. Did 4 stretch-and-folds at 30 minute intervals, for 2 hours. I then let both rest for 2 hours at room temperature. I placed the long-ferment dough in the fridge to continue its journey, and I shaped the long-proof dough into a boule and placed it in a banneton. I forgot the pre-shape! Anyhow, it went into the fridge. 

Both doughs were refrigerated for around 16 hours.

I removed the long-proof dough and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hr before baking T 450 for 30 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.

I removed the long-ferment dough, shaped it, and let it proof for 1 hr before baking at 450 for 30 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without. 


Long Ferment Left, Long Proof Right

Ovenspring almost identical!

But, once sliced...the long-proofed loaf had a much larger and more irregular crumb. 

Long Proof:

Long Ferment:

Both were milder in flavor than I expected. The longer cold-proofed loaf was definitely maltier, had a thinner crust, and was possibly more complex than the longer cold-fermented loaf...but the flavor difference was really minimal. I still find long bulk fermentation more flexible and less nerve-wracking than long proofing (is it over-proofing? Is it over-proofing?!). I almost wanted a more drastically different result, so I could make a hard and fast decision! As it stands...I'm just gonna have to continue experimenting...



CAphyl's picture

Sorry I haven't posted for some time as I have been busy with the holidays and visiting family (they are still here!)  I did bake a number of loaves of bread as gifts for friends, and that seemed to go over well.

I will have to get back to more baking when I have the kitchen back to myself. Thanks for all the wonderful advice, guidance and support throughout this year.  I talk about my bread friends to my family and friends all the time.  You are all such inspirations and give me such great ideas.  I have so many breads on my list to bake in 2015, it is difficult to know where to start. For now, I've got to get going and make dinner!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and all the best to everyone for a fantastic 2015.  I really look forward to your posts throughout the year.  Phyllis


bakingbadly's picture

More than two months has passed since my last post on TFL, yet it feels like a brief moment in the grand scheme of things...

Anyway, never mind that. Updates, updates, updates. A few major, life changing events have happened in the past couple of months. And today I finally have a break from my bakery (in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Southeast Asia), so now’s my chance to reconnect with my fellow TFLoafers.


  • Greek-style pitas

  • Poppy and sesame seed mini-bagels (AKA baby-bagels)

  • Bauernbrot (German-style spiced rye sourdough bread)

For a brief while, I was regularly producing Greek-style pitas, mini-bagels, and the Bauernbrot (spiced rye sourdough bread) for clients and a weekend handicraft market. However, after much thought, I discontinued making these breads due to physical and mental exhaustion.

Really. I was pooped!

My most critical mistake was postponing staff hiring and training. Consequently, I was baking nearly every day, with less than 4 hours of sleep at a time, and developed aches in my joints from head to toe. The aches were likely the result of working large masses of dough by hand for prolonged periods. (I didn’t have a mixer and I still don’t by choice.)


  • Left to right (dips): Obatzda (spiced Camembert cheese spread), wasabi sour cream, seasoned tomato sauce
  • Left to right (sourdough): German-style spiced rye bread, French-Swiss influenced muesli bread, multigrain bread

  • Left to right: Homemade beef cold cuts, smoked salmon

  • Left to right: Italian pasta salad, homemade pork cold cuts

  • Left to right: Chicken roast, assorted cheeses

Late November was my birthday. I took this opportunity to host an all-you-can-eat buffet for my friends, as well as test a new sourdough bread I called “Madame Muesli”. This effort was a collaboration between me and my pseudo-brother / business partner Michael (a German chef and caterer).

(By the way, we both launched a catering company many months ago and since then have established a good reputation in town.)


The Madame Muesli was inspired by the French “pain de campagne” (country bread) and the Swiss muesli. 90% wheat (T65 French bread flour), 10% medium rye, featuring rolled oats, freshly toasted almonds and walnuts, and soaked black raisins.

After its positive reception at my birthday bash, I produced it for the handicraft market on the following weekend and still do to this day.


In early December, with just 5 vendors including myself, the first Farmers’ Market in Siem Reap was born.

Besides my breads, locally produced fruits and veggies, palm sugar, black pepper, sea salt, brown rice, free-range whole chickens and eggs were available. Miraculously, my breads sold out in only 3 hours, including the box of breads I had set aside!


The Farmers’ Market has opened only for the last 3 Sundays and the initiative has already acquired a few more vendors, one being Master Butcher Hagen. With over 3 decades of (butchering) experience, Mr. Hagen took the plunge and recently moved into Cambodia to start the production of artisanal German cold cuts and fresh sausages.

I’m extremely honoured and happy to say that Mr. Hagen will collaborate with my business partner and I, working closely together to improve each other’s specialties as Chef, Baker, and Butcher.

All we need now is a German beer brewer and cheese producer, then we’ll become an unstoppable culinary force in Cambodia!


Additionally, an Australian couple has joined the Farmers’ Market, specializing in healthy, homemade spreads and dips. Because of their worthy enterprise, sales of my breads at the market spiked!  

Funny story. They were my regular customers at a separate handicraft market. I wouldn’t have guessed that they would join the Farmers’ Market and form a partnership with me. Goes to show you, it pays to treat your customers well.

My latest creation after a month of experimenting: Chocolate Chili Brownies.

Made with chunks of Belgian dark chocolate (70% cocoa), enriched with clarified butter, free-range chicken eggs and natural palm sugar, a dash of espresso powder and buckwheat flour to amplify the earthy flavours of chocolate, a splash of Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla extract for greater depth and roundness, and a healthy dose of freshly ground spices and chili powder to take flavours up another notch.

With a description like that, you’d expect it to be a big hit at the Farmers’ Market last Sunday. And you’re right---it was! A handful of my customers went to the Farmers’ Market specifically to purchase my brownies. A woman even did a lil’ dance while sampling them! That is, without a doubt, one of the best compliments I ever received as a baker.

So what does the future hold for me?

Well, I anticipate that I’ll venture more into brownies and cookies. I seem to have a knack of making delicious, edible squares and circles. I also foresee the production of sausage rolls and savoury pastries, thanks to Master Butcher Hagen. 

But whatever happens, I need to stay true to my heart. I’m now at the point where I must decide: will my bakery remain small and humble, or will it become more industrial and dependent on machines? Of course, I can achieve a balance... but I’ve been warned by established bakers. 

Thanks for the read and keeping me motivated. I still visit TFL every now and then, but sadly I’m often too tired to comment or post. If you wish to stay updated with my journey, to transform Cambodia into a culinary hotspot for sourdough breads, please visit my Facebook page and “like” or bookmark it.

Farewell bread brethren!

Head Baker
Siem Reap Backerei

hreik's picture

Newly registered, though I've been lurking long enough to bake the Rustic Loaf twice and David's iteration of Bouabsa's baguette 3 times all in about 3 weeks.  Each time is better w the baguette.... but I'm waiting for a lid to completely cover my loaves so the first 10 minutes of steam cannot escape. 

Seems like people aren't crazy about the Gosselin (a la Reinhart) recipe for baguette.  WOndering if I should try or just stick w the Bouabsa which everyone in my family loves (served 3 of them and the Rustic for the holidays).

Thanks for reading.


MANNA's picture

Dough was from pg.22, sauce was New York-New Jersey on pg.28, finished with garlic oil from pg.29, cheese was fresh mozzarella (grated, easier said than done) I made 3 pizzas. The first two in 500 degree oven using pizza stones placed at specified oven locations. I used top stone first then moved to bottom stone. Allowed about 10 min recovery time before loading another pizza. For fun I did my third pizza with the broiler. Once the oven recovered I turned off the oven and broiler to high. Gave it about 5 min then loaded the pizza on top stone. Did some quick clean-up then checked the pizza and it was starting to burn. Moved it to the lower stone to brown the bottom. Even with the burnt parts it still tasted great.


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