The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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hanseata's picture


In 2007, after baking my way through all my old German bread baking books and Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", I checked for more bread formulas in the internet.

In German foodie magazine Essen & Trinken, one reader's recipe, featuring beer - always a plus! - caught my eye and piqued my interest. The beer was not only used to hydrate and flavor the dough, but, also, cooked into a mash, to feed the starter!

At that time I had the opportunity to chat with Peter Reinhart in an online bread baking Q & A, hosted by "Fine Cooking", and asked him about the boozy, mash-fed starter. He had never heard of such a thing, either.


Ale cooked into a mash is later used to feed the starter


Not only that - there was another oddity: the recipe described stretching and folding the dough into a neat package, at 1-hour intervals. What an entirely weird concept! I was puzzled and very intrigued.

Later I found out that S & F was first mentioned in The Fresh Loaf in 2006. Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day", introducing a larger audience to S & F, was published in 2009. 

A bit skeptical how this could work, I went ahead with the Englisches Kartoffelbrot mit Ale (English Potato Bread with Ale), stretching and folding the dough as per instruction, and was a bit surprised when I saw how the dough became smoother, more elastic, and really showed little gas bubbles, when I cut it to check the development.

To learn more about this tasty bread, my tweaks, and find the recipe (including a downloadable BreadStorm formula), please, follow me to my blog Brot & Bread.


 Moist and tasty - my bread loves beer (same as the baker :)

alfanso's picture

Another trip up north, but this time I'm staying home to tend to the dog.  However some baguettes will be accompanying my wife on the journey - destination in-laws, as usual.  The recent bake of Hamelman's Pain au Levain are scheduled to travel, and now these baguettes based on David Snyder's SJSD Italian Baguettes.  Next up will probably be my take on his SJSD baguettes.  That should hold the Old Folks over for a few meals.

These didn't open quite as much as the P au L baguettes did, but the bloom on those were really outstanding.  However, nothing to complain about here.  The taste of these is just truly spectacular.  They might just be #1 on my palate's hit parade.


victoriamc's picture

I was hosting a brunch, of course I had to bake something good.  I came up with these little swirled knots of milk bread and chocolate bread.  Both are enriched yeast doughs,  lightly sweetened, rather aesthetically pleasing and very delicious.  Full instructions (with lots of photos) and ingredients are now posted on



Cari Amici,

quell che voglio lasciarvi oggi è il racconto fotografico di una esperienza bellissima che mi ha visto prendere un treno che dalla Toscana mi ha condotta in Veneto, al fine di aiutare una associazione di volontariato che si occupa di disabili.

Insiene a tanti professionisti del settore ho potuto impastare tanto Pane e tanti dolci di grandissima qualità...ho imparato da tutti loro tante cose importanti ed insieme a loro mi sono sentita utile verso il mio prossimo.

Una esperienza che mi sento di consigliare a tutte le persone di buona volontà....

Vi lascio il link della mia esperienza, se ne avete voglia fateci un salto.

Vi abbraccio tutti, a presto.


dabrownman's picture

Lucy is known for her multi grain breads with lots of different stuff added to the mix.  With the Pope coming to America this week and in keeping with his vow of living simply Lucy really tried to turn over a new leaf.  She used 1 grain only, half of it sprouted, where the hard bits were sifted out and fed to 2 different levains.


The non sprouted 22% extraction hard bits were fed to the 21 weeks retarded rye sour starter and the 22% extraction sprouted hard bits were fed to YW to make the 2nd levain.  Together they came to about 22.5%  pre-fermented flour which is about twice our usual amount for this is a heavy whole grain bead.


The acids in the SD levain really bleached out the color of the hard bit where the YW levain color was unchanged!

It is only 100 F outside in the Fall instead of 115 F in the summer but the YW is very low acting and not nearly as harsh on the gluten as SD so she thought a bit more would work out OK even for a long 18 – 21  hour retard she had planned.


Into the fridge.

The SD levain was built over 3 4 hour stages and the YW one was built over a singles stage of dump, mix and wait 12 hours.  Once the levains were built, they were both retarded for 24 hours.  The SD levain smelled very sour and the YW was very fruity.


After retard.- it way more than doubled....

The double levain was specified by Lucy because the YW has a reputation of opening the crumb of heavy whole grain breads like nothing else can - short of commercial yeast and it lends sweetness to the bread without using any sugar, BMS or molasses and we know that some whole grain brads can be a bit bitter without something to neutralize it.  


Before final proof.

As the levains warmed up on the counter we autolysed the 78% extraction whole and sprouted wheat flour with the dough liquid  and the Pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled on top.  Once the levains hot the mix we, did 30 slap and folds to mix everything in and then did 30 more before resting.


We did 2 more sets of 30 slap and folds on 30 minute intervals and then 2 sets of 8 slap and folds on 45 minute intervals before shaping into a ball and putting the dough in an oil coated, plastic covered bowl and placing it in the fridge for 21 hours.


Tick Tack Toe slash.

Once the dough came out of the fridge we did a quick but gentle pre-shape using 4 stretch and folds putting the dough back into the covered bowl for 1 hour of warm up before doing a final shape into boule and putting it into a rice floured basket for final proof.


We let the dough proof 50% before un-molding onto parchment on a peel, slashing it and sliding it into a hot DO for 20 minutes of steam at 450 F.  The thing to remember when doing a whole grain bread is that it doesn’t need as full a final proof as white bread does before hitting the heat.


Once the lid came off 20 minutes later, we turned the oven down to 425 F - Convection and continued to bake for 15 more minutes, taking the bread out of DO 5 minutes after the lid came off.


It blistered, bloomed and sprang pretty well under steam and then browned deeply once the lid came off.  We will have to wait and see how the crumb came out when we slice the bread for lunch.  The crumb came out moist open and a bit glossy too.  The sour tang was more than we thought it would be with the YW in the mix.  

The overall taste was very nice, full and deep flavors were a treat.  This is the way a real WW bead is supposed to look and taste like!  We have no complaints.



SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



21 week Retarded Rye Sour






22% Extraction Wheat
























YW Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



22% Extraction Sprouted Wheat






Yeast Water


















SD & YW Levain Totals






Whole & Sprouted  Wheat






Water & YW






Levain Hydration






% Pre-fermented  Flour












Dough Flour






78% Extraction Wheat






78 % Extraction Sprouted Grain






Total Dough Flour






























Total Flour w/ Starter






Water & YW












Total Hydration w/ Starter & Add ins






Total Weight






% Whole & Sprouted Grain






% Sprouted Grains






 Lucy says to have a blue cheese salad with that chicken taco and Arizona sunset




OK ....have a piece of Apple Cake too!

KathyF's picture

The family has been asking for fluffy white bread, so lately I have been baking very fluffy, plain white rolls (actually a hamburger bun recipe). They love it. Go figure. Did sneak wheat germ in it though.

For a change, I thought I would try adapting one of Hamelman's recipes to see if I could make a light, but more nutritious loaf that also includes some sourdough starter. So, this is what I came up with:

The night before build levain and leave on counter overnight:
Bread flour: 72 grams
Water: 90 grams
Starter: 14 grams

The ingredients for final mix:
Bread flour: 288 grams
White whole wheat flour: 90 grams
Bob's Red Mill 7-grain cereal: 45 grams
Water: 191 grams
Milk: 50 grams
Honey: 34 grams
Oil: 34 grams
Levain: 162 grams (I just use all of it)
Salt: 10 grams
Instant yeast: 1/2 teaspoon

First I put the 7-grain cereal in the water and let it soak for several minutes while I assemble the rest of the ingredients. I then put everything in my bread machine and let it knead thoroughly until it window panes. I then take it out and put it in a cambro 2-quart container to rise. It seems to rise rather quickly as it was ready in 1 1/2 hours. (I think it has to do with the warm weather we are having. I suspect that when it cools down it will take longer.)

I shaped the bread and put in the loaf pan. Lately I have been shaping my loaves in 3 little boules and then putting them next to each other in the pan. For me, it seems to rise more evenly across the pan... except this loaf puffed up more in the middle anyways just to make a liar out of me!

I let it rise for an hour and then baked it at 375°F for 40 minutes. Here is a crumb shot:

Nice fluffy bread and the family seems to like it! Yay!

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Putting together a college care package.  Top request was wild yeast olive bread like back home. These should do the trick and a fun way to pass on a little message too.

alfanso's picture

I've loved the feel of the Hamelman Pain au Levain dough during every phase of the prep.  French Folds, Letter Folds, shaping, couching, scoring.  And, of course, seeing what comes out of the oven as bread.

And so it was time for another indecisive bake.  Batards or baguettes.  Hmm, why not both.  Again, I've not seen this bread done as baguettes anywhere on this site before, so maybe I can start a movement.

A bit of a mix up began the whole soiree.  I was building the Hamelman levain at the same time as building up my on "proprietary" levain, and as bad luck would have it, both in the same type of vessel sitting alongside each other.  When it came time to add the goop into the autolysed flour & water, well, I mixed the two up.  But I was darned confident that my own levain was robust enough for this mix.  No harm done. 

For those who love this formula, and really now, who doesn't, it is an exceptional dough to try your hand at rolling and scoring baguettes.  "Man does not live by batard alone..."

Adding a crumb shot from one of the batards.  The other is in the deep freeze.

I was also so pleased with the above bake that I had trouble controlling my impulse to "get back Jack do it again" (re: Steely Dan) the next day.  And so I did, now with the Hamelman levain having been incorporated into my own, yielding a mix of both.  

The combo batard/baguette bake came in 2 batards @500g ea. and 2 baguettes @250g ea.  This time I scaled it down to 4 baguettes @300g ea.  As you can see, the results are easily replicable.  This dough almost wants to shape itself.  

Please do give the Jeffrey Hamelman Pain au Levain formula a try either as a batard or baguette without using a Dutch Oven or even a proofing basket.  If you don't already bake that way, it'll give you a whole new outlook on what you can do baking and add another dimension to your baking skillset.

My version of the formula is posted below.



 Day 1

  1. Mix stiff levain (7-12 hours).  Refrigerate.  This levain is very slow moving.

Day 2

  1. In large bowl add flours and water, mix to shaggy mass.   Dough will be wet and sticky until levain is added.
  2. Cover and autolyse for at least 30 minutes (or more – to suit your personal schedule).
  3. Add salt and stiff levain, pinch and fold to incorporate.  Levain will be rubbery & thick, break into pieces to add. 
  4. Correct the hydration up depending on absorption of WW & Rye. Consistency of dough should be medium - neither dry nor overly moist.
  5. 300 French Folds.  Dough will be billowy and smooth, but not wet.
  6. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover.
  7. Bulk ferment for ~ 2 ½ hours with 2 stretch and folds at 40 & 80 minutes followed by 40 minute rest. *My kitchen is a pretty steady 80dF, so a cooler kitchen will need an “appropriate” amount more time to bulk ferment.
  8. Retard for 1 hour (or more – to suit your personal schedule).  Sometimes depending on my personal schedule I’ll retard for as long as 3 hours before the next step.  In general, it just plain doesn’t matter all that much!
  9. Divide, pre-shape and shape.  Onto very lightly floured couche, seam side down.  My couche sits on a smaller jellyroll pan and I cover in an enclosed bag.  I use two plastic bags, one from each end of the pan.
  10. Refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

Day 3

  1. 45 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone.  Place Sylvia’s Steaming Towel(s) into the oven 15 minutes pre-bake.
  2. Score and transfer the loves to the baking stone. Steam the oven pouring ~2 cups of water into a pan of pre-heated lava rocks (or whatever), and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.
  3. After 12-15 minutes, remove the steaming towel(s).  Continue baking for another 12 minutes for baguettes, or as much as 20 minutes or more for batards, or until the loaves are nicely browned (and the internal temperature is at least 205ºF – I never do an temp, as after a very short while you just know!).
  4. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.


ccsdg's picture

After accidentally stretch-and-folding a loaf into near soup, I asked here if it was possible I had overkneaded.  Instead a new term entered my vocabulary: thiols!  However, I've found it near impossible to find out much more about these mysterious and oft-titled "pesky" by-products of unwelcome bacteria.  Google yields very little, and what I can deduce from TFL is incomplete and added to with other mysterious terms I don't understand yet.  It's possible that my case is something completely different, or that thiols aren't what's causing these issues at all.  I thought I would document my experience, as a newbie, for future reference.

The main agreed effect of thiol is said to be the starter and dough turning very sticky and eventually liquefying, at some point after adding starter, and not at all if commercial yeast was added (ie not really a sourdough).  The wonderful Debra Wink's solution for thiol in starter is an intense feeding regime, resulting in a sudden fix about 10 days later.  I recognise that a similar effect and solution present themselves in an overly acidic starter, but rather than "washing out", as for too much acid, for thiols this solution is intended for rapidly re-establishing a wonky starter.  In other words, outpopulating the unwelcome beasties with desirable ones.  The reason is that the starter is not as established as supposed due to destabilising factors (changing hydration, refrigeration, changing flour, etc).  Well, I don't run a bakery, so why not try?

Let me describe my soupy loaf first.  It used about a third levain from a starter revived from the fridge a fortnight ago.

It wasn't soup when I started being concerned - it had achieved an approximate windowpane, but I wanted more, and I didn't think I'd given it that much kneading.  After one more stretch and fold I became concerned as the windowpane started breaking, and sticking to other things rather than itself like a glue or paste rather than a dough ball, a behaviour I vaguely associate with overstretched gluten.

I should have dumped it straight into the pan at that point, but I ignored my gut and shaped it twice.  Bad idea.  By that point it had liquefied further, spreading over the countertop despite being a 65%ish hydration.  I dipped my hands in flour and heaved it quickly into the pan, which it filled.

During its rise, what gluten there was provided little to no resistance, so I could see all the bubbles as they formed and then broke.  It also smelled really unnatural, like new, cheap plastic.  Very unappetising.  I've never smelled food/to-be-food that smelled like that.  Eventually it overproofed, though this was difficult to tell since the surface was full of craters from the start.  Once baked it had lost that plastic smell, replaced by a very complex, still unappetising smell - honestly, it reminded me of old urine.  We composted that one immediately.

On being enlightened by Debra's feeding regime, I proceeded to discard a large amount of the starter.  And then my frugal experimental brain said, why not bake something with it...

The second (mini) loaf behaved similarly in terms of gluten development.  It took barely combining the water, flour, starter and salt properly to achieve what appeared to be a smooth gluten network, so I didn't even attempt stretch and folds.  I bench rested it, minimally shaped it, then put it in a pot to rise.  This was much more successful with no weird smells, apart from craters in the surface and somewhat underproofing it.  It certainly behaved and rose like a 65%ish hydration dough and not an 80%ish one!

Under the same feeding regime, by the next day (today) I had enough starter to make another mini loaf.  This would be the third one with a (possibly) thiol-infused starter.  Once again very fast gluten development coupled with a lot of bench rest and minimal shaping.  It was starting to stick to the floured scraper a little and you may be sure that I got it into the pot as fast as I could at that point.  This time, I tried not to get a particularly stretched outer gluten layer in the shaping, and covered it with a teatowel to allow the surface to dry rather than get craters.  To my surprise the oven produced a very acceptable, well-risen loaf with no hint of gluten problems.

I'm now eating a deliciously crispy-crusted, tender-crumbed, thickly-buttered thick slice of thiol bread and pondering these pesky mysterious unwanted by-products.  Maybe thiols just make an AP flour loaf behave more like a rye or low-gluten wheat flour in mixing and kneading?  Or maybe it's just me, not thiols at all - maybe I've been kneading sourdough wrong, and that first loaf was just catching the starter at the wrong time.  But what was that plastic smell?  Not to mention the old urine.  Or maybe the thiols really were the reason for all those early sourdough flops after all.  My memory is vague at the best of times, and in pregnancy it's a downright sieve.

I'd better finish off this last slice.  Gotta go feed the starter.

Skibum's picture

Oh my! I had to share this recipe!

As a single ski bum, I have been feeding daily on cream cheese, fruit braid and pulla for nearly three weeks now. I have also discovered parts of long ago baked breads in the depths of my freezer. Some still excellent and a couple over time. Time to start baking loaves again and time to feed my starter.

I have baked these cookies a couple of times with great results and this time decided to spike things with a little chipotle powder and some almond. This recipe just called out for some nuts!

Here is the mix:

85g semi sweet chocolate, ( I used 15 g unsweetened and 70g semi)

1Tbs butter

1/4 cuo + 2 Tbs sugar

2Tbs fine ground expresso coffee

1/2 cup flour

1 Tbs cocao pow

1/2 tsp baking pow

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs water

1/2 -1 tsp chipotle powder

Mix all of the above ingredients, then fold in:

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips.

The batter looked lacking, so I added:

1/2 cup slivered almonds

I spooned about 1.5 Tbs onto a baking parchment lined baking sheet, then rounded, flattened and shaped the cookies before baking.

Bake 300F 18 - 20 minutes and allow to cool on baking trays. This is a half version and take off of Giada's recipe and I believe credit where credit is due:

Happy baking! Ski


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