The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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ExperimentalBaker's picture


Bagels ended very dark due to too much roasted barley malt flour. I added 10g for the 300g bread flour (for 4 bagels).

Process is from

Because of their color, they really look like s*** when I pre-shape them into 10 inch rolls. :)


Updated post with crumb shot:





Simon280586's picture

I've been sticking to a couple of formulas recently, to practice and attempt to improve my baking while keeping most variables the same. I decided on the Tartine country loaf as one, because I wanted to have a substantial sourdough boule in my repertoire, as well as Txfarmer's practice baguette, because being able to make a simple yeasted baguette was my goal when I started baking (after having first gotten into pizza - incidentally my pizzas have gotten much better as I've learnt more about bread and dough). I've made baguettes and Tartine bread before, but I wanted to go back to basics for a while, and focus my efforts.


My first bake was the baguettes - Txfarmer's beautiful loaves and excellent outline of the process inspired me. I followed her instructions very closely, though I extended bulk fermentation a little because the dough hadn't risen quite as much as I wanted. I tried her folding method, but in the end decided I preferred folding in the bowl.


When shaping, I decided to try to degas as little as possible and handle the dough very gently. It was quite sticky and very slack, to the point where I had to be careful not to let them extend too much (and end up longer than my baking stone). Next time I may reduce the hydration or develop the gluten more. But I got the job done.


Since there were 4 baguettes, I baked two at a time. I decided not to proof the first batch at all, because they already felt delicate and full of air, and because it was an interesting experiment. They didn't turn out badly:

The second batch proofed about 45 minutes, and also turned out well:

The second batch did have a darker crust and slightly better oven spring, but I'm not sure how much of that is down to the oven (which is a bit unreliable when baking without the fan and with steam). In any case, I was really just interested in the crumb for this first bake. And I was quite pleased with it, though there's certainly room for improvement. Keeping my oven evenly hot and maintaining the appropriate amount of steam is a bit tricky, which is why I prefer Dutch oven baking. Less variables to consider.


Then I starter baking some of the Tartine bread, in batches of two boules. First attempt, I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter. One loaf was baked straight away, the other proofed in the fridge overnight. The flavour of these was good, with a nice mild acidity. Primarily though I want to get the texture of the crust and crumb suited to my liking, and if necessary tweak the flavour later when I'm more comfortable with the process. First loaf turned out well:



Overnight loaf got a bit stuck to the banneton and ended up lopsided, as you can tell from the pattern. I think it may have been slightly underproofed.


A few days later, I made a new batch, again following the formula closely but looking to get more practice at shaping and proofing in particular. First loaf looked beautiful with a nice crust, and not a bad crumb either:

In some parts of the loaf there were some excessively large caverns in the crumb. I often get these towards the sides of my boules, not just with this particular formula, so there must be some defect in my shaping. What often happens is the middle of the loaf in relatively dense and even, while the outer edges are full of big air pockets and stretched-to-breaking-point gluten strands. I note that at no point during shaping does Chad Robertson advise to degas the dough - quite the opposite in fact.

I allowed the overnight loaf to proof at room temp for 45 min or so before retarding, due to the previous one seemingly being underproofed, but this one was perhaps worse. I think the fridge I use is just too cold for this purpose - an infrared thermometer told me the dough was about 6-7c. It looked barely different from when I put it in the night before. Also noticeable on both this and the previous overnight loaf is that the colours of the crust have a less vibrant contrast compared to the straight-baked loaves. The crumb was noticeably denser, though not terrible.

Most recently, I baked a third batch of Tartine bread. However, I decided to do a little experiment by using the slap and fold technique to develop the gluten more thoroughly before the bulk ferment. I was curious whether this would lead to a stronger gluten network better able to hold onto the cell structure of the dough for a nice open and irregular crumb. The dough was quite rough and sticky, but I worked it for maybe 7-10 minutes until the surface started to look somewhat smooth rather than a shaggy mess. I then proceeded as usual. It may have been a fluke, but I ended up with a gorgeous crumb. I think I proofed it for about 2 hours rather than 3-4 as per the formula, because the poke test resulted in indentations that bounced slowly back about halfway.

That is pretty much my ideal crumb - open and irregular but no huge caverns. Lots of small but distinct air cells in between medium-sized holes. Some parts of the bread still had some big gaps with torn gluten strands, but hopefully I can work towards eliminating these in future:

For the overnight loaf, I reduced the fridge setting so it was slightly warmer, about 9c. The loaf turned out quite well - it was better risen by morning, though the crumb was a little less open than the straight loaf. But it was still light and airy, with just the right amount of chewiness. Crust colours were better too, I think.

No big gaps, which is interesting because I shaped both loaves in the same way. Not sure what to conclude from this. It tasted good for sure.

That's all for now, though I plan to continue with these breads for a while. I wish uploading pictures was easier, doing all those one at a time is a bit of a chore. But it's nice to have some evidence of progress to look back on.


Happy baking everyone.


varda's picture

The last few weeks have been a blur of baking, as I have started selling at a new market which has a BIG appetite for bread.   The Waltham market has been around for 24 years and has a very large and loyal set of customers.  

This Saturday was our third week.    I say "our" as my daughter has gotten the market bug and has come to sell with me every week in Cambridge and now Waltham.   


Here she's selling three deep and probably cursing me for standing behind taking pictures instead of helping out.

This week I tried to take some pictures before the crowds descended as by the time I got to it last week, half of the bread was gone already.

Cranberry and Sunflower Multigrain Levain

Cardamom buns, challah rolls, bagels and baguettes

Durum Levain and Hamelman's Country Loaves

Rye, Rye, and Rye

There are many great vendors, and I wish I had more (any) time to do a bit of shopping.   This week I traded a challah for some local strawberries from this stand.

In the middle of a frenzy of baking getting ready for the Saturday market and trying to squeeze more and more from my trusty Assistent, I got a visitation from an alien lifeform, who took pity on me and came to help  me mix dough.

These 6 loaves worth of cranberry dough are just a drop in the bucket for my new friend Molly.

Her bowl alone is as big as the Assistent altogether.  

And finally, a fresh loafer asked me about Tzitzel Rye of St. Louis fame, and reminded me that I hadn't made it in awhile.   So I made some for the second Waltham market, but didn't quite get to take any pictures in time.   I have been fiddling on this formula for a couple years now.   Here is the current version:

Final build 80% rye sour18:009:00 PM  
Mix all  0:103:00 PM  
BF 1.5 hour  1:153:10 PM  
Shape, coat with cornmeal 0:154:25 PM  
Proof  1:004:40 PM  
Preheat 500, steam 1 min, off 6 min0:455:40 PM  
Bake at 425 for 20 minutes 6:25 PM  
Hi Gluten275219770%   
Whole Rye0030%   
Caraway11873% (just reduced this to 2%)
Rye Sour211168530%   
Corn meal      
Total Dough6995591    
Total Flour392     


jkandell's picture

A great bread from Hamelman lost in the shuffle, because it's not sourdough and doesn't have huge holes.

But a bread worth highlighting!  

I won't post the formula since it's in the book, but it's a straight-forward 80% hydration, 20% pre-fermented flour, 20% rye chops, 20% toasted sunflower seeds, 1.5% malt syrup.

The toasted sunflower seeds' odor and flavor permeate the loaf. It's chock full of them inside and out. You definitely want to toast the seeds on this one. The hot-soaked rye is a great texture-flavor contrast, The small amount of malt gives a subtle sweetness in the background. (This "trio" is a great combination I'm going to remember.)  Hamelman has a sourdough version of this bread too--but to be honest because of the dominance of the seeds and rye, you don't really need extra sour flavors here. The more mellow pâte fermentée is a better partner.

(The only change in my loaf: from the book I ground the rye in coffee grinder, with a hot soaker, so it's a mix of everything from chops down to pumpernickel texture.)




emkay's picture

Baking naturally leavened bread requires a bit more planning on my part now since I've been storing my starter in the refrigerator. My cold starter likes to wake up by being fed at least twice over 24 hours before being used to build a levain. Sometimes I will feed it only once, then do a three stage levain build (using dabrownman's build ratios and schedule). Either way, I have to plan to refresh my starter, build the levain, and make the dough. Even though there is very little active hands-on time, it still takes a minimum of 36 hours from cold starter to hot bread.

So what's a gal to do when there's no more homemade bread in the freezer and she wants fresh bread fast? The answer is commercial bakers' yeast which, in my case, is instant dry yeast. I am not a fan of lean breads made with bakers' yeast. Even the long cold retarded ones lack the flavor, texture and character of those naturally leavened. But I do like enriched breads made with bakers' yeast. So I usually go with enriched when I want bread fast. [Since we're talking about homemade bread, fast is a relative term.]

I made the softest and fluffiest enriched bread a couple nights ago using Floyd's Hokkaido milk bread with tangzhong recipe found here. The only change I made was to decrease the sugar. I won't go into detail about the tangzhong method (aka water roux) since it's well documented on TFL, but I will say that it makes a difference in the bread's keeping quality. Today is day 3 and the bread is still soft and moist. I'm sure the butter, milk, sugar and eggs helped too, but I want to believe that tangzhong is magic.





One last thing...

This loaf is the opposite of what a German knight in the 1500s would have. Even if he did have something like this, it's so soft and fluffy that he would crush it with his iron hand.

:) Mary

golgi70's picture

Well the great produce is really kickin into gear and the amazing fruit is just starting to show.  I opted to go with the Sunflower Sour Rye I made and make a few changes.  I reduced the Sunflower Seeds to 15% and added a Rolled Rye Soaker (10% rolled rye soaked in 150% it's weight of water the night before).  The rest remained the same but a very different loaf indeed.  With 22% prefermented flour, all of which is fresh milled whole rye, this dough was gonna move quick.  

For Tuesday I finally used the Organic Non-GMO Calimyrna figs for my Fig n Fennel loaf.  Formula is the same as with different figs and some Oregon grown hard white wheat.  It's hard not to love this loaf.  I was smart this time and sliced up one and stashed in the freezer for toast treats til the next time.  

And with all the stems from the figs I made my own yogurt culture.  I've been making yogurt for a few weeks now and I can't express how easy it is.  And this has made it so I can produce 1/2 gallon of yogurt a week with local organic milk for less than $3.  After a few tries I got curious and wanted to make my own starter.  I dug around and found the most common answers to be fig stems, chili pepper stems, and ants.  I had the fig stems so no need to gather the ants just yet.  Basically you just inoculate your milk with one of these and treat just like yogurt.  You do need to do it a few times to build up the culture and remove off flavors from stems/ants.  I've done two builds successfully and it smells like good yogurt so my next full batch will be "au natural".  Then I'll find some ants just to see.




Pluots, cucumbers, local honey, local tuna, zucchini, broccoli, Walla Walla Onions, fennel, asparagus, mustard greens, wasabi arugula, and some fresh eggs came later in the day. 




ExperimentalBaker's picture

Based on

I included the 7% wheat germ. Hydration stayed as 75% instead of the 82%.

I used water that was used to sprout my wheat berries.

Couldn't shape the dough well because it's just sticking to my ikea kneading board.

Did 8 stretch and fold. I can lift the dough out of my stainless steel bowl without the dough sticking to the bowl, so I presume the gluten is developed.

Very low profile bread with irregular holes. Translucent crumb.

Need to practise more on shaping high hydration dough.

Baked it in a cold oven, using a la cloche. 240C for the first 40 mins (oven took 15 mins to reach 240C). Uncovered and lowered temperature to 230C for another 15 mins.

isand66's picture

 I love challenge bakes and thanks to Karin from Brot and Bread and TFL we had plenty of fun with this one.  I won't repeat the background of this famous German Knight, but I will tell you that my apprentices Max and Lexi as well as Mookie were more inclined to bake a bread fit for the Black Knight who tried preventing King Arthur from continuing his quest for the Holy Grail.  I had to explain to them that unfortunately the Black Knight would have had much difficulty eating this bread having no appendages left to use.


Alas, either way I believe my third attempt at this hearty multi-grain porridge bread was well worth it and certainly worthy of a Knight with one hand or even no hands!

I used an Organic Six Grain Flake mixture from King Arthur Flour and added plenty of ancient grains and some potatoes for moisture as well.

My first 2 attempts at a similar bread were not worthy of a knight nor a knave as they both ended up looking like flying saucers for several reasons including accidentally adding too much water to the starter.  In any event the third and final version came out great and is a tasty and hearty bread with a thick crust and creamy crumb.


Iron-Hand Knight's Bread Challenge (%)

Iron-Hand Knight's Bread Challenge (weights)


Here are the Zip files for the above BreadStorm files.

Levain Directions

I built the Levain up in two stages starting with my 66% Hydration AP starter.  You can adjust accordingly depending on your starter.

Levain Build 1

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.

Levain Build 2

Add the water, AP and Kamut flour to your Build 1 Levain and mix thoroughly until incorporated.  Cover and let rise until doubled which should take around 5-6 hours at room temperature.  You can now use this immediately in the main dough or refrigerate for 1-2 days before using.

Oat Porridge Directions

Add about 3/4's of the milk called for in the porridge to the dry ingredients in a small pot set to low and stir constantly until all the milk is absorbed.  Add the remainder of the milk and keep stirring until you have a nice creamy and soft porridge.  Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature before adding to the dough.  I put mine in the refrigerator and let it cool quicker.


 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours  and the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, cooled porridge and salt and mix on low for 1 minute and then add the potatoes and honey.  Mix on speed #2 for another 5 minutes.   You should end up with a cohesive dough that is tacky but  manageable.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).  Note: this is a pretty wet dough so you may need to do a couple of additional stretch and folds.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.  (Note: since I made a large Miche I lowered the temperature after around 35 minutes to 425 degrees so the crust wouldn't burn).

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.


The Cone Flowers are Starting to favorites




ExperimentalBaker's picture


After watching British Bake Off on cable, have to try it.

Added herbs infused olive oil instead of normal olive oil.


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