The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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hreik's picture

Abe has helped me so much over the last 10 days.  When I thought my starter was failing he helped me patiently to wait, feed, wait and then held my hand to help me create Forkish's Overnight Country Brown.

I am deeply indebted to him for giving me the confidence to forge ahead and for being by my side (despite a distance of 3400 miles between us)  for my first SD loaf.

Other shots:sideCrumb

Thanks, Abe. You are the BEST! I am so grateful.



Kaipea's picture

This year I've decided I want to be a pro, become a baker. Make pretty and delicious bread that a lot will enjoy.

Last tuesday, I bought called Della Fattoria and baked my first loaf (from the book) a White Sandwich Bread the next day.

Day One:


The recipe yielded to a kilo of dough, not wanting to end up with a lot of bread I halved the recipe.

With 75% hydration bread on an inexperienced hands I struggled in kneading everything was sticking everywhere, 45 min to an hour of kneading, but still couldn't get a good windowpane. Tired, I put down the dough and proceeded with the instructions. I'll just cut the story short, it was bad. I got a dense bread with gummy crumb and no oven spring. Although it did taste nice from the Virgin Olive Oil it was yuck.

Day two:

During the night before I looked for videos in youtube  and scoured the net (and this site) on handling and discovered Richard Betinet's Stretch and Fold technique. He mentioned using strong bread flour in one of the videos, so from using APF as the recipe I decided I'll use Bread flour.

I made two loaves from the same recipe, one from APF and another from BF, using the S&F technique the BF worked wonderful, not as sticky as the other one. Fermented for an hour, preshaped, final shaping, proofing, then I baked the loaves thinking it'll come out good now. :P I was deceived, by the smell, and looks. Sliced it in half, and found a gummy crumb


3 fails in two days was tiring. :P So I found my way in this site's forum.

Day 3:

Thanks to the helpful bunch that helped me! I finally made a yummy white bread! :D


- Use BF than APF

- S&F for 10 - 15 min. until window pane

- Dough is ready for baking when it is taut and responsive

- Bake on the middle rack, using gas oven where heat element is on "top and heat comes from panels on the side" (fattoria pg 16)

- Use Sylvia's steam (I only used one pan with wet towel, microwaved for 1 min) on the bottom,and squirt water on the sides as well (to help)

- Preheat oven at 500F, then bring down to 400F - 450F. Over a baking tray bake for 20 -30 min in pan, 10 min w/o pan.

- Bake till internal temp of bread is 195 to 205°F


jungnickel's picture

Hello everybody,

I open my blog today to enter this wonderful community of passioned bakers with a pure rye sourdough bread I made yesterday from some leftover starters (as time goes by my fridge gets more and more packed with glasses full of old starters because I went on with fresher ones quite frequently). I will cut it open tomorrow to give it enough time in order to create aroma and durability but it already smells malty and dark sweet. I currently live in Amsterdam where its as far as I know impossible to find a bread like this but it reminds me of my home country not to far away where you can find breads like this easily.

73% Hydration

38% Leavening (with a whole grain rye leaven)



a_warming_trend's picture

That's what my closest coworker calls me, and she's probably not wrong. Ever since falling in love with baking bread, I've found myself unconsciously (it really is unconsciously!) seeing the world around me through the lens of bread-creation. I'm not TRYING to glance at the wicker baskets on friends' desks, only drift out of the conversation to imagine how they would make perfect brotforms. I can't walk down the aisles of a hardware store without thinking about how something I see (a blade?) might help me actually score my loaves well, or something (a particular pan?) might help me create steam in my terrible apartment oven.

So I found myself at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day, searching for a gift for a friend. (As a sidenote: That store is overwhelming and slightly disconcerting.) Anyway, I fixated on one particular huge, inexpensive turkey roaster. A large, curved metal object with a handle! I've been using combo cookers and dutch ovens for all of my breads (and I've been intrigued by the lava rock cast iron pan approach), but I couldn't help but ponder how this metal dome could work when placed over a baking stone. 

I've tried it a few times this week, and I'm pretty excited. The boules are similar to those I've baked in dutch ovens or combo cookers, but the batards...these are the first real ears I've ever achieved on batards (which I am still flailing about trying to shape, honestly). they're modest ears, but they're ears, so I'll take them!

1) Rosemary & Parmesan

2) Cranberry-Pecan with 50% Sprouted Whole Wheat

I'm not sure there's a cure for Bread Brain. But I think I'm okay with that. 


jeano's picture

So, I threw in an unweighed glob of soaked flax seed in addition to the toasted sesame the recipe calls for. I had intended to mix the dough last evening, bulk ferment for a couple of hours and then cold proof the loaf (another ginormous boule) at bedtime, and bake in the caldera this morning. Except I completely forgot my patiently waiting levain until bedtime rolled around.

Oops. I weighed flours, guessed at how much less water to use with the flax glop, flang it all in the Bosch, mixed like hell for a few minutes, scraped it out into a big bowl and chucked it into the fridge for a nice long cold bulk ferment.

This morning I shaped the boule, let it warm up for an hour or so in the oven with the light on, then let it finish proving before baking a la Forkish.

Tastes fabulous, should go good with red beans and rice and a kale salad.




Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

I was planning on a bake free day. But early in the morning I was asked if I could come up with loaf of bread.

I knew I had about 250 grams of whole wheat flour so that was my starting point. I let the whole thing ferment most of the day and just about time to bake and I was called away. So I threw it in the fridge overnight. Next day I wasn't around to pull it out when I had hoped, but pulled it out late turned it into a loaf and baked. It worked.

71% hydration

Rye Starter100
bread flour400
jimcornwall's picture

Baked French bread and came out great except the crust just wasn't crunchy enough.

The oven was set at 425 F .  25 to 30 minutes

Pizza stone and baguette pan used.

I had a small amount of water in a pie pan at the bottom of the oven.

The oven was preheated and the temperature checked.


Any Advice would be appreciated

Thank You





Kaipea's picture

Bread Flour100%1000g300g
Shortening (butter / Margarine)5%50g15g
Milk Powder5%50g15g
(30g/ 64pcs)
(30 g/ 18pcs)
 Filling for Spanish Bread: 1/2 cup butter1 cup Brown Sugar1 cup Bread Crumbs Notes: - Knead till dough feels tacky, windowpane should show less "veins", at least 10 - 15 minutes kneading with 2 minute rest. - Bulk Fermentation 1 hour  - Dough is ready when it feels taut and leave small impression - Scale, and Preshape into small balls, Rest for 30 min or until it doubles in size   -With a rolling pin flatten the dough into a rectangle - at least cover the middle of dough with a lot of filling, then Roll. - Cover the dough with Bread Crumbs  - Ferment: 1 hour - Bake at 365 f for 20 minutes or until golden brown, Rotate pan.   - The bread is soft and slightly sweet  - Filling wasn't enough so I added a lot more above -Don't use dark trays
Hippytea's picture

As a moderately experienced baker with instant yeast, but an utter beginner at sourdough, my experiments so far extend only to this. If you’re a person who thinks it’s simply not worth baking with sourdough unless you’re going to do a long ferment, slap and fold, and aim for a beautiful free-form artisan loaf, look away now:

200g starter (100% hydration, before feeding)

400g strong white flour

275g water

5g salt

Combine, stand for 30min. Knead, 10min by hand or 5min in mixer (speed 1). Shape and place in greased loaf pan. Let rise 3-4 hours, until not quite doubled. Score or snip with scissors, place in cold oven with 1 cup cold water in pan on bottom, set to max, bake 30min. Remove from pan, return to oven, reduce temp to 180C, bake until it knocks hollow on the bottom (10-20min).

As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a hacked-about version of James Morton’s basic sourdough recipe. It amounts, if you do the maths, to a basic lean white loaf at 75% hydration, with quite a high starter content.

“But,” I hear you cry, “you can’t produce proper sourdough without the proper fermentation times/slap and tickle/whatever!” No doubt you’re right – but I did warn you to look away!

The thing is, this recipe is not intended to produce an optimum loaf. What it’s intended to do is let me, as an utter sourdough beginner, produce consistently edible bread within an easy timescale, while slowly learning how the starter affects the handling of the dough, how it rises, and so on. I’m someone who gets hugely discouraged if I produce a bad loaf; to keep my motivation I need most of my experiments to produce something which can be buttered and consumed. So far the butterability strike rate is 100%.

So far I’m intrigued, puzzled, and enchanted. It’s been a long time since I felt this far in-over-my-head while baking. I don’t know where to start with handling this dough. It’s very wet, and very weak. It seems to lose cohesion very quickly, as if it were over-kneaded, but 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much. I can handle it – just – and shape it, but it doesn’t feel strong at all, and it puddles out as it rises. I have only tried adding a bulk ferment once – it survived, but I worry in general that it might just suddenly lose structure.

Perhaps it’s just the hydration – 75% doesn’t seem that extreme (I’ve made quite a few loaves at that hydration with instant yeast – I’m a high hydration fan) but it just doesn’t seem to be holding up. Maybe my starter is wetter than I think, though I do weigh in the feedings. Or maybe it’s just that I live in a damp old house in a damp corner of the damp and soggy West of Scotland, so my flour is already saturated. Whatever the cause, I think I need to back off on the hydration and see if that helps.

I’m studying with my brain as well as my hands, but however many threads, blogs etc. I read, I can’t quite get a handle on all the many, many parameters involved.  Acidity, proteolysis, acetone smells, inoculation, preferments, builds, and on and on and on. This is going to take a lot of time.

In the meantime, here’s today’s loaf. Two challenges for the sourdough to tackle today:

-          #1, it was ABSOLUTELY BALTIC FREEZING in my house, so this thing took about seven hours to double.

-          #2, I have cracked a nail into the quick.

What does #2 have to do with baking? I hear you say. Only that I have it strapped up with surgical tape, and jamming a thumb covered in surgical tape into bread dough grosses me out. I can’t take the tape off or the dough will get trapped in the cracked nail, which grosses me out even more. CSI gloves are the only possible solution, but I don’t have any.

So, long story short, I couldn’t knead today, nor shape. The mixer took care of the kneading, but its shaping skills are dismal (it promised it would practice, but I don’t think it can be bothered. Lazy kitchen robot). In the end, I gave up and just poured the wet, weak, unshaped dough (batter?) into the pan.

Sesame puddleshiny brick

Have you ever wondered what the results would be if you just didn’t bother to shape a high-hydration dough at all? Behold. Pre-rising: a sesame-coated puddle. Post-baking: an unnaturally shiny, pointy-cornered loaf. It’s not heavy – it’s risen pretty well. I’ll be interested to see what the crumb is like, but it hasn’t quite cooled yet. An update will follow.

I know my path to sourdough wisdom is a slightly odd one, but it’s working for me. Perhaps it will help someone else. At the very least my flailings might be funny to watch. As for me, as long as I can spread butter on the results, I’m happy enough.


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