The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


-'_-''s picture

Beginner reporting in. I've been baking for a month now and I work with whole grains. Ideally, I'd like to see a sourdough whole wheat bread with a killer rise -- this (what you see above) is as close as I've gotten.

I feel like I'm getting a sense for techniques which work and those that don't. What is clear to me is that bread handling and timing are crucial, and that (for example) what kind of flour or baking device one uses is less important. For one bread I'll do most of the work in two stainless steel bowls. A banneton and dutch oven are not essential but do appear to improve the appearance of the bread.

Ingredients: weight (baker's %)

  • Wholemeal (white whole wheat) flour: 500g (100%)
  • Water: 410g (80%)
  • Starter (100% hydration): 75g (15%)
  • Salt: 12g (2%)


  1. 4 hour autolyse (salt, water, flour)
  2. Bulk ferment 7-8 hours, with occasional, gentle stretches and folds every 1-2 hours
  3. Proof in fridge in rice-floured banneton, wrapped in plastic bag
  4. Slashed and baked at 450F in dutch oven for 20 minutes with lid on, then 45 minutes with lid off


  • Shaping the dough extra tightly helped the dough maintain its shape in the banneton. I think this contributed to the good overall shape of the baked bread
  • Oven and dutch oven were both preheated, though it is not clear whether this is necessary in general
  • Bread was "flipped" from banneton into dutch oven, with success
  • The fact that the dough was cold may have made it easier to make clean slashes
  • I realize it is controversial to autolyse with salt. I would like to repeat this recipe with and without salt in the autolyse and compare

Danni3ll3's picture

My bread baking over the Easter weekend was a disaster! I baked the loaves I was making too soon; I panicked when I saw how quickly they were rising in the fridge so I baked them that evening instead of waiting till the next morning. They didn't have great oven spring at all.

Then I was making cornmeal buns for dinner and I managed to burn the bottoms of all of them. My daughter came to the rescue and made Prospector Buns which were awesome!

So I did another bake yesterday morning because I had promised my daughter that I would make more bread for one of her friends. That turned out to be a bit of a panic during the baking because my brother called me in to work for him at the last minute (Twit had a stroke and went to work anyhow. By the way, he got lucky and has no deficits aside from his left peripheral vision and he got diagnosed with atrial fibrillation), So hubby got instructions on how to finish my bake. Loaves are beautiful and I am very happy with them. 

So I am back at work full time for likely a month or more. I need to get my brain back into school mode. Ha ha!

So here is the recipe... nothing too complicated this time!

1. Soak 150 g of Daybreak Mill 12 grain cereal in 200 g of boiling water. Cool and add 40 g organic yogurt. 

2. Autolyse all above with 550 unbleached flour, 402 g multigrain flour and 525 g water for a couple of hours. 

3. Mix in 22 g salt and 266 g of levain. I think my levain was closer to 90% hydration. It was leftover levain from my weekend bake that I had thrown in the fridge so it had been retarded there for a couple of days. 

4. Do four series of folds 30 minutes apart and then let rise till double. 

5. Divide into three ~700 g loaves, preshape and rest 15 minutes. Do final shape (I really degas my dough) and place in bannetons. 

6. Proof in fridge overnight and bake as usual the next morning. (You can check my other recent loaves for baking instructions if needed)

I am very pleased with these loaves. They look like Danni bread, not like those flat alien things that came out of my oven on the weekend! ;-)

Cooper's picture

Well, Passover is over, and leavened bread is back, with the vengeance. :-) Today's creation: sourdough multi-grain bread with seeds. I wish Internet had the ability to transmit the emotion which crunchy crust elicits whole one tastes a slice with good salted Irish butter. 

I started with same sourdough recipe I blogged before, which works well for me.  The only modifications were: I upped the percentage of whole wheat flour a bit, and also added about 1/2% of water because I figured that all the seeds would need it. The seeds included chia, which I understand likes absorbing water, so I could probably easily go with the whole extra 1% of water.  I'll try it next time.

For the seeds mix I used some arbitrary amounts of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax, chia, white sesame, and rolled oats.  I toasted everything lightly on a dry pan, and let them cool completely before adding into the dough after autolyse phase, together with salt and remaining water.  The total amount of seeds weighed after toasting was 88g.

I also sprinkled some oats inside the banneton before I put the dough inside, and a bit more along the sides of the dough ball, between it and the walls of the banneton.  The advantage turned out to be dual: I got oats stuck to the surface of my bread and baking perfectly crunchy, which is what I wanted.  Those same oats also kept the dough completely from sticking to the form, so it practically fell out on its own while I was inverting the form on the cooking sheet. 

Levain (100% hydration) - 50g starter, 50g warm water, 50g  KA WW flour, mixed in the morning and put in warm place.
Water - 295g + 20g more to dissolve salt
Flour - 400g Wegmans AP unbleached (I didn't have any BF on hand) + 50g  KA WW 
Salt - 10g
Flour total 450+75 (from levain) =525g
Water total 315+75 (from levain) =390g 

Baker's math:
AP flour - 81%
WW flour - 19%
Water - 74%
Salt - 1.9%
Various seeds - 1.7%


BreadBabies's picture

I recently posted looking for ideas on solving my problem of not having a solid surface counter top. This is not normally an issue except when working with high hydration doughs. Then, it's such a big issue that I find it very difficult to make a decent loaf.

What didn't work:

A pastry mat: I have a pastry mat but it can get damaged by the corners of the bench knife and since it's not on a solid surface to begin with, it tends to slide around. Also, they're difficult to clean.

Plastic cutting board: Big disaster. They are a bit porous (especially after being used and getting some knife cuts)  and not large enough to accommodate my dough.

Butcher block: If you've got $100+ to throw at a butcher block large enough to accommodate dough, then you probably have a solid surface counter top to begin with. Since I'm short and they are high, they also make the work space a little too tall for me.

What did work:

I went to my local granite store (like a indie shop that specializes in counter tops, not a big box store). I purchased a leftover cut piece 20 x 26" for $20. That's less than I paid for the pastry mat on Amazon. Now all is right with the world. Exhale.....

IceDemeter's picture

In amongst the rush and action of helping friends during calving season, there is also a fair bit of time spent wandering the fields for various chores, and time available for thinking while wandering...

I've been quite taken (obsessed) with this whole new-to-me discovery of making bread, and have been following blogs and postings by so many here of their fabulous and tempting looking bakes.  These temptations have been quite easily leading me away from my sort-of-planned path of learning to make a basic "daily" loaf that is a high proportion of whole grains and has a strong flavour profile, as well as play with some 100% whole grain rye or wheat or even a very occasional enriched bread as a snack or treat.  The most important considerations were to be flavour and utility (a heavy sandwich bread for a sandwich week, for instance), with room for experimentation and increase in skills.  We can only eat so much bread, and there is only so much room in the freezer, so too many deviations from my "path" are just not a good choice.

With that in mind, I still was quite taken with the whole Pane di Altamura concept --- especially after seeing some of the past results from dmsnyder, breadforfun, alfanso, and others, which I went looking for after seeing the current incarnations by Lechem and now pmitc34947.  Lechem  kindly shared the details of what specific flour to look for, and even though it is a "white" flour (well - yellow - but just the endosperm with no bran or germ) - and that isn't something that I generally like or look for - I started checking into it.  Well - then I started reading that the flavour really wasn't much (Lechem mentioned "cold pasta" on one of his earlier versions).  That didn't sound very appetizing (I'm not a big pasta fan), and the notes that it is supposed to be incredible with olive oil  didn't help much since that isn't up there in my favourite flavours either. 

A sane and reasonable person would have discarded the idea of trying to make a bread that is difficult to execute, uses an expensive and not easily found flour (here, anyways), and apparently has a flavour profile and usage that is not on their preference list.  I am obviously neither sane nor reasonable, so came up with an idiotic compromise idea that I'd pick up some local whole durum berries (those are easy to get) and do a whole-grain loaf to see if I actually liked it enough to go in search of the not-so-readily-available and far more expensive correct flour.  I spent a few days getting a durum starter going, and with Lechem's formula in hand, I took one of my baking days last week to try it with freshly ground whole durum.  Yes - I know that everything about whole grain is going to work differently than the semola, but it seemed like a reasonable starting point.  Well - by this point I was really questioning why I was even doing this.  I was almost resenting the time put in, and was NOT a happy baker.  Everything about the dough just felt wrong from the start, and I just couldn't get my head around what needed to be done to make it work and feel better --- so I just followed the formula and hoped for the best:

The crust looked okay, but it felt heavy and took forever to hit temperature, so it was obviously under-fermented, as proven by the dense and heavy crumb with the more open holes around the perimeter:

It had a surprisingly good mouth-feel, but the flavour was really, really, really - meh.  Not bad, but certainly not something that I'd go out of my way to look for.

The day wasn't a total waste, fortunately, since I still had some pizza dough left over from the previous week (that I'd been tempted to try from a post by inumeridiieri), and it turned out that an extra 4 days fermenting in the fridge with a longer par bake was just what it needed to become one of the first pizzas that I have ever really liked:

The next day I got back to basics with a 60% whole grain "daily" loaf with 40% rye --- and I really enjoyed playing with the mix.  This was my first loaf with tang zhong, then I started the final dough mix at 75% hydration, and kept adding water as I kneaded it (just to see how it would feel), and finished the mix at 83%.  I was looking for a hearty loaf that would stand up to a ham and sauerkraut sandwich made at 6:00 a.m. and not eaten until 8:00 p.m. and that is exactly what I got:

My different attitudes to the two bakes showed me that I need to get back to my original priorities and focus on creating loaves for a flavour that we love.  I still had that durum loaf to get through (I didn't even like it enough to want to save it for altus), and then... well - I thought about me not really liking pizza and then having the pleasant discovery that the right recipe was something that I now enjoyed.  Then, I recalled that inumeridiieri had commented on one of Lechem's posts with a photo of a fresh tomato and olive oil bruschetta. 

So - I got home and hacked off a couple of slices of that durum bread, toasted it heavily, and mixed up some tomatoes and onions and garlic and olive oil and ...

Who'd a thunk it?  It's actually really darned good!  I've had it for lunch for the past couple of days, and enjoyed it so much that I'm planning on another 100% whole grain durum for this week.  I'll be doing a different timing and a higher hydration, but will go with how it feels and see if I can't come up with a really serviceable loaf with a flavour that I'll enjoy.

I doubt that I'll be chasing down the proper flour any time soon (but won't rule it out entirely), but am glad to have my obsession reined in for a bit and get back to enjoying producing what the more practical side of me wants.  There will still be some playing (I'm still dithering on a tang zhong with my other loaf this week - or a toasted oat / oat bran / wheat germ porridge).  I'm even more glad that I kept an open mind about what I do or don't like - and gave the bread another try following suggestions from the wonderful experienced folk who post on here...

Many thanks, and keep baking happy!

FrugalBaker's picture

Hello, everyone! It's been ages since I posted something. Nothing much or new happening (in terms of baking) lately except that I am still learning to bake a lot and experimenting some recipes. I have had some fair share of success on baking my sourdough bread and pastries too of late. Though, the fact of not being able to make a decent looking piece of Baguette disturbs me a great deal. A recent trip back to France really encouraged me to pick up from where I left and started to think of what I could do to make things better, despite having a very small home oven without any steam injection, no baking stone or a piece of good quality baking pan here, sigh!

So alright, a normal person would have given up at this point but I have this obsession of really wanting to get things done till like well, am happy with it and once again, did the best that I could. The following are the details and I hope someone could provide some pointers for me to improve on...


I started off with a very simple recipe.

Note : Average room temperature is 29-31dc and humidity is around 90% here.


  • Flour (type 550) - 100%
  • Water (Iced-cold as my room temp is around 29dc) - 60%
  • Instant Yeast - 2%
  • Salt - 1%
  1. All ingredients are mixed by hand and formed into a ball. No further kneading. 
  2. Dough temp is at 26 dc at this point.
  3. 1st S&F after 40 mins. Dough temp is 26dc.
  4. 2nd S&F at 40 mins interval. Dough temp is 27dc.
  5. 3rd S&F at 40 mins interval. Dough temp is at 29dc almost.
  6. Divide and pre-shape dough.
  7. Bench rest - 10 mins
  8. Shaping
  9. Final proving for 30 mins.

I made a total of 2 loaves but the first did not turn out great as It was over-proofed, yike!  

The one in the pic is actually the 2nd loaf which I think is ok but still, have plenty of room for improvement. This loaf was retarded in the fridge while waiting for the 1st to come out from the oven. Not to mention scoring a piece of cold dough is way easier than a room-temp dough.

My verdict : 

  • The crust isn't too bad since I tried my best to introduce steam during the initial stage of baking. 
  • Flavour can be improved by retarding the dough overnight in the fridge after all the S&F session.
  • or place the dough in the fridge during final proofing till its ready for the oven.
  • Stretch and fold intervals could be shortened to 30 mins.

Either way, it is for me to find out what works the best with my tiny oven and busy schedule. I would definitely appreciate some pointers, or even some constructive criticism for as long as I can be a better baker : ) Happy Baking everyone!






Flour.ish.en's picture

Happy Easter! I baked this Neapolitan Easter bread (Casatiello), published in the New York Times by Yotam Ottolenghi. Basically, it is a yeast bread dough wrapped up with meats, cheeses, herbs and eggs fillings, for the break fast picnic eaten the day after Easter. It was a fun bake since whatever leftovers you had on hand, you can roll them up tightly, like a cinnamon roll. It's easily adaptable to accommodate any filling ingredients. And you won't be getting your fingers all sticky and gooey. There is no glaze on the bread. Just a yummy savory bread packed with all the Easter leftovers.

I substituted sprouted wheat flour for all the bread flour in the recipe. (I loaded up when I saw the new King Arthur Flour sprouted flour on sale in the local store.) It was a risky move for me since I've never used 100% sprouted wheat flour in any bread before. But I did gain confidence after I baked Peter Reinhart's sprouted struan bread (87% in sprouted wheat and the rest in corn and rice flour) a few weeks ago. I found the recipe in his latest book, Bread Revolution. Struan bread (not the spouted one) was Reinhart's signature loaf and his top-selling bread at Brother Juniper's Bakery. He put in a struan bread recipe in every one of his books.

The sprouted struan bread was outrageously tender and delicious, more than I'd expected. I'm now firmly in the camp of using more sprouted flours in my bread going forward -- in view of its easily digestible benefits.

I added a small amount of sourdough starter in the dough, if not for anything else, just to give the bread another layer of flavor. It's a game changer using sprouted flours. No preferments of any kind, no need for high level of hydration and long and extended fermentation, or the addition of high-gluten flour (bread or all-purpose flour) to achieve the desirable crumb texture. I was floored by how using the sprouted flours alone has changed the usual process of making breads.

I'm sure there are ways to make the sprouted bread even better, or I hate to say it, to be more like white bread and its light and open-crumb texture. Similar to the look and feel of the Vermont sourdough bread I bake regularly? Is it possible?

What have been your experiences in baking breads using high percentage (90-100%) of sprouted flour (not the sprouted pulp)? With increasing availability of sprouted flours and lower prices, I can see shifting to use more of them and less of the all-purpose or bread flour varieties. Any thoughts?

For details and recipes of the two breads, please go to: and


rudirednose's picture

Hi all!

I saw this Bread from Ian "isand66" and could not resist to bake it!


The loaf (Ian's design is better ;-))


The crumb ...


... in detail.

I scaled down the formula to 500 g total flour and so all ingredients. Made on my baking steel in convection mode.

It is a great bread, beautifull flavor, nice crust!

Thank you, Ian!




isand66's picture

   Spring is finally here so it was time to make some rolls to use for grilled burgers.  I used a mix of fresh milled spelt and whole wheat along with some KAF bread flour.

I wanted to see if I could get some maple flavor in these so I added a dark 100% maple syrup in the levain and in the main dough.  Well, that achieved nothing except making the levain triple in size from the natural sugars in the syrup.  It did add a nice sweetness to the rolls but not enough to be over the top.

The Greek Yogurt and eggs along with the rolled oats made these rolls nice and moist and tasty.  They worked perfectly as hamburger buns and also tasted great with the grilled lemon chicken and fresh mozzarella I had for dinner last night.


Download the BreadStorm formula here.


Levain Directions

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 usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, yogurt, rolled oats and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  After 30 minutes or so  add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), eggs and maple syrup and mix on low for 5 minutes.    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.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1 hour.  Remove the dough and shape into rolls around 125 -130 grams each.  Cover the rolls with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap Sprayed with cooking spray and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 500 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, apply an egg wash if desired and sprinkle on your toppings.  Next add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 425 degrees.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the rolls are nice and brown.

Take the rolls out of the oven when done and let them cool on a bakers rack for as long as you can resist.


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