The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Janetcook's picture


My latest baking obsession challenge has been with what I label as the dense Northern European type of loaves.  The kind of loaves that are tall, moist and that last for ages without drying out.  I do not mean to offend any Northern Europeans by labeling all of their breads as this type of loaf but I know not how else to describe, in words, how they differ from the other types of breads that I bake.  All the formulas I have thus run across are from Russia, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway,  and Denmark though I know there are many other similar formulas from other countries as well.  

That being said….I have baked these loaves on and off for several years now.  I got my feet wet when I was enticed by ananda's Borodinsky breads.  When I would bake them people loved them but they were not a regular on my 'to bake' list because I simply did not feel confident in the results I was getting with specific hydration levels, baking times and baking temps.  Last Fall I got pulled into hanseata's challenge of creating a whole grain loaf which did turn out very nicely but I still did not feel confident with the issues I have expressed above.

This year I decided to embark upon solving those 'problems' and thus began my baking frenzy.  I found the formula I wanted to replicate in Maggie Glezer's  'Artisan Baking' and I combined it with a fermentation time line and method I found in Hanne Resgaard's book 'Home Baked'.  




This is the result of which I am well pleased.  I found the baking times and temps. I am now comfortable with when using my Cadco countertop oven (Convection) which are;

Pre heat 425°

Load covered loaves and reduce heat to 350°

Bake covered for 90 minutes.

Uncover and bake 15 minutes at 350° followed by 15 more minutes at 325°

Another issue I was faced with was that of really hard and dark crusts despite baking temps.  Luckily it was solved when another baker told me he uses canola oil on his pans when baking these types of breads rather than butter.  Made all the difference in the world.

I know I will have to adjust times etc. when I bake in my kitchen Electrolux wall oven but, at least for now, I feel much more confident when I sit down to formulate one of these kinds of breads for a future bake.

A long time in the works but well worth all the effort as they are breads that people around here love to eat.




FrenchNyonya's picture



Here's my take on PDLarry's custard buns..

My doughs were at 60g each which is a little too big to my liking.

Other wise it turn out really yummy.. 


Grobread's picture

So I've bee seeing Tartine bread realated posts and videos all over and I thought I had a good idea of the general principles, so I decided to try my hand at it. I tried to follow the general method: autolyse, mix, strech and fold every half hour, six times, shape, cold proofing overnight.

The thing was I messed up with the measurement and initially added too little water, then added more for the autolyse and reduced the amount of starter. The dough consistency felt right so I moved on. I don't think that the gluten was developed enough during the strech and folds because when I turned the loaf on the peel it was too slack and flat and it just spread when I tried to slash it so it had no ear al all. 

But even so, there was a nice oven spring, the crust is crusty enough, the crumb is light and rather open and the flavor is there, wheaty and slightly sour. It was not a very succesful experiment, but it will not go uneaten either!

WoodenSpoon's picture


  • 500g BF (88%)
  • 140g Milk Levain (12% milk & 12% flour)
  • 235g Egg (41%)
  • 353g Cultured Butter (62%)
  • 38g Bourbon (7%)
  • 9g Sugar (1.5%)
  • 9g Salt (1.5%)

I started thinking about making a sweet and or enriched loaf a week ago, the idea sort of evolved from pumpkin something or other to some sort of challah back to pumpkin brioche then finally to where it now lies, One thing I knew for sure though was if I was going to be using a lot of butter I wanted it to be cultured butter, and I knew I wanted to make it myself

So I started reading up on how to make cultured butter without having access to raw cream. I ended up finding out that all you have to do to make your own cultured cream is inoculate it with around a Tbl spoon of cultured buttermilk per cup of heavy cream and let it sit in a warm place for around 24 hours, 

During the last twelve hours of the cream culturing I made a Levain with 5g chef 100g whole milk and 100g flour. Having never made a levain with milk I wasn't quite sure how it would go, but it turned out just how I hoped and right about peaked right when I was done making the butter. 

After letting the cream culture for a day I put it in the fridge to chill it then churned it in a vitamix. after washing the butter I put it back in the fridge and got ready to make the dough.

I mixed the ingredients with a wooden spoon then beat the heck out of it until my arm was really tired then covered the bowl and let it rest for an hour. Then for the next hour I gave it a good few sets of slap and folds followed by rests until the dough finally started to come together, then I put it in the fridge over night (12hrs) 

The following morning I pulled the now super firm dough out of the fridge and shaped it into four 300g strands and braided it and put it in my pullman pan, at this point it filled the pan right to half way and proofed it at room temp for 7 hours, by that time the dough had doubled plus just a little.

Right before baking I washed it with a mixture of egg and whole milk then immediately popped it into a oven preheated to 380 and baked it for 40 minutes. I started with it on the middle shelf but it sprung a considerable amount and was getting too brown too fast so I moved it down a level. By the time it was done it was golden brown all over and temped around 208.

This rascal tastes great, super soft and buttery with all sorts of fermentation'y complexity, also you can really taste the cultured butter which lends an almost cheesy taste, more like the smell of raw dairy then cheese but kinda the same. You can't taste the bourbon but you can smell it for sure which I think is almost as good. I'm thinking this loaf has some serious french toast in ints future.

CAphyl's picture

I had the most wonderful experience in San Francisco this weekend, as we were visiting the city with my husband's family from England.  It was their first time there, and they loved it. There was a Farmer's Market on the Embarcadero near Ferry Building #23 this past weekend, and I had the pleasure of meeting Edmund Weber (below) of Della Fattoria of Petaluma. He had a wonderful selection of breads, as you can see (sorry it's a bit dark).

Here is a link to bakery and cafe web site.

I told him about the Fresh Loaf site and how all of us like to try new breads when we are traveling, and he gave me a loaf of his Pane Integrale, which is a very dark whole grain bread made with whole grain wheat and whole grain rye, water, honey and sea salt.  It was really delicious.  We drove back from SF to southern CA the next day and had the bread for dinner and toast for breakfast.  Fantastic!  He would not let me pay for it, as he said it was from one baker to another.  He was very kind.

The crumb and crust were perfect and the bread itself was so light and airy. He is clearly a wonderful baker.  It is so fun to be able to talk bread with another baker as well. He makes a variety of bread including Campagne, Ciabatta, Kalamata Olive, Levain, Polenta, Pumpkin Seed, Seeded Wheat, Semolina and Rosemary & Meyer Lemon, which is their signature country bread, in addition to the Pane Integrale he gave to me.

The crumb was just wonderful.  I think this was the lightest bread I've ever had.  If you find yourself in the area, please stop by and try his bread.

Inside the ferry building, there are so many great shops. I love cheese, and the Cowgirl Creamery certainly had some wonderful ones. Here is their web site:

It was a great trip.  Before we left to go to San Francisco, I got a classic sourdough going to bake as soon as we got home. I left it to bulk ferment for more than three days, so I was a bit worried, but it came along nicely.

Here's a link to the recipe for this bread that I posted previously. On to the next bake, as I fed my sourdough this morning.  Best,  Phyllis



Kiseger's picture

.............Am I a coward?

Who calls me “villain”? Breaks my pate across?

Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?

Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i' th' throat

As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?   Ha!

Shakespeare, Hamlet II,2.


Broken Nose Bread


And so it came to pass that I was having a quiet morning at the office when I got a call from The Husband.  "I've just come out of A&E" says he.  "That's nice," say I.  Possibly not the right answer.

"I fell running and broke my nose, have two stitches in my lip and generally look like I've been glassed in a bar fight," says he.

"Cool!!" I respond.  Possibly not the right answer.

He did look rather a mess when I got home.  For a treat, I took him for lunch the next day and got to the restaurant after he did - when they asked me if I had a reservation, I said I was having lunch with the man with the broken face.  "Ah yes," says the nice front of house man, "I'll take you straight to him."  Anyway, this little setback didn't deter him, and he was out training again the day after so I got to bake bread!!!

Lo and behold, in what I called a "moment of solidarity", I baked him a delicious bread which looked just like he does, managing to botch the transfer from the banneton in such a way that part of dough needed some "picking up and folding over" before making its way into the DO.  This is based on PiP's 50/50 Spelt bread, given how much I love spelt.

A few small changes, but overall in keeping with his formula:

Levain 200g (100%H Rye, used at 9hrs)

Bread flour  227

Spelt  227

Water 340

Salt 11

1. Autolyse for 45 mins,using 300g water.

2. Mix in 40g water with salt dissolved and the levain.

3. Bulk ferment - did S&F 4 times at 30min intervals. Total BF for 3hrs.

4. Preshape and bench rest for 20min.

5. Shape and proof for 1h30.

6. Bake.  Transfer from banneton to DO, make a mess, have a glass of wine, put in the oven at 250C for 20min, then lower to 230C and take lid off after 30min, leave another ca.15-20min for crust to brown.  Turn off and leave oven door ajar for 10min. Have another glass of wine.

This bread had an amazing spring given what happened.....but, I think I probably should have given it better development during the BF, which is why it wobbled everywhere when I transferred it to the parchment.  The flavour is a keeper, the spelt has such a subtle nutty taste and there is a warmth to the chew on this one.  It was, admittedly, a little hard for The Husband to eat the crust, but washing it down with some burgundy always helps!!  We did our usual testing, cheese, ham, pate, butter and a real wow made into a bruschetta with avocado and fresh tomatoes and olive oil.  Will be making this one again, although I wouldn't mind getting it right and having a pretty loaf to show for it.  Thanks PiPs, this was delicious!!

'Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be

But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall

To make oppression bitter, or ere this

I should have fatted all the region kites

With this slave’s offal.

Shakespeare, Hamlet II,2.

The Happy Baker's picture
The Happy Baker

Thought I'd be a little more adventurous this weekend and opted instead of my usual plain rustic Sourdough breads to bake something different. I found in my wife's pantry some almonds and honey and recollecting a recipe I'd seen somewhere decided these would be perfect for my bread. I set out with my levain starter which had been fed 5 hours previously and using organic stone ground unbleached white flour a little salt and bottled water made up my dough I left it to prove for 5 hours by which time it had doubled in size. After gently knocking it back by folding it in in itself several times I pushed the dough into an oblong shape and smoothed on the honey much as you would onto some toast then sprinkled on a good layer of Almonds. I rolled up the dough like a Swiss Roll and covered the outside of the dough with more Almonds while tapering the ends like you would a Baguette. I put the dough onto a floured tray and left to prove for another 9 hours and then into the oven for 40 minutes at 190C. 

I'm pretty pleased with the outcome you can really taste the Honey and Almonds through the bread. I will definitely try this one again, any suggestions would be helpful as usual. 

alfanso's picture

with apologies to C. Dickens.

The Levain (Charles St. Evrémonde)
I was gone for the two summer months this year.  As this is the first year that I’ve had a levain starter, I decided to “protect my investment” by dividing it into roughly thirds.  One third was spread thin, dried, flaked and placed into a sealed jar.  Another third was double zip-locked and placed into the freezer.  And the last third was treated as I always treat my levain starter when I refresh it.  I wrapped it in cellophane wrap and chucked it into the refrigerator.

As a note, I always play it safe by preserving a chunk of my working starter when it is time for a refresh.  Force of habit, anal-retentive, whatever, but I feel that it is a small price to pay for a little peace of mind and the ever-important back-up.

Here is a picture of the little triumvirate.

In order to revive the starter, decided to try bringing the dried flakes back to life and relied on the steps outlined in a post from Fellow Loafian GAPOMA, found at .  It worked like a charm, and I was back in business.  Here’s a result from earlier this week.

The Poolish (Sydney Carton)
As I’ve mentioned a few time here in some of my very few posts, I still basically concentrate on baguettes only.  Practice makes kind-a perfect.  And in this past year since getting the home baking bug, I’ve pretty much stuck with alternating between Instant Dried Yeast and levain baguettes, but all with long cold fermentations.  I had almost forgotten about poolish baguettes.  But not the other evening, when I didn’t have enough time for any of my standard go-to formulae.  I decided to bake a set of baguettes using a 33% overnight poolish at ~71% hydration.  

Just for fun and experimentation I also decided to mix the AP flour with water and then give it an overnight refrigerated autolyse.  In the AM the poolish was a-bubblin’ away, but I had a few tasks to do for a few hours, so I placed it in the refrigerator for a bit of a cold sleep.

When I did retrieve the poolish and the autolysed blob, I left them out on the counter for a warm up prior to a final mix.  But not long enough to completely warm up.  And so the mix by hand (always by hand with me) was quite difficult as the autolysed half of the partnership was still quite chilly and just not very cooperative.  After giving my forearms a workout, I was able to successfully complete the mix and then go to my standard French Fold step.  

And they baked up quite nicely too.  My wife described the final result as “light, doughy, eggy, almost like a popover”  and the crust had that dark baked crunch that I cherish so much.  Later, after having been gone for a few hours and returning home, the smells still coming from the kitchen reminded me of something like a cake that had been baked.  Here’s a picture.

The verdict (Madame Defarge)
Well, there really isn’t any verdict here.  Just a post-note.  The poolish baguettes were fabulous on the day baked, but by day 2 (today) had lost a step.  The levain baguettes baked on Thursday evening still had some legs this morning and the superior taste.  As a note, after the first day, just about all bread all makes it into my toaster, so the flavor impression is based on toast.  But after more well over a half century of being a toast aficionado, I can still call ‘em as I see/taste ‘em.  

DulceBHbc's picture

Had a dinner party this weekend and wanted to make Forkish's Overnight Country Blonde to cut up for an appetizer. I didn't schedule accordingly—whoops!—and ended up making Forkish's 80% biga instead. (I threw in some olives during the folding process for good measure.) Since I already started the dough for Overnight Country Blonde, I proceeded to close it up on Sunday, after the fact, but it's OK; I'm now graced with a boule for dinner tonight.

It's about 95F this weekend in Southern California, so I had to adjust the schedule.

1. Mixed active starter for the levain at 11 pm on Friday night
2. Autolyse flour and water at around 9 am Saturday morning
3. Mixed levain with autolysed flour at 10 am Saturday morning
4. Let the mixed dough rise (with about three instances of folding closer to the beginning of the rise) until around 4 pm, when I shaped the dough for the banneton.
5. Threw the banneton into the fridge. Baked at noon today.

The result is the photo!

Thanks go to dmsnyder and David Esq. for their tips on understanding starter vs. levain. I'm getting a better hang of this.

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Not much to say about this one. Tasty and didn't last through the evening.


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