The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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drogon's picture

Decided to do another easy sourdough post - did one a while back on my own site, but after some discussion here where I posted a recipe which the person who started that thread had a bit of a disaster with, decided to give it a go with photos as I went.

So... Sourdough - I do not think there is any magic to it. I see and read many articles on how you need to look after the starter, nurture it like a child or pet, feed it, and so on. Continuing on, I see techniques for "building the starter" - extra feeds and discards at fixed time and temperature intervals, then continuing on, kneading, wetting, stretching, folding with again, more regimented intervals before shaping, proofing, scoring to a set of rules and baking it using a dutch oven, cloche, baking stone, etc. before leaving it 6 hours to cool and fully set before daring to take a knife to your item of beauty that you've sweated blood and tears over...

Here's my take; It's just bread. Get over it and just do it.

Sure - you can apply rules, you can take far more care with it that I appear to do, you can regiment the process and create rules - if what you're after is something extra special. The one loaf a week you make and you want to take pride in it and make sure its the best there is. And that's fine. I'm making basic daily sourdough bread here and for that, there is nothing special. No tricky processes, no strict timings or (within reason) temperatures.

OK - The starter. This will take you a week or so to get going from scratch and make sure it's working for you. My starters are well established and they live in the fridge. I have separate wheat and spelt (made with white flour, kept at 100% hydration) and rye (made with whatever rye I have to hand and kept at 150% hydration). I take them out of the fridge, use some directly from the jar, or use some from the jar into a bowl when I add more flour & water to make a "production" starter. Some days I need 3Kg of starter, so I have no choice...

Last night I needed 150g, so I used some directly from the jar. The jar was then topped up (75g flour, 75g water) and left in the bakehouse while I prepared the dough then put in the fridge.

This is the recipe for my Buckfastleigh Sourdough. It's a daily bread which I bake five days a week and make and sell about 25 of them a week in local shops.

  • 100g stoneground wholemeal flour (organic; Marriages)
  • 400g strong white flour (organic; Shipton Mill No. 4)
  • 150g starter at 100% hydration
  • 285g water
  • 8g salt

It's Sunday evening about 9pm.

I used the starter from the jar out of the fridge. If I didn't have enough, then I'd have started with 30g starter from the fridge, added 60g flour and 60g water and left it for a few hours.

This is the dry stuff in the mixing bowl. I just separated them so you could see - wholemeal on the right, white on the left and salt in the middle. (500g flour + 8g salt) Mix these up and measure out the starter:

Add the water:

Maybe not exactly 285g but close enough. The water was directly out of the tap - my water here is chlorinated but that's fine. It was a little chilled so I added some hot to it (from the tap) I didn't check the temperature, but it felt slightly warm. (Oh look, the starter isn't floating, oh well)

Mix that up and tip it onto the bench and push it about a little more to make sure it's properly mixed and use a scraper to pull it into one shaggy blob:

This is then left, covered with the bowl for 30 minutes. Note: No kneading has happened yet.

Lets not forget the starter, so stick the jar on the scales, zero the scales and add 75g flour:

and water:

This was then stirred up and I left it in the relative warmth of the bakehouse for the next hour just to let it warm up a little to let the yeasty beasties get to know their new food source and start to get to work before I put it back in the fridge. (Incidentally, I'm making this on Sunday evening and the last time the starter was used was on Friday afternoon when I used some to create the 3Kg I needed for the Friday night knead)

Half an hour later, I take the bowl off the shaggy lump, use the scraper to tease it out to a longer "log" then knead it for about 30 seconds. Yes, 30 seconds - it's a push away with my thumbs, then roll back with fingers operation. It takes 3 or 4 of these to turn the vertical sausage into a horizontal one. I pick this up, turn it 90° and do it again. I do it 3 times in total then chaff it into a boulle shape then plonk it back into the bowl. This really did only take 30 seconds.

I stuck the thermometer into it so you could see.

That's taken less than 45 minutes with a big half hour gap in the middle. Low impact, very easy to do. I then covered it with a shower cap and left it in a (relatively) cool place in the downstairs kitchen - which was at about 18°C.

I split this into two blog entries just to keep the size and loading time down - on to part 2!


victoriamc's picture

Most of the time I do tend to bake healthy, wholegrain breads fortified with this, that and the other.  However, every now and again, (actually quite often).  I like to bake a nice classic crusty white bread.  This recipe and method could not be easier and the bread is really comforting and tasty.

Details are here, thanks for stopping by!



Carissimi Amici, 

ultimamente sono molto occupata con alcuni corsi professionali che sto frequentando, ma vi seguo sempre con grande affetto e stima. Siete per me sempre una straordinaria fonte di condivisione ed apprendimento.

Vi lascio l'immagine e la ricetta di una mia produzione, chissà se vi piacerà. A noi in famiglia questo prodotto piace moltissimo e lo preparo spesso per fare degli ottimi Sandwich oppure dei Toast farciti.

Nostalgia della Francia .....ed è andata così: Il "Pain de Mie"....o pane in cassetta, è la cosa più simile al pane bianco affettato che si troverà in Francia, ma l'impasto è arricchito di latte e di burro.

E' uno dei pochi tipi di pane francese che viene cotto in uno stampo.

Più mollica che crosta....straordinario questo Pane, come lo è stata la ricetta dell'autore che mi ha ispirato ‪‎Richard Bertinet‬.


Pain de Mie con impasto indiretto: Per la Biga di 24 ore a 18°C:- 200 g. di farina forte W330- 100 g. di acqua fredda di rubinetto-    2 g. di lievito compresso Fare un composto formato da grosse briciole con un cucchiaio - no attivazione del glutine.Coprire con pellicola, praticare qualche forellino per una buona ossigenazione dei lieviti. Rinfresco con:- tutta la Biga di cui sopra- 360 g. di Farina per Pane di forza di tipo "0" o "1" con 13% di proteine- 110 g. di acqua a temp. ambiente- 100 g. di latte intero di alta qualità-   10 g. di sale-     5 g. di malto d'orzo in polvere - in assenza 10 g. di quello in pasta-     7 g. di lievito compresso-   11 g. di pasta acida essiccata (oppure stesso peso di Lievito madre in Polvere della Rossetto)-   50 g. di burro  Impastare come di consueto partendo dalla farina, la biga, il lievito compresso sbriciolato, la pasta acida essiccata ed il malto in polvere. Versare prima il latte ed impastare, poi l'acqua ed impastare appena prende corda inserire il sale. Per ultimo il burro a fiocchetti, incordare. Il tutto non dovrebbe prendere più di 10 minuti. Chiudere a palla e posizionare coperto dentro ad un contenitore. Far puntare a 26°C per 1 ora, decorsa la quale rovesciare l'impasto con la chiusura in alto sul tavolo e conferire la forma prescelta, inserire all'interno dello stampo rivestito di carta da forno..Posizionare nello stampo, coprire con cellophane e mettere nuovamente a 26°C per 1 ora e comunque sino a quando il composto non abbia raggiunto e superato di circa 1 cm. il bordo dello stampo. Posizionare in forno alla prima tacca in basso ad una temperatura di 200° C, coprire con stagnola e cuocere 35 minuti decorsi i quali, togliere la stagnola e proseguire la cottura per altri 10 minuti. Una volta cotto estrarre dallo stampo e posizionare su una griglia piegandolo su un lato. Lo stampo utilizzato per queste dosi ha le seguenti misure: cm 30 x 11 h 7 Cosa importantissima la qualità della farina!! Un grande abbraccio a tutti, a presto. Anna G.
Reynard's picture

Well, my new chicken brick arrived the other week, but it's been crazy-busy chez Casa Witty and I've not really had the chance to post... Anyways, here is my new brick - it's the Mason Cash one, bigger than the one I had. I think it will easily take a kilo of dough, though this time I stuck to my standard-sized loaf.

Last night I finally got the chance to road test this pot properly with an adaptation of my "bread-in-a-hurry" recipe. As I was in less of a hurry, I could slow the whole process down somewhat and try something I haven't tried before - in this case, a poolish.


100g strong white flour

100g tepid water

pinch of dried active yeast


All of the poolish

105g strong white flour

205g light rye flour

9g salt

4g dried active yeast

140g tepid water

60g oil (I used rape seed)

45g wholemeal rye sourdough starter

40g oat bran

1 tbsp malt extract

I set the poolish up about six hours before wanting to make the dough - basically dissolved the yeast in the water, added the flour, gave it a good mix, then left it to its own devices. Six hours later it was pillowy, squishy and nicely bubbly.

In terms of the dough, I used my usual method, which is activate the yeast in some of the water, wait till it froths and then simply mix everything together. Once everything was nicely mixed, I kneaded the dough for 15 mins before leaving it alone in its bowl and bag for a bulk ferment at room temperature - it took around two and a half hours all told. 

The next step was to knock the dough back and shape into a batard. I've recently bought a silicon baking mat as an alternative to a board for kneading / knocking back / shaping bread. The reasoning was that it was less of a palaver to set up and then to clean afterwards as I have limited space in a very small kitchen. I found that it's nigh on useless for very wet or sticky doughs (yes, I did end up making one hell of a mess there), but for a bog-standard bread dough of 65 to 70 % hydration like this one is, it's just the ticket. The mat does what I want it to do, but the added and somewhat unexpected bonus is that I barely need to use any flour for dusting.

Once shaped, into the banneton and plastic bag the dough went for its proof - about an hour at room temperature.

The instructions with this particular chicken brick are quite clear that putting a cold brick into a hot oven will cause it to crack, so I put the brick in the oven sans dough while the oven preheated. There's more of a knack to getting dough from a banneton into a hot brick than into a cold one (at least I didn't burn myself this time), but as the bottom half of this particular brick is glazed, there's no need to grease it. I put in a dusting of flour in the brick before turning the dough out, but to be honest, I wonder if I really need to bother with the flour next time...

So in went the dough, which was then scored with a razor.

The lid was clapped back on the chicken brick and into the oven it went. I didn't change my bake time, namely 25 mins @ 230C with the lid on followed by 20 mins @ 200C with the lid off.

I like to think I got a very nice loaf of bread out of it...

The bread smelled wonderful - there was more of a tang and nuttiness to the aroma than when I last made this particular bread (same ingredients but no poolish). I even woke up mum with the aroma LOL...

In terms of eating, the bread had a lovely crust - sort of a combination of crisp and chewy and a beautiful soft, even crumb. The crust flavour was good with slightly malty overtones. The crumb had a more subtle flavour, but certainly one that was more pronounced than the same bread made without a poolish.

It's the sort of bread that you could just sit and eat spread with butter, although it did go down rather nicely with some Sopocka (Polish smoked pork loin) at lunchtime... Actually, it reminded me very much of the bread I had when I was last in Poland...

I think this just shows how minor changes to a recipe can alter the flavour of the bread. I'd never tried a poolish before, but it's definitely something I'm going to explore in the future. I'm going to bake this bread again later in the week, but give the poolish another couple of hours as well as reduce the yeast in the dough significantly.

As for the reason why I've not posted too much of late, it's just that I got tied up into the preparation for the Supreme Cat Show - it's the feline version of Crufts. The girls, mum and I had a fabulous day out. Lexi was awarded the reserve Grand Master certificate, but Poppy surprised me completely by winning the reserve Imperial Grand Master certificate in a huge and very competitive class in which I was expecting her to finish plumb last...

The show was themed "Witches and Wizards", so I entered the decorated pen competition. I didn't win anything there, but had great fun preparing the pens and great pleasure seeing the public enjoy them. Lexi's pen was themed on Wicca:

While Poppy's pen was based on the Weird Sisters from Macbeth:

At least I'm done sewing, beading and painting for now, so I can get some more baking done :-)

STUinlouisa's picture

Sometimes you just want a simple loaf. The bread is 100% fresh ground white whole wheat naturally leavened with a three stage build. The hydration is a little over 75%, just kept adding a little water until it felt right, and the only addition other than salt was a small amount of sorghum syrup. The final proof was in the fridge because the dough was moving to fast for proper flavor development and then it only took a couple hours. It was slashed with a double edged razorblade mounted on a homemade handle (the most recent addition to my baking equipment) and baked in a DO.

Should go well with the broccoli salad, ham, green beans, and scalloped potatoes that will be for dinner. Not exactly a light meal but we practice portion control.


alfanso's picture

Sure, as it has been months since I tried these out once before.  Sold at Ken's as demi-baguettes.  As long as I'm on my thang about changing baguettes to batards, and vice versa, why not?  Those black things on top are/were golden raisins, not black jelly beans...


Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

A simple sourdough with 50% whole wheat flour and 50% whole dark rye. With all that dark rye it tastes a bit like a pumpernickel. I had it rising in the fridge overnight again. It looks a bit like erosion, but very tasty.

dabrownman's picture

Old school NY bagels

One of our favorite things to do with bread is to make them the ‘old school’ way.  You can bread using sourdough made from scratch for that bake like a pumpernickel or you can use an old school method not used much anymore too.  Another fun thing about bread is to take old school and make it current and edgy.


That is what these bagels are all about.  They are made the way they once were, are smaller than the monster cake bagels so popular today.  They are healthy with over 50% whole grains most - of them sprouted.


They have the 4 ancient whole grains too:  Kamut, spelt, emmer and einkorn along with oat, wheat, rye and barley.  Some new, including yeast water, to go with the old makes for an old school bagel that you couldn’t get way back when or even now if you don’t make then yourself .


The 2 levains were built on a heating pad separately over (3) 4 hour stages and then retarded for 24 hours.  The YW levain was built with the whole emmer and einkorn non-sprouted grains and is perfect for opening a dense crumb and cutting the sour a bit.  The SD levain was made from 10 g of 24 week retarded rye starter and was fed the 20% hard bits from the sprouted 6 other whole grains.


Bagels require a different method than most other non enriched breads.  It is too stiff to knead properly in my KA and slap and folds are out of the question.  Normally, a white bagel recipe might come in at 53% hydration but since these had over 50% whole grains we upped the hydration to near 60% which still felt just aas stiff an white bagel recipe.


Since most of the water is in the dual levains there isn’t enough to properly hydrate the dough for an autolyse.  So we added the levains, after they had warmed up for 2 hours on the heating pad, to the dough flour, barley malt syrup and dough water.  We mixed it into a ball and then sprinkled the pink Himalayan sea salt on top and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.


This gets the fermentation process going pretty fast with the salt not in the nix. Once the salt gets mixed in we did 8 minutes of old school kneading by hand.  Thos is the only bread we still use this old school kneading method to develop the gluten,  After a 30 minute rest  we did 2 more minutes of kneading and then let the dough rest for 30 more minutes.


We then portioned out the dough into 6 equal weights and formed a tapered rope like a baguette for each and let them rest for 10 minutes under a damp towel before forming the bagel over the knuckles the old school way.  Each bagel was placed on a corn meal dusted piece of parchment paper on a baking tray.


We then bagged the bagels in a trash can liner and left them on the heating pad to ferment for an hour before placing the bag in the fridge for an 18 hour retard.   Once the bagels came out of the fridge we put the bag on the heating pad for 2 hours to finish proofing before placing them in near boiling water.


The water had a tablespoon of baking soda, 1T of barley malt syrup and 1/2 T of molasses in it to mimic lye.  We soaked the bagels for 30 seconds each side in the water before placing them round side down on a kitchen  towel and then into the seed mix to coat.


Don't forget the SD biscuits and the grilled salmon dinner.

After coating the bagels with mix of black and white sesame, black and white  poppy with caraway, basil and oregano seeds and Kosher salt, they went back onto the parchment on a baking tray and then into the 425 F preheated oven with Mega Steam for 8 minutes of steam.  Once the steam came out the temperature was turned down to 400 F convection this time  - for 10 more minutes of baking before being removed to the cooling rack.


Or the apple crisp

The bagels puffed themselves up in the heat and browned well enough.  The bagels came u out NY style with a thin, crispy crust while the crumb was fairly open but all chewy in the wonderful way only a bagel can provide.


Best of all these were the best tasting bagels I’ve ever made and that is saying something. The perfect mach of old and new that is hearty, healthy and nutritious.  Just great, even un-toasted with a schmear and Nova Lox for lunch – yummy!  

And then there is Lucy's salad


3 Stage SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



24 Week Retarded Rye Sour






20% Extraction Sprouted 6 Grain






Whole Emmer and Einkorn






Water & YW 50/50


















Levain Totals






Whole Emmer & Einkorn & 20% Ext Sprouted Bran






Water & YW 50/50






Levain Hydration






% Prefermented  Flour












Dough Flour






80%  Ext. Sprouted 6 Grain






Winco Hi Gluten






Total Dough Flour


















Dough Water












Total Flour w/ Starter & Scald












Barley Malt Syrup












Hydration with Starters






Total Weight


6 @ 125










% Whole & Sprouted Grain












Sprouted 6 grains used were spelt






wheat, rye, Kamut, oat and barley







PetraR's picture



Right now my families fav. bread.


250g  Starter * 50g Rye Starter fed with 100g water and 100g bread flour *

200g Rye Flour

500g Bread flour

1 handful Walnuts crushed smaller 

360m Water

15g Salt

2 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil


My Starter lives in the fridge, I take 50g out and feed with 100g water and 100g bread flour.

Let it sit for 12 hours.

Add the water to your starter, add your oil and and your flours and walnuts

Knead it for a couple of minutes and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Add your salt and knead it by hand for 10 minutes until nice and soft and as elastic as it can be * Rye flour does not like to be elastic, the lazy bugger lol *

* I use my Kmix on 1 and mix for about 8 minutes.*

Form to a ball and add into a lightly oiled bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit to double in volume * it takes4-6 hours for me depending on the temperature in the kitchen. *

Gently take it out of the bowl and degas , form to a ball  * gently does it * and make sure that it is a nice tight ball.

Put in your banneton * I put some wholewheat flour in mine with some cornstarch added last *

Cover and either let it almost double in size on the counter or in the fridge overnight.

Bake in your dutch oven at 250 C for 30 minutes with the lid on , take the lid of and bake on 200C for another 20 minutes.


VERY nice with unsalted butter and cheese or anything really.


dmsnyder's picture

Pain au Levain from Della Fattoria Bread, by Kathleen Weber

November 10, 2015

David Snyder



My brother, Glenn, bought me a surprise present: A copy of Kathleen Weber's bread cookbook. When I called to thank him, he revealed his motive. He thought I'd like it. We Snyder kids do that sort of thing for each other.

I have had the considerable pleasure of sampling Della Fattoria's breads both at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer's Market, where they come with breads and pastries on Saturdays, and also at their cafe in Petaluma, California. They make good stuff. But I believe I first heard of that bakery quite a few years before. It was the “Small Artisan Bakery” featured in Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, an award winning book published in 2000.

Weber's book was published in 2014, and it is interesting to compare her methods and how they changed in the interval since she was interviewed by Ms. Glezer. Notably, she began using an autoyse step. She reduced the speed and duration of her mechanical mixing. And she added stretch and folds during bulk fermentation. All three of these changes reflect trends in Artisan baking nationally. All would be expected to enhance the flavor of the product.

Since I am on the subject of Weber's methods in general, her other remarkable idiosyncrasy is that she includes her firm levain in her autolyse, withholding only the salt. And one trend she does not follow (unfortunately, in my opinion) is to not use baker's math in presenting for formulas.

Pain au Levain

Weber's Pain au levain dough is the base for several variations, recipes for which are given in the book. These include a “Potato Levain,” a “Walnut Levain,” a “Sausage-Sage Levain” and other equally tempting breads. For a first bake from this book, I selected the Pain au Levain without any of the additions.

Weber uses a firm levain. She gives clear instructions for making it from scratch. Her mature levain is a 50% hydration mix of 90% All Purpose flour and 10% Whole Wheat flour. She feeds her levain with 23% mature starter. My own customary firm starter isn't very different from this, and that is what I used to feed the levain.


Total dough




Wt (gms)

Bakers' %

Water (80dF)



AP flour



WW flour



Medium Rye meal+



Sea salt






+ Weber calls for pumpernickel flour. I have some, but I have some older rye meal that I thought would work well, and it needed using.






Wt. (gms)

Bakers' %

Mature firm starter



AP flour



WW flour



Water (80dF)






  1. Disperse the firm starter in the warm water.

  2. Add the flours and mix very well.

  3. Form into a ball and place in a clean, covered container.

  4. Ferment in a warm place until at least doubled in volume. (4-6 hours, for me).


Final dough



Wt (gms)



Water (80dF)


AP flour


WW flour


Medium Rye meal


Sea salt





  1. Place the levain and the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.

  2. With the paddle, run the mixer at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the levain is dissolved.

  3. Add the flours to the mixer bowl and pulse a few times to start mixing (to prevent flour flying everywhere).

  4. Mix at low speed for 1-2 minutes until the dough forms a shaggy mass. Scrape it together.

  5. Cover the bowl and let the flour absorb the water and start gluten development for 20-30 minutes.

  6. Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Put the dough hook on the mixer.

  7. Run the mixer at low speed for 6 minutes, then at Speed 2 for another 2-3 minutes. (This is a very sloppy dough. It will have some gluten development but will not have cleaned the sides of the bowl. Resist adding more flour.)

  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 8-10 cup bowl. Do a few “stretch and folds in the bowl.” Cover the bowl, and place it in a warm location. (I used a Proofing Box set at 76dF.)

  9. Perform stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes three times (at 30, 60 and 90 minutes).

  10. Let the dough continue to ferment until it has about doubled in volume and is light and airy. (This was an additional 2 hours for me.)

  11. At this point, you can pre-shape the entire dough to make one large loaf or divide it in half to make two loaves. I divided it into two equal pieces.

  12. Pre-shape into a ball or a log. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 10-20 minutes.

  13. Shape as a boule or bâtard. Place in bannetons or on a couche to proof.

  14. Proof for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the depression left when you poke a loaf fills very slowly or remains. (I proofed for about 2 hours at 80dF in the proofing box. I think I slightly over-proofed.)

  15. While the loaves are proofing, preheat your oven to 500dF with a baking stone and your steaming apparatus in place. (Weber recommends a 9” cast iron skillet preheated. She then puts a cooling rack with ice cubes on the skillet at the time she loads her oven.)

  16. When they are proofed, transfer the loaves to a peel. Steam the oven. Score the loaves and load them onto the stone. Turn the oven down to 450 or 460.

  17. Bake with steam for 15 minutes, then remove the steam source and continue baking for another 30 minutes (if baking 700g loaves) or 40 minutes (if baking a 1.3kg loaf.). The bread should be well-colored. It should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Internal temperature should be at least 205dF.

  18. Remove loaves to a cooling rack. Cool thoroughly before slicing.


The cuts didn't open up as much as I expected, but I think that was due to over-proofing. There was some tunneling under the top crust which suggests the same.

The crust was crunchy at first but softened by the next day. Not surprising in an 82% hydration bread. The crumb was well aerated but with small, regular holes. The flakes of rye bran were quite visible. I'm sure the whole grain flours determined the crumb structure.

The flavor of the bread was very nice. It had the wheaty and nutty flavors of the whole wheat and the earthy flavors of the rye, both very prominent. There was discernible sourdough tang, but it was very mild. The one negative is that it tasted too salty to me. Looking at the baker's math, you can see that, in fact, there is a much higher percentage of salt in this bread (2.2%) than in most.

This is a good sandwich bread. It is good with cheese and with almond butter. When I first tasted it, I had the thought that I could make a meal of it alone.

I like this bread. If you have a recently fed starter, and you get an early start, it could be done for dinner in one day. I expect to be including it in my regular rotation. But I to want to try a number of the other breads in Weber's book also. I will report on them, when I do.

Happy baking!


 P.S. I made a couple loaves of San Joaquin Sourdough too.


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