The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Tommy gram's picture
Tommy gram

In the swing of the bread thing now.  

i Kick these babies out like clockwork.

It's really very simple, so simple that I tended to overthink it.

70% h2O

2% NaCl (salt)

to bring the flour to 100%, depending on what I have in the drawer:

30% semolina -I try never to run out of semolina love it 

40% All Purpose - AP makes a fine loaf if thats all that's around.

10% rye - this is kinda nice when it's available,

20% bread flour- this fluctuates. 

A 20% starter at 100% hydration kicks things off. 

King Arthur is the cream of the crop. I every now and then go for the Gold Medal 50# bag, but I always come back to the King.



Kiseger's picture

When on the breath of autumn breeze,

From pastures dry and brown,

Goes floating like an idle thought

The fair white thistle-down,

Oh then what joy to walk at will

Upon the golden harvest hill!


What joy in dreamy ease to lie

Amid a field new shorn,

And see all round on sun-lit slopes

The pil’d-up stacks of corn;

And send the fancy wandering o’er

All pleasant harvest-fields of yore.

Cornfields,  Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

'Tis the first day of Autumn, the glorious season of skies filled with golden and brown crisp leaves falling gently and then billowing up in the air with the first gusts of cold winter winds.  As Wordsworth said: "Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods".  It is my favourite season of the year, it is when maple trees are ablaze with unimaginable oranges and reds, it is the season of harvest and grape-picking and unexpected balmy days of sunshine as a wink to long gone summer.  It is the season of partridge and pheasant, wild duck and mushrooms, pumpkin and swede and celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke.  It is the season of the wine festival in Lower Austria, where you try out the "sturm" which is fresh "new" fermenting fizzy wine.  It is the start of the truffle season in Italy, together with chestnuts and mushrooms and figs.  It is the season to get excited about wearing cashmere again when winter comes!

And so it came to pass that I discovered a bag of poppy seeds in our larder and it behoved me to put them to good use.  The Husband was off on another uncivilised bike/run thing and so I had the house to myself.  I put Horowitz in Moscow on full blast on the sound system and sat down with TFL for inspiration and a glass of wine for....well, because I can.  I have been gearing up for seeds and the start of Autumn seemed like the perfect excuse, as poppies, sunflowers and pumpkin flowers are all harvested around now. 

Poppy, Sunflower, Pumpkin, Flax Seed Bread with some Spelt

Bread Flour                  150g                (30%)

High Extr. WW              160g                (32%)

Whole Wheat Flour      90g                  (18%)

Spelt                             100g                (20%)

Wheat Germ                 30g                  (6%)

Salt                               12g                  (2.4%)

Water                            375 + 50          (85%)

Levain                          75g                  (15%)



Poppy                           40g                  (8%)

Sunflower                     15g                  (3%)

Pumpkin                       15g                  (3%)

Flax                              20g                  (4%)

Total Seeds                  90g                  (18% of total)


1.  Toast all seeds with the exception of poppy.  Once toasted, throw all seeds including poppy into a soaker with 50g water and leave for 6-12hours.  Also toast the wheat germ.

2.  Autolyse flours and wheat germ and 375g water for 4hrs.

3.  Mix in levain, salt and extra 50g water.

4.  Bulk ferment - 5 series of S&F every 30 minutes, add in the seeds on 2nd S&F.  Total bulk ferment was just over 4 hours.

5.  Preshape and bench rest for 25 minutes.

6.  Shape and place in banetton, proof overnight in fridge.  In this case, 14hrs at 5C.

7.  Turn out of banneton into DO straight from fridge and bake.  Do not botch it up, the way we did with the last loaf, but have a glass of wine anyway to celebrate not messing it up!

8.  Bake in 260C oven, turn temp down to 240C after 15 minutes, leave lid on for first 25mins then off for rest of baking - ca. another 15 mins.

Oh my was this good!  I might have like a wee bit more oven spring, but it had a crisp crust and slightly more open crumb than I expected with all the seeds.  It is my new favourite bread, although anything with poppyseeds is a winner (especially mákos beigli, the Hungarian poppyseed roll that my grandmother made). 

Toasting the seeds was a good call before soaking, fabulous flavour comes through.  Delicious slathered with Jamon Patta Negra, chorizo, St. Marcellin, mature Cheddar, fennel saucisson sec, hummus, smoked ham, fresh tomatoes and olive oil, and lovely to mop up the prawn and white wine sauce which came with the seafood crepes.  The Husband was very apologetic about not making sourdough crepes, but as sourdough is apparently "my domain", he dared not stray outside the traditional French crepe method.  

We sat on the patio with a glass of Vina Tondonia and a slice of bread dipped in olive oil; wistfully considering the end of Summer and the joys of Autumn.

Oh, golden fields of bending corn,

How beautiful they seem!

The reaper-folk, the pil’d-up sheaves,

To me are like a dream.

The sunshine and the very air

Seem of old time, and take me there.


Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

jcsrising's picture

This is a exciting time for me because there is so much to learn about making bread.

I am learning about The Fresh Loaf after I found a book by Richard Bertinet.

The handbook is helping as well. I have made a few loaves and pizzas, and just starting my first sourdough experiments. My plan is to have some lessons as soon as I can.

Is your site able to direct me to other home bakers in Melbourne, because there are so many variables I am looking for some experience. Is there a book works well in Australia ie brands and grams?

The pictures of your group baking look great.

Thankyou for the site

Floydm's picture

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Grain Gathering in Mt Vernon, Washington.

Formerly known as the Kneading Conference West, the Grain Gathering is the preeminent gathering of bakers, millers, farmers, malters, and breeders in the Pacific Northwest.

The Grain Gathering consists of three days of presentations, workshops, meetings, and demonstrations about making the best use of local and heirloom grains.  It is very hands on: there are no shortage of opportunities to get your hands dirty!

Many of the workshops were similar to those taught in previous years, such as Kiko Denzer's workshop on building a cob oven.

And Mark Doxtader of Tastebud Farm again taught about making pizza in a wood-fired oven.

He had a fancy new rig this year. His pizzas were amazing, as always.

Highlights for me included being involved in the production line making the rolls for Saturday evening's dinner.

When I first arrived I started chatting with an older gentleman next to me, who told me "That's my wheat." I assumed that meant he grew or milled the wheat, but it turned out I was speaking to Merrill Lewis, a retired English professor turned amateur wheat breeder who had been developing this new line of wheat for over a decade.

Here we have the farmer, the breeder, and the baker. Tom Hunton of Camas Country Mill, Merrill Lewis, and Juli from Breadfarm.

We baked with Merrill's Edison wheat harvested in both 2013 and 2014 so we could compare the results.  The freshly harvested performed a bit better, but both were delicious. 

Another highlight for me was attending Jeffrey Hamelman's pretzel making workshop.

Aside from the lye bath, which he reserved for himself, the session was entirely hands on.

Finally, the conference ended with a chat with Dan Barber, author of the new book The Third Plate.

I have not had a chance to read The Third Plate yet, but my understanding is that the work of Dr. Steve Jones and the Bread Lab at the WSU Mt Vernon Extension Campus, where this conference was held, feature prominently.  

It goes without saying, but I'll say anyway that if you ever have an opportunity to attend a conference like this, go. The sessions are great, and bread and grain people are without fail really good people.

Also, as in past years I heard lots of kind words about The Fresh Loaf and the community we have here, which I wish to pass on to you all. Many many people who never (or rarely) post here rely on the knowledge and expertise you all share here and appreciate the kindness and civility with which you share it. Thank you all!

Also, be sure to check out MC Farine's blog for a lot more great pictures and stories about The Grain Gathering.

Mebake's picture

Odd as it may sound, I did not decide yet what my “go to bread” recipe is , and to rectify that I searched all bread books that I own to sort out the favorite recipe, and came across one I haven’t tried: Whole Wheat Bread from Tartine. I followed the recipe, including cold overnight fermentation of the shaped loaves.  The loaves spent their night in a floured couche in the fridge, but ended up sticking so I had to pry them out the next morning (Note to self: do not underestimate the importance of rice flour while dusting your couche). The loaves did not deflate, but to avoid misshapen crust , I flipped them smooth side down and scored them seam side up. The oven spring was marvelous! 


The flavor of this bread is outstanding! mellow, with subtle flavors, including wheat flavor, but the overall experience is nothing short of amazing. The sour is really in the background with this recipe, which makes it suitable for many of us who dislike a vinegary flavor. I think I’ve found my daily bread.

I've also baked some poolish baguettes from Hamelman's bread, turned them into a Tuna and mayo with Dijon mustard, lettuce, and cracked pepper. Simple dinner, but absolutely delicious.



mwilson's picture

Quick post showing this mornings croissants freshly baked.

My SD starter lievito madre responsible for raising these delights.

egg washed


Just a small batch as I'm still practicing my laminating skills. I successfully rolled these without tearing the dough, a first! Patience is key, with hour-long rests between each turn.


350__ 500 grams of flour 00 strong (I used a 380w)
105__ 150 grams of sourdough refreshed twice
10.5__ 15 grams of egg yolk
63____90 grams of sugar
10.5__ 15 grams of melted butter 
6.3____ 9 grams of salt
168__ 240 grams of water.
 flavours: vanilla, orange

Butter per sfogliata: 203, 290 grams

Procedure: Mix all ingredients until dough is smooth and homogeneous.
Chill for at least 4 hours.

Roll out the dough, collect the butter and make 3 of 3 folds as for the pastry, doing stand 1 hour each fold.
Spread, form the croissants and let rise for 16 hours at 22 °
Bake at 180 degrees until golden brown ( about 20 minutes)


CAphyl's picture

As a number of you know, I have experimented with freezing dough and baking it later.  I have had some recent mixed results, and I thought I would share it to see if there are some things to learn from my experience. Recently, I made a wonderful Tartine sourdough with olives, herbes de provence and lemon zest, recipe link below.  I froze the second loaf to bake later, and I baked it in the last few days.  It was terrible--a flat, gummy disk.

It would not get done, and you can see how gummy the dough was after baking forever. The color was slightly white, looking overproofed. I did have another bad frozen dough experience recently when I left some frozen five grain dough in the Midwest and baked it from frozen after it had been frozen for some time.  When I baked it, I got a small, gummy disk that also would never get done. I kind of wrote it off as it had been frozen for a long time.  But, it was interesting that the exact same thing happened again back in my home kitchen in California with the olive loaf, which hadn't been frozen for very long.  The gummy olive loaf sure didn't look like the original loaf below, with recipe link:

Interestingly, I had frozen some other dough a few days before the olive dough, when I made Ian's semolina porridge bread for the first time.  When I made the first loaf, it was tasty, but was a bit flat as you can see in the photos below.

The crumb was fine, but I just didn't get the lift. Ian suggested less hydration, so I tried something different on the second loaf, which I baked from frozen.  I defrosted it and kneaded in more flour and sprinkled it with a bit of yeast to try and get some lift.  It turned out very well when I baked it today, as you can see below.

The crumb came out very well, and the bread was just delicious!  Thanks, Ian. The crumb was just right.

It is interesting that this dough had been frozen longer than the olive loaf. All of the doughs I have frozen recently had pretty high hydration. Is that a clue?  If so, why did the semolina loaf turn out so well, as it was high hydration like the other two that ended up as flat, gummy disks? I have another five grain frozen, which has been frozen for some time, so that will be my next experiment.  Perhaps if the dough seems too wet, I should knead in flour as I did with the frozen loaf I made from Ian's recipe.  So many questions to pursue!  Thought you would enjoy the results of my recent experiments.  Best,  Phyllis

Here is the link to Ian's recipe:


dabrownman's picture

This week Lucy came up with a combination method; part no knead, part slap and fold and part stretch and fold to go along with her recent sprouted flour fetish..  the whole grain sprouts this week were; spelt,  rye, barley and wheat and made up the 34%  whole grains in the mix.


After drying the sprouts, we milled them getting a 25% extraction of the hard bits.  This is the closest we have come to getting a 72% ‘straight flour of the remaining much whiter flour.  As usual we fed the hard bits to the now 11 week old retarded, 66% hydration, whole rye starter.


There was just enough left to hold back for next weeks baking at the 12 week mark and to refresh the starter back to its 120 g whole rye self which we did this week son that the starter when first used will be 2 weeks old in the fridge.


We love Andy’s Toasted Brazil Nut and prune bread and think that Brazil nuts, like pistachios, are vastly underutilized in bread making.  To mix things up, since we haven’t used any seeds for weeks, Lucy prescribed a 5 seeds mix of equal parts of toasted; chia, hemp (for the Queen of Seeds), flax  and poppy seeds with a tiny 5 gram amount of sesame seeds.  After grinding, she soaked them in 65 g of potato water for 24 hours since chia seeds are notorious for stealing water from the dough


The sesame seeds were light because that is all Lucy could find in her double secret, seedy store that she guards with her very life.   Ingredient guard duty is better than having to drag badgers out of holes like normal, non baking apprentice 2nd class dackels have to do I’m sure.  Still, she does go into every hole looking for them,   So, she must be genetically modified for it and can’t help herself like she can’t forego any food, of any kind that she can smell, locate and ‘Dackel Down.’ 


We retarded our built 3 stage levain for 12 hours instead of our usual 24 hours.  An hour after it came out of the fridge the next day to finish its 3rd stage doubling, we also autolysed the dough flour and soaked seeds for 1 hour.  All the liquid, except in the 6 g of seed starter, was potato water from boiling potatoes for the potato salad we made as a side for ribs.  Lucy throws nothing away.


Once the levain hit the autolyse that included the soaked seeds, we did 3 sets of slap and folds of 1 minute each, followed by 3 sets of stretch and folds from the compass points only.  All the stretching and folding we on 20 minute intervals.  The toasted Brazil nuts were incorporated on the 1st set of stretch and folds and they were well distributed by the end of the 3rd set.


This bread made for one fine smoked chicken sadwich for lunch.

We then shaped the dough into a boule, placed it into a rice floured basket, bagged it in our usual used trash can liner and left on the counter for 3 hours of fermenting.  Then into the fridge it went for a cold 20 hour retard where we hoped the dough would finish proofing and gluten development at the same time.


The next day the dough looked fairly proofed and we let it warm up on the counter as we preheated Big Old Betsy to 550 F and readied the Mega Steam.  The steam went in when the BOB hit 550 F and we waited another 15 minutes for the stone to catch up and the steam to be billowing like a thunderhead.


We un-molded the dough onto parchment on a peel, slashed it in a square and slid it onto the bottom stone for 15 minutes of steam as we gradually lowered the temperature to 475 F regular bake after the first 4 minutes.   Once the steam came out, we lowered the temperature to 425 F - convection and, in 15 more minutes, the bread was at 210 F and ready for the cooling rack.


It sprang and bloomed well enough and there were those small blisters we like very much.  The crust was mahogany and crunchy as it came out of the oven.  We will have to wait to see how the crumb came out and how it tastes until lunch time.  Lunch is over and the crust went softer as it cooled.  The crumb was fairly open, soft and moist for this kind oif bread too.   It tasted fantastic!  The seeds, Brazil nuts, sprouted whole grains and sour all worked so well together.  A tasty delight to eat for sure.  Deep and earthy flavor that is healthy, seedy and nutty all at once.  If there were figs in there somewhere, our taste buds might genetically mutate into the killer buds that tasted Chicago and the prison in Joliet.

 Smoked ribs and chicken for Cousin Jay who just bough a house in Phoenix and will be moving here in about a year- Yea!!!  We love Cousin Jay.  Then ther was the Thai green curry seafood for our daughter's last meal at home before heading back to school.


Sprouted MG SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



11 Week Retarded Rye Starter






Whole Rye






25% Ext Sprouted Whole Grain






Potato Water


















Starter Totals












Potato Water






Levain Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour  & Water












Dough Flour






75% Ext. Sprouted Whole Grain






Bread Flour






Total Dough Flour


















Potato Water






Toasted Brazil Nuts






5 Kinds of Toasted Seeds












Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter






Potato Water 371 w/ Starter












Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain - Sprouted Grain












Toasted seeds are 20 g each of: chia, hemp,





poppy and flax with 5 g of sesame.  The seeds were




were then ground and soaked in 65 g of potato water 




overnight.  This Soaker liquid was included in the dough liquid



Lucy reminds us to never forget the salad but why not put the salad on a smoked rib quesadilla?


Alain's picture

I just wanted to share my first starter and see if anyone can provide me with hints and tips.

I first started it 2 weeks ago with white flour at 100% hydration and some white wine vinegar. It started making shy bubbles after day 2 but not until I fed it whole wheat flour on the 5th day did it rise and over flooded its container.

I kept adding whole wheat till now except one addition of rye which did not react and 24 hours passed with no bubbles visible. 

Now I am planning on using this starter at night for my preferment and will keep photos and posts updated

Gail_NK's picture

It’s time to be honest; so I’ll lay it all out right here. I’m into my third year of my 5-year plan to learn how to bake good bread, and somewhere around March this year, I lost my baking mojo! Every loaf that came out of the oven fell into two categories: brick or curling stone!

Actually I didn’t lose my ability, I just got cocky and thought that I was getting closer to being a “real” baker so I started experimenting. And every scientist (and baker) will tell you that you don’t start experimenting until you’ve got the basics down. You’ll blow something up – or in my case, you’ll pull some spectacular flops out of the oven.

Read Good Flour Makes Good Bread and see how I humbled myself to good flour and good bread, and finally turned out some pretty fine loaves.

(Many thanks to all TFL members who have been so much help!)


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