The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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emkay's picture

It's been a while since my last post. The day job has been keeping me quite busy and I haven't had the bandwidth to bake bread as much as I would like. I'm baking every third weekend to keep the bread box full and the freezer stocked. My go-to bread has been Ken Forkish's overnight country blonde (just like I posted here: It's mostly hands off and seems to work well especially with the mild San Francisco temperatures we've been experiencing lately.

I decided to shake things up and bake something else. This weekend's bake was an olive boule made with 50% liquid levain and 60% water in the final dough. That gave me an overall hydration of 68%. Hydration-wise, 68% is pretty much as low as I go for a lean dough.

The resulting crumb was not too open which was a good way to keep in those delicious olives. The complex tangy taste of my bread was due to the age of my starter. I keep my stiff maintenance starter in the refrigerator unfed and then feed/build it using dabrownman's no fuss method whenever I want to bake.



Olive Bread

  • 80% AP flour
  • 20% whole rye flour
  • 60% water
  • 2.4 % salt
  • 50% levain (100% hydration, 20% rye)
  • 30% pitted Kalamata olives
  1. Mixed all ingredients by hand.
  2. Bulk fermented for 3 hours at room temperature (about 70F) with 4 sets of stretches and folds during the first 2 hours and untouched during the third hour.
  3. Preshaped and bench rested for 30 minutes.
  4. Shape retarded in the refrigerator (40F) for 12 hours.
  5. Baked at 450F for 35 minutes (for 600 grams dough).

:) Mary

STUinlouisa's picture

Was doing weekly grocery shopping and noticed some steel cut oats at a very reasonable price and since I was deciding what bread to make this weekend it was a natural.

150g steelcut oats

75g quinoa

200g milk

230g water

20g agave nectar

300g fresh ground white wheat flour 95% extraction

80g fresh ground spelt flour 95% extraction

20g amaranth

100g 100% hydration starter fed and active

10g salt

additional water

Cook the oats and quinoa in the milk and water until most liquid is absorbed and the grains are softened add the agave nectar and cool to room temp.

Add everything but the salt together and mix until incorporated adding enough water to hydrate I'm guessing about 30 or 40g. Make into ball and make a shallow well in which to put the salt and enough water to start dissolving it. Let the dough sit for 20 min. Fold the dough over the salt and use pinches and folds to distribute.  Add water until the consistency feels like about a 75% hydration. Form ball cover and let rest for 20 min. Do a S&F. Cover and place in a cool place 50-60F for 12 hours. It will swell but not double.

Place on oiled counter and cover with oiled plastic wrap until warmed to room temp. Form a boule and put in banneton coated with a combination of rice flour and  wheat bran seem side up. Cover and let proof 2 hours until passes finger poke test. Meanwhile heat a DO to 500 F and coat a peel with flour. Flip the boule onto the peel score, put into the DO and put covered in the oven turning it down to 450 F. Bake 20 min remove the lid and turn down to 425. Bake another 20 min until the center is 195-200F place on cooling rack and let sit about an hour before cutting.

 The bread turned out tasty and moist in the center. When I do it again a longer proof will be done to make a better crumb.


TigerX's picture

This is my BAGET ...



- 450 gr APF

- 50 gr Whole WF

- 325 gr Water  (%65 Bakery percentage)

-100 gr Starter (%100 Hydration)

- 10 gr Salt








PY's picture

trying out my first loaf from hamelman's bread - whole wheat levain. Made some variations as I dont have a decent mixer and did 4 sets of stretch and folds within 2 hours and 15 minutes bulk rise. Added an autolyse of 1 hour too.

used 50% home milled whole wheat which the recipe called for on the finest setting on my komonfidibus 21. I think the taste would have been more developed if I had retarded the dough for final proof but since this is my first try of this recipe I thought I'd follow the recipe more closely.

i am still unable to get the nice bloom that I see so many breads posted here and wonder if my final shaping needs some serious work to get a tighter surface. Every time i turn the dough out from the banneton and score the dough, the dough spreads so any oven spring in the oven basically brings it back to the original volume as when the dough is in the banneton.

Sjadad's picture

I based this loaf on Ken Forkish's 50% whole wheat bread with biga. Instead of 50% whole wheat I made this 40% whole wheat and 10% rye. The hydration is 80%. 

I am very pleased with the result. A nice open crumb and light texture considering the high percentage of whole grain flours. I also love the deep color of the crust, which is shatteringly crisp. 

trailrunner's picture

Thanks to David for posting his take on this loaf. An amazing bread indeed. I happen to have a lot of durum flour so I did incorporate some into the formula David posted. I actually used it in 2 ways. My starter is fed only with durum and I added durum flour for 1/2 of the WW that David used. I also only had 9" pans. I was concerned as the bread volume didn't rise above the pans during the 4 hour rise...but whoa did it ever rise in the oven. I baked at 400 for 38 min to 205. I will post a crumb pic later when it has cooled a bit...couldn't resist posting now as this bread is SO fragrant and handles beautifully. Do give it a go. c







thedoughycoed's picture

I've been lurking on this website for awhile, and decided it was finally time to woman-up and try some of the techniques that I've seen.

I started my sourdough-ing with the Rustic Sourdough from KAF, a cheaters sourdough, if you will (  I have no elitist qualms about cheating with yeast, and I appreciate the training wheels. While we're on the subject of my being a big fat cheater, I must admit I use citric acid to increase the tang, a la ( I'm a girl that loves consistency and reliability, and true sourdough can be a fickle mistress. 

What I felt I was missing was the open crumb and structure of the breads I see here, as both of these loaves turn out rather sandwich-y. So I upped my game as follows

  • bought a scale, so I could measure by weight
  • figured out bakers percent and the hydration of my starter
  • adapted my old standby recipe to increase hydration from 62% to 76% (baby steps)
  • used autolyse
  • used stretch and fold
  • got a lame so I could score my dough with confidence
  • and tried to steam the oven

After some mad scientist action, this is the recipe

  • 236 g KAF bread flour
  • 236 g KAF white whole wheat flour
  • 340 g water
  • 230 g 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2.25 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp citric acid
  1. Mix the flours and water and let sit for 30 minutes 
  2. Add other ingredients and let sit for 30  minutes, then stretch and fold
  3. Do 2 more rounds of stretch and fold then sit for 30 minutes
  4. Shape into two round loaves and cover, let rest for an hour
  5. Bake at 425 for 25min with steam

I was very happy with the crumb and the balanced flavor, so now I'm looking for more ways to improve.

I mixed this dough with a wooden spoon, but I'll try it with my food processor next time, as I noticed plenty of lumps during the stretch and folds. Ice cubes in the oven were a rather cumbersome steam method, but I'm sure I can find a better one around here. The loaf baked on a stone in the top half of the oven became far browner than the loaf baked on a jelly roll pan in the bottom of the oven, but I'm not sure how to remedy that.  

Does anyone have additional guidance?

alfanso's picture

No, not a chilly winter, at least not here in Florida where it remains delightful through the winter months.  But rather a chilly twist to my proofing stage.  My kitchen runs warmer than many, and proving my baguettes can be a bit of a coin toss at times.  Anywho, a few bakes ago, when I split my Field Blend #2 dough into a DO boule and two gros baguettes, I decided to retard the shaped baguettes in the refrigerator for the proofing step.  Mr. Forkish suggests baking this dough, albeit as a DO boule, right out of the refrigerator, so who am I to disagree?

Well, I really liked the results out of the oven, but I was also attracted to the idea of the refrigerated control of the proof and also the feel of scoring a chilled baguette.  So two days ago I repeated that cold proof step with a batch of SJSDs and today I decided to let that train keep rolling with a batch of “Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation”, a formula posted here in April 2010 by DonD.
Here is how DonD describes his creation:

 My first post in April of last year was about a side by side comparison of two of my favorite baguette formulations by Philippe Gosselin and Anis Bouabsa that David Snyder had previously published here on TFL. It was a tough choice to decide which one was better. The Gosselin baguette had an unequaled sweetness due to the overnight cold autolyse and the Bouabsa baguette had an incredibly complex taste due to the cold retardation. I was thinking why not have the best of both world so I started to experiment with combining the two formulations. After a couple of tries, I have succeeded in making a baguette that has the best attributes of both.

And below is my short pictorial history of cold proofed baguettes.

Field Blend #2 Gros Baguettes (yes these are giants even if they don't seem so)




Gosselin Baguettes a l'Ancienne


(and my "spelunking" shot from today's bake)

For anyone ready to take the next step beyond the standard and wonderful baguettes so many of us practice, I suggest DonD’s formula.  Give it a whirl.  It is an IDY formula, but a next step even beyond this is the Gosselin SJSD version from Oct. 2012 by David Snyder (which will be coming up on my roulette wheel of bakes in short order).


TigerX's picture


This is my Tartine "Basic Country Bread" with original recipe...



- 450 gr APF

- 50 gr Whole WF

- 375 gr Water  (%75 Bakery percentage)

-100 gr Starter (%100 Hydration)

- 10 gr Salt


Whole water  percentage is %77.2.. That is original recipe from the "Tartine Book"...








Anconas's picture

Last week it was so cold I spent a lot of time making kefir cheeses and web surfing.  Found a site that used kefir as a sourdough starter so I decided to give it a try.  Followed the starter directions and looked for a recipe online to make a loaf.  Found a blog site that had pictures so I followed it.  I produced two loaves - boules - that had some flavor but the texture was extremely lacking.  I decided to pursue an actual sourdough starter and basic sourdough bread so I hit the library.  I have a culture in progress and needed something to do while it matures.

I thought a great idea would be to actually learn how to make a basic bread :)

In all of my internet research to find information and book suggestions, The Fresh Loaf came up repeatedly.  I camped for a while and started reading.  Baguette type breads are my favorites and I found the Straight Method Beginner Baguettes.


This is my experience with this method, my limitations, and my lack of any actual baking experience beyond cookies and muffins.  The potential of creating an edible baguette loaf had me determined to try!  And I even met with a decent level of success, according to my tastebuds :)


Objective Notes:


Original goal - Sourdough

Interim goal - baguette basics


Process Notes:

These are for practice and do not include sourdough.

They include a great deal of information on dough mixing and handling techniques - excellent reference source.


Description and video of stretch and fold technique


Video link showing baguette shaping -


Technique Link for Bread Scoring and why


Discussion with photos on Covering vs. Steaming the whole oven when baking

I have a baking sheet and a lasagna pan that I can turn over to use as a cover


Some information on baguette sizes


Additional Baguette recipe that includes suggestions for measuring very small amounts of yeast - very important!

This one uses a preferment and sunflower seeds for a deeper flavor.  It also doesn't give details so refer to the recipe in the first link on this page for the times and techniques - "straight method baguette good starter baguette practice" until I get more experience.



Things I thought I was doing very well -

  1. Handling the very sticky dough - I actually enjoyed it - using a very light touch and watching all the bubbles building in the dough and not popping all of them.  I didn't use any extra flour/oil/water - just used the stickiness of the dough and my homemade dough scraper to lift and stretch, then fold, like in the video above. 
  2. Only flouring the work surface for the final baguette shaping.  In my observation this allowed my dough to become very cohesive to itself after each manipulation and not slide apart due to over flouring which I was concerned with due to lack of experience.


Things I knew were seeming off prior to baking

  1. I halved the recipe and had a very difficult time getting my scale to cooperate for a single gram of yeast.
    1. Need to find a volume equivalent
    2. Scale may need new batteries
  1. My dough after folding and resting had much more pronounced surface bubbles than in the tutorial
    1. May have been over proofing due to miscalculated yeast weight
    2. May have been working dough too lightly and not getting the appropriate gluten structure in dough surface
  1. Scoring such a thin and airy loaf is much more difficult than a denser boule
    1. Practice :)
  1. My dough was not split precise in half
    1. Weigh it next time
  1. Size limitations for final baguette shaping
    1. Limited by size of pans for laying on - aluminum air bake sheet and lasagna pan cover
      1. Adjust shape by making shorter, fatter baguettes
      2. Keep eye out for options to make adjustments - not sure on next step here
  1. Temperature limitation to 450 instead of 460 degrees
    1. Parchment paper is rated to 450 only
    2. Research higher rated parchment paper
  1. No baking stone
    1. After the initial 10 minute covered steam bake I removed both pans and baked on parchment paper on the rack so the bottom crust would not be soggy


After Baking -

  1. I removed the smaller loaf at the end of the baking time and did not leave it in for the additional 5 minutes with the oven door cracked open
    1. The crust was delicious and wonderfully crispy
  1. I removed the larger loaf after the 5 minutes with the oven door cracked open was over
    1. It sang!!  I actually heard it




Taste Test

WOW!  An incredibly edible loaf and the crispy crunch and caramely goodness of the crust was fantastic.  Interior was not ideal but airy and light, not gummy at all.  Paired wonderfully butter, then with herbed evoo and a feta style kefir cheese with a side of olives.  Dinner was definitely worth the 46 cents of ingredients to try this method and recipe.

Now I just need to figure out how to save the last half for tomorrows breakfast.......and then try it again :)


Thanks so much for such a wonderful site full of inspiration and helpful information for even a fledgling baker.



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