The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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STUinlouisa's picture

The other day I decided to finally try some sprouted grain flour. Mixed 200g total of Kamut, Einkorn, Spelt, and white wheat, sprouted, dried, and ground. The bread was made using the sprouted flour, 100g fresh ground white wheat, 200g AP,125g natural starter, salt and water (ended up to be 73% hydration). Mixed, S&Fs, fermented for 2 hours, retarded overnight, let warm, shaped, rose  in a banneton,  and baked in a DO. The bread is very tasty but has some very large holes in it. (Also tasty is the banana bread pictured behind the loaf made based on the recipe on this site.) Next time I will use all white wheat sprouted flour. The reason for not this time was because of running short on white wheat. Which brings up the following. 

For about a year I've been using Wheat Montana Prairie Gold, which was bought at an Amish store about an hours drive  away, as the basic wheat for grinding into flour and have been very happy with it. There is always a chance that the store won't have what you are looking for when you arrive and you can't check because there is no phone let alone a website so I decided to Google and see what showed up. I was amazed that there was a hit for Walmart, a store that is avoided if possible, and that it was in stock at the local one. During the weekly errand trip to town I stopped, looked in the flour, produce, organics sections and finally asked at customer service for the wheat, no luck. After doing a couple other things I decided to try and get the Walmart ID number on the product to see if they could locate it using that and after fumbling with my phone for about 15 min got the number. On returning the first person with a Walmart vest was asked if it was possible and I received a momentary blank stare and a request to follow to someone that might know. That person didn't know either but maybe someone else did. Finally that nice lady said she thought it was in the closeout section to which I had to be shown since I didn't know there was one. There laying on the bottom shelf was two 25 pound bags of Prairie Gold marked for $12.50 each. I happily spent a large portion of the afternoon vacuum packing the wheat into quart jars a convenient way to store in the amount normally milled. I didn't realize how lucky I was until the price of a 50 pound bag was quoted at $83 on the Wheat Montana website.


bakers are such nice people's picture
bakers are such...

Hydration.  Water.  When I was a kid one summer I fell out on a tennis court in the 100 degree Florida sunshine, my body exhausted by the heat and lack of hydration.  My childhood was spent at the beach--for this family with five children, the free beaches of Florida were a perfect summer solution.  The salt water in that wild Atlantic and its neighbor, the sleepy Gulf of Mexico, always in my imagination housed Hydra--the mythical beast who grew two heads back whenever one was chopped off. 

Getting dough right feels like that for me, in part by design.  Feeling my way to a right tackiness, to a certain moisture, to a taut surface on a shaped loaf--the beast of time and environment, ambient humidity and temperature, the absorption qualities in the flour . . . corrections made to one informs conditions in the others.  The dance is confusing, hilarious, rewarding.  The process is a perfect example how mastery cannot be taught, only learned.  And for me, anyway, learning is slow.


The breads I am making right now are really tricking me in the Hydra moment.  One day I will get a great spring, a big, bulbous loaf.  The very next day the same dough with an additional day in the fridge will spring OUT and make a two inch tall disc -- still delicious, still rich with big lovely cells in the crumb . . . but not big and bulbous -- and this is a matter of wet dough, is it not?  I wrestle with it, try multiple sprays through the early bake to keep it very wet -- and sacrificing oven temp every time I open that door!  Hydra strikes again!


One of the comments on my first post points out that people have been feeling their way to bread for --well, forever-- that not everyone reaches for their digital scale.   So true.  And while I do not mean to suggest that any of what I am up to is novel (much time reading this website and its posts show me a world of brilliant adventure far beyond my rejection of teaspoons and scales) it is certainly novel for me, in that humbling way in which it is a beautiful thing to be reminded repeatedly by the Hydra that I am outmatched by breadmaking, outnumbered and outgunned.  How lovely to know a lifetime of battling the Hydra awaits -- and that that battle is -- it is -- more like a dance than a fight.



Reynard's picture

On Tuesday afternoon a friend popped by, and we, as you do, sat there over tea and cake putting the world to rights while the rain was hammering down outside. Next thing we know it's supper time, with more tea, bread and deli. And then, at the end of the evening, there are only crumbs on the board and half a fruit loaf in the bread bin. So there I was, at eight o'clock at night trying to rectify the situation - just as well I'm something of a night owl... And I felt adventurous to boot. So instead of reaching for a set recipe, I thought I'd try putting something together on the fly. And here's what I came up with:


75g porridge oats

75g spelt flour

200g water just off the boil


50g rye starter

90g water

90g white bread flour


soaker + levain

12g salt

5g dried active yeast

280g white bread flour

145g tepid water

The soaker was fairly self-explanatory - I mixed the oats and spelt together, poured the water over it and left it for four hours. Likewise for the levain, though as I wanted to mix the dough before hitting the sack, I put the bowl of levain in a pan of hand-hot water to give it a hurry-up. When I came to use it, it actually smelled quite sour...

The dough I mixed as usual by hand - it was quite sticky and not the easiest to handle, but I gave it a good knead. It needed a wee bit longer than usual to get it to where it started feeling silky. I left it to rest for half an hour at room temperature, gave it a stretch and fold, left it for another half an hour and did a second stretch and fold. At that point I popped the dough back in its bowl, put the bowl in a plastic bag, threw the whole ensemble in the fridge and went to bed.

Next day lunchtime I took it out of the fridge (it had about 12 hours in there) and left the dough to warm up for about half an hour. After that I knocked it back, shaped it into a boule, and plopped it into a banneton and plastic bag to prove for about two and a half hours. The dough had firmed up considerably overnight, and most of the stickiness was gone.

The dough was turned out onto a hot pizza stone and scored. I splashed some water onto the stone and covered the dough with a large stock pot. This went into an oven preheated to 230C. I gave the bread 25 mins with the pot on, and a further 25 mins with the pot off.

The resulting bread was a bit frisbee-like, but had a thin, crisp crust and a fabulous aroma. The crust did soften quite quickly however, but when I sliced into the bread the next day, the crust was nice and chewy, while the crumb was glossy and bouncy. Flavourwise, the first taste was lovely and creamy (from the oats, I presume), but then came a very distinct sour tang that I've never managed to achieve before.

More importantly, the bread received the parental Seal of Approval with a request for a repeat bake... Now I know this needs work, but unlike my problematic Pain de Campagne, this one is certainly worth persevering with.

The next time I attempt this, I think I will build my levain and make the soaker in the morning and keep them in a warm place until I make my dough in the early evening - not after midnight LOL... That way I can get a nice long retard in the fridge and be able to bake the bread at tea time the following day.

I also need to figure out why I ended up with a frisbee...

This afternoon I also baked a brioche - I found a no-knead recipe on a Dutch website (www. that wants retarding in the fridge for two days, which rather intrigued me. Made the dough on Wednesday, left it to its own devices until into the oven it went this afternoon. It's actually my first ever attempt at baking brioche; I had a surfeit of butter left over after the Great Bun Bake, and I'd swapped one of my wholegrain loaves for some lovely free range eggs, so it kind of made sense. Am well pleased with the result and am looking forward to breakfast tomorrow...

And as usual, Madam Lexi had the last word in this week's culinary proceeds by proudly coming in at lunchtime today... with a rabbit...

Lexi was most upset when we took it away from her. Flopsy was duly released into the garden, whereupon she shot into the undergrowth with great alacrity... Still, it was quite a catch for such a small cat...

dabrownman's picture

Earlier this week, Lucy posted her 10 things to think about when trying to make a healthier, better looking and tastier sourdough bread.  We all know that there are dozens and dozens of ways to make breads of all kinds with none being right for everyone.  But, wouldn’t you know it, the virtual ink wasn’t even dry yet and Lucy was out there trying to do something different.  Oh my!


I told her,if she did that ,folks would think she was somewhat of bigger floozy than we already know she is and that she should stick to her method for at least one bake, even if just for some cover she would likely need later.


Starting bake day with a good breakfast is a must around here.

So for once, I was able to get her back on track but only by threatening to put her back on dry food instead of the Filet Mignon, Bacon and Cheese food she has been getting lately to clear up some of her health problems, which seems to have worked by the way.


So this bread has s 16 week retarded starter, a retarded levain and long retarded bulk ferment.  The gluten development and final proof of the dough were done at a relatively high temperature of 88 F.  The 3 stage levain was built with the sifted out hard bits of the 4 sprouted grain flours.  The whole grains are almost 40%, the pre-fermented flour a small 11 % and the hydration a respectable 75%.


It sure sounds like some thing Lucy would do and reflects her post earlier in the week here   Lucy’s Favorite Methods To Make Healthy and Beautiful Bread.  We did a 1 hour autolyse of the dough flour and water while the levain warmed up after a 24 hour retard.


We did 4 sets of 30 slap and folds on 30 minute intervals and 2 sets of 4 slap and folds on 45 minute intervals before going into the fridge in an oiled, plastic covered bowl for 21 hours of coldly coordinated, bulk ferment. We can't tell any difference in slap and folds or stretch and folds but the slap and folds are more fun and make more noise of course.


This week's dessert was an almond cake.

We did a quick pre-shape into a boule as soon as it came out of the fridge and then., after an hour warm up, we did the final shaping for a 1 hour final proof at 100 F..  Once un-molded and slashed, we slid it into the combo cooker preheated to 450 F for 18 minutes of steam.  Too lazy to do Mega Steam


This weeks's special Mexican treat was turkey tamales with crema, pico, guacamole with red and green combo salsa and cilantro for garnish and black beans refried for a side.

Once the lid came off, we turned the oven down to 425 F, convection this time, for 5 more minutes of dry baking, then took the bread out of the cooker and continued baking another 12 minutes until the bread thumped done on the bottom.  It bloomed, sprang and browned boldly enough for a home baker but we will have to see how the crumb came out after the bread cools for a nice lunch sandwich if we make one  It smelled wonderful once the lid came off  - a good sign indeed.

The crumb came out open, soft, glossy and moist.  We caught this one proofed just right - one of the advantages to doing a bulk ferment as opposed to a shaped proof.  The hot final proof outside, that was a bit longer this time,  helped.  This bread is one of the best tasting white breads we have managed to date,. If you don't normally prefer white bread you might like this one with 40% sprouted grains and if you don't prefer whole grain breads - you might like this one for the same reason - it's only 40% sprouted whole grain.

The crust went a bit soft as it cooled but it was thin and delicious and the chew was perfect.  The crumb tasted complex and no one will ask you if this is a sourdough bread - they will know it is and I hope it goes a bit more sour by tomorrow.  This bread is marginally better than our non sprouted 30% whole grain take on David Snyder's SJSD which is saying something.

It went absolutely perfect with today's left over lunch from last night's dinner - Guinness Irish Stew - Yummy indeed!.


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



16 Week Retarded Rye Sour






20 % Extraction Sprouted Multi Grain






80 % Extraction Sprouted 4 Grain
























Levain Totals






Sprouted 4 Grain












Levain Hydration












Dough Flour






LaFama AP






80 % Extraction Sprouted 4 Grain






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter & Scald


















Hydration with Starter and Scald






Total Weight






% Whole Sprouted Grain












4 grain sprouted flour is 26 g each of rye, spelt and oat with 77 g of wheat



 Lucy says to grab a salad with that almond cake


PalwithnoovenP's picture

I think, I finally figured out the best method for baking lean breads in my clay pot so it's time to move to "flavor" aspect of the bread. I refrained from putting flavors in the bread because the cooking method is my focus so I want to change that only variable every experiment, that's why for so long we're only eating white lean loaves. For a start, I chose a common ingredient that I have that seems to be a classic flavor/addition to breads; sesame! It's amazing that a little amount of a single ingredient gives the bread an explosion of flavor. I've seen many folks here did it and here is my best so far. I've used black sesame to add color; toasting them is more difficult because you cannot judge them by color like white ones so I always do the "sniff" and "crush" tests.

The dough right after shaping.

I've used 50/50 AP/BF again because the last breads with only BF came out too chewy for me. Inspired by Bouabsa's baguettes and Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne, I mixed chilled flour, ice water, salt, instant yeast and sesame seeds; every fermentation stage is done in the fridge except for the final proof, 3 S&F's every 2 hours after 5 hours in the fridge and a pre-shape with overnight rest. In the morning, I shaped the dough into a batard and proofed it seam-side down in my oiled and lined "giant" llanera for 2.5 hours since it's pretty cool here today.

The dough fully proofed.

I let the dough dry a little bit in the fridge for 10 minutes before scoring because the air there is pretty dry. It is then baked for for 50 minutes in the pot; the first 10 minutes with steam, flipped after 30 minutes for the top crust to brown for the last 20 minutes.

Scoring is not so good and difficult when in a pan like this.

I totally forgot not to score the middle so the score marks won't be squished when I flip the bread so I just proceeded to bake it (next time I will surely remember it), as result the score is negligible in the final bread. I'm also not still used to scoring wet doughs so I have to practice more. Steaming is not a problem in the pot, the water it absorbs when washed before baking is enough to generate steam for the appropriate time. The bread rose well in the pot too.

I was greeted by this beauty when I released the steam.

When I flipped the bread (this is a combination of methods no. 2 and 5 as I've said before in my older post) onto a smaller llanera, I didn't noticed that it slipped and had direct contact with the pot itself. When I came back, it was browned but charred in some areas, if it did not happened this bread would be even more gorgeous.

It's the largest loaf my loaf (8 inches long) my pot can handle but it's only as big as my hand! 


Crumb is pretty tight for a wet dough, any thoughts why? Maybe because of poor shaping/too much handling; OR the dough failed to expand to its fullest because the pan is restraining it but I think it helps support the structure of the bread and I can clearly see that. It is identical to what happened in method no. 2 in the previous post.

The crust up-close, full of sesame seeds!

Crust is thin and very crispy when it came out of the pot but became soft and chewy when it cooled, crumb is moist, soft and chewy; full of sesame fragrance and flavor which is pronounced but not overpowering, just right. The black sesame contrasts nicely with the creamy crumb, very pretty!

Though there are still lots of improvements to be made, I'm very happy with how this loaf turned out; one of the most beautiful lean bakes I made. My mom and dad said that for a leavened bread baked without an oven using only a pot, this is very beautiful and can be called exceptional; they always encourage and support me.

I'm so excited to try more flavor combos (my own crazy ones and those tested/formulated by fellow bakers), grains and add- ins in the future! I think my next one will be even better!


Remember my red bean paste in my last post? It's all gone now and I've used it in a number of treats. After this, it may take a while again for me to bake/cook something. If I'm not in the mood to cook, you can't force me; but when I'm on it almost nothing can't stop me be it an exotic ingredient, heat, storm, lack of sleep or anything!

I made this little crepes yesterday and filled them with the bean paste. I thought of making dorayaki but I settled on this crepes for something different. Too bad, they're almost gone when I snapped a photo.


I also made Bukkumi today while the bread was cooling, of course filled with my bean paste! It is a traditional Korean pan-fried rice cake filled with a sweet filling. I also garnished them the black sesame seeds, very pretty! I made it so I can have a sticky rice-bean combo, sticky rice and bean pastes always go well together, so delicious! Nice change from the usual fried sesame balls and steamed rice cakes. By the way, if I only had some nice strawberries I could have even made Ichigo Daifuku.

Another tiring but fun-filled day! Till my next cooking/baking adventure!

Thank you very much!

bakers are such nice people's picture
bakers are such...

After 3 years of baking a number of breads from sources like Complete Book of Breads and Breadbaker's Apprentice, I stopped pulling the measuring gear, volume or weight, out of the cabinets when I set out to make bread.  I use the same mixing bowl every time so that the visual information I receive is always in the same format, and then I bring together flours at my whim--KA AP, KA B, rye, whole wheat . . . and very recently the great -- GREAT -- line of flours from Castle Valley Mill in Doylestown PA.  Truly great products.  The image for this post is a loaf made completely with their flours.  The one beside it is about one fifth KA AP or so.

Between my eyes, my taste buds, and my fingertips, we arrive at our desired colors and hydration.  I almost never add anything beyond the flours, water, salt, and my home starter, nurtured with love.  I do follow the ideas I have gleaned from many of you in my time reading this site--ideas about time and temperature, about steam and overnight refrigeration, about when to shape and how/when to introduce salt.  I have learned a great deal from my place of silence here and I thank you for that.


While my method means I do not make the 'same' bread twice, the fact is that I have developed a sense of what I am looking for and so I am able to arrive within a narrow range, sometimes a bit more sour, sometimes a bit better crumb, but like a ceramic artist during the glaze fire: awaiting a surprise when I pull my loaves from the oven.  Speaking of ovens:  as a renter I was always at the mercy of the gas or electric that came with the house.  For home baking, and short of my own brick oven that I will someday build, the gas oven I have now (and Electrolux Icon) is more than satisfactory in terms of heat and balance.  As with most home ovens, steam is a continuing challenge.


I teach at a liberal arts college and this semester will teach a First Year Seminar on Bread.  I am nervous about entering this subject (I am a Sculpture prof) but feel armed with the amazing wealth of information, history, myth, and culture surrounding this simple and magical staple.  People regard bread making as a kind of alchemy, but you all know better than anyone that it is in fact more like gardening than like turning lead into gold.  From the planting to the reaping to the milling to the building to the baking to the breaking . . . it asks that we tend it, that we attend to it, that we give it our attention.  And so a note on my username--I love that bread is a thing that it is good to break, because when we break bread we repair ourselves to one another.


Happy Baking and Breaking -- Nestor

WendySusan's picture

Its summer in New England and its been a fairly nice summer but lately its been hot and humid.  I know some folks live in this kind of climate all year round or in hot, dry climates but for me, baking in the summer presented a challenge.

This time, I think I got it right.  Rising times are exponentially increased since its at least 20 degrees warmer in the house....with the a/c running....than in the winter time.  It took me a few tries to get good looking loaves.

I set my starter out the night before and when I woke up in the morning, the container had exploded and starter was everywhere.  It floated so I knew it was ready.

Since I started on my baking excursion, I have become everybody's bread supplier.  I got a text from my recently college graduated son, who is touring for two weeks with his punk emo band....Mom, we're coming to stay at my apartment for a night...we're arriving late...can you make some vegan bread for us?  Yeah, right.  And of course Mom came through....since all the bread is flour, water, and salt...and maybe a little yeast since I was short on time....of course its vegan.  But for the rest of the band who isn't....I added a huge salami and some cheese!

Next thing I see is a picture on Facebook of him with one of the loaves and a lighter with the caption "bread bowl" and I think we can all picture what he meant.  ;-p

Those loaves were a bit over proofed but still tasty. This batch was spot on.  2-3 hours of bulk ferment with an initial period of slaps, whacks and folds, then stretch and folds every 20-30 minutes for the next hour and BF for the next 1.5 - 2 hours.  I took a hint from Dabrowman and didn't bother with anymore proofing in the bannetons than the time it took to heat the oven and they rose just enough.

I even took a small amount of dough and made a "mini bowl  boule for my reply to the Facebook post!


rgconner's picture

Previous attempts on sourdough have been ok, but not great.

I decide I would combine more than one process to see if I could increase the sourness and texture of my bread.

Biga overnight:

360g 50/50 starter

440g flour

365g water

per Forkish ratios

after 14hrs I had a nice biga, bubbling along nicely.

Remainder of flour, water, salt added to complete dough (75% hydration) and left for bulk ferment. 

6hrs later, good 3X rise with a decent sour note to the smell. Divide and shaped, then 4hrs refrigerated proofing.


And pretty good crumb:


I think the crumb could be more consistent, it is a little dense around the edges. I suspect it is from either too short of a time in the cold proofing, or needed more time proofing warm before going in the fridge. 


Flavor is good, much more sour than previous attempts, will have to see how the family likes it. 

fusan's picture

I used my normal Method to make these loaves and it goes like this...



Currently Im using Dabrownman's method because it is so easy and versatile. You can adept it to any kind of flour and build it up just the way you like to without it affecting the mother. You dont need to feed it every week but it allways pops to double after 4 hours on the 2cond (or 3) feed. Win, win win all the way! What more can you ask for?Mine is at 50% hydration, just to keep the math simple.



Started two days before baking, in the evening, just before I went to bed.

First feeding: Left overnight at 30 deg C (86 F)

  • 6 gram Mother
  • 8 gram Water
  • 6 gram Flour (Whole wheat and a little bit Rye)

Second feeding: Left for 5-6 hours at 30 deg C (86 F) and allmost doubled.

  • The previous feeding (20 gram)
  • 20 gram Water
  • 20 gram Flour (Whole wheat and a little Rye)

Third feedingLeft for 6 hours at 30 deg C (86 F). It had risen to 3 times its size and was used 1 hour after if retracted.

  • The previous feeding (60 gram)
  • 60 gram Water
  • 60 gram Flour (Mostly Manitoba, Whole wheat and rye)

All together 180 gram Levain



  • 180 gram Levain
  • 800 gram Flour (50 gram Spelt, 100 gram Manitoba and the rest was organic white wheat flour)
  • 540 gram Water (cold tapwater)
  • 50 gram Pecan nuts (Soaked in hot water for a two hours)
  • 18 gram Himalaya Salt



  1. A couple of hours before the Levain was ready, I mixed the Flour and water and left it for Autolyse.
  2. After the autolyse the Levain and Salt was mixed in. I use a mixer at the lowest speed for 5-7 minutes untill the dough developed a nice Window pane.
  3. During the following 2 hours I Stretched and Folded the dough every 30 min and added the nuts at the first S&F.
  4. The last hour I gave the dough some peace and left it to rest.
  5. Three hours after the Levain and Salt was mixed in, I gently formed the breads, put them in Bannetons with a plasticbag arround and left them in the Fridge for 12 hours.
  6. Next day I started the oven at 270 deg C (518 F) and left the oven to heat up for an hour.
  7. Took the breads out of the Fridge, Scored, and baked them for 30 minutes with a lid on top of each.



This is an interesting one, because Im on an "add sourness trip" at the moment and these loafes were not sour. What was interesting is that they had a very deep and complex flavour. They tasted a lot better than usual, but they were not very sour. I dont know what made this increase in taste, but I'll would love to find out.




TwoBreadedBoy's picture

One of my favorite parts of baking bread is the scoring. It gives me a chance to get a bit creative and end up with a great-looking loaf. I am, however, no expert on scoring bread. It occurred to me that a good way to get some control over the way my slashes look would be to attempt some calligraphy. This worked nicely with a sourdough boule, made with a portion of whole wheat flour. I thought Hebrew would be the best language to attempt the slashes in, as the shapes of the letters remind me a lot of bread slashes. So here it is, along with a picture of the crumb.



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