The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


man_who_eats_bread's picture

Earlier this week (I'm 80% sure it was Tuesday), for some reason, I mixed up two full size (~1.5kg) batches of dough. The FWSY country brown, and the Tartine brioche. Last night I started a Westphalian pumpernickel from The Rye Baker.

The brown:

I baked the brown into boules last night (one for the week and one for the freezer). I made the mistake of starting the dough immediately after feeding my starter. Following FWSY method I mixed the white and brown flour with water, then smacked my forehead. I put that dough in the fridge to slow down and added starter a few hours later. The dough had really congealed nicely! After giving that an hour on the counter it went back in the fridge and just came out the next afternoon. 

The resulting dough seemed extra sticky 

The brioche:

I don't know why I made 2 kilos of brioche... I've still got half the dough sitting in the fridge. So far I've made cinnamon buns, chocolate babka, and (chocolate filled) donuts. For the babka filling I used a recipe from the NY Times. It's basically a fancy ganache. 

The donuts are really why I wanted to make this dough. They came out tasty, but under cooked. To make the 3 donuts I made yesterday, I portioned out the dough (I can't remember the size, but it was a touch too big.) into 6 pieces, shaped each (more or less) into a ~4" disk, then sandwiched a spoon full of cold (solid) babka filling between each pair. They rose for something like an hour, then I fried them at 350 for a minute on each side. The dough didn't cook all the way through, and the outside was dark brown, so I definitely made them too big!

I was thinking I'd use the rest to make a couple loaves of bread, but then I remembered that one of my loaf pans is in the dishwasher and the other is in the oven making pumpernickel... which means I won't be able to do anything with the oven till tomorrow!

The pumpernickel:

This one is currently in the oven. And boy is it dense! The hydration is about 66% and it's unleavened. Last night I did "the scald" which involved combining equal parts of pumpernickel meal (a coarse rye meal) and boiling water. Cover with foil and leave out overnight. It was supposed to stay out for 16-18 hours, but I made the mistake of starting too early in the day. So I had a 22-ish hour soak. Then it went into the mixer with a bit of extra rye and some salt. The recipe said to use the paddle attachment, but the dough was so dense I switched to the dough hook half way. And even then I had to keep pushing the dough back towards the hook. 

In to a cold oven set to 300 for 40 minutes, then temp lowered to 220 for 24 hours! 

Starter update:

Louis has still been smelling extra pungent so I moved him into a clean mason jar so I could clean his usual yogurt tub. He's in the fridge now, but seems to smell a lot better! I might have to start incorporating regular container moves for starters. That said, Louis II (the all rye starter) still seems okay. Still, I'll move him into a new container soon.

isand66's picture

   Wine, Walnuts, Cranberries and Porridge....what's not to like?  I have to say, nothing!  This one is chock full of flavor and good enough to eat by itself, but even better with some cheese.  I gave 2 of these away to some work colleagues.  I think they will enjoy them, I hope.

There is just enough wine in this one to add a nice flavor without overpowering the bread or inhibiting it's fermentation.  The crumb is nice and moist and you get a mouthful of walnuts and cranberries with each bite.

The crumb is nice and open considering how much "stuff" is packed into this one.


Here are the Zip files for the above BreadStorm files.

Levain Directions

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.  You can use it immediately in the final dough or let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

Porridge Directions

Add about 3/4's of the water called for in the porridge to the dry ingredients in a small pot set to low and stir constantly until all the water is absorbed.  Add the remainder of the water and keep stirring until you have a nice creamy and soft porridge.  Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature before adding to the dough.  I put mine in the refrigerator and let it cool quicker.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the cranberries with the wind and let it sit to rehydrate for about 30 minutes or longer.  Drain the cranberries and add the wine per below.

Mix the flours, wine, Greek yogurt  and the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, cooled porridge, and salt and mix on low for 4 minutes.  Add the walnuts and cranberries and mix for about a minute until incorporated.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.



lacoet's picture

Hi everybody,

I‘m making Stollen for the first time and I noticed that my Kitchen Aid Artisan model electric mixer had the hardest time mixing the dough, so much that I kept holding the head to minimize the shaking.

The recipe called for 4 cups of flour but I‘ve made other breads with that quantity without noticing any strain on the mixer. Has this happened to anybody while making this Christmas bread?

Thanks, I’d  appreciate any ideas or commentaries.

Flour.ish.en's picture

Didn't know making panettone was a challenge until I read a recent article on the New York Times referring to this traditional Italian bread as "the Mount Everest of baking."  I tasted an exceptional piece of panettone made by Jim Lahey. Met him on his book tour in New York city when he spoke about his new book The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook. How difficult could it be to make the panettone armed with a detailed five-page recipe in the cookbook? This is what I've found.

Bread bakers deal with this process everyday: 1) prepare a preferment, 2) mix the dough, 3) bulk ferment 4) shape the dough, then 5) proof and 6) bake the bread. A fairly linear approach going from start to finish; done it, been there many times before. There are a few indispensable things to keep in mind. Among them, you'd need: a lively stiff starter, a stand mixer, panettone molds and long metal skewers. None too daunting. What I was not prepared was how long every stage of the process took. How many times I thought nothing good could possibly come out of this?

I'm starting to understand climbing Mount Everest requires endurance, a clear and focused mindset, a firm belief that you'll reach the destination and the discipline to ward off negative thoughts and resist messing around unnecessarily. It dawns on me that a recipe is just a set of guidelines; it's what we do with it that matters the most to the final outcome.



This Jim Lahey's recipe works, unequivocally. It's perfectly balanced. I have to keep reminding myself to stop messing around on the edges. It may take longer than 24 hours to get the preferment ready, 15 minutes at high-speed in the stand mixer to emulsify, 48 hours for the dough to quadruple during the bulk rise, 7 hours to get the dough to rise to the top of the panettone mold and 55 minutes to bake and several more hours for the inverted panettone to cool completely.

Who knows the unrelenting waiting game, especially if you haven't done it before (or you are type A like me), is the secret to a successful panettone? The panettone is weightless, cotton-candy airy, delicate, indulgent and far better than anything I've ever bought. More important, it's not about the bread. It's about a long and arduous journey, while keeping the hands and impulses (after all, I'm the master of the universe!) from interfering the dough and leaving it alone. Yes, sometimes it may take longer than you believe is sensible. That's the real challenge and a humbling experience.

Happy holidays to you all!


P.S. I have given these breads as gifts, therefore no crumb shots. I have another batch waiting.... Will post the interior pictures in a day or two.


Finally, some crumb shots. Not too shabby. Certainly, there is room for improvement!


sadkitchenkid's picture

This week I made some sourdough focaccia! One of them was plain with just olive oil, rosemary, and flaked salt, and the other was made into a tart topped with shallots, bird's eye chili, and rosemary, then brushed with jalapeno honey after coming out of the oven. 

The plain focaccia made it's way to a cheese plate along with some nordic bread that I had made as well. Good stuff. 

Happy baking!

SusanMcKennaGrant's picture

the dough


after shaping 

This is a walnut, purple cabbage, purple sweet potato (or yam?) sourdough boule. I used purple cabbage juice instead of water in the mix. I added a bit of vinegar to the juice to get the lively fuchsia. Roughly 20% rye, 30% ww and 50% AP 82% hydration. I eye-balled the yam addition…having been pressure cooked it was moist and probably weighed around 100 grams (sorry for the lack of precision). It’s a small tester loaf, just 250 grams of flour. The dough was quite slack with the high hydration, vinegar and yam addition. It was baked in a combi oven on a baking steel and using the lodge cast iron combo-cooker. The crust is quite soft (like a potato bread) so I let it sit overnight to dry out a bit before slicing. The dense crumb will make it a nice loaf to use in holiday crostini and to serve with cheese. The cabbage juice adds a really intriuging earthy flavour… I will make it again.  Happy Holidays everyone!


kendalm's picture

Sorry for the subversive reference but it had to said as I am convinced the sourdough heads are kinda hooked on the stuff ;) <- little wink to soften the blow ... Shoot! And theres another one ... Eek ! 

Ok, moving on, so here's a little sourdough batard accompanied by the usual 'yeasted' bake but, done with a twist and wondering if I have broken any cardinal rules.

Rather than preparing a levain hours in advance, i decided to mix starter directly into the dough this time (mainly due to lack,of planning).  It seems that each week at feeding time both starters (one plain ap based the other a rye) have bubbled up quite nicely in the refridgerator.  It can be pretty predictable that if I prepare a levain, that in 6 or so hours I will have a nice foamy floatable mixture.  Since I didnt really plan things out, I began to wonder why adding the starter directly to flour water and salt would not result in the multplication of yeast  ... of course it would right ? The yeast dont hold a meeting and ask if they are part of bulk fermetation or levain build, they just see starch and go to work yah ? So I am thinking that surely by morning there would have to be activity and the question really becomes is there enough activity.  Well surely as expected, having let this dough bulk ferment at around 78f, an evaluation of the dough in the am seemed good enough to shape and bake - this is the result.  Tastes good, sprung up enough, got a little bit of grigne - just wondering if Im breaking any rules here - do all y'all SD junkies ever do this and mainline starter directly to the dough ? 

Valentinaa's picture

have been looking for the perfect loaf to go with the many cheeses I always have in my fridge and I believe I am on to something. :) I have prepared this though on a weekend and baked it straight from the fridge on a Monday morning - it definitely chased away my Monday morning blues. 

I love how the buttery and nutty taste of the kamut and spelt compliment the sweetness of the figs and the rolled oats that cover the loaf make the crust extra crunchy. 

There it goes:

1. Prepare your starter in advance.

2. Leave to rest for 8-12 hours.


Final dough

Bakers' %

Wt (g)

for 1 kg

Kamut flour



Spelt Flour









Liquid levain






3. Mix the flours with the water and leave to autolyse for 30 minutes. Add in the levain and salt and mix thoroughly until all the flour is incorporated and the gluten is moderately developed. Add the figs cut in moderately large pieces (you dont want the grinded, but not whole either).

4. Bulk fermentation: 3:30 hrs with SF after each 45 minutes. The dough will be quite difficult to stretch. 

5. Pre-shape the loaves and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.

6. Shape them, ad some moisture to the surface and cover them in rolled oats. Place them in well floured bannetons and keep them refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

7. Remove from fridge and bake at 240 C for 45 minutes (15 minutes with steam, last 30 dry).

8. Open the oven door and leave the loaves to rest in the cooling oven for 5 minutes more.

9. Remove the loaves from oven.

I swear this bread tastes like happiness. :)




alfanso's picture

After Abel posted his 90% Biga @45% hydration (70% overall) a few heads were turned and some fast commitments made to reproduce this bread.  Mine too.  Some questions were left unanswered, i.e. the optional levain hydration, baking temp and time.  So some jeri-rigging was needed. 

Biga hand mixed, not "crumbly" as advised.


Final dough ingredients incorporated.

Completion of French Folds, awaiting bulk rise.

As my place is about 78dF-80dF year round, the kitchen was too hot to allow the biga to exist for the projected 14-16 hours.  It needs something in the vicinity of 62dF-65dF, according to Abel.  I emptied out a few bottles from my small wine cooler left it there for the duration  My notes:

  • Used Gold Medal Bread Flour which is likely not as strong as what Abel recommends.
  • wine cooler temp lowered the temp to 60dF
  • biga retarded for 22 hours, doming slightly but nothing more was noted.
  • 100% hydration liquid levain while adjusting the remaining flour and water downward to compensate.
  • Used a stoneground dark rye for the final 10% flour.
  • Chop biga into small pieces, add to water/new flour /salt in mixer w/paddle on slow, wait to incorporate, add next small piece...
  • 300 French Folds: 150, 5 min. rest, 150 more.
  • 1 letter fold at 30 minutes of the 60 minute* bulk rise.  
  • 15 minute rest after the pre-shape.
  • dough was very easy to shape and gave little resistance, more extensible than elastic for sure.
  • Dough required very little flour on couche, and came off cleanly from couche to hand peel.
  • 60 minute* bench top proof.
  • Oven to 480dF for 1 hour.
  • Sylvia's Steaming Towel 15 minutes before bake.
  • 2 cups boiling water on Lava Rocks just after loading dough.
  • Oven reset to 460dF for bake.
  • 10 minutes under steam, then steam released and dough rotated.
  • 10 minutes continued bake with another 3 minutes venting - oven off.

*Consideration that the levain generally takes longer than IDY to work its magic, with my kitchen being warmer than most,  I abided by Abel's timing to compensate for the warmer/faster acting environment.

Lessons applied and/or learned:

  • Don't mix the biga by hand.  Too difficult and the dough is not "crumbly" as Abel puts it.  I did and it was not easy.
  • Do mix the remaining flour, water and salt in a mechanical mixer with the paddle attachment.  It will incorporate much better than by hand.  After that, however you wish to complete the mixing phase is your decision.
  • Do "autolyse" the final dough ingredients (remaining flour, water and salt) to get a better hydration for the final dough.  It should be slurry, but will incorporate better.  I didn't.

350g x 3 baguettes/long batards

suminandi's picture

These 3 miniloaves, approximately 300 grams each, were made from the same dough, kneaded and bulk fermented all together. It is 75% hydration whole wheat (all red spring wheat) plus 2% salt- simple lean dough. About 4.5 hr bulk fermented at room temp, about 23 C/74 F. Divided, preshape, shape, put on floured towel. Final proof was 1 hr for right one, 1.5 hr for middle, 2 hrs for left. Middle and left look about the same and a bit better than right. But not sure it wasn’t just better shaping and scoring. 

Will find out later what the inside looks like. 


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