The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
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.


isand66's picture

 I decided to use some of my leftover mashed potatoes along with some of French Style flour from KAF I bought during my recent visit.  I milled some fresh whole wheat flour and instead of using it as is I decided to try sifting out some of the hard bits and ended up with a medium extraction flour.  I have a finer sieve which next time I will use as a second step to get a real high extraction flour.

This one came out with a moderately open soft crumb with a medium thick crust.  A good sandwich bread, especially when using some of the smoked cheddar I bought in Vermont for a grilled cheese sandwich.



French Style Potato Bread (%)

French Style Potato Bread (weights)

Download the BreadStorm File Here.


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 usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours,  and 400 grams of the water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), olive oil and balance of the water, and mix on low for 6 minutes.  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.  (If you have a proofer you can set it to 80 degrees and follow above steps but you should be finished in 1 hour to 1.5 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.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  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 1 minute lower the temperature to 500 degrees and after another 3 minutes lower it to 450 degrees.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 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.







Reynard's picture

Thanks to some encouragement, I figured it was time to stretch myself some by experimenting... A bit like taking the training wheels off a bicycle I suppose. I begun with one of my favourite recipes for a basic wholemeal sourdough and modified it by adding a soaker and a little yeast, the latter to give me a bit more predictability - everything was scaled to give me a pair of 600g loaves.


87g wholemeal bread flour

87g warm water

20g rye starter


30g porridge oats

30g seed mix

40g rye flour

100g water just off the boil


Levain + soaker

5g dried active yeast

300g wholemeal bread flour

213g white bread flour

333g warm water

11g salt


I prepared the levain and the soaker the evening before. For the soaker itself, I took all the seeds (a mix of poppy seed, sesame, sunflower, millet, yellow & black linseed) and half the oats and toasted them in a dry pan until the seeds started popping. I let the seeds cool and gave them a few pulses in the food processor until the bits were smaller. This was added to the rest of the oats and the rye flour, I poured the boiling water over the mix and gave it a good stir. Covered both bowls with cling film and left them on the work surface overnight.

In the morning all the other ingredients were weighed out and prepared...

The soaker (left) and levain (right) on top of the flour mix. The soaker smelled wonderfully nutty, while the levain had a slight sour aroma. The dough was then mixed up...

Apologies for the fact that I had to use one of my large stainless steel cooking pots to mix the dough - I managed to break my large ceramic bowl and I can't find a suitable replacement...

Anyways, gave the dough a 2 hour bulk ferment at room temperature (that's about 22C here) with two sets of stretch and folds at roughly 40 minute intervals. Then I degassed the dough, divided it in half, shaped each portion into a batard and set them in the bannetons to rise. One I kept at room temperature, the other went into the fridge to slow the proof down; I only have one suitable chicken brick, so have to bake the loaves sequentially.

After an hour's bulk proof, the room temperature loaf went into the greased and floured brick, the top was scored, I put three teaspoons of water in the bottom of the brick, on went the lid and into a preheated oven at 230C it went. After 25 minutes I removed the lid and lowered the temperature to 200C.

At that point, I removed the second banneton from the fridge. After 20 mins the first loaf was done and removed from the brick, the brick was re-floured and the oven upped in temperature again. In went the second loaf into the hot brick, it was scored, I added three teaspoons of water, then back on with the lid and into the oven at 230 for 25 mins and then 20 mins at 200 with the lid off. I think the results were rather pleasing... The first loaf to be baked is on the left, while the second one is on the right.

One loaf I gave to a friend in return for free range eggs from her chooks (I succumbed to fried egg sandwiches) while the other is umm... mostly eaten...

The crust smelled wonderful, a deep, toasted kind of aroma. It was thick and crunchy with a lovely flavour. In contrast, the crumb is almost creamy-soft, very mild and sweet in its taste, and not at all what I was expecting. I had been aiming for something a bit more robust. I'm thinking I could up the quantity of the soaker next time, and maybe substitute the rye for buckwheat...

I found that the roasted onion hummus that I had for lunch rather overpowered the delicate flavour of the crumb. It went down far better with the butter and cheese I had for supper...

And where do the buns for thirty come in? At the weekend I catered pastries for a local charity function - and made buns, mainly because everyone seems to like them. Used Gordon's recipe for the dough, but a triple quantity - kneading that lot by hand is quite a workout, and of course, I was ably supervised by Poppy and Lexi...

One third was filled with fruit (standard Chelsea bun mix), another with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon then topped with cream cheese frosting, and the last batch were filled with a mixture of chocolate spread and bashed up chunks of dark chocolate and drizzled over with white chocolate...

(L-R: Chelsea buns, cinnamon rolls, chocolate buns)

Needless to say they went down really, really well, not a crumb was left. I even managed to sneak one of the chocolate ones for myself when no one else was looking ;-) It was soft, sticky and oh-so-gloriously chocolatey... *sigh*


PalwithnoovenP's picture

Yesterday was a hectic day and this bread is one of the reasons. Last Sunday, I saw some beautiful red beans so I bought some; that same day while watching a late night movie minutes before midnight I decided to make red bean paste for tomorrow and I proceeded to wash and soak the beans so they will be ready for tomorrow.

I made the red bean paste yesterday, smooth but with some chunks left for character including the bean skins. It was a 2 hour process; boiling, mashing by hand and sweetening. I love the texture of homemade bean paste and its sophisticated sweetness. I also like to make a small amount so we can have it fresh; what was left will be used for various rolls, pastries and sweets in the coming days.

My homemade red bean paste.

With the bean paste made, I suddenly thought of making a bread that would go well with it. For me, there is no better bread but a mantou, its slight blandness will make the red bean paste shine while providing the perfect texture. Just thinking of kneading dough by hand is somewhat tiring so I made a convenient schedule, make the dough at night, retard it and cook it tomorrow.

I thought I can have a good rest until night time but suddenly, dad requested if I can make my sticky rice dish that he loved and said he had all of the ingredients needed bought. How can I refuse? It is only one of the few times dad requested something from me and it’s me requesting something from him often like his wonderful fruit preserves and sweets. To add more, I decided to make some rice dumplings/zongzi (粽子) from the sticky rice I have which will be treated differently.  So from the afternoon until midnight; I kneaded the dough, cut the meat and vegetable to their appropriate sizes, marinated and cooked them, prepared the rice and did all the things that need to be prepared in advance. If I haven’t done those, this day will be even more stressful. Thanks to the fridge!

Today is as hectic as if not more than yesterday, I cooked the sticky rice, made 2 rice dumplings, and made this bread! It was so exhausting but every effort I made was rewarded with very good food! We really had a feast today! Dad invited his friend and they really enjoyed what I made. They said now that I'm 21, I can really pull off some exceptional dishes without getting help. Seeing them enjoy the food I made is even more rewarding than enjoying the food itself, especially coming from my dad.

A well made mantou is already good but when deep fried like what is done in dim sum restaurants something magical happens and dipped in condensed milk, you cannot ask for more. It also goes great with savory dishes, in fact this was inspired by a bread in a Chinese restaurant served with red braised pork. The crust is thin and extremely crunchy. This can be described as a gigantic fried mantou.  It is also not overly airy, it's fluffy and substantial just how we like it.

The flour I used was unbleached so it has a yellowish tinge to it.

Honestly, it's so soft, it's difficult to cut.


It's better to pull shreds from the crumb.

It really goes well with black or lightly sweetened coffee!

You choose, classic style with condensed milk...

Or with red bean paste....

My favorite... Combine the two!


My sticky rice dish that dad requested...

Kiampung, a sticky rice dish with meat and vegetables commonly found in Hokkien households and in Chinatown. There are many versions of this dish but mine is my dad's favorite.

Some rice dumplings made with almost the same ingredients as an experiment. I used banana leaves and nylon string to wrap because that's what I only have on hand. With a different leaf and string (a thick natural fiber one is ideal) wrapping the tetrahedral zongzi (locally called as machang) is a pain so wrapping is "just seal it" style. The bamboo leaves used are only available in Chinatown which is 2 hours away from us given there is no heavy traffic jam. For a misshaped zongzi with a different aroma because of the different leaf, it came out pretty good.



Those flowers in the first picture have a special place in my heart and they are blooming right now. With those flowers, many friendships were formed back when I was a child. There are 3 varieties that I know; red, yellow, and white. The red variety has the most flowers now; the yellow variety still has many buds that haven't bloomed; the white one still doesn't have any sign of flowers. These are called Santan, very common here and most yards now are covered with red and yellow flowers.

As you can see, each cluster is composed of many tiny flowers. Each flower has a stalk that you can pull; pull them halfway and you can link each flower to another flower, this is what girls usually do forming garlands and bracelets; pull them all the way and a tiny drop of liquid (they say it's the nectar) oozes out that you can sip and the taste is lightly sweet and this is what I do back then (we sometimes even strip whole shrubs of their flowers) and we think that the yellow variety produces the best tasting one. Every afternoon, kids flock the shrubs to do what I mentioned above sharing what they made/picked with the other kids while playing outdoor/team games (Ah! Those were the days!) nurturing friendships that we still remember to this day. Ask any kid of this generation and they probably wouldn't know what I'm talking about! :P The games and fun that they know today are iPad and Apps.

I wish you could see that stalk with the precious nectar!

Yes, technology might have taken some "fun" from this generation but I'm thankful for it and happy that I lived in this time. Ingredients are easier to source, recipes and food from around the world are easier to find broadening my mind and palate, and I am able to share some good stuff and see those of others no matter where in the world we are.


It's a tiring but happy day! When you finish a day weary and smiling, you appreciate rest much better!

Thank you very much!

fusan's picture

Let me start out by saying, Im terrible with electronics and this is my first time trying to solder anything. So I if I can do it, everyone can!

My goal was to make a device that can be used with most cooling boxes without any (or very little) modifications to the actual Cooling box.

The advantage of these kind of coolers are that they can heat or cool. It depends on how you turn the plug. I only needed it to do one at a time.

If the room temperature for example is 25 Deg C and I need 30 deg C, the plug to the box is pluged to heat. If I need 20 deg C, the plug to the box is set to cool. Everything else is controlled by the Thermostat. Theres a lot of different Thermostats but I needed the kind with a single relay and I would manually turn the plug to the box depending on what I wanted relative to the room temperature.


What is needed for this Proofing Box:

The Cooler box.

Thermostat (12v)

Cigaretteplug with a 6 amp Fuse

Powercord from an old Printer

Powersupply (12v)


The Cooler box

I was lucky to find a cheap Igloo Koolmate 40 Cooler. It can hold 4-6 of my small (27 cm) proofing baskets stacked on shelves. Its also capable of holding a 5 liter bowl easy (Pictured).

This is how it looks like:


Thermostat (12v)

This is a simple device that uses one relay. Depending on what you set the temperature to, it turns the relay on or off. When its on, there is a connection and your cooler turns on.

It need 12v from the powersupply. Be carefull when you connect + and -. If they are connected incorrectly it can damage the thermostat (or that’s what I’ve heard anyway).

So I’ve looked at youtube on how it is powered and found out that the connector that is furthest out, is the +. You can set the Thermostat to cool or heat in the settings.

I got this one from Aliexpress:

The only minus with this Thermostat is that the cord for the temperature probe is a little to short (33 cm) so you might consider getting a longer one. Its called NTC Thermistor 10K and is very cheap. Just remember to get one with the correct contact that fits the Thermostat.

There are no buttons supplied for this Thermostat either. If you want to build it in a cabinet, this link show the ones that fit but you can buy them everywere:


Cigaretteplug with a 6 amp Fuse

Since most (if not all) mobile cooling boxes can be powered from the car through a cigaretteplug, I got one to connect to the powersupply that came with the Cooler. It did have this plug allready, but I didnt want to cut it up. The less modifications, the better. It is important to buy a cigaretteplug with a fuse so you dont overload the powersupply and ruin it. The one that was supplied with the Igloo uses a 6 amp fuse, so you’ll need to get one like that. I bought a cigaretteplug with an 8 amp fuse so I had to buy some 6 amp fuses as well.


Powercord from an old Printer

It fits perfectly in the Coolers slot. There’re many plugs like that one, that are suitable for this pupose, but if you dont mind, you can cut the one that comes with the Cooler. You wouldnt be able to use it in the car again if you cut it up… not as it was intended anyway. I marked it with a red and blue dot on each side of the plug to easy distinguish how to turn it in order to heat/cool.


Powersupply (12v)

I used the one that came with the Cooler. It works perfect with the Thermostat so I only have to use ONE powersupply, instead of having one for the Thermostat as well.


How does it work

Since I wanted to only use one powersupply for everything, I had to figure out a way to power the Cooler and the thermostat from the powersupply that came with the Cooler. This was actually supprisingly simple, since the Thermostat was 12v like the Cooler. Here is how I wired the Thermostat:

When everything is wired, this is what I do...

Cooling Example:

If the room temperature is 25 Deg C and I want it to cool down to 20 Deg C.

- Turn the plug on the Cooler box to cool.

- Set the Thermostat to cool in the settings.

- Set the range for when to turn the Thermostat on/off (I use 1 Deg C).

- Set the desired temperature to 19.5 Deg C and it starts to cool.

Once it reaches 19.5 Deg C, it turns the cooling off and the temperature slowly starts to go up. When the temperature reach 20.5 Deg C, it starts to cool again.

Heating Example:

If the room temperature is 25 Deg C and I want it to heat up to 30 Deg C.

- Turn the plug on the Cooler box to heat.

- Set the Thermostat to heat in the settings.

- Set the range for when to turn the Thermostat on/off (I use 1 Deg C).

- Set the desired temperature to 30.5 Deg C and it starts to heat.

Once it reaches 30.5 Deg C, it turns the heating off and the temperature slowly starts to drop. When the temperature reach 29.5 Deg C, it starts to heat again.


Is it effective at all?

So far, it works really Fine.

Initially it takes 20-30 min to cool down from 25 to 20 deg C so It does have a startup time to cool/heat the surroundings to the desired temperature. Once everything is at the desired temperature (not just the air inside, but the walls too) the intervals for cooling/heating gets shorter.

I took a lot of measurements and found out that it takes 16 to 20 minutes for the temperature to raise 1 degree inside the box from 19.5 Deg C when the unit is on standby. It only takes 10 minutes to cool it down by 1 Deg C again from 20.5 Deg C once it starts to cool. The heating takes a lot less time than cooling!

So how on earth can it take 20-30 min to cool down 5 Deg C, when it takes 10 min to cool down by 1 Deg C?

The reason for this is that the Peltier (the unit that actually cools/heats) is in between cooling ribs on each side. Once the ribs gets cold/warm, the cooling/heating starts to be effective. So it takes a few minutes to get those ribs to perform at full power. Well thats my guess anyway :)


Thats basically it.

Should you have any questions, feel free to ask, Ill answer the best I can :)


redif2003's picture

Dear TFL experts,

I have been baking for the past 3 years, and just recently tried my hand in making baguettes. I should say that all my knowledge for this craft has came from the wonderful posts of the members on this forum - and I am very grateful to have access to such excellent resource. 

For the dough, I follow the Anis Bouabsa method, well elaborated on this site. For shaping, I follow Mark Sinclair's instructions (Thank you Mark!) and use lava rocks in loaf pans to generate steam.I preshape the dough out of the fridge, let rest for one hour, shape the baguette and let final proof for another hour.  I need to add that I am using a baguette pan which goes in my oven on a pizza stone, which is probably too thin. I bake at 460 F, for 20 minutes, first half with steam. 

My results have been mixed, I am too obsessed with getting an open crumb and large holes in my baguette, so much that I can't fully enjoy the wonderful taste of fresh bread if the crumb is't right. Some loaves come with a relatively open crumb (nothing like the pro members here), and some don't. The baguette tastes wonderful, with a complex flavor and a bit of a tang.  

The reason for this post is to get help troubleshooting the crust. As you can see in the images, some of my loaves explode in the oven, and the surface gets too rough. I get ears, but then the composition of the baguette crust is not like what one expects, a smooth crust with some ears and nice, symmetrical expansion.

You might think that my leaves are under-proofed, I have tried proofing for longer (2 hours - resulting  over-proofed and hard to score dough) which led to less extreme expansion, but similar rough surface. 

I would appreciate your intake on my loaves in general, and welcome all suggestions for a better crust, and a more open structure.









Baguette 2

Baguette 2


TwoBreadedBoy's picture

I felt I owed the good people of TFL an apology for my previous bread (which, oddly enough, was very good!). That apology, it seems, will have to come in the form of these nice little dark rye batards.

The idea for this bread came from the Youtube Channel Rus Brod. He has some excellent recipes for scalded rye breads, usually made according to GOST. However, his recipes are all in Russian. This one, however, seems to have come from a German recipe. While he shaped his dough into a sort of boule (Though with such a high percentage of rye, shaping is very different from a wheat bread) and placed it in a proofing basket seam side down. However, I stuck these in baskets for half the second rise and flipped them out onto parchment paper to score them. I then let them continue rising on the parchment paper for the next half of the second rise. I followed the recipe from the youtube user, except I only had dark rye flour. Therefore, instead of being partially composed of light rye, all the rye in this recipe is dark. I made up for this with a couple of teaspoons of of vital wheat gluten. I also used substituted part of the beer in this recipe with yogurt whey (and fed my starter with whey). I cut down on the baking time as well, as I made two loaves instead of one. Anyway, I'll have to wait until tomorrow to taste it.


If anyone is interested in making this bread or would like recipes for Russian scalded rye breads, I would be happy to translate some.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs