The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


python_mainly's picture

I post on rare occasions and mainly follow everyone's great work on this site. I need help achieving the last 5% of the tartine country loaf-- a good interior crumb. Or maybe it's more like 50% of the importance haha.

Currently, my crumb is very uneven where some areas are chewy, some are light and airy, and other areas have too much bubbly airholes. 

I was following the Tartine loaf recipe pretty religiously but I was getting even worse interior crumb than what I'm getting now. The big difference now is i'm first mixing in a stand mixer until I get a windowpane effect and no autolyse.

I've tweaked my approach to include some tartine elements and other elements similar to this method:

My ingredients are:

  • I've used King Arthur and Bob's Red Mill. But the current flour I've had most success with is actually a mix of the inexpensive white unbleached AP Ceresota Flour and Bob's Red Mill Wheat Flour. I'm judging "success" as having a more active, robust, and floating starter. 
  • I've also started experimented with adding 3-5g of Bob's Red Mill Flax Seed Meal to my starter and it has made the starter more active.

In terms of maintenance:

  • I bake about ever 2-4 weeks. I keep my starter in the fridge and feed it every Sunday.
  • When I plan to bake, I get the starter out 3 days in advance of baking and start feeding it daily to get it back to a good activity level. 

My current approach is as follows:

  • Mix 75g starter, 75g water, 80g flour 8-12 hours before the bake.
  • Only move forward if the starter is at least partially floating. I've had the most successful loaves when a teaspoon size ball of the starter floats atop the water and never sinks. I believe that's always the goal.
  • The rest of recipe for one loaf is:
    • 160g leaven
    • 230g water
    • 350g white flour
    • 50g wheat flour
    • 8g salt
  • I first mix the leaven in the water until it looks as if it is dissolved into the water for a creamy, cloudy liquid mixture.
  • Instead of autolysing like the tartine recipe and waiting 30 minutes to add the salt, I instead add all ingredients to my kitchenaid mixing bowl at once. 
  • Unlike the tartine country loaf where I was not using the mixer at all, I currently use the mixer to beat the dough and I run it for about 12 minutes on medium-low speed until I achieve a windowpane effect with the dough. 
  • I then let it rest for 3 hours at 78 degrees and fold use the tarting folding technique every 30 minutes during this time.
  • I then shape the dough with a structural stretch, place it into a bread basket, and let it rest in fridge 8-12 hours.
  • I take the dough out of the frigde the next morning and let it rest on the counter for 1 hour. 
  • I then bake in a terra cotta/clay vessel. It's essentially a terra cotta dutch oven. The clay vessel is preheated in a 500 degree oven and is hot as soon as I place the dough in it. I slice a line in the top of the dough and spritz with a handful of sprays of water to add steam before I put the top on the vessel.
  • I bake for 30 minutes in the vessel. Then I take the lid off the vessel, reduce heat to 475 degrees, and bake for another 27 minutes.
  • I let it rest a couple hours before cutting into it.

Again, my biggest issue is having an uneven interior crumb where some spots are airy and perfect while a majority of other spots are chewy and too dense/doughy. 

Here are some pictures of one of my recent, more successful bakes:

Thank you for considering to add your expertise and input! Much appreciated TFL people!

Elsie_iu's picture

 Bread with bold flavours wanted this week.



25% Germinated Red Rice 15% Sprouted Rye Sourdough



Dough flour

Final Dough


Total Dough










Flour (All Freshly Milled)









Sprouted Rye Flour









Germinated Red Rice Flour









Whole Red Wheat Flour









Whole Spelt Flour









White Whole Wheat Flour (Starter)









Whole Rye Flour (Starter)































































Vital Wheat Gluten









Starter (100% hydration)




































Toasted caraway seeds 1 tsp




























Sift out the bran from dough flour, reserve 30 g for the leaven. Soak the rest, if any, in equal amount of whey taken from dough ingredients. 

Combine all leaven ingredients. I used it after 3 hours and it wasn’t quite ready (28.5°C).

Roughly combine all dough ingredients. Ferment for a total of 5 hours. Construct a set of Rubaud mixing for 3 minutes at the 30 and 40 minute mark respectively. Do a set of lamination at the 50 minute mark. 30 minutes before shaping, do a set of coil fold. Shape the dough then put in into a banneton directly. Freeze for 20 minutes before retarding for 16 hours.

Preheat the oven at 250°C/482°F. Score and spritz the dough then bake straight from the fridge at 250°C/482°F with steam for 20 minutes then without steam for 25 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 208°F. Let it cool for a minimum of 2 hours before slicing.


Oh well, that hole...


The oven spring was quite decent for a loaf with 40% rye and red rice. I find lamination really useful in improving dough strength in weak dough. It makes a real difference that can be obviously felt.



This bread tastes pretty sweet, comparable to sprouted kamut/durum bread. Sprouting seems to have tamed the acidity of rye. Usually I get noticeably sourer bread even with 10% rye but the acidity isn’t very pronounced this time. I suspect this is owing to that a very young levain was used as well.




Falafel tacos


Nasi lemak with an Italian & Japanese twist… Risotto-like coconut rice with a Japanese style soft-boiled egg


Cheesy egg omelette served over rava pilaf


Garlicky linguine with shrimps, mushrooms and green beans. Topped with provolone piccante :)


Chicken enchiladas in 3 chili sauce, spiced grouper with sautéed cauliflowers, green peppers & onions, pan-grilled corn with pickled cucumber, black bean rice pilaf, and stir fried veggies


White bread of the week: 30% amaranth 10% sprouted rye & white wheat

A bit under-proofed... Again


Jenny1burger's picture

I had a reliable, easy starter in Pittsburgh. I have been baking sourdough bread every weekend for the past year.

I just moved to Charleston SC and started a new starter with 100% fresh milled rye flour and water, the flour was purchased 1 year ago and kept in a sealed Tupperware container in a dark cabinet. The temperature in my house is 78F. 

It was very active the first night (which was unexpected) and continuously decreasing in activity over the week and minimally active after 7 days. It still has tiny bubbles, and smells sour, and passes the float test but does not rise whatsoever. I read Debra’s winks blog about bacteria being the cause that could be deceiving as yeast in the beginning. If this is the case can I still fix it? Start over?  I’ve tried it twice and the same thing happened. I’ve used purified water both times. 


What the heck is happening!? Any thoughts would be appreciated. I’m so frustrated I miss baking. 

Thanks, Jenny

Filomatic's picture

After what seems like forever, I finally baked yesterday.  This is a Hamelman-based 50% whole grain bread with a soaker.  Hard wheat, rye, spelt, and kamut comprised the whole grain.  I attempted to sift for a bran levain, but the sifter stopped working.  Therefore the levain was all whole grain, which at least helped somewhat.

The soaker had rolled oats and kamut, toasted malted rye powder, and old bread.  I waited 45 minutes to do the first fold and it had a great balance of extensibility and strength, and after about 2.5 hours of bulk, shaping was easy.  I put them in cold storage at 11 a.m.  Later I decided I'd rather just bake them off, so at 4 I returned them to the proofer and baked at 7:30.

BreadLee's picture

Here's another Egg Harbor white bread from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Bread. It always turns out dynamite.  Sorry about the measurement in cups.  Haven't converted it yet.  

1.5 tbl sugar

7g salt

3 cups bread flour

1 tbl butter

1/2 tbl salt

50g starter 

Glaze: 1 tbl milk + egg white

1 1/4 cups water [120-130f)

1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Toss the butter in. 

2. Mix half the flour and yeast.  Stir in the water mixture.  

3. Stir in the starter.  Stir in remaining flour. Let sit 10 minutes. 

4. Under dough hook mix around 8 minutes until slightly stretchy. 

5.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  

6. After 30 minutes do a fold and turn.  Do 3 more turn and folds about 15 minutes apart.  

7. On lightly floors. Floured surface shape into a ball.  Tighten up outer skin.  Then gently shape into elongated ball the length of a 9x5 loaf pan.  

8. Spray loaf pan with coconut oil then place loaf inside.  Wax paper goes atop. Rise is about 40 minutes.  

9. Preheat oven to 400f. Brush top with an egg/ milk mixture.  Place loaf in oven to bake around 30 minutes.  If top browns too quickly place foil on top. 

10.  remove to cooling rack when internal temp is 205f+ and top is golden brown. 


dabrownman's picture

We sent a picture of the last focaccia to the daughter and she said that she wanted on when she was here this weekend.  This one was a bit different because Lucy is so old she can’t remember from one minute to the next and never liked doing the same bread twice anyway when she could remember.


This one is only SD with no Instant yeast kicker.  The levain was 100% hydration, 15% pre-fermented flour with the 10% whole grains (rye, red and white wheat) in the levain. The last one didn’t have any whole grains at all. 

The dough flour was half AP and half bread flour instead of mostly bread flour.  Overall hydration was the same at 71%.  The levain and the dough were retarded for 24 hours and last time the dough was retard for 5 days.

Smoked Sweet Italian sausage for dinner.

We did 2 sets of slap and folds of 100 and 25 slaps and then 3 sets of stretch and folds from the compass points all on 30 minute intervals before retarding in an oiled bowl.  We let it warm up for an hour and a half on the counter before shaping it into the PAM sprayed jelly roll pan.

4 of these smoked chicken thighs went into the Hatch Green Chili with Smoked Chicken, white beans and fresh corn.

After shaping we covered it with plastic wrap and let it proof for an hour before dimpling and putting on the toppings.  1 T each of dried rosemary and oregano were dimpled into the dough first.  Grape tomatoes are then squeezed over the top, the juice spread around and the tomatoes placed on top. Then red and green onion, orange and red bell peppers, crimini and brown trumpet mushrooms and 4 different halved olives were placed on top and them covered with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.

It's not dinner without a great salad.

The last thing was a drizzle of olive oil and Into the 450 F oven it went for 8 minutes of Mega steam.  Then the steam came out and a layer of Monterey Jack cheese went on and back into the 425 F Convection oven it went for another 13 minutes.  When it came out we put on another layer of grated Parmesan and fresh Thai basil and a bit more EV olive oil.

Yes it it a the Avozilla Avocado!  This one is a cross between the West Indies and Guatamalen Garantuan varieties.  The are a couple of other ones grown in Australia but they aren't smooth skinned like this one.  This one was $2. 

With the extra toppings this one was all that much better than the last one.  We have been munching on it for lunch all weekend with a side of Persian cucumbers and Zatar, oregano and fresh dill infuse Lebneh mixed with Lebanese Greek style yogurt.  Just plain deliciousness all around!

We froze some for the focaccia for the daughter to take back to her husband in Seattle later today.  Sending him some more starter and lava rocks too.  4 posts in a month - Lucy has been busy,

JoshuaBlack's picture

To the random person on the internet that clicked on my blog,

Its midnight and I start my new job in 8 hours.

I just quit my job a week ago. Actually I just quit 2 jobs in a month in the same field as most of the jobs on my resume- security work. I know security work. It's easy, anyone can do it and at the last job location I got paid 17 an hour to wear a suit and be a living mannequin for 6 hours a day. The bottoms of my feet hurt from standing still on a hard surface wearing the most uncomfortable dress shoes. The muscles in my leg panged with pain when I rose them too high. I tried calling Dr. Scholls to say "what the hell, man?" But the Dr was never in.

So I quit.

A day later I hopped on Indeed and applied to all sorts of jobs, none of them having anything related to security work. Godiva chocolatier, edible arrangements arranger, hospital jobs, and cooking jobs. Hell, I even applied and got offered an interview as a photographer on a cruise ship. I applied to two different bakeries, one was my ex-girlfriends favorite bakery. It's a well known japanese bakery. I loved their strawberry shortcake, actually it was the only thing I tried there.. And another bakery called Epi-ya boughlangery? Boughlangerie? and Patisserie. I had back to back interviews at both bakeries on the same day, so I went to kulu kulu first.

The interview went horribly. Couldnt tell you why, specifically. It's just this funny little feeling I got about 3 minutes into the interview. I had already known she wasnt going to call me back for a follow up. She said she'll let me know this weekend and it's already 2412 Monday morning.

But that didnt even matter because when I arrived at Epi-ya, with their grand opening banner still blowing in the wind outside, the manager's whole attitude seemed different from the natural disaster I walked into earlier. She asked me how my last interview went and I told her it went bad. She seemed genuinely interested in me. The interview went great, and she told me she was going to bring out the head baker, Mr. Sato.

Sato was professional. He asked me about the stint at Pizza Hut and looked at me sort of dismissively. He knew I knew nothing about baking bread. He asked me if I was good at math, I said yes (i barely passed geometry in summer school after failing algebra 1). He asked me if i can work long hours. I said yes. He told me the starting pay is low but would increase as I get better at my craft. I told him I'm fine with that. Hell I was over the moon at this point because I knew I got the job.

But I'm bad at math. I know nothing about baking. The only thing I've ever baked was cookies in the packet at the grocery store with the directions on the back. Everything at Epi-ya is made from scratch. But I loved working at Pizza Hut. I loved working with my hands, trying and successfully outdoing my coworkers as far as presentation goes. I loved getting tips from customers, the recognition of my ability to whip out amazing looking pizzas in minutes far surpassed any monetary value of the tips.

I have zero confidence in myself.

I expect to get fired on the first day for my incompetence

But I'm not going back to security work

If I'm going down, I'm going down swinging. Or rather, baking. 



Mamabread's picture

Hi, just wanted to let you know that this post ended up being a little long, and rambly. It’s late here and I just want to talk about my bread :) 

I know when you first start out the goal should just be making a consistently decent loaf or at lease being able to repeat what you created the last time. But I’m so eager to learn, I just had to try something a little different. And after a week of watching Trevor and @fullproofbaking (sorry I don’t know her name) mix and fold and shape (they are amazing!) I had to try and make this bread with my hands. So I used the same formula I used the week before. 100% King Arthur bread flour, 70% water, 38% levain, and 2% salt and I set to work. 

I didn’t learn about my first mistake/lesson until after my loaf was in the oven this morning. I was reading post by fullproofbaking on how to calculate bakers percentages and realized I didn’t account for the levain. Last week when I used 527g of flour, 369 water and 200g 100% hydration starter, I actually had 72% hydration. And this week when I upped my flour to 700g, 490g water, and 250g levain (less percentage wise than last week, but all I had) I actually had 75% hydration. So this would explain why the dough was much more difficult to handle than it was last week. 

A side note about my Starter: I’ve named her Wilhelmina after my great grandmother. She’s almost as old as she would have been, being born sometime in the late 1800’s. Also, she’s demanding and tough. My mother hated her grandmother, apparently she would make her do chores and redo them when she wasn’t satisfied after school. Even though my great grandmother was very well off and had her own staff. Also, apparently a billboard fell off a building and hit her in the leg and she walked to the hospital without help with a broken leg when she was 85. She also lived into her late 90’s and she couldn’t have been all bad because she hid and fed people in her walls during WWII. So my tough, demanding, long lived dough is named for her. And I’ve been trying to do well by her and feed her 3-4 times before building my levain. I’m happy I discovered I could do this with very small portions. 

To make my dough, I mixed (by hand) all my flour and most of my water and left it on the counter (in the sun) for 2 hours. I then added the rest of the water, the salt, and my starter. Here I attempted to copy Trevor by spreading the starter over the dough and dimpling it in. I then did some kind of stretching and  folding to incorporate the ingredients as well as some of that fancy scooping/stretching motion in the bowl. (notice that I know exactly what I’m talking about :) ) I had wanted to attempt the slap and fold method but I chickened out. I did these various “mixing” motions for 10ish minutes and took a break because my arm was killing me. ( I lift weights 5 days a week but apparently I don’t have enough strength to mix dough for more than 8mins. ) After I let is rest for 15 minutes, I did another 5 mins of the scooping thing.

It should be noted that I did all of this with a toddler sitting on my counter. I had to stop frequently to keep her from sticking things in the bowl, eating the dough, and trying to grab knives or run on the counter. (Mom of the year, I know ;) ) 

I then put the dough in a new bowl (b/c that’s what Trevor does) and covered it and left it on the counter in the sun again (not sure if this is bad?) for a 4 hour bulk. I did 4 sets of folds in the bowl 30 - 60 mins apart. 

Pre-shaping was disastrous with one half and went okay with the other half of the dough. So I let it rest 25 minutes and attempted to shape again. The disastrous one had spread out in a blob on the counter. But I managed to form a somewhat decent boule with it and then tightened it up a bit one it was in the towel lined bowl.

Then I thought I would be fancy and make a batard with the other half... it looks so easy when Trevor and fullproof do it!!! I could watch videos of them shaping dough all day long. (I do this at night and my husband things I’m crazy) Anyway, some sort of oval was created and in the bowl it went. I also pinched it a bit tighter then too. And into the fridge for an overnight proof. 

This morning I preheated my oven to 500 an hour before baking and heated my crocks up too. With the lids this time. Reduced the heat to 475 and baked them 20 mins lids on, 35 no lid. 

This pictures above are of my “batard” or wonky log thing. Anyway, I’m still really pleased with it and it tastes amazing. 

All I want to do is bake more bread. I’m considering making a pan bread this weekend. I even bought some local organic whole wheat flour that I want to add to it. But my only loaf pan is 9x4.5x 3 and I’m probably going to have to do some more math to adapt someone’s recipe to fit my pan. Any tips on working with whole wheat or making sourdough pan breads? 

Thanks and I hope you’re having a good day!

- Charlett 

Hotbake's picture

Red bulgur were toasted in butter along with crushed fenugreek and caraway seeds, added about 2 Tbsp of everything seasoning too just to add another layer of flavor and texture.

My first time trying out bulgur in bread, using my porridge sourdough recipe with some modifications. It's a great success! I'm very very happy with the result!!


This is such a flavor and texture bomb, the fenugreek will make your house smell like heaven, the red bulgur keeps the crumb moist and slightly chewy, and the best part is the crust, incredibly thin and crispy!

isand66's picture

I made a similar version of this bread several weeks ago but gifted them to some friends.  I wanted to try baking it again and decided to sub Farro for the freshly ground Spelt.  Spelt is one of the oldest cultivated grains initially discovered in the fertile crescent of the Middle East. Grano farro is the original grain which other grains are derived. More commonly it’s now grown in Italy in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany, the Marches, and Umbria.  It adds a nutty flavor profile and I was very happy with the final result.

The purple sweet potato added a beautiful color and really makes the crumb nice and moist and flavorful.  I highly recommend you give this one a try if you can get your hand on the ingredients.  The purple sweet potato does taste very different than the standard orange version as it is not as sweet so if you decide to sub it will not taste the same.  It will still be good, but I prefer the flavor the purple potatoes imparted.

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.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours  and the sweet potato with 90% of the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, olive oil, salt and the balance of the water and mix on low for 5 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.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

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 540 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.

Lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 25-35 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.

Below is the nice moist and colorful crumb.


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