The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


BPaff's picture

I was well on my way to completing what would have been my best loaf yet. Everything was coming along perfectly as these things rarely do when you're a beginner bread baker. Had great gluten development, pre-shaping and final shaping were very good despite a rather wet dough (50/50 AP and high extraction bread flour @ 80%). This was suspect. Everything was going too well. The crucial mistake wouldn't manifest itself until hours after the fact. The heart sinking moment came after the final rise when I attempted to remove the dough from the bowl it was rising in. The bowl that cradled my novice error. 

I flipped over the bowl onto my peel and noticed the couche that was lying on top of the dough currently and during proofing was slightly wet. And my heart sank. I had a feeling it was a bad idea to have a wet dough rise on a couche that was apparently also not floured well enough. Needless to say the dough was totally stuck to the couche and i essentially had to rip it off, losing all that precious gas that had built up over the day of fermenting. Determined not to totally throw away my days work, I quickly and gently reshaped it and slid it into the oven. 

This was the final product

It was definitely misshapen, and obviously lacked some volume due to the ripping of the dough, but still had a great flavour and was pleasantly surprised with the crumb as well.

I am now doubly determined to pick up where I left off prior to my crucial mistake and complete what was supposed to be my best loaf yet. This may still have been my best yet despite the blunder, which makes it all the more frustrating knowing what could have been. This morning I ran right to the store to pick up some rice flour which will be used liberally for today's proofing.


P.S. anyone know how to salvage this?

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I did not have any plans to post this but as a record of by baking journey, I decided to post it today.

I found some candied peel last month in my favorite baking supplies store that's about to go bad (well, actually more of about to decline in quality) in 5 days which was on sale 50% off. It was expensive with it's regular price I thought, and now I can buy this without burning a hole in my pocket for me to taste it and use it in recipes. I immediately grabbed 2 bags then I thought it was the perfect time for me to try making panettone since I already have an established starter. I also grabbed some golden raisins and paid all of them at the counter. Half of the peels went to the fruit cake that I posted last time and half went into this.

It's my dream to bake a panettone though almost everyone thinks it is a humongous challenge to make but one day I have gathered enough courage to try my hand at it. Everything was going well; my starter more than triples in 4 hours, the first dough nicely tripled until it was time to add the enrichment. Panettone is something best done in a mixer but I'm stubborn so I still went even if I only have my hands. I was surprised with how soupy it was, because it's been a long time I have handled doughs like this in addition to stress and lack of sleep I was rattled and added a ton of flour to the dough. When I finished incorporating it, it was so dry and stiff and the dough almost doubled in mass; things you don't want for a rich but light as air bread. From that point on, I know this was bound to fail but I still continued hoping for something edible. I don't want to waste those sugar, eggs and butter; I'm going all or nothing here!

I dumped all the raisins and the candied peel into the dough and kneaded them in. After a 2 hour rest I shaped them into 2 boules (I only planned to make 1 but the dough almost doubled because of the added flour) and proofed one in the tin overnight at room temperature. The other boule was retarded for several days before it was baked because I can't squeeze it in my tight schedule due to prior commitments (and maybe also due to a little frustration). To add salt to the wound, the first one stuck in the tin so i had to pry it out and it was torn into pieces so we just ate it and no pictures. I was more careful with the second one so it had some photos, I put parchment paper in the tin so no sticking. I slashed it after proofing overnight at room temperature and baked it in my clay pot for 30 minutes with live fire and another 30 minutes over embers and this is what I got.


Oven spring leaves much to be desired. You can also tell it by the way the cut expanded. I did not flip it so the top was a little pale but the bottom was not burnt and is a little thick and crispy with the top soft and a bit moist. The crumb was dry and dense but studded by the raisins and candied peel.

Although it looks nothing like panettone and might even offend some PPP (People Passionate for Panettone), I still do not consider it a total failure. Only the texture suffered but the taste was superb. No tang at all, sweet, rich and buttery with the taste of the raisins and the candied peel shining through. It is very seldom that we taste something as great as this. My dad is very picky about his food but this one received no complaints from him. In fact it was the inspiration why I made the fruitcakes, the same flavor profile that my dad loves. We just found out that it wast the combination butter, eggs, raisins and candied peel that make fruitcakes taste fruitcakes and so delicious so I made  a batch for his birthday last month.

The texture was perfect to turn it into french toast but it did not see the light of the next day anymore for its milk and egg bath because it was gone in a flash! It was that good.

We're celebrating our 120th Independence Day today so here is a photo of me wearing our traditional formal wear. This was taken as souvenir photo when we passed the licensure exam. I'm still looking for what to wear for our oath taking. (Each teacher is a trustee of the cultural and educational heritage of the nation.)

Happy Independence Day to all my countrymen! Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Happy baking everyone!

Cedarmountain's picture

There are many reasons why people bake bread...for many it is a basic necessity of daily life to feed themselves and their families; for some it is a business while for others it is simply an enjoyable pastime, a hobby.  That's why I started baking bread a few years ago, just a hobby.  But after many loaves baked over the past few years I have come to appreciate there is much more to this hobby than I first thought; the reason I bake bread is because of the meditative and calming nature of the process, the honest and universally understood gesture of sharing fresh bread and of course, the simple pleasure of eating good bread. All this to say, bread baking is good for me, a process that takes me off the edge, calms and momentarily allows me time to breathe and think. 

I have struggled for many years with PTSD and all of the depression, anxiety, social stigma, anger, despair, isolation that goes with it. I have lost friends and comrades I served with to substance abuse and suicide because there has been little support, help or care available; more than 20 deaths by suicide in 2017 alone. But last month, after too many years of denial and inaction, hope....the government finally passed an amendment to the current workers' compensation legislation, a presumptive clause that presumes PTSD as an expected outcome for first responders rather than challenging and denying such claims. What's all this got to do with bread you ask?  Well, the last time I posted there wasn't much hope, now, with the new legislation there is.  So, for that reason, it seemed to me to be a good day to bake some Pretty Tasty Sourdough Bread.

  • 200 g high extraction fresh milled rye and Marquis wheat
  • 800 g organic all purpose flour
  • 300 g porridge made with hulless oat berries, steel cut oats and cracked flax seeds
  • 250 g young levain
  • 20 g sea salt
  • 750 g water

2 hour autolyse then an initial series of 50 stretch/folds to mix in the levain and salt.  Bulk fermentation for four hours with four series of stretch/folds every thirty minutes for the first two hours; porridge was mixed in after the second series of stretch/folds. I made two boules and set them in linen lined baskets to cold proof overnight.  The loaves were baked in pre-heated pots directly out of the fridge after 12 hours; covered at 500 F for 25 minutes then 450 F for 10 minutes; uncovered at 450 F for 18 minutes to finish.  I was happy to see the spring and scoring pattern when I removed the lids. The bread has a nice oat flavour and a chewy, soft crumb with bits of flax and hulless oats throughout.  



pul's picture

I have another experiment using minimal amount of starter. This time I have not built any levain, and mixed 1 g starter with other ingredients. I tried to adjust the process to my schedule, which is mix in the morning, bulk ferment during the day, shape in the evening, retard overnight and bake in the following morning.

The measurements were 1 g starter, 220 g flour, 165 g water, and 3 g salt. The flour was 55% bread flour and the rest a mix of dark rye, red fife and whole wheat. Mixed in the morning (dissolved starter in water first), applied two stretches and folds, and after one hour placed the dough in the fridge for bulk fermentation. Roughly 12 hours later, removed the dough from the fridge without much noticeable signs of fermentation. Let it rest on the counter at room temperature for another 5 hours with two extra stretches and folds. Finally some signs of bulk fermentation showed up, so I shaped as a boule and placed it in the fridge for another 5 hours retarding (it was time to go to bed). Baked in the morning straight from the fridge to the results below.

There has been few holes, even though not evenly distributed. Oven spring was reasonable but nothing spectacular. The crumb was quite soft and the crust baked light. Flavor showed some good nuttiness and a subtle tang, just the way sourdough should be. I have done this experiment by building a 5%-flour levain with superior results as compared to using only 1 g starter without any levain build.

Using 1 g starter without building a levain seems to work, but I need to tweak the method for my schedule and to improve the results.

The bulk fermentation is too slow in the fridge due to the small amount of starter. However, I have tried to ferment it in room temperature for the same time. The result was a failure because the temperature is being too high and the long fermentation at room temperature seems to be damaging the dough structure. The result was a pancake as shown below (with some signs of over proofing too). Additionally, the bread was too sour due to the long fermentation at high temperature. I did not like the dough structure after the long fermentation. It was almost too wet and soup-like, so the flat bread resulted.

I still want to do another final test at room temperature, which will be making a stiff dough with low hydration, fermenting at room temperature, and then provide a second hydration in the evening. I just want to slow down the fermentation in room temperature so the dough structure is not compromised to a great extension.

kendalm's picture

I just recently received a shipment of T65 Moulin D'Auguste which is my go to flour for baguettes. I'll usually breeze thought 30lbs in a couple of months and then restock. with each shipment there's usually a slight difference in the way the flour performs. This shipment however has thrown me for a bit of a loop. First thing I noticed was the usual 72% hydration was incredibly sticky - felt like 80+% and was near impossible to score. A few bakes later and I've found that 65-66% feels about 'normal'. It's a bit freaky since with other batches I've pushed to 75% and still been able to manage he dough, however with this new flour I am sure 75% would be ciabatta. Just thought it might be interesting to point put the degree of variation from this imported brand.  never once have I seen anything near the same degree of fluxuation with a domestic mainstream brand before. Definitely keeps you on your toes. Anyone else dealt with this sort of challenge - ie, one brand / type with this much variation ?

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Today I baked a big (10 loaves) batch of Forkish's Harvest Bread from FWSY. This is a poolish bread with a high percentage of pre-fermented flour, a good proportion of whole wheat flour (stone ground from a local farm) and added wheat germ and bran. It's a lovely dough to handle and bake. I made the poolish in the morning, then mixed the dough in the evening, putting it in the fridge for an overnight retard after about 1.5 hours fermenting at room temperature. This morning I scaled it to 750 grams and baked it on hot stones with steam after around 2 hours of room-temperature resting / proofing.

The loaves were shaped into 'chubbs' and scored with a single curved slash down the length, blade held at an angle to the skin. And look at those ears! I love it when that happens. :)

Ru007's picture


So, you know when your choices are 1) wake up super early to get your loaves in the oven and have fresh bread or 2) don’t bother baking because your day is really busy and go without the bread… Clearly, the right answer is to wake up and bake. Am I right? Well anyway, that’s what happened to me this weekend and here is the consequence of my choice.


One (mostly) white SD

...and one seeded SD loaf


The white loaf is the pretty much the same as my previous post except I upped the hydration a tiny bit from 76% to just shy of 79% and dropped the prefermented flour % from 12% to 11% (yes, 1% is important to me!! LOL!!)


This loaf has become my little project and I must say, I prefer the result I got this time. The crumb is noticeably softer and melty in mouth. Yum… I let this one have a much longer shaped proof (3.5 hours instead of 1.25hours) and retarded it for 8 hours instead of 14hours.

I'm happy with the oven spring on this one,

Crumb shot...



Still playing with my scoring :)


The next loaf was a seeded loaf… nothing fancy, just a mix of white and black sesame seeds and linseeds. I’ve made a seeded SD loaf before and I really enjoyed it but I thought that the seeds sucked a lot of moisture out of my dough. So this time I toasted the seeds and soaked them in boiling water overnight before putting them in the dough. I put just enough water so that it would all be absorbed, I didn’t want extra water to end up in my dough.


Here is the formula and method:





Weight (g)

Final dough



Levain (80% hydration)




















Unbleached white bread flour





Whole wheat flour





Rye flour

























Sesame seeds (black)





Sesame seeds (white)















Total dough weight










1. 1 stage 12 hour levain build. 20 g NMNF rye starter plus 45g whole wheat flour and 36g water.


2. “Pre mix” the flour and water for the dough the night before mixing, chill in the fridge for a few hours and leave to come to room temperature overnight.


Toast the seeds and soak in 55g of boiling water.


3. Add the salt, levain and seeds to the dough and mix.


I spent about 50 mins mixing the dough initially (about 2 -3 mins on, 10 mins rest x 4) and then did 3 set of stretch and folds, not quite hourly but they were done within the first 3.5 hours of the bulk fermentation. Then another 5 hours bulk fermentation (yes, things were slow because its cold here)


4. Pre shape and let the dough rest for 30mins.


5. Shape and let the dough sit in the basket for 3.5hours before refrigerating for 8 hours.


6. Baked at 250 dC for 20mins with steam and then at 230 dC for another 25mins.






Slicing this loaf was amazing! The aroma of the seeds was just so good…I was worried that I didn't have enough seeds in the dough, but I think I got just the right amount.

Soaking the seeds was a good idea, the crumb is nice a moist because the seeds didn’t steal as much water from the rest of the dough.

I hope everyone has a great week! Happy baking friends :)




Danni3ll3's picture


I haven’t baked for the last couple of weekends because I was in Antigua for my niece’s wedding. It was my first time in the Caribbean and it was fabulous. Great resort, great food and fantastic weather. It sure beats what we have been having here.

I am continuing  baking breads inspired by CedarMountains recipes from a couple of years ago. This one is very similar but not exactly like his. 




Makes 3 loaves


Main dough:

100 g Kamut berries

100 g Spelt berries

100 g Red Fife berries

110 g Rye berries

700 g unbleached flour

50 g flax seeds

15 g white sesame seeds

750 g water

22 g pink Himalayan salt

220 g 100% hydration bran/rye flour levain (procedure is in recipe)



45 g kamut flakes

45 g spelt flakes

180 g water

30 g full fat plain yogurt


A few days before:

  1. Revive your starter by feeding it regularly. Ensure that you have 45 g to inoculate the levain.


The night before:

  1. Mill all the grains separately and sift out the bran. I ended up with 58 g of bran from all of the grains. You need a total of 95 g of bran/high extraction rye flour for the levain. My mix ended up being 58 g of bran and 37 g of the rye flour. Adjust as necessary to get the required 95 g. Place the remainder of the rye flour with the other flours (including the unbleached flour) in a bowl or bucket. 
  2. Grind the flax seeds (I do this in a bullet) and add to the mix of flours.
  3. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying ban until lightly golden, let cool and grind to a powder. I used the bullet for this as well. Add to the mix of flours and ground flax.
  4. Make the porridge using all the ingredients listed and cook until the flakes are tender. Cover and let cool overnight.
  5. Before going to bed, take 45 g of your starter and add all of the reserved bran/high extraction flour mix and 95 of filtered water. This makes a bit more than 220 g of levain. The extra is to account for what you can’t scrape out of the container. Mix well and let rise overnight. Mine only rose 1.5 times but that is to be expected when there is that much bran in the levain. There were lots of bubbles though throughout.


Main dough:

  1. Pour 750 g of water into the porridge and loosen the mix. 
  2. Add this to the flour mixture and mix well. Autolyse the mix for a couple of hours with the salt on top. The dough smelled like peanut butter! It is amazing that grinding sesame seeds can make such an impact on the aroma even though it is a very small amount. 
  3. Add the levain and mix well. Do 50 in bucket folds to ensure that gluten development is well on its way. Cover and place the dough in a warm spot to rise.
  4. Do sets of stretches and folds about 30-45 minutes apart for the first 3 sets then go to hourly folds for the remainder span of bulk fermentation. The dough felt great right from the first set of stretches and folds. Bulk fermentation took 4 hours and the dough rose about 40%. 
  5. Wet the sides of the dough with your hand to loosen from the bucket, and dump out onto a bare counter. Lightly flour the top of the dough again and divide into 3 equal portions of about 790 g.  Pre-round the portions with a wet scraper. I let my hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking while weighing it and moving it around. This actually worked well. 
  6. Let rest for 30-40 minutes and then shape into a fairly tight boule.  The dough didn’t want to form a tight skin so I didn’t get the boules as tight as I wanted. The few I got fairly tight were beginning to tear so I did what I could. Place seam side down in rice/AP floured bannetons, cover, and put to bed in a very cold fridge for the night. 


Baking day:

  1. The next morning, heat the oven to 475 F with the dutch ovens inside for at least 45 minutes. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots and gently place the dough seam side up inside. 
  2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, drop the temperature to 425 F and bake for another 22 minutes. By the way, I use convection mode right through the bake to prevent hot spots. This also helps with getting that nice dark golden colour. 



The oven spring wasn’t huge. Satisfactory, but it could have been a tad better. I suspect it was due to my shaping issues. I wonder if my use of water during shaping weakened the surface of the boules and I should stick to using only flour at that point. 


Chockswahay's picture

Last night I made a little Spelt loaf.......... it was SO good that I repeated it again this morning.

I used the Patrick Ryan method.......... but altered the handling times a little :)

This is simply the lightest and tastiest Wholemeal Spelt loaf I have ever made!

Here are my notes if you fancy a go:

(Sorry for the text layout, I uploaded this from my iPhone 

Baby Spelt loaf

 200g Wholemeal Spelt)130 water2 yeast mixed with 5 water4 salt mixed with 2 water5 butter5 honey Add water @ 60c to flour, mix and autolyse for 15 mins Add yeast to water @ 40c max and stir After autolyse add yeast and mix in bowl, then butter and mix then honey and mix then salt and mix Mix and knead with knuckles (*) for 3 mins then stand covered for 10 Then knead for 1 min and stand for another 10 Knead for another min and stand for 10  Knead for 1 min then shape into round and prove at room temp until double (45 to 60 mins) Knock back gently and shape into round and bench rest for 15 Pre shape to suit (I used small tin) then into buttered and rice floured tin and prove until nearly double for about 45 mins.  Turn oven on now to 235 to preheat for this time Have a metal vessel in oven at same time then as bread put into oven add boiling water to the vessel to create steamy oven Bake for 15 mins then remove steam vessel, lower heat to 180 and bake for further 10 mins   * meaning push away from centre with back of fingers then pull back to centre, this is almost folding but still a good knead with knuckles when pushing out from centre of bowl  Made using Patrick Ryan method and baked in tin for 15 mins at 235 with steam then 10 at 180 without Fantastic 👍👍👍


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