The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I baked something I hardly ever do anymore (for some reason) - a simple white ciabatta. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to work with a soft, silky, high-hydration white dough with olive oil, and simply fold it into a rough shape. The bread was perfect cut into pieces for dipping into our New Year's Eve cheese fondue, as well as simply enjoying with butter or whatever. Even dry leftover cubes went into the bowls of stew made from the leftover meats, broth and vegetables from the broth fondue, to soak up all that tasty goodness. The first loaf went before I had a chance to photograph the crumb, but the second is in the freezer and I'll try and remember a crumb shot before it's all gone!

Something I should make more often. :)

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

   Cookies and yeasted Pretzels  were my gateway baking experience to bread! And this is a post about cookies. On November 2 I had the good fortune of meeting Dori Greenspan, noted cookbook author. I brought my wellworn cookbook,  Paris Sweets  for her to sign and she also signed a copy of her new latest cookie cookbook, Dorie's Cookies! 

 The recipe is in both of these cookbooks but it is a tasty recipe. I'm not going to give it here but you would be able to find it if you would buy the book.  I don't think it's my favorite chocolate cookie but it is it tasty chocolate cookie.  I think if people made more of these cookies there would be more peace in the world! 

I have been baking cookies for many years and it was a personal thrill to meet a cookbook author!  

alfanso's picture

These were a few of my favorite things

Whole Wheat Fig-Pecan with 75% hydration mixed flour Levain

Hamelman Olive with 125% hydration Rye Levain

SFBI Pain au Levain with caraway seeds, cornstarch glaze and 75% hydration mixed flour Levain

Hamelman Sesame Semolina with  with 125% hydration Rye Levain

Hamelman Pain au Levain with 2 starters, stiff and liquid Levains

Hamelman Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat and 61% hydration stiff Levain

Forkish Field Blend #2 with 75% hydration mixed flour Levain

Forkish Artisan Bakery Style Country Blonde with 75% hydration mixed flour Levain

Snyder Pugliese Capriccioso with 75% hydration mixed flour Levain

SJSD with 100% hydration mixed flour Levain

son of SJSD with 75% hydration mixed flour Levain


Sesame Semolina Capriccioso with 50% hydration mixed flour Levain

Rye with caraway seeds, cornstarch glaze and 100% Rye Levain

And then, there were the batards.  Maybe another day...

Happy New Year, alan

Bekkywiththegoodcrust's picture

The past few weeks have been busy with work, the holidays, and travel.  As a result, I didn't have much time to bake.  Last week, I received a copy of Tartine No. 3, which I think was a not-so-subtle hint from my family to start baking again.  I decided to make something with rye flour after I found a few pounds of ancient rye flour sitting in the back of the pantry – Wheat Rye 10% it was!

I’m finally getting the hang of baking by feel, rather than strictly following any recipe.  Thus, the Tartine recipe became more of guideline.  I ended up using the following:

250g white whole wheat flour

275g bread flour

60g rye flour

425g water

75g leaven

10g salt

I let it bulk ferment in my chilly kitchen for about 7 hours, then shaped it and let it proof in the refrigerator overnight.  Once it warmed up after a few hours at room temperature in the morning, I baked it to 200F.  Baking it to 200 was recommended in the comments to my last post and I’m so glad I took the advice!  

Another thing I really enjoy about trying a new loaf is making the same loaf a day or two after making the first.  The second loaf is almost always better than the first, as I can apply what I’ve learned during the first go-around.

Yesterday, I started dough with the same proportions above.  An hour into the bulk ferment, I also added in:

50g flaxseeds (coarsely ground), soaked in 90g of hot water and cooled

75g toasted sesame seeds

70g toasted sunflower seeds

This time, I let the dough bulk ferment for 4 hours or so on the counter, then finish in the refrigerator overnight.  I waited until the morning to shape and proof it, which I’ve generally found to be successful.  This loaf turned out incredibly and will definitely be one that I make frequently.

rushyama's picture

We've been visiting my parents in the Pacific Northwest over the holidays, and naturally I wanted to bake bread. A friend of mine gave me some of her starter so I've been having some fun experimenting in a different environment using the tools available.

Normally I like to schedule my baking to a certain degree. But since it's vacation and I don't have a thermometer to measure water / dough temperature it's been a good lesson in "watching the dough, not the clock." My parents' place is quite a bit cooler than mine, so fermentation has been leisurely (usually 5-6 hours instead of my typical 3-4). I got a couple bags of Central Milling flour to use as a base (Baker's Craft and Type 85), plus little bits of einkorn, whole wheat, and rye to mix in. All loaves have been baked in a Lodge combo cooker. For the most part I've also been using a very long autolyse (~6 hours), simply for convenience: I mix up the levain and start the autolyse at the same time so I'm freed up for a longer portion of the day. I may do this more back home as I haven't noticed an adverse effect, at least with these flour types. Any thoughts / experiences with the long autolyse?

No specific formulae to share this time -- just a few thoughts and photos (many taken by my brother, an amateur photographer with a fancy camera).

Some basic loaves, ~25-30% whole grain, 75-80% hydration. I experimented once with bulk fermenting in the fridge and final proofing at room temperature (the opposite of what I normally do). I didn't let it final proof long enough, so the middle of the loaf was a little dense; but the flavor was great. I may do more fiddling with this in the future as it's nice to have that timetable as an option. No lame so scissor scoring it was!

Country loaf, scissor score





This loaf (and the top photo) was honey-lavender, about 15% whole grain / 80% hydration. I really liked the flavor of this one so it's a formula I'm going to work on back home. I broke down and bought a razor blade to practice some scoring.


This was a potato loaf that had some leftover roasted potatoes mixed in, along with a couple turns of olive oil. About 30% whole grain; not really sure about the hydration but probably in the lower 70's (wasn't sure how much water the potatoes would release, so started out conservatively). Didn't get a photo of the outside as it got torn into too quickly. Another formula I want to develop further; the potato really makes for a nice soft loaf!


It's not vacation without some sourdough waffles!

Happy new year and happy baking, TFL'ers!


chapstick's picture

I was so inspired and moved by the response to PalwithnoovenP's challenge that I belatedly present my own entry.

There's a cooking blog I enjoy reading called Guai Shu Shu. I like this blog because the writer posts a lot of "home-style" recipes from various parts of south-east Asia (e.g. Singapore, Malaysia). I am really interested in the flavour combinations and cooking techniques from this region.

Recently this blogger posted a recipe for a small batch of steamed buns or bao. I decided this was the perfect choice for Pal's challenge to make bread without an oven.

The actual recipe mis-specifies the quantity of flour. It's described variously as either 9 or 12, or maybe up to 16, tablespoons, with 12-15 tablespoons of water. This gave me a very wet dough, so I just added flour until it seemed right. As a result, I wasn't sure how much dough was required for each bao. I also reduced the sugar to 1 tablespoon.

I really liked the idea of mixing the dough with a chopstick! I've never tried this before. It was surprisingly effective in developing a smooth dough.

Pre-shaped before a 15 minute rest:


The image at the top of the post shows them shaped into buns.

I left most of the bao plain, but filled some with about a teaspoon of peanut butter - fairly non-traditional, I admit, but I like to think in keeping with the spirit of the recipe! I invented some kind of sushi-bao fusion too - I put a small piece of avocado in one.

Proofed - maybe overproofed? I reshaped a couple of the plain ones that were especially 'relaxed' before steaming.

I know from experience steaming frozen packaged buns that I can only fit two or three in my steamer, so cooking was a bit of a slow process.


buns in steamer

Non-traditional, but a winner! I liked that they had a looser crumb than is usual. I suspect this might be more controversial than my fillings.

PB filling

avo filling


Enjoyed with a delicious black bean stew, and the jealous, longing face of my lovely dog, Bruce.

dinner and dog

Thanks for the motivation to give these a try, Pal!

chapstick's picture

To celebrate my housemate's birthday my recent baking experiment was a number of beer-inspired breads.

Four breads celebrating the taste of beer

The most popular was one that combined spent grains from my local craft brewery, Young Henrys, with some beer that had been leftover at the bottom of a growler of Batch beer, another local brewery, for a bit too long to be interesting to drink. My part of Sydney is a great place to live!

I took an idea from Dan Lepard's Handmade Loaf and made a "quicker barm" by heating 125g Batch beer then whisking in 25g white flour. To this I added 97g spent grains and (when cool enough) a couple of teaspoons of NMNF starter that had finished its second build. I left this overnight to ferment.

In the morning my "quicker barm" smelt amazing. I mixed it with 250g water, 500g white flour, 10g salt.

There aren't any flours specially for bread available at my local shops. However, I recently joined a fruit and veg delivery scheme that has various organic, stoneground flours available from Demeter Farm Mill in NSW. Stay tuned for a review!

In the meantime, I use "Black & Gold" plain flour, which is effectively no-name brand. Its protein content is 10.9%, which is higher than others that are marketed as "premium" plain flour. I once read that there's no real difference in quality between plain (all purpose) flours that are available in most supermarkets. I'd be interested to hear from any Australian bakers whether they notice a difference.

I didn't note down the exact timeline from here. I followed my usual practice of doing a few stretch and folds over a few hours during the bulk ferment, then shaped into a batard, gave it another couple of hours, and baked for about 40 minutes at 230 C (higher for the first 10 minutes).

To create steam and help with oven spring, I poured about half a cup of boiling water into a baking tray, which I put on the bottom shelf of the oven; and I sprayed the top of the loaf and sides of the oven with water.

The result was a very tasty loaf! My housemate recommended it as a base for lamb or cheese sandwiches... but I'm vegan, so I enjoyed a slice or two with vegemite - another excellent by-product of beer making. Cheers!

Modern Jess's picture
Modern Jess

This loaf was quite a bit more experimental. I was trying to emulate a really awesome loaf that is pretty much only available at a tiny gourmet market over the hill and toward the coast from here (in Pescadero, to be precise) but I ended up with something else entirely.

You wouldn't know it by looking at the crumb (weirdly) but this loaf has chopped up artichoke hearts, chopped garlic, and a quarter cup of Italian three-cheese blend. The garlic (all 5 large cloves worth) is a bit too strong, and the artichokes could probably be bigger (and more plentiful). The cheese works well, at least.

I'm not unhappy with the loaf, exactly -- it's still quite good. But not what I was trying to emulate. Maybe the next one will get closer. Or maybe I need to make another trip to that market for more "research". ;)

The full recipe is as follows:

  • 500g KA bread flour
  • 350g water (room temperature)
  • 150g ripe starter
  • 12g salt
  • 1/4 cup shredded Italian three-cheese blend
  • 1/3 cup chopped artichoke hearts
  • 5 large cloves garlic, chopped

Everything was mixed at once, rather than holding out some of the ingredients until after bulk rise. I do think the raw garlic inhibited the rise somewhat, but only a bit. Proofing was an extraordinary 11 hours (overnight in a cool kitchen). The loaf was cooked in parchment in a dutch oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes covered, followed by approximately 15 minutes (I was doing it by eye at that point) uncovered.



Modern Jess's picture
Modern Jess

I'm starting off this challenge with a relatively simple loaf. This is my own version of the Tartine country loaf, simplified quite a bit from the original and timed to work in my kitchen with my starter. I skip the overnight levain altogether, and just use ripe starter. There's more acid transfer, but I actually like my sourdough sour. And I skipped the autolyse step as well. The regular turning at 30 minute intervals I retained, but then proof for an excessively long 10 hours overnight in a cool 65 degree kitchen. The result is much tastier than my attempts at making a strictly by-the-book Tartine loaf, but that probably has much to do with the very long ferment. I've never had the pleasure of tasting the genuine article from Tartine, so I'm assuming it's just my kitchen and my starter not cooperating with Chad's instructions.

My recipe is as follows:

  • 450g KA bread flour
  • 50g KA whole wheat flour
  • 150g ripe starter
  • 350g water (room temperature)
  • 12g salt

As I said, proofing was overnight for about 10 hours at about 65 degrees for most of that time. Cooked for 20 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered.





(A note about the numbers in the photos: I'm keeping notes on each loaf I bake for my 2017 challenge, and the numbers help me connect the photos with the notes. The number set in these photos means it is the first loaf baked in 2017).

Danni3ll3's picture

These aren't the best looking baguettes in the world but they did taste pretty good for an all white flour baguette. I originally planned to sub out some of the flour for some whole grain flour but being in a rush to do things, I completely forgot. I needed these to go with a caramelized onion, bacon, cheese dip that I was bringing to a friend's house for New Year's eve.

Here is the link where I got the recipe:

80% Hydration Baguettes


Here is the crumb shot!


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