The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


hreik's picture

My simple favorite: Norwich SD made w T65 and Rye (~10%).  Spontaneous compliments from my hubby, son and future daughter in law.

NSD w T 65 and rye 11/18/2016


Ru007's picture

Okay, so I’m 3 days late for homemade bread day, but this is the soonest I could get a loaf baked this week.

My last bake was a butternut squash loaf, and I really enjoyed it. This time I wanted to try something a little different.



Weight (g)

Final dough



Levain (78% hydration)





















Whole wheat





















0.75 tsp




0.5 tsp


Add ins




















Butternut Squash




Total dough weight





  • 3 stage levain build using 6g of NMNF rye starter (all builds with whole wheat flour). Refrigerate overnight after the 3rd build doubles.
  • Cook the butternut squash (I didn’t add anything to it) and mash it up once it’s cooled.
  • Toast the nuts and leave to cool before chopping up. Make autolyse the night before mixing and leave in the fridge.
  • 2 hours before mixing, remove levain and dough from fridge and allow to come to room temp.
  • Mix all ingredients (don’t forget the salt) and leave to rest for 30 mins.

Clockwise from the top: Hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and mashed butternut

  • 4 stretch and folds at 45mins intervals.
  • Bulk ferment for 2 hours,
  • Pre shape dough and rest for 25mins
  • Shape dough and place in basket and into the fridge overnight.
  • Bake straight from the fridge. 20mins at 240dC with steam, then 25mins at 220dC, then turn the oven off and leave the loaf in there for another 5mins.
  • Cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

It tastes great, I really like this one. The flavour of the spices goes really well with the nuts and the butternut squash. The squash also makes the crumb really soft. I think the loaf could do with a touch more spices though.

I’m making this loaf again next weekend for an American friend who’s hosting a thanksgiving dinner next week. I'm hoping this will be okay. 

Happy baking :)


Mad baker's picture
Mad baker

I realized that baking bread only once or twice a month was doing a disservice to my beautiful, bright teal Kitchenaid. Sure, it makes a mean cake and yeah, it is awesome for pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken, but the main reason the hubby bought it for me was because I would pine for a mixer to make bread. So, I am reading recipes, watching YouTube videos, and trying to conquer my fear of kneading. I know that "the bestest" bread is made by hand, but the few times I attempted it, all I got for my efforts were aching wrists, and bread so tough and chewy it was basically inedible. Even the squirrels wouldn't touch it...

Pinterest is a blessing and a curse with it's photos of baked goods. It is forcing me to learn more about the magic of bread with the awesome looking photos of ciabatta with the beautiful, holey crumb I can only dream about. Having the attention span of an ADHD retriever puppy doesn't help, as I will be looking up one type of bread, and get sidetracked by some other exotic loaf so beautiful, I totally forget the pumpernickel bagel recipe I am searching for...

Every loaf is an adventure, and I wonder how many dozens or hundreds of loaves I will have to bake before I achieve my "holey" grail...

This adventure came about when I was trying to find out the best time to add salt to dough, as I have been mixing the flour, water and yeast, letting it sit for about 1/2 hour, then adding the salt as the Kitchenaid kneads the now relaxed dough. Somewhere along the way, I saw a reference or Pinterest link to Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread Experiment with a long autolyse and a young levain, timed to do their separate things and end at the same moment, to then be combined and proofed and baked to a beautiful conclusion.

Of course, there were a few discussions here at TFL about it, which I also read (and am still finding and reading). I understand the theory of how bread magic works, I just have difficulties getting my efforts to provide the same results as the pictures, and tutorials show me...But the idea of autolysing my dough for 8 hours with no yeast, and then adding a young sourdough levain was intriguing to say the least.

I have done sourdough in the past. I enjoyed the preparation of the yeast and water, the cheesecloth rubber banded on the top, and putting it outdoors for a day, then feeding and waiting until the yeasts showed themselves. I had one starter last for almost a year, before succumbing to neglect and a non-baking lull in life. Always somewhat rebellious, I did not want to wait 2-3 weeks for a sufficient starter, so I made a "cheater." I peeled a dozen seedless red grapes, and soaked the peels in 100g of water, which I then added to 70 grams of all-purpose, and 30 grams of rye flour, and tossed a pinch of Fleishman's regular yeast on top. I removed the grape skins before adding the flour.

Three days later, and "Bob" was showing signs of life. So this morning, I re-read the Tartine Bread Experiment, grabbed my kitchen scale and away I went. Being as my starter wasn't very old, and wasn't really showing a lot of activity, I made my levain with 50 grams of starter, instead of the 25 called for. Being as it's just me and the hubby, I then cut the basic recipe in half, using only 500 grams of bread flour instead of the 1000 gram combination of A.P. and whole wheat. But otherwise, I did stick to the measurements. At least at the beginning...

Chad's recipe, as written, called for 1000 grams of combined flours, and 800 grams of water. A fairly hydrated 80% loaf. Well, with just bread flour, 500 grams to 350 grams of water (50 grams going to the Young Levain), I had a wild and unruly wad of flour almost instantly. Having recently discovered the joys of ciabatta dough, I panicked. I grabbed my measuring cup, and added another 150 grams of water, and the flour finally moistened and although still very tight looking, was shaggy enough to match the photos. The house is somewhat cool, and the weather unsettled, so I put my Young Levain and my now heavily saturated autolyse into my Sonoma Dehydrator, set the temp to 85 degrees F, and left them covered for 2 hours. "Bob" was fed 100 grams of flour, and 100 grams of water, to recuperate and rejuvenate for my next adventure.

At the end of 2 hours, I turned off the dehydrator and left my experiment in for another hour. I had already changed the recipe, so 8 hours was no longer an option. 3 hours was still longer than my usual 1/2 hour, and I also started to worry the levain would get too sour. I put the autolyse and the Young Levain into my Kitchenaid, and we are talking WET. The autolyse had relaxed SO much...It make my ciabatta dough seem almost like standard dinner roll dryness. I sprinkled 2 TBSP of flour onto the dough as it was mixing, and then, like my ciabatta, threw the Kitchenaid into "high gear" at 8 for 4 minutes. Chad states how you don't want to over handle the dough, so I removed the dough hook, and covered the bowl.

After an hour, it still looked like a very soupy mess, but the Young Levain was showing his happiness with the whole situation. Beautiful bubbles were appearing, and the mass was rising. I've been reading about Stretch and Fold, and even Slap and Fold, and had watched a few videos on YouTube showing how stretching and folding really wet doughs does work to bring them into dough compliance. But "Fred," as I have named this bread, was too soupy to even try to put onto the counter, and I didn't want to add still more flour. So, nonconformist me, I took a plastic spoon, and carefully scraped the dough away from the sides of the bowl in a reverse 'c' motion, and reaching down to the dimple of the bowl, then pulled the dough up and to the center. I saw a beautiful "webby" texture to the dough, which was encouraging, it meant I did achieve some gluten formation. I went all around the bowl, scraping and pulling 5-6 times, covered it back up and left it for 2 hours, and repeated. I know Chad stretched his dough at 45 minute intervals but I was hoping the additional time might help firm up this still sloppy dough.

2 hours later, I was amazed. Fred was definitely a happy camper. The dough was full of bubbles, which were highly visible, since the hydration made things so wet. After another in-bowl stretch and fold with my trusty plastic spoon, I let the dough rest again for 2 hours. This time, Fred was looking almost diseased, with large quarter-sized bubbles all over the surface, as if I had put Bubble Tea tapioca into the dough. If nothing else, I know my sourdough starter is truly active. I also know I don't need to double the amount I use next time! So, around the bowl with the plastic spoon I went. And this time, I'm feeling a bit of resistance from the dough. It's still REALLY wet, but it's giving me the type of feel like a somewhat higher hydration ciabatta. Floppy, but no longer soupy. My confidence grows that maybe I will be able to shape this thing, bake it, and not have to eat it with a spoon...

Some of the folk here who have discussed the long autolyse, have mentioned a cool ferment for at least 4 hours, if not overnight. I know that this loaf is going to have to bake in my Nambe Casserole, as if it were a no-knead bread, so the suggestion to have the dough chilled because of the high heat in a covered pan sounds right to me. Fred is now "cooling his heels," still in the steel Kitchenaid bowl, in the back of the fridge until tomorrow morning.

After tucking Fred in for the night, I sat down to re-read The Tartine Bread Experiment for about the 5th or 6th time, when I really LOOKED at the photo where Chad pours the dough out onto the counter for the pre-shape. OMG. It looks almost exactly like what I was seeing as I scooped and pulled with my little plastic spoon! The dough was different, of course, being whole wheat. But the overall look and curvature of the dough surface was remarkably similar.

I am beyond relieved. I now KNOW that while it still may end up yet another weird, chewy thing, I am on the right track, and didn't FUBAR my effort.

Now I need to find my camera and charge the battery, so I can photograph Fred through the next stages. It's hard to want to photograph your disasters, although so many wonderful TFL members share the good, the bad, and the ugly with us. So, I'm going to try to sit at the big kids table, and share what my adventures look like.

Next up: Fred comes in from the cold, gets in shape, then is cruelly dumped into a hot dish to rise up a bigger and better loaf than when he started...

To be continued.




PalwithnoovenP's picture

I hope this is not late for homemade bread day. There was no internet connection for several days, finally there is a connection now. I may not post for a while because our internet service provider scheduled a wide repair and maintenance, we're not sure if we will be affected. I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, the connection could be cut off anytime! I will surely repeat this bread and make a more "dramatic" post in the future. I missed uncle Dab's Mandela challenge last time and I don't want to miss this one now.

This is the bread of the countryside, of our yard. I named it yard sourdough because like many breads named after a place,; the starter was made here, the bread was made here and the baking method was based on primitive cooking styles from here.

What characterizes this bread? No measurements, all by feel, a super long autolyze (longer than 16 hours), a firm starter (or a starter that favors acetic acid production), and a long cold proof. It is baked in a clay pot on a banana leaf over heated pebbles. Our place is famous for it's vinegar all over the country so that's why I emphasized the use of a firm starter or one that favor acetic acid to keep the connection to our home.

I autolyzed some AP flour and water longer than 16 hours in the fridge. Unlike others who use ice water for a cold autolyse, I just use room temperature water to jump start the enzymatic reactions and just let the dough catch up with the cold in the fridge. I let the dough warm up for an hour before incorporating the 12 hour old levain (fed with BF, it smells lovely vinegar already) built using 2 builds. I incorporated it using gentle folds and let it rest for an hour. The dough is dry that you can pick it up in one hand or even just 3 finger and it won't droop or tear. After an hour, I gave it a stretch and fold did the same for the next 3 hours, 1 hour apart. After the stretch and folds were done, I let it rest for an hour at room temperature then an hour on the fridge.

I've been wanting to bake seam-side up for the longest time so I did not miss the opportunity here. For me it makes the loaf look more rustic, and rustic is what our home is all about. After the 1 hour rest in the fridge, I pre-shaped it into a tight boule and let it rest for 30 minutes and shape it this way. Place the dough seam-side up; give it a light degassing; give the edges an extra degassing/flattening and fold the edges as shown here starting at 0:32. Put in the cloth lined proofing basket dusted with corn starch and flour seam-side down and put it straight in the fridge for a 12 hour retarded proof.

I know, triangle proofing baskets are rare, I can't even find round ones in my area so I made a makeshift proofing basket from a legal size folder. I used "trusted" origami skills and made a tetrahedron and it worked!

Here is the dough after 12 hours in the fridge. I think it is just proofed right. It is already seam-side up in the photo. It is baked on the clay pot for 20 minutes over a live fire and the next 10 minutes on embers. I "skewered" it on a fork and the top now facing the pebbles browned for an additional 10 minutes.

This is what I'm talking about, baked on a banana leaf over heated pebbles. This photo was taken after 20 minutes. The seams have started to open although one didn't and instead a weak spot on the side opened. The crust is nicely gelatinized. am I using the correct term?

I underestimated the thermal mass of the pebbles (they are even gathered from our yard) so the bottom and a little of the top got a little burnt, I should have used the embers earlier to avoid this but I think it's okay because I've seen some more charred breads like Jim Lahey's Truccione Sare.  If you look closely at the bottom, you can clearly see the pebble marks.

Some close-ups of the crust. The crust was crunchy for the first 6 hours then softened at night. It was flavorful with caramelized notes. It even had some blisters!

Some of the crumb shots are out of focus so I just included all of them. The big hole in the middle came from the fork I suppose and not from the shaping.

It was so good this is what was left in just half a day!

The crumb reminds me of David Snyder's old school San Francisco Sourdough. It is tight because of the low hydration but its is moist and soft with a little bit of chew. It is my favorite crumb texture so far. The aroma is heavenly, toasty and sweet with the unmistakable scent of the banana leaves. The flavor is super sweet like there is some added sugar and although made with only white flour, I could still taste some notes of the wheat. From all of the sweetness is a background of a mild tang. It is mild in my taste but definitely tastes like vinegar.

Definitely a bread worth repeating. I'm gonna tweak this bread further and I'm sure it's going to be a regular in the house. Gonna check your entries later. See you all!

Happy Homemade Bread Day!!!

leslieruf's picture

This has been a challenge in so many ways. Yesterday was the first chance all week to bake.

Friday am built my  levain

100 g refreshed 100% starter

100 g water

30 g wholewheat

70 gm higrade flour

Friday mid afternoon made hot water soaker with grains

20 g black chia

25 g sesame seed

54 g pumpkin seed (all I had)

50 g sunflower seed

34 g kibbled rye

11 g salt and 310 g hot water.

thought I could start an hour later but no, wasn't to be so put levain and soaker into fridge over night.  Yesterday morning ground my sprouted, dried rye.  This was one of my challenges- I tried the Breville blender ( not good) then used the electric coffee grinder to break it down then finished it using the old fashioned hand grinder. Flour was 80°F when finished.  couldn't reposition photo today. Grind wasn't superfine but ok.


250 g sprouted freshly ground rye

667g higrade flour

all the soaker

332 g water 

Autolysed 1 hour then thought because of grains I should add a bit of gluten so I sprinkled the following over top

20 g gluten flour

20 g honey

10 g water

10 g salt

left for a few minutes then added 220 g levain and an extra 40 g water as dough was quite firm. 4 stretch and folds, (added another 30g water as felt dough was too firm), 5 hour bulk ferment and then preshaped, rested 30 minutes, shaped and retarded overnight.

 Baked this morning.

will have to wait for crumb shot - really wonder how it is. this is my first bake with high percent of sprouted grain.

Bakers % calculation including levain not sure if calculation is correct but here it is.

Ww flour 2.2%

sprouted rye 23.9%

Higrade flour (incl gluten)  74%

water 75.6%

seeds etc 17.6%

salt 2%

honey 2%

The surplus levain from my build was made into a simple white 1:2:3 loaf.


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

I love Jeffrey Hamelman's book Bread!  It offers many recipes that could qualify as my favorite, so I just don't bother to choose. Often, what I bake is driven by how much time I have, and for Homemade Bread Day I did not have a lot of time.  Because of that, I chose Country Bread.  It uses a biga that provides 50% pre-fermented flour for flavor, but also includes only a short prep cycle that fit my schedule.

I used even less yeast in the biga than the original formula calls for so it could ferment for a long time, enabling me to set up the biga late at night and not have it mature until late on the next afternoon, when I would have time to bake.The strategy worked out well, and the loaves came out of the oven late that night, just in time for bed.  Don't you just love slipping into bed with the aroma of fresh baked bread filling the house!?

These loaves are destined for gifting so I won't be able to get a picture of the crumb.

Happy Homemade Bread Day!

Mebake's picture

Hi, fellow TFL members, old and new!

I've been meaning to write about my career change, and where it has lead me, but I have been too occupied with settling my family and was lazy to post anything. 

Following the brief apprenticeship at a local pastry shop in Beirut, I travelled to Seychelles for a job opportunity at a French Bakery there; or so I thought. I worked for a total of 1 month at the Bakery, learning valuable tips and tricks from the Bakers there. However, at the end of the month, the owner of the Bakery had suggested that I travel back to Lebanon to work at his flour mill up in the north, on the outskirts of Tripoli- Lebanon. I now work at the mill, in a Bakery attached to their Lab. I like their bakery; it is both spacious, and well equipped.  Basically, my job is to test their flours for quality, and consistence, and do controlled bakes to compare their flours to those of their local competitors. I'm also involved in testing new products and help improve current ones. 

In case you were wondering, I have not abolished my plans to start an Artisan Bakery. I just need to gain more knowledge, more experience and broaden my horizons. In the meanwhile, I'm testing the market here by baking artisanal breads everyday, especially sourdough and giving them away to friends, and family. At first, not many have appreciated the subtle sourness of naturally leavened breads, but slowly they are developing a taste for it. Lebanese, in general, have been raised on Industrial, mass produced flat bread, or khobez. Their everyday "French bread" is the "Sammoun" or mini baguette; an improver, sugar laden white fluff (or brown for that matter) with a crust. You get the picture. i know I'm not the only one who is trying to change all that, there are a couple of Artisan sourdough bakeries/ cafe's in Beirut and other cities who are doing a wonderful job at bringing back nutritious, flavor packed bread to the table. I plan to visit those bakeries soon, talk to their owners, and try to get to know them upclose. 

I don't know what life has in Store for me tomorrow, but I'll do my best to be prepared for it.

If you're interested in viewing my photographic journal of my progress, please follow or v my Instagram account: mebake_33 




joc1954's picture

After a long time I used 100% kamut white flour for making this bread. 76% hydration,3 hour bulk ferment, divide,preshape, bench rest for 10 minutes, shape, immediate retard, baked after 16 hours.

Crumb is very soft and not too much opened, crust is just great and brings a big contrast to relatively wet crumb. I have baked this bread today for my grandchildren.

Happy baking, Joze

ruthhiller's picture

I am somewhat new to sourdough baking and spent the first month or so working on my starter. When I eventually felt that my starter had become active enough to start baking I perused recipes and watched videos and filled my head with everyone else's sourdough expertise. I have made many breads which were okay and tasted good but I felt my dough was too wet as it didn't hold its shape and the crumb was a little gummy. So I started reading through many sourdough blog posts and decided to tweak the recipe I have been using. 




50/50 blend of AP white flour/rye flour with 100% hydration.


100 g active sourdough starter

450 g all purpose white flour

50 g whole wheat flour

300 g warm filtered water

10 g kosher salt

25 g warm filtered water


Mix 100 grams starter with 300 grams warm filtered water until starter is thoroughly incorporated into the water. Add 450 grams AP white  flour and 50 grams whole wheat flour into the bowl. Mix ingredients together with hands until you have a uniform but ragged blob. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for up to 60 minutes (autolyse). 

Mix 10 grams of salt with 25 grams of warm filtered water and pour into the bowl. Mix everything together with your hands by squeezing and folding until the dough is smooth and uniform.

Cover the bowl again and let sit for 30-60 minutes. Then wet your hand and turn the dough by pulling from bottom and stretching and then folding on top of itself. Do this in a 4-quadrant manner once. Let rest 30-60 minutes and repeat process 6 times. It takes about 4-5 hours (bulk fermentation).

Carefully pull out the dough onto a lightly floured surface (AP white flour) being careful not to break strands of gluten. Flour your hands and shape dough into a mound and cover for 20 minutes (bench rest).

Fold the dough over itself by stretching and folding in 4 quadrants and pull along table to tighten folds and create a smooth dome. Do this several times and each time smooth a little flour over the surface. 

Flour a banneton with or without a linen liner with mix of rice flour and AP white and place dough in the basket and cover for final proofing. Proof for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 500 degrees with cast iron pot and lid in the oven. Then remove pot and place dough in and score the surface with sharp knife or razor. Reduce heat to 450 degrees. Place pot with lid on into over and bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove lid and bake for further 10-20 minutes until crust is a nice deep brown color.

Remove from pot and cool on wire rack. Do not cut into it until totally cooled down as baking process still continues.





Cedar Mountain's picture
Cedar Mountain


Ever since Dabrownman issued the official Homemade Bread Day Challenge several weeks ago I have been trying to think of something to bake...and here is what I came up with, no claims to being original or unique, but it is a little different for me, something I have not tried before, so I think this bread qualifies as a legitimate Homemade Bread Day Challenge entry - and apart from that, "....there ain't no stinkin' rules..." so it is what it is!   

I really enjoy a nice cold oat porter beer, the creamy texture and delicious hints of oats, chocolate and coffee. I wanted to get some barm from my favourite local craft brewer but timing and brewing schedules conspired against me; I instead had to sacrifice a perfectly good bottle of Chocolate Oat Porter to the cause. Now, as I said, this is something different for me and I wasn't sure about using beer instead of barm to make a starter or as a liquid for the dough...I wasn't sure about the alcohol in the beer affecting the organisms in the starter. So, a week ago I mixed some oat porter with some crushed up hulless oats, rye berries, steel-cut oats and rolled oats along with some water; my thinking was the water would counter the alcohol in the mix enough to allow for a vigorous starter to develop.  I kept it warm in the furnace room, feeding it with a rye/oat/red fife flour mixture twice a was bubbling, oat porter-ish smelling and vigorous in 5 days!   

So, the bread...I wasn't sure how much flavour the oat porter starter would produce in the bread so I decided to add a few ingedients I thought would have complimentary flavours. I autolysed a mix of 50g rye, 50g khorasan, 50g spelt, 50g red fife with 800g all purpose unbleached white flour using 500g water and 200g oat porter (room temperature); the initial dough hydration was 70%. I thought this mix of whole grains would create an easy to handle dough and contribute a nice background flavour. After an hour I added 220g of the oat porter levain (I am using "starter" and "levain" as the same thing here), 20g sea salt and incorporated it with a series of vigorous stretch and folds until the dough developed some elasticity/extensibility.

The bulk fermentation was 4 hours at room temperature (21 C) with a series of 4 stretch and folds over the first two hours. The additions were mixed in between the first and second folds; 10g toasted sesame seeds and 25g dark roasted barley and rye berries all fine ground in a mortar; 100g sprouted hulless oats; 100g wet ground sprouted rye berries and 100g steel-cut oats/flaked oats porridge. With the moisture in the additions, the final dough hydration felt like about 78%. At this point the dough had a beautiful chocolate-mocha colour and smelled faintly of oat porter - so far, so good!  

At the end of the bulk fermentation I pre-shaped the loaves, bench rested them for 1/2 hour and then did a final shaping, transferred the loaves to linen-lined baskets and retarded them overnight in the fridge.  I baked them this morning directly out of the fridge, after a 10 hour cold-proof, in a pre-heated Creuset and a combo cooker; covered at 500 F for 20 minutes; 450 F for 10 minutes and then uncovered, de-panned and directly onto the baking stone for another 18 minutes. I was very happy to see how these loaves looked when I removed the lids and the aroma was incredible! The art and skill of scoring is still a work-in-progress, especially with the higher hydration dough and sprouted bits getting in the way but I did manage to get the rice flour dusting in the proofing baskets right this time. And the results... 

A fat batard.... 

 And a boule...


And the crumb...


I think next time I will add more  dark roasted ground barley and rye to the worked really well with the beer starter and beer in the dough to further enhance a subtle sense of the same oaty, chocoate, coffee taste of a good oat porter. And the photos don't really capture the true colour  - the crumb is actually a nice chocolate mocha colour, nice and chewy, soft like a good porridge bread.



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