The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bakingbadly's picture

About 5 months ago, on July 20th, 2017, my partner Jana and I (Mr. Zita) opened our bakery called “Bang Bang” in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The name Bang Bang is derived from the Khmer / Cambodian word “Nombang”, meaning “bread”. We specialize in sourdough breads and cakes, with heavy influences from North America, UK, Germany and France. Why so international? Simply because I’m Cambodian-Canadian and my partner is German-British. ;)


  • Shopfront of Bang Bang bakery


  • Me, baker Zita, amidst our bread display

  • Jana's Spinach & Feta Quiche, Cherry Bakewell Tart, & Apple Crumble / Crisp

As a predominantly self-taught baker, with zero practical work experience in a bakery, I expected big challenges---oh boy, was I right! During the first week of opening Bang Bang, I slept an average of 1 to 3 hours per day! Long, weary work days (14+ hours) became the norm; progress also impeded by lack of money, equipment and skilled bakers.


  • Coffee-Almond Brioche Braid (topped with toasted almonds and pearl sugar) & Caffe Latte


  • Cambodia-made, German-traditional smoked Black Forest ham on freshly baked French-style country sourdough (Pain de Campagne), with fresh arugala / rocket, & housemade spiced mustard-mayo sauce


  • Locally produced fresh mozzarella (100g), fresh & marinated sun-dried tomatoes, with housemade sweet basil pesto on freshly baked Italian-style ciabatta

Before opening Bang Bang, it wasn’t our intention to serve coffee, tea, or sandwiches. Our bakery, we thought, would primarily offer breads and cakes. We realized we made a grave mistake after several friends and long-time supporters asked us what beverages they could pair with our (cream cheese) bagels and sweets...

The week before opening our bakery, we hastily bought a new espresso machine, new counters for the espresso machine, and scrambled to find an adequately skilled barista---luckily, we did!


Despite criticisms, after operating Bang Bang for 2 months we decided to close the bakery for a month (October) during the rainy season / low tourist season.

Jana and I were fatigued and exhausted, at the brink of our mental and physical limits, the bakery still understaffed and unable to efficiently accommodate dine-in customers. We needed time to recover, to rethink and reorganize the bakery.

Off we went to Europe for inspiration and rejuvenation.



  • Birmingham, England. Left, The Bull Ring; right, St. Martin's Church


  • Birmingham, England. Coffee, coffee, coffee


  • Birmingham, England. Peel & Stone Bakery

Our first stop in Europe was Birmingham, England (my partner’s home city). Of course, as many as we could, we visited bakeries, cafes and coffee shops. Unquenched by our findings (Birmingham surprisingly had few independent bakeries), we later visited nearby cities Bristol and Bath, and discovered Bristol had a thriving, artisanal bakery scene.


  • Bristol, England. Train Station


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Hart’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. The Bristol Loaf


  • Bristol, England. The Bristol Loaf


  • Bristol, England. Pinkman’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. Pinkman’s Bakery


  • Bristol, England. East Bristol Bakery


  • Bristol, England. East Bristol Bakery


  • Bath, England. The Bertinet Bakery


  • Bath, England. The Bertinet Bakery


  • Our hotel room in Birmingham after returning from Bristol & Bath

Never having been in England, or Europe for that matter, I received a number of complaints before leaving Siem Reap. “Why are you going to England?” they said. “Food in the UK is bland and terrible,” and a bombardment of similar comments. To my relief, I found out it was the contrary!

After doing “research” at a plethora of pubs and restaurants (including dining at a Michelin Star restaurant), I concluded that English / British cuisine has something unique and tasty to offer that most countries will find difficult to replicate. Additionally, it was a major learning experience for me. I now understand the British palate better (quite different from North American and Australian), enabling me to cater more effectively to my British customers.


  • My happy team and I (middle)

Stay tuned for part 2 where I summarize our trip to Rome, Paris, Barcelona and London, and the solutions we implemented to keep our bakery going!

Happy baking, all! And hope you had a wonderful Christmas / holidays!

Mr. Zita
Head Bread Baker
Bang Bang



Danni3ll3's picture

My brother requested some bread to go with Xmas dinner so I went back to my adaptation of MutantSpace's bread and changed the seed combo a bit. This was also the bread that I used to do the experiment with baking in a cold oven with a cold dutch oven or baking in a hot dutch oven in a preheated oven. The wider loaves on the right were the ones baked in the cold combo pot and oven. They spread out more and ended up with a peaked appearance rather than a full rounded one like the loaves done in the hot pot and oven. Either way, the bread had a very nice mouthfeel and was delicious! 

On to the recipe (makes 4 loaves of about 650 g):

1. Toast 75 g of sunflower seeds and 50 g each of flax and black sesame seeds.

2. Soak the above overnight with 225 g rolled oats, 90 g of honey, 75 g of butter and 360 g of boiling water.

3. The next day, autolyse all of the above with 650 g water, 75 g freshly ground flax seeds, 550 g unbleached flour, 200 g of freshly milled red fife flour and 202 g of multigrain flour (I use Robin Hood's Best for Bread Multigrain flour). Let sit for at least a couple of hours.

4. Mix in 24 g salt  and 266 g of 100% levain. Mix until everything is evenly distributed and you can feel the dough gaining some strength through folds.

5. Fermentation took about 4 hours. Fold 30 minutes to 45 minutes apart for the first 2 folds and then 45 to 60 minutes apart for the last few folds until the dough feels nice and billowy. I waited till I saw signs of bubbles around the edges. Normally, when I do this, my dough doesn't double but in this case, the dough was rising quite fast and it almost doubled by the time it was ready to be divided.

6. Divide into 4 and preshape into boules. Let rest 20 minutes and then do a nice and tight shape. I have been trying the shaping as shown in this video but I am way more gentle and I don't degass the dough the way Hamelman does.

7. Sprinkle the bannetons with rice/ap flour first and then some rolled oats. Place the dough seam side down into bannetons and cover the dough. Place in the fridge for 10-12 hours.

8. Heat oven to 475 F with pots inside for 45 minutes. Bake seam side up in preheated covered dutch ovens (lined with parchment rounds) for 25 minutes at 450 F and then uncovered for 22 minutes at 425F.

9. If you wish to try the cold oven/cold pot method, what I did was place the dough on top of parchment rounds in the room temperature dutch ovens. I then placed the covered pots in the oven and turned the temperature to 450 F. The oven took 23 minutes to heat up to that temperature. I left the lids on for an additional 20 minutes and then took off the lids and dropped the temperature to 425 F for an additional 22 minutes.

Loaf on the left is the "hot baked loaf" and the loaf on the right is the "cold baked loaf".

loydb's picture

This is a continuation of tweaking Maurizio Leo's Best Sourdough Recipe My first efforts can be found in my blog here.

My goal is to see how far I can push the freshly-milled whole grain percentage while still getting great oven spring. For this pass, I swapped out the 35g bread flour in the levain for whole wheat, and ended up using 250g of whole wheat and 700g of bread flour for the final dough, giving me roughly 25% whole grain. Because of how my freshly milled flour handles water, I ended up adding an additional 80g of whole wheat flour above and beyond the totals called for in the recipe. It was still a very wet dough, but it was much more workable than the first try, and built structure way faster.

The crumb still came out great, though. I'll try pushing it further next time!


maojn's picture

大孔洞天然酵種拖鞋巧巴達歐式麵包 1/2 Holy Ciabatta Sour Dough Artisan Bread

大孔洞天然酵種拖鞋巧巴達歐式麵包 2/2 Holy Ciabatta Sour Dough Artisan Bread

Skibum's picture

Merry Christmas fresh loafers! This has been my go to recipe for sandwich bread for some time now. It freezes well sliced and each loaf keeps me for 2 - 3 weeks in sandwich bread. The recipe is a version of Peter Reinhart's recipe for soft sandwich bread and rolls from Artisan Bread's Every Day. I use a natural yeast, a sweet levain at 100% hydration. The current levain is at least three years old.

To finish the loaf, I brushed with an egg glaze and then scored the top, finally getting a good score and a nice grigne. It tells me I judged the proofing right. It is nice to get a great bake in a relatively new kitchen and new oven and at a new altitude and humidity. I am figuring it out.

May all of your Christmas dreams come true and happy baking! 


isand66's picture

          Happy Holidays to everyone.  As usual, we celebrated the holidays with family and friends and cooked and baked and baked some more :).

For Christmas dinner at our good friends house I always bring my homemade pirogi filled with potatoes and cheese and also a cheese only version.  I also bring some type of rye bread to accompany the spiral ham they serve.  This year I made a big miche style rye with porridge, raspberry ale, onions, mashed potatoes mixed with fresh ground rye, white rye and First Clear flour.

I made a smaller loaf to keep for myself and as you can by the crumb shot it came out nice and moist and full of rye and onion flavor.

I made some German pretzel rolls to bring to my family's holiday dinner.  I melted some smoked Gruyere on some of them which was delicious.

For Christmas Eve I made some German Weizenbrotchen Sour dough Rolls brushed with melted garlic butter to go along with the Italian theme our friends were following.  I also melted some mixed Italian cheeses on some of them for something extra special.

I hope you all are having a great holiday season.

Here's more details on the rye bread for those who are interested.

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.

Porridge Directions

Add about 3/4's of the water called for in the porridge to the dry ingredients in a small pot set to low and stir constantly until all the water is absorbed.  Add the remainder of the water and keep stirring until you have a nice creamy and soft porridge.  Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature before adding to the dough.  I put mine in the refrigerator and let it cool quicker.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the onions with the ale and let it sit to rehydrate for about 30 minutes or longer.

Mix the flours, ale, and the potatoes for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, cooled porridge, caraway seeds and salt and mix on low for 5 minutes.  A 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.

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 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 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 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.

user-name's picture

Bought a stand mixer last week so I could start making fancy, pretentious hipster bread.  This is my second loaf; the first one was devoured before photos could be taken.
It's a basic white loaf, elevated by some techniques I absorbed up by watching videos online and picking the brain of a pro baker friend of mine.  The crust is crispy, the interior springy, open-crumbed and delicious, with just enough caraway flavor to add some zing.  I really like this recipe, so I wrote it down--I wanna make it again, you betcha!

560g (392g) bread flour
10g (7g) sea salt
10g (7g) dry active yeast
300g+ (210g)+ fresh water
20g (14g) light olive oil
some caraway seed (to taste)

I took the ingredient list from a YouTube video, decreased by 30% (parentheses), and added the caraway seeds for extra flavor.  I added a bit more water, because of the Euro / American flour thing.  Soak the seeds overnight in enough water to cover them, retain the liquid and incorporate as part of the water for the dough.

1. combine wet and dry ingredients in stand mixer, micro-adjusting flour / water as needed to get a good, moist dough ball that pulls cleanly away from the bowl.  Knead on low speed for 10 minutes.
2. 1st proof: 2 hours.
3. shape, proof again in banneton for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
4. turn out onto preheated baking stone in a 470 F. oven, misting and adding ice cubes to a pan under the bread rack.
5. bake 30 minutes, give or take.
6. cool.
7. devour.

I was gonna egg-wash the surface until I realized that liquid egg doesn't stick to flour..hahaha!

Airy, springy, tangy...

Skibum's picture

I bake infrequently now, but continue to maintain a sweet levain @ 100% hydration. Today was pulla for breakfast in the morning. Second bake, rising is P. Reinhart's soft sandwich bread. It is an bread, enriched by butter, milk and eggs. I modified Mr. Reinhart's recipe to use my sweet levain, which is a sweet version of a sourdough starter. I don't care for the sour taste in my breads.

Beautiful flavour and a nice crumb. A successful Christmas bake! Merry Christmas!!!


nnehme's picture

yesterday was my first attempt for the tartine style bread - I like how the holes turned and open with apparent gluten. The preshaping / shaping was difficult and couldn’t build much tension: Elements to practice next time! But the taste is the best I had so far sweet crumb and crust. 


300gr bread flour

100gr spelt flour 

60g stiff sourdough starter (50% hydration) 

280g water 

8g salt 

autolyse for two hours ( only flour and water ) 

Mix and bulk ferment for 4 hours - stretch and fold every 30mn for four times then every 45 mn

bench rest 10mn 

Proof overnight - 9 hours

bake next morning at 500 degrees, first 25mn covered then 20mn uncovered 


dabrownman's picture

Here we are, nearly at years end, and the time to reflect on the past, present and future.  Lucy doesn’t do any of that of course, being small minded and down right stupid but the rest of should not use her as a guide in anything we do except maybe bread baking once a week.

We should be thoughtful and truthful with ourselves in all things, especially this time of year as we reflect on the past year, experience the current Holiday Season and project ourselves into the future of next year.

We love Bean, Grilled Chicken and Grilled Veggie Cheese Crisps!

We all want to be successful in our life long endeavors . We also need to make sure that we are successful.  The wanting is easy but it isn’t anywhere near enough to guarantee success in anything.  Want can get in the way of doing and the doing is what it takes to be successful in all things…….as long as you are doing the right things in your life.

Especially when they are decked out with the guacamole, Crema and  Pico de Gillo.

The wonderful thing, thank goodness, about doing the right thing is that it is every bit as easy as doing the wrong thing or even doing nothing at all.  It is hard work doing nothing – take it from me!  So we might as well do the right things instead of the wrong thongs, or things if you can type better than Lucy.  The rewards far outweigh the just deserts of being a failure at the end your life.

This years, new and different Christmas cookie is Fresh Guava Bars.  Never seen fresh guavas in the Mexican store before.  Hey they look better when dusted with powdered sugar and not as tart as Lemon Bars.

One of the things it takes to be successful in life is to be financially self-sufficient.  That doesn’t mean you have to be filthy rich but you need to be comfortable when you retire.  Nowhere in the Bible, or the Old Testament’s first 5 books if you are Jewish, does it say that your children are supposed to take care of you in your old age.

1949 SD Fruitcake crumb shot - yummy!  These slices still frozen....

These same scriptures do talk extensively about parents taking care of their children though.  One way to do that is to have a firm financial footing – even though money isn’t everything.  Being rich helps even more and Lucy, who knows nothing,  says it is pretty darn easy to be rich if you are human.   If being rich money wise is what you want - then it is easy as pie.  Oddly, to be rich, non money wise, is pretty darn hard ……no matter how much money you have.

Lucy never forgets the salad and now with the garden producing lettuce and tomatoes.....So much better!

So, let’s stick to the easy stuff .....being rich money wise.  No mater how poor you start out in life, there is no reason you cannot become wealthy…… if you have normal intelligence and health – there are few excuses otherwise.  Let’s get to some easy doing then... instead of worthless talking about it. 

If you want a million dollars cash in hand when you retire at 65 years old and you are 21 years old today making $15 an hour, all you have to do is invest $1.70 a day, every day, into the Vanguard S&P index fund and increase that amount every year by 3% as you gain experience, education and make more money over time.  That’s it.  I think we can agree, that just about everyone can afford that pittance – that really isn’t one at all.

Now, if you want to have a million dollars in today’s money when you retire, you have to invest a $4.06 every day and increase that by 3% every year.  You will have over $2.4 million but in today's dollars that will be $1 million due to estimated inflation over time.  To be very young and using the power of compound interest in your favor just can’t be beat for ease and simplicity.

Since 1928, the S&P has returned an average of 11.5% through thick and thin, good and bad years, if you include the dividends it throws off every year and you reinvest them too.  So what poor, 21 year old person, making $15 an hour can’t afford to invest about 1/4 of 1 hours pay per day to be a real millionaire in today’s money, when they retire?  Ignorant ones…..or ones with poor character.  See, being rich has little to do with who you know or how smart or educated you are - even though they can help.   But, it does have everything to do with knowing things others do not know or appreciate and doing about the easiest things, barely what it takes, to make you rich…… instead of them because few others will and they need a lot of help.

Just remember, the longer you wait to start investing in yourself, the harder it gets.  Eventually it becomes impossible no matter what you do short of winning the lottery.  Now let’s talk about kids.  I didn’t have my first and hopefully only one until I was 39.  Most people have kids when they are much younger than I was.  But ,no matter when you have them, the rule is the same - you have to take care of them.

People do not seem to think about this enough but the one thing, besides love, that you have to have with kids is money - lots of money.  Love can only get you so far.  Kids are not cheap and they get more expensive as they age – way, way more expensive.

The one thing parents forget about totally, after food, clothes, shelter, schools, vacations, summer camp, weddings and whatnot, is that they need to make sure that every kid they have becomes a millionaire, in today’s money, the day each one turns 65.  This too, like all things money, is very, very easy.

The 2 easiest ways to do it is to either put a one time $5,912 into the same S&P 500 mutual index fund on the day they are born and forget about it or, put $1.58 every day into the same index fund for them until they are 65.

You have to live to be pretty old to do the latter but, being 85 for a 65 year old, like me today, is certainly easy enough and very probable.  My Dad is 85 and just had a hip replaced this month!  He says he had at least 10 good years left in him if the surgery didn't kill him.  What ever age you eventually make it to, will seem like a blessing to your kids if you made them a millionaire along the way.  If your kids think you were a blessing …..then you have succeeded in life beyond your wildest dreams - right?

Now for you, your wife and 2 kids if you are poor and 21, a real bad combination, for all 4 of you to be rich in today’s money,when you are 65 ;  costs you a whopping $11.28 a day – every day total or $4,118 a year.  Sadly, I used to smoke more cigarettes a day than that!  If you are lucky enough to work for a company that matches your 401-k retirement contributions. then your personal costs are immediately cut in half.

If the company you work for offers a 401-k Roth – you are double lucky - then the government won’t even get a piece of your personal fortune in taxes.  The only thing worse than taxes is death itself.  I told you being rich was easy.  My dad had 2 kids when he was 21 but said he was too poor to invest any money like this.  We all know now, even though he really believed he was too poor, what he really was - was ignorant.  It is all in the doing – or lack of doing.   He still made it to 85 without any of is killing him too. - another blessing!

What did Yoda say to Luke?  Try Not!  Do or do not, there is no try!  He is by far the wisest of all the mythical creatures that never existed.   It is easy enough to be like Yoda and teach your children to do well for themselves and their family. - so do it.  Now on to the hard stuff - Sourdough Buns.

These are 25%, 6 whole grain enriched buns made with a 12% pre-fermented bran levain at 100% hydration.  The enrichment was 2.5% sugar and 5% butter with 2% PH sea salt at 75% hydration overall.  The levain was retarded for 24 hours but the buns were not retarded.

We did not do an autolyse but mixed everything, except the sugar and butter together, including the levain and let it sit for 30 minutes to hydrate the flour, before adding the sugar and butter and beginning the first of 3 sets of slap and folds or 60, 10 and 4 slaps.  We then did 3 w=sets of stretch and folds of 4 stretches each.  All dough manipulations were done on 30 minute intervals.  We then let the dough bulk ferment for an hour before dividing into 110 g portions and shaping into slim buns.

After 2 hours of proof we fired up the oven to 425 F for 8 minutes of baking after being egg washed and then 15 more minutes at 375 F convection to finish them off. To a light golden brown and 205 F on the inside.  We froze them as soon as they cooled for smoked pulled pork sandwiches Christmas day so we will have to wait for the crumb shot and a tasting.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.


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