The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Franko's picture

This past Monday my wife and I arrived home from our very first visit to Europe where we spent 3 nights in Prague, then 8 full days cruising the Danube from Germany, through Austria, Slovakia, and finally disembarking in Budapest. It was a marvelous trip which we enjoyed immensely, but as always it's good to get back home, especially after spending 10 + hours flying, transferring, waiting to fly, then transferring twice more before landing back on Vancouver Island.


By the time we got in the door neither of us were hungry, which was good since we'd used up as many of the perishable items stocked in our fridge as possible, including the last of the bread, before we left on our trip. Too exhausted to do anything but crawl into bed, I thought I'd start some sort of a poolish the next day for a bake on the following day. Tuesday evening when I was mixing the poolish I really didn't have a concrete plan of what I'd eventually do with it until I remembered that I had some rye starter left in the fridge. The starter of course was dead as a doornail, but I added some to the poolish thinking if nothing else it should add a little tang to the finished loaf. The poolish went in the fridge overnight to do it's thing, while I decided what sort of bread I wanted to use it in. Pane de Campagne has long been a favourite of mine for it's mild rye flavour that seems to go with just about anything from meat, fish, cheese, to toast and jam. This particular loaf may not be what some would consider a true version of the bread, but it's close enough that I don't have a problem calling it one. The poolish itself wasn't really a poolish in the typical sense as didn't rise up the way a normal one will, probably because the high pH starter killed off most of the scant amount of baker's yeast I used in it, but it had a nice aroma to it and in it went to the final mix. The dough mixed up easily by hand and then a few minutes of work up on the counter to develop the dough a bit. One stretch and fold in the bowl after 30 minutes of bulk ferment, then another 50-60 minutes BF before the intermediate proof of 15 minutes. Shaping, then 30-40 minutes of final proof, followed by the slash, steam, bake routine. No surprises, no ghastly blow-outs, just a decent and very tasty loaf of country style bread to tide me over till I get back to working on a bread project I started before we left on our vacation. More on that at a later date... but not too much later I hope. Formula and procedure used can be found below.



Pane de Campagne









Dormant rye starter



AP Flour















Final Dough






AP Flour



Light Rye Flour



40% Whole Wheat Flour



Sea Salt-null Gris









Total Weight



Total Flour



Total Hydration






Combine the starter/poolish ingredients 12-14 hrs before the final mix and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Final Dough: DDT of 75-78F


Heat 50 grams of the water and add the salt, stirring to dissolve it as much as possible. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients, mixing either by hand or machine to a shaggy stage. Add the salt solution and continue mixing till thoroughly combined and the mixture forms a cohesive mass. Knead the dough conventionally or use the slap and fold method if mixing by hand for 3-4 minutes or until moderate gluten development occurs. Times will vary if mixing by machine so monitor the dough closely that it doesn't overdevelop. The dough should be slightly sticky and not fully developed at this stage. Place the dough in lightly floured bowl, cover and begin the bulk ferment. After 30 minutes do a thorough stretch and fold in the bowl, cover and continue the bulk ferment for an additional 50-60 minutes. Remove the dough and round lightly, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes before shaping.

Preheat the oven and stone to 480F.

Shape as desired into a moderately tight form, cover and begin the final rise of 35-40 minutes on a parchment lined peel.

When the dough is not quite fully proofed dust it lightly with either AP or light rye flour and slash as desired, keeping the slashes shallow. Spray the oven 4-5 times with water and bake for 3 minutes then spray again. Bake for 15 min and reduce the heat to 450F. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the parchment paper , rotating the loaf on the stone for even coloration. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the loaf is evenly coloured and has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar, allowing the loaf to cool gradually in the oven for 15 minutes before placing on a wire rack for 5-6 hours before slicing.

varda's picture


Syd's white sandwich loaf has been on my to bake list since it was posted.   But those lists are ever growing and time is ever short and I'm ever distractable, so...  One of the distractions has been the yeast water craze.   As much as I pride myself on being above fashion, the simple fact is I'm not.   So when Daisy suggested that an enriched bread might be a good candidate for yeast water, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and try Syd's loaf with yeast water.   The problem with converting a recipe before trying it first, is one has (I have) no idea what one is (I am) doing, so I had a failure or three.    Then I decided to bake two loaves side by side - one Syd's original formula and the other, his formula converted to yeast water.    The loaf pictured in the first four photos is made with Syd's original formula scaled down by 3/4.   The only deviation is that I did not use ascorbic acid.   


The resulting bread is probably the most feathery light I have ever made.   The taste is mild but delicious.    Unfortunately the pictures can barely capture the wonderful taste and texture of this bread.    My recommendation - if you have any taste at all for white bread, go to Syd's original post and bake it.  

For the second loaf, I converted to yeast water by replacing all of the water in the poolish with yeast water and omitting the yeast.    I also omitted the yeast from the final dough.   Otherwise I followed exactly the same formula, again without the ascorbic acid.   After mixing both batches of dough this morning I had to go out for a few hours, so I refrigerated both bowls.    When I got back, the yeast version had already doubled, while there appeared to be no change to the yeast water one.    I shaped the yeast one and placed in a bread pan to proof, and stretched and folded the yeast water dough and let it bulk ferment on the counter.    Before long (I wasn't watching the clock) the yeast loaf had risen an inch above the pan so I baked it, and then shaped and proofed the yeast water loaf.   By the time the yeast water loaf was ready to go in, it hadn't even cleared the pan top.   But it was softening so I decided to bake it.   In the oven it grew to around 80% of the volume of the yeast version.   

After tasting the original, I was ready to hate the yeast water version, but surprise, surprise, there was nothing to hate.   While the yeast water loaf wasn't as feathery light as the original, and really the taste was completely different, it was every bit as delicious as the first - just a different style of bread.   It's hard to come up with exactly the right words, but the yeast water loaf had a tiny bit of a tang, and a more complex flavor in a somewhat denser (not dense, just denser) bread.   The picture below is of both loaves (yeast water on the bottom) and below that two shots of the yeast water crumb.   I will be hard put to decide which one of these to make next time.   Such dilemmas are fun to have.   Thank you Syd, for posting your fabulous and delicious formula.



HMerlitti's picture

I went to the local Italian store and bought 5 pound of Antimo Caputo (from Naples) flour.   First of all, it is expensive.  I think it was $5 for 4 pounds or was it $15 for 5 pounds, I do not remember.   I didn't care because I wanted to try it.

I made several 1 pound portions, used two and froze the others in separate oiled freezer bags.

I made two pizzas.   One in the oven on a 1" granite stone properly brought to the highest temperature my oven could handle, (550 degrees according to the oven gauge readout) and the other on the grill, supposedly 650 degrees according its temp readout.   The benefit of the grill is that it cooks from the bottom so hot that the whole slice of pizza stays crisp and stiff.

Regarding the taste, They both tasted the same.  But different from pizzas made with other flours, this pizza was very chewy.   IMHO this was neither a good think or a bad think, just different.  But I could see how some pizza lovers could rave about it or not like it becaues it is too chewy.  

Any of you have a comment ???


RonRay's picture

Replication Bake of Emulsified Raisin
Yeast Water Loaf


For the initial loaf, see


   In the initial baking of a loaf using emulsified raisins in the Raisin Yeast Water (RYW),
the loaf's crust came out a very dark mahogany color.  The final rise took 10 hours, which was longer than my normal nominal 6 hour rise times. The flour used was 60% APF and 40% B/F, and the loaf volume was excellent. Loaf taste was a very pleasant, full bodied flavor without noticeable sweetness, nor raisin flavor, nor any trace of sour tang.

   The previous loaf was developed over 105 hours from the start of the first of 3-levain builds, until the dough was placed in the oven. Also, the RYW culture was only 48 hours at the start of the levain builds.

   In an attempt to get a better idea of how important the initial methods and ingredients were to the initial loaf’s resulting characteristics, this, 'replication' was made. The construction was was the same, however, the timing was shortened from 105 hours down to 28½ hours. The 40% B/F was replaced with APF. Also, the RYW culture was 7 day more mature at the start of these levain builds.

   I specifically wanted to compare four points: 1/ Crust color; 2/ final rise time; 3/ loaf volume; and 4/ loaf flavor.

   The loaf was perhaps very slightly lighter, but not to any significant degree. This leads me to believe the most significant factor in developing the crust color was the additional sugars introduced by inclusion of the emulsified raisin particles in the RYW levain.

   The final rise time was 6¼ hours for this loaf. This is well with in the minor variations around the nominal 6 hour times I normally expect. So, the added maturity of the RYW culture &or the shorter total development times would seem to account for the initial loaf's long final rise. To decide the role of the longer development time, I have another loaf undergoing an extended development with the last of the RYW culture.

   The physical characteristics of the crumb were fully comparable to those of the previous loaf. However, I felt that the very impressive full bodied flavor had suffered some from the shortening of the retardation of the final dough.  That portion of the initial loaf's development was 45½ hours, whereas, this loaf development gave 10¼ hours to the final dough's retardation  This loaf has a very nice flavor, but I do feel it does not fully match the full bodied quality the initial loaf had.

are the links to my baking logs in PDF formate for both the initial loaf, and this 'replication' loaf.


loaf's baking log at Google Docs link:

478g[Photos]_110619-1200 .pdf -


initial loaf's baking log at Google Docs link:

[Photos]_110615-1540 .pdf -



jamesjr54's picture

So I wanted to make a batch of Black Canyon sourdough last night, to repay my neighbor for the 2 lbs of fresh-caught cod he gave us. No mise en place. Pretty distracted after work etc. But in I plunged, only to come up about 1.5 C short of All-Purpose flour. Doh! So I used a combo of spelt, oat and White Whole Wheat bread flour from Whole Foods. It took about 45-50 minutes of vigorous kneading by hand to get any structure and windowpane. Roughly, in baker's math, it's about 66% hydration. Used my starter, which has been pretty reliable. Now, it's been proofing for 12 hours, and looks ok. I'll give it another hour or so before I bake. This should be interesting. 

codruta's picture

I made a pizza last week, that turned out very good.  I addapted the recipe from hamelman's BREAD. I made a stiff levain instead of biga, and omit the oil. I used canned tomatoes made by me last summer, fresh mozzarella, dried oregano, and fresh basil added in the end. I put the stone at the lowest level in my gas oven, and the pizza was done in 7-8 minutes. It's the best I can do at home. The crust was absolutely delicious!!!

more pictures and complete recipe can be found at my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare. (english translator available, funny translation, though)

Syd's picture

I have been going through a bit of a baking drought lately, but on Friday lunch refreshed my starter so that I could bake when I got off work in the evening.  I hadn't planned on anything, but when I got home and found the starter at its peak, I had to act quickly and there was no time for elaborate planning.  Accordingly, I just ad libbed and this is what I did.  

100g mature starter @ 100% hydration

250g water

3g diastatic malt

50g rye flour

100g re-milled fine semolina flour

100g whole wheat flour (I sifted out the coarse bits of bran)

200g bread flour (11.4% protein)

10g salt 

* I used less starter than usual.  Normally, I would use 150g of starter for this amount of flour, but because it is just so hot over here now, I was worried that it would be too much.  It turned out to be the right amount. 


Overall Formula

water (including water in starter) 70%

bread flour (including flour in starter) 50%

semolina 20%

whole wheat 20%

rye 10%

malt 0.6%

salt 2%

Whisk up the starter, water and malt until frothy.  Add the rye, semolina, whole wheat and bread flour in increments and ensure all the flour gets wet.  Autolyse for 50 mins.  Add salt. Knead to medium gluten development.  Bulk ferment.

This dough developed fast.  This is in part due to the whole grain and diastatic malt and in part due to our very high summer temps.  It was ready for final shaping in an hour and a half. 

Pre-shape, rest 15 - 20 mins, final shape, place in banneton and retard overnight.

Baked at 230C, with steam for 20 mins and without at 200C (convection on) for another 25 mins.  Crack open oven door, turn oven off and allow bread to rest on baking stone for another five minutes.

It has a moderately open crumb. The large holes were unintended.

I really like the flavour of this bread.  It has a mild tang and it improves in flavour with time.  Yesterday it tasted great with some good cheese ( a nice mature cheddar) and nothing else, not even butter. 



GSnyde's picture

Here’s my favorite variation on my favorite bread--the Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread.   Since it’s now my most frequent bake, I figured I should write up my procedure both for my own reference and the breadblogosphere.

This version has 50% more whole wheat flour in the final dough than the book’s formula.   I make only as much levain as is needed for the bake, not double the needed amount as the formula calls for.  I divide the dough in two mid-way through the bulk ferment, bake two 485-490 gram boules or batards on a baking stone the first day and, having retarded the second half overnight, I bake a one kilo boule in my Dutch Oven the next day.



700 grams plus 50 grams water

200 grams levain (see below)

850 grams white flour

150 grams whole wheat flour 

20 grams salt



Make the Levain:

The night before the dough is mixed, take 1 heaping tablespoon of a mature starter (I used my usual 75% hydration mixed-grain starter) and feed it with 100 grams of warm (75-80 degree F) water and 100 grams of a blend of 50% AP flour/50% whole wheat bread flour.   I use Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft white flour (enriched with malted barley) and Central Milling Organic Hi-Protein Fine whole wheat flour.

Cover tightly and let the levain rise overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, the levain should be airy and light.  To find out if it’s ready, put a small piece in room temperature water to see if it floats.  If it sinks, it is not ready to use and needs more time to ripen.


Mix the Dough:

Pour 700 grams of 80 degree F water into a large mixing bowl.  Add 200 grams of the levain and stir it to disperse.

Mix the flours – 850 grams white and 150 grams whole wheat – together and add the flours to the mixing bowl.  Then mix thoroughly by hand to hydrate all of the flour. 

Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30-40 minutes. 

After the dough has rested, add the 20 grams of salt and the 50 grams warm water. Incorporate the salt and water into the dough by squishing the dough between your fingers until thoroughly mixed.


Bulk Fermentation

The dough should bulk ferment for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature in a bowl covered with a damp dishtowel or plastic wrap.

During the first two hours of fermentation, give the dough one series of four stretch-and-folds every half hour or so.  During the last hour or so, stretch and fold the dough gently every 45 minutes or so.

If the dough seems to be developing slowly, extend the bulk fermentation time.  When properly fermented the dough should be puffy and gas bubbles should be visible on the surface.


Retarded Fermentation (Optional)

 I can’t fit two one-kilo boules on my baking stone at once, so I usually divide the dough in half after the first 90 minutes of bulk fermentation.   I round up half the dough, place it in a lightly oiled bowl with a tight cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to a full day.  The other half continues with the bulk fermentation at room temperature.

Take the refrigerated dough out of the refrigerator about five hours before you plan to bake.  Let it warm in the bowl for two or three hours, with stretch-and folds at the 60 minute and 120 minute points.


Shaping the Loaves and Proofing

This dough is extensible and sticky, so it takes careful handling and just the right amount of flour to shape the loaves.  The Tartine Bread formula calls for loaves of just under one kilo (two loaves from the dough recipe).  I usually make three loaves from a recipe, two scaled at about 485-490 grams and one at about one kilo.  I find that the flavor and texture are just as good as with the bigger loaves.

When the dough is fully fermented, scrape it onto a lightly floured board with the smoother side of the dough (what had been on the bottom of the bowl) downward.  Be careful not to get a lot of flour on the side of the dough that will form the seam of the loaf.  With lightly floured hands and quick movements, pre-shape a ball by stretching the dough gently from the sides, up to meet in the middle, and seal the seam by pinching.   Rest the dough balls for 20-30 minutes, covered with a slightly damp dishtowel.

With lightly floured hands, form the dough balls into boules, by again stretching the sides up toward the center and pinching the seam.  Then, on an unfloured part of your board or counter (but with well-floured hands), place the seam side down and tighten the boule surface using the method dmsnyder made famous (

Place the boule in a well-floured banneton with seams upward, covered with a damp dishtowel or place in a plastic bag.

Having baked this bread several times, I have found that proofing it at room temperature (about 70 degrees F for me) for about 3 ½ hours results in good oven spring and a light, tender, airy crumb.  The poke test works well to check readiness.

You can also form the dough into a batard shape instead of a boule.



This bread can be baked in a Dutch oven or hearth style on a baking stone with steam.  I use a steamy combination of a cast iron skillet and Sylvia’s Magic Towels (described below).

To bake on a baking stone, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F for an hour or more with the stone in place and a cast iron skillet and a metal loaf pan on a rack below.   Boil a large kettle of water.   Place two rolled up small terry cloth towels in a Pyrex loaf pan or other ovenproof glass container.  Five minutes before you start baking, pour boiling water into a one-cup measuring pitcher to pre-warm it.  Then pour boiling water over the towels until they’re fully soaked and there’s water sloshing in the glass pan.  Place the pan with towels in a microwave and zap for 3 minutes on high.  Just before transferring the loaf to the oven, transfer the sopping towels into the hot metal loaf pan in the oven and close the oven door.  Do this very carefully with tongs and a very good oven mitt.

I transfer the loaf to the stone using a piece of parchment paper just larger than the width of the banneton.  Place the parchment in the palm of your left hand over the banneton, and with your right hand invert the banneton gently and shake the bread out of the banneton and onto the parchment.  Then gently place the parchment on a peel or cookie sheet.  Slash the loaves; I use the square pattern slashing at an acute angle (about 20 degrees from horizontal).  

When the loaves are slashed, pour the water out of the warmed pitcher and pour in a cup of boiling water.  Slide the loaf on the parchment onto the baking stone.  Using a good oven mitt, pour the cup of water into the cast iron pan. Close the oven door.  Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

I bake with steam for about half the baking time.  For a one kilo loaf, that’s about 20 minutes with steam and 20 minutes without.  So, after 20 minutes, remove the loaf pan and cast iron pan from the oven.  For a half kilo loaf it’s about 18 minutes with, and 18 minutes without. During the second half of the bake you might want to open the oven door to vent remaining steam and, if necessary, rotate the loaf for even browning.  The bread is done when the crust is well-caramelized and the internal temperature is 207-210 degrees.  I usually leave the loaf on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10-15 minutes to help dry the crust.  Then transfer the loaf to a rack to cool.

To bake in a Dutch Oven, preheat the oven at 500 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  During the last 20 minutes, put the Dutch oven and lid in the oven to heat.  When the loaf is ready to bake, I transfer it to a piece of parchment about 18 inches by 9 inches, invert the loaf from the banneton to the middle of the parchment, and slash the loaves as described above.  Remove the Dutch oven from the oven, lower the loaf into the Dutch oven using the parchment as a sling, return the Dutch oven to the oven and put the lid on.  Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.   After 20 minutes remove the lid and continue baking another 20-25 minutes or until done.

Full-size Loaf Baked on Stone


Full-size Loaf in Dutch Oven


Very Happy Batard

 Two Mini-boules


Crumb Shot

Notes on Variations

Three of my variations from the Tartine Bread directions are just for convenience—making only the amount of levain needed, retarding part of the dough and baking smaller loaves.  None of these variations seem to impair the quality of the bread.  Both the taste and texture are—in my experience--every bit as good as the bread produced by following the directions precisely.  I should say, though, that retarding and then re-warming the dough should be tried only after you have baked according to the book’s directions a few times, so you know what to look for in judging the proper degree of fermentation.  Also, proofing smaller loaves will take a bit less time than full-size loaves.

My last variation is for flavor.   Going from 100 grams of whole wheat in the final dough to 150 grams makes a slight difference, but a pleasant one if you like a bit more of that nutty taste for added complexity.   Some time, I plan to try adding a couple of tablespoons of toasted wheat germ to the dough.

By the way, I was watching a video with Chad Robertson promoting his book, and I noticed that on his work table was an open bag of the very same Central Milling flour that I use.  No wonder his bread is so good.

Besides its wonderful, subtle but complex, flavor, the distinguishing feature of this bread is its moist crumb texture—hitting the sweet spot between chewy and soft.  I bet it would make great tartines!



dvuong's picture

This weekend, I decided to  bake a sweet bread to serve as dessert for our father's day family gathering.  I ho and hummed for a few days over what to bake and finally decided on Reinhart's Chocolate Cinnamon Babka bread from ABED.  What's not to love about sweet dough, chocolate, and cinnamon, right?  Then I thought, "Wouldn't chocolate, cinnamon, AND hazelnuts be even more to love?"  So, that's what I did...  After rolling out the dough, I spread a thin layer of Nutella, sprinkled with the chocolate cinnamon paste, and then sprinkled again with chopped hazelnuts. The results was fabulous, although I felt that it may have been slightly overbaked. The crust was crunchy and hard,  but still tasty...  It actually tasted like a cookie!


Since we were expecting about 30+ people, I figured one loaf of Babka bread would not be enough and not everyone is a chocolate lover, so I decided to make use of summer berries and made a white chocolate fruit tart.



At the end of the evening, I think everyone was satisfied with dessert. There was something for everyone. My brother was a HUGE fan of the babka and managed to eat nearly half the loaf himself.

johannesenbergur's picture


  • 1 dl (100g) lukewarm to warm water
  • ½ dl (50g) plain naturel yogurt
  • 15g fresh active yeast
  • 8 g honey
    (pref. liquid)
  • 10 g sea salt
  • 10 g olive oil
    (this is a minimum, feel free to use more, I reckon 25g would be ideal)
  • 250g various types of flour, I used and recommend:
    30g Graham flour
    70g semolina flour
    150g wheat baking flour
  • Poppy or sesame seeds or for sprinkle

This recipe is very small, the smallest I've ever made. Usually I double the ingredients mentioned, except for the yeast, the dough rises just fine with 15g.


(Work: 20 mins - 1st rise: 30 mins - work: 5 mins - 2nd rise: 35 mins - bake: 30 mins)
Estimated time from start to finish: 2 hours 

Mix the warm water and yogurt, so you get a tepid mixture. Add the yeast and stir till dissolved. Add salt and honey and dissolve. Add the flour to the mixture, I ususally add 100g, mix and add then add more.

Knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes, put it into an oiled container, cover it with a hot teatowel and leave it to rise for 30 mins or so, can be more or less, usually more means better and less means less good.

Should be doubled after half an hour and shape it into a loaf. Place the loaf onto your baking surface of choice. Pat the bread with milk and sprinkle the seeds on top of it. Cover it again with a warm towel and let it rise for 30-60 minutes; Afterwards put the loaf into your oven.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and it makes that hollow sound you know so well, when you knock on the bottom of it.



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