The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Lately, I've resumed my loosely disciplined approach to developing a formula for a pan wheat bread with around 33% whole wheat.  It bears some semblance to my psomi formula and may be similar to what I understand the English call a brown bread. I've used AP flour so the dough is just a little sticky and slack at the end of bulk fermentation.

In the first example, I used dry malt extract that I bought from a local homebrew shop.

The loaf that I baked yesterday had some molasses left over from my Anadama Bread work.

Despite the lack of fine detail in these pictures, the loaves both have a nice crumb.

While clearly not artistic, there's a lot to be said for a good sandwich and toast loaf. If there was any crime committed in the second loaf, the evidence will be consumed before purist police get here.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.


Mebake's picture

This is an illustration of Shaping a batard i thought i would share with TFL memebers.

I Hope this helps new TFL members with shaping skills.

Shutzie27's picture

One of the best wedding gifts my hubbilicious and I received was Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible. After reading the introduction and first chapter, I decided to follow in Hensperger's footsteps and do what she did, twice: teach myself more about the craft and art of bread baking by baking every recipe in a bread book, in order. And so it began, on August 14th......

When I first opened the oven door, my heart sank. Surely, these loaves were far too brown. A quick tap on the upper crust of the left loaf yielded a reassuringly hollow sound, but also the discovery that the crust was, as feared, rock hard. Which would be great, if I had attempted an artisan bread, but I hadn't. This was white bread. It was supposed to be pillowly soft and offer an airy, slightly-sweet cushion for peanut butter and jelly or crisp up in a toaster into a perfect bed for melting butter. The warm, unmistakable smell of baking bread that had gently settled in the house like a blanket seemed almost mocking. I sniffed once while taking the loaves out of the oven; it didn't smell like burnt bread. Placing the loaves on the rack, I stood over them and fretted. 

I laid them on their side, remember what I'd read about that way, the cooling would be even. My husband, meaning well, said, "Don't the crusts usuually soften up?" I was forced to reply with a grumpy, "Yes," not bothering to explain that most of the time, that wasn't a good thing. 

So, I turned off the oven, returned to the couch where we'd been watching TV, and waited. 

Or, at least I appeared to be waiting. What was really going on was a step-by-step analysis of what I had done. 

Thinking about it, the formula had seemed a little strange to me, as the liquid base of honey, melted butter, water, salt and one single cup of flour seemed to create a batter similar to pancake batter. Maybe that wasn't what it was supposed to be like at all. Maybe that's where it all went wrong. 











After adding the flour, using the maximum of the six cups stated in the recipe, I had turned to kneading. I remember thinking that although the dough was a bit sticky and difficult to shape, it did feel right by the end. 











Once I coated it (using olive oil), I of course put it in a bowl to rise and covered it with plastic wrap. Normally, I use a damp towel to raise my dough, but I deferred to Hensperger's expertise. I found the rising to be very successful. 











I really enjoyed shaping this dough, although I recalled that I had worked it quite a bit. Was the sponge going to be too dense and compact? The loaves hadn't felt heavy when I put them on the rack, but then again, I "dumped" them out rather quickly as the pans were, of course, hot. And what if the crust did soften? Didn't that mean the bread had gotten soggy? Wasn't that a bad thing....? 

Perhaps my "lightly floured surface" was too floured. But honestly, it had really felt ok. I'm not a master baker by any means, or even an amateur one, for that matter, but I did generally trust my instincts when it came to baking my bread. The dough had been firm, pliable, perhaps a touch sticky but not too bad....heavy, but not had that wonderful earthy smell of clean yeast.....

And finally, they were put in the pans. I did know I felt the dough was a bit lumpy, but assumed it would kind of smooth out. 










And then, of course, they had come out. 

Unable to stand it anymore, I finally decided to just cut into the bread. I was terribly nervous. Flour wasn't getting any cheaper and, in a rather literal sense, I couldn't really afford to make too many learning mistakes. The bread hadn't quite cooled, but had that last layer of warmth that begs one to eat it. 










To my relief, the crust had softened (this was not how I had felt when the same thing happened to my ciabatta last year; the irony did not escape me). The crumb looked much better than my worried mind might have otherwise made it. 


In fact, the entire loaf looked, smelled, and felt wonderful. My sprits cautiously began to rise like yeast in warm sugar water. My husband, a fan of the heel, took the first bites. Hardly an objective reviewer, but I knew him well enough that I could watch his face and see how the loaf had really turned out. 

He seemed to really, really enjoy it! I took a closer look at the crumb. 

.....I tried a piece, putting a doomed pat of butter upon it. Took a bite and.....VICTORY!!! It was everything warm, fresh-baked bread should be. Soft, chewy, not soggy, and glorious in its simplicity. As promised, we gave a loaf to our neighbor from Poland, who said it reminded him of bread he got at home. A few days later, he made a point to tell me he enjoyed it. But I didn't need his compliments, appreciated though they were. I knew, because I had enjoyed perfect toast for the past three days. 

ph_kosel's picture

I have a houseguest visiting from New Mexico.  His theory is that "healthy" bread is bread with lots of seeds in it.  We went over to the "Grateful Bread" store in Sacramento and he picked up a loaf of something they call "Woodstock" bread, a whole wheat loaf with lots of seeds in it.  My friend thinks it's named after the little yellow bird in the Peanuts comic strip who would no doubt consider birdseed a gourmet addition to bread. 

It was pretty good, so I had a hand at trying to duplicate it.

Initially I baked a 100% whole wheat loaf, 67% hydration, with a tablespoon each of sesame, poppy, and sunflower seeds and pine nuts.  The dough was a bit dry so I added a bit of extra water.  The resulting loaf didn't rise as much as I might have wanted, was a  bit dense, and didn't really have as many seeds as the loaf from the "Grateful Bread" store.  I'm not sure if the dryness and density of  this first effort was due to absorption of water by the seeds or a peculiarity of whole wheat flour (which I usually don't use).

I tried a second loaf, throwing in three times as many of the same seeds plus an equal portion of flax seed.  In that loaf I added the juice of an orange to the water on a whim and added 10% white bread flour, plus some brown sugar to give the yeast a bump.  The result had about the right seeed content but the orange juice made it too tart for my taste.

I baked a third loaf using straight water with no orange juice.  It came out pretty good, lots of seeds, nutty flavor, not too dense.  I'm pretty happy with the formulation, and it comes pretty close to the loaf we bought at "Grateful Bread". 



450g Whole Wheat Flour

50g Unbleached (white) Bread Flour

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1/2 Tablespoon salt

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons flax seeds

3 Tablespoons pine nuts

400g water



Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a stand mixer.

Bake at 450F for 25 minutes.



A nice loaf with lots and lots of seeds.  The pine nuts seem to add a nutty sort of flavor.

^Loaf Photo

^Crumb Photo



dmsnyder's picture

Besides the Whole Wheat Breads, I also baked a SFBI Miche and Hamelman's "Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters" this weekend. 

As I have for the last few bakes, I used 50% Central Milling "Organic Type 85" and 50% Central Milling "ABC" flours for the "bread flour" in the final dough. I haven't tasted it yet, but when I sliced it 24 hours after baking it has a lovely wheaty and sour aroma with toasted nut notes from the boldly baked crumb.

When I last made Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters, Andy (ananda) suggested using a more firm wheat levain and a more liquid rye sour for this bread. For this bake, I did that. I just put the amount of water called for in the rye sour into the wheat levain and the amount of water called for in the wheat levain in the rye sour. (Both call for the same weight of flour.) I can't say this accounted for any difference in the final product, although this batch was denser than usual and had a more pronounced rye flavor. This is a delicious bread, in any case. I had it for breakfast, untoasted, with just a little butter and Santa Rosa plum jam (very tart) and for lunch with Toscano salami in a sandwich.

Happy baking!


GSnyde's picture

Ho hum.  More bread.  My N-teenth batch of Proth5’s “Bear-guettes” and another try at bagels using a variation on the Krakowski formula in the upcoming Inside the Jewish Bakery.

The baguettes are the best I’ve ever made in terms of both flavor and texture.  I followed Pat’s formula to the tee, using Central Milling Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Malted flour and a super-steamy oven.  I handled the dough and the baguettes more gently than usual, and they were more airy than usual.  I now have a stock of baguettes in the freezer for an upcoming party.

The bagels were very good, but not as pleasing as my first attempt last week—a bit too chewy, with a tougher crust.  There are a few possible reasons for the differences in result, but I think the main one is that this time I used all high gluten flour (80% KAF Sir Lancelot and 20% KAF First Clear); last time I used 20% Bread Flour and 80% Sir Lancelot.  I wonder if the use of malt syrup this time instead of honey in the boiling water made a difference in the crust.  I notice the crust is not as shiny this time.  Finally, in my San Francisco oven this week, it took about 16-17 minutes for the crust to get golden brown, and last week in my North Coast oven it took about 14-15. 

No serious complaints, just a shade off the mark I set the prior week.  On the other had, they made a truly wonderful vehicle for smoked Nova Salmon.

I also have a question about seed adhesion.  Seems like no matter what kind of bread I make with seeds on the crust, they fall off at the slightest provocation.  Any tips for keeping seeds where they’re put?  Should I dredge the bagels in seeds immediately after they come out of the water instead of waiting a few minutes for them to cool?  Pound them in with a mallet?  Is there some secret adhesive that savvy bakers use?  Thanks for any advice.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

Looking to clear up the number of packages containing small amounts of flour, seeds, grains, etc., I noticed that Hamelman mentions in his description of one of his five grain loaves that it looks nice as a large boule. Having neither the time, the patience, nor, most important, the space in the fridge (I like these retarded overnight) I took him at his word and made up the loaf below. It contains at least three different kinds of seeds, all toasted, cracked rye, bulghur, steel cut oats, dark whole wheat, flax, flaxseed meal, who knows what else. It is really more like cereal baked with some flour and water into a loaf. 

Notwithstanding the mountain of ingredients I packed into this dough, it fermented and proofed nicely and baked up into a five pound (2 kilo+) loaf with fantastic taste. It's four inches high. Needless to say, wildly open crumb is not the goal here. 

In the oven, the loaf took a full hour to reach 200 degrees internal temperature, and about six or seven hours to be dry enough to cut. It was even then still a little ragged, as you can see.

This loaf is a meal in itself. A goodly slice, toasted and topped with butter is all you need. Except maybe another one. Delicious, if a little overwrought. Sorry, Jeff.

lumos's picture

……just so that you know I do not live by baguettes alone. :p


Before I start...... Hope all you US-based TFLers are safe and unharmed in any way in the hurricane.  Please know that my prayer is with you.  (Let's forget just for now that I'm an atheist....)



Never been to New York (or USA, for that matter, unless you count the island of Guam as a part of American soil), so, very regrettably I’ve yet to experience the true glory of famous New York Bagels.  You can buy so-called ‘New York Bagels’ here in UK, which noisily claims its authenticity on their plastic bag that’s suffocating 5 bagel-like soft bread rings; sure sign that it is anything but authentic….

 Coincidentally, two of the largest Jewish communities in UK are both within 30-minutes driving distance from me, so I have had a few of their bagels from the bakeries there in the past, but most of them seem to pride themselves and compete each other for the ‘authentic fillings,’ like salt beef or lox, in their bagel sandwiches rather than the bagel itself. I have found a good review about a new bagel shop in another area about 20-25 minutes drive away from me, that is run by a baker who came from Israel quite recently and claims his ones are the authentic bagels, but I have yet to try his…..and his shop is quite near the area which was badly damaged in the recent riot.  I’m desparately hoping his shop was alright. If not, that’s another reason I want those ******* ***** ******* rioters to be properly punished for meddling with my potential foodie-heaven before I get my hands on. 

So in short, I really don’t know if I have ever tasted authentic bagels or whether my bagels are any good at all.   But I’ve been baking these for some friends for a while; one of them (and her husband) who used to live in New York for several years and quite happily buy my bagels very regularly, and the other friend who is an American-Jewish (his parents are immigrants from Russia after WWII) and told me they are the best homemade bagels he’d ever had. (Though I really doubt he’d ever had so many ‘homemade’ bagels before. I suspect he and his family have been buying their bagels from their local Jewish bakeries….)

 Anyway, they seem to like it, and I like it, too. So whether authentic or not (though I suspect any possible claim for ‘authenticity’ will be down the drain the instant I add WW flour in the mix…:p.), this is the one I’d like to share with you. Hope you like it, too.





Ingredients  (makes 12 bagels)

Sourdough (70% hydration)  200g ---  Fed twice during 8-12 hrs period before use with 120g High Gluten

White Flour* (see note below) + 80g water  (1st feed = 40g flour + 25g water,  2nd feed = 80g flour + 55g water)


High Gluten White Flour   450g * (see note below)

Strong Wholemeal flour  120g

Non-diastic malt powder  12g

Organic cane sugar  14g 

Skimmed Milk Powder (optional)   2-3 tbls

Instant Dry Yeast (Easy Blend Yeast)  2g (about 1/2 tsp)    optional (Note: Without added yeast,it needs longer fermentation and the crumb is slightly denser)

Good quality sea salt   12g

Filtered water or bottled spring water   300-310g


For boiling water …..Malt extract/syrup or light brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda


* Note :  High Gluten White Flour …. I use Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour (from Canadian Red Spring Wheat, protein 15%)



  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix sourdough and water in a separate bowl and stir to loosen the sourdough.
  3. Pour the sourdough/water into the dry ingredients and mix until no dry bits is left.  Rest for 15 minutes or so to let the flour absorb water.
  4. Knead for 15 – 20 minutes (it may take longer) until the gluten fully develops.
  5. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape them into nice, neat balls with smooth, tight skin.  Put a damp (but not wet) tea towel over them and rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shape them into bagels.  (I use,  possibly,  Japanese-style 'rope-method which has one extra-step before you elongate the dough into a rope-shape, which is similar to this video, but whatever a method that works for you should be fine)
  7. You can either final-proof at room temperature (around 1-2 hr or so, depending upon the temperature) or cold retard in a fridge overnight -24 hrs.  Be careful NOT to over-proof, or you’ll end up with soft, fluffy bagels that doesn’t ‘bite back.’
  8. Boil in the water (with malt extract/sugar and 1-2 tsp bicarbonate of soda) for 1 minute each side. 
  9. Drain on a tea towel until you boil the rest. (Better not leave for more than 5-6 minutes or you may end up with bagels with wrinkly skin)
  10. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes at 200 C.




(For this batch, only had time to retard for 5-6 hrs. Longer retardation will give you more birds-eyes.)




Best wishes and  Shalom.......just to compensate for the lack of authenticity of my bagels. :p






SydneyMark's picture

After a year trying to make something like the bread you buy at the baker's I had given up.

I use a bread maker to produce dough then bake in the oven as the results are better, but I still end up with very dense bread even if I let the dough rise for an hour after the machine has finished.

Anyway, today I made dough and had to go out just after the machine had finished. Before I left I took out the dough, punched it down and put it into my baking pan then left it outside in the spring sunshine covered with a damp cloth. Three hours later when I got back I baked the massive lump of dough hanging out of the pan.

The result was the best bread I have ever baked. It was light and airy I couldn't believe the contrast with my previous results.

So my advice is to wait. Punch the bread down after the first hour of rise then wait another three!

Yeah I know, it's a long time but worth it.

Nate Delage's picture
Nate Delage

I've been continuing practicing my baguettes and have progress to report. I've lowered my hydration yet again to 71% and the dough is even easier to shape and more importantly score. While there's still some room for improvement, I was able get some nice ears on the last few loaves.

I was a bit surprised to get such a nice shine and caramel color on these loaves. I suspect this is beacause of more aggressive steaming than I usually do. The past few bakes I've only sprayed the sides of the oven, this time I also poured a cup of water in a pan right before baking and wasn't afraid to spray the top of the loaves while they were cooking (just the first 10min). I'll continue to steam with both water in a pan and spraying the entire oven (being careful to not spray the oven light).

The taste, crumb and crust were excellent all around. I really enjoyed eating these! Again a lower hydration didn't seem to impact the crumb much at all. Granted I only reduced my hydration a few percent.

Tomorrow will be a busy baking day. I'll be making some more baguettes and a few boules and oval loaves with 15% whole wheat. I just received a beautiful couche and brotform from SFBI and a lame, which I can't wait to use.



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