The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


varda's picture


Over the last few months I've been trying to bake bread with yeast water and found it challenging to say the least.   However the taste of these breads is so wonderful and the prospect of lovely open crumb so enticing that I keep coming back to it.   I have made a number of adaptations to keep the yeast water from consuming the dough before baking (from aggressive enzyme activity) that seem to be working.   At the same time, I've been trying to learn how to use my WFO.    For the first many bakes, I was plagued by pale doughy crust.   At first I attributed it to the tight seal on the oven door which wasn't allowing the crust to develop.    But tipping open the door for the last half of the bake didn't help.   Then I got an infrared thermometer, and finally realized that I wasn't getting high enough temperature in the oven to start with.    So the bread was baking at a low temp that wasn't high enough to finish the crust.   I insulated the top of the dome which had the highest heat loss, sharpened my fire building skills and went back to work.   Yesterday I was  successful beyond my wildest dreams.  Ok.   Not really.   I incinerated two loaves of whole wheat Pain au Levain that never did me any harm.   Too hot.   Way too hot.   It's one thing to have a good thermometer.   It's another thing to know how to use it.   Today, I made a number of adjustments and got only a too hot oven - rather than a way too hot oven.   And baked a yeast water loaf.   Since the oven was too hot (floor at around 650F) it expanded too fast for its own good and baked too rapidly.   But I did start to see a hint of the crumb I've been looking for.    Onward and upward. 

Yeast water loaf with oven in the background. 

Not like Akiko's yet, but I'm getting there (I hope.)

I prefer charred crust to the pale doughy stuff I've been getting but I'm still not the master of oven temp.

Updated with formula and method:

Yeast water9362%  
KAAP500 500 
KABF 150150 
Yeast water 9393 
Water362 36270%
Salt12 121.8%
Starter243  23%
percent yeast water   20%

Night before mix yeast water and flour and leave on counter overnight (around 10 hours).   Next day mix all ingredients but salt and autolyze for 1 hour.   Add salt and mix for 4 minutes in stand mixer at medium speed.  Bulk fement for 2.5 hours with first stretch and fold in the bowl and second on the counter.   Shape into boule and place upside down in lined basket.   Proof around two hours until soft.   Slash and bake in WFO for 20 minutes at high heat (over 650F)  - crack door open after first 10 minutes.  Leave another 5 minutes in oven with door open to bring internal temperature up to 210F. 

A few points:  I used King Arthur Bread Flour in the starter to have enough gluten strength to counteract the high enzyme activity of the yeast water.  I also used a fairly low hydration starter (62%) for the same reason.   The dough was quite wet after the mix and required an aggressive in the bowl stretch and fold to develop.   That worked.   For the second stretch and fold I was able to stretch it out on the counter.   When I removed it from the basket it sort of flopped out in all directions.   However when it went into the oven it sprang up immediately - probably due to the high heat.  I did not use steam in the oven and perhaps if I had the cuts would have opened up better.  

Donna Avakoff's picture
Donna Avakoff

The best pizza I ever tasted was from Chez Panisse in Berkleley, CA.
It was thin crusted with pecorino parmesan and fresh wild nettles!
Can anyone tell me where I can buy fresh nettles in the San Francisco Bay Area?

lumos's picture

 So, this is the first report on my trial of T55 flour my daughter brought back from Paris.  I used to use Shipton’s T55 years ago for a while, but this is the first time I’ve ever used T55 actually made in France….though it’s just a supermarket’s own brand flour, so definitely not the highest quality one.  But to be fair, the supermarket my daughter bought it from was Monoprix, which, according to Wiki, is “considered an up-scale chain and its business model was the inspiration for Waitrose,” in spite of its very un-assuring name :p,  so hopefully it’s at least not the lowest of the lowly, bog-standard flour. ::fingers crossed::


 The first thing I noticed when I opened the bag was how yellowy the colour was and also it looked less smooth?/less fluid?/a bit more sticky? (sorry, can't find a good way to describe) than other white flour I use.

< (from left to right) Waitrose Organic Strong,  Monoprix T55, Waitrose Canadian Very Strong>


I ‘d always thought Waitrose Organic had creamier shade of colour than other flours I’d used (except for Waitrose's Leckford Estate flour which had even creamier shade), but compared to the T55, it looked more pinkish in comparison,  which was a surprise.

The biggest reason I wanted authentic French T55 was to find out how much difference it would make in my baguette, both taste and shape (both outside and inside) and to use the experience as my future bench mark when mixing UK flours to improvise.  So I proceeded with my regular poolish baguette recipe, of which formula I posted in my last blog.

The only change I made this time was replacing all the flours (Strong, Plain and WW) in the formula, except for small rye in the poolish, with T55 and also omitting wheatgerm completely, because I wanted to see how pure T55 tasted.

The instant I added water to the flour to make poolish, I noticed it’s very different. For a short while the flour didn’t ‘dissolve’ as easily as the strong flour (Waitrose Organic) and looked a bit like when I added water to Dove’s Pasta Flour I blogged about before which contained Durum flour. A bit grainy and more lumpy, similar to when you mix water into semolina......just for a short time initially.

After a few more stirring, the flour and water mixed well but it looked a bit more ‘fluid’ than my usual poolish, most likely because T55 (10.5%) is much lower in protein than my Strong (12.9%) .

When mixed well, I  left it to ripe at room temperature, as in the above mentioned formula.  After 7 hrs, I saw the poolish reached its peak, so I proceeded with the rest of the formula. Again, when I added all the ingredients and poolish,  I noticed immediately the dough was much softer than my usual mix. When I did S&F, again it was much softer to touch and more extensible. In utter desperation a few years ago for not being able to obtain T55 very easily here,  I had once attempted making a baguette only using UK plain flour which had a similar protein level as this T55, but it felt different from that. This time, it was extensible but there was a kind of strength in it, like a ‘core’ which 100% plain flour dough didn’t have. I thought, ‘Aha! This is how T55 make a difference in resultant baguettes!’ and put the dough in the fridge for long, cold retardation for 21 hrs, as usual.  

After 21 hrs……The dough hadn’t gained as much volume as my usual improvised-flour dough. Looked very flat and had hardly any large bubbles on the surface which I always see a few of them with my regular baguette dough after the cold retard.   And when I turned it out onto the worktop, it just spread just like a very high-hydration dough, almost like this video by Peter Reinhart.

So there was just NO WAY I could shape this into baguettes with the state of gloopy dough.  I contemplated for a while if I should do extra sets of S&F until the dough was strong enough, but I knew from my past experiences it would only give you the crumb with uniform texture without much big airy holes to speak of, unless you do another long, cold retardation after shaping,  which was not an option at the time.

So in the end, this is what it ended up as. A ciabatta with baguette-ish crumb….or a baguette who wanted to pretend it was a ciabatta, whichever you prefer to call. :p


(Hope nobody notices a half-bitten piece I discreetly put back among them....)



The crumb wasn't open nor did it have larger holes I would've liked, obviously because 1) I didn't slash the top because it was going to be like a ciabatta, 2) the hydration was not high enough to be a ciabatta with typically open crumb with lots of BIG holes because it was supposed to be a baguette......::sigh::

Sorry, it’s such an anti-climax.  But I must say the flavour was AMAZING! It had such a deep and more complex flavour than my usual UK flour baguettes, especially the crust. And the aroma which came out from the oven during baking was quite different, too: more wheaty and nutty.  Also the crumb had much darker colour, which I associate with really good baguettes. And the most interesting thing is its saltiness.  Even I added exactly the same amount of salt as usual, the saltiness was a little more predominant compared to my regular baguettes…or many other baguettes I’ve had  before. It’s not actually ‘saltier,’ in anyway,  the amount of ‘saltiness’ you taste is the same. But for some reason ‘the saltiness’ stood out.  It really brought back the memories of excellent baguettes I had in the long past and reminded me its lovely saltiness, Yeah….a gooooooood baguette was always salty, never sweet. I’d forgotten that……


michael rodriguez's picture
michael rodriguez

today second day of makeing focaccia bread , made two kinds one with house made oven dried tomatos , basil , galrlic

and a second with lemon zest , thime , cooked shallot and garlic.

problem the tomato  did not cook the same , as the lemon thime , and my salt was off on the tomato ,

i  baked both at 375 convection  , rotated twice , i have a anouther batch tomrow im gonna  try zookini

 advic0e on cooking time and racio to salt per pound of plour i used AP  and i used   one week old starter .

amd fillterd H2O 

i also did 3 proofs once in a dough ball then twice on the sheet pan


longhorn's picture

Today was the final day of Artisan I. We made four baguette doughs: a hand mix, and three doughs with preferments - poolish, sponge, and prefermented dough. The week of dough handling clearly showed. Our shaping and scoring were much improved as the photos will illustrate. The hand mix was very similar to the short mix done in the spiral mixer on day 2. Our prefermented doughs were a little less acid than usual and this was attributed to the fact that the temperature overnight was 5 to 6 degrees cooler than normal. 

The liquid nature of poolish is favorable to protease activity and doughs based on poolish tend to be more extensible due to the degratation of protein. The sponge tends to promote acidity which tends to strengthen the dough. We were able to feel that in the doughs. The dough based on prefermented dough was the most elastic and the least interesting in flavor. Then the short. Today we preferred the sponge but Mac said that was varible from day to day. Both were superior I think to the autlyse...but when in a hurry the autolyse is a good idea. Ignoring the prep for the preferment and the overnight fermentation, the time from mixing final dough to baking was significantly shorter with the preferments.

We mainly made baguettes. With the hand mix we made epis and played. I included those photos. I was particularly pleased with my split epi. Photos  are followed by some overall comments about the experience.

The dual epi!

This is a typical crumb shot. All the doughs were quite similar in crumb.

This was a great week. Lots of good hands on experience with a very knowledgeable instructor. And a chance to get first hand experience with serious baking equipment like spiral mixers and deck ovens. The whole experience was very educational and rewarding and I am confident that the skills I honed will translate well to my normal world of sourdough.

One of my big surprises was how uneven the heating of deck ovens is. The back of the oven was definitely hot and the front was definitely cold and aobut five feet in the middle was pretty wonderful. So where you baked made a quite a bit of difference. The loaders were fun and the spiral mixers were addictive. They make such lovely dough! So superior to conventional home mixers.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found nuggets of information you can use.

Bake on!



Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


My Wife and I decided to reverse some of the effects than my good bread had on our waistline (nice bloom ...).

The diet of choice for my wife is the "Scarsdale Meical Diet", carried out after a book she got in a charity shop years ago (British edition of the "Scarsdale Medical Diet" by Tarnower, 1985).

This diet calls for "Protein Bread", which hasn't been available in the UK, so the editors provided a recipe.

Please take a look at my outcome first:

The original formula (tinned loaf on the left):

Wholewheat Flour 78%

Soya Bean Flour: 22%

Water: 72%

Vinegar: 0.8%

Sugar: 1.3%

Salt: 0.8%

Instant Yeast: 0.87%

I baked this bread according to the recipe, and it turned out edible, but quite dense with a strong soy bean taste which didn't integrate well with the wheat flavour (in my opinion). My wife's remark: Not quite your standard.

However, she was happy (only having 1 slice a day), but  I wasn't.

I researched the Internet and TFL about adding soya flour, and found that nobody recommends adding more than 10%. Hm.

I then thought I could use the original proportions, but do things I learned about here on TFL to improve the outcome:

My second approach to "Protein Bread" (bread on the right in photo above) was using a wholewheat sourdough and a soaker, and not use sugar and vinegar, and I added more salt.

Here the straight formula:

Wholewheat Flour: 78%

Soya Bean Flour: 22%

Water: 72%

Salt: 1.6%

Wholewheat flour from starter: 29%

Hydration of starter: 100%

I made the soaker from the remaining water and wheat and left it at ambient temperature for about 5 hours.

The starter matured for about 14 hours at 28C.

The dough had a nice feeling after I mixed soya flour, salt, soaker and starter, and id didn't need much development.

During the 2 hour bulk proof I folded twice. The final proof in a basket took about 90 minutes.

The result is very different from the yeasted loaf (I expected it to be): Not dense at all. And the wheat clearly dominated the taste in a nice way. Quite appealing, actually.

With the background taste of soya I can imagine this bread alongside Japanese dishes such as Miso-braised mackerel, or even with Natto on top (Do I hear a scream from the Japanese corner?) I'll try that after I finished my diet...

This experience reminded me of the cartoon Yakitate Japan ( I saw only the first episode), where a baker explains to the young baker-hero that good bread is made with the topping in mind. Does anyone know where I could get Yakitate Japan DVDs in the UK?





longhorn's picture

Wow! Five breads in one day. Anyone thinking about doing this class needs to be prepared for long, busy days! We were on our feet almost all day!

One of the real lessons from this class is prepping and planning. When you are baking four of five (or more) breads it is important to be time efficient.  All dry ingredients wer measured the afternoon before and our seed soaker for the multigrain was prepared the day before. This morning we began with the autolyse of the whole wheat flour, then mixed our egg dough, then back to the whole wheat...and so on, weaving back and forth as we mixed and divided and preformed and shaped and preformed and shaped and baked and shaped and so on.

Our mixer schedule was optimized to also avoid cleaninhg - until the final dough which was pan bread (homestyle white bread) which required a careful cleaning of the mixer to make sure all the seeds and rye and wholewheat doughs were removed.

Especially beneficial today was that we used many of the same skills we have been developing for baguettes in new ways - forming the "ropes" of egg dough for braiding, forming the multigrain batards, and learned a few new skills for boules. To be candid, after ten years of making boules I thought I had it down, and I pretty well did, but working with wet doughs all week has really helped me learn to use flour much more sparingly and wisely and my boule forming today was really nice. Also learnes some new techniques for pan breads which I NEVER do but probably will now! 

Here is a photo of yesterday's baguettes all bagged up and ready to give to the hotel staff!

Here is today's egg bread braid (the pan loaves are in the image also)

The rye!

The whole wheat...

And the multigrain...

I wish I had a shot of the multigrain crumb, but all the breads had crumb about like you would expect - fairly dense for the whole wheat and rye and a bit more open for the multigrain. 

Tomorrow we return to baguettes with preferments.

I am tired!




yy's picture

 This is my version of something I ate growing up. I’m pretty sure it’s forbidden by Atkins, South Beach, and every other well-known diet, but sometimes you need food to feed the soul.

Recipe: (makes 5 thin pancakes about 9 inches in diameter)

Dough: 58% hydration 

300 g bread flour (12.7% protein)

174 g room temperature water

1 Tbsp sesame oil

10 g salt



vegetable oil

scallions (about 1.5 to 2 cups chopped)



~AP flour will work if you don't have bread flour, though bread flour provides some additional strength and chew. High gluten flour is not ideal, because the finished dough won't be extensible enough to be rolled out thin in one of the later steps.

~You can decrease the amount of salt according to your own tastes and/or dietary needs. Salt is not necessary.

~If you don't like the flavor of sesame oil, you can replace it with vegetable oil. It's in the formula to make the finished product a little more tender.

~This is already a rich recipe, but if you're feeling extra indulgent, you can use room temperature pork fat or duck fat instead of oil in the filling


1. Combine all the ingredients at once and mix/knead for a minute or two until you have a uniform but still shaggy ball of dough. All of the flour should be hydrated. In Peter Reinhart parlance, the dough should be "tacky but not sticky"

2. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes, and then knead for a minute by hand. After kneading, give the dough another 15 minute rest, followed by another minute of kneading. You can repeat the resting and kneading procedure as many times as it will take to get a very smooth, satiny dough.  It took me three kneading sessions in all, including the initial kneading in step 1. Below, you can see how the dough develops. 

Just after step 1, the dough is still shaggy, and you can see a lot of tears on the surface due to lack of gluten development. After the first resting and kneading step, the dough is smoother, although not yet perfectly smooth (above, left). The tears on the surface have decreased but are still there. After the final resting and kneading step, the dough has no tears on the surface and is perfectly uniform.

During the resting periods, chop some scallion finely, like so:

Set the scallion aside for later.

3. Weigh the dough, and divide into 5 equal pieces by weight. They should be around 100 g each, probably a bit heavier.

4. Shape each piece into smooth ball, as if you're making dinner rolls, and let rest for 10 minutes.


5. Roll each ball into a flat pancake. Go as far as the dough will allow you. Let these intermediate pancakes rest for about 10 minutes. Use bench flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the board.


6. After resting, roll the dough out again. The goal is to get a sheet of dough that's less than 1/16 of an inch thick. You should be able to see your fingers through it, but it should not be so gossamer thin that it breaks easily. I usually finish this step by picking the dough up and draping it over my knuckles and tossing it a bit to let gravity stretch it.


7. Lay the sheet flat on a large surface. Pour as much oil onto the sheet as it will take to cover every square inch with a thin layer (as I said, this is not a low-fat recipe). Gently fold in corners of the dough to help spread the oil around.

8. Sprinkle a handful of chopped scallion on the sheet, and roll the sheet up gently but somewhat tightly into a big cigar. Try to squeeze out the air as you roll.  


9. Pinch the ends to seal, then coil the cigar and flatten by pressing down with your palm. Coat the flattened coils generously in oil, and them rest for yet another 10 minutes. The photo below shows how the coil should look before flattening. 

10. Place each flattened coil on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll them out until they are very, very thin – no more than  1/8 of an inch each. If the dough is resisting, give it another 5 minutes or so to rest before continuing. Don't worry about the dough breaking and the scallions peeking out. Toasted scallion never hurt anybody. The photo below shows how they look after rolling out with a rolling pin. The thickness in the photo is not the final thickness - I had to wait five minutes after this point to get them as thin as I wanted, because the dough was bouncing back on me


11. Now you're ready to cook them (finally). Use the sheet of plastic wrap to flip the pancakes onto your stretched palm and then onto a frying pan on medium heat. They're so flimsy that they’ll deform under their own weight if you don’t support them this way. Since the pancakes were already coated in oil in step 9, you should not have to put any oil in the pan.  You can reuse the same sheet of plastic for all the pancakes. Once both sides are toasted, the insides should be done as well, since the pancake is so thin. You’ll smell sauteed scallion in the air.


Once they're cool enough to handle, cut them into wedges and enjoy. You can eat them plain, with your favorite spread (mine is japanese mayo with sriracha and lime), or filled with whatever you want (I had them with barbecued pork). For a breakfast of champions, roll up a couple of fried eggs in a whole pancake for a variation on the "Rolex," a “chapati burrito” with egg that I ate while I was in Uganda for a month. 






codruta's picture

hello from Timisoara!

I baked recently "Roasted Hazelnut and Prune Bread" from Hamelman book, page 185. I removed the butter and the instant yeast, and I increased the hydration from 66% to 68%, and I left the dough in the fridge overnight for the final fermentation.

The bad: I didn't know what to expect of it, I ezitated when I slashed it, cause it's still not clear for me when I have to give a perpendicular slash (with a straight lame) or an "almost-parallel-with-the-surface" kind of slash (does the shape of bread dictate it, or the kind of bread -rye, whole-wheat, white). The bread didn't have a spectacular oven spring. I think I incorporated a little raw flour in the dough when I shaped it (or else why do some prunes have a dry layer around them?). I think I could have roasted the hazelnuts for a longer time. I wish the prunes were more even distributed.

The good: I like the crumb, the contrast of textures and colours. I loved the combination of sweet, sour and nutty. Lovely for breakfast, with a cup of coffee aside. Lovely with goat cheese, or other kinds of cheese. Excellent with butter. I regret I didn't try to toast it...

For those who haven't tried it yet, I absolutely recomend it.

I decided to make this bread, because food-bloggers from Romania make a dish every month, with a chosen theme; and for august the theme was the plum. (They accepted me with prunes.) The challenge is called "Sweet Romania" and I was glad that I could participated with this lovely bread.

The recipe and details can be found here on my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare.

txfarmer's picture

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

Or not. Because my laminating obsession is resulting in all kinds of delicious breads. This one is inspired by a blog post I came across sometime ago, whiich has interesting backstory and detailed shaping instruction. The filling is laminated into the dough rather than directly kneaded in. My previous fourgasse(see here) was airy and crispy all around, this one is crispy on the outside, soft/slightly chewy on the inside - a different kind of yummy.

I used the Rustic Bread recipe from "Bread" for the dough, and two kinds of fillings.

Laminated Fougasse (inspired by "Bread" and this post)
Note: Makes two one pound loaves

Bread Flour, 267g
Water, 267g
instant yeast, 1/8tsp, i.e. a very small pinch

1. Mix and let rise at room temp for 12-16hours.

-Final Dough
Bread Flour, 267g
Water, 102g
Salt, 2tsp
Instant Yeast, 2.8g, a scant tsp

- Fillings
Savory Filling: black olive, ham, cheese, 115g, chop finely and mix well
Sweet Filling: cranberries, almonds, pistachios, sugar, cinnamon, 115g, chop finely and mix well

2. Mix poolish, flour, and water, autolyse for 30min. Add salt and yeast, mix at medium speed for 3-4 min until gluten starts to develope.
3. Let rise at room temp until double (about 70min at 75F), S&F at minute 25 and 50.
4. Shape as this blog instucts. One with savory filling, and the other with sweet filling.
5. No proofing, bake right away at 425F for about 25min.

I like how the filling color shows through


Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy with intense filling flavor on the inside, whats not to love

I think it's the best eaten warm from oven


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