The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


alfanso's picture

Anyone who has been around TFL long enough and is suspiciously odd (or bored) enough knows that my baguette journey began with my baking the Anis Bouabsa baguette.  For the uninitiated, M. Bouabsa is a bread baker in Paris who won the quite prestigious annual city-wide competition in 2008 for the Best Baguette in Paris, and with about 30 competitors it was no small feat.  His rewards included accolades, bragging rights and a meeting with the French President.  Oh, and supplying the presidential palace with baguettes for a year.

My wife's cousin celebrated her 90th birthday with a party last weekend.  Just about a lifelong resident of Paris she invited local relatives and friends as well as her American family, my in-laws included. As our favorite travel partners and nonogenarians themselves, the in-laws asked us to chaperone them to Paris for the event.  Our main goal was to ensure their safety every step of the way.  Literally.  So when folks gush at our vacationing in Paris I have to stop them right there.  It was not a vacation.  Although we had a good time with family there.  And no matter what, we were in Paris, for-cryin' out loud.

We had our free time in the mornings as their day often doesn't begin until 11 or so.  This past Monday, the only rainy day of the trip, we clambered down the Paris Metro steps and headed up to M. Bouabsa's boulangerie.

When he came out to see who was asking for him, I showed him a still from the video I posted a few years ago on the making of his baguettes.  To our utter surprise he said that he recognized me and "knew who I was".  He invited me in to see his workshop and I asked if my wife and cousins could come in also.  Yes.

And then we talked shop.  I don't know more than a few words of French and he doesn't understand English.  But he spoke in French, I spoke in Spanish and we seemed to be on the same page.  I guess shop talk and some hand gestures make a conversation a little more universal.  Unbeknownst to me Cousin Paul videoed about a minute of the encounter. Also unbeknownst to my wife, as she hogged the picture frame during part of the encounter!

The boys talking business


Baguettes after their long cold retard

A huge Pain de Campagne on the loader just after coming out of the oven.

T65 flour waiting to become baguettes

The Tzara Tradicion baguette.  M. Bouabsa's boulangerie is on Rue Tristan Tzara.

A peek into the workshop from the storefront.

We picked up cups of expresso and cafe creme, croissants, a pistachio & chocolate chip "stick" and an incredibly flaky custard filled "cup".  And of course a pain de campaigne batard and a pair of baguettes.  What a delightful experience.

Here's old Morris and me strolling down Rue St. Severin

And the lunch for the American contingent.  That's BD girl Dolly sandwiched between my in-laws, themselves book-ended by my wife and me.

And the same dopey rabbit seems to still get his hand caught in the Metro train doors, just as he did the first time I rode the Metro back in '89.


Danni3ll3's picture

One of my brothers asked me to make buns to go with the burgers and crab we are having tomorrow for Father’s Day. I surfed a number of recipes but kept coming back to this one.

So here they are...

I doubled the recipe and scaled them to 115 -116 g each. And instead of baking them in a foil collar as suggested in the recipe, I used 6 inch foil pie pans. I did half with sesame seeds and half plain. 

We will see how the family likes them tomorrow. 

Adam4SD's picture

I called this Soon Doo Boo Sourdough!

I used only 10% levain and used kimchi liquid, silk tofu, green onions and black sesame seeds. It took around 24 hours until bake.

The flavor came out mildly savory and the soft texture was  wonderful toasted.

Beatrice's picture

Hi bakers, I'm back with one of my favorite formula ever: 20 % rye. I have to admit that the last few baked breads weren't very good, and I think that a reason for it could be the fact that I have to adjust the timings with the hot temperatures that are going on here in Italy.

But finally I think I made it, with this rye dough I stared at every passage and I managed to gain the right times almost in every passage; the only issue being the fact that maybe the bulk fermentation could be pushed a little bit further.

I'm going to write all the passages in order to let you know the details and to have a feedback about some advices or suggestions to be a better baker the next time.


100gr whole rye flour

400gr type 1 flour (here in Italy we call this way a semi-whole wheat flour with a good power, circa 12% protein)

410gr lukewarm water

10gr pink himalayan salt

100gr leaven (built the night before with 20gr type 1 flour starter, 40gr water, 40gr type 1 flour)



8 PM: built the leaven and let it sit overnight covered with a clean towel

5 AM: mix the leaven with the water first and then add all the flour. Let it sit for one hour covered

6 AM: add the salt and mix well with the pinch tecnique and let it sit for half an hour coverd

6.30-8 AM: fold three time, one time every half an hour

8-9 AM: bulk fermentation without foldings, during this time the dough should rise a lot and form some bubbles

9 AM: preshape phase where I tried to develop more gluten strength by moving the dough onto a very lightly floured surface, then I let it rest on the bench for 20 min

9.20 AM: I shaped the dough and put it into the proofing basket and let it rest covered for circa one hour 

(in the photo you see how active it was at this stage)

10.20 AM: I put the dough in the fridge for the retarded fermentation and let it rest there for eight hours

18.20 PM: baked the bread: 20 minutes covered at 245 degrees C and the 25 minutes uncovered at the same temperature.


I am very satisfied with this bread because I was so in tune with all the passages of the process that I feel more connected to it then with the other breads I baked in the past. It is a learning process and I am amazed about how easy it is to forget how important the art of adaptation and adjustment is.

I put in also a crumb shot: this is the perfect pattern for a toast or for a bruschetta, right amount of holes but not so many that the filling would fell down (you know what I mean).

I hope to read your feedback and I really thank all of you for the constant inspiration I gain from this community!

Happy baking, Beatrice! X


Adam4SD's picture

I used 3% of bright dragon fruit powder in the dough with starter and after the bake, the color completely disappeared! So much for anticipating a pink loaf... live and learn.

BPaff's picture

I was well on my way to completing what would have been my best loaf yet. Everything was coming along perfectly as these things rarely do when you're a beginner bread baker. Had great gluten development, pre-shaping and final shaping were very good despite a rather wet dough (50/50 AP and high extraction bread flour @ 80%). This was suspect. Everything was going too well. The crucial mistake wouldn't manifest itself until hours after the fact. The heart sinking moment came after the final rise when I attempted to remove the dough from the bowl it was rising in. The bowl that cradled my novice error. 

I flipped over the bowl onto my peel and noticed the couche that was lying on top of the dough currently and during proofing was slightly wet. And my heart sank. I had a feeling it was a bad idea to have a wet dough rise on a couche that was apparently also not floured well enough. Needless to say the dough was totally stuck to the couche and i essentially had to rip it off, losing all that precious gas that had built up over the day of fermenting. Determined not to totally throw away my days work, I quickly and gently reshaped it and slid it into the oven. 

This was the final product

It was definitely misshapen, and obviously lacked some volume due to the ripping of the dough, but still had a great flavour and was pleasantly surprised with the crumb as well.

I am now doubly determined to pick up where I left off prior to my crucial mistake and complete what was supposed to be my best loaf yet. This may still have been my best yet despite the blunder, which makes it all the more frustrating knowing what could have been. This morning I ran right to the store to pick up some rice flour which will be used liberally for today's proofing.


P.S. anyone know how to salvage this?

PalwithnoovenP's picture

I did not have any plans to post this but as a record of by baking journey, I decided to post it today.

I found some candied peel last month in my favorite baking supplies store that's about to go bad (well, actually more of about to decline in quality) in 5 days which was on sale 50% off. It was expensive with it's regular price I thought, and now I can buy this without burning a hole in my pocket for me to taste it and use it in recipes. I immediately grabbed 2 bags then I thought it was the perfect time for me to try making panettone since I already have an established starter. I also grabbed some golden raisins and paid all of them at the counter. Half of the peels went to the fruit cake that I posted last time and half went into this.

It's my dream to bake a panettone though almost everyone thinks it is a humongous challenge to make but one day I have gathered enough courage to try my hand at it. Everything was going well; my starter more than triples in 4 hours, the first dough nicely tripled until it was time to add the enrichment. Panettone is something best done in a mixer but I'm stubborn so I still went even if I only have my hands. I was surprised with how soupy it was, because it's been a long time I have handled doughs like this in addition to stress and lack of sleep I was rattled and added a ton of flour to the dough. When I finished incorporating it, it was so dry and stiff and the dough almost doubled in mass; things you don't want for a rich but light as air bread. From that point on, I know this was bound to fail but I still continued hoping for something edible. I don't want to waste those sugar, eggs and butter; I'm going all or nothing here!

I dumped all the raisins and the candied peel into the dough and kneaded them in. After a 2 hour rest I shaped them into 2 boules (I only planned to make 1 but the dough almost doubled because of the added flour) and proofed one in the tin overnight at room temperature. The other boule was retarded for several days before it was baked because I can't squeeze it in my tight schedule due to prior commitments (and maybe also due to a little frustration). To add salt to the wound, the first one stuck in the tin so i had to pry it out and it was torn into pieces so we just ate it and no pictures. I was more careful with the second one so it had some photos, I put parchment paper in the tin so no sticking. I slashed it after proofing overnight at room temperature and baked it in my clay pot for 30 minutes with live fire and another 30 minutes over embers and this is what I got.


Oven spring leaves much to be desired. You can also tell it by the way the cut expanded. I did not flip it so the top was a little pale but the bottom was not burnt and is a little thick and crispy with the top soft and a bit moist. The crumb was dry and dense but studded by the raisins and candied peel.

Although it looks nothing like panettone and might even offend some PPP (People Passionate for Panettone), I still do not consider it a total failure. Only the texture suffered but the taste was superb. No tang at all, sweet, rich and buttery with the taste of the raisins and the candied peel shining through. It is very seldom that we taste something as great as this. My dad is very picky about his food but this one received no complaints from him. In fact it was the inspiration why I made the fruitcakes, the same flavor profile that my dad loves. We just found out that it wast the combination butter, eggs, raisins and candied peel that make fruitcakes taste fruitcakes and so delicious so I made  a batch for his birthday last month.

The texture was perfect to turn it into french toast but it did not see the light of the next day anymore for its milk and egg bath because it was gone in a flash! It was that good.

We're celebrating our 120th Independence Day today so here is a photo of me wearing our traditional formal wear. This was taken as souvenir photo when we passed the licensure exam. I'm still looking for what to wear for our oath taking. (Each teacher is a trustee of the cultural and educational heritage of the nation.)

Happy Independence Day to all my countrymen! Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Happy baking everyone!

Cedarmountain's picture

There are many reasons why people bake bread...for many it is a basic necessity of daily life to feed themselves and their families; for some it is a business while for others it is simply an enjoyable pastime, a hobby.  That's why I started baking bread a few years ago, just a hobby.  But after many loaves baked over the past few years I have come to appreciate there is much more to this hobby than I first thought; the reason I bake bread is because of the meditative and calming nature of the process, the honest and universally understood gesture of sharing fresh bread and of course, the simple pleasure of eating good bread. All this to say, bread baking is good for me, a process that takes me off the edge, calms and momentarily allows me time to breathe and think. 

I have struggled for many years with PTSD and all of the depression, anxiety, social stigma, anger, despair, isolation that goes with it. I have lost friends and comrades I served with to substance abuse and suicide because there has been little support, help or care available; more than 20 deaths by suicide in 2017 alone. But last month, after too many years of denial and inaction, hope....the government finally passed an amendment to the current workers' compensation legislation, a presumptive clause that presumes PTSD as an expected outcome for first responders rather than challenging and denying such claims. What's all this got to do with bread you ask?  Well, the last time I posted there wasn't much hope, now, with the new legislation there is.  So, for that reason, it seemed to me to be a good day to bake some Pretty Tasty Sourdough Bread.

  • 200 g high extraction fresh milled rye and Marquis wheat
  • 800 g organic all purpose flour
  • 300 g porridge made with hulless oat berries, steel cut oats and cracked flax seeds
  • 250 g young levain
  • 20 g sea salt
  • 750 g water

2 hour autolyse then an initial series of 50 stretch/folds to mix in the levain and salt.  Bulk fermentation for four hours with four series of stretch/folds every thirty minutes for the first two hours; porridge was mixed in after the second series of stretch/folds. I made two boules and set them in linen lined baskets to cold proof overnight.  The loaves were baked in pre-heated pots directly out of the fridge after 12 hours; covered at 500 F for 25 minutes then 450 F for 10 minutes; uncovered at 450 F for 18 minutes to finish.  I was happy to see the spring and scoring pattern when I removed the lids. The bread has a nice oat flavour and a chewy, soft crumb with bits of flax and hulless oats throughout.  



pul's picture

I have another experiment using minimal amount of starter. This time I have not built any levain, and mixed 1 g starter with other ingredients. I tried to adjust the process to my schedule, which is mix in the morning, bulk ferment during the day, shape in the evening, retard overnight and bake in the following morning.

The measurements were 1 g starter, 220 g flour, 165 g water, and 3 g salt. The flour was 55% bread flour and the rest a mix of dark rye, red fife and whole wheat. Mixed in the morning (dissolved starter in water first), applied two stretches and folds, and after one hour placed the dough in the fridge for bulk fermentation. Roughly 12 hours later, removed the dough from the fridge without much noticeable signs of fermentation. Let it rest on the counter at room temperature for another 5 hours with two extra stretches and folds. Finally some signs of bulk fermentation showed up, so I shaped as a boule and placed it in the fridge for another 5 hours retarding (it was time to go to bed). Baked in the morning straight from the fridge to the results below.

There has been few holes, even though not evenly distributed. Oven spring was reasonable but nothing spectacular. The crumb was quite soft and the crust baked light. Flavor showed some good nuttiness and a subtle tang, just the way sourdough should be. I have done this experiment by building a 5%-flour levain with superior results as compared to using only 1 g starter without any levain build.

Using 1 g starter without building a levain seems to work, but I need to tweak the method for my schedule and to improve the results.

The bulk fermentation is too slow in the fridge due to the small amount of starter. However, I have tried to ferment it in room temperature for the same time. The result was a failure because the temperature is being too high and the long fermentation at room temperature seems to be damaging the dough structure. The result was a pancake as shown below (with some signs of over proofing too). Additionally, the bread was too sour due to the long fermentation at high temperature. I did not like the dough structure after the long fermentation. It was almost too wet and soup-like, so the flat bread resulted.

I still want to do another final test at room temperature, which will be making a stiff dough with low hydration, fermenting at room temperature, and then provide a second hydration in the evening. I just want to slow down the fermentation in room temperature so the dough structure is not compromised to a great extension.


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