The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


bluesbaz's picture

I've been having real trouble with my baguettes but finally found something that works. 

As a semi Frenchmen, I've found I need to take matters into my own hands when it comes to baguettes. 

sourdough recipe. 

60% hydration 95F

100% bread flour (Bobs Red Mill)

2% starter - I will vary this depending on the ambient temp to control for time. 

1% salt

autolyze 1hr

salt in and slap + fold until incorporated and smooth maybe 5 min

Ferment on the counter at 55-60 18-24hrs  

This was a major part of the learning curve. I pay no attention to time only the development of the bread.

If things are slow I wait. If they are moving too fast I put the dough in the fridge. 


Cut and weigh for 250g pieces in the am with a rough tuck and shape. 1hr rest

roll out to baguettes and place in a couche while the oven heats 30-45


I have a 1/2" steel plate in the oven along with a 4" deep 12x20 hotel pan. Note that I have a baking steel I cook literally everything on. I picked this one up at a steelyard from their discarded cuts and paid $19 US for it spent an hour removing the mill scale and couldn't be happier. 


Preheat on the broil setting for 30-40

I pull the rack out and place 2 baguettes on the steel. Because the steel is preheated I do have time. The whole motion likely takes under a minute but I'm sure I have several minutes before this would be a problem. 

lame the baguettes throw in an ice cube or two right onto the steel and cover with the hotel pan push the shelf in and close it up.  

oven goes to 450 from there. 

When I smell bread I pull the cover (hotel pan) and let it brown. 

The hotel pan makes things a whole lot easier and I'm finally consistently seeing ears on my loaves 


Fondue's picture

I had cooked white rice and mixed (black and brown) rice in hand so I decided to add in using an adapted brown rice porridge bread recipe from the book, Chad Robertson's Tartine Book No. 3.

The ingredients are:

Spelt flour 50%

Whole wheat flour 50%

Water 85%

Leaven 15%

Sea salt 2.5%

Cooked mixed rice 70%

30 min autolyse, 4 hour bulk fermentation (4 sets of stretch and fold), cold-proof in the fridge for about 18 hours.

Preheat 480F, then bake at 450F in a dutch oven for 20 mins with a lid, 20 mins without a lid.

I love the crust. So crisp and not too thick. I wish I could reproduce this kind of crust every time I bake!

Crumb was moist and chewy. Unlike other porridge breads such as oatmeal or corn porridge bread, the crumb was not so soft and velvety. It rather resembles that of cracked wheat porridge bread I've baked. 

The aroma of the spelt flour seems to overpower other ingredients. I wonder what it would be like if I used just wheat flour as in the original recipe.

Overall, it was a very scrumptious & aromatic experiment. Porridge breads never disappoint :)

ninarosner's picture

The first in a series of experiments on my 'Loaf 3' recipe.

Loaf 5 
250g white flour, 250g wholegrain wheat flour.
80% hydration
15% starter
2% salt

Experiment: Refreshed starter overnight. 

In the morning, did 1 hour autolyse, then mixed in starter & salt.

4 stretch & folds over 2 hours, then a bulk ferment at (cool-ish) room temp for about 5-6 hours.

Pre-shaped and let rest for 30 mins

Proofed in a glass bowl, at room temp for about 2-2.5 hours.

Baked in dutch oven at ~230c for 20 mins covered, 30 mins uncovered. Let cool overnight.

Result: it seems like refreshing the starter has resulted in bigger air holes, a more open crumb. The crumb itself feels a little dry, though that could be because of the cooling overnight. Overall I'm happy with this, and it seems like refreshing is a good idea.

Also, I was more 'intuitive' with this bake, in the sense that I tracked bulk rise to make sure it had risen and had a few air holes before moving on.


What to try next: Slashing the top before baking!

yozzause's picture

Can you bring some bread for our old friends gathering?  Sure can, so this is what i put together  i chose to do 20% wholemeal breads,  some sticks using fresh compressed yeast with butter and an egg in the mix . After hand mixing the dough was split into two one half getting an addition of chopped apricots and soaked fennel seeds the other half getting white sesame and dark malted whole barley grains.  i had made a sourdough loaf the day before and that was cold retarded overnight in the fridge this was straight mixed and 4 hour bulk fermented no stretch and folds,  1 hour after shaping on the bench in its banneton then o/n in the fridge, it followed the sticks into the oven it was baked in a dutch oven.  im sure the folks are going to be happy with these!


Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

Much improved this week.  After last week I did some TLC to my starter.  I had been using it and then feeding it and sticking right back into the fridge until the next bake. I wasn't giving it any feeding before I baked.

So I got some rye flour and several  50/50 rye/bread flour feedings to build it back up. I also experimented with different feeding ratios.  I did a 1:1:1, then a  1:5:5, followed by a  1:3:3, before I settled on a 1:4:4. The last one gave me what I wanted,  and that was the ability to feed once in the morning before I left for work. The starter would go through a complete cycle of rise and collapse in about  24 hours being left in room ambient temperature...about 62 to 68 degrees.  Feeding it in the morning would put it near peak by 8 PM when I would use it in my bread. Still a young levain. 

I increased my hydration from  65 to 67%, also my flour from 400 to 450 grams.  Salt 2% and I increased my levain from 15 to 20%. 

I noticed the dough felt much better. Last week it was stiff and hard to work with. This was more in line with my expectations.  After mixing and a 30 minute autolyse I kneaded it doing a lot of stretch and folds for 15 to 20 minutes.  

Then I let it do a bulk rise, long and slow...approximately 16 hours. The next evening after supper i shaped and put in my banaton basket for the final proof while I preheated my Dutch oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then I baked it at 500 for 30 minutes with the lid on.  Then I removed the lid and baked another 15.

yozzause's picture

I finally got around to having a go using a Beer Barm, the flour was 20% wholemeal flour with 80% Black and Gold  supermarket  flour.

The Beer Barm was from the residue in the bottom of the fermenter from a home brew that i did before Christmas, a London Porter. The  barm is grown on like you do with a S/D starter  given a few feeds  and in this case used at a rate of 25% in the dough. the dough had a very nice aroma no doubt from the maltiness of the LP. Suprisingly this dough was very slow taking around 9 hours to bulk ferment and a further 3 hours to proof in a banneton. It was baked in a dutch oven lid on for 15 minutes lid off for a further 25.

This loaf had great flavour and mouth feel no doubt in part from the long fermentation period, i wasnt in any hurry anyway.


Story Teller's picture
Story Teller

Greetings Everyone,

     I am a 74-year-old man, and I recently began to experiment with sourdough starter.  Actually, I never baked bread at all until last week:  I baked some bread just to use up the free flour that I received from commodity (for the first time).

     Anyway, I came across several warnings about sourdough starters:  Some claim that the starter can be deadly if not properly made or properly maintained.  If the information is correct, why have I never heard of anyone actually dying from eating bad home-made bread.

     I am scared to share my bread with my 76-year-old sister.  Please comment, I am not joking.

     Thank you,

Bread doc's picture
Bread doc

Quite a while back, I was seeking information how to get a chewier, more elastic crumb in my sourdough loaves.

I was advised regarding protein content of flour and going for a higher hydration, and I would like to say a big THANKS to the several bakers who advised higher hydration, because it really did the trick.

I did have to figure out that 75-80% hydration means 750 or 800 GM water to 1000 GM flour, so it is 75% or 80% by weight. Then you have to convert that to cups for conventional measuring in the kitchen.  I threw in a 45 minute autolyse before mixing the proofed starter into the dough.

Now my bread has the texture we enjoy and my husband raves about it—and eats it all up.  Good thing I have a great mixer. (Ankersrum Assistent).

Thanks for the help.

agres's picture

I learned to cook by going out to the garden and picking vegetables, and then going down to the hen house and seeing who had stopped laying, was ready to be dinner.  That taught me an improvisational style of cooking - cooking as a form of jazz - the garden produces similar products over a period of weeks, and one cooks variations on a theme, because every day the basket from the garden varies, but there are themes that carry over from day to day and from week to week.  That calls for improv bread. Certainly there is always pita, but . . . . 

Many of the recipes for pain de compagnon take days to produce - more of requiem than jazz.  However, if you have a very good sourdough starter, you can make a very good pain de compagnon that  can be served for supper. (If you start first thing in the morning.)  That is, sourdough starter to baked loaf in 10 hours, and that is a loaf that can be served after only an hour of cooling.

My approach:

starting first thing in the morning ; I weigh 12 grams of salt, 400 grams of bread flour, and 200 grams of whole wheat or high extraction flour into a container. I measure out 400 ml of water into a (canning jar.)(Canning jars have volume marks that are close enough for this kind of bread.

I put 100 grams of starter in the kettle of my stand mixer, add 1/4 of the water in the canning  jar, and enough of the whole wheat flour on the top of the flour container to make a batter. I split a plastic bag to cover the kettle with the dough hook in place, and let the "first refreshment" rise till bubbly - a couple of hours.

I add a third of the water remaining in the jar to the kettle, and enough flour to again make a batter, cover and let ferment on the counter. At this time, I put a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon of flour in the jar, and let rise on the counter.

After lunch, I add the water/yeast in  the jar to the kettle, and stir in the flour/salt from the flour container into the kettle by hand-fulls to make a shaggy dough. I let the flour hydrate for half an hour, and use the dough hook to knead the dough, adjusting the water/flour to make a dough the consistency of baguette dough. 

I take the dough hook out and let rise at 85F (proof setting in my oven) for an hour. 

About 2 pm I turn the dough out on the bench, round up, bench rest, shape the loaf, and set to rise in a floured, fabric lined colander at 85F

About 3:30 pm I take the dough out of the oven, and preheat the baking stone to 375F.

About 4 pm I put a piece of parchment paper on the peel, turn the risen dough onto the parchment paper, lash the loaf, and slide it into bakestone in the 375F convection oven. It will need about 45 minutes to bake.

After an hour on a cooling rack, it will have set enough to be served at a 6 pm supper.

This approach uses a few hacks. First, the sourdough rises faster in a whole wheat batter.  The sourdough bacteria started at room temperature dominate the dough to provide a mild flavor, sourdough texture, and reasonable keeping qualities. The yeast have time to multiply, and form a poolish flavor. The yeast and bread flour combine to provide a moderate density crumb with good volume - this big bread.   I think big loaves have better texture and flavor. And the yeast/bread flour allows the loaf to set quickly as it cools. These loaves will make huge Reuben sandwiches that do not leak melted cheese or Russian dressing.  Many bakery loaves of this size - leak.

I stone grind my own whole wheat and high-extraction flour. The grain mix usually contains ~5% rye and often at bit of spelt or kamut or both.  My fresh ground flour seems to allow faster sourdough fermentation than any of the commercial flours I have tried.  On the other hand, the bread flour I use is optimized for yeast, and allows faster yeast fermentation than my normal stone ground flour.  If I wanted faster yeast fermentation in whole wheat, I would sprout, dry, and grind some of my grain berry mix. The commercial white bread flour gives much better volume than my stone ground whole grain flours.  When I am serving herring with cream sauce, the bread is 100% whole grain, and dense enough not to leak, with enough flavor to stand up to the herring. 

Danni3ll3's picture

The inspiration for this bread is David Snyder’s Fig Walnut recipe. I followed it pretty closely but I subbed out dates instead of figs since I had some that needed to be used up. I also used a stand mixer rather than doing it by hand. And of course, I can’t forget the yogurt to tenderize the crust!





Makes 3 loaves



158 g strong bakers unbleached flour

40 g freshly milled Selkirk wheat flour (Selkirk wheat berries)

158 g filtered water

40 g sourdough starter



594 g strong bakers unbleached flour

92 g freshly milled Selkirk wheat flour (Selkirk wheat berries)

194 g freshly milled rye flour (Rye berries)

682 g filtered water

22 g pink Himalayan salt

30 g local yogurt

220 g toasted walnut pieces

220 g chopped dates

396 g levain


Make sure to refresh your starter a couple of times before making the levain.


The night before:

  1. Mill the needed grains if you mill your own flour. Cover and set aside.
  2. Toast the walnuts in a 300 F oven for 9 minutes. Cool. 
  3. Chop the dates, add to the walnuts and reserve.
  4. Dissolve  the sourdough starter in the water for the levain. 
  5. Add the flours listed for the levain to the bowl, mix well and let the levain rise at room temperature until it doubles (8 - 12 hours).


Dough making day:

  1. The next morning, a couple of hours before the levain is ready, place the dough water in a mixing bowl. Add the dough flours and mix on speed one of a mixer for a couple of minutes until you have a shaggy dough with no dry flour. Let sit for a couple of hours.
  2. After the autolyse, add the salt, the yogurt and the levain to the mixing bowl. Mix for a minute to integrate everything and then mix on speed 2 for 9 minutes. 
  3. Add the walnuts and the dates, and mix only until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Let rest 30 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 
  5. Do 2 sets of stretches and folds at 30 minute intervals and then 2 sets of sleepy ferret folds (coil folds) at 60 minute intervals, and then let the dough rise to about 40%. This took another 2 and a half hours. It’s a very slow moving dough due to the amount of fruit and nuts in it. It should have irregular bubbles visible through the sides of the container and bubbles on top as well. 
  6. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~815 g. Gently round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 1 hour on the counter. 
  7. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Gently overlap the edges of the dough in the center. Flip over and pull the dough towards you on all sides to seal the bottom. Be super gentle not to degas the dough. Did I mention to be gentle with this dough? 😂
  8. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons and cover. Let rise for an hour and a half in a warm spot and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge overnight. 

Baking Day

  1. The next morning, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 
  2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 425 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 22 minutes at 400 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.


Next time, I would do only one set of folds rather than 2 in the first hour. This dough is heavy and needs time to rise. As well, I dropped the temperature of baking on the second batch as the bottom of the loaves from the first batch baked up pretty dark. The recipe reflects the lowered temperature. 




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