The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


suzyr's picture


A walnut sized of fully risen dough, such as pizza

1/4 cup of warm water

2/3 cup of all purpose unbleached flour

Mix this well and place in bowl and cover at room temp.  Let sit for 8 hours then move on to second stage.


The first starter

1/4 cup of warm water

3/4 cup of all purpose flour

Pour water over first starter and then add flour and mix in well.  Cover again and let this sit at warm room temp for 4 hours.  Then place in refrigerator for up to 8 hours. Take out and get ready for final day.


The Final Dough

1 1/4 cups of cool water

1/2 tsp of instant yeast

the second starter

3 1/3 cups of flour all purpose

1 tab of salt

Take the starter out of the bowl and cut up into pieces, like 4 and place in work bowl add water and yeast.  Let soften for 5 minutes and add flour and then salt. Mix well and switch to dough hook. Let this sit for 10 minutes and then start hook for about 8 minutes on medium speed. Then place in oiled bowl for 1 1/2 hours at 80 degrees. Fold this, not punching down at all.. then cover again and let this finish covered for 45 minutes.  Take out and shape into baguettes or boule’s.  Baguettes are around 10 ounces each.

Bake baguettes for 30 minutes at 450 with steam.

Szanter5339's picture

The best bread!
My favorite white bread, 24-hour leaven.
Beautiful foreign and domestic, and very tasty too!

tn gabe's picture
tn gabe

I'm thankful for bread, this website and all the bread nerds here. Hope everyone is having a great day. I've been wanting to share some pictures of my breads, but never seem to get around to taking pictures, but here are a few I've managed to snap. Instead of being in the middle of trying to throw together ten or twelve dishes like I usually am today, I'm lazily putting off making some quickbreads until the last minute and finally gettin my blog going here. My wife has started working nights and we're not having much of a Thanksgiving this year. Well actually I'm deep frying a Turkey at my inlaws, but that's another story...

Blog posts here on TFL are often very thoughtful or instructional. This is neither. Just some random bread pictures.

This is Vollkornbrot made with 100% rye meal because I didn't have the chops, as it were. I've made this a few times now and think these loaves may have used a few more minutes before going in the oven, but overall pretty happy with it. Eating some now in fact, to try and fill my belly and keep away from the pain chocolate.


The next loaf is my adaptation of PR's Struan in Artisan Bread's every day, the book that got me going.

The percentages are pretty much the same as the original, but instead of doing a cold bulk ferment on the dough, I make a poolish with 25% of the flour and mix the cornmeal, oats, and wheat bran in a soaker. Quinoa and raw sugar instead of brown rice and brown sugar. I've started coating in wheat bran because it looks nice and because I bought 20lbs of wheat bran and with less than 1/2oz per loaf going in the dough, I figured I should use it up somehow.

A couple of the less terrible looking sourdoughs I've made. Trying to make large batches of hearth breads in home ovens makes it 'challenging' to get a consistent bake. These started on the lower shelf so they baked on a double layer of quarry tiles and had the ones on top shelf radiating heat down and keeping some more moisture in the area while the crust was setting.

 You can also see some less pleasing loaves flanking these two. I need to work on my slashing, obviously. Maybe getting a lame handle and some razor blades would be a step in the right direction. I've just been using a utility knife blade.

Finally, the bane of my existance. 

So simple, yet so difficult. I am very thankful to have a wife who can sleep through me beating 700g of butter into a thin sheet, and then of course all the swearing while I fold a roll, fold and roll. Sometimes they look like this and the swearing stops, briefly. The plan for the coming year is to make once a week along with filled croissants and danishes, freeze, and then bake in the am's before market. That and get a bigger rolling pin. Or a sheeter....what can I say, I love restaurant auctions!



codruta's picture

I am trying to find the possible cause for this balloon section in a batard loaf. It did not happen to me, but to some of my romanian readers, and I find this to be an intriguing subject to debate. I think the balloon shape is not a quality, but contrary, is unatractive and not to be wanted. Am I wrong?

I tried to figure what are the possible causes for this particular shape and these are my own conclusions:

1) The upper skin on the dough is dryer and/ or thicker than the bottom part of the dough. Possible cause:

a. if the banneton is not completely wrapped in plastic, but covered only on the top (the top which will be the bottom of the bread)- the dough will dry in banneton and will create a skin,

b. excessive flour on the banneton, 

When the dough gets in the hot oven, it will swell from the part where the skin is moist and thin... in this case, the bottom.

(2) a certain technique of shaping the dough encourages this peculiar shape... can it be?!
(3) because of the characteristics of the oven / steaming method/ or because the baking stone is not hot enough ... I do not know exactly ... the dough placed in the oven forms the upper crust faster than the bottom, bottom which is still soft and wet, at which point the dough starts to rise from the bottom up. The top is rigid and will not allow the dough to swell.
(4) the scoring cuts are too small in length (not in depth) and the dough can't expand enough at the cuts, and therefore will expand from the bottom and will deform the section.
(5) a simpler cause, would be insufficient proofing

(6) if the batard is too long in lenght and too small in section, will create a tubular shape, because at the same perimeter, the circle has the biggest area.

Am I missing something? Am I right, am I wrong? Am I the only one intrigued by this subject?

I'm very curious about what you think.


arlo's picture

Advanced warning: For those seeking pictures, turn back now. I was too busy to pull out my phone and take pictures over the course of production. Sorry. Maybe in December though!

As some of you may know, I moved on to a new bakery a little bit more than a half a year ago. My new employment brought along great opportunities, such as being in charge of bread production, recipe development and better hours. I have been enjoying it, though it has given me plenty of ups and downs, but thankfully I made it through my first holiday at the new bakery.

I arrived Tuesday morning a bit before 2:00 a.m., so not much earlier than normal. I had been working through the weekend on and off formulating what I felt I would need to bake for Tuesday and Wednesday, and had it checked over with the owner. This saved some time Tuesday morning allowing me to start the mixing as soon as I arrived. I had on the agenda 250-300 rolls (butter, sour-seeded, multigrain, rye, pumpernickel), around 70 loaves of bread (eight varities), stuffing mix (essential old bread, re-baked, seasoned, ect.), crostini, numerous brioche-cinnamon rolls, and I am sure something else as well. Doesn't seem like too much, but I am the only one who does any of the bread baking, shaping, mixing, ect. And I also needed to be at college by 9:30 a.m. Ha! Challenge accepted. I just turned on my favorite cd and began.

Needless to say, I took up every deck of our Blodgett Oven, used a lot of flour, butter and other goodies and made a nice assortment of products for our small bakery. When my time came to leave, I had everything out of the oven and all products cooling.

Wednesday morning I arrived a bit earlier than Tuesday. I had another 200 rolls to make, about the same quantity of bread, and even more crostini. Also some help making various pies, scones and other assorted pastries  a bit later in the day. Thankfully because of my early arrival, I was able to make the most of my time and used it effectively. I was able to leave around 10:00 a.m. with everything all cleaned up and the products cooling on the racks. I felt accomplished and hoped for a good day!

I stopped by my old bakery to chat with my friends since it is right across the street from my current apartment. They were up a great percentage from last year (not that they were down the past years) and made around 1000 rolls on Monday and Tuesday, plus they worked Sunday. Wednesday was another day for a tremendous amount of rolls as well. It was nice to see everyone and they let me run the oven for a bit, finishing off some rolls and loaves of bread.

I thought about how different my two jobs are from each other when I walked home. One was a large production kitchen were I was a baker among three others, not including the two table helpers for shaping and panning. At the new place I am all alone with my music and my craft. Do I regret the switch? No, I do not think regret is the right word. I enjoy my freedom and responsibilities now, and the thought of growth. But I do miss sharing all those laughs with my co-workers. Such is life though! So it goes.

Now here I am, I didn't sleep-in since I was planning on making some goods for my fiance and I while we relax before she has to work tonight for Black Friday (4th year at Best Buy and watching those crazed shoppers) and before I go back in and start all over again.

Hope you baking goes well today :)



ph_kosel's picture

I recently got a $20 bakers couche from and tried it out for the first time today.  I floured it up liberally and whomped up a couple of sourdough loaves with sesame seeds for tomorrow (Thanksgiving). 

The loaves expanded lengthwise more than I expected as they rose in the couche so I had to sort of scrunch them a little as I maneuvered them onto my oiled baking sheet so they would fit, and they wound up with some minor "accordian pleats".  A nice skin formed on the loaves as they rose in the couche and that made slashing easy as pie.  Somewhere along the way the "accordion pleats" mostly went away and the loaves turned out rather pretty!

I'm not really sure how to get the excess flour off without losing sesame seeds but I'll try to deal with that tomorrow.  Aside from the unexpected lengthwise expansion and the excess flour problem I think I like this new couche!

Any input from others on "couche techniques" would be most welcome!


Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

Today was my first attempt at croissant making.  I was looking for something that was flaky, but could be used as a sandwich.  While mine turned out kind of small, I'm very pleased with my first try. 

I found this recipe on TFL, then changed it up.  This is what I did:

Mix 1/2 cup of starter, 1 3/4 c all purpose flour, 2 T oil (I used olive oil), 1/2 c warm milk together.  Add 1 1/2 t noniodized salt.  Knead LIGHTLY, for only a few minutes.  Place in oiled bowl with plastic wrap, and put in fridge over night.

Next day: 

--Beat out butter in sheets.  I beat out enough butter to cover the surface of the dough when rolled out.  Chill butter.  Roll out dough as flat as possible, chill

--Take dough sheet in squarish shape, place the butter sheet on the dough in a diamond (points hitting the middle of the dough's sides).  Wrap the dough around the butter like an envelope, making a smaller square.

--Roll out into long rectangle, using water for the rolling pin and hands to assist.  Fold the dough over into thirds--you should have three layers on top of each other.  Roll out.  Repeat folding and rolling again, then put in fridge.

--Repeat the folding and rolling twice, then put in fridge.

--Roll out dough again.  Cut into long triangles, making a wide bottom and a point at the top in the middle of the other two (help me here...what kind of triangle is this).  Roll up the triangle with the flat, two-pointed side first, ending with the top middle point.  Use light flour to help.

--Let them proof.

--Bake 10-15 minutes in preheated 475 degrees Fahrenheit oven.

crumb view (sorry, poor camera)


constructive comments welcome

ibor's picture

Bread braiding videos

Due to my interest in learning how to braid bread dough I examined a series of videos on
the subject and the following is my evaluation of them.


Although sometimes it is easier to understand a sequence of stills this comment focuses
only on videos and on the braiding of the dough, not on its intrinsic quality.






Quality of

Ease of understanding the information presented

Braid a six-strand (flat) ……




Braiding a Six Strand …..




Challah Braiding (Pt 2)




Challah bread




Plating challah or bread in six….



Not good

Challah with Ciril Hitz




Dough shaping techique




Braiding challah.Maggie Glezer




How to
  make braided bread



Not good

Margaret’s four strand….





Braiding challah 3 strands





Braiding challah 4 strands





jamesjr54's picture

Made this today in anticipation of turkey sandwiches over the next few days. From Breadtopia

White whole wheat, rye, spelt, KA AP. 

I did a 3-day process: 12 hour overnight first proof, 24-hour cold retard, and 4.5 hour final proof. Baked in my combo cooker, 20 mins covered, 25 uncovered @485F with a preheat.

Have to wait to open it. But it smells incredible! 

Next up: Pumpkin bread pudding, dinner rolls, and cornbread-apple sausage stuffing. 

Sent from my iPad  

codruta's picture

I want to buy a new book, and I need your opinions to help me decide which one.

1. I need weights for ingredients in metric system. And bakers percentages, if posssible.

2. I want formulas for sourdough breads. I usually don't bake sweet doughs, just plain and lean sourdough breads (but I don't mind if the book has some formulas for croissants, challah, panetone, etc)

3. I don't want a "begginners friendly" book. I want a book for advanced (home) bakers, with technical informations and professional approach.

4. I love Hamelman's book. I wish there was another book like this one.


I already have (in the order of purchasing):

a). P. Reinhart "BBA" (my first book, but I don't really use it these days)

b). Hamelman "Bread" for me, it is simply THE BEST

c). Chad Robertson: "Tartine Bread" (I liked reading it ... as a story, and I'm glad I bought it, and I loved his country bread)

c). RL Beranbaum "The Bread Bible" -

d). R. Calvel "Le gout du pain"


I was thinking to buy one of these:

- Advanced Bread & Pastry, by M. Suas

- Local Breads, by D. Leader

- Breads for the La Brea Bakery, by N. Silverton

- Bread Alone, by D. Leader

- The Bread Builders, by D Wing, A Scott

- Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective, by Dan diMuzio

- Artisan Baking, by M Glazer


I really appreciate any advice from those who already have the above mentioned books, and I'm open to other suggestions.



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