The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


alexlegeros's picture

Greetings fellow bread bakers and bread lovers,

I have been thinking all morning about what led me to bake bread, and I think it might be fun to share some stories and experiences about how we all came to this really rewarding activity.  I think we all come to breads in a very personal and meaningful way, and I'd like to hear from you what it was like. 


Here's the link to my blog where this post is hosted.  Hope you don't mind my attempts at MS Paint illustration!  Be kind--all I have is a touchpad!

PiPs's picture

We had a bleary eyed start to Saturday after a late evening celebrating my birthday. A dinner out with friends at a fantastic bistro

Taste sensation of the night was baked fresh dates stuffed with gorgonzola, mixed cress salad, pedro ximinez dressing…OMG!!!

Anyway … bleary eyed today.

This week’s bake was about sifted flour and walnuts. I kept it simple, no tempering, no focussing on multiple passes…
The night before mixing – one pass then sift and remill caught material then sift again. Combine the sifted flours. I caught about 10% weight of my original flour, but I am not focussing too much on the extraction rates.

The weather here for the past few days has been very erratic, making my starter builds and bread planning a little dicey. This morning was no exception as a thunderstorm rolled through Brisbane at around 6:30am, dropping temperatures dramatically.

I mixed two doughs today, one with walnuts and the other using two starters (a rye and a firm sifted wholewheat). The rye starter originated from my desem starter and has been refreshed over a week with freshly milled rye flour.

Walnuts and oil

Walnut Bread
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 10%
DDT: 22-24°C

Sifted wholewheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 172g
Sifted wholewheat: 900g
Fresh milled rye: 73g
Water: 855g
Salt: 21g
Lightly roasted walnuts: 3 cups
Walnut oil: 2tbps

Autolyse flour and water for 1hr.

With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starter, salt and walnut oil into dough until smooth and feel no lumps then place in oiled container.

Bulk ferment roughly 4hrs with four stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 2hrs and another gentle stretch and fold at 3hr mark. Walnuts are squeezed through dough after 2nd stretch and fold.

Divide and preshape. Bench rest 20min. Shape.

Bench resting Country Bread and Walnut Breads

Final proof was roughly 1hr at room temperature (22°)…was surprised how fast this proof was.

Bake with steam on stone for 10mins at 250°C then a further 35mins at 200°C.

The walnut oil was mentioned in the “Tartine bread” book and is something I have always wanted to try. It is aromatic and rich, almost intoxicating. A fine walnut bread toasted, spread with honey and ricotta is amazing.

Walnut Bread

Walnut Crumb

Walnut gringe


Country Bread with two starters
Total dough weight: 2kgs
Hydration: 82%
Prefermented Flour: 15%
DDT: 22-24°C

Rye starter @ 110% Hydration: 115g
Sifted wholewheat starter @ 60% Hydration: 180g
Sifted wholewheat: 933g
Water: 773g
Salt: 25g

Country bread with two starters

Autolyse flour and water for 1hr.

With wet hands squeeze and incorporate starters into dough until smooth and feel no lumps then knead for 10mins (I use slap and fold). Rest dough for 5mins. Incorporate salt and knead for a further 10mins.

Bulk ferment 3hrs with three stretch and folds 30min apart in the first 1.5hrs.

Divide and preshape. Bench rest 20min. Shape.

Final proof was roughly 30min at room temperature (22°) then into fridge for 2hrs and back onto bench for 1hr before baking…it was a messy proof, but the oven was busy….slightly underproved…I love the dramatic look :)

Bake in preheated dutch oven for 20mins at 250°C then a further 20mins at 200°C removed from dutch oven and placed on stone for even browning.

These were baked boldly.

Country breads

Country bread crumb

The country bread was fantastic, I love the dark flavours of the crust. Brittle and thin due to dutch oven baking.

Well ... the desem starter is again happily snoozing in the fridge ... but …

… I now have a rye starter sitting on the bench taunting me …

All the best, Phil




jamesjr54's picture

Baked a version of Lumos' Swiss/Bernese Oberland today. I think hydration was a little too high, and gluten not developed enough. Still happy with my progress. And tastes great!

2.5 hrs w/ 2 S&F bulk ferment

14 hr cold retard

3 hr final proof

20 minutes in combo cooker in non-preheated 550F oven. Uncovered and cooked 35 minutes at 475F.

And it's already gone for lunch! 


varda's picture

I have been thinking a lot about dough strength lately because of the difficulty I've had baking with durum flour.    I saw a great article on dough strength referenced in an old TFL post.   It is in the SFBI Fall 2004 newsletter - link can be found here: It was quite an eye opener since so many different factors impact dough strength.    In trying to wrap my brain around this, I put together a handy one-page table.   Maybe others will find it useful as well.   I tried to summarize a lot of material, and may not have it all right, so have at it, but even more important read the original article! 

Factors that affect dough strength – Sourced from SFBI Newsletter Fall 2004


Strength / Elasticity

Weakness / Extensibility


Protein Quantity

High Protein

Low Protein


Protein Quality

High Quality

Low Quality

Durum has high protein but poor quality

Ash Content



Whole wheat flour is more extendable, less elastic than white flour


Ascorbic Acid, Potassium Bromate, Malt




Matured flour

Fresh flour


Water Quality

Hard water

Soft water



Low hydration

High hydration


Added Ingredients


Added ingredients

Butter, nuts, berries, etc.




Autolyse strengthens gluten bonds, but also increases enzymatic activity which makes dough weaker

Mix Time

More mixing

Less mixing


Dough Temperature



This is an indirect effect – higher temp gives faster fermentation leads to stronger dough

Fermentation Time



Acids from fermentation strengthen gluten bonds

Dough Mass



The more dough mass, the faster fermentation




Starter strengthens dough due to fermentation acids

Hydration of Preferment



Wet environment of preferment increases enzyme activity which makes dough more extensible

Preferment Quantity



More preferment means more acid which strengthens dough

Preferment Maturity



Mature preferments have higher acid content




Baker can adjust based on dough strength

abunaloaf's picture

Whenever I make bread I leave some in the fridge for frying.  Sometime over the past several months I forgot it and it started to bubble and smell a bit sour...I added it to my bread and  now I always leave some of my bread as a starter for the next batch....And the bread is amazing fried in a cast iron pan with a bit of butter, and split and more added.  I actually use Becel...good as butter.  I like to think this type of sourdough with yeast added to every new batch has the same health benefits as regular sourdough which I gave up on.

For the fried bread I just make it into small circles, flatten with my fingers, and cook turning them once in awhile until nicely browned.  Serve hot with marjarine, and jam if you wish.

This has different names around the world.  I have known them as fried bread, flummies (Labrador), panitsiak (Inuit), toutons (Newfoundland) and stove cakes (my mother).  And I think they resemble a fried bread I tasted from the East Indian culture.  I was thinking I wanted to learn how to make it, but if I flatten the fried bread enough, it works.

Floydm's picture

Monday is Thankgiving Day in Canada.  I'm listening to CBC 1 and they are talking all about turkey, cranberries, and stuffing.  Yum.

For Canadians looking for recipes to bake this weekend, a few of the more popular Thanksgiving recipes here:

 Buttermilk Cluster

 Sweet Potato Rolls

 Wild Rice & Onion Bread 

I think the latter is my favorite, though I bake them as rolls rather than loaves.  Just follow the technique used in the Sweet Potato Rolls recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving!



amy bassett's picture
amy bassett

I just love this recipe, thanks to Floyd for posting it!  It is just sweet enough and soft enough that you can't stop eating them!  I made these to go with my blackened salmon burgers............YUM!!  The sweetness of the roll was just a delicious combo!

amy bassett's picture
amy bassett

Ok, so here are my bagels, not my first time making them.  I've actually been making bagels for several years now.  I haven't had any complaints about them, in fact, many people say they really like them!  However, I was on a quest to see if I could get more out of my bagels, see if I could make them better.  So, I tried Peter Reinhart's recipe, minus the baking soda in the water on most of the bagels. I did do 2 bagels in the baking soda.  I always thought that having baking soda in the water would make it taste a lot like a pretzel and I don't think that's how a bagel should taste!  Well, I was wrong, well according to my husband :)  Definitely a little tougher crust, in a good way and the malt adds a little but more flavor!  Other than that, they taste just like the bagels I've been making for years. 

But.....I'm not sure that the process I went through makes this bagel any better than the way I've been doing them.  I've been following a very simple recipe, flour, water, yeast, salt and sugar. Let is rise until double, divide into 4 oz pieces, shape, let rest for 20 minutes, boil for a minute each side and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400-425.  If I left the bagels to rise overnight in the fridge, they would turn out the same.  I just don't know if the retarding process is really necessary.  What do you think?


loydb's picture

The first batch of sourdough biscuits I made (see below in the blog) were fantastic. So, of course, I had to wildly tinker with the recipe. This time, I decided to mill soft white wheat (3%) to use for the dry flour portion of the recipe. I figured there would be enough bread flour in the sourdough starter. 

I was wrong.

I got no oven spring at all. They taste good, but are dense. I told my wife they were flatbread. I don't think she bought it...

lumos's picture

Just so that  you know I haven’t given up on T55 baguette challenge. ;)

Been always wondering the reason behind using 30% flour for pre-ferment for poolish baguette formula and 50% for Pain Rustique with Poolish in Hamelman’s book.  Thought higher proportion of pre-fermented flour would give you better flavour, that’s his Pain Rustique with poolish recipe was what my regular formula for poolish baguette was based upon…..Which works fine for baguette using a mix of UK strong flour (70-75%) and plain flour (30-25%). But didn’t with 100% T55.

Replaced plain flour with T55 but kept strong flour in poolish, but still not quite right.   Wondered if its very low protein level can’t withstand my formula of combination of poolish & very long cold fermentation, I tried reducing the ratio of pre-fermented flour to about 1/3, as in Hamelman’s poolish baguette formula…..and it worked, more or less, though not perfect. But the imperfection was probably due to shortcoming of my skill rather than the formula. The dough was much more manageable and easier to handle, easier to shape, easier to score. Though admittedly it lacks the complexity and depth of 50% pre-fermented flour option I’d been using, and the crumb had lighter texture, too, which can be said it’s more baguette-like. 

So, it might be ‘bout time I need to learn to compromise on something to achieve something better in other parts. Maybe the case of a lesson; there can be a good reason for everything. (most of the times….)

So this is the new formula for my latest version of revised Hamelinet Poolish baguette.  The only thing I changed is the ratio of pre-fermented flour used for poolish and the amount of yeast and water, accordingly. The method remains same as the original (the link above).



Hamelinet Poolish Baguette – Revised with 1/3 poolish

 Ingredients (To make 4 x 40cm mini-baguettes)

Poolish --- Strong flour 155g

                    Rye  15g

                    Dried yeast  0.3g

                    Water  155g


Main Dough --- T55  330g

                             WW  20g

                              Dried yeast 1.3g

                               Salt 10g

                              Water 200g




 Obvious next step may be to replace strong flour in poolish with T55.  Been contemplating that…a lot....though I have a feeling it may needs more intense kneading rather than just several sessions of S & F to develop enough gluten strength for this T55,  at least at the initial kneading stage. Will look into it….perhaps…. Maybe back to my old favourite of Bertinet’s slap & fold technique?  Another case of there's a reason for everything, possibly......



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