The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Yippee's picture


This year, I was home for the Chinese New Year.  Therefore, I got the opportunity to serve the daikon cake (籮卜糕) for my kids in the morning and take pictures of it.  On that day, in addition to the many dishes I normally prepare for the New Year, I also explored a traditional Cantonese New Year vegetarian dish (齋), one of the nostalgic comfort foods which my hubby had been craving for in the previous few weeks. Though it was not perfect to my husband's taste, adding a new dish to my repertoire excited me.    I was very content to be able to start a New Year by doing things I enjoy and I certainly hope this was one of the signs of a great year ahead.


Here are the pictures:


longhorn's picture

I finally got time to bake and wanted to revisit the miche. After all of the multiple miches I was really looking forward to popping a spectacular loaf. And...the process had some flaws and the results are not up to my aspirations, but unlike a skydiver whose chute doesn't open, I will live to try again!

I followed David Snyder's guidelines for the full loaf using my new War Eagle Mills AP flour. My doughs using this flour remain a bit wetter than I expect and as a result the dough was a tad sticky but I thought it would be okay. Not quite, for it stuck to my linen basket liner in a ring around the base (sides and top were not stuck!) so getting from the banneton to the peel left me with a loose, wrinkled around the top sharpei-like loaf! It would up a bit overproofed but baked up nicely - though a bit flat. It sang and crackled nicely on removal from the oven. And the aroma was amazing. Taste is quite good and will no doubt get better. Crumb is pretty nice! Here are some photos!

The next image shows the wrinkles from the sticking!

And the crumb

I fully agree with David that this is a loaf you really want to push the bake on! The crust is amazing!

prijicrw's picture


By adding some yeast to speed up my winter sourdough baking I received teriffic results. I used my Cuisinart 5 quart mixer for kneading and 8 inch proofing baskets.


White Levain Multigrain



270 grams H2O

¼ teaspoon (heaping) yeast

170 grams starter (100%)

460 grams flour

10 grams salt

1 cup mixed seeds/grains (add ¼ cup boiling water during autolyse)


1.     Autolyse 20 minutes

2.     Mix 6 mins medium speed, 4 mins med-high, then at seeds for 2 mins

3.     Bulk ferment 2 hours at about 78-80 degrees (warm oven) w/ fold at 1 hour

4.     Divide - preshape – rest 15 mins

5.     Shape

6.     Proof 2-2.5 hours

7.     Bake at 475-500 for 30 mins w/ steam at 3 & 6 mins 


txfarmer's picture


This recipe is adapted from "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book", my favorite WW bread book. There's nothing wrong with the formula itself, other than needing quite a bit more water, however, my attempt to convert it to sourdough has failed completely. Oh, don't think I haven't tried many time. Different rising schedule, different starter ratio, different cottage cheese, even added baking soda to offset the acidity of cottage cheese, they all ended up the same: the dough started tearing and collapsing 3 to 4 hours into the rise, no ovenspring to speak of.


2 huge tubs of cottage cheese later, I declare defeat. Here's my guess on why this formula doesn't work with sourdough, but I am in no way certain, and welcome all advices and theories!

- cheese has extra protease

- this formula has quite a bit of cottage cheese mixed in as part of liquid (35%)

- since it's part of liquid, cottage cheese were kneaded into the dough from the start, so it's very integrated into the dough structure

- using sourdough starter, my rise schedule is way longer than the 3 hours in the original formula. The loaf in the picture were made according to original formula with instant yeast, as you can see, there's no gluten break down, the loaf is tall and proud. so I guess my sourdough verion simply takes too long to rise, giving extra protease enough time to destroy the gluten structure.

- I could try to reduce the cottage cheese ratio, or shortened the rising time, but then that defeat the purpose of making pure sourdough verison of THIS formula


Anyway, here's the (slightly adapted) original formula and pictures using instant yeast, the bread is very delicious, even without sourdough.

Lemony Loaf (adapted from "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book")

*formula is good for a 8X4inch loaf pan


ww flour, 413g

wheat germ,14g

instant yeast, 3.5g

water, 247g

cottage cheese, 145g

honey, 21g

butter, 14g

salt, 5.5g

lemon zest, from one lemon


1. Mix cottage cheese, honey, and 120g of water, heat to almost boiled, well mixed. Cool to room temp.

2. Add the rest of cold water, flour, wheat germ, yeast, salt, lemon zest, autolyse for 30min. Knead well, add buter, knead until past windowpane.

3. Rise at 80F for 1.5 to 2 hours until double, press with finger the dough won't bounce back. Punch down, and rise again until double, it will take half of the time as the first rise.

4. Shape and put in a 8X4in loaf pan

5. Rise at 90F until the dough is about 1inch above the rim, slowly bounce back a bit when pressed. About 45min to 1 hour.

6. Bake at 350F for 45min. Brush with butter when warm


You can't taste cottage cheese perse, but it does make the crumb very soft. This effect makes me wonder whether it also completely "breaks down" the gluten given enough time.


As delicous as this loaf is, the questions are still nagging me: "WHY exactly has my sourdough version failed?", "Can it work somehow?"


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

varda's picture

Yesterday I very assertively backed my car into a snowdrift and my long-suffering neighbor came out and helped dig me out, yet again.   (My husband came out in the middle of all this and dug too but that's his job so no more about that.)   Anyhow, a situation like this calls for bread, and I didn't want to make some pointy-headed thing that only a bread enthusiast would enjoy so I searched through Hamelman and (drum roll please) found his Golden Raisin Bread.  

Now who said good bread needs an open crumb?  (Ok.   No one.   I read the whole discussion.   Absolutely no one said that.)

(Oh.  My neighbor got the round one.)


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss


In my blog entry Test Tube Baking [1]: White French Bread I investigated how the final proof  affects the outcome: Where does underproof end and where does overproof start, and what are the symptoms in the finished bread...

I chose to make batards proved seam-side up, and I think the choice of this method somewhat carmouflaged the effects of overproofing: Because the loaves had to be turned over onto a peel the fragile areas just under the skin collapsed, resulting in loaves with a surprisingly even texture. (this is my interpretation)

I wanted to see those big holes!

This time I decided to make 200g boules and avoid all handling during and after the final proof: after shaping I put them on buttered baking trays.

3 boules at 200g each, proved for 60, 120 and 160 minutes. The environment was slightly coolet than last time, about 22 to 24C.

At 60 minutes the boules seemed well risen and the poke test showed a slow response.

At 120min the remaining 2 boules had spread quite a bit, and when poking the dough it didn't resist any more.

boule raw 60 min


At 160 min the piece of dough which had been a boule looked more like a focacia, but it had all those bubbles. Poking the dough created bubbles places far away from the dent.

boule raw 160 min

A sad sight.

Here is a picture of the baked loaves:



Oven spring: the 60 min boule had good oven spring (30%), the 120 min boule had little oven spring, and the 160 min boule had no oven spring at all.

Blowouts: The 60min boule had a blowout near the base.

All loaves had fairly weak bottom crust due to them being baked on baking sheets, which were cold.

Some crumb shots:

crumb 60min

A big hole! at 60 min proof!

proof 120min

A different kind of a hole at 120 min. And quite a different crumb. Signs of gluten breakdown.

proof 160min

Total gluten breakdown at 160 min.

The crumb of this last specimen is more like the crumb I know from 100% hydration rye breads, just much dryer. The bubble structure of a bread at 60 min has turnted more into a complex structure with no distinct air pockets: everything is connected. There is no springiness, and the feeling in the mouth is more like cake, the taste a bit yeasty.

Here a direct comparison of the crumb:


The huge blowout at 60 min was a surprise, I attributed it to a lack of slashing.

So I made 2 more boules with 60 min final proof, on buttered cold baking trays, one slashed, the other not.

slash 1


Both had blowouts of some degree, and the area under the skin was still very weak in the slashed loaf, while the unslashed loaf had a big hole.

slash crumb


I attribute this crumb to the cold baking tray- when put in the oven the top of the boules start fermenting immediately while the bottom gets going only after the baking sheet gets hot.

So many things to consider.


In this experiment I produced some overproofed loaves with visible effects of gluten breakdown.

The reference loaves proofed at "optimum" time showed blowouts and flying crust which (I think) are effects of not slashing, and using cold baking trays.

I hope you find my investigations useful.

My family found these experiments tasty, and you will be glad to hear nothing has been wasted.





mark d's picture
mark d

i just started making bread, so i bought some active dry yeast, as it was proofing it SMELLS like THE TASTE of my grandmothers bread but it did not taste like hers.

wally's picture

Sharon (fishers) posted this video series originally and we both felt it should be easily available to TFL members.  The series, entitled Formes de pains covers a variety of breads, either baguette- or batard-shaped originally, and demonstrates how to decoratively slash them as well.  It's a gold mine of both familiar and less familiar breads you would run across in a French market.



OldWoodenSpoon's picture

from my sourdough starter problems, I switched to commercial yeast breads for the weekend.  I've had "Crust and Crumb" out from the bookmobile for a while now, and thought these Peppery Polenta Crackerbread sounded good.  Turns out they are quite good!

I baked them whole rather than cut up into individual crackers, thinking we might use them as wraps.  They are supposed to get tender and flexible if you mist them lightly and let them stand for 5 minutes.  We have not tried it yet, but they break up easily into cracker-sized bites for dips too.

The secret to getting these to turn out as crackers is to roll them thin.  When you think you have them as thin as you can get them, let them rest, and then roll them thinner yet.  When you finally get down to where the whole fennel seeds must compress to go any thinner, give them one more pass, then bake them. 

Coarsely ground black pepper, uncooked polenta meal and whole fennel seeds give these crackers an interesting and complex flavor.  Garnishes of paprika, carroway seeds and sesame seeds, alone and in combinations, lend still more flavor variety.  The polenta gives them a nice crunchy bite to go along with the cracker crispness, and being rolled so thin you never get a whole mouthful of any one flavor.  They provide plenty of flavor though, even served with just plain cream cheese.  See Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb" for the full recipe.

Also out on loan from the bookmobile, I have George Greenstein's "Secrets of a Jewish Baker", where I found a formula for Potato Bread.  I have always liked potato bread, and my wife prefers bread with "substance", so I baked the 3-loaf build of this formula on Sunday evening.  The book notes that potato bread dough is always "a little sticky".  I only quibble with the "a little" portion of that statmement.  The dough was quite sticky, and took generous dustings of flour on the board to get it into shape.  I should have added a tiny bit more flour as the dough was very loose in addition to the sticking, even after fermentation.  I also adjusted from the active dry yeast in the formula to instant yeast, and then went still shorter yet since my instant yeast breads seem to explode on me. It must be my water or something because I need to reduce the yeast even more next time.  This dough was a rocket-riser, and was ready quite early.  The results, however, are quit acceptable, in both flavor and appearance.

I baked three loaves, but one was already cut when the pictures were taken.  I used two 8" x 4" pans and a 9" by 5" pan, all baked together on tiles on a low shelf.  It took the full 50 minutes prescribed to get them all done, with the larger pan needing a few extra minutes.  The third loaf provides the crumb shot.

I think when I cut the yeast even further the crumb should close up a bit more and give me the solid and substantial texture I expect of potato bread. The crust of these loaves is pleasantly crispy and provides plenty of structure to support the moist and tender crumb I got here though.  The crumb almost has to be tender thanks to enrichment with potato, butter and milk (powder).  It made tasty toast this morning with butter and jam, and wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

These bakes went pretty well, thankfully, and so went a long way toward calming my nerves, frayed by my sourdough starter woes.  Nothing like some success as a restorative.  It makes for good eating too!

Thanks for stopping by.


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