The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


ph_kosel's picture

I'm behind on my blogging.   Hopefully I'll find time soon to document the following:

1.  Trip to Tartine Bakery and Acme Bread back on July 2.

2.  Efforts to reproduce Acme's whole wheat walnut sourdough bread.

3.  Experiments with wholewheat bread with LOTS of seeds in it.

For now this post will work for me as a place holder to remind me what I've neglected so far in my recent chaos of houseguest infestation, highschool reunion, GREAT roadtrip vacation up the northern California coast in a brand new Smart Car, etc.  My sourdough starters have been a bit neglected but seem to be salvageable, and I still bake when I run out of bread.

Chef P. J. Arvidson - Smyrna Bread Factory's picture
Chef P. J. Arvi...

Opening a wholesale bakery featuring my sourdough bread and was wondering if I could just put it in the oven right out of the frige.  I always bring it to room temp before baking and I am trying to streamline the operation for better/faster production.

Mebake's picture

This is another one of Hamelman's Pain Au Levain With whole wheat from His book "BREAD".

I'am testing out my new flour's performance with naturally leavened breads.

I mixed my dough ever so lightly, and did two stretched and folds (letter fold on the bench) @ 60 minutes intead of one at 50min. So, the fermentation time was 3 hours intead of 2.5.

I retarded the shaped loaves right after shaping for 8 hours, and left them to proof at room temp. for 1 hour while the oven was preheating to 510F.

I Also increased the prefermented flour by 7%.(as recommended by Andy - ananda) I found that this particular recipe works more predictably if i increased the amount of stiff levain. and it did!

Crackly Crust!

Cool, soft, and translucent crumb, with a faint sour flavor.

dmsnyder's picture

The 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice has been one of my favorite breads for years. I love it for it's delicious honey-wheat flavor. However, it often comes out with a dense, cake-like crumb. In April, I tried making this bread using a more intensive mix, as demonstrated by txfarmer. (See Light and fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread) I did, indeed, achieve a less dense, more open crumb. But I felt there was some loss of flavor due to oxidation of carotenoids. 

It is difficult to make a 100% whole wheat bread with a light, airy crumb. The pieces of bran in the flour act like little knives, cutting the gluten strands that give bread crumb its “structure.” I had heard of flour mills that grind the bran to a finer consistency after it has been separated during the normal milling process and then add the fine-ground bran back in, along with the other wheat components that re-constitute “whole wheat” flour. The smaller bran particles do less damage to the developing gluten during mixing.

Central Milling makes such a flour, and brother Glenn recently got some for me at CM's Petaluma warehouse. Today, I used CM's “Organic Hi-Protein Fine” whole wheat flour to make the Whole Wheat Bread from BBA. I followed the formula and procedures in my April 2, 2011 blog entry with one exception: I only mixed the dough for 12 minutes at Speed 2.


The first difference in the bread was the wonderfulness of its aroma. I can't say it was different in quality, but it just filled the house as never before. When the bread was cool and sliced, the crumb structure was even more open than I got with intensive mixing. The bread is chewy like a good white loaf and not at all cakey or crumbly. The flavor is delicious. I can't really say it is better than the flavor I've gotten with either home-milled flour or KAF Organic Whole Wheat flour, but the combination of crumb structure, texture and flavor was remarkable.


I am now eager to try using this flour with other breads, for example the Tartine "Basic Country Bread." Stay tuned.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

davidg618's picture

Four months ago I began trying to bake my "personal-best achievable" loaf of 50/50: Bread Flour/Whole Wheat Flour Sourdough. The measures of success, for me, are: FLAVOR, an al dente, moderately open crumb, and eye-appeal. Nearly all my mostly white flour sourdoughs are made at 68% hydration, and I preferment 28% of the flour building the doughs' levains. Consequently, when I started my quest for the PBA half-WW loaf I set the formula with 68% hydration, and I prefermented 56% of the Whole Wheat Flour (28% of the total flour) building the levain. Immediately, I was delighted with the bread's flavor, and al dente crumb, but the dough had been very slack, and the loaves, while not exactly "flat as...", did their best to emulate pancakes.

In subsequent loaves, continuing with the same ingredients and ratios the flavor got even better through overnight retardation, but the dough seemed to get slacker, and IHOP began to worry they had a new competitor.

Three month ago I began to worry my starter's levaining power was weakening. It sometimes took twice as long to proof.

Not only were my 50% WW loaves belly-flopping from slack doughs, but the oven spring I'd been experiencing in all my other Sourdough loaves was lessening.

I gave up trying to create the PBA WW loaf, and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong in my heretofore bomb-proof sourdoughs.

I've got a new starter. It's agonizing birth--all its problems due to my ignorance--is documented elsewhere, the life-saving mid-wife: Debra Wink.

The new starter has provided very satisfying successes with my "go-to" mostly white-flour sourdoughs, the past three weeks.

It was time to try again for the hitherto elusive BPA 50% WW sourdough loaf.

First try: Same ratios as prior, same ingredients, all Bread Flour in the levain, machine kneaded after autolyse (Kitchenaid mixer)   3 mins. speed 1, no retardation, DDT 76°F

The flavor is good, but, subjectively, not as good as remembered from the earlier retarded loaves. The crumb is delightfully al dente, and moderately open. The dough was slack; not as slack as during the abandoned quest, nevertheless, most of the oven-spring went sideways, but still better than any previous loaf.

Second try: same ingredients

Differences: 14% of the total flour prefermented in the levain build, all Whole Wheat flour (1/2 as much as the previous bake); Dough Hydration reduced to 65%; ice water and chilled dough used in the mix (DDT 54°F); machine kneaded (Kitchenaid mixer) 2 mins. speed 1, 7 mins. speed 2. (I also performed three S&F at one hour intervals, the same was done in the previous bake); dough retarded (54°F) for 17 hours.

The flavor is excellent: multi-layered, with a distinctive sour end note. The crumb is camparable to the first try: delightfully al dente. The oven spring was considerably more vertical.  Subjectively, despite the lower hydration, the crumb is more open than the first bake.

I feel I'm back in the grove. Next try I'll increase the dough's hydration to 67% keeping all else, ingredients and procedures, the same.

David G



Lita's picture

I am so tired of either arriving to find (most of the time) just to find ALL of the Jalapeno Cheese bread at my local "Fresh outta the Grocery Store" bakery! If I am lucky enough to find a couple of loaves it is usually the BURNT ones!! I am soo sined up for this Site and I am so making it myself! I will let you know how it came out!! :)

codruta's picture

This was the first time I used Yeast Water (almost 2 weks ago) Since then, I made 6 loaves, using different formulas, but I wanted to share with you this one, because it has a funny shape, it was my first attempt at using yeast water, and because it was particularly good. My apple yeast water looks like this:

The overall formula was:

- Bread flour: 273 g ……………………………… 91%
- Whole wheat flour: 27 g …………………….. 9%
- Water: 57 g ………………………………………. 19%
- AYW: 147 g ……………………………….......... 49%
- Salt: 6 g ………………………………………….… 2%
Amount of dough: 510 g ……………………….. 170%

Final dough:

- Bread flour: 255 g
- Water: 39 g
- YW: 120 g
- Levain 100%: 36 g
- AYW whole wheat starter 100%: 54 g
- Sare: 6 g

I made the build for the levain and for the YW starter  8 hours before the final dough.

I mixed by hand, with folds in the bowl, than I did 3 S-F at 30 min interval, for a first fermentation of 2 hours. I shaped it, and proofed it for 5h:30min (3h in the fridge, 1h:30min at room temperature). I baked it with steam for 15 min, then without steam for 20-25 min.

I wasn't sure if my yeast water is good, that's why I made such a small loaf, to test it (which was not a smart idea, beacause we were four peoples at the table). We ate it with a-kind-of-babaganoush ( it's an eggplant dish, a romanian version, that doesn't use tahini, only olive oil and seasonings), cheese and tomatoes. This bread was a hit, everyone loved it. The hint of apples was discrete, the crumb was rather sweet than sour.

You can see more about it an my romanian blog,  Apa.Faina.Sare.


Winnish's picture

Avocado Brioche

Brioche - challahs and rolls, made with..... avocado instead of butter.

When I first heard of this idea, it took me a few minutes to digest the idea, but seeing the photo convinced me that I just have to try it. So I did - and my family just looooooooooooved it!

I took one of my own recipes, "played" with it and combined it with this great idea - and these are the results

For the recipe and more photos - please check my post here
If you find any problems with the translating the recipe (translators are on top left side-bar) - please don't hesistate to ask me.  I wonder if it's gonna be hilarious as usual..... :)










lumos's picture

So, the third experiment with the T55, today....I’ll try to be short and quick this time…for a change. :p

 In the third experiment with T55 flour, I decided to find out if the very long fermentation time in the first trial was too much for low gluten of this T55 to bear, especially the potion (about 50%) I used for poolish (6-7 hr + 21 hr = 27-28 hrs).  So instead of using 100% T55 (save for small amount of Rye for poolish), I replaced about a half of poolish flour to my regular Waitrose Organic Strong flour  to bring up the hydration level back to my usual 70% to see how and how much difference it’d make to the character of the dough.  Because I’ve been using Waitrose Organic flours for a while and I’m quite familiar with its characteristics, I hoped hopefully it wouldn’t be to difficult to distinguish which characteristics in the dough were due to T55 and the others due to Waitrose’s one.

This is the combination of ingredients I used…..

Poolish - T55: 60g + Waitrose Organic Strong: 55g + Rye: 10g + Water: 125g

Main Dough – T55: 135g + salt: 5g + Water : 55g

Total hydration = a bit under 70%

All the procedures are left unchanged from the regular methods of my original (I mean, after borrowing and stealing the ideas from THE original formulae by Mr.Hamelman and M. Bertinett, mimicking and mutilating them as I wished) Hamelinet Poolisgh Baguette recipe. 


The dough felt noticeably firmer than that of the first trial after all the ingredients for the main dough were mixed, though it wasn’t as firm as my regular dough with improvised UK flour mix, of course. But I could feel a sort of ‘core strength’ when S & F-ed in a bowl, which I didn’t feel when I once attempted to make a baguettes by using very similar combination of flours to this, the only difference being plain flour there instead of T55 flour this time (Yup! Been there, done that, too. :p)  I found it very interesting because the protein level of the plain flour (Waitrose Leckford Estate Plain) I used then was much higher (11.8%) than this T55 (10.5%).  Obviously the protein level, gluten level and, also, gluten quality are all different beasts, as I’ve been told many times by various books and experts, confirming that you really can’t fathom from simply by looking at the protein content on the packet. 

After the 21 hrs cold retard, the dough looked much more promising than my first trial and it looked more ‘familiar’ than my second trial,  maybe because the hydration level was back to my usual and, possibly, because of the inclusion of 25% Waitrose Organic Strong, my regular flour for poolish.

The ‘feel’ of the dough at pre-shaping, shaping and scoring stages were not bad, quite similar to my regular dough, though it was slightly softer and stickier, naturally. The razor got caught a bit when scoring, just like when working on higher hydration dough (←discreetly preparing an excuse for the pics that are coming), but doable enough (just…). Nothing like the first ciabaguetta disaster.


And this is how it turned out….

It’s not much of a looker  at all, especially compared to the second trial’s (= 65% hydration, with accidentally shorter cold retard of 16 hrs).


However,  inside was….….

Not too bad. ….though it’d be utterly outrageous to call it ‘honeycomb’ crumb. Far from it.  Actually it's rather similar to my usual baguettes made with my regular, improvised flours.  (which confirmed, again, I'd need  more practices... a LOT of them.)

 And the all important taste and texture….Wasn’t too bad, either. It was light and soft but definitely not fluffy,  with a difinite light chew, almost just as I would like from a baguettes. When you pulled the crumb apart, it tore in a different way from my urual improvised UK flour mix baguettes; hard to describe how, but it was more properly ‘baguetty’ way; tore more easily with less resistance into narrower shreds than fatter chunks of torn crumb made from non-T55 flours, and, more significantly,  the torn crumb pieces were more (sort of) transparent and  with slightly more sheen. The crust is thinner and crispier than my usual; more properly baguette-like here, too. The taste was definitely better than the accidental-16 hr cold retard baguette I made last time, but not as deep or complex as the ciabagutta with 100% T55.  And here again, the first taste you notice as soon as you but a piece in your mouth is saltiness, in a very pleasant and appetizing way. It’s milder than the ciabaguetta, but it’s there. Actually when I made the ciabaguetta, I also made a loaf of our current-favourite sourdough, replacing all the white flours with T55 to see how much difference it’d make, and the result of the flavour profile was the same; you taste the pleasant saltiness first and then all other flavours follow and mingle.  Very interesting…..I first thought the lower protein level might be the cause of it, higher protein in UK flour masking the saltiness somehow, but then remembered my experience with all-plain flour didn’t show that ‘phenomena,’ so now I’m just intrigued and curious.

And the aroma was again, quite nutty, sweet and lovely, almost as good as the ciabaguetta, only slightly milder. I could also detect the familiar aroma of my regular Waitrose Organic White mingled with the French-y nutty aroma of the T55, and thought, “I actually quite like that, too” which was a bit comforting. ;)

 So, now I know this particular T55 does have better flavour but could be difficult flour to work on with 70% hydration combined with 21-hr cold retard......And now you know I’m totalyly incapable of writing a short, concise blog entry. Sorry…..


Building on these experiences, my next experiment will be……………….Watch this space! :p

best wishes,



Lumos the Long and Winding

txfarmer's picture

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Click here for my blog index.

Often used in Chinese cooking, Goji berries are known to have all kinds of health benefits. I often have dried Goji berries on hand to make soup, congee, or even tea with.They are good for me and pretty looking, but don't really have any strong taste, so I combined them with pine nuts in this loaf to jazz up the flavor.

Light Rye Sourdough with Goji Berry and Pine Nuts
Note: makes a 730g loaf

- levain
medium rye, 136g
water, 110g
rye starter (100%), 7g
1. Mix together and leave at room temp for 12 hours.

- final dough
bread flour, 295g
medium rye, 23g
water, 207g
salt, 8.5g
levain, 245g
dried Goji berries, 57g, soaked in water for 20min then drained
pine nuts, 57g

2. Mix together flour, water, and levain, autolyse for 20 to 60min, add salt, mix @ medium speed for 3-4 min until gluten starts to develope. Add Goji berries and pine nuts, mix @ slow speed until evenly distributed.

3. Bulk rise at room temp (~75F) for about 2.5hrs. S&F at 30, 60, 90min.

4. Shape into batard .

5. Proof face down in basket until the dough spings back slowly when pressed, about 90min in my case.

6. Bake at 450F with steam for the first 15min, lower the temperature to 430F, keep baking for 30 min.

My rye starter is VERY fast, please adjust fermentation schedule to fit your own starter if you decide to give it a try.


Goji berries add visual interests, while pine nuts made it so fragrant.


Nutty and fragrant, it's perfect with some PB.


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