The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Shiao-Ping's picture

Trying a new ingredient or a new formula excites me.  If I find a new method or a new ingredient to make my daily bread the next morning, I go to sleep with a smile the night before.   I read about the Chia seed in one of Johnny's comments on Sourdough Companion a long while ago and had tried Chia seeds with other grains and seeds several times but never on its own.  I was happy with the results each time but never stopped to think why the results were good; I just moved on.  I looked upon the Chia seed the same as any other grains and seeds. 

It just so happened that last week I ran out of all the grains and seeds, except the Chia seeds.  It was 10 days before my family were due to travel again and I was trying to run the fridge down and not to bake any more bread before we leave - the freezer was already chuck full of sourdoughs to bring away with us.  But, I got excited over questions like: what would it be like to have Chia seeds, and Chia seeds alone, in my sourdough? and what would Chia seeds do to my daily bread? 

I chose a simple sourdough recipe and added 7% Chia, pre-soaked in four times its weight in boiling water - only 7% because this is not like walnut bread where you want to actually bite into walnuts.  I did not know at first how much water Chia seeds would absorb; nor did I want to trouble myself by soaking the seeds the night before.  I knew boiling water could do the job on the spot.  I first poured double its weight of boiling water over the seeds; the water was gobbled up in seconds, so I poured a bit more, and a bit more again a few minutes later, totaling four times the weight of the seeds.   So, this is my first ever Chia sourdough:



                                                         White Chia Sourdough



You cannot believe how moist the crumb was.  It was so incredible. 

I am so amazed at how good the bread was that I started to read up on the Chia seed.  There is an article here that talks about Chia as the ancient grain of the future but it looks at it from the angle of nutrition which is not my concern here.  I would recommend the article to anyone who is interested in the topics of omega-3, diet, antioxidants, vegan, or even gluten free solutions; but I am interested in what effects there are on bread, not nutrients.  Here is what I have found with my experiments together with the relevant points from the article:

(1) Moisture:  Chia has a very unusual property - a gelatinous, glue-like substance due to the soluble fiber that is able to absorb up to 12 times its weight in water.  The seed's hydrophilic saturated cells hold the water when it is mixed in with flour.  I picked up some pre-soaked Chia seeds and they did not wet my fingers one bit at all.  With the bread in this post, I have found that the hydrophilic colloids in Chia prolonged moisture in the bread in the most spectacular way.  The moisture which was initially contained in the cells of Chia slowly released itself, like a low GI food slowly releasing its sugar.  (The article says that the Chia gel can form a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes that break them down, thus slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.) 

This moisture is completely different from that in a super-high hydration loaf like Ciabatta which, in my experience, if not finished within a couple of days, turns as dry and tough, and as quickly, as anything I can think of.  But it is similar to Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain, because of flaxseed, one of the five grains used in that bread.  I have found that flaxseed, once soaked, has a similar gel-like property like Chia. 

(2) Texture:  The gelatinous, glue-like substance seems to have also altered the texture of the bread, resulting in softer crumb.  In this regard, I think it is important not to over-hydrate the dough, otherwise you may lose the springiness and chewiness, typical of sourdough bread.  I have also tried soaking the Chia seeds with six times their weight in water, while maintaining my other bakers percentages, and the result was very gummy crumb, most unpleasant to have. 

The article mentioned above says that 8 parts water to one part Chia can be added to bread dough, but I think this would work only if you add a couple of tablespoons, not more, as was suggested and beautifully done by Sharon, the glutenfreesourdoughbaker, here.

(3) Taste:  This may sound strange, but I have noticed my wholemeal sourdough now tastes sweeter than before.  For people who don't like 100% whole wheat, Chia gel is like a "tonic" that would modify the bitterness in 100% whole wheat bread.  We know most kids choose white bread over whole wheat bread because of the high fiber and bitter taste in whole wheat flour.  Well, I've got news.  I gave my kids and their friend a 100% wholemeal sourdough (with 7% Chia), they thought it tasted like a white sourdough and between the three of them they finished a 750g loaf!





                                                                                      Whole Wheat Chia Sourdough


Formula for my white Chia Sourdough

  • 125 g Wholemeal Starter @100% hydration

  • 500 g Flour (I used Australia's Laucke's unbleached bakers flour, protein 11.9%)

  • 343 g Lukewarm Water *

  • 11 g Salt

  • 40 g white Chia Seeds

  • 160 g Boiling Water

  • Sesame Seeds for dusting

*  I used lukewarm water to bring the final dough temperature to 26 C/ 78 F as my room temperature was cold, around 19 C/ 66 F  

**  Dough hydration was 72% (not taking into account the Chia and the boiling water to soak it).  You may want to adjust hydration to suit your flour.  Total dough weight was 1.1 kg.                               

Formula for my wholemeal Chia Sourdough 

  • 200 g Wholemeal Starter @100% hydration

  • 600 g Wholemeal Flour (I used Australia's Four Leaf's 85% Light Flour, protein 14%)

  • 460 g Lukewarm Water*

  • 14g Salt

  • 50 g white Chia Seeds

  • 200 g Boiling Water for soaking the Chia seeds

  • Sesame Seeds for dusting

***  Dough hydration was 80% (not taking into account the Chia and the boiling water to soak it).  My wholemeal flour is a high gluten flour which is very thirsty for water.  Adjust hydration if your WW flour is not as thirsty as mine.  Total dough weight was 1.57kg.





Following were my steps that produced the breads pictured in this post.  You can use your own dough process.   One thing of note is that my white Chia sourdough had a total of 6 1/2 hours fermentation before overnight proof-retarding, while my WW sourdough had 6 hours all-up and that was too much.  I overlooked the fact that there was more pre-fermented flour and the fact that wholemeal flour (especially the organic version I used) has more enzyme and ferments faster than plain white flour.  As a result, my whole wheat Chia sourdough had less oven spring and less volume.  

(1) Pour the boiling water over the Chia seeds.  Stir and set aside the Chia gel to cool.

(2) Dilute starter by adding the lukewarm water a little bit at a time until all is added.

(3) Add flour and salt into the diluted starter, stir to combine.  Cover.  Autolyse for 30 minutes.  (My dough temperature at time off mixing was 26 C.)  

(4) Knead the dough by way of stretching and folding it in the bowl, about 25 strokes (for the white one) or 20 strokes (for the WW sourdough).  Cover.  Rest for 30 minutes or longer until the dough is completely relaxed and extended.

(5) Pat the dough out inside the bowl and spread half of the Chia gel over the dough; flip the dough over, and spread the remaining half of the Chia gel over it.  Flip the dough over again and start stretching and folding it inside the bowl to incorporate the Chia, about 25 strokes (for the white one) or 20 strokes (for the WW sourdough) but not more as the dough is now loaded with the seeds and is fragile.  Be careful not to tear the skin of the dough on the bottom.  The Chia seeds won't be evenly dispersed yet.  They will get more evenly dispersed in the following S&F's.  (Alternatively, you can do this step on a work bench.) 

(6) Lightly oil your bowl and place the dough back, right side up.  More dough strength develops if the dough rests right side up.  Give it 30 - 45 minutes rest until it is relaxed and extended again.

(7) Turn the dough over and gently stretch it to as far as it can go between two hands without tearing it.  Fold 1/3 from one end to the centre and 1/3 from the other end to the centre, the same way as you would fold a letter; then, from the other direction, fold the dough again like a letter.  Place the dough back to the bowl, right side up.   Rest for another 45 minutes or for as long as it takes for the dough to relax.

(8) Another double letter-folds.  Rest.  Repeat the folds and the rest, if your dough needs it.

(9) Pre-shape and shape the dough.  By the time I finished shaping the dough into a batard, it was six hours from the time my dough was first mixed.  The temperature of my shaped dough had come down to 19 - 20 C.  If your dough &/or room temperatures is higher, shorten the fermentation time accordingly.

(10) I let the white dough sit for 1/2 hour then I removed it to the fridge for overnight retarding.  (For the wholemeal version, I removed it to the fridge straight away.)

(11) The next morning, my dough had nearly doubled in size in the fridge.

(12) I pre-heated my oven to as high as it could go for over an hour.

(13) I sprayed the top of the dough with water (if you don't have a spray bottle, you can use a damp towel), then sprinkled lots and lots of sesame on the top.

(14) I poured 1/4 cup boiling water onto the lava stones sitting in a roasting pan underneath my baking stone.  Then, I slashed my batard and peeled it onto the banking stone.  I poured a cupful of boiling water over the lava stones.

(15) Immediately I turned the oven down to 230 C and baked for 25 minutes, then I turned the oven down to 220 C for another 25 minutes baking.

(16) Rest the loaf for an hour before slicing.




On day 4 of my white Chia sourdough, I toasted a slice of it:




We know that toasting a slice of dry bread temporarily gelatinizes the starch and makes the crumb crunchy and edible.  But try toasting a moist bread, Wow!  The soft crispiness you get from Chia sourdough is amazing.

It has been a gloomy old day, drizzling and overcast.  It's been like that for the last few days.  Nothing to look out of the window for, but something warm in my kitchen:





Chausiubao's picture

Pain de mie, sandwich bread, white bread, dinner bread, chan-bao, this bread has a lot of different names, and I'd say its one of the most popular breads out there. Our bakery has been playing with how to make it, and I think, finally we've made a break-through in making it from a practical standpoint. 

Simply put, its an enriched dough thats 20% fat and 5% sugar, but the trouble has been in the bake. The bread is too finicky. Its bottom browns quickly (far quicker then the top) what with only a sheet pan and parchment between its tender bottom and the hot baking stone. In addition the small size of our ovens leads to heat loss easily, and we have been needing to rotate the pans somewhere during the bake.

But it looks like all thats in the past, and we can move onto other challenges.

I've reached a point in my training where I am being forced to pick and choose which of the approaches I want to use to get the jobs done. Alternatively I've been using hybrid techniques with aspects from multiple sources. Theres so much information out there in a relatively small amount of bread techniques just being able to confidently call myself a bread baker looks to be quite the unsurmountable challenge, let alone calling myself a baker.

Luckily for me, I enjoy challenges,


hanseata's picture

Nobody in Germany thinks of baking regular, plain white rolls at home. You get them freshly baked everywhere, in bakeries, supermarkets, and even in gas stations. Every German region has them, called "Rundstueck" in Hamburg, "Schrippe" in Berlin, "Semmel" in Munich, or simply "Broetchen" (little bread).

The typical Broetchen has a crisp crust and a fluffy, soft, easy to pull out crumb. It has nothing in common with its pale, crustless, chewy US cousin, the dinner roll. And - sorry, guys! - American Kaiser Rolls are just Kaisersemmel wannabes, they share only the pretty star cut with their Bavarian or Austrian ancestors.

One of the greatest woes of German expats is the total lack of this everyday staple in the US. No Broetchen to be found anywhere - perhaps bad imitations, but never the real thing. No cookbook would even list the recipe, no website provides it, the deceptively simple, but oh so elusive good old German Broetchen!

When I finally found and adapted a recipe, and baked my first batch, using regular bread flour, I was in for a big disappointment. The pretty little rolls tasted okay, but the consistency was totally wrong, with a lean and airy crumb like a French roll. My next trial with all-purpose flour only proved AP's limitations - it definitely was not up to THIS purpose! Totally frustrated I shoved the recipe in one of the numerous paper/cookbook/ food magazine piles adorning my office, telling myself to just forget about it.

But then one day at my favorite Italian wholegrocer, Miccucci's, in Portland, I came upon a neat little package of Italian Tipo 00 flour half hidden behind bags of instant polenta. With the predatory instinct of a hawk I swooped down and grabbed it. The next day saw me in my kitchen, the (after a prolonged search) unearthed recipe in view, mixing a new batch of Broetchen dough.

Viva Italia - Tipo 00 was a winner! Finally Broetchen as they should be, crusty on the outside, but fluffy and "pull-out-able" inside! (Later I found out that pastry flour works well, too).

You'll find the recipe here:



Daisy_A's picture


Since I started reading about artisan breads I've been really attracted to the idea of making barm bread and I've come across some lovely examples of Dan Lepard's barm bread made by both home and commercial bakers. You may have seen the stellar example on Shiao-Ping's blog. I also love the way the Loaf, Crich bakes this bread for regular sale and for celebrations, baking it with 9 different beers for a local festival.

I'm attracted to barm bread because I remember phrases like 'barm cake' and 'barm pot' from my childhood. Also, for me, the evocation of 'barm', when it refers to raising bread with the still yeasted froth left over from beer making, is one place where traces of traditional British baking practices still linger. It feels good to see these being revived and adapted. When barm breads are baked again they cease to be a sort of ghostly 'leftover' of what was once a rich tradition.
I set off to make Dan's barm bread armed with some lovely Dove's Farm white and rye flours, a bottle of cask-conditioned Nutty Black, my rye and wheat starters and an oat soaker. The mix of grains I used, in proportions based on Dan's formula, is included at the end of this post. I have to say at this point that I had not made any other sourdough with my wheat starter. The barm bread was my second only bread using sourdough in any form. Looking back it would have been better to have baked with the wheat starter before adding barm to my repertoire, but I was so keen to bake this bread I pressed on.

There has been some debate on blogs and bread boards about how long fermentation of the barm can take in this recipe. The initial aim is to ferment the barm overnight. However in some conditions and with particular beers the fermentation can take as long as 30 hours. I have to admit that my barm did not ferment overnight. Also I was still trying to work out how to fit bread baking into an uncertain schedule where most baking had to be done in the evenings and where I could be unexpectedly away from the dough for up to 16 hours, something I was faced with at that point. Again I should have thought this through but the desire to make the bread prevailed!

I thought about leaving the barm until I could return to it but became prone to fears of over fermentation. This was for a number of reasons. Firstly I had a basic newbie fear that I was culturing something not quite right in my untested white starter. My main fear was that if there was something malign lurking in my starter then in the absence of alcohol (which had been burned off the beer), and the presence of sugar, it could multiply at a rate of knots. I have since realized that this fear of producing a mutant starter is a widespread one. Bread sites ring with new sourdough bakers asking questions such as 'does my taster smell right?', 'does it taste right?','will I poison my family and friends with it?'

I know now that my starters are fine but they are feisty. Once my rye starter (Rosie) gets going she can quadruple dough during refrigeration. So, the fear that if left for 16 hours Rosie and Sydney (the wheat starter), might have got bored of sitting bubbling in the barm and redistributed it around the breakfast room was a more realistic one. However I also fear over-fermentation for more personal reasons....

Does anyone remember when instead of worrying in general about people being overweight, the main worry was about people being too skinny? If my mother or any of her neighbours in the predominantly rural county in which I grew up saw someone thin, they didn't think them an ideal size 8 (4) or a supermodel in the making. They simply thought  - there is someone who needs feeding up. (I wonder if this is a general thing in farming communities or just Cumbria?)

This feeding up was great when it came in the form of baked goods. As a teenager I once lost weight so quickly due to a viral infection that I was hospitalized. When I was discharged, the farming community's Auntie Annie invited my mother and me to a 'farmhouse tea'.  By farmhouse tea I don't mean a couple of dry scones and a wan piece of malt loaf.  There were beautiful scones, lemon curd tarts, fruitcake and other delicious cakes, malted loaves, muffins, breads and homemade jams. If you had leant on a chair with your eyes at the level of the table, there would have been baked goods as far as the eye could see. No sentimentalities were exchanged, but it was an act of care and concern, spelt out with cakes and breads.

Feeding up with fresh food was great, then; raw food less so. Another ruse used by Cumbrian mothers on people they thought were not feeding themselves enough was to give them raw food to take away. My friend's mother did this to one of my friend's skinny boyfriends. She gave him a whole raw fish to take home on the bus with him.  Embarrassed, he hid it under his jacket. As more passengers got on and the bus heated up, he started to emit warm, fishy smells...

My mother did a similar number on me with stewing steak. She gave it to me In a plastic bag to take on a 4 hour train journey. It would never have been safe to eat after that. On the good side I didn't eat it; on the bad side, young, foolish and in a jelly-brained state of mental exhaustion in my first year of teaching, I absentmindedly filed the bag with the books on educational theory I had been reading. I then forgot about it for a while. I will say no more about it but it was a quick and ugly introduction to the dangers of over-fermentation.

In the end I decided not to risk losing the barm through over-fermentation and didn't leave it any longer. To compensate for the fact that there would be less fermentation in the beer mixture I did what I have read other bakers do when the barm fermentation time is limited, which was to cut the initial mix with more starter and mix up the whole dough. My apologies are due to Dan for diverging from the recipe at this point because of my newbie fears. I do very much hope to make the bread again according to the original instructions.

I mixed the dough for around 8 minutes using continuous S&F on the board and popped it in the refrigerator. At that point I wasn't familiar with how my starter acts during retardation and I thought naively that the dough would go into a sort of cryogenic suspension of activity. However the 16 hour overnight retardation (which I have since learned is roughly equivalent to 2 hours on the bench), acted as the first proof. In fact when warming up time was allowed for there was a risk of the dough getting close to over proof. This time, however, I was better prepared than when I baked my first sourdough and I got the oven ready quickly. Some of my aims for this loaf were to improve my shaping, scoring and peeling. The dough hydration was 69%. It was a beautiful consistency and took the shaping and scoring well. I also managed to peel and add steam quickly during transfer to the oven.

There is an entry on Madrid tiene miga in which artisan baker QJones talks about watching the oven door sometimes being better than watching the television screen. The light on our oven is broken so I find it hard to see the loaves in process. I had no real idea how this loaf was baking until I cracked the door open after about 10 minutes to let out the steam. When I saw the loaf's small, domed  head quivering in the steam and got some measure of how it had risen, I was so elated I actually started trembling a little. Please forgive me; this was only my second sourdough, although I hope you experienced bakers out there still get some similar moments!

The bread came out beautifully. The crust was golden and crisp, the scored and split top opening over gently rounded sides marked by banneton rings. The inside was moist and tangy, redolent of rye and hops and with a decent crumb for a bread with around 30% rye. The bread ate well and kept well. I attribute these qualities to Dan's formula as the Loaf bakers also get these great characteristics when they bake this bread. However it was also a happy occasion on which things came together well in my own kitchen, even the shaping, which is still often a struggle.

This loaf has been much photographed, like a prize pet as my husband noted!

One of my aims for this loaf was to improve scoring. As it was when taking photographs, I got so taken with the aesthetics of the ripped side I took hardly any photos of the neater slash. Here it is for the record!


I am sending details of this post to
Susan at Yeastspotting
while the going good, in case never manage to make quite such a lovely looking loaf again.


This is a beautiful bread and Dan offers lots of ways to be creative with it, from using white flour or mixed grains, choosing different beers to adding soakers. I'm including a chart of my flour mix and final dough plus notes on beer and flours for reference but think it preferable to use Dan's method, as elaborated in The Handmade Loaf. Please note that the amounts of water and flour in the final dough are adjusted to maintain a hydration of 69% in the total formula after the addition of the oat soaker and extra starter. Without these additions the amounts are 250g water and 500g flour with 150g barm in the final dough. Salt remains the same.

Adaption of Dan Lepard Barm Bread (With Oat Soaker and Additional Starter)

Total Formula                                        


Bakers %

White organic bread flour


Rye organic flour






Beer (inc. 10g from soaker)



10 grams


920 g





Bakers %

Oats (soaked in beer overnight, drained)


Beer (absorbed by oats)








Bakers %

Starter 1: rye


Starter2: whole wheat


Beer: Nutty Black






Additional Starter                                


Bakers %

Rye organic flour








Final Dough                                           


Bakers %

White organic bread flour


Rye organic flour


Oat soaker


Additional rye starter







10 grams


920 g


69% Hydration dough with 100% Hydration Rye and White Wheat Starters

Flours: Dove’s Farm white organic bread flour and rye flour.
Cask conditioned beer: Nutty Black



Avie93309's picture

Been looking forward to make this bread. Finally got my Durum Flour in the mail (not available at local stores). Followed the recipe from Rose Beranbaum's The Bread Bible. Flour (bread:67%, durum 33%), Water 80.4%, Yeast .79%, Salt 2.2%.

Biga: 75 g Flour, Instant Yeast 1/16 tsp, water 59 g, optional: Malt Powder 1/2 tsp.

Worried that I totally ruined the dough. I allowed the biga to ferment in a cool area for 24 hrs (recommended @ 55-65 F). I thought my storage room is that cool. When I checked the room temp it was 72%.

Baked on stone: 5 mins @ 500 F; 20 mins @ 450, turned half way thru. Internal Temp. Target: 205 F, Actual 200 F.

whosinthekitchen's picture



The German brotchen is a hot milk bread that kneads together yielding a smoothly elastic dough. This makes great rolls and buns. The best is to eat it warm with your favorite cheese or jam. I have searched online for other brotchen recipes. An internet search did not turn up a brotchen recipe for awhile but now several are available. However, none are identical to the one I got on that wonderful trip to Germany in the 80’s from a nice German lady.  The US Army officer husband helped convert metric measures to English.  This has to be the best travel souvenir I have ever returned home with!
Here I share my recipe for you to enjoy: 

Mix first three ingredients. 
1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp yeast
Add: 3/4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
When well blended
Add 1 cup flour 
Beat this with a wooden spoon until bubbles appear in the pancake like batter.
Add more flour a cup at a time to make a dough you can no longer stir.
(This recipe uses about 4 cups of flour total; today I used 34 ounces weighed on a scale because I live in South Florida where the air is HEAVY and measuring by volume doesn't work.)
Knead for 10 minutes adding as little flour as possible until the dough is satiny and not sticky. The dough should be firm, and give to the touch. Place in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for 45 minutes (depending on the temp and humidity.  I lived in Wichita and found it a dryer climate yielding shorter proofing times for my breads.) The dough should more than double in size. Degas and remove the dough from bowl onto a floured surface. Knead 4 or 5 times and divide into 10 pieces for large burger size buns or 16 for buns. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal generously and evenly space rolls. Allow to rise again (about 30 minutes) covered with plastic wrap you have brushed lightly with oil. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. When the oven is to temperature place rolls into bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until lightly golden. (I do not score the buns because the ones I had in Germany had a smooth top)  I do splash 1/8 cup water into my gas convection oven three times in 20 second intervals to create my crust at the beginning of the bake time.  Remove to cooling rack.


I was unsuccessful in getting rid of the blank box. 



breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

I am on baking hiatus until Fall, or at least until it gets cooler here in NYC...

Until then, happy baking!


turosdolci's picture


I wanted to share these pictures of the bread being sold in a stand in Dolceaqua, Italy.  It was a small festival displaying the products of Dolceaqua. The size of the bread was amazing. Imagine the size of the ovens. 



Jw's picture

Actually just a yeasted multigrain. Pretty much according to the recipe (Reinhart, Crust & Crumb), apart from: two-day old biga instead of one, milk instead of buttermilk, white rice instead of brown rice, added more salt.

Here's the funny part: the oven rise lifted up one bread, but 'pushed-down' the other. Why is that? Temp should not have caused this. I did score them, but a bit too late. Structure and taste are really great. The tie is from few years ago, wanted to make sure my kids remember what day it is...

Happy baking.

Jw. (aka 'father's day in Dutch: vaderdag)

jennyloh's picture

Without going through the practice of making bread and everything,  I wouldn't have attempted this. As this delicacy requires techniques as complex as making a baguette,  and patience that is required in making sourdoughs.

This is to share with you here a different type of food we make in Asia.  The Nonya Rice Dumpling.  To share with you on how it looks as some of you may have read my blog mentioned under Vermont Sourdough.  It is not baked but boiled for 2.5 hours submerged in water. 



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