The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


PiPs's picture

We cut the miche today, three days after baking...and after a lazy Saturday lunch sent my parents home with half.

This miche was made on the fly...with these thought processes.

Total dough weight: 1.8kgs
Hydration: 82% (Freshly milled flour is thirsty...did not seem this hydrated)
Prefermented Flour: 25%
DDT: 24°C

Whole wheat Levain @ 60% Hydration: 400g
Wheat Flour Freshly milled and Sifted: 517g
Spelt freshly milled: 122g
Rye freshly milled: 100g
Water: 661g
Salt: 20g


Cool grains from fridge milled before being mixed with cool water. Autolyse 1hr

Knead (slap and fold) 20mins with 5 min break in the middle.

Bulk ferment for 2hrs with two stretch and folds in the first hour at 30min intervals as dough needed some strength.

Preshape and bench rest 20 min before gentle shaping into boule. Shaped dough placed into mixing bowl with floured teatowel.

Final proof was in fridge as the miche had to wait for oven. I judged that the size of the loaf would take a while to cool and the proof would be complete in the fridge as the dough was pretty lively...was a good guess.

Baked under SS bowl at 250°C for 20mins then 40mins at 200°C

Really enjoy working with dough this size and was happy with the spring the oven achieved....the rye flour adds a touch of tang and earth. A bread of this size sure gets noticed.

One of my parents dogs, Mr Hermann spent some time cleaning crumbs off the floor.....




trailrunner's picture

I have been making Susan's, Wild Yeast Blog,  100% sourdough bagels for a couple months now...every 2 weeks. They have been perfect every batch. That is not something I can usually say about formulas . I have been stressing my KA and doubling the batch...the motor juuuust manages to do what needs to be done. I give a minute or so by hand on the counter top. The lovely thing about the 100% sourdough is that you needn't do the float test and there is never a worry about the " wrinkled " finish to which many yeast raised bagels succumb. There are pics from the fridge retard to finished crumb.  I also make her " Norwich - more sourdough" and have had a perfect result each week.

I keep my starters in the fridge. I refresh them with feedings  every 1-2 weeks depending, at q4 h x 3 and then use them. They are about 3 yrs old. I don't know what hydration I just keep them at a consistency that is very sticky  to stir. I feed my white starter with rye periodically as they grow more strongly. I feed the rye with white to lighten it occasionally. Very laissez-faire . 

I bake only in cast iron pots. The loaves are each  1000g pre bake. I spritz lightly with water as I place the loaves in the pots. I bake covered 15 min and then uncovered for 20 min. The crust sings and stays crisp . When thawed uncovered on the counter the crust is as crisp as it was post bake. 

You will note  the parchment paper has been torn after I turn the loaves out onto it. I make a " sling" out of the parchment and it makes it very easy to lower the loaves into the hot pots. Have had no problems at all in the years I have been doing this. Having the paper torn prebake allows perfect browning. Enough are the pics. c

bagels going into fridge to retard after 4 hr room temp rise: ready to boil after overnight retard: boiling: boiled: baked: closeup baked: lovely chewy crumb: bread after retard ( I do not rise at room temp at all...all rise takes place in fridge) turned out on parchment and paper torn to shape: slashed and ready for hot pot: 15 min into bake and notice slashes have opened:









a finished loaf: cooled and ready to cut and serve with local Lexington VA wild flower honey from our last visit to the town : crumb: Lovely slightly sour flavor , chewy crumb and very crusty exterior. Remains crusty even with freezing. Sour develops for days and the loaf evolves nicely. c

Shutzie27's picture

Bolstered by my success in baking White Mountain Bread, I finally had the time and the flour to attempt the second recipe in Beth Hensperger’s Bread Bible, French bread, or Pain Ordinaire.

Things began auspiciously enough with a beautifully smelling, light, spongy and almost fluffy slurry.


Since I proofed the yeast in a glass prep bowl, I actually ended up adding the slurry to the two cups of bread flower and salt (as opposed to adding the flour to the slurry; I guess Mom was right about me never following instructions). This didn’t seem to ruin anything, however, and I proceeded to mix the batter into a dough using my trusty and deceptively strong wooden baking spoon.

Just when I thought my arm would tire, (I always mix by hand, partially because using my hands is my favorite part of baking bread, and partially because I use the kneading and mixing process as a way to justify putting melting pads of butter on the warm, oven-fresh bread I’ve baked. All that mixing has to burn off some calories, right?), the “shaggy dough” Hensperger described seemed to form.

I found, however, that I only needed to use 2 ½ cups of all-purposed flour (which I should add here is bleached, though this doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference in taste or texture).

With that, I rolled the dough into a ball and tucked it into an olive-oil shmeared bowl to rise.

I was happy to see that it did, though I worried about the lumpiness of the post-risen dough.


With that, I deflated the dough by gently turning it out on to the table. It let out a satisfying little pphht sound and gently exhaled upon hitting the surface. Knowing I have a tendency to over-work dough (which has resulted in an almost too-tight and compact sponge in the past), I resisted the temptation to sink my fingers into the dough and start kneading.

Instead, I grabbed my dough slicer (super handy with inch measurements on the side) and did my best to create three equal portions. Since I don’t have a food scale, this always gets a little tricky, but I thought I did pretty well.


Covering the hopeful little dough boules with some plastic wrap, I put them back in the laundry closet on top of the dryer to rise.

Forty minutes later, I saw that—clearly—I had not done as well of a job creating equal boules as I would’ve liked.

Still, they looked and smelled delicious, the oven and stone were preheated, and I had loving brushed on the nice egg glaze.

I used the whole egg with two tablespoons of water, even though in the introduction Hensperger does suggest just egg whites for French breads.

It was time for one of the most difficult parts of bread baking: The Transfer.

And naturally, this is where things went a little awry. Despite having sprinkled my peel with what I thought was a liberal amount of cornmeal, the boules stubbornly clung to the wood. I shaked, and shimmied, I scotched the peel, terrified of collapsing the three boules I had worked so hard to shape until finally, worried about the heat escaping from the oven, I nudged the boules in with my thumb.

While the boules didn’t collapse, one of them did seem to crack on the side (see below, on upper left-hand side) as a result.


But, all in all, they looked gorgeous and smelled even better. We gave one to our new neighbors, who seemed to enjoy it, froze one (using both plastic and foil, which I have to admit, does seem to keep it tasting a bit fresher after thawing), and made it through the third in two days. Which is why I don’t have any pictures of the crumb. It was even, uniform, light and fluffy.

Home Baker's picture
Home Baker

UPDATED: Adjusting ingredients as shown below, and a bolder bake — to nearly 220°F internal temperature — yielded pleasntly crunchier crust with even more pronounced flavors. Color is so bright I think I may have forgotten to add the rye flour. I've decided I like the formula both ways, just depends on what a person wants. New photos at end.

Original post
I'm aiming for breads with good hearty crust and a soft crumb--but not gummy, undercooked or overproofed. Several of my other breads are close to where I want them but I still struggle consistently getting the result I want from the kind of white breads so many people post here. 

This bread and the four slight variants of it that I've mixed and baked recently all taste really good. This loaf actually has that nutty flavor in its crust that doesn't always show up. The crumb is soft and moist but not gummy at all. All good. But within half an hour out of the oven the crust had gone from a proud, knocking sound when tapped with the closed fist to a softish thud. Cracks only appeared where large bubbles reached the surface—never got that overall crackled finish like can be seen on white porcelain. This is probably nitpicking but I was also looking for a more open crumb. 

It feels like excuse making but I wonder if it's the weather that might've made this crust go limp, or my oven? Humidity was close to 100% overnight, this morning while it baked and while it cooled. Or maybe I've reached the limits of my bottom-of-the-line slightly leaky home gas oven? As for the crumb, possibly a little less kneading and/or switching the bread flour from the starter to the final dough would help open it up a bit more? I haven't mastered higher hydration doughs than this so please don't tell me to add more liquids.

This is a really good bread which people rave over and even request but I'm bothered that the crust isn't getting to where I think it could be and the crumb is just slightly less open than I want.

Photos and formula below. Thanks for any suggestions.


Note: modified quanties indicated by strikethrough of original, like this.

Formula and process:
KA bread flour + KA AP AP Flour, Conagra Chef's Delight: 168 g from starter + 400 g + 50-75 g added in first mix.
tap water: 112 from starter + 320 g + about 100 g to add if needed while mixing 
whole rye flour: 30 g
salt: 18 10 g  

starter included in above quantities : 280 g total (40% hydration: 168 flour + 112 water)

honey: 45 25 g 
olive oil: 45 25 g 
ground ginger: 1/4 tsp
apple cider vinegar: 1/2 teaspoon
soy lecithin: 1/2 tsp
instant dry yeast: 6 g
malted milk powder: 35 12 g
plus 2- 3 Tbsp. softened butter olive oil to coat proofing bowl 

Yield: one loaf, 1195 g approximate total dough weight, 1040 g out of oven

Needed to add the water held back after first "shaggy" mix. Mixed the dough only a couple of minutes after it began to show signs of window panes, 10-12 minutes in all at mostly high speed. Placed dough in a buttered bowl, covered and left in the refrigerator (about 40°F) for 21 hours. Quick, gentle shaping and baked an hour out of the refrigerator: Steam for ten minutes at 475°F on stone, remove steam, rotate, lower to 460°F for 15 minutes, remove parchment and lower to 440°F checking every ten minutes and rotating as needed until internal temp of 205°F achieved, about 55 minutes in all. Sliced after two hours. 



New photos

Top crust:

Bottom crust:

Crackles closup:



breadsong's picture

I had some extra time at the beginning of last week to bake some breads to enter in the fall fair.
The fall season is now here - so I thought I'd post this today - season's greetings everyone :^)

A sourdough bread, with the idea for the stencilled leaf and lettering coming from these beautiful breads
made by MC of, and Chef Tess Bakeresse - thanks so much ladies!

Mr. Hamelman's 70% Rye with a Rye Soaker and Whole-Wheat Flour, another lovely formula from his book!

A braided yeast bread, using Larry's super Cheese Bread formula. This dough is really nice to work with for braiding, bakes up with such vibrant color and tastes fantastic. Thanks again, Larry - it was good to make this bread again!
The braiding instructions I found here; this bread was shaped with 4 strands weighing 200 grams each.

This "sunflower" was made with the Multigrain Pan Bread formula from Advanced Bread and Pastry, with shaping inspired by one of Mr. Roger Gural's pretty breads pictured in one of the BBGA newsletters.
Each 'fendu' petal was scaled at 85 grams, and the small center boule scaled at 60 grams.
The edges of the petals were rolled in cornmeal to add some extra color.

I don't have any pictures yet of fall leaves, but did take these pictures of flowers which have some lovely fall colors, while at Kneading Conference West

Best of the season, and happy baking everyone!
:^) from breadsong

pmccool's picture

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a bake that was destined for dinner with friends.  I had asked what they would like us to bring and the response was "Something that would go well with snoek pate."  Since I didn't have a clue about what Marthinus put into his snoek pate, other than that snoek is a fish, that left me with (in positive terms) a lot of freedom of choice.  I wound up choosing two breads: a sourdough in the pain de compagne vein and Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne.

Before I go further, I should provide some context.  Marthinus had an 18-year run as chef/owner of one of Pretoria's top restaurants.  Although he has changed businesses, he remains passionate about food and cooking.  He is still very selective about the ingredients he uses and very creative with how he puts them together for the finished dish.  When presented with something, he wants to know what went into it and what process or processes were used.  And he is not bashful about sharing his opinions.  For Marthinus, flavor matters.  A lot.

With that in mind, I was both relieved and pleased to see Marthinus enjoy both breads.  He was especially taken with the flavor of the pain a l'ancienne.  So much so, in fact, that this chef and self-avowed non-baker has begun experimenting with pain a l'ancienne at home.  He's already made it twice, with neither effort quite reaching the goal that he wanted to achieve.  One was, from his description, over-fermented.  The other was probably under-hydrated. 

In spite of not hitting a home run with the first two attempts, Marthinus is soldiering on because the flavor of those breads was still captivating.  As he put it, "There isn't a bakery around here where you can get bread that tastes like this!"  Knowing Marthinus, he will have bread whose crust and crumb is as satisfying as its flavor in the not-too-distant future.  It might even be the final motivation to press ahead with a WFO that he had already been contemplating.

Seeing his interest in the bread's flavor has caused me to give some more thought to the importance of flavor.

We all bake for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is as fundamental as putting food on the table for our families.  Sometimes we bake because it satisfies an inner longing to master a craft and produce something that appeals to the senses.  Sometimes we bake because it is better to knead a batch of dough than it is to punch someone or something.  Sometimes we bake because it lets us take an active role in making foods that are wholesome and unadulterated.  Sometimes we bake to be reminded of a special place, or time, or person.  Sometimes we bake because we can produce something better than we can get at the store for less cost.

Whether our reasons for baking are utilitarian or esthetic, we all bake for flavor.  If bread tasted or smelled like cow flop, we wouldn't eat it. 

As you read through the posts here on TFL, you will see frequent mention of the flavor and fragrance of the breads that are being produced.  People get downright lyrical as they try to describe the flavor of the breads they make.  It isn't surprising.  Every bread sooner or later goes into our mouth.  And as we chew it, the initial visual impression that we had of it is supplanted by the flavors and aromas that permeate our mouth and our nose.  At that point, our attention has shifted away from whether it had a open crumb or a tight crumb, a dark crust or a light crust.  What we want is flavor; the kind of flavor that tells us "Yes!  This is the way that bread should taste!" 

Flavor is so important to us that we aren't content to simply savor the notes that come from the grain, the yeasts, the bacteria, or the enzymes that have all contributed to a specific bread's flavor.  Bread's flavor calls for other flavors, sweet and savory.  Depending on the bread, we may want the simple luxury of butter or a drizzle of olive oil or a scattering of salt.  Or maybe a PB&J is in order.  Or we might marry some good ham, Havarti cheese, and a grainy mustard with an earthy rye.  The possibilities are as infinitely variable as the people making the decisions and the ingredients they have to work with  Every one of those choices is driven by the desire for flavor.

Although I have used Marthinus, with his training and experience as a chef, as an example of someone who cares about flavor, each of us in our own fashion is also concerned about flavor.  Whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, every loaf of bread we bake is another step in the pursuit of flavor.  Some of us are adventuresome, others are cautious.  Some of us crave the new, others want familiar comforts.  Some want in-your-face flavors, others prefer to thoughtfully consider the more subtle flavors.  We each, though, want our bread to taste good

The next time you chew a piece of bread, think about what you are tasting.  And enjoy!


SylviaH's picture

Yesterday I prepared my bread for today's wfo bake.  My starter had been neglected and could have used one more feeding but it seemed to work out fine.  

I had my oven fired up very hot for several hours and could have started it later.  I had  plenty of stored heat, more than I needed.  

 I had a handful trying to rotate 5 loaves and the steam pan around for the first ten plus minutes.  So I wasn't completely happy with the way my loaves browned.  What I could have used was another pair of hands for holding my flashlight, since Mike had already left for of these days I'll break down and get a clip on lamp. 

No photos of my nightly visit from the possum.  I did see his girlfriend run by..OMG... it is bigger than my Jack Russell.   This is the one Mike has been telling me about and Katie grabbed it the other night..but no harm..she obeyed Mike and let it go and Joey our Jack Russell also minds Mike..Bella just barks and keeps her distance.   Now back to baking!  

I've been practicing placing 2 loaves on one board and when one comes off the other sides to the end of the paddle and is ready to come off next with another quick movement.  Works great and is not as hard as it looks, but I pushed it placing in 5 loaves and working around the steam pan.  It made things a little awkward for me.  I use plenty of flour on the paddle and they slide right into place.  Sliding pizza's off a paddle has been good practice for me.

I baked my usual sourdough's tweaking the recipes.   The recipes are from 'Northwest Sourdough' Basic Sourdough and Mill Grain Sourdough using a 100% hydration levain, to which I added some of my Harvest Grains blend from KAFlours.  it has whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes, wheat flakes, flax, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.  I also used some rye and wheat added to the bread flour. 


Here's what I cooked today in the WFO.

I started with Rib Eye's grilled on the Tuscan grill over wood coals

I made a pizza's I thought would go nicely with the rib eyes.

I have been looking all over for dried cannellini beans and found them at Whole Foods.


Pizza's were topped with cannellini beans, heirloom tomatoes, provolone, romano, parmesan, EVOO, garlic, basil.  This one was pretty well charred but still delicous.  The oven was so hot it cooked in under 90 seconds.  So the steaks were cooked first and then the pizza.



Sliding 2 loaves off paddle one at a time

Other bakes today...meatballs and cookies



          Crumb of Mill Grain Seeded Loaf ..... photo in night light of kitchen.. 











PiPs's picture

Well it's about time....

I have been a long time reader and have learnt so much from various bloggers/posters and now I think its time I joined in. Thank you Debra Wink, proth5, TX farmer, DMSnyder, Ananda and Hans Joakim for your inspiring and educational posts.

I guess for my first post I'll show where I am at....

A month ago my new Komo Fidibus XL turned up and I have graduated form being a home baker to a home miller/baker. I love it.....I mean I really love it!

I usually bake once a week (used to be alot more...I am relaxing into it now) I have a "desem" style starter that lives in my fridge @ 60% hydration which gets expanded twice in a cool spot under the house before use...its happy. I used to be a neurotic culture current method works and gives us beautiful bread.

Yesterday was a biggish coming on the weekend and lots of kids staying for a week....they will want to be fed.

1 x Miche @1.8kg (Sifted wheat, whole spelt and rye)

2 x Wholewheat sourdoughs @ 1kg each

2 x Wholewheat raisen and coriander (From Tartine bread) @ 1kg each

Wholewheat Sourdough

Wholewheat Crumb

Raisin and Coriander Wholewheat


Last week Desem's

I love using the fresh flour. I have sourced my grains from two organic millers in Australia (one of them is biodynamic). Kialla is a organic miller just a few hours away who's flour I have used for a few years now. I use there grains for the majority of the doughs (It is strong and thirsty). I build/feed the levain with grain from Four Leaf biodynamic mills in South Australia. I have found there flour softer but more flavoursome.

Was wondering if I would miss white flour...this has not been the case at all. The Raisin and coriander bread was so amazlingly soft...melted in the mouth. All the breads had a mild flavour, no sourness (prefer it that way)

Have not cut the it a day or so until the family arrives....should be just about right then I reckon.

Well that's it for my first post.

All the best




Chausiubao's picture



With respect to hydration, I think I've decided to tell myself, “You know what hydration you want, go get it.” Having set out to make challah, I dutifully followed a formula, as the ingredients rumbled about in the bowl, ploddingly worked by the dough hook (which I may say is doing a mighty fine job at mixing bread doughs, it is quite a surprise I must say. I'll have to put away the elitism of hand mixing for the present.), it was nothing but a pie dough without the liquid. Quite surprised I certainly was. After a few revolutions I decided to add some water, and if I were called to account, I'd probably say I brought the water up to around 50-55%. Not even having taken into account the oil and eggs that go into the mix!

I also discovered I am in desperate need of a spray bottle. That is, if I intend to practice my braiding and gain the practiced hands to do some decorative pieces for work. That was the intention for all this after all! But I'll say no more about that. All these braided doughs require a rather stiff consistency, which means dry, which means unfavorable conditions that are certainly accentuated by the climate I've found myself in. The air is a good deal drier here at 6000 ft above sea level. What was I talking about? Probably something unnecessary.

I've found without milk powder, or buttermilk powder or whatever I can find really, the white bread formula I did last week just didn't cut it. It wasn't toothsome like I like; like Chinese bread is. Not that I have any legitimate Chinese bread recipes, but that is why I have to feel them out until they're passable. So I go from one extreme to the other, from the soft white bread of American wonder bread companies to the not so American, super strandy challah, which I know is a good toothsome bread.

I just poured myself some Santa Cruz brand limeade. And as I was doing so, I was thinking to myself, “Well hasn't this been a little digression! We should get back to talking about challah.” But as it turns out, the few sentences I put down before said glass of limeade happened to be about challah! Fancy that.

Well the challah is in the oven now. It has got a whopping 3% of yeast! That is substantial, considering the aforementioned white bread formula, so called, “pain de mie” has only 1.6%, so challah is about twice as well yeasted as that loaf ever was. But one can't simply scan over numbers and make blind comparisons. There is something to be said for understanding, conceptual especially; when we take into account pain de mie is at 50% hydration, while comparatively, this particular mix of challah is at 50% or so. Hydration facilitates fermentation; while yeast is more abundant in this challah formula, the rates of fermentation might very well be equivalent! There is proportionally more fat and sugar in challah as well, so the slight differences in the yeast percentages after taking hydration into account are probably hand wavingly explained away by that. Actually scratch that, those are all lies. They're both at about 50% hydration, although there is more fat and eggs in pain de mie, so it might could be true, but the percentages are actually quite similar. So it appears that this particular challah formula is just well yeasted.

If I might drift back into a nostalgic haze, you know I actually can't remember why I was going to do that. But I was going to glow a little about how I egg washed the challah. I did it three times! The first time because I wanted to keep the dough from drying, the second time because it did, and the third time because I wanted it to dry before the loaves went into the oven. And thats very important! You should have seen how glossy the dried egg wash was on the unbaked loaves. It was positively the most spectacularly shiny dough I've ever seen.

Well I've probably rambled enough. My this limeade is delicious. Perhaps you've gleaned something of value from my meandering through the afternoon whilst mixing, shaping, and baking up a storm. At the least, you've seen a glimpse of, well of something.

 My my, it looks like the challah got overbaked. Well you can see it anyways, but next time I'll have to amend the baking time, I'm going to say its closer to 15 minutes rather then 20 minutes.

yozzause's picture

MORE  tries at rye, following on from a week ago

2 loaves here 1 using rye flour and ryemeal but only half as much sour dough culture which slowed things down somewhat

(an error on my part) the one with the rye flour is the one on the left.


 a bit of show of bread for the restaurant lunch buffet menu the sticks and knots were from a 12 hour  soak of 2 and half litres of home brew stout

over 2 and a half kilos of organic whole meal then add 2 and half kilos of flour 100g salt 100g yeast 100g butter 100g gluten

bulk ferment of 1 hour  shape and put onto slippers.

The plaits were a 3 plait @1kg with a 4 plait @ 1 kg on top mostly for visual effect but cut up at the patrons request.

the red cup hold a foccacia that has been cut up too and all this before i get to my paid employ!  

regards Yozza


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