The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


loydb's picture

This is my take on Peter Reinhart's whole-grain struan. Instead of adding yeast, I made the firm starter using's San Francisco strain that I've been feeding nothing but home-milled wheat.

For the flour, I milled a mixture of 45% hard red wheat, 45% hard white wheat and 10% rye.

For the soaker I used 2.5 oz roasted (unsalted) sunflower seeds, plus .5 oz each of black seasame seeds, two different kinds of flax seed and two different mustard seeds. These are combined with flour and a little water, then left out overnight.

The firm starter was left out overnight to rise.

The next day, the firm starter and the soaker were worked together on a cutting board, then chopped up into a dozen pieces and mixed with the wet ingredients in my DLX. You can see it come together as I mix the preferments with oil, honey, and agave nectar. I also added in 2T of espresso-ground coffee beans that I'd finished roasting earlier in the day (Costa Rica La Legua Bourbon taken just into the beginning of second crack, for you fans), plus a teaspoon of caramel color from KA.

After the dough came together, it got a 15-minute autolyse.

Here's the final dough after another 10 minutes of hand kneading.

For the first 2 hours, I did a stretch-and-fold every half hour. Afterwards, it was left to rise for another 3 hours.

The risen dough was broken into four pieces and shaped for mini-loaves. They proofed for another 2.5 hours.

The loaves were cooked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  

The result is a dense, but not at all heavy, bread that is fantastic sliced thin and served with cheese and fruit.

PiPs's picture

One of the foremost incentives for purchasing my own grain mill was rye.

From coarsely milled rye grains soaked and added to wheat dough, to freshly milled flour and a thriving rye starter.

Rye has been on my mind this week … probably a little too much to be called healthy. So with some free time available last night, I shifted thinking into practise.

Rye and Mixing

The first bread is a Dark Sour Rye. The formula is kind of pieced together from bits of knowledge and tips gathered from around the web (namely Danubians formula) This was the first time baking rye in my 8x4x4 pullman pan so quite a bit of guess work went into the amount of dough required to fill it…this will be an ongoing process as I was a still little short on the correct amount.


Dark Sour Rye

Total dough weight: 3kgs
Hydration: 85%
Prefermented Flour: 35%w
DDT: 29°C

Day before
Rye sour (20hrs @ 28°C)

Starter: 30g
Freshly milled rye flour: 612g
Water: 690g

Morning before
Soaker (12hrs @ 20°C)
Cracked rye: 525g
Water: 525g

Final Dough (29°C)
Rye sour: 1224g
Soaker: 1050g
Freshly milled rye flour: 613g
Water: 275g
Salt: 35g

Bulk ferment for 30 mins. Using wet hands, divide, scale, shape and then place into greased tins seams down dusted on top with flour

Prove for about two hours

Bake in steamed oven at 250˚C for 10 mins then turn down to 190˚C and bake for a further two hours. Turn down to 150˚C bake for one hour. Turn down to 100˚C and bake for a further two hours with oven set to auto shutoff and allow to cool in oven until morning.

We went to bed with the heady smell of caramelised rye pervading the house … it seemed like it was even throughout my clothing.

Oiled and wrapped

When I arose in the morning the tins were still warm and the bread was a heavenly dark chocolate colour. I brushed them with grapeseed oil after cooling, wrapped them in paper and set them aside for the excruciating long wait until cutting. I also  realised late into the bake that I had neglected to dock the larger loaf so I am expecting a flying crust … to be continued ….

The second dough was an experiment in using my rye starter on a sifted wheat bread and overnight rise in the fridge. It was time to get out of my comfort zone as I have been hesitant to retard the dough for fear of over proving. I also used a fair sized portion of soaked cracked rye for some added texture to the crumb.


Quite Light Cracked Rye

Total dough weight: 1kgs
Hydration: 82%
Prefermented Flour: 15%
DDT: 24°C

Morning before (12 hrs)
Cracked rye: 66g
Water: 66g

Final Dough
Freshly milled rye starter @ 110% Hydration: 173g
Sifted freshly milled wholewheat flour: 467g
Soaker: 132g
Water: 293g
Salt: 12g

Milling Wheat

Autolyse flour and water for one hour.

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

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

Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.

Final proof was roughly 30 mins at room temperature (23°) then into fridge for eight hrs.

Bake direct from fridge in preheated dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then a further 20 mins at 200°C. I them removed it from dutch oven and baked for a further 30 mins directly on stone for even browning.

When my daughters arrived home after school and spotted this loaf I was quickly instructed to cut them a slice. The cracked rye was hidden away in the crumb from there prying eyes. It was demolished. Best crust I have had made for a while.

This bread has tang. Not overpowering, but lingering. The cracked rye is soft and barely registers in the mouth.

On a side note...with the formulas, would everyone prefer I use bakers percentages, weights or both. I am writing these the way I construct them, which I understand may not be the best for all people.

Cheers, Phil

** Update

Well as expected my undocked loaves "lost their roof". If any experienced rye bakers have any clues that would be greatly appreciated. I know when I did this bread a few years ago I had the same issue and I think docking fixed it....thoughts?

Tastes fantastic. Dark, rich and quite sour ... but I am not happy with flying crust and I will bake for less time. Crust is not tough just too much colouring on outside of the loaf while lighter inside.

Cheers, Phil



sam's picture


I've never yet made a poolish bread, and wanted to try it, so here was my first one.  20% of the flour was the poolish w/baker's yeast (0.2%) at 100% hydration (fermented appx 10 hours).  57% of the flour was a cold flour soaker at 80% hydration in parallel while the poolish was fermenting.   Final dough hydration was 66%.   All flour was KA AP flour.   (I did not cold retard the dough, or make a mash for this bread).

I wasn't expecting much, so I took the opportunity to practice slashing - mainly speed of slashing.   I sort of went to town on a couple of these, just randomly slashing it all over.   :)  

The bread actually tastes much better than I thought it would.    Had a bit of a time buttering it... the melting butter just formed pools inside of the holes.   

Needs some finesse, but here are pics:



Happy baking!


jcking's picture

Dragels (dray-gulls like bagels)
My first attempt at bagels made with a Durum sourdough starter and Durum flour. This is a seat of the pants, see what happens, work in a few different ways to make bagels. I'll go into detail and a formula when I'm happy with the results.

Quick rundown: sourdough Durum dough treated like a no knead with an overnight rise in the fridge. Out of fridge, stretch and fold, one hour bulk ferment, shape and short proof. All good up to this point. Poaching; didn't go very well as illustrated by the odd look, too much molasses made them too dark, once in the poaching fluid they became very weak and wanted to fall apart. Did my best to hold them together and here are the results.

As far as taste; not too bad. The molasses over powered the sweet I was expecting from the Durum.

For me it was fun and enlightening.
Bakers always rise to the occasion ~ Jim

varda's picture

Ok.   The truth is that I don't have much to say about the bread I baked today.   I just want to post this picture:

All right - it is a Pain au Levain with around 30% whole durum.   Tastes good.  

That's all I have to say. 

Szanter5339's picture

Szanter5339's picture
Szanter5339's picture

AprilSky's picture

We have 2 Costco conveniently located in different sites of the city I live in. We also have many of the others but Costco is always my best choice for grossary. I bought this cooking book at Costco 4 years ago and have been practicing the recipes it offers. And as it says I found it incredibly easy to follow. Rustic Tuscany Bread from the cooking book has been the most facinating piece to me. I did it quite often and I did it kind of my own special version. It looks gorgeous and tastes fantastic. My friends screamed every time I brought it to dinner parties.  

It is incredibly easy.


I don't like frozen bread dough so I had to come up with the bread dough myself. It's the same dough I use for focaccia


Drained tomato stew as filling.


I rolled the dough to a 5mm thick 30x40 cm rectangle and spray 1 table spoon of olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt evenly over the dough.



Drained tomato stew over 2/3 of dough.



Add a layer of pizza cheese. 


I guess it will be pretty much OK if you add more ingredients.


First 1/3 on the second 1/3~~~~My poor English. ><!


2/3 on the last 1/3~~~~folding done!


Some flour on both sides~~~


Let it rest for one hour to double the size.


Score few diamonds on the top of dough. This is the most exciting part of making the bread.


   The tip is to cut the dough deep and wide to reveal the filling but still firm enough to hold the filling inside the dough after baking.


The beauty from my oven.


I love how the scoring turned out.




lumos's picture

 Pissaladiere is a sort of pizza's distant cousin, originated in Province, Southern France, said to have been brought to the region by Romans.  Not sure if the Romans had a pizzaria back home in those days :p, but it was probably their flat hearth breads Romans used to make that gave the inspirations to the locals.....though I have read one or two articles by patriatic French who claimed it's their pissaladiere that gave the inspiration to the Romans for making pizza. :D

 Anyway.... It is more bready than pizza and is topped with thinly sliced and fried onions (lots of it!!), anchovy and black olives. That’s it. Not much variation, really, but salty anchovy and black olives are wonderful contrast to meltingly sweet, caramelized onions. One of those dishes made of simple ingredients with not much room for improvement because it's so good already. 

I love this so much and have been making this well over 20 years, in spite of my husband’s dislike of anchovy.  A cook's perk = get to make whatver I want! :p   And I've always made it in the classical way.

But when I went to Lighthouse Bakery School  the pissaladiere we had for lunch was the one with a few twists…and very nice ones at it, too.  Some tomatoes were cooked with the onion topping, which is a bit unusual for pissaladiere (though I wouldn’t say ‘never’),  and also added capers along with more classic black olives.  I was a bit dubious about them first, but it turned out to be one of the best pissaladieres I’d ever had.  They used cold-retarded overnight-dough and their professional deck oven could reach the temperature my humble domestic oven couldn’t, so those are the helping factors, too, but the new (to me, anyway) combination of the toppings were rather good as well.

 So last night I made it myself.  Forgot to ask the formula for the dough at Lighthouse, so I improvised with my regular sourdough focaccia dough instead, with a few modifications.  Also I was out of black olives, so I used small Turkish olives with beautiful tint of orange and subtle lemony aroma I’ve been in love recently instead. 




Sourdough Pissaladiere, Inspired by Lighthouse Bakery



   For Dough

      Starter (70% hydration)   70g

      Strong flour   100g

     T65 flour    100g (or 95g Plain flour + 5g WW)

           (or alternatively, 195g AP + 5g WW)

      Salt  4g

      Extra Virgin Olive Oil  1 tbls

      Water   140g (70%)


  For Topping

     500g thinly sliced onions

    1-2 cloves crushed and chopped garlic

    Herbs (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf)

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Olive oil

    1/2 tsp sugar

    1 tbls  tomato puree (optional)

    Anchovy, small olives, salted/brined capers (capers optional)



  1. Mix all the ingredients for the dough and autolyse for 30 minutes.
  2. S & F 3 times in the bowl every 40 minutes or so until medium gluten development.
  3. Put in the fridge and cold retard for overnight – 24 hrs.
  4. Take it out of the fridge and leave for 30 minutes -1 hr at room temperature.
  5. Letter-fold the dough to give extra-strength. (you need it, so that the dough can support the weight of toppings).  Rest for 1 hr.
  6. Give another letter-fold. Rest until fully proofed.
  7. Spread the dough into 20-21cm X 30-31cm rectangular on a well oiled baking parchment.  Make sure the edges are slightly thicker than the rest.
  8. Spread the onion toppings (See below for the recipe)  evenly on top, leaving about 2 cm edges along the sides.
  9. Cover and leave for 1-2 hours until dough increase the volume and the edges get puffed up a little. 
  10. Pre-heat the oven at the highest temperature with a baking stone set at the middle rack. (If you have two baking stones, set another one on the top shelf. The radiant heat it produces will give a wonderful result)
  11. When the dough is ready, and lay the anchovies in cross-cross pattern. Scatter olives and capers on top. 

                     (Note on the toppings : Stone the olives if you’re feeling kind enough, especially if you're making this even though your husband hates anchovy. :p

                       Soak capers in water for a while to remove salt, if you like.

                      And if your anchovy fillets are quite large, you can cut them into two lengthways,  so that the pissaladiere won’t get too salty.  But believe me, you’ll need more anchovy than you’d think.  Many recipes suggest to use a whole tin of anchovy for this amount of dough! )


 (The time for a confession : I caramelized the onions too much!!!  It should be lighter colour, just like this, before you add tomato puree)

 12.  Lower the temperature to 200C and slide the dough on to the hot baking stone. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the dough is browned and the edges of the onions are catching here and there in the heat.

13.   Serve hot, warm or cold. Choice is yours!

It's lovely as a part of a meal with nice salad and soup, etc. But it also makes great canape if cut into small pieces, too. If you're serving this for a big dinner party, you can make this several hours in advance, cut them when it's cooled, and reheat it gently in the oven just before serving.


To Make The Onion Topping

  1. Warm the olive oil in a thick saucepan large enough to take all the onions. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and a little salt and pepper.
  2. Stir for a few minutes until the onions start to soften and become slightly translucent. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, lower the flame and cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring 2-3 times to prevent the onions from sticking and burning.
  3. When the onions are meltingly tender, add the tomato puree and sprinkle in the sugar.  Increase the heat to caramelize the onions and boil down the liquid, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning.
  4. Take it off the heat, fish out the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Do not over-salt. (Think of all the salt in anchovy, olives and capers!)



Verdict : In spite of slightly over-caramelized onions, it turned out to be a really yummy pissaladiere.  There many versions of pissaladiere dough, but generally it's something between pizza and focaccia in thickness and how bready it is.  For this one the use of T65 in stead of my regular plain flour,  resulted in less bready and thinner crumb than I'd liked because T65 I have is weaker than my usual plain flour.   It needs  stronger gluten than dough for pizza because it has to support the weight of onions and other toppings.  You can adjust the ratio of strong/plain flour, depending upon the strength of the flours you're using and  to achieve the level of breadyness you'd like, probably up to 3 : 1 = Strong : plain.


Bon Appetit!




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