The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


codruta's picture

Hi everyone! Here is one of my latest "creations". I'm very very pleased with the "look" the "taste", the "smell", the "everything". The loaf filled the house with its aroma, I could sniff it from the other room. I followed Hamelman's instructions, only I didn't toast the seeds in the oven, but in a frying pan. I did 2 S -F at 50 min interval, and retarded the dough in the fridge for 10 hours.

You can find complete recipe and more photos at my romanian blog, with a funny translator available Apa.Faina.Sare.

codruta, from Apa.Faina.Sare.

ph_kosel's picture

I discovered the other day I had 3 almost-full bottles of fennel seed, presumably due to repeated cravings for fennel, a bad memory, and a very cluttered spice cabinet.  There's only one thing to do when that happens, of course: make bread with fennel seeds in it.

I whomped up some dough as follows:

450g unbleached bread flour, 50g whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon SAF "red" instant yeast, 1 tablespoon fennel seed, 1.5 teaspoons salt, 0.5 teaspoons diastatic malt powder, 333g very warm water. 

I turned the dough out into my 9x4x4 pullman pan and it filled the pan in under an hour (you could almost hear the dough rising it was so fast).  I baked it at 450F for 25 minutes.  Result was a nice soft chewy loaf with a mild fennel flavor, good with butter on it.  Fennel tastes sort of like licorice (which I like).

This loaf rose amazingly fast, which is good when you're hungry for some nice warm bread.

At this point I still have a LOT of fennel to use up.  Also, some dry lemon peel (I wonder what that would taste like with fennel?).

I was looking at "pain de mie" recipes the other day and they frequently call for a 350F baking temperature instead of 450F, I guess to get a tender crust.

HMerlitti's picture

Sorry all, The "Keyword" does not get printed in the post.   I put "Carol Field in the Italian Baker" in the Keyword so you would know the source of the reference.  Page 36 if you have the book.


She says, "Never sift flour for bread; always for pastries and cookies."   How does one sift??  Would an ordinary strainer do or do you need a flour sifter??

Secondly, what are we sifting for?   Do we expect lumps in the flour or are we adding air??

Why do we do this??


Franko's picture

This past Monday my wife and I arrived home from our very first visit to Europe where we spent 3 nights in Prague, then 8 full days cruising the Danube from Germany, through Austria, Slovakia, and finally disembarking in Budapest. It was a marvelous trip which we enjoyed immensely, but as always it's good to get back home, especially after spending 10 + hours flying, transferring, waiting to fly, then transferring twice more before landing back on Vancouver Island.


By the time we got in the door neither of us were hungry, which was good since we'd used up as many of the perishable items stocked in our fridge as possible, including the last of the bread, before we left on our trip. Too exhausted to do anything but crawl into bed, I thought I'd start some sort of a poolish the next day for a bake on the following day. Tuesday evening when I was mixing the poolish I really didn't have a concrete plan of what I'd eventually do with it until I remembered that I had some rye starter left in the fridge. The starter of course was dead as a doornail, but I added some to the poolish thinking if nothing else it should add a little tang to the finished loaf. The poolish went in the fridge overnight to do it's thing, while I decided what sort of bread I wanted to use it in. Pane de Campagne has long been a favourite of mine for it's mild rye flavour that seems to go with just about anything from meat, fish, cheese, to toast and jam. This particular loaf may not be what some would consider a true version of the bread, but it's close enough that I don't have a problem calling it one. The poolish itself wasn't really a poolish in the typical sense as didn't rise up the way a normal one will, probably because the high pH starter killed off most of the scant amount of baker's yeast I used in it, but it had a nice aroma to it and in it went to the final mix. The dough mixed up easily by hand and then a few minutes of work up on the counter to develop the dough a bit. One stretch and fold in the bowl after 30 minutes of bulk ferment, then another 50-60 minutes BF before the intermediate proof of 15 minutes. Shaping, then 30-40 minutes of final proof, followed by the slash, steam, bake routine. No surprises, no ghastly blow-outs, just a decent and very tasty loaf of country style bread to tide me over till I get back to working on a bread project I started before we left on our vacation. More on that at a later date... but not too much later I hope. Formula and procedure used can be found below.



Pane de Campagne









Dormant rye starter



AP Flour















Final Dough






AP Flour



Light Rye Flour



40% Whole Wheat Flour



Sea Salt-null Gris









Total Weight



Total Flour



Total Hydration






Combine the starter/poolish ingredients 12-14 hrs before the final mix and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Final Dough: DDT of 75-78F


Heat 50 grams of the water and add the salt, stirring to dissolve it as much as possible. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients, mixing either by hand or machine to a shaggy stage. Add the salt solution and continue mixing till thoroughly combined and the mixture forms a cohesive mass. Knead the dough conventionally or use the slap and fold method if mixing by hand for 3-4 minutes or until moderate gluten development occurs. Times will vary if mixing by machine so monitor the dough closely that it doesn't overdevelop. The dough should be slightly sticky and not fully developed at this stage. Place the dough in lightly floured bowl, cover and begin the bulk ferment. After 30 minutes do a thorough stretch and fold in the bowl, cover and continue the bulk ferment for an additional 50-60 minutes. Remove the dough and round lightly, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes before shaping.

Preheat the oven and stone to 480F.

Shape as desired into a moderately tight form, cover and begin the final rise of 35-40 minutes on a parchment lined peel.

When the dough is not quite fully proofed dust it lightly with either AP or light rye flour and slash as desired, keeping the slashes shallow. Spray the oven 4-5 times with water and bake for 3 minutes then spray again. Bake for 15 min and reduce the heat to 450F. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the parchment paper , rotating the loaf on the stone for even coloration. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes or until the loaf is evenly coloured and has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Turn the oven off and leave the door ajar, allowing the loaf to cool gradually in the oven for 15 minutes before placing on a wire rack for 5-6 hours before slicing.

varda's picture


Syd's white sandwich loaf has been on my to bake list since it was posted.   But those lists are ever growing and time is ever short and I'm ever distractable, so...  One of the distractions has been the yeast water craze.   As much as I pride myself on being above fashion, the simple fact is I'm not.   So when Daisy suggested that an enriched bread might be a good candidate for yeast water, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and try Syd's loaf with yeast water.   The problem with converting a recipe before trying it first, is one has (I have) no idea what one is (I am) doing, so I had a failure or three.    Then I decided to bake two loaves side by side - one Syd's original formula and the other, his formula converted to yeast water.    The loaf pictured in the first four photos is made with Syd's original formula scaled down by 3/4.   The only deviation is that I did not use ascorbic acid.   


The resulting bread is probably the most feathery light I have ever made.   The taste is mild but delicious.    Unfortunately the pictures can barely capture the wonderful taste and texture of this bread.    My recommendation - if you have any taste at all for white bread, go to Syd's original post and bake it.  

For the second loaf, I converted to yeast water by replacing all of the water in the poolish with yeast water and omitting the yeast.    I also omitted the yeast from the final dough.   Otherwise I followed exactly the same formula, again without the ascorbic acid.   After mixing both batches of dough this morning I had to go out for a few hours, so I refrigerated both bowls.    When I got back, the yeast version had already doubled, while there appeared to be no change to the yeast water one.    I shaped the yeast one and placed in a bread pan to proof, and stretched and folded the yeast water dough and let it bulk ferment on the counter.    Before long (I wasn't watching the clock) the yeast loaf had risen an inch above the pan so I baked it, and then shaped and proofed the yeast water loaf.   By the time the yeast water loaf was ready to go in, it hadn't even cleared the pan top.   But it was softening so I decided to bake it.   In the oven it grew to around 80% of the volume of the yeast version.   

After tasting the original, I was ready to hate the yeast water version, but surprise, surprise, there was nothing to hate.   While the yeast water loaf wasn't as feathery light as the original, and really the taste was completely different, it was every bit as delicious as the first - just a different style of bread.   It's hard to come up with exactly the right words, but the yeast water loaf had a tiny bit of a tang, and a more complex flavor in a somewhat denser (not dense, just denser) bread.   The picture below is of both loaves (yeast water on the bottom) and below that two shots of the yeast water crumb.   I will be hard put to decide which one of these to make next time.   Such dilemmas are fun to have.   Thank you Syd, for posting your fabulous and delicious formula.



HMerlitti's picture

I went to the local Italian store and bought 5 pound of Antimo Caputo (from Naples) flour.   First of all, it is expensive.  I think it was $5 for 4 pounds or was it $15 for 5 pounds, I do not remember.   I didn't care because I wanted to try it.

I made several 1 pound portions, used two and froze the others in separate oiled freezer bags.

I made two pizzas.   One in the oven on a 1" granite stone properly brought to the highest temperature my oven could handle, (550 degrees according to the oven gauge readout) and the other on the grill, supposedly 650 degrees according its temp readout.   The benefit of the grill is that it cooks from the bottom so hot that the whole slice of pizza stays crisp and stiff.

Regarding the taste, They both tasted the same.  But different from pizzas made with other flours, this pizza was very chewy.   IMHO this was neither a good think or a bad think, just different.  But I could see how some pizza lovers could rave about it or not like it becaues it is too chewy.  

Any of you have a comment ???


RonRay's picture

Replication Bake of Emulsified Raisin
Yeast Water Loaf


For the initial loaf, see


   In the initial baking of a loaf using emulsified raisins in the Raisin Yeast Water (RYW),
the loaf's crust came out a very dark mahogany color.  The final rise took 10 hours, which was longer than my normal nominal 6 hour rise times. The flour used was 60% APF and 40% B/F, and the loaf volume was excellent. Loaf taste was a very pleasant, full bodied flavor without noticeable sweetness, nor raisin flavor, nor any trace of sour tang.

   The previous loaf was developed over 105 hours from the start of the first of 3-levain builds, until the dough was placed in the oven. Also, the RYW culture was only 48 hours at the start of the levain builds.

   In an attempt to get a better idea of how important the initial methods and ingredients were to the initial loaf’s resulting characteristics, this, 'replication' was made. The construction was was the same, however, the timing was shortened from 105 hours down to 28½ hours. The 40% B/F was replaced with APF. Also, the RYW culture was 7 day more mature at the start of these levain builds.

   I specifically wanted to compare four points: 1/ Crust color; 2/ final rise time; 3/ loaf volume; and 4/ loaf flavor.

   The loaf was perhaps very slightly lighter, but not to any significant degree. This leads me to believe the most significant factor in developing the crust color was the additional sugars introduced by inclusion of the emulsified raisin particles in the RYW levain.

   The final rise time was 6¼ hours for this loaf. This is well with in the minor variations around the nominal 6 hour times I normally expect. So, the added maturity of the RYW culture &or the shorter total development times would seem to account for the initial loaf's long final rise. To decide the role of the longer development time, I have another loaf undergoing an extended development with the last of the RYW culture.

   The physical characteristics of the crumb were fully comparable to those of the previous loaf. However, I felt that the very impressive full bodied flavor had suffered some from the shortening of the retardation of the final dough.  That portion of the initial loaf's development was 45½ hours, whereas, this loaf development gave 10¼ hours to the final dough's retardation  This loaf has a very nice flavor, but I do feel it does not fully match the full bodied quality the initial loaf had.

are the links to my baking logs in PDF formate for both the initial loaf, and this 'replication' loaf.


loaf's baking log at Google Docs link:

478g[Photos]_110619-1200 .pdf -


initial loaf's baking log at Google Docs link:

[Photos]_110615-1540 .pdf -



jamesjr54's picture

So I wanted to make a batch of Black Canyon sourdough last night, to repay my neighbor for the 2 lbs of fresh-caught cod he gave us. No mise en place. Pretty distracted after work etc. But in I plunged, only to come up about 1.5 C short of All-Purpose flour. Doh! So I used a combo of spelt, oat and White Whole Wheat bread flour from Whole Foods. It took about 45-50 minutes of vigorous kneading by hand to get any structure and windowpane. Roughly, in baker's math, it's about 66% hydration. Used my starter, which has been pretty reliable. Now, it's been proofing for 12 hours, and looks ok. I'll give it another hour or so before I bake. This should be interesting. 

codruta's picture

I made a pizza last week, that turned out very good.  I addapted the recipe from hamelman's BREAD. I made a stiff levain instead of biga, and omit the oil. I used canned tomatoes made by me last summer, fresh mozzarella, dried oregano, and fresh basil added in the end. I put the stone at the lowest level in my gas oven, and the pizza was done in 7-8 minutes. It's the best I can do at home. The crust was absolutely delicious!!!

more pictures and complete recipe can be found at my romanian blog Apa.Faina.Sare. (english translator available, funny translation, though)

Syd's picture

I have been going through a bit of a baking drought lately, but on Friday lunch refreshed my starter so that I could bake when I got off work in the evening.  I hadn't planned on anything, but when I got home and found the starter at its peak, I had to act quickly and there was no time for elaborate planning.  Accordingly, I just ad libbed and this is what I did.  

100g mature starter @ 100% hydration

250g water

3g diastatic malt

50g rye flour

100g re-milled fine semolina flour

100g whole wheat flour (I sifted out the coarse bits of bran)

200g bread flour (11.4% protein)

10g salt 

* I used less starter than usual.  Normally, I would use 150g of starter for this amount of flour, but because it is just so hot over here now, I was worried that it would be too much.  It turned out to be the right amount. 


Overall Formula

water (including water in starter) 70%

bread flour (including flour in starter) 50%

semolina 20%

whole wheat 20%

rye 10%

malt 0.6%

salt 2%

Whisk up the starter, water and malt until frothy.  Add the rye, semolina, whole wheat and bread flour in increments and ensure all the flour gets wet.  Autolyse for 50 mins.  Add salt. Knead to medium gluten development.  Bulk ferment.

This dough developed fast.  This is in part due to the whole grain and diastatic malt and in part due to our very high summer temps.  It was ready for final shaping in an hour and a half. 

Pre-shape, rest 15 - 20 mins, final shape, place in banneton and retard overnight.

Baked at 230C, with steam for 20 mins and without at 200C (convection on) for another 25 mins.  Crack open oven door, turn oven off and allow bread to rest on baking stone for another five minutes.

It has a moderately open crumb. The large holes were unintended.

I really like the flavour of this bread.  It has a mild tang and it improves in flavour with time.  Yesterday it tasted great with some good cheese ( a nice mature cheddar) and nothing else, not even butter. 




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