The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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varda's picture

Sometimes the hardest part of baking bread is being there.   Yesterday I meant to get to making a semolina bread (p. 135 of Hamelman's Bread) but I didn't quite get to it until later in the afternoon.   Then when it was finishing up the first rise, my son wanted me to take him out, so I delayed him until I could get the bread shaped, and then we went out to eat.   By the time we got back (only an hour later) the bread was ready to go into the oven,  but the oven wasn't preheated.   I didn't want to let the bread get overproofed, nor did I want to put it into a cold oven, so I did a little of both.   I preheated the oven for 10 minutes, and in it went.   The result - a little bit of oven spring, and an underdone bottom crust.   What would you have done under the circumstances?  And this is not a rhetorical question.

ananda's picture


Brief Post on Vienna Flour

Uberathlete posted asking about Vienna Flour, see:

Elizabeth David (1977; pp.76), in her "English Bread and Yeast Cookery states the following: " 'Vienna' flour was in reality high quality Hungarian or Romanian flour, roller milled, fine, of medium strength and creamy white, good for 'Vienna' bread and puff pastry and yeast cakes."

She also quotes from Frederick T. Vine, "Savoury Pastry" from 1900: "undoubtedly the best flour for the purpose [puff paste] is the first place, flour for paste should be of good colour and finely ground, not too soft or harsh.   It should have a good percentage of gluten, but that gluten must not be so strong that it will pull the rounds into ovals and the ovals into rounds."   Vine goes on to say he found American flour sent for the purpose, to be best suited to making bread only.

David concludes, with reference to England, that "The import of Hungarian and Vienna flours virtually ceased with the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War."

I offer up photographs below of typical breads which may have been made with Vienna-type flour at the time.  These were made during my time studying for my baking quals at Leeds; ostensibly to investigate different methods of manufacturing the same type of bread.   My tutor always used to look very carefully into the bag of Whitworth's Strong bread flour; he always called it "Springs", but that was the old name, and I can't remember the new one.   Whitworth's site is being renovated, so I can't find the right bag, sorry.   Anyway, it had great water absorption, but my tutor explained that by showing us the tiny dark particles in the flour, saying "they are cheating us".   Well, I always thought the bread made that day looked very fine; you can make your own minds up.



Best wishes


ananda's picture


Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel.

This is a recipe from "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" by Jeffrey Hamelman.   A number of TFL regulars have posted on this recipe, notably,

ehanner: and

 txfarmer: and

and Shiao-Ping:

This is the recipe and formula I adapted and used


Formula [% of flour(??)]

Recipe [grams]

Rye Sour Dough



Dark Rye Flour









Soaked Bread



Old Bread









Soaked Rye Berries



Whole Rye Berries









Final Dough



Rye Sour Dough



Soaked Bread



Soaked Rye Berries









Cracked Rye Grain



Strong Wholemeal Flour



Dark Rye Flour - sifted











The 100% of "flour" is made up of: dark rye in the sour, whole rye berries in the first soaker, plus the cracked rye and the flour in the final dough.   I have not counted the old bread, as that seemed too arbitrary to sub divide accurately into water and flour.

The total water content does include the water in the old bread soaker, as well as the water taken up by cooking the rye berries.   My aim was to establish a formula which accurately created an overall moisture content of 85% of the "flour".

Obviously there will be some variation from batch to batch, but I really wanted to establish how much liquid is taken up in the bread soaker, and in the berry soaking and boiling process.   From seeing other peoples' postings, I had decided this information was crucial.

For what it's worth, the pre-fermented part is 30%.



  • Prepare the rye sour dough using starter from stock.   Allow the sour dough to ferment for 14 - 16 hours at 21°C.
  • Soak the rye berries overnight in cold water.
  • Soak the old bread overnight in ambient water.   Use the amounts given in the above table - weighed.   The bread will take up all this water, so you can eliminate any problems of squeezing!   I used some wholewheat pain siègle, and some white bread.   This was deliberate, as I did not have any high gluten white flour in stock, so had to change the flour used in the final dough, using more dark rye plus a dash of wholemeal.   It was all I had at the time!
  • Next day, cook the rye berries in fresh boiling water [3 times volume of water to berries] for about an hour.   Drain the berries, and discard the cooking liquor.   At this point I weighed the berries to establish exactly how much water they had taken up.   This is the figure shown in the table.
  • For the final dough, dissolve the molasses into the water, which should be 40°C.   From there, mix all the ingredients together with the soakers and sour to form an evenly mixed paste.   It was cold in the house when I made this, so both the sour and flour, plus the soaked bread were all well below 20°C    The final dough temperature was 28°C.   Photographs of the mixed paste are shown below.
  • Bulk ferment for 45 minutes.   Meantime lightly grease 1 large Pullman pan and lid.   Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  • Use wet hands to scrape up and shape the paste, and deposit it into the tin.   Smooth the surface as necessary.   Cover with an oiled piece of plastic, and prove at 32°C for 1¼ hours.   I use the hearth in front of our wood burning stove.   When the dough is just short of the top of the tin, slide the lid in place, and set in the oven.

  • The baking process is long and complex.   The idea is the loaf should be baked in a falling oven.   For the home baker, this is really difficult to achieve.   I turned the heat down to 120°C after 1½ hours.   After a further 6 hours I turned the oven off.   Then I left the bread in the cooling oven overnight.   This was the best equivalent I could come up with to the recommendations in the book.
  • De-pan the bread and cool on wires.   Wrap in a tea towel, and let the bread sit a full 24 hours before giving into temptation and cutting off that first slice.



  • I'm pleased with how this loaf came out in some ways.   For a start Alison, my wife, has been raving about her sandwiches I make for lunch...all week.   I made this bread a week ago now, and didn't cut into it for nearly 2 days.   It served us for lunch sandwiches Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   There is a little left for today, and it's still almost as moist in the middle of the crumb as when first cut.
  • I like the formula, and am happy with the hydration calculations.   I've attached a couple of photos of the mixed paste to try and show the texture, although I accept they are not the best of shots, I hope it gives an idea.
  • I know Eric added too much flour, and commented on the adverse effect in the eating.   Well, I didn't have any high gluten flour in the house when I made this.   I had a tiny amount of strong wholemeal, and some dark rye!!!   That's why I went with lighter bread in the soaker.   This has definitely made a difference to the finished bread.   It is quite difficult to cut through cleanly without the dough trying to tear a little in places.   You can also spot the giveaway hole just underneath the top crust near the middle of the loaf.   It was the plague of some of the VB rye loaves, and is caused by the weakness in the structure of the starch as the final fermentation draws to conclusion.   This is clearly the typical instability from rye as opposed to the stretchy gluten in the wheat.   Still, the flavour does not detract.
  • My main disappointment, however, is in the baking.   The outer portions of the crumb are over-baked, and the crust is too firm.   But the middle of the crumb is very moist [I had thought about writing overly-moist here, but that's not right; the bread is baked through, and was fine once it had stood before cutting]   I'm thinking the major issue with such a large loaf [it's just over the 2kg mark], with such high hydration [85%] is to be able to "cook" it properly.   I think I set the bread at too high a temperature in the first place.   I've been with Eric all the way on the idea of steaming.   Eric, could you give me the link to the discussion you had with qahtan regarding steaming?   Baking seems a very difficult way to deal with this bread.   It takes me back to producing 000s of Christmas Puddings at the Village Bakery.   We loaded them into wire baskets in their plastic pots, covered with foil lids.   We lowered the wires into coffins made of aluminium.   These were the same size as a standard baking sheet, and would be about 40cm tall, so they filled the height of our oven.   The coffins had water in the bottom, and a raised platform with 3 big holes in, for the wires to sit on.   They also had tight-fitting lids.   They weighed a lot and were really difficult to control with the peel.   Our peels had handles which were 5m in length!   So, the puddings sat at the back of the cooling wood-fired oven for several hours and cooked beautifully in the steam.   I want to devise a similar sort of system to cook the Horst Bandel loaf.   But this is not that easy.   As you can see in the photos, I've made some in the Christmas pudding pots, and this was very successful.   But I love the shape and size of loaf gained from using the Pullman pan.   I want to find a large enclosed vessel which will hold a Pullman pan, and can take a layer of water on the bottom.   I figure some sort of raised wire racking will support the Pullman pan and keep it above the water level.   Anyway, I need to do some work to come up with something along those lines.   I envisage steaming time in the region of 10 - 12 hours.   I do like those glass pans, Eric!
  • I used cracked rye grain instead of rye chops.   I have 2 suppliers for organic rye: one had wholegrain, flour and cracked grain.   The other had chops and flour, but no wholegrain; the explanation was that the grain was tipped straight into the mill on delivery, hence they could not supply wholegrain.   I think this must be a Health and Safety issue, but I found it a little unhelpful, so I went with the other supplier, and the cracked grain option.   I don't think the substitution was that significant.   The whole rye berries need a minimum of 1 hour boil.


I'm going to count this as my first recipe in the "Bread Challenge".   To those already signed up, I hope you all think it worthy.


 Lots of photos all shown below.   The top 2 on the left were steamed in pudding pots.   The next 2 are of the mixed paste.   Then 5 of the finished loaf baked in the pullman pan.


Best wishes


kdwnnc's picture

So there was a really big batch of chili made last night, so there was cornbread last night, and there will be cornbread tonight.  And, frankly, I don't get tired of it!  I know that there have been several cornbread recipes posted here, but I just have to share this, which is my favorite.  It comes out the oven so nice and tall, is perfectly delicious, and is extremely simple.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs


Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, oil, and egg.  Stir just until combined (do not overbeat).  Turn into a greased 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes.  Serves 8. 

ryeaskrye's picture

I baked German Five-Kern Bread from Peter Reinhart's "Crust & Crumb" a few weeks back. This has turned out to be one of my favorite breads and I wish I had discovered it sooner. The Five-Kern is made from coarse dark rye flour (20.26% - I used NYBakers Dark Rye), bread flour (KA), cooked brown rice, polenta, oats, flax seeds and honey. And water and salt, of course. I guess I turned it into a Six-Kern bread with the poppy seed embellishment.

I followed Peter's book closely, but do not feel comfortable posting his commercial formula. It does involve building a rye sponge followed by a firm rye starter over the course of a couple of days. The flavor was incredible, particularly the crust, and the crumb was much lighter than I expected. An enticing aroma filled the house during the bake.

Even with the 2 stage elaboration, the amount of pre-fermented flour was only 15.19%. The final dough hydration was 63.80%, but the crumb of the finished loaves seemed moister than that.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Doughtagnan's picture

As it is Easter I made my 1st ever bun attempt (ditto using a piping bag for the crosses!) the recipe is from Dan Lepard's baking column in the UK Guardian newspaper. As iv'e never used a piping bag before I should have opted for the atheist no cross buns!, but I managed okay despite a piping bag malfunction (it split) which caused a little spillage. The result was very tasty and would have been richer if I had used Mackeson Stout (I subbed a Dark Mild Ale). For the recipe please follow this link

And the pic's before and after baking with compulsory crumbshot before a good helping of french butter, cheers Steve



SylviaH's picture

For years I have always made Hot Cross Buns for Easter and leaving the cross off enjoy them year round.  This is the first time I have made them with buttermilk.  Using buttermilk in baking is one of my all time favorite ingredients. The flavor was delicious with a wonderful crumb.  Just what I had hoped for and the recipe is very convenient because you can prepare it the night before and bake the buns up fresh in morning!  The recipe is at  I made these changes in the ingredients and also did a mix with a 25 minute rest and then kneaded to just all the ingredients came together and a gluten formation was just beginning.   I added 1/2 tsp. cloves, golden raisins instead of the cranberries, lemon and orange candied peel, bakers sugar, Golden ISYeast, KAAP and adjusting the hydration, the dough was still tacky before shaping.  Next time I will leave off the flour/sugar crosses as we prefer the sugar glazed crosses.  These are now my favorite HCB.


                                                            My 15 inch deep dish pizza pan filled with large HCB








Dorians mom's picture
Dorians mom

Last year at the local grocery I chanced upon a sourdough starter packet, and decided to buy it. Months later, I finally had some time to put it together. I put the container on the back burner of the stove, and baked something so that the heat would come up through that burner and keep the container nice and warm. Too effective. I killed the yeast, but I gave the mess about two days to really start stinking before I admitted instantaneous defeat. The yeast of my soul felt killed too.

So last week, on Friday, I started a new sourdough sponge. From scratch. I used a recipe calling for whole-wheat flour, warm water, a bit of yeast and a smaller bit of sugar. I am redeemed! The first few days, it smelled wonderfully yeasty, but as I took out some and put in some (flour and water), that smell was eventually replaced by a lovely, fresh sour smell. I'm now using white flour to feed it (Bob's Red Mill, which is fairly comparable to King Arthur products in quality), but may go ahead and just use whole-wheat again.
This weekend I will try a very simple recipe to bake a loaf and see how it all goes.
I do understand that a successful sponge is only half the challenge. When I take that perfect round out of the oven, then I will know I have accomplished all that I set out to do.

What's nice is that several people have requested either offspring sponge or the recipe and instructions for doing their own. I'm so proud of my sour sponge! I took some to work and shoved it under everyone's noses - Here! Smell this! Isn't it just wonderful! ... Why yes, Robyn, thank you for that experience. They'll be jealous when I bring this magickal concoction to work for all to sample and marvel over!

The adventure begins.

wally's picture

Bread baking really is a lot like the Wide World of Sports.  A really nice bake that lulls you into thinking you've 'conquered' a particular bread is often followed by a rude reality slap when a bake goes awry, leaving me, at any rate, wondering whether the former was just a lucky fluke or the latter a bad day.

Rarely do I experience both the high and low in a single day, but today's bakes managed to fill the bill. 

I began with an attempt at Hamelman's Three-Stage 90 Percent Sourdough Rye.  I've only been baking ryes for a little over a month, and I've been dutifully working up from fairly low percentage ryes to progressively higher ones.  This one was the second Detmolder method rye I've attempted (the first being a 50% rye which turned out quite nicely).  Everything had gone well through the various builds, until the final mix.  Then, I found (retrospectively), I had misread his final dough amount of medium rye - 1 lb, .7oz (that's point 7 oz) as 1 lb, 7 oz!  Not good.  (Should I mention that I'm waiting on a new pair of reading glasses?). 

I should have known immediately when I began the mix that the dough was way too dry for a rye.  But I continued the mix, and only after did I go back and redo all my calculations, eventually leading me to discover that it wasn't my math that was faulty, but my eyesight.  In desperation, I put the finished dough back in the mixer, and added the appropriate amount of water to compensate, mixed briefly on speed 1 and then proofed as per recipe.

Meantime, I had also mixed Hamelman's Pain au Levain with 5% rye, which I love for its subtle but distinct flavor.  I've slightly downsized his home recipe to make two 1.5 lb loaves.  I find that the finished product is about 11" long, weighs about 1 lb, 4 oz after baking, and is a perfect size (to me!).  The two bâtards were comfortably resting en couche, but it was now obvious to me that they would reach near-full proof too early given that the rye needed to go into the oven first but was now seriously behind schedule given my disastrous mishap.

I decided to retard the pain au levain in the refrigerator and hope that I wouldn't end up with an over-proofed product.

The rye went into the oven, after docking, for a 50 minute bake.  As you can see, I might be able to sell the finished product to a sporting goods store as an 'organic discus'.  

Ah the agony of defeat.

This left me with two loaves of pain au levain to bake and hopes for some kind of redemption.  The retarding, which I haven't tried with this bread before (Hamelman discourages overnight  retarding, and I've never tried short-time retarding) I think helped the scoring markedly.  But the proof of the pudding came 40 minutes later when I pulled the two loaves from the oven.  These had the best oven spring by far that I've ever achieved with this bread, as is evidenced by the gringes (also the best I've managed with it)!

And - to top it all off - the crust after a couple minutes out of the oven began to crackle and continued to do so for the next hour!  Ah, the thrill of victory!

All in a day's baking.  So I again wonder, how much luck, how much misfortune, how much skill?  Something to reflect on over a nice piece of freshly baked bread!


Nearly forgot: the crumb shot from the pain au levain -

varda's picture

One of my goals in learning how to make bread was to be able to recreate a bread I ate as a child called tzitzel.   As I understand it, tzitzel mean caraway in Yiddish, and tzitzel is a rye bread with caraway and covered with cornmeal.   So far, despite many attempts and many different formulas, I have not come very close to recreating this memory bread.   Perhaps one can never recreate memory bread.    In any cases, my searches on this site, with its many rye bakers, led me to Greenstein's Secret of a Jewish Baker.   I have tried making his Jewish Rye (p. 136) a couple of times, and not very successfully given beginner's errors.   I have also made Jewish Corn Bread (p. 155) actually a rye bread with caraway wrapped in cornmeal, several times,  and despite many  beginner's errors, this bread is delicious enough to make me (almost) forget about some elusive memory of tzitzel.   The problem with Jewish Corn Bread, at least as I make it, is that while I can get it to taste good, I can't for the life of me get it to look good.   The instructions call for the following:  "[after kneading] Transfer the dough to a prepared clean wet bowl...pat the dough down and cover with a film of water....Allow the dough to rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes."   This is the only rise for this bread.   And within minutes after it's done rising it goes straight into the oven.   I suspect that this treatment is what causes it to taste so great, and what makes it so addictive (to me anyhow).   However, it's a bloody mess when it comes out of the water, practically unshapeable, soggy in parts and so on.   And to make matters worse, I'm not 100% sure that his instructions mean to immerse it in water - although that's how I've read it.    Does he mean immerse the dough, or does he just mean spill water over it until it's thoroughly wet.    Also Greenstein gives all his measurements by volume, some approximately, and I just cook it that way, but my results have been pretty consistent, and pretty consistently ugly. 

I'll wait until tomorrow to post crumb photos.   I've learned on this site, that one must wait, wait, wait to cut into rye!

And the crumb...


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