The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


breadbythecreek's picture

Over the last couple of weeks I've been experimenting with the properties of fruit based yeast waters. Starting with a strawberry water, I've so far transformed Txfarmer's 36+ hr baguette  from a standard sourdough to one fed strawberry yeast water.  The result was as to be expected, crunchy crust, moist crumb, not a hint of sour, and interestingly, a surprisingly dark color despite the exclusive use of AP flour in the dough.

Strawberry Yeast Water Baguette, and one with Peach Yeast Water - Same recipe, same flour.

I have also created a number of boules using Ron Ray's Darling Clementine recipe.  I've used that same boule recipe to create a strawberry, cherry and blueberry boule.  From these loaves I have come to some conclusions.

Once out of the oven, these boules are virtually indistinguishable in terms of color, crust, and crumb. The only distinguishing feature was the strawberry loaf aroma while it was still baking. So, my conclusions are that it matters little exactly what kind of fruit one uses to cultivate yeast (except of course for those containing actinidain or actinidin), only that the yeast exist. Fruit based yeast from these types of waters will alter the color and consistency of the bread but will not impart any fruit essence upon baking.  The reddish/purplish fruits that I tested will significantly alter the color of the crust and crumb, and the relative amount of sugar present in the water will also affect the taste (the blueberry water, made from a quantity of dried blueberries was quite sweet to begin with).

 Strawberry, Cherry, Blueberry Boules: Beauty Shots, Profiles, and Crumbs




 I think after this experiment, I'll retire all but the strawberry water, as it is the most pleasing in terms of aroma, at least when it comes out of the oven.  So, in conclusion, choose your favorite fruited yeast water and keep only one type. Also, don't forget to feed your sourdough starter too because what is life without a little tang?

Happy Baking!





MadAboutB8's picture

 Inspired by Dmsnyder's SFBI Miche, I made another wheat germ sourdough weeks ago and loved it. This time, I wanted to increase hydration and include rye flour in the dough.  Instead of calling them wheat germ sourdough, I’d like to call it Pain au Levain with wheat germs (pain au levain is literally sourdough bread, only with fancier name). Taking the idea from Susan at Wild Yeast Blog, I shaped the dough into 3 Bs, three basic shapes; boule (round), batard (oval) and baguette. The bread had 2% toasted wheat germs, 72% hydration (amount of water comparing to total flour), mixture of bread flour (80%), whole wheat (15%) and rye flour (5%). I used the mixed flour sourdough starter (whole wheat & bread flour at 50/50 ratio) as I wanted pronounced acidity for the bread.  The bread didn’t disappoint. It was good all-round bread. It was great for toast, soup and sandwiches. I made Croque Madame using the bread and it was delicious. This recipe has now become my go-to plain sourdough bread.  It was also interesting to see the differences of the same dough into three shapes. Of all three shapes, I like the baguette shape the least. Baguette has high crust to crumb ratio and I am a crumb lover rather than crust. We froze the batard and haven’t got the chance to have it yet but I’m sure it will be as wonderful as the boule.  Full post and recipe is here.  Sue

holds99's picture


Thank you so much for your terrific formula: Pane con Semola Rimacinata di Grano Duro.  The only thing I did different than your formula was raise the hydration level to 68 percent.  I made 7.62 lbs of dough and divided it into two equal pieces of 3.81 lbs each, bulk fermented each in seperate containers, which minimized the handling of the dough during shaping. 


Here are some photos.



gingersnapped's picture

[crossposted to my general baking blagsite,!]

The day you find yourself laboring over a fine grained sieve sifting the bran out of otherwise a-ok whole wheat flour: might as well admit it you’re addicted to yeast.

relax piggybank, it's turkey

open up; sandwich time

Personal success: half batch + stretch and fold + autolyse with a hella wet dough and shaped! appropriately! neatly!  It looks like bread when it came out of the oven! (this is perpetually delightful and surprising)

Personal failure: forgot to score and got ants in the pants and pulled it out before the crust could fully harden.  The biggest advantage I’ve found to cooking in someone else’s oven — I tend to walk away and leave well enough alone (perhaps an important life lesson there).

rossnroller's picture

One of my experiments went awry a couple of days ago. I had some leftover buttermilk and decided to sub that for milk in my usual SD pancake mix. I've used buttermilk in traditional pancakes and it was good, but I found it wasn't prepared to socialise properly with the SD leaven. No matter how much buttermilk I added, the batter refused to thin to the consistency I like. Added milk in the end, and that made things runny, but alas - the batter refused to behave in the fry pan. While browning to a nice golden finish, it was like custard inside. No amount of extra heating would remedy this.

Moving right on, I decided against pancakes. Crepes were the go! So, swirled the batter quickly around the pan to keep it

Time to quit, so I sulkily dumped the bowl of batter on the kitchen shelf and left it there for the rest of the day. It could get as sour and nasty as it liked. Only one place that mess was bound - the compost.

Towards evening, I returned to the scene of the crime and made off out the back to dispose of the evidence. Then a thought struck me - wasn't this fermenting mess a sort of starter, or sponge, or whatever...? And if so, why couldn't I add flour and attempt to bring off a disaster rescue? I hate throwing out anything edible, especially starter, so promptly rationalised my way back inside with my bowl of trouble and set to work.

I left my premium bread flours alone, not wanting to waste them on something that was likely to be mediocre at best, and grabbed some plain (AP) supermarket flour. Threw in enough to get a good consistency.  Thought better of ignoring my good flours, and tipped in a bit of organic wholemeal. And some milk powder - why not?

Since there was sugar in the batter, I figured sweet(ish) and spicy was the way to go. Chucked in some cinnamon, and lesser quantities of mixed spice, ginger, plus a bit of dry-roasted coriander/caraway mix left over from a cooking venture some days earlier. The dough was a bit sticky.  A sprinkle more flour... Nice.

Recalling Sylvia's tantalising recent pics of her walnut and raisin bread, I chopped up some walnuts, then raisins (not golden ones - the large flat relatives) and a bit of candied spice. Folded them into the dough. Didn't worry about pre-soaking.

And so it went. No weighing, no recipe, working only by the light of instinct and experience - and it dawned on me that I was enjoying the freedom of it all! In fact, it was exhilarating!

Bulk proofed 3 hours with 3 S&Fs, rolled the dough in on itself lengthwise, bunged it into a bread pan, and retarded in the fridge overnight.  Baked straight out of fridge next morning: 40 mins @ 185C (365F), no steam. I didn't even bother with a glaze.

The result was thrilling! A rustic-looking loaf that rose well and when sliced for a sampling 2 hours later had my partner and I raising our eyebrows. The crumb was even and soft, but well-structured and elastic. The only thing I might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight was brush a bit of milk on the top before loading the dough to slow down the browning of the crust. Got away with not pre-soaking the fruit - it wasn't at all hard or too chewy, possibly because I cut the raisins into smaller pieces. And the taste test? An A-grade pass!





So, what began as a failed experiment ended as an unlikely triumph. I'm a bit regretful I won't be able to duplicate this bread exactly, but letting go of recipes and weighing was a liberating experience. I do firmly believe in exercising some precision in bread baking as a general procedural principle and will continue to tweak and take notes, but winging it every so often is a buzz. I do that all the time in cooking, but for some reason have not felt safe removing the safety net with bread baking until now. Will be living a little more dangerously in future!

Best of baking!


wassisname's picture

Have you ever made a loaf of bread that turned out really, really well, better, in fact, than you ever would have thought possible, and then find yourself utterly incapable of making it again?  This is that loaf.


It was a revelation.  Shocking, actually, because of how different it was from previous attempts at the same basic bread.  It was a long, cold fermented 100%WW sourdough – just flour, water and salt.  But the crumb was open, soft, and fluffy like no other WW sourdough I’ve baked.  The crust, too, was remarkable – thin, yet toothsome.  It even stayed fresh for an uncanny length of time.

I am not including the formula here.  Whatever happened that day clearly had nothing to do with what was on the page, because, try as I might, I haven’t baked anything like it since.  And, oh, how I’ve tried.  The original formula doesn’t really even exist anymore, because I eventually I grew frustrated and began tinkering with it to try and find the elusive x-factor.

In time I managed to move on.  I hardly think about it anymore, really.  When I stumbled across this photo I felt I should share the tale, as I can’t be the first and won’t be the last person to go through this.

But occasionally I still wonder… what happened that day?  An exceptional bag of flour?  An accidental flour mix-up?  An extra ingredient that was meant for the other thing I was making that day (whatever that may have been)?  Pixie dust in my starter?  Maybe someday I’ll know, maybe someday…


txfarmer's picture


Some facts first:

- Hokkaido is a place in Japan.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf is THE most classic/common/well-loved sandwich bread in Asia. It's enriched with milk, heavy cream, butter, egg, milk power, and quite a lot of sugar - which makes it richer than most Asian soft sandwich bread recipes, pushing toward brioche territory. The finished loaf is very tall, very soft, rather rich tasting.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf has nothing to do with the place Hokkaido. Nothing. Well, other than the name.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf is usually made with dry yeast, a sample recipe can be found here using straight method:, many TFLers have also done this bread successfully.

My notes:

- I adapted the recipe to use SD only. In fact it was over a year ago that I first attempted, since then, I have gone through many iterations on ingredient ratios, fermentation schedule etc. This is my measuring stick on how well my SD sandwich bread method works. What I am posting below is the latest version. In the begining I reduced sugar/fat ratio, but now I know my SD starter is strong enough to take on what the original Hokkaido recipe calls for, so I have slowly raised fat/sugar ratio back up, now it's comparable to the dry yeast version. The bread has the classic rich flavor and soft texture of Hokkaido loaf, and a slightly tangy taste thanks to SD starter.

- Like other soft sandwich breads, the success of this bread relies on intensive kneading. Please see the following two previous posts about this topic:

- The same dough can be used for rolls and other breads. Other than the sandwich loaf, I also made some rolls filled with chocolate hazelnut paste. I didn't specify ratios for the filling because I winged it, using whatever was on hand. I like to over fill the rolls with filling, which means lots of coca/hazelnut/sugar mixture, AND lots of softened butter to absorb it.

- Comparing to my previous soft sandwich breads, you might notice that baking temperature is higher (400F rather than 375), I find it gives a better lift to the bread.


SD Hokkaido Milk Loaf

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

Note: for the rolls, I used a 8X8 square tin, and 340g of total flour.


- levain

starter (100%), 13g

milk, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 203g (I used half KAF bread flour and half KAF AP flour for a balance of chewiness and volume)

sugar, 33g

butter, 10g, softened

milk powder, 15g

egg whites, 38g

salt, 4g

milk, 74g

heavy cream, 63g


1. mix until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. takeout, divide, round, rest for 1 hour. shape as instructed here for sandwich loaf. For rolls, roll out the dough into 16X12in (quite thin), mix together coca, toasted hazelnut, and sugar in a blender, first brush the dough with lots of softened butter (LOTS), then spread on coca/hazelnut/sugar mixture (again, LOTS), roll up, cut off two ends, then divide into 9 pieces, and put in 8inch squre pan.

4. rise at room temp for about 6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.

5. for sandwich loaf, bake at 400F for 45min, brush with butter when warm. for rolls, bake at 400F for 25min.


Thanks for all the protein, fat, and sugar in the dough, the bread should be very tall - if not, more kneading is needed.


With enough (but not too much) kneading, and proper fermentation, the crumb should be velvet soft.


Same for the rolls. The rich taste of the dough matches well with the filling.


I am sure I will keep tweaking the recipe, since I just can't leave a good thing alone. :P


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

I was inspired by a loaf made by breadmakingbassplayer that sounded very good. I began by calculating a 75% hydration dough. With the water content from the scallions, and the addition of some sesame oil, I'm not sure how much higher than that it wound up. Parchment paper and rice flour are your friends in a case like this.

The levain was about 12% of the total weight of the dough. I bulk fermented the dough for three hours, probably too long at almost 80F, with a set of about 20 strokes in the bowl every hour. I proofed the loaf for about 45 minutes, as the kitchen was heating up from the oven. 

Unmolded onto a piece of parchment covered with sifted rice flour. To form, lifted from the bottom four times, turning the loaf a quarter turn each time, sort of like a kaiser roll. I like the shape.

Baked covered for the first ten minutes. 

The sesame oil adds even more richness to the sourdough. The scallions make the whole thing very onion-y. The crumb is soft but resilient. The crust is somewhat crumbly. Very full flavored and delicious. I had some as a tuna fish sandwich last night.

The crumb looked like this throughout. However, as the result of the forming motion on the rice flour-covered parchment, a small seam of uncooked flour turned up here and there, which is not attractive for photos.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Despite failing to post about it, I'm still at my quest for a perfect, hole-y ciabatta.  The last two weeks were interesting, to say the least.  

If you recall, two weeks ago I baked Craig Ponsford's ciabatta (a la Maggie Glezer), with results that were just about perfect.  Last week I tried to replicate the experience.  First, the formula and proceedure:


  • 300g King Arthur AP flour (the original calls for 200g Bread Flour and 100g AP) - 91%
  • 15g Whole Rye Flour - 4.5%
  • 15g Whole Wheat Flour - 4.5%
  • 185g Water - 56%
  • 0.016g Instant Yeast - 0.005%* 

*(originals calls for mixing 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 cup water, then measuring 1/2 tsp yeast-water into the biga. I have a scale with 0.01g graduations, and just measured 0.02g. )

Final Dough

  • 325g King Arthur AP flour
  • 342g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 1.55g Instant yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • Biga (All)
  1. Mix biga ingredients together until smooth.  Biga will be quite stiff.  
  2. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, or until tripled (Two weeks ago I didn't keep track, last week I only waited for a little more than double, possible a mistake).
  3. Combine all final dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with the hook for 5 minutes.  Dough will be very gloopy.
  4. I gave it 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Not sure if this had any effect--I'll probably skip in in the future.
  5. Ferment 3 hours.  At 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface to stretch and fold.
  6. Divide the dough in half, making two oblong shapes.  Fold each oblong in thirds, letter style (this will produce something vaguely square).  Gently stretch each dough piece into an oblong, and place on a well floured couche (I omitted the stretch last week--I think this was a mistake), seam side down.  Yes, down.  Cover with plastic, but try to keep the plastic off the surface of the dough.
  7. Proof 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees (or with my POS oven, 535)
  8. With wet fingers, make small dimples all over the exposed surface of the dough.
  9. Flip the loaves onto parchment on a sheet pan or peel.  Slide the loaves into the oven, turn temperature down to 450 and bake for 35 minutes, using your favorite steaming method for the first 15.
  10. Crack the oven door, turn off the oven, and wait 5-10 minutes more before removing the loaves to a cooling rack.
This formula is fun to make.  This is the dough after mixing:

First Fold, Before and After

Second Fold, Before and After

Third Fold, Before and After

Last Fold, Before and After

Ready to divide and proof:




This bake was...puzzling.  As you can see, these loaves were awfully tall for ciabatta.  The crumb was tighter than the previous week, more akin to a batard.  The flavor profile was a bit difference as well--the sour and whole-grain notes were stronger, while the poolease-y flavor (what I think of as pain a l'ancienne flavor) was more muted.  Indeed, if I'd stuck a couple of sourdough batards into my oven, and pulled these out, I'd have been neither surprised nor displeased in the least.  Since I in fact loaded a pair of conventionally leavened ciabatta...well, color me puzzled.  

Cut ahead to today.  I had intended to take another stab at the Ponsford recipe, but a number of circumstances prevented me from putting together a biga in time.  That 24 hour fermentation time is tricky to work around.  I did have time for a poolish, so instead I took another stab at SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta, with some modifications inspired by the Ponsford Ciabatta.  It went like this:


  • 190g KAF AP flour
  • 190 Water
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)

Final Dough

  • 310g Flour
  • 190g Water
  • 15g Olive Oil
  • 10g Salt
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)
  1. Mix poolish, ferment 12 hours.
  2. Whisk poolish with 150g water and oil.
  3. Add 30g flour and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy.
  4. Add remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Autolyze 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle salt, yeast and remaining 40g water over dough.  Mix by hand until smooth (I started with the wooden spoon until the water was incorporated, then did about 60 stretch-and-folds with a spatula).
  6. Proceed as in the Ponsford recipe from step 5, except omit the 3rd fold, and the letter-fold after dividing.

The results:

Curiouser and curiouser!  Excellent crumb this time, much better than my two previous tries.  The dough seemed much stronger than on my previous two attempts, and I think the crumb is a result of that.   The dimpling technique may be a factor as well, hard to say.  Also rather tall for ciabatta, although not as ridiculous as last week.  Crust was nicely crispy.  Flavor was clean, sweet and creamy.  I think I liked the Ponsford ciabatta's flavor more, but it would be somewhat deceptive to say that one was "better" than the other, because they're really very different.  

Proposition: An open crumbed ciabatta requires a strong dough.  Getting a wet dough like ciabatta to be strong is the trick, but multiple stretch-and-folds will do it.  

Happy baking, everyone.


ananda's picture

Already the freezer stock of bread is running low, but the supply of Bacheldre Dark Rye and Gilchester Pizza Flour is just about exhausted.   There was enough to make a refreshed Rye Sourdough, but the wheat levain needed to be switched over to an alternative flour for its second refreshment to build up the amount needed to make these 2 loaves.   The rye sour had one refreshment from stock; the wheat levain had two refreshments.   There is still some Gilchester Farmhouse flour [c.85% extraction] in the cupboard, so I built this into the final formula for the bread, and used it in the Ginger Cake described below.

Two Large Boules

Alison found some Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour for me on Saturday, so the levain build was complete, and I could start dough mixing this morning [Sunday].   Here is the recipe, formula and method:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour dough



Bacheldre Dark Rye









2. Wheat Levain



Gilchesters Organic Pizza & Ciabatta  Flour/ Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour









3. Final Dough



Rye Sour [above]



Wheat Levain [above]



Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour



Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour












Overall Pre-fermented Flour



Overall Hydration



Wholegrain: White





  • Autolyse flours, water and rye sour for 1 hour
  • Add levain and form dough.   Add salt and develop.
  • Rest for 15 minutes, then mix a further 10 minutes.
  • S&F after 1 hour.   Bulk Proof 2 hours.   Knock back after 1½ hours, gently.
  • Scale and divide.   I made 1 boule @ 1000g and 1 just over 1500g.   Carefully mould dough pieces.
  • Proof upside down in bannetons for c.3 hours.
  • Tip out of the bannetons, cut the top of the loaves and bake in a pre-heated oven with steam.   I baked the 1.5kg loaf for 1 hour and the 1kg loaf for just less than 45 minutes.
  • Cool on wires

The steam has given these loaves a lovely shiny appearance.   They are quite bold and have expanded well around the cuts.   The crust has a few cracks appearing.   The crumb gives evidence of well developed dough and proper attention to fermentation.   We are both looking forward to a week of enticing sandwiches for lunch.   Photographs shown below:


Spicy Ginger Cake

The British contingent here may have come across Dan Lepard’s “Honey and Treacle Cake” in The Guardian Weekend Magazine on Saturday.   I’m quite a fan of these “blended” Ginger cakes, and one of my students made Dan Lepard’s “Whisky Ginger Cake” [see his website for this one] in the Confectionery exam last Monday…and it really is loaded with alcohol too!

Alison saw this article and decided it was a healthy option because it had no refined sugar in the recipe!!?   Well, this is my take on it, although the Mascarpone and Orange Icing  is down to Alison.   It’s very spicy and full-on ginger.   The finished cake texture is exactly how I like to eat cake; you decide for yourselves.

Recipe, formula and method are shown below.   I’ve made a good few changes to the recipe published in the Guardian, so I’m happy to list it below as my own take.


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

Organic Honey



Blackstrap Molasses



Ginger Syrup






Black Peppercorns









Ginger Powder






Orange Zest



Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour



Baking Powder



Stem Ginger [diced]



Dried Fruit






It is not so clear in the table above, but I have tried to show the formula in relation  to constituent parts, so 16% is proportion of spice, and 154.3 is proportion of syrups, both to flour.   Fruit is 172% of flour; this could perhaps be lower 


  • Gently heat the sugars, butter and whole spices to 80°C in a pan.
  • Lightly beat the egg
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and ginger powder.
  • Strain the syrups off the whole spices.   Add zest plus dry ingredients and fold to form a smooth batter.   Fold in the egg.   Fold in the fruit.
  • Scale equally between 2 loaf tins.   Bake at 160°C for 40 minutes
  • Cool on wires.

Photographs of the finished crumb are shown.   Lovely cake, but neither of us ever really eat much of the stuff; let’s hope it will keep the week in the fridge?

Best wishes



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