The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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davidg618's picture

When I started this quest to improve my baking skills, about one year ago, my goals weren't very specific. "Get better at bread baking" was about the best I could do. And "find help" was about as refined as I could codify my approach. Fortunately, I stumbled upon The Fresh Loaf early in my search for that help. I feel I've come a long way in that one year. TFL's members and guests are my inspriation, the helping hand I reach to first, the friends who share my best looking loaves and worst mistakes. I also search far-afield, but my roots are here, still shallow, but growing.

Moreover, I hadn't given a thought beyond, "We'll eat them." to wondering what I'd do with the products of my quest. Since then I've made many more loaves than just the two of us could consume (without becoming well-bloomed, and "doughy" ourselves). I started taking my bread (the best looking loaves) to neighborhood potlucks--our community does a lot of them.  I shared other extras (the second-best-looking loaves) with select neighbors and friends. In the following months, the numbers of loaves shared and neighbors and friends in receipt grew. At Christmas I mailed sourdough loaves, Priority Mail, to select family who whould be honest with me if the bread arrived stale, or was not to their liking. This year i"ll gift loaves to all the family, and some far-distant friends. I'm relied on by neighborhood potluck hosts to bring bread.

Perhaps, the best early advice I received from TFLer's was "Pick a recipe, and practice, practice, practice, and...practice." To date, I'm confident I've got a basic sourdough bread and baguette formulae I trust my new skills to produce reliably and consistently, although I'm still working on shaping and scoring. At the moment, I bake each of them every week or ten days, and I'm working on a third: Jewish Rye. I've shared one loaf, so far, with a close, trusted couple; they rushed out and bought pastrami.

"Practice, practice, practice" has become my mantra.

I've got a slightly more specific goal now, "Build a repertoire of breads I can reliably and consistently produce.". I've got 2 and 1/2  so far. I have more than enough people eager for the output. (Yvonne and I will eat the worse-looking loaves, and the outright mistakes.) I'm havin' fun!

And I can now succinctly state how I might reach that goal: practice, practice, practice.

David G


Doughtagnan's picture

As I have been nurturing a white flour offspring of my usual rye starter I thought i'd give it a test bake with a 100% Strong White loaf before using it with some expensive french flour result was fine and as I add very little salt it tasted like a salt free Tuscan bread i've had in the past. Not much sourdough flavour though. The other loaf is my 2nd bash at Dan Lepards excellent walnut loaf but this time I ommitted the dried yeast and did a 100% sourdough version. It worked fine and I had seen other TFL members had tried this. I halved the recipe so only made the one "Pave" shaped loaf which will be ideal with some cheese over the weekend.  Partial loaves and compulsory crumbshots below!, cheers,  Steve

Shiao-Ping's picture

Many years ago our family lived in Singapore and I had a personal trainer.  Singapore is a young, vibrant society where sports may not be a big thing but going to the gym is popular.  I still remember that on the first day I looked around my gym and felt daunted by what I saw.  At the end of my first session, I asked my trainer how often I would have to train to look like her.   I like my trainer dearly, she is great; she said, "Oh, just three times a week!" 

It was well after we left Singapore that I worked out myself, No way José!

Many of us at The Fresh Loaf are not just interested in making a loaf.  Many of us are good cooks at home and have a broad interest in cuisine in general.  Have you ever watched cooking shows and wondered why those great chefs emphasize on fresh ingredients when all that you are interested in at that particular point in time was "the technique"?   No amount of "techniques" can turn ingredients of less than the most premium quality into exceptional dishes. 

I can research all I like, practice all I like, but if I can't lay my hands on the best ingredients, I won't have exceptional breads.

At different level of our learning, our masters reveal different level of knowledge to us; their purpose is to not scare us away at the beginning, and to not confuse us at the beginning (because we just won't be able to absorb all the knowledge in one go).  That was the well-intention meaning of my trainer, and of many masters!

Do home bakers need other people's exceptional breads at home?  You would be the judge for yourself. 

If you have the freshest seafood, how would you cook it?  Chinese would steam it to allow the freshest sweet taste reveal itself.   If you have the best flour, how would you bake with it?  Do you try to ferment it the best you can, so the natural flavour of flour "shine" through? 

What if your flour is good, but less than the best to your taste, what would you do?  Inject flavours!  I decided I would embark on experiments on flavour enhancers on bread.   

With this post, I have done four experiments with the T80 flour I have from France.  


(1)  T80 miche with garlic and continental parsley







 My Formula

  • 220 grams starter (refreshed using one part starter culture, two parts water and three parts T80 flour)

  • 440 grams water

  • 660 grams T80 flour

  • 15 grams salt

Total dough weight was 1.3 kg and overall dough hydration was 67%.  (Note:  The water for the main dough was two times the starter, and the flour was three times the starter.  The idea for the starter:water:flour ratio for the main dough came from Flo Makanai's 1.2.3 method for sourdough bread, a very clever and easy to follow formula.)


(1) Slow roast the garlic in 160 ºC oven for 1 1/2 hours or until very soft like cream.  Chop the parsley finely (discard the stalks).  Use 1 - 2 tbsp of butter (softened in room temperature) to bind the garlic and the parsley together with a pinch of salt.

(2) After bulk fermentation, divide the dough into two pieces, 400 grams and 920 grams.  Roll out the small one like a pizza base.  Spread the garlic parsley butter over it.  Shape the bigger dough into a boule.

(3) Place the boule (right side down) on the pizza base as shown on the picture above.  Fold the edges of the pizza base over the centre of the boule and turn the whole thing over (so the right side of the boule is now up).  Either prove free form or, as in my case, prove in a flour dusted banneton. 

I scored deep.  In my Body and Mind post, the boule was scored very shallow so as not to cut into the main dough inside.  But in this miche, the main dough underneath was also slashed.

All of the T80 miches in this post were baked using the covered method with no steaming required.  I baked at 245 ºC for 35 - 40 minutes covered, and then another 15 minutes uncovered. 





                                                                                               Lovely toasted in garlic parsley butter under the griller 

(2)  T80 miche with porcini and chicken stock





My Formula

  • 232 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 227 grams water

  • 694 grams T80 flour

  • 16 grams salt

for the porcini mixture

  • 24 grams dried porcini mushroom, soaked in 250 grams boiling chicken stock (unsalted) for an hour

  • Squeeze the liquid out of porcini, reserve all the liquid for the main dough

  • Chop the porcini roughly, then mix it with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt to try to bring some flavour back to the mushroom as most of its flavour will have lost to the liquid. Marinate for at least 1/2 hour.

Total dough weight was 1.4 kg and overall dough hydration was 68%.   This miche is very simple to make.   First, use the water to dilute the starter, then add the reserved chicken stock liquid and chopped porcini, then add flour and salt, mix thoroughly, then autolyse ... the rest is standard.





                                              Left                                                                                           right


This is one of the best flavoured miches I have dreamed of.   When I poured the almost darkened chicken stock into the starter, I was skeptical as to how well the little beasties in the starter would like being invaded by the foreign bodies from the porcini mushrooms.   But it turned out alright.  The crumb was very spongy with a strong mushroom savory aroma.   I used the bread to make giant chicken burger sandwiches - the works style with bacon and eggs, and lots of salad.   My kids loved them. 


(3)  T80 miche with dates and milk






My Formula

  • 262 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 530 grams of milk

  • 784 grams T80 flour

  • 18 grams salt

  • a big handful of good quality dates

Total dough weight was 1.6 kg (before the addition of dates) and overall dough hydration was 67%.  The dates were incorporated just before shaping.   Once the dough had done bulk fermenting, I flattened the dough completely on flour-dusted bench-top, and placed the dates one by one on the top of the dough as I de-stoned them.   I didn't keep count how many I had used, but as many as I could.   I then rolled up the dough and shaped it round. 




While I was taking the above photo, the sun was very strong.  But all of a sudden it went behind all the clouds (see photo below).  The true colour of the crumb was more like in between these two shots.




 (4)  T80 miche with bacon & pasta sauce



Cheap shot!






My Formula

  • 218 grams 65% T80 starter

  • 262 grams water

  • 654 grams T80 flour

  • 7 grams salt (1%)

for the bacon and pasta sauce

  • 170 grams bacon (the part that has no fat), diced and pan-fired in a tbsp of butter (once cooked, the bacon will reduce in weight to about 100 grams).

  • 270 grams of the pasta sauce, mixed into the cooked bacon. 

Total weight was 1.5 kg and approximate overall hydration was 67 - 68%.  (Depending on the consistency of your pasta or tomato sauce, you could increase your water.  In fact, my dough was slightly on the dry side.)

It was getting dark and cloudy.  I should have waited until the next morning to cut into this loaf.  But, NO, I had to see....






Sorry for the poor lighting.  I didn't want to use my camera flash light and I didn't want to turn on my kitchen halogen lights either. 

Well, this concludes my experiments.  It is too easy to inject flavours.  You can do anything you want.  One day I might roast a whole leg of lamb wrapped in sourdough bread and use a chainsaw to saw it.  My daughter said, "Don't be ridiculous." 

It is way harder to try to ferment the flour.


The cello is playing inside the house and outside the house the rain is falling.   I ask myself if this T80 flour is what I have been waiting for all this while.  It is interesting how I have been fixated on something and have lost sight of something else. 

Our family has been settled back in Oz for five years now.  This coming Easter we are going to Singapore for a small break, and to reacquaint ourselves where we left off five years ago.  The family is feeling an unexplained excitement. 

This Easter marks my one year anniversary since I began baking sourdough.  It has been a journey for me on many levels and I thank many people at The Fresh Loaf, as well as other on-line bread sites, for my development.  I started off doing something, but I ended up finding something else.  I am truly blessed. 

Thank you everyone here at TFL and wherever you may be.



jennyloh's picture

I made these today with a chef.  This recipe was meant to go into a bread machine,  which of course,  the machine is me.  I made this all by hand. I tried 2 things today.  1 was to cover the loaf with a claypot to bake,  and another stay in the claypot to bake.  Of course it turned out that the one that stayed in the claypot got a nicer crust - golden brown.

But somehow with this formula,  the bread didn't rise too much,  I might have overproof it - 1 1/2 hours.  Went out for supper during that time,  by the time I got back, the dough looks more than ready.  The one with the claypot covered had a little more rise,  as I baked it immediately after I return.  Here it is:


The one that goes into the claypot,  didn't rise much. Just a little jutting up from the top that I score.  


Both were not as crispy as I like....I still do not have baking stone....sigh....I can't find it in China yet....can someone send me one?!....  But the inside is chewy, soft,  and the taste is a little more salty - I don't know if this is because of the salt I added or the chef that was quite well was good over here in Shanghai...warming up...



The crumbs are well spread out,  not a lot of holes. And the 2 loaves have slightly different taste,  somehow the boule turns out to be less salty,  why?  perhaps I left it overnight in the fridge,  it had absorb what ever is in the dough.


I guess I can say this is a pass?...





dmsnyder's picture


I like variety, so I could never say that any one bread is “my favorite.” However, I can say that the “Five-Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough” from Hamelman's “Bread” would certainly be one of the candidates. It has a wonderful crunchy crust and a delicious complex flavor. It is fabulous fresh-baked. It stays moist for many days. It makes toast to die for. It is good unadorned or buttered, by itself or with other foods, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's, incidentally, full of really healthy stuff. Moreover, it's really easy to make, and it's beautiful to look at. What's not to like?

This bread is made with a rye sourdough but is also spiked with commercial yeast. The sourdough is fed and a soaker is soaked 14-16 hours before mixing, but once the dough is mixed, the fermentation and proofing are rather short. I started putting the dough together at around 12:30 pm, and the bread was out of the oven at around 4:30 pm.

Notes on the formula

  1. The overall hydration of the dough is 99%, but much of the water is absorbed by the soaker. The final dough is sticky, but like a rye bread dough not like a high-hydration white bread dough.

  2. Also note that all the salt is in the soaker. This is to inhibit enzyme activity. The salt percentage may also seem high (2.2% of the total flour), but the grains in the soaker also need salt, so the bread does not seem overly salty in the least.

  3. This formula makes a large batch of dough. It would have been difficult to mix it in my KitchenAid. I mixed it in my Bosch Universal Plus, which handled it with ease. If using a KitchenAid or similar stand mixer, you should consider scaling down the formula to 2/3 of that specified below.


Rye sourdough


Baker's %

Whole-rye flour

8 oz



6.7 oz


Mature sourdough culture

0.4 oz



15.1 oz





Baker's %


2.9 oz


Cracked rye (I used pumpernickel flour)

2.9 oz


Sunflower seeds

2.4 oz



2.4 oz


Water (boiling, if cracked rye)

13.2 oz



0.7 oz



1 lb, 8.5 oz



Final dough


High-Gluten flour (KAF Bread Flour)

1 lb, 8 oz


10.5 oz

Yeast (Instant)

0.19 oz


0.5 oz


1 lb, 8.5 oz


14.7 oz


4 lb, 10.4 oz



  1. Mix the sourdough and ferment it at room temperature for 14-16 hours.

  2. Prepare the soaker at the same time as the sourdough. Weigh out the grains and salt. Mix them. If cracked rye is used, boil the water and pour over the grains and mix. If using rye chops or coarse rye flour (pumpernickel), cold water can be used. Cover the soaker and leave it at room temperature.

  3. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a mixer bowl at low speed, then increase to medium speed (Speed 2 in a KitchenAid or Bosch) and mix to moderate gluten development. In my Bosch, I think this took around 10 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to

    a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly and ferment for 1 hour.

  5. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape into boules, bâtards or a combination.

  6. Proof for 50-60 minutes in brotformen or en couche.

  7. Preheat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  8. Pre-steam the oven. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score them and load them onto your baking stone. Steam the oven. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.

  9. After 15 minutes, remove your steaming apparatus, rotate the loaves if necessary for even browning, and turn the oven down to 440ºF. If the loaves are getting too dark, you can turn the oven down to 420ºF.

  10. Bake for 15 minutes more (or 10 minutes longer, if baking 2 lb loaves) and check for doneness. (Internal temperature 205ºF. Bottom sounds hollow when thumped. Crust nicely browned.)

  11. Turn off the oven but leave the loaves in, with the oven door ajar for another 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  12. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.



Submitted to YeastSpotting



breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to tease you a bit.  I don't have pictures yet, but here is the recipe for something I will call the "Everything Levain".  I pretty much had all this stuff laying around in my kitchen, so I wanted to make a bread using all of it...  Here is the recipe below.  I will post pictures later this weekend.

Edit: So I finally cut into it.  A friend whom I gave a loaf said the crust was too crusty, and the inside was a bit "dense"...  My loaf, while it was very "crusty", I found the crumb to be pretty OK.  As for the taste, it's pretty OK.  There were so many things it it, that I can't really place any of the flavors individually...  I prefermented 50% of the total flour, with most of it being the mixture of bits.  Maybe next time I will preferment less, up the hydration, and bake it for a shorter amount of time...  Overall, I am pleased with this "bold" bake...  Enjoy!


3/16/10 - Everything Levain

Stiff Levain (60% Hydration)

440g - Bread Flour

70g  - Rye Berries (freshly ground)

70g  - Spelt Berries (freshly ground)

70g  - Hard Wheat Berries (freshly ground)

70g  - Millet (freshly ground)

70g  - Jasmine Brown Rice (freshly ground)

70g  - Cornmeal

70g  - Graham Flour (Bob's Red Mill)

70g  - 10 Grain Cereal (Bob's Red Mill)

600g - Water

100g - Firm Sourdough Starter (60% Hydration)

1700g - Total


Final Dough

750g - AP Flour

250g - Bread Flour

760g - Water

36g -  Kosher Salt

¾ Tablespoon - Instant Yeast

1700g - Stiff Levain

Yield - 3500g dough



Stiff Levain

7:30pm - Grind all grains

7:50pm - Mix all with wooden spoon until combined, knead with wet hands until rough dough is formed, cover and let rest.

11:30pm - Knead into ball, transfer to oiled container, cover and let rest on counter.



1:00am - Transfer to refrigerator overnight.

8:30am - Turn dough, shape into ball, return to refridgerator.



12:52pm - Take levain out of fridge, place on counter and let rest.

1:00pm - Mix flour/water from final dough, place in oiled container and let rest/autolyse in refrigerator.

6:04pm - Take dough out of fridge.  Measure out salt and yeast.  Cut up stiff levain into pieces and place onto dough, sprinkle with salt and yeast, knead 5 minutes and rest for 30 minutes, covered.

6:50pm - Knead dough 1 minute, cover let rest for 30 minutes.

7:20pm - Turn dough, cover let rest.

9:00pm - Divide dough into 3 equal pieces, shape, place in linen lined basket, covered with towel.  Proof for 90 minutes.

9:30pm - Arrange 2 baking stones on different  levels, arrange steam pan, turn on to 550F with convection, preheat for 1 hour.

10:30pm - Turn off convection, place 1 cup of water in steam pan, close door.  Turn boules out onto floured peel, slash as desired and load directly onto stone.  After last loaf is in, add 1 more cup of water to steam pan, close door.  Lower temp to 460F and bake 1 hr with no convection, rotating and shifting loaves between stones halfway through bake, lower to 430F for remaining half of bake.  Loaves are done when crust is deep brown, and internal temp is 210F.  Cool completely before cutting.


Sedlmaierin's picture

Today was an exciting day- I almost kissed and hugged the UPS delivery guy, since he brought me my coveted package of food grade lye! A few days ago I finally received Hamelman's "Bread"book and was very eager to try out his pretzel recipe. I had read some good things about it on a German blog, and sicne my one and only pretzel makign attempt a few years ago, was HORRID, I had high hopes for this one.

There were a few changes that I ended up making to the recipe-one was I had no bread flour so just used all-purpose and the second was, I ended up having to refrigerate the pate fermentee for a few hours before proceeding.

Words cannot describe my elation at the finished product!Knowing that there are many different ways of making a pretzel(and not intending to put down any other methods)- my pretzel desires are pretty straightforward- I want a bavarian Laugenbreze-a lye dipped pretzel.Crunchy, with that distinctive taste made only by the lye bath, slightly chewy in the middle, and the arms need to be crispy.

My shaping still leaves much to be desired-it said to shape them with their bellies being slightly thicker-well, my guys are PREGNANT! But the taste, oh the taste, could not be better.

All I can say, is these are PRETZELS in my book! I swear-this is one of the best days in my US-bound life! I now can make and eat real pretzels!



P.S.: I also made some very yummy sourdough waffles this morning-even my son(who for some strange reason doesn't like waffles) ate them with glee!Oh happy day!

ehanner's picture

Larry (Wally) posted his version of Sam Fromartz's award winning Baguette's last week and after reading the post, I thought I would try it again. First I copied Larry's recipe and method and then I went to look at the original write up by the author/baker. There were a few small things that separate the two methods but the formula I think was right on. When you look at Sam's images of his breads, well they are stunning. The crust has just the right amount of color and spring. They look crisp and well, just perfect.

I'm not new to baguettes but I am always willing to bow to a master when it comes to improving the art form. Baguettes are 90% technique and 10% formula, I'm certain. So my intention here is to read closely the instructions Sam has left for us to understand. No detail is too small.

I made 2 batches yesterday, a 500g and a 1000 g mix. I thought I would bake the first 2 pairs of 250g baguettes, followed by the next 4, 2 at a time. This gives me a chance to evaluate the process and make some changes along the way. I was taken at how hard it was for me to keep from what I normally do and make a change no matter how small. Proofing in the couche cloth seam side down for example was a challenge for me. I had to re think my handling process and make a change.

In the end I only have one item that I didn't remember to change over to Sam's method and I think it will make a big difference in a positive way. That would be moving my stone up from the second shelf to the middle shelf. A seemingly small thing but the breads will get a more intense heat and brown up there I'm certain.

We taste tested this afternoon and the verdict is the bread is exceptionally tasty and has a nice mouth feel and after taste. The aroma is very original to me from my long ago memory of a wonderful baguette in Paris.

What I have learned from this exercise so far is that with a baguette, everything matters. There are many ways to make a good loaf, but, far fewer ways to make a really great loaf. I need to raise the bar and focus on the smallest details to make them as good as I possably can. Soon enough.


ehanner's picture

I cooked a 10 pound corned beef today and we had a New England boiled dinner. It's my start of the St. Patrick's holiday meals. Tomorrow will be the corned beef sandwiches on the Rye below. I have made this Deli style Rye a hundred times and just about every time I swear I ruined it and don't expect it to spring in the oven. When I open the door and see that nice puffy brown loaf I can smell the caraway and I just know I beat the odds one more time. That's the thing about rye, especially really sour rye that sat on the counter for 24 hours and the fridge for 2 days. It's been hectic around here and I didn't get to it when I had planned.This is evidence that even ugly bread can be delicious. I don't know WHAT I was thinking when I slashed  these two. It certainly wasn't baking. These have a poppy seed and large crystal salt topping.

One loaf will go to my son along with a care package of a couple pounds of meat and potatoes/carrots. I think  I need to go down to his apartment and bang some pans today to check for survivors from last night.


SylviaH's picture

This is my version of Sourdough English Muffins recipe I found the other day on the net.  It is from correction to this link..hopefully this one works! The recipe comes from Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley, California.  These muffins are delicious and make a wonderful Eggs Benedict brunch.  Though these are wonderful tasting and very easy to make I have to say the English Muffin recipe I have from Northwest sourdough are absolutely devine and still my number one favorite.  Teresa's recipe has been temporarily discontinued until published in her new book.




                                                                             To open up my EM I poke a fork around the edges and pull it open



                                             My version of Eggs Benedict for brunch!








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