The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


caroldos's picture

Hi! I would like to introduce myself as a newbie to this site, one who spends time in two humid areas of the country, Michigan and Alabama! Thanks for the wonderful ideas and the very patient bread bakers on this site who try all kinds of ideas and post their successes and mistakes, helping me to learn what to do. Of course I love baguettes so my initial efforts at artisan breadmaking are to tackle something way beyond my skill! So thanks to all for your ideas on how to get started with real French baguettes/batard!!

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

I think I'm getting it!

Well I followed GSnyde's recipe for the San Francisco Country Sourdough (I don't have any books yet, still waiting on the mail...) and I'm so happy with the result.  I made two boules; I won't show you the first one as I forgot to turn down the oven as instructed and it's a bit dark and dismal.  But this one I paid much closer attention to and although it's not as pretty and round as the original, I'm pretty happy with it.  I like the dusted flour look as opposed to a shiny crust, very earthy, and I AM an earth girl.  : )  Thanks to all who have answered my questions and given advice so far.  If I haven't responded to you individually, it's because there has been such a torrent of good advice that I am overwhelmed.  So instead of wasting time on the computer, I've been putting all good advice to use in the kitchen.  

SylviaH's picture

This is apx. 82% (the recipe 3 X's is apx. 84%) total hydration dough, that I think would be fun for anyone to try.  It is one of my favorites, I've posted HERE before.  The recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum 'the bread bible' and a photo is displayed on the cover.

Delicious, it has a lovely creamy crumb, tender chewy crust, the added duram flour gives a mellow buttery flavor, just perfect for dipping in EVOO, or slathering it with just about anything you favor...perfect for a sandwich.  The Biga can be used up to three day before baking.  I use the 'Ultimate Full Flavor Variation' allowing it to ferment in a cool area (55F to 65F) for 12 to 24 hours.  Perfect weather now for finding a cool spot in my home.  I just add a few ice cubes in my very cool spare bathroom sink.

I have always 3 Times the recipe - the recipe in the book makes small pugliese- 3 times gives me 2 nice size round loaves that just fit in my banneton's that are linen lined...I used to use small bowls lined with floured tea towels, that works fine, too!

This is 'Three Times the recipe'

1. Biga  - 225 gms - All purpose flour - use only- Gold Medal, King Arthur or Pillsbury - 225 gms

instant yeast - 3 X 1/16 teaspoon -  or 0.6 gms.

water, at room temperature (70F to 90F) - 177 gms

6 hours or up to 3 days ahead, make the biga. - I use the 'Ultimate Full Flavor Variation', as stated above.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir the mixture until smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl...3 to 5 minutes. Should be sticky or tacky enough to cling to your fingers.  Cover the bowl, with oiled plastic or lid and set aside until tripled and filled with bubbles..about 6 hours.  Stir it down and use it, or refrigerate it up to 3 days, before baking,  I place my bowl in a cool spot for as mentioned above!  So I can bake the next day.

Dough - 

All Purpose flour - GM, KA or Pillsbury -213 gms

Duram Flour - 213 gms

Instant Yeast - 1 1/2 teaspoons

salt - I used 15gms sea salt

water, at room temperature (70F to 90F)  about 12 oz - 354 gms

Biga from above

I mixed all by hand, this way.

In a large bowl, dissolve the biga in the water...there were a few little pieces, undissolved.  Wisked together my flours, yeast, added salt and wisked again.

Added the flour mixture to the biga and water and mixed just until the all was wet and combined.  Autolysed for  apx. 50 minutes and did stretch and folds-30 minutes apart,  double it's length and give it a business letter fold, after 3 stretch and folds, round up the dough into a ball, covered and let it rise in a (ideally 75F to 80F) until tripled...about 2 hours.

Preheat oven and stone 500F...1 hour before baking...Shape very gently, handling as little as possible, trying not to deflate all those nice air bubbles.  Pour it out of the bowl onto lightly floured surface...cut it in half..pull it over itself into a rough ball shape and in just very motions pull it into a rounded ball.  Gently pick it up and drop it seam side up into the floured banneton.  Sprinkle top lightly with flour, and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Allow to rise until it has increased by about 1 1/2 times, to 1 1/2 hours.  It will just start to push up the plastic.

Bake with steam turning down the oven after the first five minutes and then continue baking with steam for 12 minutes total at 450F or adjusting your ovens temperature to bake the loaves for apx. another 20 minutes, until deep golden brown....leave loaves in off oven with door ajar for a 5 to 10 minutes

ADDITION NOTE.  A change was made in the water addition from 154gms. to 354gms.  I apologize for the typo and thanks to pattycakes for catching it.

This recipe comes from RLB 'the bread bible' and I have tripled  her recipe. 



         Duram Flour and Semolina Grind  -  Use the Duram Flour, pictured on the right,  not the pasta grind semolina on the left.





                                                             Usually I do this right handed but I' holding the camera : )                             











                                                                          submitted to yeastspotting                                                                               



breadsong's picture

Hello, This formula has some rye sourdough in addition to a liquid levain.
This is the first time I've tried making a bread with rye sourdough; I'm looking forward to tasting!
These loaves really puffed up during the bake - perhaps a bit underproofed although thankfully there were no blowouts.
From breadsong


trailrunner's picture

We are having an early Thanksgiving due to one of our son's being in town this weekend . He can't get back from San Diego for the :" real deal" so we are doing our celebration early. Our daughter is delivering him from the Atlanta airport tonight. Our family has been enjoying this Challah since the mid 70's. We have it almost every week. The positive and negative of all the wild yeast baking is that I have not baked " my Challah" as often as in the past decades. Well this weekend it was a special request...Momma you HAVE to bake it. So here it is. 

In the background is my hometown...New Orleans. I have pics all over my kitchen to inspire my cooking and baking mojo.  

Photobucket Photobucket Here is the revised recipe. I have added the auto lyse the past few months and like the way it helps the flour relax and absorb. As to cups/spoons...bear with an old dog...this works just fine...feel the dough and go with it. c

This is a double recipe. So you can halve it if you like; 13 c unbleached bread flour 3 1/2 c warm water 1/2 c sugar 1/2 c softened butter or margarine 6 large eggs ( have a 7th yolk only for glazing set aside) 3 tsp Kosher salt or 4 tsp table salt 9 tsp instant dry yeast ( not rapid can also sub active dry yeast) this = 4 pkgs./ envelopes Place 13 c of flour into a large bowl . I have 13 qt metal bowls for this purpose. In a large cup measure or bowl place warm 100 degree water and add all of yeast and a large pinch of the sugar. When yeast foams add the rest of sugar, salt, soft butter/margarine, eggs. Beat with a whisk. Pour over all the flour and gently fold all the flour and liquids together just till barely moist. Cover with a towel and leave to autolyse for 30 min. Lightly dust counter top with flour and place dough on top. Knead till soft and pliable ...about 10-12 minutes. May add very light sprinkles of flour to prevent sticking. The dough should hold together and not be dry or wet . Place back in large clean and oiled bowl. Cover with towel or plastic and let rise till double...about 1 or 1 1/2 hrs. Remove from bowl and using a scale divide into 4 large loaves or 6 med. Then make 3 more balls from each of these for braiding. Place shapes loaves on Pam sprayed baking sheets and cover and let rise 1 hr. Do not let it over proof. Preheat oven on convection bake at 350. Take reserved yolk and blend in a Tbsp or so of 1/2 and 1/2. Brush generously over the loaves and then dust with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Even if you don't use seeds make sure and glaze the loaves. The keeping quality as well as the fragrance and crust are worth the extra effort. Bake for 30 minutes. Internal temp with digital thermometer is approx 190-200. Cool and enjoy. c

amolitor's picture

This is a variation on Joe Ortiz' recipe in The Village Baker (as indeed so many of my breads are).

Basically I've sourdoughed it up, and subbed in hot cereal for rye meal.

Evening of Day 0

Mix 1 cup rye flour with 3/4 cup warm water, and a tablespoon or so of active liquid starter ("sufficient" starter).

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Cereal with 1 cup boiling water. This cereal is a multi-grain cracked-grain cereal (like steel cut oats or Irish oats, NOT rolled), and I think any such cereal would behave very similarly.

Let these stand overnight. By morning the rye sponge should be very active. I'm not too fussy about "ripeness" but you may want to wait until it starts to fall (indicating ripeness).

Morning of Day 1

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raisins (to taste)

  • 1-2 teaspoons caraway seed (to taste)

  • 3 tablespoons quite warm water

Joe suggests that you combine these with a mortar and pestle into a paste. I don't have this tool, so I chop the raisins and caraway together on a cutting board (the raisins, properly used to surround and cover the caraway, prevent the chopped seeds from flying all over the place) as fine as I have the patience for. Either way, let soak for a little while. A few minutes is fine. An hour is fine.

Combine the two bowls from the previous night, the raisin-caraway mixture, and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Mix in about 2 cups bread flour (you'll have to work some in kneading, probably). You're looking for a firm dough here. 55% hydration, maybe? Joe says 'a medium dough'. I think of it as an American style dough.

Knead 5-10 minutes. The cereal and the rye flour seem to make the dough completely un-windowpane-able, so knead until feels right, or for 10 minutes if you don't feel like you have a sense of what "feels right" is!

Bulk rise for a couple of hours, it may not double, but eventually it will have inflated substantially, and a poke test will indicate "done" (use a wetted finger to poke a hole 1/3 of an inch deep, if the hole fills back in VERY SLOWLY or not at all, you're probably there). Oil up a loaf pan sufficient to hold all the dough. Mine is a standard loaf pan, but "largish" rather than "smallish". It might be 9-10 inches long, and 4 inches wide?

Divide dough in two, flatten each piece. For each piece:

  • Fold the far 1/3 toward you, flatten with heel of hand.

  • Fold the bottom 1/3 away from you, so it overlap the previous fold, flatten.

  • Fold the right 1/3 in just as you did the top, flatten.

  • Left 1/3 to overlap the previous fold, flatten.

You can repeat this a few times -- you're giving the dough more strength, if it's not "fighting" you a bit, give it a couple more turns. You should have a neat rectangular packet at this point. Make your last two folds:

  • More gentle, more of a "rolling up" than a flattening out.

  • So that the length of the final packet is about 1/2 the length of your loaf pan -- the fold will go ALONG the length of the pan, not across. Imagine two jelly-rolls end-to-end in the pan.

Repeat for the other half of the dough. You SHOULD have, assuming my instructions are clear enough, two sort of rolled up lumps which when you place them end to end will pretty much fit neatly in your oiled loaf pan.

Oil the ends of each roll of dough, the ends that will press against one another in the pan, in the middle, and plop them into the pan. This will form an easily pulled-apart seam in the middle.

Let rise in the pan, again it may not double but will inflate and start "poke" testing right. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN.

When it's risen, brush a little oil on the top of each half of the loaf, and slash each half lengthwise down the middle. Place in cold oven, and turn the temperature to 450. Bake for 25 minutes, turn down to 400 and bake another 40-45 minutes. The loaves will be very dark brown.

One of the reasons I love this recipe so is that I don't have to preheat the oven, which is great because I am absent-minded, AND I save energy!

The bread is mild-rye-ish, a little sweet from raisins (depending on how many you used) and a little caraway flavored (again, depending on how much you put in) and has a mild sour tang. The crumb is moist and dense, and has little crunchy bits in it from the hot cereal, which we like for texture.

This shows the "middle" end of one of the two mini-loaves, where the two press together, and get peeled apart:

And this shows the other end, the end up against the end of the metal loaf pan:


Finally, crumb:


Lisa Mary's picture
Lisa Mary

Does the type of oven have an effect on the taste of the bread?


foodslut's picture


I know I've been concentrating on going low (on yeast) and slow (on the ferment) with my breads to improve the quality/flavour.  Sometimes, though, life intervenes.  I managed to use some of what I've learned here and elsewhere to get a reasonable quality bread ready very quickly.

I found out a friend of the family was in the hospital, waiting to fly out of town for surgery, and I wanted to do something.  My sweetie dropped by, and she got to talking with my friend's partner about my bread.  My friend's partner said he'd heard of my olive-cheese bread, and my sweetie committed.  Problem:  plane's leaving day after next!  Had to have a batch ready from a standing start after work by the end of the same evening for next-morning drop-off.

While I know it will be considered sacrilege to the "low and slow" doctrine, I had to speed up fermentation, so I cranked up the instant yeast from my usual 0.5% for a slow overnight ferment in the fridge to a wild-and-crazy 2.5%.  To counteract at least some of the flavour effects of the quick ferment, I threw in some old dough I keep in the fridge (70% hydration).  Here's the final formula I used (PDF) in both grams and ounces.

I mixed, autolysed, kneaded and fermented for about 75-90 minutes at about 70 F/21 C.  I then divided the dough into 2 x 750g/24 ounce loaves, rested, shaped and proofed for about 60 minutes at about about 70 F/21 C.

Into a steamed oven at 510F for 8 minutes, followed by 400F for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is about 205F.

Here's the result:

Crust was outstanding and crumb (batteries ran out before I could get the crumb shot) was great.  I couldn't detect any yeasty taste in spite of the extra yeast I added.  I think that's because of the old dough and the strongish flavour of the add-ins (I used green spicy olives and smoked Gouda).

I'm told my friend's partner enjoyed the bread - mission accomplished, especially if it distracts him a bit from his sweetie's suffering and waiting.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to meet the needs of real life,  If you know the rules reasonably well, though, you can find ways to make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.

JCaye5's picture

Why does my bread have a yeast taste to it after I bake it. The texture is good and the crust is good. Is this normal or does it make a difference when you start making it over night and then finishing up with the second process the next day I combined everything together when I made a tuscan bread in one process.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

My wife told me this morning that we were having Italian Sausage on pasta for dinner. I said "But I don't have any bread!" I decided to make Italian Feather Bread (which I have made quite a few times, but not lately) and try the steaming technique SylviaH described since I felt my previous steaming attempts were pretty weak. I am also using Better for Bread flour for the first time. (It is Buy One Get One Free at Albertson's this week.)

Beard on Bread - Italian Feather Bread original recipe here.

SylviaH steaming technique is described here.

Here they are in the oven, almost done.

Almost Done!

Here are the ingredients I used.

  • Better for Bread Flour  700 grams

  • Water (room temp) 414 grams (about 60%)

  • Sugar 15 grams (about 1 Tbs)

  • Instant Yeast 13 grams (about 3.5 tsp)

  • Salt 14 grams (about 2 tsp)

  • Olive Oil (EVOO) 66 grams (about 1/3 cup)


  • Combine flour, water, sugar, yeast, autolyze 20 min

  • Add salt and EVOO, then knead (I did about 6 min in Bread Machine dough cycle)

  • Rise in oil coated bowl with 3 stretch and folds on the counter every 30 min.

  • Divide in half, pre-shape, rest 10 min, shape into something (see pics).

  • Place in couche, seam down. (Couche is Chicago Metalic Italian Bread Pan lined with flour coated microfiber kitchen towels.)

  • Proof for about 45 mins, preheat oven to 425 with quarry tiles in place.

  • Heat wet towels in baking dish in microwave.

  • Put dish with hot towels in oven 10 mins before bread. Add 1 cup hot water.

  • Roll loaves, one at a time onto peel, slash, mist with water and put on quarry tiles.

  • Bake at 425 for 10 mins, remove pan with towels, rotate bread, bake for another 20 min.

  • Turn off oven, leave bread in another 5-8 min.

  • Let cool on racks.

At least that is what I intended. The 2nd loaf to go in the oven stuck a little to the peel (rimless sheet pan) and was half on/half off of the tiles. I got a couple of metal spatulas and got it back on, but not very straight. Decided to leave well enough alone. Good call.

I was very happy to see the nice oven spring and opening of the slashes when I removed the towels. I am also very pleased with the look of the crust. Much better on all counts than previous attempts.

The main change I made to Sylvia's steaming method was to put all four towels in the baking dish in the microwave at once, and then tranfer the entire dish and towels into the bottom of the oven just before taking the loaves out of the couche. I added the 1 cup of steaming water when I put the bread in. I never saw much steam, but that may because it was warm and humid today in Florida.

Towels ready to go in oven

Ear and the required crumb close up, I would guess this is typical for 60% hydration?



Sylvia, thanks for this technique, I will do it again for sure.


Submitted to YeastSpotting.


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