The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Franko's picture


Late last week my wife and I were invited to my step-son and fiance's new home for a 'get acquainted' Sunday dinner with her parents and grandparents, so I thought it might be a good idea to bring a loaf of something or other to contribute to the meal. We've met them all previously but not knowing their tastes I decided to go with a bread using poolish rather than a sour levain style bread, settling on Hamelman's Pain Rustique which uses 50% prefermented flour in the formula. The poolish was made on Saturday night and sat for almost 12 hours before being mixed with the other ingredients after a 30 minute autolyse, producing a very slack dough similar to Ciabatta. After 40 minutes of bulk ferment it needed some stretch and folds in the bowl before being able to develop it on the counter using the slap and fold technique. The dough had two stretch and folds over the course of the next hour with a small addition of flour to tighten it up to a point where it could hold a loose shape, then divided into 2 unmolded rectangular shaped loaves, placed seam side up on floured linen for a final rise of 30 minutes. I had a bit of difficulty flipping the first on to the peel and it deflated slightly, but the second loaf held it's shape during the transfer. The loaves were given a single slash and baked at 460F for 35-40 minutes with a spray or two of water during the first 5 minutes. It's been a while since I've baked an all wheat dough and I'd almost forgotten how wonderful it can smell while it's baking, especially when it has a good percentage of poolish in the mix. The first loaf came out the way I expected it would, looking worse for the poor handling during transfer, but the second made a nice loaf with a bit of an ear along the slash. Everybody seemed to enjoyed it for it's open airy crumb, chewy crust, and that it paired so well with the delicious saucy braised short ribs our future daughter in-law had made for the main course of the meal. I've been eating sour rye bread of one type or another since the beginning of the year so this was a welcome change for it's fresh wheaty flavour and light porous crumb, and one that I'll be making again in the months to come.

I'm afraid the crumb shots are a bit too yellow due to light conditions and the flash on my phone camera. The actual colour was a creamy off white.

Best Wishes,


txfarmer's picture


This is a formula from “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman, a lot of people have made it with good results. I won't duplicate the formula here, see this link for a scaled down version, or better yet, get the book. A few notes:

1 I made the full recipe, got 2 huge 1.5lb breads;

2. I tried out a fun new shape, see shaping video here;

3. Kept the dough at 68% as specified in the formula, it was a dream to dough to handle

4. Did overnight cold proof, then about 80min of warming up at room temp (78F, that's TX spring for ya)


One dough shaped and scored as a batard, the other one with the fun shape, both came out very pretty


Give it a bold bake, look at the crackling singing crust! It was messy to cut.


Crumb for batard


I thought the extra rolling and shaping would make the crumb tighter, but not really, the following is crumb shot for the fun shape loaf:


Both have crumb that's very open for a 68% dough. My white starter is very not sour, my rye starter is a bit more sour but with a deep rye flavor, I think using both does adds complexity to the flavor.


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

ericb's picture

I'm not too picky about flour. In general, I pick the lowest cost unbleached bread flour I can find (for what it's worth, this is almost always White Lilly High Protein Bread Flour, which runs about $0.50/pound). If I can find King Arthur Flour for a reasonable price, I will buy it. In my area, most stores have it for around $0.80/pound -- not too shabby.

One store in particular, though, always has outrageous prices for King Arthur Flour. I shot the picture below on Saturday -- can you believe it? $6.09 for five pounds? What are they thinking? How on earth can they move any product at this price?



nate9289's picture

I've been reading TFL and the countless blogs of its contributors for a while now and finally have decided to jump on board!  I figured this first post would be sort of an introduction, a get-to-know-me page.  

So, during the past 8 months I've spent my first year post-college teaching English at a high school and middle school in the Lorraine region of France.  I live in a shabby apartment inside the high school, ill-equipped for any kind of cooking or baking that's not of the microwave variety.  Hence the "difficulties" part of this post.

My "oven" is a toaster oven with the timer dial missing:

 Toaster oven


The only measuring utensil - much less scale - is a large plastic 1L cup with markings for water, sugar, flour, and rice:


I have random old pots to double as bowls; no whisks or wooden spoons; and no counter tops, just a small kitchen table (with an unforgivable tablecloth) and a cutting board: have you tried to keep 1kg of wet dough in the confines of a tiny wooden rectangle?  I assure you, it's not easy. 


Now, to the "delights" of learning to bake in France:

Organic T65 flour available for about 80 cents a kilo:


Nice Levure Boulangère, although I doubt this is much different than instant yeast found in the USA:

Great examples to follow from just down the street!!:


So far, the difficulties would seem to outweight the delights, except for one fact.  For the past three months I've been fortunate enought to be doing an apprenticeship at an award-winning boulangerie in my town.  Usually 2-3 mornings per week before teaching my classes I walk down the street to the boulangerie help with everything there is concerning bread: mixing the different doughs, shaping the breads, scoring, loading and unloading the breads in the oven, and getting them ready for sale in the store or delivery.  We make about 180 different breads and pastries daily, and I'd say about 30 of these are strictly variations on bread.

I'm going to bring my camera in with me one morning since there's only a couple weeks left and take pictures of my boulangerie and the different processes we use, since every one does them differently. 

In the past couple weeks I've tried to adapt what I've learned to baking at home, although as can be seen from above, this is not nearly as easy as I'd thought.  I'll be posting my attempts online from the two weeks I have left in my shoddy apartment, and then hopefully continuing from my home kitchen back in the USA.

Bon appétit et bon pain!




Boulanger D'anvers's picture
Boulanger D'anvers

Sunday late afternoon I realized that there wasn't any bread for breakfast the next day, so I decided to whip together a quick dough to make some breakfast rolls.

Rather than forming some simple rolls I thought why not give it a more interesting shape: La Margeurite. It was inspired by some previous post here and the shaping videos on

The recipe was quite simple:

350 grams of Flour

240 grams of water

8 grams of salt

3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast

After a couple of minutes of slap-and-folds and stretch and folds with 25 minute intervals I took some short cuts by retarding the dough in a 28-30 degree Celcius oven, because I didn't want to end up baking at midnight. After shaping I baked it for 25 minutes at 250 degrees Celcius for the first couple of minutes, then at 225 for about 10 minutes and the remaing time at 200.

It worked out quite alright as the taste was good but nothing outstanding and the crumb wan't too disappointing either. I do love the shape, though, and it's not too difficult to make either. This would be a perfect shaped bread to bring to a BBQ as a gift.

Below are some photos of the end result.

varda's picture


Sometimes it's all about the flour.   I have two bags of flour in my cupboard that I've been dying to use.   One is a 00 flour that I unexpectedly found carried by an store in the center of town.   Lexington, Massachusetts isn't exactly a food town.   The only bread bakery in town carries vast yeasty undercooked loaves that make me gag.   And an Italian grocery / sandwich shop has been there for 2 years without me ever setting food in it.   I simply didn't believe it would be worth my while.   It was.   Ergo 00 flour - surprise, surprise.  The second flour was a bag of semolina that I picked up on my food excursion to Watertown in an Armenian grocery.   I didn't need it - I already had two bags of semolina at home.   Ah well, I buy flour like some people buy shoes.   I know that 00 flour is for pizza.   At this point I really know it since I made pizza dough the other day and handed it off to the resident pizza chef and it was really remarkable - crisp and light.  But I wanted to make bread.    And came upon a recipe on King Arthur - - that uses both KA Italian Style flour and semolina.   I had to try it.   I converted to weight and metric and made a few more changes - I am reducing salt by around half nowadays for health reasons in all my breads; added more water than called for just to get the dough to adhere; and used 00 instead of the Italian style.   Here is the formula:


00 flour




















non-diastatic malt powder





Olive oil










sesame to sprinkle










Mix all ingredients but sesame and knead for 5 minutes


(used Kitchen Aid for kneading)




Bulk ferment in bowl until puffy




Cut in three sections, roll out, and braid



Cover and proof until double




Spritz with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds



Bake for 27 minutes at 400 with some steam at the beginning






I forgot the step in the original where the dough rests for 30 minutes between mixing and kneading.  

This results in a soft tender bread which has the subtle flavor of its flours.   Not flashy, but really good.   Also quite a large loaf - fifteen inches long.

And the flour:


breadsong's picture


I tried making the Semolina version of Tartine Country Bread a few months ago.
I'm pretty sure I messed up on scaling (overhydrating) and then overproofing the loaves.
When I turned over my banettons, the dough flowed like lava...running over the edge of my peel and almost right over the edge the countertop.
Moving quickly! I grabbed a couple of pans, scooped up the runaway dough and dropped it into the pans, and then baked.  
Warm from the oven, the resulting bread was heavy and dense, but intensely aromatic and flavorful with the combination of toasted sesame and fennel - despite the baking disaster, it was some of the most delicious bread I've ever tasted.

Working up the courage to bake with durum again, this is Mr. Hamelman's Semolina (Durum) Bread with a Whole-Grain Soaker (coarse cornmeal, millet seeds and sesame seeds for the soaker - with the durum flour, so much pretty yellow color!).  
I substituted a combination of toasted sesame and fennel seeds (based on Tartine's Semolina formula) for the untoasted sesame seeds called for in Mr. Hamelman's whole-grain soaker.

Inspired by the beautiful, single-scored batards baked by hansjoakim, Mebake, prijicrw, Franko, GSnyde...(just to name a few!) I wanted to try this shape and method of scoring. My loaves didn't open up as nicely as theirs; I may have not scored deep enough, or may have overproofed again?; this dough was really moving along:


The crust is wonderfully crunchy, and the flavor of the bread just what I was hoping for.

Happy baking everyone,
from breadsong


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I must be a glutton for punishment.  After six months of trying to improve my baguette making skills, I'm already raring to head off on a new "quest" after just one weekend of "free" baking.  However, I can't decide between two possible quests, and I'm looking for some advice.  Also, much like with Saturday Baguettes, I'll be posting my results regularly as a commitment mechanism, so if there are folks out there who would be more interested in reading about one or the other, that's important to me too.

Here's my options:

Quest #1: Ciabatta:

I've made a number of ciabattas over the years, with fair to middling success, but I've never really gotten it right.  By "right" I mean a very open crumb, nutty flavor, and thin, crisp crust.   This is a typical ciabatta of mine:

Crumb decently open but not as much as you'd expect in a ciabatta, crust a little thick and chewy, flavor pretty good, but not always great.  This is my typical ciabatta experience, although often the crumb is tighter than pictured here.  The results are pleasant, but short of what a ciabatta can be.

 The first step in this quest would be settling on a particular ciabatta formula to work with -- I've tried Peter Reinhart's formulas from both The Bread Baker's apprentice and from Artisan Breads Everyday, Hamelman's formulas for Ciabatta with Poolish and Ciabatta with Olive Oil and Wheat Germ, and the "quick" Cocodrillo ciabatta that's been floating around TFL.  None have reliably yielded good results.

The next big milestone will be working out the fine art of transfering ciabatta to the oven.  I can't tell you how many times I've had promising looking loaves foiled by my ham-handed flip-and-carry.


Quest #2: Sourdough dinner rolls

This would be a quest of a very different flavor than the previous one (literally and figuratively). I'm a big fan of crusty sourdough dinner rolls, but I've never had much luck making them.  Adapting a standard sourdough recipe doesn't work well--the chewy crust and crumb that frequently go with a sourdough boule make for hockey pucks in the dinner roll context.

I'm looking for a roll with a thin, crisp crust, moderately chewy crumb, and a nice sourdough tang.  This quest is more of a recipe development quest than a technique mastery quest.

I have a prototype recipe that I've made a couple times, with somewhat mixed results.  It's been hard to get both good flavor and thin crust in the same roll.  On the other hand, if the last batch I made is replicable, this could be a very short quest:


Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Which of these would you most like to read about sporadically over the next few months?

Happy baking, everyone,


ananda's picture


Early Summer Baking:

Pain de Campagne with Mixed Leavens and Borodinsky in a Banneton


It's been a lovely weekend in the far North Eastern corner of England.   Yesterday we drove onto Holy Island and walked through the village, up to the Castle, then round the Northern Coast crossing 2 of the finest, and utterly deserted, beaches to be found...anywhere!

Today, we made our patio beautiful, once more, following the ravages of our harsh winter.   After we had eaten our lunch sitting outside, I took some photos of the bread I was making, as it came out of the oven.

•1.    Pain de Campagne.DSCF1839DSCF1842

I made 3 loaves in total.   One was a gift to our neighbours who treated us to an Iced Cream whilst we chatted away the afternoon: thank you Anna and Mark!   Another was just a small loaf, which I'd baked early so we could have fresh bread with some gorgeous "Berwick Edge" cheese I found yesterday, made by a local speciality cheese company, Doddingtons, just a few miles up the road from here.   Awesome flavour packing a real punch!

And the other is a 1.5kg Boule, showcased in the photographs here.   Yes, outdoor photography in the sunshine in good ol' Blighty: things must be on the up? [I wish!]

Here's the details:

I built both the wheat leaven and rye sour using 2 feeds from stock of 80g of each leaven, on Friday evening and Saturday morning.   I mixed the final dough on Saturday early evening, and retarded in the chiller overnight, before dividing, final proof and bake on Sunday morning/early afternoon.   The figures in the table offer totals of flour and water only; there was a small residue of both leavens for me to put back for stock.


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Wheat Levain



Special CC Flour












2. Rye Sour



Bacheldre Dark Rye Flour












3. Final Dough



Wheat Levain [from above]



Rye Sour [from above]



Special CC Flour












% pre-fermented flour



Overall % hydration





  • Build each leaven from stock, using 2 refreshments, as outlined above
  • Mix rye sour, flour and water until loose dough is formed; autolyse 45 minutes.
  • Add salt and wheat leaven and mix gently over half an hour to form a strong dough. Use Bertinet-style techniques here, as the dough is soft and sticky to start, but will soon become obviously strong.
  • Use intermediate proof of up to 1 hour. Then refrigerate overnight.
  • Scale, divide and mould round. I made a boule at 1.5kg, one at 750g, and made a small boule with the remainder. Place upside down in bannetons and set to prove, for around 4 hours, allowing the dough pieces to come back to ambient temperature.
  • Bake with steam on bricks in an oven pre-heated to 250°C. Cut the tops of the loaves just prior to loading.
  • Turn the heat to 200°C after 15 minutes. For the large boule, bake out for up to 1 hour if necessary; minimum 50 minutes. Jar the oven door slightly open, turn off the heat source, and leave the oaf in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Cool on wires

I'm really pleased with how this loaf has turned out.   My experience with overnight retarding is that the breads are very prone to "blow-outs".   Plenty of time is needed in the final proof in order to avoid this.   I guess that my kitchen temperature hitting the dizzy heights of 24°C by lunchtime really did help me here.   The dough had been very active when I set it in the chiller the night before; so I turned the fridge to work at full power.   Note too, that the pre-fermented flour is way up over 35%.   Great result!   Here are some photos:



•2.    BorodinskyDSCF1837

As the previous 2 occasions, I used a "scald".   However, this loaf was proved in a banneton, and baked on the bricks. is 100% Rye!!!   A colleague of mine who is studying for the VRQ Bakery Level 2 let me have some Doves Farm Light Rye flour she had in stock.   The sour was built with 3 refreshments.   The first 2 were part of the dough above, with a final refreshment made on the Saturday evening to allow me to form the final paste on Sunday morning.   I made the "scald" on Saturday evening, at the same time as the final refreshment of the sourdough.

Here's the formula:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour



Bacheldre Dark Rye Flour












2. Scald



Black Strap Molasses



Malt Syrup



Coriander [ground fresh]






Doves Farm Light Rye



Water [rolling boil]









3. Final Paste



Rye Sour [from above]



Scald [from above]



Doves Farm Light Rye






% pre-fermented flour



Overall % hydration





  • Prepare the rye sour, feeding 3 times from stock, as outlined above. Make the scald at the same time as the last refreshment. Dissolve syrups in the water and bring to a rolling boil. Grind the coriander, and combine with salt and flour. Pour on the boiling syrup solution and mix to from a stiff paste. Cover and leave to cool overnight.
  • Combine scald and sour and mix thoroughly. Add in the remaining flour and form a paste.
  • Bulk ferment, covered, for 1 hour.
  • Use wet hands to shape and then prove in a banneton, covered, for c. 4 hours.
  • Tip out onto a baking sheet. Spray the loaf top with water. Prick the top with a skewer, or, equivalent, and dust with freshly ground coriander seeds.
  • Bake at 250°C for 10 minutes with steam. Turn the oven straight down to 190°C and bake out for a total bake time of 1 hour
  • Cool on wires

I ended up cutting into the loaf sooner than ideal, as the photographs really testify.   It was such a beautiful day, and so I wanted to try and get the best photographs possible.   I think I succeeded with the Pain de Campagne.   The Borodinsky is not quite there.   Given more paste, I prefer to make this in a Pullman Pan.   But, I did not have that luxury.   And, the scald was really thirsty.   The final paste had 85% hydration, but was stiffer than I am normally comfortable with.   The trouble is that a higher hydration can be very difficult to bake out.

There is too much flour on the top of the loaf, from the proof in the banneton.   I did my best to brush it off and replace it with coriander, but with mixed success.

The crumb is obviously moist, and I think it will taste great.   But it's a little tighter than I believe I would have achieved if I'd been able to use a Pullman Pan.

Still, photos are below, and I am certainthat the flavours will be as I want!


My sunny greetings to you all


dmsnyder's picture

Apple Breakfast Cake

I happened upon the formula for “Apple Breakfast Cake” while browsing Michel Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry looking for something or other I've now forgotten. My wife loves cakes that are loaded with fresh fruit, and the photo in the book looked pretty wonderful. I was also thinking about the fabulously delicious Coffee Cake we were served for breakfast several mornings at SFBI, and hoped this cake might be as good.

I'm not a cake baker. My one attempt at a genoise resulted in a wonderful, eggy-flavored, dry and crumbly, 8-inch cookie. That was 20 or 25 years ago. I have recovered sufficiently from that traumatic humiliation to be able to consider baking something called a “cake” without panic. The process for Suas' Apple Breakfast Cake had only one step that seemed like it might present a challenge, so I decided to make it.



Baker's %




2 7/8 oz



2 ½ oz



2 ½ oz

Walnut pieces


1 5/8 oz

Butter, melted


2 ½ oz

Apples, peeled, diced


1 lb, ¾ oz

Vanilla extract


½ tsp

Bread flour (KAF AP)


4 3/8 oz

Baking powder


1 tsp



¼ tsp



2 lb, 1 ½ oz



  1. I used two whole large eggs.

  2. I rinsed and drained the raisins, although not instructed to do so in the recipe.

  3. I toasted the walnuts for 8 minutes at 325ºF.

  4. I used two golden delicious and about 1 1/2 braeburn apples.


  1. Spray an 8 inch cake pan with nonstick spray (or butter and flour it).

  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

  3. Whip the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage.

  4. Add the raisins, walnuts and meted butter. Mix to incorporate.

  5. Fold in the diced apples and vanilla extract.

  6. Fold the sifted ingredients into the mixture until well-incorporated.

  7. Pour the batter into the pan.

  8. Bake at 335ºF (168ºC) for about 45 minutes. (I found my cake needed 60 minutes' baking to be sufficiently browned and firm. This may be because of the added water in the plumped raisins, or just because.)

  9. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or onto a cardboard circle.

  10. Glaze with a flat icing made with powdered sugar, orange juice and orange zest. (I did not make the icing. I just used a light sifting of powdered sugar on each slice, just before serving.)


Suas' description of this pastry is, “This country-style cake is tasty, moist, and dense with apples.” All true. The cake is very moist. The texture is close to that of a moist bread pudding. There is really just enough batter to hold all the apples, raisins and walnuts together. It is rather sweet, but not too sweet. I just dusted slices with powdered sugar and was glad I skipped the icing. The cake is quite rich. I think it makes a nice dessert for any meal or a little something to have with a cup of tea or coffee. I couldn't make a whole breakfast out of it.

This is a lovely cake. It is delicious to eat and has aided in my recovery from the old cake trauma.



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