The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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.


Librarian's picture

Austrian Easter bread, farmer's recipe


It is that time of the year again, where I can't wait for the taste of sweet bread with smoked meats, hardboiled eggs and

freshly grated horseraddish. It is very traditional to eat this kind of bread for the Easter holidays, some even put raisins

in it and there is a much softer almost no crumb version out there. Oddly everyone seems to fancy the contrast of

meat/radish/horseradish on a very sweet bread, but only for the holidays. It is a tradition,what can I say. My mom

scored this recipe from a farmer and she called me very excited to try this. I thoght it was about time to not only soak in

so many wonderful reciped but share a somewhat special and different one. So this is the 2nd year I have a go at it,

I have gotten a bit tired of the neverending sourdough fermentation times and my inability to keep track of time.  

This although is very different , it is a straightforward bread, you do not need a lot of time for it, and since it is so

enriched it does not benefit from long fermentation periods. I forgot how much fun it is to work with live yeast and

the sensational rise you get out of it, i doubt there can be a good sourdough version of this bread it is jsut perfect the way it is:

If former easterbread disappointed you because it was too soft, too little crust for you then you really

should try this it will reward you with a mouthwatering smell in your kitchen and a great aftertaste for your tastebuds

besides it is a LOT of fun to work with such a potent dough without all the wait usually included :)



1000 g of bread flour

500ml of milk ( regular version, no skim milk )

130g of softened butter

1 lemon ( organic )

40g of live yeast

6 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of salt

lard ( from the pork )



I got very lucky these days finding the right kind of flour, more so because it is also very cheap it seems to have

an extreme tendency for perfect gluten development. Here bread flours are marked W700 this one is marked the

same way but milled a bit rougher than all the rest and binds very well. I recommend flour just like that.



To get started warm up the milk just a tad over handwarm, take a small bowl and dissolve first the sugar then

the live yeast in it. It is important to work with warm milk be careful to not get it too hot to kill off the yeast.

I followed a little discussion some time ago on sugar/yeast yes no.... All you need to do 

is take 2 bowls add yeast into it once with sugar, once without and observe. I always add the sugar it helps

your bacteria much faster along the way :) Let me prove that point, i started halfway with the bowl,

5 min later....

If you do not have live yeast I believe the correct formula is 2/3 dry yeast and 1/3 instant yeast instead

of the ammount of live yeast:


Pour the yeast and rest of the milk into the center of the bowl add the softened butter and one skin of a zested big lemon

be generous when you grate your lemon , add the salt and knead by hand, it is a fun dough to do so, once the dough is

firm and it should be firm, add one scooped table spoon of pork lard it will make the dough very silky and tasty.

I do not recommend omitting the lard and lemon since these 2 ingredients are what make this bread so special....

In the meantime put your oven on 180 degree Fahrenheit. As I mentioned before this dough does not benefit from

long fermentation and that is exactly the fun part for a change. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at

least to double( better triple ) in size within an hour at room temperature, the dough should be warm from the warm

milk still and smell sweet/lemon like, an awesome smell :). Here is my dough not even after 40 min, it tripled:


Knead the dough down to original size, a technique I almost never see in American recipes but very common here, is to do

exactly that, a double rise. Since time is no issue we can help the process along with our oven at 180F( 80celsius). Once the

dough is kneaded down divide in 3 parts and generously slash an X on top. Since this dough is highly active, try getting some

surface tension onto it as described in Peter Reinhards BBA. I kind of failed here a bit as you can see later. I didnt have a

baking stone nor did I find the right rack as I baked at my friends house. I would definitly use a stone if i I had one there...

There is no need to prepare the oven for hearth baking whatsoever even for phase 2:



I had to wait maybe 10 minutes till this happened at only 180 . Guess I did not build up enough surface tension.

Once doubled in the oven slide out the rack and cover the breads with a 50% egg yolk 50% milk mixture, crank up

the oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit /  180 degrees Celsius

and slide the bread right back in, no need to wait till it reaches that temperature. Wait until the bread is golden

brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.  I use hot air surround fan setting, if you do not have one

add 10 degrees.


Here is a shot of the final result, last year I had the height a bit better under control, you can also make the surface

more even when shaping, I did not bother it gives the bread a rustic look, and it is a farmer's recipe after all.


Here is a comparison shot the next day between an enriched sourdough I created ( curd cheese as enrichment/

pumkin seeds) You can see there definitly is a crumb and crust on this bread, much different than the storebought

ones that feel and taste like sweet Mc Donalds buns. This is one of the few breads that once taken out does not

benefit much from being toasted it will stay fresh quite a while and goes great with jam but also with the ingredients

I mentioned within the introduction. A special tip would be butter/hardboiled egg and some grounded horseraddish on top.

If you decide to make this bread I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Submitted to the YeastSpotting page










MadAboutB8's picture

Somehow, durum flour eluded me. I thought that fine semolina was durum flour (given that they're both comes from durum wheat). I thought durum flour was called fine semolina in Australia. 

Thank to Sylvia (SylviaH) for pointing it out in her blog post together with pictures that they're totally different. I then just knew that I had made semolina bread all along with fine semolina thinking that I got the right ingredient (mind you, the breads tasted lovely and the crumb strucdture was fine with fine semolina as well). 

So, I was very excited when I finally found the durum flour at an Italian grocer. First recipe that comes to my mind was pugliese.

I used the recipe from Peter Rienhart's BBA, with 40% durum flour. The dough hydration is 77% without considering mashed potato. I also included about 20% mashed potato in the recipe (recipe only calls for 12% but I got the more from the left-over). So, the effective hydration could very well be close to 90% if taking into account the liquid from mashed potato.

This was the wettest dough I worked with so far. It was far too wet to knead, so I had to do the stretch and fold in the bowl for a number of times to develop the dough strength. It was fascinating to see the dough structure changed from pancake-like structure, to develop membrane and bond together. Ahh, the wonder of wheat!

The bread was lovely and chewy. Semolina tasted somewhat different from wheat, it's nuttier and sweeter. I also wonder what the flavour profile would be like if made using sourdough culture instead of yeast?

For full blog post and recipe, you can find it here.


txfarmer's picture


Dude, where's my bread?! Quite a few people have asked me whether my 36 hour soudough baguette dough can be used for other breads, of coure! The most natural vaiation is of course ciabatta, another hole-y bread. I again used a mixture of rye starter and white starter (something about this combo makes the flavor better), and raised the hydration to 85% (10% rye in the dough, so it's probably similar to a 82% hydration white dough).

AP flour, 425g

ice water, 350g

rye starter (100%), 100g

white starter (100%), 50g

salt, 10g

- to make the dough and do bulk rise follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here

- at the end of bulk rise, dump the dough on counter, divide in half, and let rise on parchment paper for about 70 min(about 73F), until very bubbly. I actually used half of the dough to make this ciabatta, the other half to make two (insanely wet and hard to handle) baguettes. The baguette doughs got 40min rest, then 30min proof after shaping, which means they can be baked with the ciabatta dough at the same time.

- before baking, flip the ciabatta upside down and score baguettes if you are making them (nearly impossible since the dough is very wet and full of air bubbles)

- baguettes were baked for  25min at 460F, ciabatta got 30min, followed by 10min rest in a turned off oven (with the door slightly cracked)


Deep dark big holes that one can get lost in


The baguettes were similiarly hole-y, however, I wouldn't recommend making baguette with such a wet dough, just a night mare to shape and score


I had some ciabatta after my weekly long run this morning. Very flavorful, but I had to eat a lot of pieces to get full!


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

prijicrw's picture

I used Hamelman's formula for this classic Vermont Sourdough. Used Heartland Orgranic flours that I found at Whole Foods. Dough was hand-kneaded and retarded overnight. Baked on 2 inch firebrick and covered with aluminum roasting pans ($1 at Dollor store) for first 20 mins of baking. Sorry there is no crumb shot, but trust me that it was as soft as a pillow! I attribute my success to the gentle kneading, organic flour, and aluminum covers. Enjoy!

Mebake's picture

This is yesterday's bake, a sourdough rye from Hamelman's "bread". I used dover farm organic whole rye flour, and sifted it to obtain something near to medium rye flour called for in the recipe. I followed Hamelman's instructions to the word, including the addition of yeast to the final dough. i have baked higher ryes before, so i was pretty comfortable with handeling the dough. This recipe is very easy to understand and bake, as opposed to other higher percentage ryes in hamelman's book. I used 12.9% protein strong bread flour from waitrose.

The sourdough levain was ripe in 8 hours at 26c. I chose to proof the dough seam side down in a brotform, and used a bamboo skewer to pinch holes in the batard.

This is by far the best rye i've baked. I'am now encouraged to bake this recipe again!



MadAboutB8's picture

I was still trying to use up the coconut that was approaching its use-by date. Apart from making Cherry Ripe macarson the other week, I was thinking about coconut bread.

Trying to replicate the coconut bread from an Asian bakery that we love (it's buttery bread with random moist coconut filling throughout), I was thinking about making the bread into babka-shape with the coconut butter filling. I also made half of the batch into coconut rolls baked in a muffin pan.

This might not sound like traditional babka with one layer twisted dough, coconut filling and no struesel, it probably looks like one. Babka style shaping does make the bread pleasing to the eyes.

My house were filled with the wonderful aroma of coconut when the bread was being baked. With its sweet, creamy and toasty aroma, coconut is one of the most aromatically appetising food item, in my opinion.

Full post and recipe can be found here.



Subscribe to RSS - blogs