The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


amolitor's picture

As you probably know, there's a technique for improving bread which involves adding some quantity of "old dough" to the new dough. Some dough from the last batch, that's 6 or 12 or 4 hours old, or something. While this is great for commercial bakers, it's a little bit less great for the home baker. Here's what I've started doing:

Whenever I bake a yeasted more-or-less white bread, I save a 2 or 3 walnut sized balls of fully developed dough (just before shaping). I wrap these individually in a piece of plastic wrap suitable to cover my normal mixing bowl, and freeze them. Then, when I want to do some pate fermente action, I thaw a ball out the night before. I soak this dough in 1/4 cup or so of warm water to soften it up, and then mix in anough flour for a stiff dough (2/3 cup to 3/4 cup). Knead enough to mix the thawed old throughout. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap (which you can now use to cover the bowl for the entire batch of bread, see?) and let stand overnight.

If you want more "old dough" you can repeat the process, adding more water to your risen dough, and more flour, and let that rise.

You could do the same thing with yeast and so on, to make a new dough the night before, but I find this to be very convenient.


wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

I baked this bread for the second time and made a couple of changes. Here is the ingredient list as printed.

Buttermilk White Bread
Recipe By: James Beard in Beard on Bread

  • 2 packages active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115, approximately)

  • 4 cups unbleached hard-wheat flour

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 3 tablespoon melted butter

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Changes I made were to use instant yeast and reduce the quantity to 1 tablespoon, next time I'll use even less.

I left out the 1/2 cup warm water and used 3/4 cup buttermilk (made from Saco "Cultured Buttermilk Blend" powder) plus 3/4 cup of non-fat milk. My 4 cups bread flour at 120 grams per cup with the 1.5 cups liquid was plenty wet enough without the water. I couldn't find anywhere that Beard defined what a cup of flour should weigh.

I also cut the salt in half and used canola oil for fat instead of butter.

I did a 20 min autolyze, then mixed in the oil and salt for a few minutes, then did a couple stretch and folds after 30 and 60 minutes and shaped after another 30. The dough more than doubled in the first 30 min. (I took out 75 gr of dough to make a small roll since last time the quantity (about 920 gr) seemed to much for my 9x5 pan.)

Dusted top with some sifted flour and proofed about 45 min which may have been a little too long as dough had not only domed above pan but was starting to hang over the edge. Fortunately that sprung up in the oven to make a nicely shaped loaf.

Baked at 375 for 40 min, removed from pan and left in the cooling oven for 8 min (on its side, as recommended by Beard).

After cooling I sliced this and I can tell you it smells wonderful.

Here is the loaf cooling.

Beard Buttermilk cooling

And here is the crumb close up shot. Looks good to me! Note the knife dragged some of the flour from the top down into the crumb. I didn't notice this until uploading the pic.

Beard Buttermilk crumb

I'll add a taste update after I have some for lunch.

UPDATE: Really enjoyed a sandwich at lunch. This was better with the half buttermilk half non-fat milk. I think I'll cut back the salt a little more to 1 tsp and reduce the yeast a little as well.

Submitted to YeastSpotting

saumhain's picture

Well, actually, I do love my new job. It's not as boring as the previous one and so much better than studying @ uni (at least my uni). But it has like two major drawbacks: firstly, we are not allowed to wear jeans in the office, and the second, which is really depressing - I have practically no time to bake bread!!!

I leave to work at 8 in the morning at the latest, and get back at 7 if I am really lucky. Of course, I still can bake yeasted breads, but it's not possible to bake sourdough breads... And it's such a shame, 'cause it took me a while (three failed attempts)  to raise a new starter after I've arrived from Austria, and I baked only 3 or four sourdough breads ever since. I do hope that when it gets a bit colder in our flat my starter won't ripen in 5 hours and I would then prepare pre-ferment early in the morning and bake when I come back home. For now I can bake only during weekend.

Last week I baked Hamelman's 5 Grain Levain. Oh yes one (of many))) precious present from Austria - Hamelman's "Bread", which I have been exploring and studying for 2 months already and continue to do so. I really enjoyed this bread, it was really good and tasty even after a week or so, although it became a bit sour.

The same weekend I tried to bake 40% Rye with Caraway (I was tempted by its variation, which Hamelman suggests - Salzstangerl - delicious salt sticks sprinkled also with bit of caraway, which I bought quite often in Austria). But it was a complete fail. Honestly, I had never failed with sourdough before; this time, however, I followed measurements and instructions precisely, but the dough was... Well, strictly speaking, it was not even dough - it was more like muffin batter, obviously with no sign of gluten. I mixed it, got scared by its consistence and then left it for 20 minutes or so, hoping in vain that the flour will absorb water by this time. But since it never happened and I was feeling completely desperate, I just threw it all away. May be someone had the same issue with this recipe? If not, I'd love to learn what could possibly go wrong, any suggestions are appreciated, since I have absolutely no clue.

This Saturday I baked yet another rye bread by Hamelman, this time with much more success. I have chosen his Flaxseed Rye, published in Modern Baking in March 2009. Both dmsnyder (which measurements I used) and hansjoakim had lovely interpretations of this bread, which I liked a lot. Besides it includes "altus" (bread soaker) and I always wanted to taste bread made with it. So, what can I say? Yet again the dough was wetter that I expected, even though I cut down 44 grams of water from the final dough!!! It was also proving a lot less, since I've told already, it's really hot at my place. The final result was still amazing - despite the relative small percentage of rye, it tastes like a real rye bread, goes well with almost anything. Stores good too. I am really satisfied with the result but I keep on wondering what kind of flour is there in America that Hamelman uses, which requires so much water??


Mebake's picture

This is baked from Hamelman's "BREAD", levain breads.

I knew that the radiant heat from a preheated stone will result in an unmatched ovenspring, so i played with my steaming technique a bit to accomodate the stones.

Here is a picture:

The roaster lid had no hole, and no steam was injected. THe result is not bad, but the color suffered somewhat. I had to endure to hassle of tkeing the stones out after 15 minutes, and shifting the rack upwards to finish the loaves, otherwise the bottom will be charred.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

There was a period of time where my brother and I were buying each other different salts for fun…  He went to Hawaii one time and brought me back a small bag of  Alaea Sea Salt (Hawaiian Red Salt).  Time passes, I buy him some other salt…  Then he goes to Hawaii again to visit a friend of his, and she sends him back to the mainland with 3 more bags of the stuff, which he gives me…  So now, after a few years, I still have tons of the stuff, so what better idea to get rid of some of it by trying some in bread… 

Interesting stuff.  It contains a small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay.  You can reference this website: for more info.  The salt has an interesting clay/mineral taste to it.

I decided to make a simple pain au levain and try the stuff out… 

900g AP (King Arthur)
50g WW (King Arthur)
50g Rye Flour (Mix of Hodgson Mill and Arrowhead Mills Organic)
250g Liquid Levain @ 100% Hydration
660g Water
26g Alaea Sea Salt
1936g Approx Dough Yield

7:00pm - Feed storage starter 100g AP and 100g water.  Starter should double in 2-3 hrs.
10:00pm - Weigh out all ingredients, grind the salt with a mortar and pestle.
10:15pm - In a large mixing bowl, add in the following order, liquid levain,  water, flours, salt.  Mix with rubber spatula until a rough dough forms, then with wet hands squish dough until there are no dry lumps.  This should take about 3 minutes.  Place bowl in large plastic bag, rest.
11:00pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.
11:30pm - Lightly oil a large plastic container (4L).  Turn dough (stretch and fold in bowl), place in plastic tub, place in refrigerator.  Go to bed.

8:45am - Take dough out of refrigerator, turn dough in container, cover, return to refrigerator.  Go to work.

6:15pm - Divide dough into 2 equal pieces (975g), preshape into boule.  Let rest 15 minutes seam side down.
6:30pm - Final shape, let proof in floured linen lined bannetons seam side up.  Place bannetons in plastic bag to prevent drying.
8:45pm - Arrange baking stone and steam pan (loaf pan with lava rocks.  Fill halfway with water).  Preheat oven to 500F with convection.
9:30pm - Turn off convection.  Turn boules out onto a lightly floured peel, slash as desired, place into oven directly onto stone.  When last loaf is in the oven, close door.  Turn down to 450F.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove steam pan 15 minutes into bake.  Rotate loaves halfway through bake.  At end of bake, check internal temperature and weight.  Should be between 205F to 210F, and weight approx 15% less.  Return loaves to off oven for another 10 minutes.  Let loaves cool overnight before cutting and eating…

Notes:  I should have let the boules proof for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

8:45am - Cut, take picture of crumb, eat...

Sent to Susan @ Yeastspotting on 10/6/10

espinocm's picture

This was my bread project last weekend. I really enjoyed making it and it was delicious! I slightly modified the recipe found here. I didn’t do the sponge; I added the sponge measurements to the dough ingredients and halved it. Next time I will omit the red pepper from the herb & cheese mixture (the following includes the adjustment). Here is what I did:


2 ½ tsp. Fleischmann's RapidRise yeast

3 - 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1 ½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp crushed red pepper

1 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp olive oil

¾ - 1 ½ cup water (3/4 didn’t seem like enough. I ended up adding 1 ½ but it was a little too much, next time will try 1 cup)

Mix together yeast and water in a stand mixer bowl. Let set for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (starting with 3 cups of flour) and mix on low speed until combined. Add more flour as needed until dough is soft and slightly sticky. Knead on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. Let rise 1 ½ - 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Herb and Cheese Mixture:

1 cup mixed cheeses (I used Asiago, Parmesan, Romano and Provolone. Truth be known, it was probably more than a cup because the more cheese the better, right? :-)

¼ cup parsley, chopped (I used a combination of fresh and dried)

½ large onion, chopped

2 ½ cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

1 Tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp Italian seasoning

½ tsp garlic powder

1 ½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

1 ½ tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp pesto

1 ½ tsp truffle oil

1 Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, breaking up any chunks.

Assemble and Bake:

Lightly sprayed Bundt pan with non-stick spray (probably not necessary since it’s a non-stick pan and you do drizzle olive oil over the top which runs down the sides)

The original recipe states to roll out the dough but I just stretched the dough out a little on a floured surface and cut into equal pieces with scissors. I covered the pieces with herb & cheese mixture, rolled into balls and put in pan until all the dough was used.

Let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees during last 30 minutes of rise.

Drizzle tops with olive oil. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until browned and crispy on the outside.


breitbaker's picture

The latest bake...I used an overnight starter with a pinch of SD, then finished off the dough the next day. Nothing complicated, but this sure was tasty!


cathy b. @ brightbakes

tgamblr's picture

I have been attempting to begin a sourdough starter. I have tried a few methods from the internet as well as the guru Reinhart's, and the old man Clavel's method. I have been successful up until day three, then nothing. I have gotten my starter to the point of bubbling and regular feedings, but as soon as I take half to replace the new barm the whole thing separates into goo and hooch and goes slack. I have tried to "wake" the starter with small amounts of flour and water. I have even tried cider vinegar, but to no avail. I can't seem to keep the starter alive.

What am I doing wrong?   

I have begun the process in mason jars, mixing bowls, and tupperware. I have used rye flour and whole wheat. I have experimented with different amounts of flour and water. I have put the starters in different places: cool countertop to warm and dark cabinets (over the fridge). I used a metal whisk once, but I only use plastic or wood to stir.

I thought it was my water, but I don't think so. Like I said, I can get it bubbling, but after the first or second feeding it looses momentum. I am determined to get this...any suggestions?



tssaweber's picture

To give my old KitchenAid a break I normally prepare two smaller batches of dough in a row, instead of one large batch. Unfortunately I forgot to account for the flour of the sourdough starter and adjust the flour of the first batch accordingly. No problem lets adjust the water with the second batch. What a stupid idea!! But with the slap and fold method of Bertinet ( I was able to get myself out of trouble and the result was pretty good. But let the pictures talk:  

Everything is looking good the starter is doing its work

What a mess

Ok a little more work than planed but the dough is coming together

And I begin to like it again


And the result, it smells and tastes so good.....

BNLeuck's picture



Procrastinator's Sandwich Bread: Take 2

Continued from Procrastinator's Sandwich Bread.

So, while I was impressed with the taste and texture of the previous PSB, I still don't like the idea of all white bread. I grew up on white bread; my mother bought sandwich loaves from the grocery store like most busy moms, especially since she had little talent in yeasted baking, and my grandfather's specialty was potato bread. And while tasty, and surely better than the store-bought loaves, it still wasn't any paragon of nutrition. It took me a long time to like the taste of whole grains, but now I seemed to have flipped the other way... I don't really like white bread. I'll tolerate it, but I prefer whole grain.

And to make it even more difficult, I don't really like wheat -- at least, by itself. I find it bitter, and frankly, I don't do bitter. But I love rye, and barley, and corn, and oats, and... well, you get the picture. I actually really like white wheat, because of its less-bitter taste, but it's much harder to find for a good price. Red wheat is plentiful and cheap, so I just find it easier to mix it with other grains, or sweeten it, etc. Even white wheat has a bold flavor, though. You notice it right away. This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't what I wanted in this bread. I wanted subtle, behind-the-scenes flavor. The kind that makes you go, "Hmm, what is this? This is different. This is good."

So I chose barley. Mild, slightly sweet, and a perfect backdrop for the flax already in the recipe. This time, I chose to use only 1 cup of barley flour and 4 cups of bread flour. I need to know the threshold of the bread, when it goes from just enough whole grains to too much. I intend to gradually step up the amount of barley flour I use until I find it negatively affects the texture, flavor, and/or ease of use of the bread. I don't want to have to coddle this bread because it has whole grains. If I have to coddle it, I won't make it regularly. And that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

I show the recipe below for one loaf, though I doubled it this time around and made two loaves. Honestly, this dough is so easy to handle even by hand, I would make massive batches at once, but I only have one oven and two loaf pans. I'm sure if you scaled this out and made a baker's dozen it wouldn't be much more work than it is for one. I scaled back the yeast some this time, to see if it still rose quickly -- I noted little difference in rise times but a big difference in taste. Also, I used half buttermilk, half 1% milk this time around, and sprinkled with barley flakes instead of the 7-grain cereal. Very tasty! Though the barley flakes like to fall off some...

Procrastinator's Sandwich Bread: Barley Edition


  • .25c butter

  • 1c 1% milk

  • 1c reduced fat buttermilk

  • 2tbsp granulated sugar

  • 2tsp kosher salt

  • 4c bread flour

  • 1c barley flour

  • 1tbsp instant yeast

  • 2tbsp vital wheat gluten

  • 2tbsp ground flax seed

  • more milk for brushing

  • 1-2tbsp barley flakes (or topping of choice)



  1. Melt butter in microwave in a large measuring cup or bowl. (1 min on HIGH for me.)

  2. Add milk and heat to lukewarm. (1 more min on HIGH for me.)

  3. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve.

  4. Combine flours, yeast, gluten, and flax in a large bowl/the bowl of a stand mixer.

  5. Add liquid and mix to "shaggy mass" stage.

  6. Knead by hand or mixer until elastic. Dough will NOT clean bowl or form a ball; this is fine.

  7. Let rise until double, about 35 mins.

  8. Shape into a loaf, and put in greased 9x5in pan.

  9. Preheat oven to 350F; let dough rise 25-30 mins.

  10. Brush with milk and sprinkle barley flakes on top, then score loaf as desired. (I always do mine diagonally, corner to corner.)

  11. Bake for 25 mins uncovered, with steam, then cover with foil and bake another 20-35 mins, until internal temp is 190F.

Pictures to come tomorrow, when I un-lazy enough to upload them to my computer. LOL





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