The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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dmsnyder's picture

We had a leisurely drive up to South San Francisco today for the SFBI Artisan I workshop which starts tomorrow and lasts 5 days. We're staying at one of the hotels nearby - 1.5 miles from SFBI itself.

We drove over to see where it is. SFBI is on a hill with a beautiful view of the hills West of the Bayshore Freeway (US Hwy 101). It's in the heart of the Bay Area biotech enclave. In fact, SFBI and TMB are essentially an island in the Genentech campus, which is huge. Immediately to the East is SF Bay. There's a wonderful walking path that goes for several miles along the bay here.

We drove into San Francisco for dinner at Out the Door, a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant in the food court adjacent to Bloomingdales. (Not your usual shopping mall food court, believe me!). We had had reservations at Fringale, a favorite French-Basque restaurant, but I got a phone call from them just before we were going to change clothes for dinner. Fringale had "an emergency" and was closed for the evening. I was thinking the chef had dropped dead or something, but it turned out the exhaust fan in their kitchen went out. Hopefully, it will get replaced tomorrow and we can get another reservation during the week. (They make a delicious duck confit served on a lentil ragout. I need some.)

So, I'll attend the first session of Artisan I starting at 0830 tomorrow. I've my brand new chef's jacket and beanie (Yes. Really.) in my back pack, along with the suggested note pad, marking pen and calculator. And two cameras.

I don't know who the instructors will be yet. I have expectations regarding the curriculum, but I'm prepared to be surprised and expect to have a blast.


lief's picture

Here is the second recipe I've made from Amy's Bread, and my first pumpernickel ever! After having been burned by modifying the methods for the 100% spelt bread recipe (mine ended up VERY sour) in the same book and not knowing what to expect from pumpernickel flour I stayed very close to the original recipe. However, when I put together the final dough, it was absolutely nothing like the description! There is some sort of disconnect here and I'm not sure what it is. The recipe describes a dough that may need to have water added to it a tablespoon at a time if it is too difficult to knead. It describes a dough that should be very easy to handle when it comes time to shape it. My dough was very, very wet and although manageable I would not describe it as easy to handle. I thought that perhaps I measured something wrong, but the final dough weight was in the ballpark of what I expected it to it be after all ingredients were accounted for. My suspicion is that the course pumpernickel flour should have been put in a soaker the night before, as prescribed for the sunflower pumpernickel bread in BBA. My inclination was to make a soaker but I did not because it was not in the recipe as written and I was trying to stay close to the recipe.

These concerns aside, the bread tastes great! The recipe contains a good portion of sunflower seeds and it really seems to go well with the pumpernickel flour. It has a smooth and nutty flavor (duh!) with a pleasingly chewy crumb and a very crunchy crust. I felt like it would have been great with some butter, but I never actually ate it that way... instead preferring to eat the slices plain but lightly toasted. The crunchy crust was undoubtedly helped along because I brushed one loaf with oil and the other with melted butter because I could not fit both loaf pans under my foil pan. This was the suggestion given in Amy's Bread to achieve even coloration if insufficient steam was causing white streaks on your breads. It certainly worked to get a nice even color on top of the loaves, and I did enjoy the crunch imparted on the crust, but at the same time it made the bread a little "oily" like it had been lightly fried or something like that. I'm not sure I'm so keen on that, so I may not use that technique in the future. Perhaps I'll try an egg wash instead?

Also, the loaves were a bit flat because I over proofed them. It's been quite some time since I've made bread with commercial yeast, and being accustomed to sourdough time tables I wasn't keeping a proper eye on the dough. Before I knew it, they were ready for the oven... but it wasn't even pre-heated yet!! Oh well... the taste was still very nice and that is what is important. My next pumpernickel bread will be from BBA so I can compare the two recipes.


louie brown's picture
louie brown

I am interested in improving my roll shaping skills. This is a very basic sourdough formula of about 67% hydration, bulk fermented for about 3 and a quarter hours in a warm city kitchen, then shaped and proofed for about another hour and a quarter, baked with steam.


I tried some fendus, which, while they had the right shape, were rather bloated for my taste. I prefer the slimmer shape, with a nice point for rolls. I think this will require a wider "hinge" and a narrower body.


I also tried a shape I believe I saw here, although I am not sure. A dowel is pressed into the side of a round roll and a flap is rolled. This flap is then pulled over the top of the roll, making a lovely effect. If this sounds familiar to anyone, I'd appreciate some guidance.


The rolls shown, in a "teardrop" shape, are, as far as I can tell, an original idea, cut to a point with a bench knife from a round shape that has been lengthened a little. People seem to have fun eating them.


Additional discussion about rolls, especially shaping, would be welcomed.


I'm including an additional crumb shot of the batard just because I like the picture.





Jw's picture

For some reason I have been avoiding baking bagels. It's not are national dish, but they pop up in more and more bakeries. Even the better ones. So time to give it a try with (plain) yeasted bagels (Reinhart's Crust and Crumb).

Pretty much followed the recipe, but got a warning signal, when the dough did not float in 15 seconds in my pan of cold water. Actually, no floating at all here. This is where I could have stopped, but what the h.. At least there was a consistency, because there was hardly any floating in the almost-boiling-water the next day either...

The windowpane test was ok, guess I need to work on the structure of the dough. Next time I will make a few different versions. Think my flour is maybe not the right kind.

BTW: it's bagel for a birthday, don't think I can fail here. Don't know yet what they taste like, but it sure smells great.

Note to my self: use our real oven next time.

Happy baking,

trailrunner's picture

I am sorry for being so slow.  All  posted in the original thread on the SJ bread. I tried to answer all the great comments and questions. If there is something else please do ask. I love sharing and receiving on this board. c

wassisname's picture


If ever there was a time to make a hearty rye...

When mom returns from a trip to Germany with an assortment of Brotgewuerz and mustard recipes (gotta love a mom who knows), I think that's a sign that I need to get back to some rye bread.  She whipped up a few test batches of mustard, all mouthwatering, some sinus clearing, so I baked up some crusty rye.

It's about 60/40 whole wheat / whole rye using Peter Reinhart's method from WGB.  I fed my WW starter with rye and let it ferment for 12 hrs at room temp.  Worried that the starter may have spent too much of itself overnight I added a little instant yeast to the final dough, though originally I had intended to leave it out and go full sour. 

Things got a little wetter than they should have.  Not only was I a little out of practice on this recipe, but I switched WW flours as well.  "Sticky mess" would be one way to describe it.  But I persevered and went with it.  Every step was a near disaster but eventually I got the two loaves in the oven more or less intact.  The one that didn't try to ooze off the edge of the stone made it into the picture.

They went flat and wide, of course, but otherwise came out about as well as I could have hoped.  Crusty, airy, chewy, yummy.


Unfortunately, I ran out of mom's homemade pickles last week, drat!  So these will have to do.


dahoops's picture

We took a final trip to South Haven, MI to the DeGrandchamps Farms for another 20 lbs of fresh blueberries yesterday.  I've been baking muffins, pies and generally eating a pound at a time of their delicious blueberries. 

I may be related to Dr Frankenstein since I decided to make a no-knead with some of the fresh blueberries (I know - weird).  But, the loaves turned out surprisingly moist and tasty.  Not a very open crumb, but certainly worthy of some butter and/or cream cheese if toasted.  I used about 1.5 cups of fresh blueberries, 3/4 cup of slivered almonds and a heaping tablespoon of cinnamon in each 2 lb loaf.  What do you think?  ; )

Mebake's picture

This Whole Wheat and Whole Rye, was baked from Jeffrey Hamelman's BREAD under Soudough Rye section. It involves yeast in the final dough, with Rye sour as the flavour.

This bread has a mild rye flavor with a mild acidic tang. i liked it!


Daisy_A's picture


I decided to attempt this bread, which Daniel Leader records in Local Breads, after seeing the beautiful pictures on Zolablue's blog.

After working so hard to shape and steam the barm bread I also wanted to relax about shaping and concentrate on opening up the crumb of the next loaf I made. Made with white flour the barm bread can be open, but I had chosen to make it with quite a high amount of rye for a denser crumb and that much-loved rye flavour. Nury's rye with its rustic shape and lower rye content seemed an ideal bread to make next.

Maybe it's true that we can learn as much from what goes wrong as well as what goes right, even if it's not always so enjoyable? Certainly with my first two sourdough breads there were a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to get good loaves out of the oven!  Looking back, the story of making these breads reads a little like this - baker attempts sourdough bread, baker seems to be losing bread, baker rescues bread - eventual happy ending (phew). Can any other novice bakers relate to this? In comparison baking Pierre Nury's rye was much more straightforward.

The only adaptation I made to the formula was to use dark rye in place of light rye. Since starting to bake sourdough in May I've had to get up to speed fast with the different flours and grains used in artisan baking but wasn't yet aware of the range of rye flours. According to historian E.J.T. Collins, prior to 1800 rye bread was eaten widely in Britain and only 4% of bread was made of white wheat only. However breads made with rye flour are not so common now. Pumpernickel is available in some shops but is generally imported.

So, unused to a range of ryes, I have to admit to my chagrin that my first thought was that 'light rye' meant 'light on the rye', as in 'light on the mustard' or 'hold the mayo'.  Even when I realized that light rye was a type of rye flour I couldn't find any locally, not even at our local whole food cooperative, which carries a very good range of flours. I now realize I will have to look online. In the meantime, having scheduled time for baking, I pressed on with the darker rye. Zolablue notes on her blog that a stick made with darker rye is a different loaf from the original Pierre Nury's Light Rye. I have to agree but it was still delicious and I have baked with the darker rye a second time and again loved the flavour, although  I suspect the loaf may not rise as much. The flours used were from the Dove's Farm organic range; Strong White Bread Flour, Wholemeal and Wholemeal Rye.

I have to attribute success with this bread to Nury's beautiful formula. Although wet the dough handled well. The resulting loaf had a wonderful crunchy walnut crust and an open crumb. The flavour was fantastic! Tardis-like it seemed to have more rye flavour on the inside than might be guessed from a quick glance at the formula. Several bakers have posted on this being part of the attraction of the bread. I'm currently experimenting with different sourdough recipes but when the experimentation calms down I'm sure we could go for this as our weekly or even daily bread. Put it this way I baked two of these sticks in the evening and by the early next morning both were gone...

This was also one of only two sourdough formulae that I have been able to get through a long retardation without the dough losing elasticity. The other is a sourdough adaptation of Jan Hedh's lemon bread.  With a high concentration of sourdough in the initial mix my starters can get going like kittens in the wool box and reduce a nice tight ball to a much looser scattering of chewed gluten strands in a relatively short time. However in the case of both formulae mentioned here the amount of sourdough in the preferment is relatively low.

I haven't included the formula and method as it is given in full on Zolablue's blog and I followed that more or less to the letter. Thanks Zola.

I have just one main reflection on method. Several people on TFL have pondered how to hand mix a dough that calls for 12-14 minutes of initial development by machine until smooth and very stretchy. I obtained a well-developed dough with 20 minutes of continuous S&F on the bench, 10 minutes rest then another 10 minutes S&F, although this can be achieved in a variety of ways as other TFL bakers show.

I have since adapted Nury's formula to make a boule. I read Janedo's inspiring blog on her development of a boule from this formula and was encouraged by that. However I chose to start with a lower hydration dough. Following welcome advice from Andy/Ananda I  kept the hydration percentage in the 60s so I could work on my shaping skills with a lower hydration dough. Nevertheless, writing up the formula for the chart I think it could have gone up as far as 69%. I was also working with re-strengthened starters, which had previously been too acidic and were rendering wetter doughs too elastic to be shaped easily. In fact they were turning some boules into Dalí-like clock faces! This was another reason for trying a less wet dough. Obviously more experienced bakers who prefer to work with higher hydration dough can adjust the formula accordingly but it may suit those wishing to start with lower hydrations. I will also continue to experiment with this formula.

The final crumb was less open than in the unshaped sticks but it was even and still moist. I found I could shape and slash the bread more effectively with a lower hydration dough yet the crust was still well-coloured and crisp. The flours used were Marriage's Organic Strong White Bread Flour and Organic Whole Wheat with Dove's Farm Organic Wholemeal Rye. The Marriage's flour performed particularly well, yielding a nicely-developed, well-flavoured bread.

The process of mixing used was as for the sticks, following the information for initial autloyse, mixing and S&F from Leader as described by Zolablue, with the substitution of hand mixing for machine mixing.

The bread was baked on a stone with steam in the first 10 minutes of baking. I had been using an iron pan which I wet with half a cup of water before baking. However my domestic oven was struggling to get both this and the stone up to temperature. Since I replaced this with two much smaller fajita pans, one on each side of the oven, the steaming has been great.

The rye formed a slightly lower percentage of the overall flour in this formula and the rye taste was less prevalent than in the original sticks. However the mellower taste suited the boule and the bread was still extremely flavoursome.

Crust and Crumb


The formula below is for a 845g boule at approximately 69%  hydration once flour and water from the levain are accounted for. (I hope this is correct. As said below, any maths corrections accepted gladly. I have left in some of the 'working out' in the last column'. I've been enjoying doing the maths but it's testing me!)

Total Formula



Marriages organic white strong bread flour


 (397 + 7 + 45)
Marriages 0rganic wholemeal flour


Dove's Farm organic wholemeal rye flour


 (7 + 3)


 (310 + 8 + 24)





I estimate the hydration at 342/496 = 69% once the levain is factored in




Original stiff levain 34g (approx. 11 water, 12 white flour, 11 wheat flour)
23g (7, 8, 7 in final 94g)
Marriages organic strong white bread flour


Marriages 0rganic wholemeal flour







Final Dough



Marriages organic strong white bread flour


Dove's Farm wholemeal rye flour












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