The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Floydm's picture

I baked a couple of things this weekend.  The first was the Sourdough Carrot Cake recipe from King Arthur that someone (TXFarmer?) posted about a couple of months back.

Carrot Cake Muffins

I halved the recipe and baked them as cupcakes rather than a cake.  It is quite good and a useful way of disposing of ripe starter.

I thought I also baked a walnut levain today, but judging by the timestamp* this is a loaf that I'll bake 205 years from now.

Walnet Levain

It looks like it'll be good.  I'm looking forward to trying it someday!


* I suspect the fact that my 8 year old son has been borrowing my camera to make stop action movies with Lego figures recently has something to do with the timestamp getting changed.  

mdunham21's picture

In my quest to make better bread I have gathered information from almost any resource.  Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice has become a go-to book when I want to bake.  One day I was perusing random websites and I happened upon a blog called "Pinch My Salt".  This blog included a number of amateur bakers making each recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice in order.  I thought this might be a cheaper alternative to making beer considering I do not currently have the funds.

Yesterday afternoon I mixed together the cornmeal and water and let it sit out overnight.  The bowl on the bottom of the picture is about 2 cups of flour, the cornmeal mixture, and yeast.  The other two bowls are pizza dough and a poolish.

I let the soaker/sponge sit out for a couple hours until it was gurgling CO2 at me.  I mixed the sponge with the remaining 2.5 cups flour, 1.5 tsp salt, 1oz shortening and 4oz of molasses .  When I stirred everything together it still seemed too wet, so I mixed in some more flour during the kneading.  the dough was lightly oiled in a bowl and set to ferment for a few hours.  I removed the dough, knocked it down, and formed a couple boules.

I didn't want to make sandwich loaves because I really like free form loaves and the shape of boules.  The final proofing lasted for about an hour before taking them to be scored and baked.  The loaves scored nicely but I lack a peel, as a result I accidently deflated some of the loaf during transfer to the oven.  Thankfully I had a decent amount of oven spring.  

The loaves turned out fine, I can only imagine how they would have looked if I hadn't deflated them, I guess it's time to look into making a peel.  I look forward to the next stage in the BBA challenge and as always look for improvement.


Cheers and Happy Baking



GSnyde's picture

Foodies (myself included) can be really annoying.  Especially the obsession with details of the provenance of ingredients.  I don’t need to know what species of leaves are in the mulch that fed the grass that fed the lamb that I eat.

One foodie principle that I endorse, though, is the locavore concept, the idea that it is beneficial to use local ingredients and to celebrate local cuisine.  Well, we don’t grow wheat here in the Bay Area, but my bake today is decidedly local to the Bay Area.  

The recipe for this miche was developed at San Francisco Baking Institute in South San Francisco; the flours are produced to the specifications of, and distributed by, Central Milling Company in Petaluma; and the whole shebang was put together right here, just a mile from the Golden Gate, by a middling local baker in a worse-than-middling local oven.

The SFBI miche formula has been much touted in the last few weeks, and can be found in Brother David’s recent blog post (  Many of you have baked this formula, and have been pleased with it.   I followed the formula, except I used 50% Central Milling Organic Type 85 flour and 50% Central Milling Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour (a white flour, enriched with malt, that I’ve been happily using for a range of breads).  I used Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Germ (ok, that’s from way up in Oregon).

The dough behaved nicely in mixing.  I found it very slack and sticky, like a high-hydration baguette dough.  Indeed, it was pretty difficult to form the boule as my floured hands kept sticking to the dough.  I either succeeded or failed to properly form a tight boule; I gave up trying at a certain point, and plopped it in a genuine SFBI linen-lined proofing basket.

After 15 hours in the fridge, and 90 minutes on the kitchen counter, the dough ball was very nicely risen, and the poke test indicated proper proofing.


The loaf sprung up nicely in the steamed portion of the bake.  I baked at 450 F for 65 minutes total, and the internal temperature got to 210 F.  The crust is near burnt in places.  My oven is considerably hotter at its top and this loaf was close to the top (no room to use a lower shelf).   Next time I’ll try a slightly lower temperature.  Still, not a bad looking bread, and nicely crackled.



The crumb texture and flavor are awesome—very tender and airy, and complex, sour and toasty-wheaty taste.  I can’t say I notice the wheat germ, compared to the last miche I made using 100% Type 85 flour.  The flavor of the crust is just a tad past “bold”, verging on burnt.  But, this is a really yummy bread.



So this was the last of a three-bake weekend, producing also a nice Cranberry-Walnut bread and some tasty “Bearguettes”, all described in my previous blog post (’s-away-mouse-bakes…-lot)


Happy Baking, all!



Jo_Jo_'s picture

This might just say it all. I made a very small amount of Peter Reinharts Rich Man's Brioche, actually only a third of the recipe. It still called for 1 1/2 sticks of butter in it, by weight is was almost the same amount as it called for flour! The recipe said this was the hardest to make of the three formula's. I took that as a challenge. Here's the end result, the "Money Shots".

From Brioche


It really has an incredible crumb on it, soft and tender, literally you can see the gluten feathering out as you pull one apart. The trouble is that it is almost dripping in butter. I was brought up on using real butter on my breads, so I can't believe I am going to say this. I ate one of these and it almost made me sick there was so much butter in it. It has been a couple hours since I ate it, and my body is still saying, "I am so glad you froze those things!" Really, with my love for breads and using real butter on them, you would think these would taste awesome to me. Even putting sugar free strawberry jam on them didn't help the situation, so I hope that my husband likes them or I might have to feed them to the chickens or something. Here is how I made them, although I really don't recommend them and won't be making them again.

Everything all measured out and ready to be made into Brioche.

My sponge was really small in that huge 6 quart bowl.

Added the other liquid ingredients. At this point I realized that such a small amount was not going to be easy to make in

my mixer.

Flour is mixed in and getting ready to start putting the butter in.

My ball of dough after mixing with the paddle. It had difficulty producing gluten, because it was small and sticky with butter. I actually did some stretch and folds on it for about an hour, trying to get it developed more.

Flattened out and ready for fridge, sorry for the blurry pictures. My cell phone was used for these and it sometimes is hard to tell if the picture is good or not.

Shaped and ready for proofing. They rose about twice this size in two hours, and then I cooked them and they really shot up.

wassisname's picture

There have been some inspiring and mouthwatering nutty breads posted lately, so how could I resist.  I had to have some.  It's been a long time, and I forgot how good a few walnuts in a loaf of bread could be. 

The bread is a basic sourdough, mostly bolted wheat, a bit of  whole white wheat, and a small amount of WW from my starter.  Hydration was around 75%.  To this I added a handful of walnuts and a spoonful of honey.  Precision was not the priority this particular day, clearly.  I don't usually use sweetner in my sourdoughs so I lowered the oven temp to compensate for the honey, but the crust still went a little dark, darker than the photos make it look.  No complaints about the flavor, though!  I made a batch of cranberry sauce to go with it and now everything is right with the world... until the bread runs out anyway!


Moots's picture

I stumbled upon bwraith's 2007 blog entry on this sourdough ciabatta. It combines my two favorite breads in a way that enhances the best of both! I have learned so much from others on this forum and thought others might like to be reminded of this great bread.

sourdough ciabatta


The link to bwraith's formula is here.

I didn't change a thing, but the discussion that followed the original posting was very helpful in monitoring the process.




breadsong's picture

Hello, I was poking around the website, where they make available back issues of their magazine.
I was delighted to find an article written by my SFBI Weekend Baguette class instructor, Frank Sally, on baking with Teff (in a WFO): (The SFBI Teff Miche article starts on page 26).
(David, if you're out there, this one's for you!)

I wrote Frank and asked permission to post the formula here, and he agreed and kindly offered a modified version which I tried baking this weekend.
With so many thanks to Frank Sally and SFBI!!!

I used Bob's Red Mill Whole-Grain Teff flour; that website notes "Whole Grain Teff (Tef, T'ef) an ancient North African cereal grass, is a nutritional powerhouse. It is the smallest grain in the world (about 100 grains are the size of a kernel of wheat!). The germ and bran, where the nutrients are concentrated, account for a larger volume of the seed compared to more familiar grains."

I tried to create "cereal grass" with the scoring:


*Added to post: As a result of Larry's question below, I went back to the article to re-check the baker's percentages.
In the article, in the formula for the Teff levain, the baker's percentages for Starter and Teff flour were switched.
I am embarassed to say I failed to notice this as I blithely went along, entering the information for calculation in my spreadsheet.
Here is the bread as I made it (and the formula restated below, as it was intended to be made!):

SFBI Teff Miche       1500 Desired Dough Weight in grams       <----      
  From 2010.1          
  Baker's Percentages Weights Baker's
Ingredients Dough Starter Teff Levain Dough Starter Teff Levain Total %
Bread flour 1 1   688 76   764 98%
Teff flour     0.1     18 18 2%
Water, boiling (65%)     0.52     94 94  
Water, 70F (35%) 0.65 1 0.28 448 76 51 575 85.55%
Salt 0.027     18.6     18.6 2.38%
Sourdough Starter   0.4     30   30 3.84%
Starter     1     182    
Teff Levain 0.5     345        
Total 2.177 2.4 1.9 1500 182 345 1500  
    (1) (2)          

Restated formula (1500g loaf):



Teff Levain



Bread flour





Teff flour





Water, boiling















Sourdough Starter










Teff Levain











(1) Starter: Mix to 70F, ferment 12 hours.

(2) Teff Levain: Pour 65% of water, as boiling water, over teff flour & mix to make mash.
Cool to 70F. Add remaining 35% 70F water.

When mixture is at 70F, mix in Starter. Ferment at 65-70F for 12 hours. (My Teff levain was starting to recede after 7.5 hours; I carried on with the mix at that point).


(3) Dough: Place flour, water, salt in bowl. Mix to very strong improved mix, medium soft consistency.

Mix in teff levain until incorporated.

Bulk ferment 1.5 hours with 2 evenly-spaced SF's. (I let the dough ferment for an extra ½ hour).

At end of BF, dough will be very sticky and full of gas.

Divide into 1.5kg pieces. Bench rest 20-30 minutes. The dough will become loose and flat.

Flour proofing basket with rice flour. Shape and retard 12-15 hours.

Brush off rice flour, score for even expansion, bake with steam 500F 25 minutes, then additional 35 min. (I found in my oven, that I had to bake in a reducing oven to so the loaf wouldn't get too dark. After 20 minutes, I reduced to 460F, then to 440F after another 20 minutes for the remainder of the bake).

This was a very wet, sticky dough and the stretch and folds did wonders (dough just after mixing, then just after the final shape):

The scored loaf, then the result in the oven:

The loaf is cooling now, and crackles are starting to appear. The most wonderful aroma has filled the kitchen. I want to let the loaf cool a good long while, but I can't wait to taste it & see how the crumb turned out!!!
from breadsong

Submitted to Yeastspotting!
louie brown's picture
louie brown

A return to Andy's formula yielded good results and considerable lessons about dough development, strength, and fermentation. At the same time, I'm more convinced than ever that all home baking is local. Andy, if you are reading, thanks again for your guidance.

Now, an interesting new question arises. Andy mentioned that the center of these breads does not bake up as does the perimeter. My own loaf, and my own experience in general, agrees with this. I have made and seen loaves with very even distribution of the cell structure, but more often, I make and see loaves that have a perimeter with larger, varying cell size, and a center with a more uniform structure. As a nontechnical person, I am only guessing that this is a result of a combination of all the factors that go into a finished loaf; handling, fermentation, baking. 

I would be very interested in comments directed at the goal of producing loaves with more evenly distributed cell structure throughout the loaf, even if the holes themselves are irregular in size, if that's clear.

Anyway, photos (I've included one with flash to better illustrate the translucency of the cell walls,) followed by some shots of txfarmer's crazy baguette, which I undertook just as a challenge. The long cold autolyse and bulk fermentation make for a really delicious bread. However, do take txfarmer's admonition to heart: this isn't an easy dough to handle, especially as a baguette. Myself, I'd be inclined to form it maybe as a batard, or more accurately, a log of some kind. I'm still trying to figure out how I got a 21 inch baguette on my 17 inch stones. Still, delicious and a fun project.

And a side by side shot, which is actually pretty interesting:



Sunshinemom's picture

Man'oushe Za'atar and dips

I am a vegan from India and I enjoy making breads from all over the world.  A couple of years ago Middle Eastern Cuisine caught up in India and led to the opening of many restaurants serving bread topped with zaatar.  Since the first time we had it at "The Arabic Bistro" zaatar topped manoushe breads have become my favourite.  We love it just as it is topped with zaatar or with tahini and hummus on the side.

The good thing about this recipe is that the dough works great for pita breads as well.  I made a few of those too.  Instead of making large pitas I chose to make mini pitas, measuring an inch in diameter.  They make tasty appetizers when served with Italian Tomato Sauce or Hummus.

Dish:Yield: Two 5" pizza base, and about 15 to 20 mini pitas - breads. A small bowl of hummus bi tahini and a very small bowl of tahiniyeh

For the Man'oushe dough (I used half of this recipe):
All Purpose Flour - 6 cups
Salt - 1 tsp.
Sugar - 1 tbsp.
Mahlab - 1/3 tsp. (I omitted this)

Dry yeast - 2 tbsp.
Water - 2 cups
Milk (I used soy milk) - 0.75 cup

Zaatar spice mixed with some olive oil

Place flour, salt and sugar together. Stir to mix. I dry blended in a mixer.

Mix the yeast in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and set aside till frothy.

Add the yeast mixture, milk and rest of the water in a well in the center of the dough mixture and bring together. Knead to form a sticky dough. The original recipe says the dough will be sticky but mine was just right to touch.

Cover and rest till doubled, about an hour, depending on the room temperature.

Divide into 8 balls and dust with flour. Rest for 30minutes.

Roll into mini pizzas about half inch thick. Place two breads side by side in a baking tray and sit for 15 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 150C. Spread zaatar paste on the breads and bake till puffed very lightly brown, about 15 - 20 minutes for the first batch. The rest take slightly less time. Keep an eye on the breads the first time as the time taken may vary for different ovens. Don't let it go toasty brown or it will also turn hard. The bottoms should sound hollow when tapped and turn a nice brown. Serve hot with hummus and tahiniyeh or with any other dip.

Mini pitas

Mini pitas with hummus and tahini

I baked two pizzas and rolled the rest of the balls into thin circles about 8" in diameter.

Cut several one inch pitas using a cookie cutter. Pop in after the pizzas are baked keeping the temperature at 150C. After one minute invert all the pitas and bake. Within a minute they will all blow up into neat puffs. Remove and serve hot with the dips.

These make easy and quick appetizers for parties. You can make the dough in advance and refrigerate after wrapping in cling film.

Sjadad's picture

After lurking for a year I've decided to share what I've been up to.


Five Grain Levain

Five Grain Levain


Vermont Sourdough

Vermont Sourdough





Pizza Crumb



Baguettes a l'Ancienne

Baguette a l'Ancienne using Don's recipe and Sylvia's wet towel steaming method


Baguettes a l'Ancienne Grigne

I was fairly pleased with La Grigne and the scoring


French Apple Tart

I do pastry too :)


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