The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Franko's picture


Earlier this month I decided it was time to start over and build a brand new rye starter for myself since my old one had become adulterated with various types of wheat flour over the last few months and I wanted a pure rye sour to use in some upcoming projects I have in mind. I'd hoped it would be ready by this weekend but it's seems the pH went out of balance over the last few days making it not quite ready for prime time. The cupboard was bare for bread and I needed something for the next days sandwiches so I thought I'd just make something using a poolish that I could leave overnight and mix up for a dough the next morning. My first thought was to make a baguette dough with the poolish, inspired by Larry's recent post of what he called his “odds and ends” as well as LindyD's terrific post of the Hamelman series of videos that took us through the entire process of baguette production.

The problem with that kind of dough for me is that while I love the flavour of baguettes, I'm not keen on having a wide open cell structure if I'm making a bread to be used for sandwiches, nor did I want a long skinny loaf. What I ended up doing was using more or less the same ingredients and percentages for a baguette dough but reducing the hydration and adding some of my dormant rye sour to the final mix for a bit of extra flavour. Honestly I'm not sure what to call this bread other than rustic or hearth style, which is fine with me since the name is less important to me than the end result. I'd intended to make two large loaves from the dough but when it came time to divide it I decided to make some baguette shapes after all, just for fun and to get some shaping practice in at the same time. In the end I wound up making 2x 250gram and 1x500 gram baguette shapes and the remaining dough as a simple hearth style loaf. The two small baguette shaped loaves turned out OK, but the scoring and final proof on the larger one left a lot to be desired. The hearth loaf had a good jump and formed a nice crunchy crust with Sylvia's steam system providing plenty of steam during the initial bake. The bread has a nice balance of flavour, with the malt and rye sour doing a kind of sweet and sour thing that works well with the nutty wheat flavour of the Red Fife poolish. The crumb is what I hoping for, with no large holes and fairly uniform, so while it's not close to being a baguette type of crumb, it did make for a good sandwich bread which is what I was after from the beginning.



Hearth Style Bread with Red Fife Poolish










Red Fife 75% sifted flour















Final Dough



All Purpose flour






Rye sour-inactive









Malt syrup-diastatic









Total Hydration










Mix the poolish and ripen for 12-16 hrs @ 65F


Mixing by machine:

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix on 1st for 3 minutes then 2nd for 3-4 ½ minutes. DDT-76F

Mixing by hand:

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix by hand for 10 minutes until you have a soft, slightly loose dough. DDT-76F Note: a slightly higher water temp should be used to make up for lack of friction heat from hand mixing v machine mixing.


Bulk Ferment-2 hrs. Fold once after 1 hr, repeat if needed for proper development.

Divide in 250 grm pieces for small baguette shapes or 500 grm for large baguette shapes, the remaining dough for batards. Preshape in rounds and rest for 15 minutes.

Shape accordingly and proof for 1-1 ½ hrs. Score as desired.

Bake at 480F with constant steam for 10 minutes. Remove steam apparatus and lower oven to 440 and continue baking for 10-15 longer for baguettes , 20-25 minutes for batard. Cool thoroughly before slicing.




gary.turner's picture

Since the liquids in nearly every dough need to be tempered, I went looking for some straight forward, repeatable method to get the temperature I wanted. My answer was to use the microwave. The next step was to figure out how to get the right time for any mass of water or milk, and for any temperature change.

We can see that the time required (Sec) is proportional to the mass of the water (M) and to the change in temperature (ΔT), multiplied by some constant (C). 

M × ΔT = C × Sec

Rearranging to solve for the time; Sec = M × ΔT / C

With my microwave oven, the constant is 312.5 for weight in grams and temp in Fahrenheit. There's a kink in the formula though. My oven requires about 3 seconds to come up to speed, so I add that to the calculated time. For example, let's say I have 350g of  40F milk from the frig that needs to be 65F for an intensively mixed Vienna style dough. I need to raise the temp by 25F, so 350×25/312.5+3 yields 31sec to raise the temp to 65F.

How do you find your magic number? Measure some water, say in the 300-450g range. Take its temperature, and zap it for some reasonable time, e.g. 30 seconds. Measure the temp. Repeat with the same weight of water, for a different length of time. Plot the two tests on graph paper (or use a spreadsheet or graphing calculator), and extend the line through the points to where it crosses the zero temperature change line. Where it intercepts the zero temp, the time line will have some small value. That's your start-up time. Now multiply the weight of the liquid by the temperature change and divide by the time less the start-up time. For example, 350 × 25 / (31 - 3) = 312.5 Notice that that is from my own earlier example. Do the math on your other test(s). The C values should closely agree.

Once you have your magic number, any weight of water or milk and any (upward) temperature adjustment will provide the zapping time for your microwave.



Terrell's picture

Back in the fall I promised my niece-in-law that I would make kolaches for her birthday at the end of November. Which I did, using the recipe from the point of departure. They were OK, but not quite right. Too dry, a little doughy and the flavor was not quite the same. Wait a minute, you say, not the same as what? What the heck are these kolaches of which you write?

 Apricot Kolaches       Apricot Kolaches

Right smack in the middle of Texas there's an area that was populated by people of Czech descent. Well, a bunch of Germans, too, but right now we're interested in the Czechs. They brought a number of traditions from the home country that have worked their way into local culture, most prominently the sweet roll that makes a true Texan's heart do a little extra thump---the kolache. When I was little, the ladies from the Catholic church in Ennis would come up to our church in Dallas to fundraise by selling home-baked kolaches to the big city folks. We didn't get quite as excited as we would for Christmas that weekend but it was right up there with, say, Easter. Mom would buy six dozen and freeze five of them to be brought out for special occasions during the year. We got to eat one box that morning. Now, you have to realize that there are nine kids in my family. Add two parents and that meant that we each only got one kolache. And I still remember those five or six bites as a highlight of my year.

After a couple of my brothers moved to Austin to go to the University (no need to qualify which university in Texas) our kolache supply got a little steadier. Anyone who made the drive between Dallas and Austin was required to stop in West, Texas (the name of a town, not a region that is in central, not west, Texas) and pick up a couple dozen. It was a regular enough occurrence that we could request certain fillings instead of just grabbing whatever was available. I always went for apricot first, cream cheese second. Or maybe prune. And then, I grew up. Moved away. Lost my source and only ever got a kolache fix if my visits to Dallas happened to coincide with an Austinite's. Joined that community of expat Texans who could only dream. Now and then I'd find a bakery that claimed to make them but they were never anything close to what I remembered. You know, if it's not right, it's just not right.

Now you probably think I'm crazy, just wierd to feel this way about a pastry, but I am not alone. My niece who requested them for her birthday isn't even a Texan, just married to one. When I went looking for a recipe on the internet, the passionate postings about dough and fillings were everywhere. They all seemed to point one direction, however. The recipe posted on The Homesick Texan blog seemed to be the place to go for the real thing. There were 138 comments on the post that all say pretty much the same thing, "Oh my god these are amazing, just the way I remember them." So I used her dough recipe exactly. I subbed in some other fillings since I was out of apricots but that's not important. It's the bread that matters. And now there are 139 comments on that post including mine which says, "Oh my god these are amazing, just the way I remember them."

I'm not going to reprint her recipe. You can go see it for yourself. I will just tell you that I found I had to bake them a little longer than her timing states, more like 20-25 minutes. It may just be that I need to check my oven temp. There are some tiny details that she leaves out that make them even more perfect like you should put them close enough together on the baking sheet so that the oven spring makes them just kiss each other and you wind up with a slightly squared off, not perfectly round finished product. I found the Posypka recipe needs either more butter or less flour/sugar to make it clump properly. She only includes a recipe for apricot filling but it seems more authentic to have a variety so I made three kinds. I used some Trader Joe organic strawberry preserves for some which, while cheating, still came out well. I took some plum conserve my brother made from his home-grown red plums, drained out most of the liquid and mashed up the plum bits. Those, too, were pretty successful. And I really wanted some raspberry ones so I just tried some raspberry jam I had in the fridge. This was way too watery and made a mess on the cookie sheet. They also got the 'best taste' vote from all my testers so I'm going to work on how to make a drier version next time. I also have a request for the cottage cheese/cream cheese filling from my nephew. Can't wait to try it.

Homesick Texan Kolaches

MickiColl's picture

As I ponder my lost youth I keep going back to when I first started baking bread... 60 some years ago. the lady that taught me only made graham flour bread ..

as I remember it, it was a light, soft, slightly sweet all purpose sandwich bread, baked in a loaf pan. she may have used water .. but maybe milk.  maybe all graham, maybe white and graham mixed .. I have googled, and searched everywhere but can't come on a recipe for it. is there anyone on this site  that may remember that far back, and have the recipe ? graham flour is hard to find but I finally did get some Bob's Red Mill. strangely, neither them nor King Arthur have the recipe. Should I just use my favorite wheat bread recipe, and substitute with graham flour ? Any help, suggestions are appreciated.  


tssaweber's picture

Yesterday my bread baking world got a strong hit! My wife dragged me in a nutritional health presentation. With most of the advice and recommendations presented I have no issue and I'm ok to eat raw vegetables, fruit, add parsley and cilantro to everything and drink green smoothies.

What really bothers me was that the presenter said that wheat is an extremely harsh food and the gluten in wheat is very bad for your health. Even my beloved sourdough multigrain rolls and bread she considers as bad.

I would be interested in what we as artisan bread bakers should answer to such an opinion.



Doughtagnan's picture

As I had a long weekend off I decided to make my 1st ever Croissants using my  Bourke St Bakery cookbook. The results were pretty impressive and I subbed Doves farm dried yeast for the fresh with no problems. I made half of their recipe and here are the results!



MarieH's picture

I have been reading this blog for many months now and have been inspired and educated by so many bakers. I have used many of the wonderful techniques that ya'll write about (Sylvia's steaming method - genius!).

While I'm impressed by postings of boules, miches, baguettes, and batards, I wonder if there is room to post about a humble sandwich bread made with Guinness, oats, and honey. The recipe is from KAF Whole Grain Baking and is a regular bake for me.

The crumb is good for sandwiches and toast.

Just so I can have some artisan baking street cred, I made Peter Reinhart's whole wheat focaccia last week and am on day 10 of developing a sourdough starter (thanks to the excellent guidance of Teresa Hosier Greenway of

Thanks to everyone who participates in this blog and to Floyd for running it. I look forward to hitting the Reeder icon on my iPad every day to see what postings there are. A little bit of baking sunshine...


rossnroller's picture

This boule version of DMSnyder's handsome miche is scaled down to 1kg, and I've altered the formula a little, hopefully while remaining fairly true to the spirit of the original.

The reasons for the mods are: I wanted a slightly more open crumb so increased the hydration a little; I do not have high-extraction flour; I wanted to include the toasted wheatgerm that was part of the SFBI formula; I prefer a less jaw-challenging, lighter browned crust. Heh heh - come to think about it, maybe the spirit of the original had flown by the time I made these mods! Anyway, using my usual biodynamic organic flours, I proceeded as follows:

435gm baker's flour
15gm wholewheat flour
325gm filtered water
14gm toasted wheatgerm
9gm salt
186 gm levain (100% hydration; 15% whole wheat/85% white flour)

Roughly mix all ingredients but salt and autolyse 40 mins. Cut salt into dough with dough scraper, transfer dough to oiled plastic oblong container, stretch and fold, then again every 30 mins for first hour, then bulk proof 1 more hour (total BP = 2 hours).

(Note: My BP was short because ambient temp was 27C/81F+. Extend BP if lower room temp.)

Preshape, rest 15 mins, shape, and transfer to fridge for overnight retarding period (final proof). Bake straight out of fridge next day after scoring.

15 mins with steam @ 225C/440F on pizza stone preheated in oven (turned to max for 45 mins)
18 mins @ 215C/420F
15 mins @ 200C/390F
Cool on rack for 2 hours before eating.

Looking at the pics, obviously my version was way inferior aesthetically. I never have managed to achieve the lovely even spread with the criss cross slash pattern that David's pic shows to such pleasing effect. Doubly difficult, I think, when making small bloues, and when the ambient temps are high - possibly my loaf was slightly overproofed, despite the vastly reduced proofing periods. The flavour of both crust and crumb was terrific, however. The crust, while clearly much lighter than David's, was nevertheless still full of caramelised character, and the crumb was open, spongy and had a nice cold mouthfeel. The wheatgerm added a nutty flavour note that was subtle but discernible. I always like to assess fresh bread with a thin spread of butter, and this one passed the taste test with distinction. All in all, a gorgeous bread. Thanks David!






wassisname's picture

 I love big, crusty, whole wheat, sourdough bread.  I may have mentioned that in a previous post... or two.  That flour, water and salt can transform into something like this never fails to amaze me.  My tired brain particularly appreciates that such simplicity can still produce such wonderful bread - anything more intricate just isn't in the cards right now.

I went with the Whole Grain Breads version this time, leaving out the instant yeast.  The flour was approximately 70% whole wheat / 30% bolted "Turkey" flour.  The bulk ferment was about 4 hrs and the proof was about 2 ½ hrs @ 70F, though it did get gradually warmer for about the last hour.

These loaves were larger, and had a more pronounced sourness than the last pair I made following the Local Breads method.  Crust and crumb were, however, very similar.  I did get my first real crackles in the crust this time.  Learning to trust that the bread won't burn is paying off.

The perfect topping for a hefty slab of this bread turned out to be some nice, ripe avocados I happened to have.  Highly recommended.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. 


breadsong's picture


Many thanks to Daisy_A for her wonderful posts:
Sourdough Wholemeal Lemon Bread, and Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies!

I wanted to bring some flavors to the table that remind me of sunny places, as it's been rainy and wet where I live for quite awhile. Daisy_A's recipes seemed perfect and lovely to share with our dinner guests.

Here is the bread (made 4 loaves; two are pictured).
I added the zest of 5 lemons to Daisy_A's formula and the bread had a really nice lemon flavor.
My lemon-loaf-shaping was not as successful as I'd hoped for, and unfortunately couldn't give the bread as much fermentation time as I would have wanted - was a bit short on time yesterday and pulled these out of the oven just as our guest arrived!:

For dessert, I assembled Mexican ingredients from my pantry to make Daisy_A's amazing Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies. What a truly special cookie! I followed Daisy_A's suggestion to add orange, cinnamon and vanilla flavors, and wow, all I can say is I think this is the most delicious cookie I have ever tasted!!!  

Here are some of the ingredients. The piloncillo sugar is a Mexican cone sugar I purchased for making cafe de olla. Thanks to ehanner for his excellent inquiry about other ways to use this sugar (his post is here); I took his suggestion and used the sugar in these cookies - bravo, Eric!
I had some Mexican Ibarra chocolate and Mexican vanilla - I was pretty happy to have these ingredients on hand for this cookie bake! 


Daisy_A's Mexican Chocolate Crackle Biscuits (adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking), with orange and vanilla flavors; makes about 30 biscuits, 22grams each
(I doubled Daisy_A's quantities, to make enough cookies to give some to our guests as a gift to take home with them)

90g sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
100g all-purpose flour
100g Piloncillo sugar, broken up into small pieces with a chocolate chipper

I whirled all of this around in the food processor, trying for a fine grind. The sugar didn't incorporate as finely as I would have liked; I sifted and whirled the larger bits around again until it was finer. Next time, I may chop the sugar even more finely by knife before processing.

To these ingredients I whisked in:
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Canela Molida) (equal to Daisy_A's original amount, and not doubled, as the Ibarra chocolate also had cinnamon flavor)
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder 
1/16 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I actually forgot to add this - so much for mis en place!)

The dry ingredients were set aside while the chocolate mixture was prepared.

In a double boiler over two inches of simmering water, stirred and melted:

40g unsalted butter
4 teaspoons Kahlua liqueur
2 discs (3.1 oz each) Ibarra Mexican chocolate, broken up into pieces with a chocolate chipper

(Didn't this smell heavenly as it was melting down!)
When smooth and glossy, the mixture was set aside to cool a bit. Once cooled, I whisked into the chocolate mixture:

20g very finely diced candied organic orange peel
3/4 tsp Mexican vanilla

In a separate bowl, I whipped 2 large eggs until lemon-colored and thickened.
The eggs were folded into the chocolate mixture, then the dry ingredients were folded into the chocolate mixture.
The mixture was chilled for 2-1/2 hours before forming the cookies. By the time I was finishing forming the cookies, the mixture was getting soft; next time, making this quantity, I may chill the mixture in two separate batches so one half can stay chilled while forming the first half.
I used a small ice-cream scoop to portion the cookies and they ended up weighing 22g each.

I rolled each portion into a ball then rolled each ball in icing sugar. The cookies were baked on a perforated baking sheet at 320F convection for 15 minutes:

These were so lovely to enjoy with after-dinner coffee!!! They came out of the oven at 2pm and they had several hours for the flavors to blend and develop by dessert time. So very yummy!

Thank you, Daisy_A, for a great introduction to Jan Hedh with this bread, and for your pretty, tasty little cookies.
From breadsong











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