The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


mikedilger's picture

Bread these days is much maligned.  The Paleo diet people think grains were a mistake.  The low-carb people think carbohydrates are the root of all evil.  And the gluten scare mongers imagine they all have celiac disease.  Even mainstream dietitians warn of the high glycemic index of bread.  What is a baker to do?

Many of these folks can't be convinced otherwise. They've accepted their beliefs about grains, carbs, or gluten in a kind of religious shared-delusional way that is impossible to argue against because it's not logical.

But for those reasonable people who do follow and understand argumentation I write this blog entry explaining each problem or supposed problem, and how it can be fixed.

The Paleo Complaint: Phytates and Lectins

Paleo people are quick to throw out words like "lectins" and "phytates" and they all seem to know that bran contains phytates and that phytates suck nutrients out of your intestinal tract and they get flushed down the toilet.  Fair point.

Well, white flour doesn't have any phytates because it doesn't have any bran.  Even most wheat flours have some of the bran sifted out.  Better yet, the sourdough process neutralizes almost all of the remaining phytates.  And even if you aren't doing sourdough, simply soaking your flour partly neutralizes the phytates by activating phytase, the enzyme that breaks down phytate.

As for lectins, they are ubiquitous in nature, practically everywhere.  But both cooking and fermentation break these down. In sourdough bread we do both.

Low Carb and Keto Diet People

I don't have much mitigating advice for these folks. Bread is not low carb or ketogenic.  They can still remain in ketosis with 50 grams of carbs per day, and that allows a small amount of bread. But it's probably best avoided in this case.


Let's face it.  Less than 1% of people have Celiac disease.  And most people who seem to be gluten intolerant haven't done rigorous studies to determine if the culprit is actually gluten.  The culprit might be (in my opinion) bran from unsoured bread.  After all, health people insist on eating whole wheat, but many don't realize that whole wheat is technically poisonous (depending on your definition of poison) if the phytates aren't dealt with.  So gluten is, in my humble opinion of course, probably not the problem.  Most of these people are experiencing the powerful force of what is known to researchers as the placebo effect.  Many gluten-sensitive people who try sourdough find that they don't have the same reaction.

Glycemic Index

So we come to the last complaint on the list. This is he most scientifically accepted complaint, and this is also the one I think we can do the most about.

[EDIT: and if you're not diabetic and you eat in moderation, don't worry too much about the glycemic index]

Regular white bread has a high glycemic index.  But that can come down in a number of ways.

  • Sourdough lowers the glycemic index
  • Whole grain lowers the glycemic index
  • Oil slows digestion and lowers the glycemic index [EDIT: spread it on your bread, don't add it to the recipe]
  • Seeds lower the glycemic index

While we are on the topic of seeds, many are saying they are a super food. What better way to get your seeds than in a loaf of bread?

In summary, for the health conscious, a sourdough bread with lots of seeds and with some butter or oil spread on it is probably the best prescription.

I'm currently bulk fermenting such a loaf.  I'll post pictures and the recipe if it turns out nice.


dmsnyder's picture


Sourdough Bread

Based on the method of Ramon Padilla

March, 2019

David Snyder


Ramon Padilla is a retired baker. From 18 years old until he retired, he baked for the Parisian Bakery and the Boudin Bakery in San Francisco. He was the baker responsible for the fabulous sourdough bread served at The Tadich Grill. He told me he baked it at Parisian until they closed and then at Boudin. Today, his brother is head baker at Boudin and still makes the bread for The Tadich Grill. In retirement, Ramon has continued to bake bread at home.

Ramon very generously shared the way he bakes bread currently. Interestingly enough, it has some similarities and some differences compared to the published account of the Larraburu method. The most striking similarity is the very short bulk fermentation and very long proofing. The biggest difference is that Ramon's entire process is at room temperature. He did tell me that getting the dough temperature right is an important consideration. He neglected to tell me his DDT (desired dough temperature).

I have modified Ramon's formula and procedures in a few ways, to suite my taste and schedule. His formula calls for all white flour – high gluten for the starter and all purpose for the final dough. I substituted in a bit of whole wheat and whole rye. Ramon does a long (over 8 hour) final proof at room temperature. In order to fit my schedule and in order to increase the acetic acid production, I proofed at room temperature for a shorter time, then cold retarded the formed loaves and proofed further at a warm temperature before baking.

This is an experiment for me. It is not unlikely I will make modifications after seeing how this bake turns out.


Total Dough




Wt (g)

Bakers' %

Total flour






High-gluten flour


















The original recipe and the San Francisco Sourdough of yore are 100% low extraction (white) flour. I have modified this by including 10% whole grain flour, because that is my preference. Besides effects on flavor complexity and nutrition, the anticipated effects would be: 1) A less open crumb, 2) faster fermentation, 3) enhanced acid production.

Note: 15.7% of the flour is pre-fermented. This is less than most sourdough formulas which average 20-25% pre-fermented flour. The effect would be: 1) A longer fermentation/proofing, 2) more acid content at the time of dividing and shaping.






Wt (g)

Bakers' %

High-gluten flour



WW flour






Active firm starter






Note: The 34g of active firm starter consists of 13g water + 16g AP flour + 5g WW flour.

  1. The night before mixing the Final Dough, dissolve the active firm starter in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Cover and ferment at room temperature overnight.


Final Dough



Wt (g)

AP flour


WW flour


Rye flour


Water (warm)










  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix at Speed 1 for 2 minutes to distribute ingredients then for about 9 minutes at Speed 2 to develop the dough. Final dough temperature was 76ºF.

  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board.

  3. Do one stretch and fold. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

  4. Do one more stretch and fold and transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

  5. Cover the bowl and ferment at room temperature for 1hour.

  6. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, pre-shape into rounds and cover. Let rest for 10-30 minutes.

  7. Shape as boules or bâtards and place in floured bannetons or on a couch, seam-side up.

  8. Cover and let proof at room temperature until 75% proofed (6.5 hours for me at 68ºF).

  9. Refrigerate (cold retard) for 12-32 hours. (The longer, the more sour the bread will be.)*

  10. If you think the loaves need it, proof at room temperature for additional time before baking.

  11. Transfer to a peel. Score as desired.

  12. Bake: If baking in Dutch oven, bake at 475ºF covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered at 450ºF for another 10 minutes or until done to satisfaction.

  13. Bake: If baking on the hearth, pre-heat oven at 500ºF for 1 hour with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place. Turn down oven to 460. Load loaf and steam oven. After 15 minutes, remove steam and continue baking for 20-35 minutes, until loaf is baked. (Depends on size and shape of loaf.)

  14. The bread is done when the crust is nicely colored and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temperature should be at least 205ºF.

  15. Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and cool thoroughly before slicing.

* To test the expectation that a longer cold retardation would produce a more sour loaf, I made two loaves. One was baked after 18 hours in the fridge a 2 hours more at room temperature. The other was baked after 22 hours in the fridge and 3 hours more at room temperature. Both were baked on a baking stone, as described in Step 13.

The first photo is of the loaf that was retarded for a longer time. The photo below is of the bread retarded the shorter time.


The following photos of crust and crumb are from this second loaf (the one retarded for a shorter time).

The first of these loaves - the one cold retarded for 18 hours - was sliced and tasted when completely cooled. The crust was very crunchy with a nutty flavor. The crumb was cool and chewy. It had a somewhat sweet flavor with a lactic acid-type acidity predominating. It had a hint of acetic acid tang only.  Among the variations of San Francisco Sourdough, this bread was considerably closer to Acme's than to the Parisian/Tadich Grill style. Excellent bread.

The morning after these loaves were baked, I tasted each. The first loaf's flavor had not changed overnight. The second loaf which had been cold retarded a few hours longer had pretty much the same flavor profile but with just a bit more of an acetic acid tang. Wheaty and lactic acid flavors predominated.

These are very good breads. I especially like the very crunchy crust. I think that is the result of the low hydration. I haven't decided where to go next with this series of experiments. I wonder if keeping a firm starter going for a few weeks would encourage heterofermentative lactobacilli to grow and result in more acetic acid flavor.

 Happy baking!



dmsnyder's picture

Steve Giraudo, whose family owned the company that ultimately controlled Parisian, Colombo, Toscano and Boudin bakeries, sent me links to a couple youtube videos that document the history of those companies. Note that Larraburu was never part of this consortium.  Given the recent interest in SF SD, I thought these would be of interest to many TFL folks.

This one is parts of a couple TV programs, one with a brief biography of Steve's father, who started baking SF SD in 1935 and ended up owning all the remaining old time bakeries. This is before Acme, Tartine and the new generation. That's another story for another day.



Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

I have always loved the smell of fresh baked bread.  It holds a special place in my imagination.  Up until a year ago, my forays into bread baking was limited to a bread machine and a store bought package.  Last spring I attempted to create my very own sourdough starter.  It took a couple of tries, but eventually I was successful and had a very lively culture, all lovely and bubbly.

Then I began accumulating assorted items to pave the way for baking good sourdough bread: a 5 quart dutch oven, two proofing baskets, a lame for scoring my loaves, a bench knife and dough scraper and a large clear plastic container for doing bulk fermentation.

I have done a number of attempts at the process.  Each time was a learning experience.  Some new bit of information would come to light and I would note it and add to my knowledge.  Trial and error can teach you alot.  

But my most recent attempt, I followed Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread Country loaf recipe with some success.  I took from my refrigerated starter 40 grams and added 100 grams each of King Arthur's Bread Flour and water.  This was early in the morning just before I left for work.  When I got home that evening, my levain was ready to go with a sweet smell to it.  I had the young starter he advocated.

I used 1000 grams of Bread Flour, 750 water, 200 starter and 20 salt.  I used Autolyse (rest) method, allowing it to rest and absorb the water with three turns every half hour.  

My only hiccup in the whole process was in the shaping of the loaves.  Up until this time, I was used to working with dough at 60 or 65% hydration.  this was 75%.  I found that when I would try to create the tension in the dough's surface, it would only tear and not truly hold its shape.  I forged ahead, placing the two loaves in my baskets and refrigerated them overnight.  The next morning I fired up the oven to 450 degrees F and baked them 35 minutes with the lid on the dutch oven and then removed the lid and baked another 20 minutes.  The results were good for a first attempt.  However my crust was not as burnished as I would have liked.  I am thinking my folds should have been double to build the gluten enough for my shaping.  


alfanso's picture

In December 2018 I tried to duplicate the delicious breadsticks we had at one of the Arizmendi bakeries in S.F.  I think that I came close after a few tries, eventual swapping out the somewhat invisible-tasting sharp cheddar and jalapeño for pecorino cheese and serrano chilies.  Converted in this iteration from sponge to a 100% hydr. levain with 20% preferment AP flour, it is a 50/50 semolina/AP dough at 69% hydration.  I also removed the sugar and IDY which was used in the sponge. 

Friend Mike made a short notice visit and is staying here these past few days to take care of some East Coast business that had cropped up pronto.  So I baked these baguettes for him as well as some ciabatta.  

Using the similar but converted formula as I did for the breadsticks, the baguettes came out looking fine in every way.  But...I don't believe that this formula is really designed for anything other than a breadstick.  The crumb is quite dense, likely due to the very finely grated 25% pecorino cheese in the mix, and there is "too much" cheese flavor that was better left when the crust was much more the star than the crumb.  

Something was lost in the transition from breadstick to baguette.  Much better as toast than as fresh bread.  So noted, and in the future I'll stick to just using the formula for breadsticks.

And a little ciabatta "skin"

prettyfish's picture

A few weeks ago I attempted a bake using corn flour, inspired by Dutch style soft corn bread. It's basically a soft fluffy bread good for toasting, baked with a hint of corn flour for colour and flavour. Anyway, I felt like baking buns and decided to incorporate some corn. Ingredients:

  • (100%)  600 gr flour, 80% plain white 20% finely milled corn flour
  • (2%)      12gr salt
  • (17%)    100 gr SD starter (100% hydration rye)
  • (60%)     360 gr water
  • 5 tbsp of fresh corn kernels 
  • Handful of seeds for topping (I used pumpkin)


  • Autolyse flours and water for 30-35 min
  • Knead in KA on low (all ingredients aside from the seeds) for approx 6 min
  • S+F over 3-4 hours whilst the dough rests covered
  • Turn out, portion dough out and let rest 10 min
  • Shape each bun making sure to create surface tension
  • Bake in hot oven (230 celsius) with steam 20 min, remove steam and bake till done. I baked for a total of 32 min.

Overall they tasted great but were a tiny bit dense. I also should have taken them out of the oven 2 or 3 minutes earlier, the tops went a bit dark but still tasted good. Recently I've been adding a tiny pinch of yeast to my bun doughs to get a lighter texture, in future I think I'll keep doing that.

Happy baking!'s picture

The recent flurry of chatter about SFSD, Larraburu Bros and Galal et al. highlights curious issues about the terroir of bread.  It occurs to me that bread has a staggeringly more extreme element thereof than wine, cheese or olive oil.  Forgive me if this is obvious and widely acknowledged.  These are new(ish), or at least somehow suddenly more deeply considered, ideas for me.

Whereas it almost takes a bonafide Supertaster to distinguish olive oils from adjacent Ligurian communes, or wines from neighboring Côtes de Rhone estates, almost anyone could distinguish my bread from that made from the same formula and process by my next door neighbor.  Why is this so?  Why is it that bread baking constitutes such a complex nexus of powerful intersecting and interacting factors dictating its outcome as to render each of our products as unique as our respective human genotypes?  I'd wager that even the gentlest nudges of nuture would prevent identical twins from producing indistinguishable breads in a single kitchen.  There's also the inevitable stochastic fuzziness inherent in any bread formula and process not executed by precison-tuned robots.

The utter personal uniqueness of our baked products is manifest every day in the TFL bread browser.  It fascinates me that, from the images, I can pick out a dabrownman, isand66, Danni3ll3, David Snyder, Alfanso or Elsie_Lu bread without having to click the link.  Ok, part of that arises from my conditioning vis a vis the same lighting and cameras in use.  But our breads are like our fingerprints or signatures - no two alike.  It'd be the same as my handing identical pens and paper to all the above bakers and asking them to forge Floyd's scribble of "The Fresh Loaf".  Each would be utterly distinguishable.  Add time, temperature, microbial, ingredient and equipment variation to that and reproducibility flies right out the window.   Are we hopelessly trying to "forge" Larraburu bread? :-)

Danny's community bakes are another example of 1000 flowers blooming from clonal seeds. Granted, everyone there is really encouraged to express her/his own personal take on a common formula, not to reproduce an ideal to the letter.  It's more an exercise of "lets all explore this space", which is the fun and flavorful fascination of it (thank you Danny!).  Yet it would be an interesting variation if everyone was actually encouraged, in a future community bake, NOT to stray from a strictly prescribed formula and process.  I don't have to tell you the outcome(s!) we could expect. 

One upshot of this line of thought is the utter futility of trying to accurately reproduce the character of Larraburu's legendary holey :-) grail.  Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not writing this to troll or diss the efforts eliciting the lively discussion and investigations currently @TFL.  On the contrary.  Just publicly ruminating about it.  We all bake (and braise and grill and stew) guided by a vision, often derived from an image in a cookbook or on a website or TV show.  The memory of a cherished bygone flavor is a powerful and worthy windmill for our personal tiltings.  I certainly do.  We all do.  Go for it.

But given the above musings about the utterly uniquely personal terroir of baked bread, how could any non-Larraburu bakehouse alumnus today possibly reproduce the flavor of a bread that was baked half a century ago at a particular bay area location with particular (mostly unknown, forgotten, scrapped) equipment with a long lost menagerie of microbes, an unknown or effectively extinct water, flour and salt supply, vessels, ambient temperature and humidity by sets of long retired, dead and mostly forgotten hands, eyes, noses and tongues?  How surprising is a result like, "the worst bread I've baked in a decade?" :-)  Well actually, a little.  But maybe that speaks to the immense scale of the challenge of trying to crack the code of bread terroir.  Maybe its quietly telling us You Shall Not Pass.

So why is a bread's character so exquisitely expressive of terroir?  Flour x Water x Salt x Yeasts x bacteria x time x temperature x humidity x hands x vessels x countertops ...?   Fill in some numbers (and factor in the barely knowable nonlinear interactions of those variables) and it becomes combinatorially astronomical.  And convincing.  Here's a hypothesis:  Acceleration, amplification and diversification by high heat.  Wine, cheese and olive oil don't get cooked at 500˚F during production.  Afterward in the kitchen perhaps, but not in the making.  As Michael Pollan has pointed out (highlighting research and scholarship by others), cooking over fire may have accelerated human evolution.  Maybe it's the heat of our ovens that is primarily responsible for launching our breads off in the zillion different directions represented by the endless diversity of our finished products.  But that's probably only a small part of it.

Or maybe it's just that when it comes to wines, cheeses and olive oils, there are only so many orchards, vineyards, pastures, caves, and (increasingly, worryingly, genetically uniform) plant and animal breeds on the planet.  But there are 8 billion of us, each built and driven by 20k genes represented by gazillions of alleles.  Neither us nor our kitchens are clones.  How could we expect our breads to any more uniform than we or they are?

Thanks for listening, if you've made it this far.  Over to you.  Got bread to bake.


Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

I used my 'cheat' sourdough starter for this one. It is reasonably quick because it uses yogurt and a 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast and makes a fair volume of starter. The recipe stated 180g of starter refreshed with 80% wheat and 20% rye flour.  The bread is made with coconut water and also contains grated coconut. Slow rising, it sat in the fridge overnight for its first rise and I finally baked it the next evening. I love the way the aroma of the coconut takes over the kitchen when you toast it. We took the final slices with us when we went hiking in the mountains.

Recipe from

yozzause's picture

I haven't contributed for a while, this is a s/d loaf using Caputo Italian flour Type 0 that has recently become available at the local Supermarket its a Manitoba Ora. On the label it says it is well suited to long fermentation times.

The dough was inoculated  with 10% s/d culture and the formula worked out for a 750g dough piece. 

flour 436g

salt 9g

s/d culture 44g

water 262g

i added 262g of water to the 44g of s/d culture and 262g of the flour and bought this together and let it sit for 1 hour, i then added the rest of the flour and the salt and mixed to a nice dough this was left to bulk ferment overnight for just under 10 hours  it was then knocked back and  handed up and allowed to rest for half an hour it was then shaped and placed in a banneton for just under 3 hours it was then placed in a dutch oven and baked at 220C with the lid on for 20 minutes and lid off for a further 20 minutes. The result was a loaf with a bit more tang than usual and a good mouth feel long after it had been swallowed.


Overall quite happy with this flour as it works out at $A3.00 a Kg when buying the 5 kg bag

prettyfish's picture

One of my favourite baked goods is a crusty and seedy roll, perfect as a sandwich or eaten open-face like the Germans do. Once again I tried to increase the nutritional content by using Spelt rather than white flour, and by adding a chia and flax seed soaker. I added SD starter for flavour, but also used yeast because I was baking the same day. These tasted great and were a good balance of chewy and fluffy on the inside. The recipe below made 8 rolls, but if you want them larger just divide into 6 rather than 8. The hydration is quite high so the dough is messy, but this improves the texture. If you prefer denser rolls I would decrease the hydration slightly.

  • 500 gr flour (300 gr spelt, 200 gr ww German type 1050)
  • 100 gr SD starter at 100% hydration, made with whole rye flour (my darling "Steve")
  • 5 gr dry yeast
  • 12 gr salt
  • soaker made of 3 tbsp chia seed and 2 tbsp coarsely ground flax seeds, soaked in 50 ml water (all water should be soaked up by your seed mix, drain excess if needed)
  • seed mix for topping (in this case I mixed poppy, sesame, chia and sunflower seeds with some spelt flakes)
  • 350 ml water 

Seed Mix

I start the soaker and simultaneously autolyse flour and water for 30 min. Then I add the remaining ingredients (except for the topping) and knead in KA on low speed for approx. 10 min. I let the dough rest and proof with an occasional S+F for 3 hours or until doubled in size. Spelt flour prooves quickly, so keep an eye on it. I preheat the oven as hot as it'll go, for me that 240 celsius. I turn out the dough, divide into 8 and let rest 10 or so minutes. Using a fair bit of flour on the work surface, I shape the rolls and try to build some surface tension by dragging them towards me with the bench scraper. They will look a bit flat, but there's a lot of oven spring once they bake. I spritz the rolls with water and top liberally with the seed mix, patting it in as I go. Once they're all seeded, I add some quick slashes (although this isn't neccessary). I bake at a high temp with steam for 25 min, then another 8 min without steam at a lower temp (180 C).


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