The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Nate Delage's picture
Nate Delage

I've been continuing practicing my baguettes and have progress to report. I've lowered my hydration yet again to 71% and the dough is even easier to shape and more importantly score. While there's still some room for improvement, I was able get some nice ears on the last few loaves.

I was a bit surprised to get such a nice shine and caramel color on these loaves. I suspect this is beacause of more aggressive steaming than I usually do. The past few bakes I've only sprayed the sides of the oven, this time I also poured a cup of water in a pan right before baking and wasn't afraid to spray the top of the loaves while they were cooking (just the first 10min). I'll continue to steam with both water in a pan and spraying the entire oven (being careful to not spray the oven light).

The taste, crumb and crust were excellent all around. I really enjoyed eating these! Again a lower hydration didn't seem to impact the crumb much at all. Granted I only reduced my hydration a few percent.

Tomorrow will be a busy baking day. I'll be making some more baguettes and a few boules and oval loaves with 15% whole wheat. I just received a beautiful couche and brotform from SFBI and a lame, which I can't wait to use.


rossnroller's picture

I've been going through a wing-it phase, experimenting with creating sourdough cakes, brownies and other goodies I'd previously only made using more conventional recipes. I wasn't intending to make chocolate sourdough bread at all, but did so on an impulse when one of my wing-it episodes landed me with a bit too much chocolate and walnut cake mixture.

I just chucked in AP flour, a bit more starter, a bit of salt and enough water to give me a dough of the consistency I like. Random enough beginnings, but the happy accident I referred to in the post title came later. I forgot about the bread after the final proof, and left it sitting on the kitchen bench overnight, rather than retarding fermentation in the fridge (which is my usual modus operandi, partly because I like the flavour imparted by the extended fermentation, and partly to suit my baking schedule). 

This long overnight final proof at room temp can work well if the ambient temps are cool, but this was one of the warmer winter nights - around 21C in the kitchen from memory, maybe warmer. Actually, definitely warmer until we went to bed - we had a fire on.

Anyway, when I got up next morning and opened the fridge to find the dough missing, I realised what had happened. On uncovering the dough, I was annoyed to find it puffed up and bloated to an enormous size. It was literally bursting at the seams! When I slashed it prior to loading, it parted extravagantly. Not the worst sign, I noted with faint hope. I was expecting it to deflate like a pierced football bladder.  Sure it was grossly overproofed nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and bake it anyway on the off-chance that it would somehow turn out edible.

Well, bugger me - what a shock! It was the lightest, softest crumbed sourdough bread I have ever baked!! The pics don't show how big and light this baby was per dough weight (considerably less than my usual bake of around 800-1000g), but do give some indication of the airy crumb. There was no sign of overproofing in the finished product!

And the flavour? Mild chocolate with a hint of sour. Would be nice with maraschino cherry jam, I imagine, but we only tried it with strawberry jam (not bad) and marmalade (better - combined well with the orange tang). All in all, though, it was at its best simply spread with butter.

I'm not into novelty breads so won't be repeating this one in a hurry, but would go down well at a kid's birthday party, I suspect - spread with nutella with hundreds-and-thousands? (erk!)

Cheers all




breadsong's picture

My neighbor had a bumper crop of Transparent apples this year and generously shared with us :^)
I used some to make Ciril Hitz's Apple Kuchen, from his book Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads.
The foundation for the Kuchen is Rum-Raisin Brioche! :^)
 .. the baked Kuchen

...a crumb shot

  ...close up of Butterkuchen (almond paste),
the rum-raisins and the brioche; before adding the apple slices and the crumbly, streusel topping...LOTS of good stuff in this Kuchen! :^)

Blackberries are ripening beautifully right now, with the heat we are having. I pulled out my old and treasured recipe for Glazed Blackberry Pie!:

... a close-up of the berry filling:

I wanted to share the recipe for this delectable (imho) summertime tart!:
Glazed Blackberry Pie
(strawberries, blueberries or raspberries may be substituted for the blackberries)
5 cups blackberries
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 baked and cooled 9-inch pie shell
1 cup whipping cream

Crush and sieve 1 cup of the blackberries to remove seeds.
Combine cornstarch, pinch of salt, sugar, sieved berries and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the glaze is thickened and clear. I let it come slowly to a boil, and boil gently for 1 minute.
Cool slightly, and add the lemon juice. Sometimes I add a little bit more lemon juice to brighten the flavor if I think it needs it. Now is also a good time to add a bit of liqueur of your choice, if that interests you!
Very gently, fold the remaining berries into the glaze.
Pile the berry mixture into the baked pie shell. Cool and chill.
Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Yesterday I tried making a Vollkornbrot (just a small one, 8x4 loaf pan size). I added currants to Mr. Hamelman's recipe from his book Bread. I waited 24 hours to slice it - was so anxious to taste! It had a really nice flavor with the currants. I'm really looking forward to how this will taste tomorrow. end view

side views...  

  ... and the crumb

Today's bake is Sourdough based on this formula from my Guild class;  I tried to score the loaves to look like wheat. This was really fun to try!

and one last close up (I really like those bubbles!)

Happy baking everyone!
:^) from breadsong

SylviaH's picture

A very delicious recipe.  This is my first test version using, fresh Black Mission figs, the orginal recipe from 'The Art of Wood Fired Cooking' by Andrea Mugnaini uses, dried figs and is baked in a wood fired oven '.  This book has many of the basics for mastering your wfo and, full of tasty recipes and lovely photos. 

A lovely torte that is at not at all to sweet.  Wonderful for morning or, evening snack with a cup of coffee or tea.  The flavors all blend perfectly together and the fennel is just right.  

The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate.  I used pieces of my Dark Chocolate Godiva bar.

The dusting of powered sugar adds just the right amount of sweet to go with the fruit, nut and chocolate.


I baked at 375F convection setting for apx. 20-25 minutes in home oven.  I also used a springform 9" pan.


Should still be delicious it says even after one or two days...I very much doubt it will last one day.


Recipe  -

Bake Oven Environment in a WFO> Floor temperature of 350-450F with hot coals but no live flame

my home oven preheated 375F convection setting

8 TBsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided

3/4 cup plus 1 TBsp AP flour

1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs - I used 1 cup chopped Fresh Figs

1 1/2 cups chopped Walnuts

4 Large Eggs

1/3 cup plus 2 TBsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/3 cup cup chopped bittersweet chocolate - sub. Godiva Dark Choc.

1 tsp. fennel seeds

Powdered sugar for dusting on cooled cake

Brush inside of a 9" cake pan - I used my 9" springform pan

with 1/2TBsp. melted butter.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper and brush the paper with another 1/2

TBsp. butter.  Add 1 TBsp. flour and shake pan to coat completely.


Combine the figs and walnuts in a bowl and sprinkle over the bottom of the prepared pan, covering evenly.


Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until creamy add the remaining butter and vanilla.


Sift the remaining flour and baking powder into a small bowl.  Fold in the chocolate.  Using a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture

to the egg mixture and sitr to combine.  Stir in the fennel seeds and pour batter evenly over the figs and walnuts.  Place in the oven 

for 20 minutes.  Check after 10 minutes...if the nuts are getting too brown, lay a piece of oiled foil over the top.  The torte is done

when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack.  Place the rack over the pan upside

down and invert.  Remove the cake pan and peel off the parchment paper.  Place a plate on the torte and quickly flip right side up. 

Once cooled, dust with powered sugar and serve.  

Serves 8-10 ........ or just right for 2 people :)






ph_kosel's picture

I'm behind on my blogging.   Hopefully I'll find time soon to document the following:

1.  Trip to Tartine Bakery and Acme Bread back on July 2.

2.  Efforts to reproduce Acme's whole wheat walnut sourdough bread.

3.  Experiments with wholewheat bread with LOTS of seeds in it.

For now this post will work for me as a place holder to remind me what I've neglected so far in my recent chaos of houseguest infestation, highschool reunion, GREAT roadtrip vacation up the northern California coast in a brand new Smart Car, etc.  My sourdough starters have been a bit neglected but seem to be salvageable, and I still bake when I run out of bread.

Mebake's picture

This is another one of Hamelman's Pain Au Levain With whole wheat from His book "BREAD".

I'am testing out my new flour's performance with naturally leavened breads.

I mixed my dough ever so lightly, and did two stretched and folds (letter fold on the bench) @ 60 minutes intead of one at 50min. So, the fermentation time was 3 hours intead of 2.5.

I retarded the shaped loaves right after shaping for 8 hours, and left them to proof at room temp. for 1 hour while the oven was preheating to 510F.

I Also increased the prefermented flour by 7%.(as recommended by Andy - ananda) I found that this particular recipe works more predictably if i increased the amount of stiff levain. and it did!

Crackly Crust!

Cool, soft, and translucent crumb, with a faint sour flavor.

dmsnyder's picture

The 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice has been one of my favorite breads for years. I love it for it's delicious honey-wheat flavor. However, it often comes out with a dense, cake-like crumb. In April, I tried making this bread using a more intensive mix, as demonstrated by txfarmer. (See Light and fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread) I did, indeed, achieve a less dense, more open crumb. But I felt there was some loss of flavor due to oxidation of carotenoids. 

It is difficult to make a 100% whole wheat bread with a light, airy crumb. The pieces of bran in the flour act like little knives, cutting the gluten strands that give bread crumb its “structure.” I had heard of flour mills that grind the bran to a finer consistency after it has been separated during the normal milling process and then add the fine-ground bran back in, along with the other wheat components that re-constitute “whole wheat” flour. The smaller bran particles do less damage to the developing gluten during mixing.

Central Milling makes such a flour, and brother Glenn recently got some for me at CM's Petaluma warehouse. Today, I used CM's “Organic Hi-Protein Fine” whole wheat flour to make the Whole Wheat Bread from BBA. I followed the formula and procedures in my April 2, 2011 blog entry with one exception: I only mixed the dough for 12 minutes at Speed 2.


The first difference in the bread was the wonderfulness of its aroma. I can't say it was different in quality, but it just filled the house as never before. When the bread was cool and sliced, the crumb structure was even more open than I got with intensive mixing. The bread is chewy like a good white loaf and not at all cakey or crumbly. The flavor is delicious. I can't really say it is better than the flavor I've gotten with either home-milled flour or KAF Organic Whole Wheat flour, but the combination of crumb structure, texture and flavor was remarkable.


I am now eager to try using this flour with other breads, for example the Tartine "Basic Country Bread." Stay tuned.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

davidg618's picture

Four months ago I began trying to bake my "personal-best achievable" loaf of 50/50: Bread Flour/Whole Wheat Flour Sourdough. The measures of success, for me, are: FLAVOR, an al dente, moderately open crumb, and eye-appeal. Nearly all my mostly white flour sourdoughs are made at 68% hydration, and I preferment 28% of the flour building the doughs' levains. Consequently, when I started my quest for the PBA half-WW loaf I set the formula with 68% hydration, and I prefermented 56% of the Whole Wheat Flour (28% of the total flour) building the levain. Immediately, I was delighted with the bread's flavor, and al dente crumb, but the dough had been very slack, and the loaves, while not exactly "flat as...", did their best to emulate pancakes.

In subsequent loaves, continuing with the same ingredients and ratios the flavor got even better through overnight retardation, but the dough seemed to get slacker, and IHOP began to worry they had a new competitor.

Three month ago I began to worry my starter's levaining power was weakening. It sometimes took twice as long to proof.

Not only were my 50% WW loaves belly-flopping from slack doughs, but the oven spring I'd been experiencing in all my other Sourdough loaves was lessening.

I gave up trying to create the PBA WW loaf, and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong in my heretofore bomb-proof sourdoughs.

I've got a new starter. It's agonizing birth--all its problems due to my ignorance--is documented elsewhere, the life-saving mid-wife: Debra Wink.

The new starter has provided very satisfying successes with my "go-to" mostly white-flour sourdoughs, the past three weeks.

It was time to try again for the hitherto elusive BPA 50% WW sourdough loaf.

First try: Same ratios as prior, same ingredients, all Bread Flour in the levain, machine kneaded after autolyse (Kitchenaid mixer)   3 mins. speed 1, no retardation, DDT 76°F

The flavor is good, but, subjectively, not as good as remembered from the earlier retarded loaves. The crumb is delightfully al dente, and moderately open. The dough was slack; not as slack as during the abandoned quest, nevertheless, most of the oven-spring went sideways, but still better than any previous loaf.

Second try: same ingredients

Differences: 14% of the total flour prefermented in the levain build, all Whole Wheat flour (1/2 as much as the previous bake); Dough Hydration reduced to 65%; ice water and chilled dough used in the mix (DDT 54°F); machine kneaded (Kitchenaid mixer) 2 mins. speed 1, 7 mins. speed 2. (I also performed three S&F at one hour intervals, the same was done in the previous bake); dough retarded (54°F) for 17 hours.

The flavor is excellent: multi-layered, with a distinctive sour end note. The crumb is camparable to the first try: delightfully al dente. The oven spring was considerably more vertical.  Subjectively, despite the lower hydration, the crumb is more open than the first bake.

I feel I'm back in the grove. Next try I'll increase the dough's hydration to 67% keeping all else, ingredients and procedures, the same.

David G



codruta's picture

This was the first time I used Yeast Water (almost 2 weks ago) Since then, I made 6 loaves, using different formulas, but I wanted to share with you this one, because it has a funny shape, it was my first attempt at using yeast water, and because it was particularly good. My apple yeast water looks like this:

The overall formula was:

- Bread flour: 273 g ……………………………… 91%
- Whole wheat flour: 27 g …………………….. 9%
- Water: 57 g ………………………………………. 19%
- AYW: 147 g ……………………………….......... 49%
- Salt: 6 g ………………………………………….… 2%
Amount of dough: 510 g ……………………….. 170%

Final dough:

- Bread flour: 255 g
- Water: 39 g
- YW: 120 g
- Levain 100%: 36 g
- AYW whole wheat starter 100%: 54 g
- Sare: 6 g

I made the build for the levain and for the YW starter  8 hours before the final dough.

I mixed by hand, with folds in the bowl, than I did 3 S-F at 30 min interval, for a first fermentation of 2 hours. I shaped it, and proofed it for 5h:30min (3h in the fridge, 1h:30min at room temperature). I baked it with steam for 15 min, then without steam for 20-25 min.

I wasn't sure if my yeast water is good, that's why I made such a small loaf, to test it (which was not a smart idea, beacause we were four peoples at the table). We ate it with a-kind-of-babaganoush ( it's an eggplant dish, a romanian version, that doesn't use tahini, only olive oil and seasonings), cheese and tomatoes. This bread was a hit, everyone loved it. The hint of apples was discrete, the crumb was rather sweet than sour.

You can see more about it an my romanian blog,  Apa.Faina.Sare.


Winnish's picture

Avocado Brioche

Brioche - challahs and rolls, made with..... avocado instead of butter.

When I first heard of this idea, it took me a few minutes to digest the idea, but seeing the photo convinced me that I just have to try it. So I did - and my family just looooooooooooved it!

I took one of my own recipes, "played" with it and combined it with this great idea - and these are the results

For the recipe and more photos - please check my post here
If you find any problems with the translating the recipe (translators are on top left side-bar) - please don't hesistate to ask me.  I wonder if it's gonna be hilarious as usual..... :)











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