The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Mebake's picture

A failed endeavour this time, when i hoplessly tried to braid a wholewheat challah as per Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain book, and ended up fusing the braids into a lump of dough and making a boule instead! I may have to reduce the hydration in the challah next time, and the braids may well hold shape.

Anyway, into the Boules i ventured, and this is how i made it:

(All directions are in accordance with P.R Wholgrain breads)

1- Day (1):

- Warm water 1.25 cups + Yeast 1 tsp (not recom. by P.R)+ fine wholegrain flour 3.1 cups

- Mixed by hand, Autolyzed for 10 min, shaped into a ball and set into an oiled bowl, covered with plas. wrap.(BIGA)

- Same ingredients as above but with salt (1 tablespoon) instead of yeast. (SOAKER), shaped and covered with a plastic wrap.

- First (BIGA) goes to fridge or a really cool place, for at least 4 hours and maximum 3 days.

- Second (SOAKER) goes anywhere you want except v. cold or v. warm. for 24 hrs. More than that it has to go to fridge.


2- Day(2):

- First Dough (BIGA) is to be removed from the fridge 2 hrs prior to mixing into dough 2.

- After 2 hrs, cut BIGA, and cut SOAKER into small pieces flouring them as you do so that they won't stick to each other. Mix pieces into a large bowl interchangeably, then add honey (2 tbl)/ Butter/ oil whatever you may savour, and mix vigorously.

- allow the final dough to rest for 1/2 hour.

- Cover with a plastic bag, and allow to ferment until 1 1/2 - double.

-after 45 min or so, scrap the dough into a floured/ oiled/ watered space, and shape into a boule, degazzing as little as possible.

- put the boule into a basket mold/ banetton/ brotform/ to hold shape while fermenting the final time. Meanwhile preheat your oven.

- When boule has risen in 20 minutes to 1.5 its size, put it in the oven on a stone/ cookie tray.. and pur hot water into a hot skillet to generate steam.

- and you all know the rest.. 

I swear, the taste of this bread is far far superior than the storebought... no comparison, i could it this all day!!

Boule 1 (well a hybrid batard/boule) Just out of the oven:

Boule 2: baked in a thick iron skillet:

and ofcourse, the crumb of boule 1

inlovewbread's picture

I'm calling this "Mixed Flour" because I used a lot of different flours. I wanted to see if I could get the characteristics I wanted in the crumb by adjusting just the flours. It seemed to have worked, so here's what I used:

Again (It's a family/personal favorite :-)), I was following Susan's Simple Sourdough formula. Only hers doesn't call for so many flours!

50g Firm Starter (mine is 50% hydration composed of 10% rye and 90% AP)

205g Water

100g AP Flour (I used Wheat Montana)

100g Bread Flour (KA Bread Flour)

25g Durum Flour (also King Arthur)

25g Hard Red Whole Wheat (home-milled wheat berries)

50g Hard White Whole Wheat (home-milled wheat berries)

6g Salt (I used Hawaiian Sea Salt)

Method: Mix all by hand, rest 30 min. S+F three times at hour intervals. Let rise until double. Pre-shape, rest 15 min, shape. Into brotform and retard overnight. Out of fridge 2 hours, score and bake @450 covered for 20 min., uncovered for 20 more and 5 min in shut-off oven w/ door open.

Whew- that's quite the mishmash of flour, I know, but it tasted really good. I used the whole wheat because I want to start transitioning everything over to 100% whole wheat, but have to do it gradually. I also have tons of wheat berries that I need to use instead of buying more flour from the store! Not to mention the extra nutrition.

The reason I used the Durum is because I like the buttery flavor it lends to the bread and it seems to balance out the whole wheat flavor when added with freshly ground whole wheat. I've tried this in a couple of other things and it seems to neutralize that "earthy" flavor or any "bitter" tones from the hard red I suppose. 

And as for the 50/50 of AP and Bread flour- I like a mix of the really chewy/shiny crumb (from the BF) and a bit of "fluffyness" from the AP. The crumb: creamy/ buttery/ wheaty. 







SylviaH's picture

This recipe is from P. Reinhart's BBA.  I only changed the soaking of the fruit and extract amounts.  I thought I would give my first attempt at a stollen a trial run before making one to take as a gift.  There will be some changes made in the next one I will have marizpan and a few other adjustments in handling.  I mixed this batch all by hand and the only candied fruit I used was a few candied red cherries because I like their bright color.  We really enjoyed the flavor and this is my results.

Lot's of the freshest dried fruits. Apricots, apples, cherries, cranberries, peaches, dates, golden and dark raisins and a few candied red cherries for their bright color.


One Large Loaf


Fresh sure beats that dried up purchased one I remember from Christmas past.  I'm looking forward to making another one or two loaves!

Happy Holidays!



breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hi All,

Just wanted to share with you some pics of the 2.2kg miche that I baked on 12/13/09...  It's the biggest bread that I have ever baked, and one of the best tasting...  Enjoy!


davidg618's picture

In the past three days we've been baking: a first try at Vollkornbrot, three loaves of sourdough, and 38 dozens of cookies including Welsh Cakes, Date-Nut Pinwheels, Tart Cherry and Pecan Biscotti, and Tangerine Spritz. Except for the spritz, I creamed all the butter and sugar by hand, before adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. Result: wielding the wooden spoon I got a blister on my little finger! Geez! do I have to wear work gloves to mix dough too?

These are left for us, and the neighhood cookie exchange. Seven packages left home yesterday posted to family.

The vollkornbrot

This is Hamelman's formula in Bread. I don't have a local nor online source for rye chops, so I ran rye berries through my homebrewing grain mill that cracks the seed coating on whole barley grains. I think the result was essentially the same as commercial rye chops. I'm happy with the flavor, and density but not elated. I tested it after resting it for forty-eight hours. I'm going to let it rest for three or four more days before I freeze it to see if the flavor develops further. The tea towel was a gift from an English friend of mine, and was the only tea towel I own big enough to wrap a Pullman loaf.

I didn't photograph the sourdough loaves, because one was immediately eaten, one immediately given away, and the third one immediately frozen. They looked like all my other posted sourdough boules'. However internally they're a bit different. I've named these Halcyon Acres Sourdough, after our modest five acres of horse pastures we call home. I concocted the formula, and my wife likes it more than any other sourdoughs I've baked to date.

I recently started feeding my sourdough starters with first clear flour, instead of bread flour. Additionally, when I want to increase dough sourness, I feed a small portion of starter for three days at room temperature, 72°F to 76°F, every eight to twelve hours. (I discard much of it each feeding--1:1:1 ratio--so thing don't get out of hand.) I'm indebted to Debra Wink for debunking the folklore that lactobacteria reproduce better in stiff cultures, at low temperature. The myth flew in the face of my understanding of physics and thermodynamics, but I'm not a microbiologist, so I wasn't entirely certain the myth was nonsense. I've started feeding with first clear flour because of its relatively high ash producing content, which provides necessary minerals and trace nutrients to the bacteria.

Here's the fromula for three 1.5 lb loaves of Halcyon Acres Sourdough

Ripe Sourdough Starter     450g

Starter Hydration              125%

Whole Rye Flour                225g

All Purpose Flour               450g

Bread Flour                       450g

Water                               650g

Salt                                  27g (2%)

Final Dough Weight           2252g

Hydration                         68%

I built my formula-ready starter using a culture previously rejuvanated with first clear flour, at room temperature, for 72 hours. The culture had subsequently been refrigerated for two weeks. I use a 24 hour, three build, method to create the needed formula-ready ripe starter. My three build method is described elsewhere in this blog, in detail. I used first clear flour for each build for this starter.

Procedures: Hand mixed flour, water, and starter to shaggy consistency; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; hand mixed to smooth, homogeneous consistency. Bulk proofed for 3 hours with 3 stretch-and-fold at 45 minute intervals; turned out; divided into three equal portions; preshaped boules; rested 10 minutes;final shaped. Final proof 1-1/2 hours in bannetons; scored loaves. Pre-steamed oven (I use water-soaked towel on a baking sheet) five minutes before loading. Baking: Initial oven temperature 480°F; reduced oven temperature to 450°F at loading. Removed steam source after 15 minutes; finished baking (approximately 10 minutes.)

Happy Holiday baking; watch out for blisters ;-)

David G

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

So last night I threw out over 5kg of dough. After making 2 succesfull attempt at making a variation of based on Shiao-Ping's Artisan III class at the SFBI:

"Miche, Sourdough with Two Levain Builds: 230% in Final Dough"

I decided to increase the recipe to about 5kg of dough... as I have an office party to bring bread to tomorrow...

I went through the steps that had afforded me successful loaves (2x660g loaves, and 1x2.2kg loaf)...  Since I live in an NYC apt, we don't really have control of our heating system, so my apartment tends to be hot and dry...  Anyways, I did the 1st levain build successfully with a 10 hr fermentation, but when I got home from work to check on the 2nd levain build, it had already collapsed and had turned into a bubbly foamy mess...  I think I let the 2nd levain build go for 12 hrs, instead of the 6 from the previous batch...  In retrospect, I should have just tossed the levain build and start over, but stupid me, I decided to continue with making the final dough and hope that it would work...

So I ended up making the final dough, and it was basically a sticky mess that got worse the more I tried to work with it...  It would stir, but never firm up... As I worked with it, I just kept getting my hands trapped.  I decided to divide up the dough (snot-like glop) into 2 plastic containers and fridge them to see if that would help...  As you can guess, it didn't.

I put one of the containers of dough back into the mixing bowl and tried to work it with my hands/spatula to no avail...  At that point, I decided to throw it all out and start over...

So I started over...  with just a simple french bread...  I checked the new dough (3kg) this morning after 8 hours in the fridge, and it looks good so far...  I turned it again before I left for work and put it back into the fridge for another 8 hours...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for tonight's bake...

Quoting Kenny Rogers:  

You gotta know when to hold 'em

Know when to fold em

Know when to walk away

Know when to run...


Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

The first is that I'm no longer pregnant. I actually gave birth to my baby boy on October 31st. :D

The second is that I'm baking again and I plan to continue doing so. I've missed home-baked bread after all the grocery store crap we've been eating lately due to me not feeling like baking. I have a new sourdough starter going, a loaf of white whole wheat bread in the fridge retarding until tomorrow, and tonight for supper I made pizza with a home made crust for the first time in almost 6 months. It's a good start, and I really hope to keep going this week with a couple of things: a rosemary potato bread and a cinnamon raisin oat bread. Making the potato bread, though, means I have to go outside and dig what's left of my rosemary out of the almost 2 feet of snow that my husband decided to pile on top of it.

The trials we bakers must go through to create our masterpieces.

It's good to be back. Now that I've spent some hours going through the blogs again, I do believe I have some inspiration for the weeks to come.

gardenchef's picture

Hi All
Gardening Season in New England is just about over (a few herb plants left that I can use) and now onto Baking! We'll be focusing on breads for the next few weeks. Always happy to post recipes if anyone is interested, just let us know.

You'll see the profile photo of myself with my sweet apprentice! I'm thrilled she has expressed interest in good old fashioned home baking. There is NOTHING like baking from scratch. The aroma fills the house, everyone walks thru the door and can't help but smile and express interest in what that great smell is..and the loaves are magically gone!

We'll post photos along the way. Making Country White Bread at the moment. The family fav from way back when my oldest, now in college, was a toddler. I had gotten away from baking for some years with all the activities and fun family adventures that kept us very busy, I'm thrilled to be baking's is almost meditative.

I have so many stories to tell in future blogs. My mom-in-law has been a wealth of knowledge regarding the baking that her older sister and mother did back in the day. Will tell, promise.

God Bless and Merry Christmas...just around the corner now. I want to appreciate every moment of every day.

Hans Krijnen's picture
Hans Krijnen


I am making the 80% ryebread and his soaker asked for whole rye flour, the question is is it just rye flour or are they rye berries are cracked rye berries can some one give any suggestion




Marni's picture

Paddyscake's Guinness Gingerbread looked sooo good, I had to try it!  I use Black Bart Stout, other than that, it is the same.

This was fabulous!  Sweet at first taste with a great bite that is not too spicy and so moist with a real depth to it.

My picture of the cake on the plate somehow didn't load onto the computer, but I just took a picture of the last remaining bit:

The lighter spot is the fresh ginger, which really makes a difference in the taste.  This is the best gingerbread!  Thank you Paddyscake!


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