The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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proth5's picture

Nature seems to have granted me an abundance of patience and in the past few weeks I have been undertaking experiments that seem destined to use it.


I have been wondering why my levain – which given the way I feed it should be dead by now – lives, thrives, and raises bread every week.  I have also been wondering about the results of soaking my home milled overnight prior to a mix and bake.


So for the past few weeks I have fed a separate levain at 1:5:5.  What I have noticed is that it seems to be “a little” more lively and certainly is not the soupy pool that my standard levain tends to be.  But otherwise, I can’t honestly say that anything else is different.  I’ve also been trying to be more aware of my feeding routine for my standard levain.  What I find is that (as with so many of us who do things by feel) I really do take a good look at it and make adjustments.  Looking a little listless?  I’ll take out more and feed it more.  “Spring” coming to the Rockies? (Those of you who live in the Rockies know why I put that in quotes.)  Feed it more often or put it in a cool place.  So maybe my routine was not quite so bad after all.


Anyway, the proof is in the baking.  Since this week I was soaking my home ground, I varied from my routine and made a stiff levain build with my new levain (60% hydration) and made my usual baguettes, plain whole wheat bread and pizza.  I stayed with my usual methods with the exception of soaking the whole wheat flour with added salt at room temperature overnight, and doing one less series of “strokes” on the whole wheat as I really felt it was coming together.


Pizza goes away too quickly for pictures.  But I do have shots of the others experiments (I’m no photographer – but I know y’all like pictures, so I try…) which I have posted here:


I will not do a complete critique of the many, many flaws in the baguette - but I did have a small slashing problem with the whole wheat which contributed to it not fully expanding. 


Conclusions?  Well, my bread is nothing if not consistent.  This is pretty much what I bake every week.  So, practiced eye or precise feeding ratios – they seem to be the same for me.  Soaking overnight?  Not doing much yet in my hands, but I will probably keep doing it just to see if some small adjustments will make a difference.


Meanwhile my patience stands me in good stead as I wait for the lab results on my home ground (I promised that I’d do this someday and my word is my bond.  Sometimes it takes time to get results, but that’s how bonds are…)


Happy Baking!

Galley Wench's picture
Galley Wench

Now that we're back on land, I'm really enjoying my BIG home galley!     The picture below is of Almost Ko-Knead, which is a huge improvement over the original NKB!   Baked this loaf in my Romertopf clay baker and it turned out perfect . . . well, except for the slashing!  Anyone have suggestions on how to 'slash' NKB?   

Galley Wench's Almost No-KneadGalley Wench's Almost No-Knead

MaryinHammondsport's picture

Our daughter was here for a visit this week, and together we pushed our boundaries with regard to baking.

First, we had home-made pizza using previously frozen dough from the boule recipe in AB in 5. This was new for her, but not for me.

We next mixed a new recipe of the same dough, so that she could shape a loaf, and see what a time saver it is. Another use of the same dough was pitas for lunch. A first for both of is, and easy to do. I’ll make those again.

She wanted to do bagels next, so she used Floyd’s recipe, to be found here. Excellent.

Lastly, we made a loaf in my new cast iron Dutch oven. I took a suggestion from holds99, and used the Rustic Bread recipe from KA.

This is the only one that I took a photo of; here’s how it looks. Great advice and good directions on how to get it into and out of the hot Dutch oven. Thanks!

Cast Iron Dutch Oven BouleCast Iron Dutch Oven Boule

All in all, a nice visit, and a lot of learning for both of us. She goes back to France (Alpes Maritimes) today, but I’ll keep experimenting with baking.


Thegreenbaker's picture

My old new love KAM, is cursed. Or so it seems.

He committed suicide 2 weeks ago, by walking himself off the kitchen bench whilst mixing dough.

I finally had him replaced and on the second use the height adjustment was somehoiw altered and just scraped the bowl so hard that the protective white covering of the dough hook scraped clean off.

The bowl seems alright. A few scratches, on the bottom, but seemed enough to mix up another batch of dough (as I threw out the now contaminated dough in the bowl) which the paddle attachment.

I think KAM is trying to leave me. :(


Perhaps the bread goddess/god of hearth and home does not want me making bread with a machine? Or perhaps I am just tooo bloody dopey to pay atention to whats going on.


What ever it is, I wont be making bread by mixer for quite a while again.





dmsnyder's picture

Janedo's Basic Bread

Janedo's Basic Bread

Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb

Janedo's Basic Bread Crumb

This is my third attempt at making the pain au levain that Jane calls her "basic bread." I think it's the best crust which is crunchier than my previous bakes. The crumb is less open than I got on my first attempt even though the dough was more slack. I think I actually over-mixed it.

Jane's recipe is posted here:

For this bake, I used a liquid levain fed with a high extraction flour mixed with 140 gms of white spelt flour and 400 gms of King Arthur Europian Artisan-style Flour.

I baked at 500F with steam for 7 minutes then 460F for a total of 30 minutes. I left the loaf in the turned off oven for an additional 7 minutes before cooling on a rack.

The taste is good with moderate sourness. It is very chewy. The crust is staying crunchy.

Bushturkey's picture

Sourdough baguettes - crumb

Sourdough baguettes - crumb

Sourdough (mini) baguettes

Sourdough (mini) baguettes

I made my own version of sourdough baguettes.

I made a liquid levain (125% hydration) from my white sourdough. I elaborated it into a poolish (100% hydration). The final dough had 70% white bread flour (but I increased the gluten to 14% with added gluten flour - I was worried, the 30 % rye might weaken my dough), 30% rye flour.

Because my preferment was around 24 hours old (but I'd given it two feedings at 12 hour intervals) by the time I mixed the final dough, I didn't know if the starch would've been depleted, so I added about 5g malt (to a total of 610g flour). I found some "light dry malt" at the brewing section of a local shop. The packet said "Malted Barley" as the ingredient. It didn't say it was roasted (it didn't say it was not roasted either), so I assumed it was diastatic malt.

I forgot to mention that I used the "french fold" method of mixing. Just a few seconds only! Then a few letter folds during bulk fermentation.


Any commentary from any bakers out there (on the way I went about making the baguettes)?

dmsnyder's picture

Baguettes "Monge"

Baguettes "Monge"


I got a (very) few actual crackles in the crust! A thrill!

Baguettes "Monge" Crust

Baguettes "Monge" Crust

Baguettes "Monge" Crumb

Baguettes "Monge" Crumb

Janedo posted a recipe for Eric Kayser's Baguettes "Monge." See for the recipe, photos and discussion.

I made these with some modifications last weekend, but I wanted to try the recipe sticking as close to Jane's instructions as possible. Last night, I fed my liquid starter with Golden Buffalo and, today, made these baguettes. My conversations with King Arthur Flour indicated that they intended their "French Style Flour" to be an approximation of French Style 65 flour, which Jane's recipe specified. I had a couple of pounds, so that is what I used.

When I mixed the dough, it seemed way too dry. I added about 20 ml more water. The dough was still dry, but I didn't want to deviate too far from the recipe, so I left it at that. The only other change I made was to bake at 500F for the first 7 minutes with steam, then removed my skillet and turned the oven down to 460F. Total bake time was 25 minutes.

I am much happier with my baguette slashing. I knew what to do in theory. This time the main change I made was to focus better. I think I got pretty nice bloom. The crust was the closest I've gotten to date to a classic crisp, crackly baguette crust. I think the higher oven temperature was necessary for this, at least in my oven. The crumb was actually better than my first effort, which was with higher hydration, but it was still not as open as I would have liked.

The taste is very nice. Nothing wrong with it. But it does not have as much sweetness or complexity as I would have liked. I'm not sure this recipe with its very short fermentation can deliver optimal baguette flavor. (Of course, I haven't tasted Jane's baguettes!).

The quest for a better baguette continues, but this is my personal best to date.


ejm's picture

I made the following for Bread Baking Day (BBD) #09: Bread With Oats

multigrain bread

In the past couple of weeks we were having problems with fuses blowing on our oven; it's fixed now and ever since the oven has been working beautifully. BUT. I think the oven is now hotter than it was. I know that I used to be able to be quite casual about checking the bread after the bell rang 30 minutes after putting it in the oven. I used to take it out at 35 minutes and it would still not be quite ready. Or perhaps it's the honey content in the dough that makes the crust get so dark. Perhaps I should bake this bread at 375F instead of 400F. As a result, this bread does look awfully dark. But inside, it is as wonderful as ever.

apricot roll
Bushturkey's picture

I followed Hamelman's five-grain levain recipe, but used 3 grains: Rye, Oats and a sprinkling of roasted wattle seed (Acacia baileyana) as a hot soaker.

The flour is 50% high-gluten flour, 25% bread flour and 25% whole wheat flour. Hydration was 98% (!), but almost all the water got soaked up by the seeds.

The dough called for a liquid levain, spiked with a little instant dry yeast 0.4%.

I baked in tins for 15 minutes, then I took the bread out and finished baking on the stone. The crust came out nice and blistered, thin and crispy. The bread is delicious!

Grain levain - I've seen the bread dough arisin'....

Grain levain - I've seen the bread dough arisin'....(apologies to and acknowledgement of John Fogerty)

Grain levain out of the oven --someone's left their grain levain out in the rain

Grain levain out of the oven --someone left their grain levain out in the rain. I don't think I can take it, 'cause it took so long to bake it......

Grain levain crumb - the first crust is the crispiest....

Grain levain crumb - the first crust is the crispiest....

My apologies for the corny song lyrics!

Bushturkey's picture

Olive levain - cooling out of the oven

Olive levain - cooling out of the oven



Olive levain no.2 - crumb

Olive levain no.2 - crumb

I'm much happier with the way this attempt came out. I left it to rise longer (I had more time). I left it to retard at room temperature over night (it got down to around 64 F). But the dough was very sluggish in rising.

I don't know if it's the acidity or the salt in the olives that slowed down the rise. The dough didn't taste all that salty, but the olives are vinegary, even after pressing them with kitchen tissue to mop up most of the fluid. I coaxed the dough a bit by putting a small bowl of just-boiled water next to the shaped loaves and covering with a big plastic tub.

The recipe called for 65% hydration, but I added less water this time ( it was way too slack the last time).

By contrast, today I also made a version of Hamelman's Five-grain levain (I used two grains - rye and oats. I didn't have the other grains. I made a starter yesterday. I forgot what I had in mind to make, so I flipped through the pages of Hamelman's book to get an idea).

The recipe calls for spiking the final dough with instant dry yeast - only 0.1 oz in 24 oz flour;  a tiny 0.4%- but the dough looked as though it was starting to swell instantly. I wasn't used to such a rapidly expanding dough. I didn't appreciate the difference between levain and commercial yeast.

May be it was also the nutrient-rich wholemeal flour. I've got it retarding in the fridge to bake tonight!


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