The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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turosdolci's picture

Torta di Ricotta e Riso

Torta di Ricotta e riso is an Easter specialty. Some might call this a calzone or pizzagaina, but this torta has no meat. Ricotta is the favored cheese for Easter dishes in Italy and is made into pizzas, pasta's, cheesecakes and connoli.




Freestylin's picture

So i really hope that someone out there can help me??????

For the past two weeks i have been growing a sourdough starter which i refresh daliy with 70g organic white flour, 30g organic rye flour and 100g spring water (disgarding most of the starter before feeding). I'm very pleased to say that my starter is ready to use, doubled in size over 24 hours, lots of bubbles and a thick layer of froth on top - only problem is i have no idea where to go from here!!! I have been reserching the net but dont seem to be getting anywhere so thought i would give this a shot!!!

My starter reaches its peak at about 7pm and by the morning it has subsided sightly....what im really looking for is a great recipe for a large white crusty loaf and the same in granary or brown. I am wondering if i should use it when its at its peak, and if so can i leave the dough to prove overnight so i can bake in the morning???

I have spoken to people who suggest that you can use yeast along side your starter as this gives good effects....have anyone used this method? does it work well and how would i go about doing this (working out how much to use of each).

Also i plan to bake at least every other day so do i need to put my starter in the fridge or is it ok to leave it out, refreshing it everytime i use it..up until now i have left my starter out in the kitchen.

Wow so many questions!!! im really keen to get going, and i would love to get some help from people who have been there and done it!

Thanks in advance!


davidg618's picture

I've been baking artisanal bread only eight months. TFL has been my primary mentor, and inspiration. Prior, I baked bread, weekly, in our Zojirushi bread machine, dutifully turning out three loaves of sandwich white bread, or 40% whole wheat sandwich bread: machine kneaded and proofed, oven baked. For hearth-baked breads we sought out commercial bakeries--San Antonio in the winter months, eastern Connecticut in the summers. On rare occasions I'd buy a packaged bread mix, and bake it in our Zo; we were usually dissapointed.

Yesterday, I was rumaging around in a cupboard, looking for something. I didn't find what I was looking for, because far in the back I found a long-forgotten bread mix: 9 Grain, Hodgson Mill, at least a year old, likely even more ancient. Let me quickly add, I have never been employed by nor reimbursed in any way by Hodgson Mill--I don't even know what state they call home. Neither is it my intention to write this post to praise their mix, but as things turned out...

For the moment, I forgot what I'd been looking for. The bread mix caught my full attention. I opened it; the sealed-cellophane enclosed flour appeared bug free--hard to tell for certain among the ground seed specks scattered throughout. I was doubtful, however, about the yeast packet enclosed; I searched for a date stamp, but found none, and the label's ink looked...well, faded. I briefly considered tossing it all in the waste bin; my Yankee frugalness kicked in, and I considered saving the scant four cups of flour mix to incorporate into one of my future loaves.

Finally, I decided to just make it.

I got out the bread machine--we still use it every third or fourth week--to make our favorite sandwich breads, but it no longer has its own place on the kitchen counters. I tossed out the yeast packet, and substituted a tsp. and one-half from our freezer-kept IDY, known to be fresh. I put the machine on dough cycle, and bulk proofed the dough an additional forty-five minutes, for a total of one hour and fifty minutes. I panned it, and let it rise until slightly more than doubled, slashed it and baked it at the recommended 350°F. Other than replacing the yeast, extending the bulk-proofing time, slashing the top, and steaming for the first ten miuntes I followed the manufacturer's directions.

Nothing unrecognizeable (nor unprouncable) in the ingredients. I toasted two pieces this morning, and added a bit of butter and a dab of honey. Mmmm-m-m-m!

So what's the point?

For me, it was a reminder, and a little lesson in humility. I don't have to go to the obsessive degree I do to have good bread. Tasty and nutritious home-made bread is within reach of anyone willing to take a very few steps beyond grabbing a loaf in the bread aisle. I choose to bake because it's fun, and I get an ego boost proportional to the loaves' oven spring, its flavor, and my family's and friend's praises. But at the end of the day, I'm only doing what my ancestors have done, at times with only their hands for tools, and an open fire: baking our daily bread.

David G.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Another original idea. Lamb/wine braising liquid and ground rosemary mixed to about 75% hydration with KA AP flour. Stretched and folded in the bowl twice over three hours, left on the counter overnight at about 70 degrees. Further bulk fermentation of four or five hours due to the interference of a dentist's appointment. Back out on the counter for an hour, then gently plopped out of the bowl, stretched and treated like grissini, only fatter. Some were shaped with care. A crumb shot of one of these is shown.

This concludes the experiments with flavored liquids for the moment, as I have run out of stuff that needs to get out of the freezer. There is really no limit to what one could come up with. As far as I know, there is not much, if any, of this kind of thing going on beyond the pain marin at Ledoyen in Paris. High end restaurants could have a field day with this approach, and home bakers can dress up their dinner parties with something novel. Crackers and flatbreads are other obvious ways to go.

As always, comment and criticism invited.


submitted to yeastspotting

zoltan szabo's picture
zoltan szabo

Hello to everyone,

I would like to share with you guys my todays loaf.

I made it with brown flour feed 100% hydration sourdough starer.


375gr strong flour

127gr starter

245gr water

8gr salt

10gr vegetable oil

extra flour for dusting

1. first kneading time is for about 10minute by hand.

2. rest for 4-6hrs.

3. knead back for 10minute again by hand.

4. proof in banneton for 2.5hrs.

5. bake in 220C oven for 30min with some steam.

6. 5 minute on 180C with half open oven door.

7. rest on wire rack

By the way guys, I really like this site and I think some of you's have an absolute great talent for this bread baking!





Mebake's picture

This is getting really exciting, beside being a daily food!

I baked this on friday. I stayed upto midnight to get it out of the oven because i don't have a space in my refrigerator for a proved dough.

It is basically a 75% hydration dough with 40% all purpose, 15% Rye, 45%  frshly milled whole hard wheat. The batard was baked under an aluminium foil pan for 25 minutes, and without for 30 minutes, oven door left open at the end of the bake for more crust.

David (dmsnyder), i love your idea (or was it?) of using an aluminum foil pan to trap steam. It worked!

Here the loaves proofing en couche:



inlovewbread's picture

Pain au Levain a la Vanille ( sourdough bread with vanilla )

I recently was gifted some beautiful organic vanilla beans. They have been calling to me from my pantry for a few weeks now. I wanted to incorporate them into some sort of bread but couldn't think of something that would pair well with the vanilla bean and still be good in a bread. I decided to let the smell and taste of vanilla to shine through and just use it on its own. 

I found it most interesting that vanilla beans come from a type of orchid. The vanilla pod is the fruit. Vanilla beans are the second most expensive spice behind saffron; mostly because of what the cultivation entails. For centuries, only a certain type of bee was able to pollinate the vanilla orchid and the vanilla beans could not be grown outside of Mexico and parts of Central America. Until in 1841, a 12-year old french-owned slave developed a method of hand pollination with a bamboo stick. Vanilla was then able to be grown commercially. Although, the process is still painstaking as the vanilla flower only remains open for one day, the vines of the orchid must be inspected daily and the flower pollinated immediately. Harvesting the vanilla pods is labor intensive as well. After reading such a history, I was so appreciative of these beautiful "fruits" to use in my bread. 


The most wonderful smell was emanating from my oven as these loaves baked. 

The taste is very nice. Almost like cake batter but without the sweetness. The vanilla flavor was complimented by the subtle acidity of the french-style sourdough I keep. All-Purpose flour was a good choice with this bread because of the "fluffiness" it lent to the crumb- more of that cake-like quality :-)

This would make a great Valentine's Day bread. I served a slice of it today with fresh strawberries :-) 


Levain Build:

45 g Firm Starter

95 g King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour

5 g Whole White Wheat 

50 g Water


Final Dough:

350 g KA Organic All-Purpose Flour

125 g White Whole Wheat Flour (I used Prairie Gold from Wheat Montana, freshly ground)

25 g Rye Flour (I used finely ground whole rye)

350 g Water (I used warm water for a desired dough temp. of 76F)

All of Levain Build

10 g salt

Contents of two long vanilla bean pods



Elaborate your starter the night before you plan to bake. Leave at room temperature for 8-12 hours.

The next day, mix flours and water. Rest for 30 minutes, covered. 

Add levain in pieces on top of dough and sprinkle on the salt. Mix until incorporated and then add scrapings from two vanilla bean pods. 

Knead for about 8 minutes or until medium gluten development is achieved. 

Ferment at room temp for I hour, then fold.

Continue fermenting for 2-3 more hours. (Mine took 2 1/2 hours at 71 degrees F)

Divide and shape into two batards. 

Ferment en couche (or on flour dusted parchment which is what I did) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (mine took 1 hour).

Pre-heat oven to 475F with steam pan in place.

Score as desired and load onto baking stone and bake with steam*. Immediately turn down oven to 450F. Remove source of steam and turn down oven to 400F after 15 minutes of baking. Bake 20-25 minutes more. I left my loaves in a turned-off oven w/ the door cracked for an additional 5 minutes.

*Steam by your method of choice. I used a loaf pan with river rocks in it, and poured 1/2 cup water on top.

Cool completely. Or, cut into one a bit warm if you want to! Warm and vanilla go very well together.


This post is being submitted to Susan at Wild Yeast Blog for YeastSpotting. Be sure to check it out for an amazing array of beautiful breads!


ehanner's picture

Shiao-Ping's excellent post on Mr. Nippon's Baguette formula and the images of her crumb and those in the book inspired me. From what I can tell, the 12 hour cool autolyse as a significant effect on the dough. The dough is sticky as Shiao-Ping cautioned and acted differently from any other 75% hydration dough I have worked with. It was trying to wind it's way up the shaft of the dough hook on my DLX mixer for one thing. It was window paining BEFORE kneading. After an initial mixing with the hook, I let it set for 15 minutes to allow the salt time to melt and the pinch of IDY time to incorporate before kneading for 1 minute on first speed and only 2 minutes on speed 2. The dough was smooth and silky from the first seconds of kneading. Quite beautiful really, if you know what I mean. I had pulled a small amount of dough after the initial 15 minute pause since it looked so smooth and was surprised to see how transparent the film was. After 2 minutes on speed level 2, I stopped and placed the dough in a lightly oiled plastic container and proceeded with the stretch and fold procedure that SP laid out. The total bulk ferment time was 3 hours with 5 S&F's.

One issue I had was that the 12 hour autolyse is supposed to be done at 60F. I looked around the kitchen for a drafty garage door that would serve as a place to maintain the cool temperature I had established with cool water. It worked out perfectly. The outside temp was a balmy 5F this morning and my bowl of autolyse flour and water measured at 61F. However, after adding the starter, salt and IDY together the DDT is 22C or about 72F. The friction factor isn't any where near that spread so I floated the dough bowl in warm water during the first 20 minutes in preparation for the first S& F. It worked out fine but it's a little clumsy having to make that adjustment. I wanted to follow the protocol as closely as I could and being wildly off the DDT would be a big error.

Shaping and proofing was as normal. I wanted to try the scoring pattern of SP's second set of images where the chef is trying to suggest wind in his slashing pattern. To me it looks like a series of slashes that wrap the long loaf with one following the last and the gaps bridged by another set of cuts. I won't pretend to suggest that it turned out anywhere near the chefs pattern. It took me a few years to be just moderately proficient at the traditional pattern. This is way harder but I will continue to practice. I think the effect of so many cuts will be to allow the crumb to expand more giving room for that airy open crumb structure. We will see. As I write this, I have just removed the three baguettes from the oven. I spritzed 2 of the loaves and left one with the surface flour on it. I can see I should of cut deeper already.

I will cut one open and we shall see if we are going out for dinner or not.


bakinbuff's picture

Well, here it is!  My first ever blog post.  I have been thinking of starting a blog for awhile, if only to keep a catalog of the progress I've made in my bread making over the last year or so.  It is difficult to quantify progress without something down on paper, as it were, so I hope this will be useful for myself and others, being able to look back through recipes and pictures for future reference.  Anyway, I should give some background on my interest in bread baking.  I am an American living in Britain, and was visiting home for a family wedding over a year ago.  My mother had been experimenting in bread making, as she was trying to re-create my parents' favourite loaf from the local bakery.  My mother has baked bread on and off for years, and I dimly recall some relatively dense and fairly dry bread-maker bread from my childhood (her hand baking is much better!).  Anyway, she had recently gotten into the habit of making all the bread they ate (except for the occasional bakery purchase), and my husband I were really impressed with her bread.  One morning we were there, she asked me to put the loaf in the oven for her after it had finished rising, and then because of my interest, she wrote down the recipe she used for her everyday bread.  As soon as I got home, I got some baker's yeast, strong white and wholemeal flour, and I was busy baking.  It took a number of attempts to get the rise right, figure out how to remove the clingfilm without deflating the loaf, etc, etc, but all in all every loaf I made tasted delicious.  Over time, I really got the daily bread down pat, and started braiding loaves for fun, and adjusting different ingredients to get different textures. 

(Sesame, Pumpkin and sunflower seed braided loaf)


Then, in the fall of last year, I came across info about creating your own starter at home, and eliminating the need for commercial yeast.  Ever in search of the healthiest nutrition for my family, I decided to have a go at making sourdough.  Although it seemed impossibly easy, I stirred up equal amounts of white and wholewheat flour and water, covered loosely, and left overnight.  The next day, I discarded half and fed it again, re-covered and waited another day.  By the third discard and feed, there was clear activity, and I was excited!  I baked my first loaf from my brand new starter in a loaf tin, with great anticipation.  I was thrilled to produce a nicely risen loaf with a few big bubbles on top and lots of lovely little bubbles on the crust!


Now, although this bread was delicious and a real triumph, I felt the need to make a yeasted bread for my husband who is less adventurous, and only likes icky cotton wool white bread for toast.  *Sigh* It really does discourage one after all the effort put in.  Nonetheless, our favourite winter lunch is soup and bread, so I was confident that a round loaf for soup dipping would be a hit, and a good way to slip in some wholesome nutrition.  =)  After much research, I started baking round loaves in a covered glass casserole dish and here was my first result:


Not the most amazing loaf, I know, but not bad considering it was a first attempt, and I had no clue about scoring, overnight retarding, stretching and folding, etc.  With each loaf (despite the lop-sidedness due to dumping the proofed loaf into the hot bowl) I saw improvements...


I was even brave enough to attempt a freeform boule, and was very pleased with the result!


Next I tried a sourdough baguette and tin loaf, which were both excellent:



With the discovery of stretching and folding, overnight retarding and a firmer (lower hydration) dough, I managed my best loaf yet, a freeform poppyseed (can't remember the name of the shape):


Everything about this last loaf was an utter triumph for me.  The fantastic opening of the slash, the shiny crackly crust, the soft and moist crumb, and the deliciously smooth and subtle sour taste.  I cannot describe my joy in being able to create such a beautiful and delectable loaf, from nothing more than the usual baking drawer ingredients.  What a joy and a privilege!  Here's to many more loaves to come, and thank you to everyone on the Fresh Loaf from whom I've gotten tons of information which is helping me to continually improve and hone my baking skills!

alexp's picture

This is a recipe that is one of my favourites at the moment. It's a sourdough that is mainly strong white flour, with rye, kamut and a non-white starter providing some background complexity. It's loosely based on a Dan Lepard recipe for a barley bread, although it has no barley in it. This time I used a used a whole wheat stater, but I have also had success with a rye sour. It's quite a simple recipe but I'm pleased with the results.

The ingredients are:

250g whole wheat or rye starter (approx 100% hydration)

300g strong white flour

100g light rye

100g kamut

300g water

3tsp salt

I refresh the starter about 12 to 18 hours before baking (1:1:1 ratio). I mix the starter with the water, then mix in all the other ingredients. I leave it for ten minutes, knead lightly for 30 seconds, then repeat this kneading two or three times in the next 50 minutes. Then after another hour I fold the dough, wait another hour and fold again. Then into the proving colander (!) for two to three hours.

After that I bake it for 15 minutes at 220C, then another 30-40 at 190C.

I think my scoring/shaping could still use some work as invariably one slash seems to open much more than the other, it has a great taste and texture though.

My first blog post so any comments or suggestions gratefully received!



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