The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


varda's picture


Some time ago, I started trying to recreate a Tzitzel (caraway) Jewish Rye that was sold in a neighborhood bakery where I grew up.   But first I had to get more skilled at baking bread period.   This site was a font of information, and at one point, David Snyder gave me a pointer to a comment hidden deep in one of his two year old blog posts from nbicomputers   After putting my Tzitzel dreams on hold for awhile, I decided to try again.   This time I went directly to Norm's comment and made a few modifications.  I did the following:

1 lb King Arthur Bread Flour (instead of First Clear flour which I can't get easily)

1 lb thick rye sour (built up from an existing rye starter with rye flour and water over the course of around 24 hours)

10 oz water

1 Tbsp vital wheat gluten (since I think First Clear is higher protein than even KABF)

.6oz kosher salt

.5oz instant yeast

caraway seeds

I mixed everything up in my kitchen aid for around 10 minutes - so long because the rye sour is very tough to blend with the rest of the ingredients.    Then I took a wooden bowl and rinsed it in water, and shook out the excess water without drying it.   This was to recreate the wooden box environment as described by Norm (see above comment).   I shaped the dough by patting it gently into a ball.   I know from having tried to make this bread before that trying to shape it after it rises is a lost cause, so I decided to shape it right after the mix.  Then I brushed water over the top with a pastry brush and then put a piece of damp linen over the the top of the bowl.   I let the dough double in size (this took around 1.5 hours).   Then I sprinkled thickly with corn meal.  Then with very wet hands, I transfered the dough to a peel covered with corn meal and then a hot stone and baked for 1.5 hours at 450 deg F.   Then waited overnight to cut.  It came out with very thick crackly crust and a fine rye flavor.   And I guess I'm starting to think that I will never recreate the bread I remember, but maybe this is even better.


wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

My friend and former neighbor Big Al loves to cook. He gave us one of his Focaccia masterpieces a couple of years ago and it was so good I convinced him to show me how to make it. Big Al isn't into measuring much (never mind weighing to the gram like me!), but he got me started with ingredients and his process.

Yesterday was a dreary cool day in Florida so my wife decided we needed some bread to go with the soup she was going to make. If you didn't see the soup recipe for Mexican Salsa soup made with a rotisserie chicken in Parade magazine, check it out here.

Here's how it looked just out of the oven.

Focacci just out of the oven

I'll save a couple of crumb shots for later. Here is the ingredients I used.

  • Semolina Flour (Bob's Red Mill) 84 grams (1/2 cup)
  • Bread Flour 390 grams
  • Water (room temp) 360 grams
  • Sugar 15 grams (about 1 Tbs)
  • Instant Yeast 5 grams (about 1.5 tsp)
  • Salt 7 grams (about 1 tsp+)
  • Olive Oil (EVOO) 2 Tbs
  • Garlic, minced 1.5 tsp
  • Rosemary, dry 1.5 tsp
  • Kosher salt for topping


  • Make a marinade from EVOO, garlic, rosemary and set aside
  • Make a sponge from Semolina, 190 gr Bread Flour, all the water, sugar, yeast and let sit covered for a couple of hours
  • Mix rest of BF into sponge, autolyze 20 min
  • Add salt and 1/2 of marinade then knead (I did about 12 min in Bread Machine dough cycle)
  • Rise in oil coated bowl with 3 stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 min.
  • At this point I refrigerated the dough for about 2.5 hrs because I wanted to time the completion to dinner being ready.
  • Removed dough from refer and bowl. Placed on oil coated 9x13 sheet pan. Started the dimpling/stretching process with fingers and covered with rest of the marinade.
  • Repeated the dimple/stretch 2 more times at 30 min intervals (See PR ABED) to get into the corners of the pan.
  • Proof for about 45 mins, preheat oven to 500.
  • Sprinkle a little Kosher salt on top
  • Bake at 450 for 10 mins, rotate, bake for another 15 min.
  • Let cool for only a few minutes, slice and EAT warm.

Here is how the crumb turned out. I was amazed at the oven spring. After all the dimpling/stretching it was not very thick when it went into the oven. Didn't use stone or steam.

It was the best looking of any higher hydration bread I have tried. I calculated the hydration to be 76%, but remember this is in the high humidity of Florida so you may need a little more water. I cut back on the flour by quite a bit from previous bakes and am glad I recorded the weights because there will definitely be a next time. Taste great, excellent mouth feel.

Focacci crumb shot

And the required crumb close up. Best holes yet.

Focacci crumb close up

A big thanks to everyone that shares on this site. I would never have been able to make this this good without all the great info from so many. Thanks

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


Submitted to YeastSpotting.

MadAboutB8's picture

Green tea and red bean are the food pair that I love.  The bitterness from green tea complements the sweetness from the red bean paste really well. I have the left over of red bean paste I made for my homemade green tea ice cream last week. I have a big container of it and I don't like to see them going to waste. So, it makes a perfect timing to get on baking some green tea bread buns.

I used the white bread sandwich loaf recipe from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker Apprentice cookbook as a base. This bread is more like enriched bread than sweet bread. I figured that the red bean paste would add the richness and sweetness to the breads. Therefore, the recipe should be fine with just enriched bread dough.

I used 80% whole wheat (12% protein) and 20% all-purpose flour (10% protein) as flour mixture. You can also substitute these with bread flour, which should results in softer bread. I brushed the buns with milk, followed by melted butter, instead of egg-wash. So, this has resulted in less shiny crust.

I like to think that this bread is relatively healthy. It got high percentage whole wheat flour, green tea powder (rich in vitamin C and antioxidant), and red beans (irons, protein, fibre). So, it make a good alternative snack.

If you're interested in the recipe, you can find it here:>

 I made into three different shapes, flower shape ones (this picture), bread rolls in bread tin, bread rolls in cake pan

 Yummy red bean paste that I can just have them straight without any bread or ice cream.


GSnyde's picture

[Note: after the very detailed bread-making posts of recent weeks, I think it's time for something a bit more....ummm lesser].

It was a dark and stormy morning.  I woke alone.  I looked around.  Someone had set the clock back an hour.  Strange.  If today is an hour longer than yesterday, and no one else around, I should probably bake something.

Then I remembered!  There's really great fresh sourdough downstairs!  I walked downstairs.  I made coffee.  I fed the cat. I ate some sourdough toast.  I drank some coffee.  I watched the rain fall.  I read the paper.  I drank some more coffee.

Later, I made a cappuccino and ate some sourdough toast. It was good.


I listened to the rain pounding on the window.  I flipped through my one and only bread book (I gotta go to the bookstore).

And then....AHA!!!


I hatched a plan involving the Beloved's returning from her business trip to find her favorite bread (along with her favorite spouse and favorite pet).

I mised everything en place.  I mixed dough.  I kneaded nuts and fruits in.  It rose.


I flattened it, and poured on the cinnamon sugar (adding a proven aphrosdisiac, grated bakers chocolate).


I rolled it and panned it.  It rose.


I baked it.  I cooled it.  I cut it.


It was good.  

I had lunch of sliced chicken on San Francisco Country Sourdough Baguette.  It was good.

It stopped raining.

I went to the bookstore.  I found used copies of Bread Alone (Leader and Blahnik), Artisan Baking Across America (Glezer), and The King Arthur Flour Cookbook.  That was good too.

I returned home.  The Beloved returned home.  She smelled cinnamon.  She was happy.  She tried the bread.  She was very happy.

We dined on yesterday's soup and the SFCSD boule with butter.  It was good, even better today.  

The kitty again has the requisite two laps.  She is happy, too.


And when Kitty's happy, everybody's happy.


occidental's picture

It's been a long while since I posted.  Summer came and bread baking was put on the back burner.  With fall comes colder temps and more time around the house, so back to bread baking I go.  I've actually baked quite a few loaves in the past weeks but have not posted them.  Anyway, I won't attempt to catch up but will post today's bake at least!


The last couple weekends I've been making a batch of sourdough baguettes.  After running across David's post on PRoth's baguettes I decided to give them a try.  This is a fairly low hydration dough that results in a open crumb and actually uses AP flour.  I was pleased with the results.



It's always good to have a little homemade soup  with your fresh bread!

Link to David's post:  Pat's (proth5) Baguettes

dmsnyder's picture

It's been quite a while since I've made a rye bread, and I've been missing it. I've been admiring the ryes other TFL members have been making, especially those with a very high percentage of rye. I've also noted the comments about the special sweet flavors reported when hot rye soakers or mashes have been included.

This weekend, I made Hamelman's “80% Rye with a Rye-flour Soaker” from “Bread.” This is the first time I've made a bread with over 70% rye flour and the first time I've used a hot rye soaker. The results were just astonishing. This is my new favorite rye bread.

I proofed the loaves seam side down, so the seam side was up when the breads baked. I did not score or dock the loaves but let them “burst” willy nilly. As occurred the last time I did this, I'd sealed the seams too well, and the loaves didn't burst as much as I'd hoped. None the less, I got really good oven spring, and the loaves had a high profile when sliced.

After the loaves were baked and cooled, I wrapped them in a spare raw linen couche for about 24 hours before slicing. The crust had softened and was nice and chewy. The crumb was pretty much as expected.

The flavor was notably sweet but with a nice tang and earthy rye flavor. It is delicious just plain and made a wonderful sandwich with smoked turkey breast. I'm anticipating great enjoyment when I have some with cream cheese and smoked salmon for breakfast tomorrow.


dmsnyder's picture


I have made the Basic Country Bread from Chad Robertson's “Tartine Bread” twice before. (See: Tartine Basic Country Bread as Bâtards and Oven steaming using the SFBI method) However, I did not bake the loaves in the cast iron “cloche” that Robertson prescribes. I baked them on a pre-heated baking stone and used the SFBI oven steaming method or the "magic bowl" technique.

Caroline (“trailrunner” on TFL) recently blogged on Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain from Hamelman's “Bread” which she baked in Dutch Ovens – one cast iron and the other enameled cast iron. Her beautiful loaves finally pushed me to try this method with the Basic Country Bread. (See: David's Vermont SD w/ increased rye ---response to cast iron bake)

Caroline used an heirloom cast iron Dutch oven and a Le Creuset Dutch oven. There was no difference in her results. I decided to try a similar experiment with two other cloches: A 5 qt Copco enameled cast iron pot that was a wedding present (which means we've had it for going on 44 years) and a 4 qt Calphalon anodized aluminum all purpose pan.

Copco enameled cast iron on the left and Calphalon Anodized Aluminum Dutch Ovens

I made the dough according to Robertson's instructions. I followed Carolyn's well-described method for baking, except that I placed my cloches right on the oven rack, rather than on a baking stone.

Loaves uncovered after baking 20 minutes covered at 460ºF.

I baked the loaves for an additional 25 minutes after uncovering them to achieve the crust coloration seen below. I think I could have baked a bit longer to get as dark a crust as those in pictured in "Tartine Bread."

Loaf baked in Copco, on the left, and loaf baked in Calphalon, on the right

Both loaves had great oven spring and bloom. The one baked in the Copco oven had significantly great height, but I don't know whether this had anything to do with differences in thermal properties between the two "cloches" or simply reflects differences in their shape and/or volume. Certainly, there was no significant difference in the crust appearance.

The prolonged high heat did discolor the handles of the Calphalon pan. The Copco interior discolored quite a lot. I don't know if this was from the heat or, possibly, from the parchment paper. Anyone who can share experience with this would be appreciated.

The crust is staying crisp as the bread cools. The crumb is well aerated but less open than that of the bâtards I made. It is tender and has a lovely wheaty-sweet flavor with a mild but definite sourdough tang.

I must say I am very favorably impressed with the results of baking this bread in the Dutch ovens. I think the oven spring and bloom are remarkable and much more dramatic than what I have seen with baking on an oven stone covered with a stainless steel bowl. I'll have to try this technique with other breads, but trailrunner's results with the lower hydration Vermont Sourdough certainly suggest my experience will be repeated.

Thanks for the prompt, trailrunner!


Submitted to YeastSpotting



GSnyde's picture


I was very pleased with my San Francisco Country Sourdough a couple weeks ago (, but no formula is exempt from tweaking.  This week I tweaked it as follows: (1) I used KA AP flour in place of KA European-Style Artisan Bread Flour; (2) I increased whole wheat from 6% to 8.5%; (3) I increased hydration from 66% to  67% in light of the increased whole wheat;  (4) I refrigerated the dough for 17 hours after the 3 hour room-temperature primary fermentation; (5) I baked smaller loaves instead of two 750g boules; and (6) I went with the latest steaming craze.  The tweaks led to improvement.


I don’t know if my starter was more active this week or loved the increased whole wheat  or the water was a bit warmer or what, but the dough got somewhat larger and gassier in the primary fermentation than it did last time.   There were many big bubbles in the dough when I put it in the fridge.

Right out of the fridge, the dough was divided into three 235g pieces for mini-baguettes.  The remaining 815g piece was formed into two mini-boules.  I decided to bake bats and balls in celebration of the Giants World Series Championship.

Bat and Ball IMG_1744

Dividing the dough into appropriately shaped pieces was interesting.  I ended up with three different shapes of mini-baguettes.  I could have shaped them more uniformly, but I sort of let them shape themselves based on how they were divided, and this is what they wanted to do. 

After carving off the mini-baguette pieces, I returned the rest of the dough to the fridge for another 90 minutes, so the mini-boules (baked after the mini-baguettes) started proofing around the time the mini-baguettes went into the oven.  I had to leave time to re-heat the cast iron pan and lava rocks for the second bake.

After 75 minutes proofing, the mini baguettes were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 10 minutes and dry at 475F for 12 minutes more.  

The mini-boules proofed 90 minutes and were baked on the stone at 500F with steam for 12 minutes and dry at 460 for 16 minutes.

The steam was produced using the Sylvia’s-Luxury-Spa-Method-plus-good-old-cast-iron-pan-with-lava-rocks combination I used last week.  My oven was exuding steam throughout the first 10 minutes, so there’s no doubt it was moist in there.

The results were very satisfactory.  Like last time, the crust was thin and crispy and the crumb was light but chewy.  The taste is a bit nuttier with the increased whole wheat.  I like it so far and look forward to trying the “next day flavor”.

Baguettes IMG_1732

Baguette CrumbIMG_1735

Boule CrumbIMG_1749

I had most of a mini-baguette for lunch and part of one mini-boule with my scrumptious “Greek Gumbo” (soup with lamb meatballs, lentils and vegetables) for dinner.


With my wife away, Tasha thinks she should join me at the table.  “Just meatballs for me, thanks”.


Here’s the revised formula:

San Francisco Country Sourdough (Sourdough Pain de Campagne)

Yield: Two 750g  Loaves or Three Mini-Baguettes (235g each) and one 800g Loaf or…   



100 grams   AP flour

24 grams  Whole Wheat flour

12 grams  Whole rye flour

170 grams   Water, luke warm

28     Mature culture (75% hydration)

FINAL DOUGH (67% hydration, including levain)

660 grams   KAF All-Purpose flour (85.5%)

65 grams  Whole wheat flour (8.5%)

45 grams   Whole rye flour (6%)

435 grams   Water at room temperature (56%)

17 grams   Salt (2%)

306     Liquid levain  (40%)   


1. LIQUID LEVAIN:  Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix, and let stand in a covered container at about 70°F

2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the levain, but not the salt. Mix just until the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy mass. Correct the hydration as necessary.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for an autolyse phase of 30 to 60 minutes. At the end of the autolyse, sprinkle the salt over the surface of the dough, and finish mixing 5 minutes. The dough should have a medium consistency. 

3. BULK FERMENTATION WITH S&F:  3 hours. Stretch and fold the dough in the bowl twice 30-strokes at 45-minute intervals.  Place dough ball in lightly oiled bowl, and stretch and fold on lightly floured board at 45 minutes.  If the dough has not increased in size by 75% or so, let it go a bit longer.

4. RETARDED BULK FERMENTATION (optional):  After second S&F on board, form dough into ball and then place again in lightly oiled bowl.  Refrigerate 8-20 hours, depending on sourness desired and scheduling convenience.

5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into pieces and pre-shape.  Let sit on board for 30-45 minutes, and then shape into boules or batards or baguettes.

6. PROOFING: Approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours at 72° F. Ready when poke test dictates.  Pre-heat oven to 500 with steam apparatus in place.

7. BAKING: With steam, on stone.  Turn oven to 460 °F after it hits 500F after loading loaves.  Remove steaming apparatus after 12 minutes (10 for baguettes). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes total (for 750g loaves; less for smaller loaves).   Rotate loaves for evenness as necessary.  When done (205 F internal temp), leave loaves on stone with oven door ajar 10 minutes.

Happy Baking!



Submitted to Yeast Spotting (


breadsong's picture

Hello, This is my second try making Chad Robertson's Country Bread, from his book, Tartine Bread.
I am enamored to say the least! I will be coming back to this again and again - it is SO good.

I tried baking this time on six firebricks instead of on my thinner baking stone. The baking stone was heated on the top rack to provide some more radiant heat from the top.  Here are the pictures of today's bake (each loaf proofed in a oval banneton at room temperature; loaves were not retarded).
I was happy with the oven spring and crumb! Flavor is once again quite wonderful! Regards, breadsong

proth5's picture

I was away from home and baking for a long time, but now I'm back (at least in the way that I count as being "at home.")

I had the chance to be with one of my oldest friends and some of his friends the other night and it hit me like a ton of bricks that my time in Okinawa had changed me in some pretty profound ways and that I will never be quite the same person ever again.  I think it all came out on the plus side, but the changes are real.

 So why keep baking the same old bread?  So I decided to goose up some of my formulas.

 The bear is still getting me as I get my hand skills back (Will I ever be happy with my scoring? No.  I'm learning to live with that.) and of course, if you change everything, consistency (which is the bugaboo of little minds, but is something I like) takes a backseat.  But though I'm not a picture taker the levain baguettes this week were worth a snap.

Levain baguette 68

 Formula (I'm leaving the math as an exercise because so many people like grams and I'm an ounces an pounds kind of gal.)

 Using KA AP flour.

 Liquid levain from liquid seed (inoculation 20%)

12% of the flour pre fermented

Hydration - a whopping 68% (!)

Salt 2%


Flour, pre ferment, and water into the mixer (hooray I finally got me that mini spiral!) mix to shaggy mass.  Autolyse for 20 minutes.

 Add salt.

 Mix 5 minutes on the sole speed.  (could be mixed by hand using the "fold in the bowl" method)

 5 hours total bulk ferment, one fold.

 Pre shape (in oblongs - yes, I'm going rogue!)


 Proof on couche 1 or so hours - seam up.


Bake at 500F for 4 minutes with steam then 14 minutes at 480F with convection.  Remove from oven.


Bear is still getting me on the scoring, but that crumb is getting to look pretty nice (too bad I can't take pictures - it never was "my thing" and I'm thinking that part of me didn't change.)  The crumb is profoundly yellow and the taste as always.  Crust stays crispy even after cooling.

And I'm loving that new oven.  Singing loaves every time!


I'm also working with a commercially yeasted baguette with two pre ferments, but that isn't ready yet.  Stay tuned.

For any Marines out there - my best wishes as the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps approaches.  Stay safe.  And if I may say it "oorah!"


Happy Baking!


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