The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


txfarmer's picture

This bread is from Dan Lepard's book "A handmade loaf", also well documented here and here. The basic idea is to make a starter with heated beer + flour + sourdough starter to mimic the traditional beer barm starter. Since beer is first heated, whatever yeast is there in the bottle aged ale are all killed, so the rising power is completely from the natural starter, not from the beer. Dan still recommends to use bottle aged ale beer, I think for 2 reasons: 1. authentic flavor; 2. the other micro organism and "stuff" in bottle aged ale would more likely coexist with the natural starter better, while lager or even a different ale with additives, might interfere with the health of natural starter.

I used Chimay Ale, the starter became bubbly and matured after 24 hours, longer than what the book says (overnight), shorter than some other people's experience.

The hydration was around 70%, nice open crumb.

I changed procedure so the proofing was done overnight in the fridge (shape, fridge, take out the next morning, keep proofing for another 90min at room temp, bake), however it was not sour at all. Mild and slightly sweet taste. Can't really taste the bitterness from beer hops, but overall flavor is very good. Crumb is moist and chewy, crust is crispy.

The barm starter can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, I will do some more experiments with what's left.


Tried to make pure rye sourdough again, this time I think my proofing and baking timing were better. Proofed less, and baked with higher temp for longer (480F for 10min, 450F for 10min, 430F for 10min, 410F for 10min).See my last attempt here.

Crumb is more even, rise was better too.

They didn't become moldy after storing for 4 days, but also stayed moist, so I guess the baking time was good.

My husband, who started out liking softer Asian breads, later started liking sourdough and baguette, now is getting a taste for this pure sourdough rye. Yes! My "training plan" is working! :P


*This post is being submitted to YeastSpotting.

MadAboutB8's picture

My recent obsession with Macarons. No actually, I've been obsessed with Macarons for quite sometimes...but my first attempt at making macarons was a total disaster. So much so that I dreaded making them again. It took me another year to come up with enough courage to give it another try.

I still remember the first time I bit into my very first macarons. It's from a french patiserrie in The Rocks, Sydney. It's passionfruit macarons...and it just taste sublime and so heavenly....umm macarons, my new best friend.

My first attempt making hem was absolute disaster. The batter was too runny. They weren't cooked. They stuck to the paper. They were all broken. It simply put me off making them almost forever.

Somehow, I regained my urge to try making them again....this time around with better luck, better tools, better educated. I must say that macarons are not that difficult to make.

I found some similarities between making bread and macarons. Both are consisted of basic ingredientsthat always presents in them. Bread --- flour, water and salt. Macarons --- almond meal, egg whites and sugar. Both start with the basic and you can improvise and let your creativity guide develop flavours that you like.

Both are quite technical..that if you get the basic technique can almost always get the predictable result. Both taste sublime and both are my two favorite things in baking arena. And my life would be miserable without both of them:)
My journey so far.....

First attempt (second attempt actaully, after the very first disastous one)

Second attempt....lemon macarons with lemon curd

Third attempt....rosewater macarons with white chocolate ganache

 slowly rising and the feet slowly appearing

 resting before being sandwiched together

 and say hello to my little friends:)

Update 12/11/2010

For more information and reading about Macarons you can visit my three posts below:

- Basic Macaron Recipe using French meringue technique - a simpler French meringue technique where sugar is gradually mixed into whipping egg white.

- Basic Macaron Recipe using Italian meringue technique - a little more complex method where cooked sugar syrup is gradually poured into whipping egg white. More tools and processed involved, but the result is more predictable and give shinier crust.

- I heart Macarons - my  macaron adventure & journey and love affair with Macarons

Latest concoctions: updated 3-July-11

Rosewater Buttercream Macaron - Macarons with rosewater Swiss buttercream (made with egg white). It was light, delicate and very fragant.

Recipe and full post is here.

Toasted Coconut Pandan Macaron - French macaron with Asian flair - macaron with toasted coconut pandan chocolate ganache filling

Recipe and full post is here.

Lemon Cheesecake Macaron - Macaronwith slight tart lemon curd and cream cheese filling.

Recipe and full post is here.


Pistachio Buttercream Macaron - A French classic flavour with ground pistachio macaron shell and pistachio buttercream filling. 

Recipe and full post is here

Passionfruit Macaron - Pairing coconut and passionfruit together, with coconut in macaron shell and passionfruit milk chocolate ganache. The sweet & toasty flavour from coconut matches well with subtle flavour of passionfruit. It was the first macaron I ever tasted, passionfruit macarons. Another bite of this macaron made me relive that special moment. 

The full post and recipe is here

Blueberry Cheesecake Macaron - Combining two of my greatest loves in one bite, Cheesecake & Macarons, nothing can go wrong (for me anyway). The macarons are filled with blueberry cream cheese filling. It's mouth is still watering thinking about it:) The full blog post and recipe is here.

Cherry Ripe Macaron - Macaron with coconut in shell and the cherry-coconut-chocolate ganache as a filling. Coconut smells heavenly when baked and bitten. The recipe and more photos are here.

Black Sesame Macaron - One of the yummiest macaron I made so far. The shells were made with mixture of almond meal and ground black sesame seeds, which provides fantastic aroma and the nuttiness of sesame seeds. The filling was also made from ground black sesame seed mixed with white chocolate ganache. Recipes and more details is here.

Salted Caramel Macarons - Really what can go wrong with caramel, that heavenly caramelised sugar with cream and butter. And with a little bit of salt, sandwiching the almond meringue cookie together. It's pure heaven! Recipes and more details is here.

Raspberry Chocolate Macarons with hearts - macarons with raspberry chocolate ganache fillings, chocolatey with subtle raspberry flavours. The shells were sprinkle with sugar-hearts (cup cake decorations). They'll make a perfect treat for your Valentine's.

Heart Macarons with Strawberry Buttercream - First time I tried making macarons into other shape. Instead of the usual round macarons, I did them in heart-shape and fill it with strawberry buttercream filling to celebrate the upcoming Valentine's Day. But well, we ate them all a week before the day. I guess everyday is a Valentine's Day:), everyday day is a macaron day! For recipe and how you can make a heart shape macaron, you can follow below link:

Orange Macarsons - Red macarons filled with orange cream filling to celebrate Chinese New Year.  Combining two auspecious things together (Orange for wealth and Red colour for good luck), I was hoping to get into the Chinese New Year spirit and welcome good fortune into the new year:) For recipes you can follow the link below:

Rosewater Macarsons - Rosewater is simply a beautiful flavour and it matches the delicate texture of macarons perfectly well. I found floral flavour to work really well with macarons and rosewater is no exception. For recipes and more photos, you can follow the links below.

Red - Raspberry buttercream macarons - another macaron follow-up for Christmas series macarons, RED with raspberry buttercream filling. It is so delicious and has now become my most favorite! You can find more details and recipe by following the link below:


Orange blossom macarons  - macaron filled with orange blossom white chocolate ganache. It has a sweet and distinctive aroma from orange blossom. I find the floral flavour works quite well with macarons. You can find more details and recipe following the link below:


Dark chocolate mint macarons - Let's get festive with candy cane macarons filled with dark chocolate mint ganahe and crushed candy cane sprinkle. It has a strong minty flavour that is perfect for aftermeal treat. For recipe, you can visit

Jaffa macarons: macarons with orange dark chocolate ganache - macarons filled with my favorite chocolate flavour, dark chocolate and orange. This is one of my favorite. The bittersweet orange marmalade works really well with chocolate, as well as the macaron shells. I mix my homemade marmalade through chocolate ganache for the filling.

You can find the recipe here ...

Chocolate macarons - though simple, but never boring. I guess we all understand why chocolate is one of the most loved food. These macarons are perfect for chocolate lovers.

You can find the recipe here .. 


Lavender macarons - infuse the cream with lavender before making the ganache filling. My place was very aromatic when they were being baked...lavender smells wonderful.

You can find the recipe here:


The crumb

Caramel peanut macarons - I included ground peanut into the shell mixture and peanut praline into the caramel filling.

Full recipe is here:

Green tea favorites..

full recipe is here:

For more details, you can visit my blog,


Lillibread's picture

About a year ago I began baking french bread - I've primarily been using Ciril Hitz recipie from "Baking Artisan Bread".  I'm not getting the air pockets that I'd like in the crumb structure.  I'm wondering if someone might have advice for me.  The recipe calls for a poolish - I've been careful re: time/temperature in that regard.  Same w/ the dough.  I've got a Kitchen Aid mixure - I've try to be uber concious about not over working the bread in the mixing process.  Most of the time I use fleischmann's yeast.  I've stayed w/ the recipe is well re: amount of salt.  I've as well been careful not to de-gas the bread as I'm shaping the loaves.  On a couple of ocassions I've even over-proofed the dough just to see if that might make a difference.  It hasn't.  Anybody got any idea on how to get some air (hot air or otherwise) into this bread.  Appreciate your help.

turosdolci's picture

I said that I would post this recipe. They are delicious but although the pastry is satisfactory it isn't as fine as machine made. I would love to hear from anyone who attempts to make it.







Yippee's picture

As an old Chinese saying goes, 'If a craftman wishes to do a fine job, he must first sharpen his tools' (工欲善其事,必先利其器),  proper gear and setup, in addition to the right techniques, are essential in making good breads.

I'd noticed a 'deficiency' of my otherwise well functioned oven when I was making the sourdough bagels.  The browning was somewhat uneven and by the time the bagels were browned, my kids' favorite onion toppings were already burned.  To correct this deficiency, I opted for better quality pizza stones.  After a long wait of almost three weeks, the stones had finally arrived.  I chose the thickest stones (1") that, as represented by the manufacturer of the stones, the BTU of a home oven would support.  I've retained the same setup as before, with one stone on top and the other on the bottom.  However, this time the stones were cut in a way that there is a one inch clearance around them.

In addition, I bought a wine thermostat and turned one of the refrigerators into my official retarder.  This setup was brought to my attention by DonD.  I must tell you; it is another lifesaver after SteveB's proofer.  A big 'thank you' to both gentlemen again.

With good stones, it's natural to think pizza.  I'm curious if the temperature of the bottom stone can really be jacked up to over 550F (without rigging the oven) to make restaurant quality pizza, as one proud home baker boasted.  So I got an infra-red thermometer, which I forgot to use since I was busy watching my bread.

The bread I made this time as an experiment was almost identical to this formula, except for the levains.  The starter used in this bake was actually the final dough made from the same formula but ended up sitting in the fridge. I used this old dough as-is and did not refresh it before baking. The weights of ingredients were adjusted so that the % of prefermented flours and final dough hydration remained the same.

The controlled retardation was the highlight of this experiment and it was very playful to me.  The fermentation schedule was as follows:

Bulk Ferment

  • 2 hours @ 76F

Final Prove:

  • 10 hrs - @54F

  • 8 hrs - @65F

  • 12 hrs - @58F

I was a bit hesitant when deciding the oven temperature with the new stones in place as I had no prior reference. Therefore, I used a more conservative 485F to preheat and immediately lowered to 465F after loading.  The crackly part of the crust did not turn out as dark as last time.  I have to avoid the darker crusts because they seem to irritate my kids' throat.  It probably will take me a few more experiments before I find out the optimum timing and temperatures of my retarder and oven.  With the assistance of my new tools, I'm looking forward to a more enjoyable baking experience.

Here are some pictures:









lief's picture

Wow, I just just realized I've been on a bit of a roll kick lately :-) As the result of being busy, and being lazy about blogging when I actually do have the time, I am a bit behind. I would like to give more details on each of these bakes, but at this point I know that if I try to put in too much information I'll never get around to writing anything at all!

My daughter came for a visit, and she brought friends along, so I actually baked quite a bit. First up was a sourdough version of floydm's potato rosemary roll recipe. This is the second time I've made this recipe, both times with a levain rather than commercial yeast and the rolls are delicious. The first time I made them, I thought they would be good as hamburger buns. So that's what I used them for this time!

Unfortunately, I baked my first batch a little too long (28 minutes) and the crust was a little tough for a burger bun. The second batch, I cut down to 23 minutes, and it was better but still a tad tough.


Next I made some cheese rolls. Anyone familiar with the Cheeseboard in Berkeley, CA knows about these! Absolutely delicious! I used spelt flour instead of whole wheat and spread out the fermentation, shaping, and proofing of these rolls over 3 days due to a busy schedule and not wanting to bake at midnight. It was too much for the spelt. As you can see from the picture, the rolls collapsed and didn't really get any oven spring.


I also made a pizza using the Pizza Napoletana recipe from BBA for the crust. The BBA Pizza Napoletana recipe uses the same cold fermentation technique as the Pain a l'Ancienne recipe, so needless to say, it is fantastic. I've actually tried using a dough from the Pain a l'Ancienne recipe as a pizza dough, but the higher hydration makes it too difficult for me to shape into a pizza crust. This pizza had carmelized onions, figs, goat cheese, basil, and a balsalmic vinegar based sauce. Sorry, no pictures... everyone was hungry and the pizza was devoured in short order.

Last, but certainly not least, I baked up a batch of Trumer Rolls to bring to a friends house for dinner. This is my own recipe and something I bake on a regular basis. I'm sure I'll post the recipe at some point, but at a glance, the recipe is a sourdough (of course) with 40% spelt flour and the final dough is hydrated with Trumer Pils beer. Thus the name. Mmmmmmm... I wish I were eating one now as I write this ;-)

SylviaH's picture

Very delicious and fairly simple to make, these appealing cookies make a very nice accessory cookie to an elegant dessert or just simply to snack on alone.

With 'Mis en Place' I made these while preparing dinner, placed them in the oven to slow bake.  The recipe is HERE updated..this link should work, scroll down to the recipe.







ejm's picture

This wonderful bread made with sugar pears, unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat and rye flours, is based on Sandra Avital's (Le Pétrin) recipe for "Pain Rustique aux Poires".

pear bread - July 2010
pear bread - July 2010pear bread - July 2010

This makes GREAT toast.

More detailed description and recipe here: Pear Bread (


(Yes, I made this by hand. Yes, the dough is exceedingly sloppy....)

Sandra Avital's (Le Pétrin) recipe is here: Pain Rustique aux Poires ( - recette en français

SylviaH's picture

I used Daniel T. DiMuzio's formula from his book 'bread baking An Artisan's Perspective' for making his Double Raisin and Toasted Walnut loaves, changing it to go with a combination I have been wanting to taste.  I substituted the double raisins and walnuts with, half the amount of dried natural, chopped Blenheim apricots, a very big favorite of mine is the Blenheim apricots from CA. especially fresh.  I also added 1/2 cup of Millet seeds for a little soft crunch.  The combination is delicious with the apricots not being overly sweet like raisins can sometimes taste.  The little soft crunch and mild flavor of the millet seed was an added plus, all went delicious toasted this morning with a smear of cream cheese.  I was very pleased with the combination of the apricots and millet seed and plan on trying it in some other recipes.

These loaves were baked yesterday with the Greek bread I posted earlier.  I baked both the apricot and millet seed loaves together and wanted to steam them with my steaming lid, I have not used in a very long time.  The two loaves would not fit under the steaming lid, I did not want to stay up any later and bake them individually, so they were not properly steamed which I think contributed towards the paler crust on the second loaf.






SylviaH's picture

This is my version of the recipe from HERE 'Im having trouble getting this to go directly to the recipe, in search type Crusty Greek Country Bread'. I have never made a bread containing goats milk, I thought this a good choice instead of the water called for in the recipe, and I have to say what a very pleasant surprise.  It turned out just as I hoped it would.  The flavor with levain and goats milk was delicious and I've never tasted anything like it before.  It had a sweet creamy taste from the goats milk and duram flour with the added nutty flavor from the sesame seeds.  The crumb was just as I wanted just open enough, I coated the egg wash on extra heavy and all the way down the sides to hold an extra heavy sprinkling of the sesame seeds.  This bread will be outstanding toasted or for sandwiches, whatever way you choose to enjoy it.

Sponge: set aside to rise for 2 hours.

208 gm liquid levain - 100% hydration

84 gms scalded and cooled goats milk - 

62 gms Bread flour



671 gms Bread Flour

240 gms Duram Flour - You have your choice of flour combinations - Duram is one of my favorites 

420 gms Scalded Goats Milk - cooled

2 Tbsp. Honey

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt

Adding the sponge, I used mechanical and hands with my KA and a combination of Stretch and folds. 

Glaze: One whole egg with 2 tsp water and wisked till foamy - 1/2 cup sesame seeds -

 two round linen lined baskets were used for proofing and then turned onto parchment paper on paddles and slid onto hot oven stone.


Preheat oven and stone 450F convection setting for one hour

Because the loaves were heavily coated with glaze I only spritzed my oven after putting in my steaming device was used.

Baked for 45 minutes adjusting my oven temperature from 450 convection off 10mins. reducing down to 425 and 375F.












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