The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Nathan's picture


Long-time lurker, first-time poster. Although I haven't been active on the Fresh Loaf, I have spent a lot of time reading, learning from and enjoying the content posted by fellow bread enthusiasts. Now, I hope to become a more active member of this site, hence this blog entry which serves as a brief introduction of myself as well as some pictures of one of my recent bakes.

I've been baking on a regular basis for about three years now. I enjoy baking all sorts of bread, though I have to say I'm a sourdough junkie at heart. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, I've been living in Madrid, Spain for the past ten years.

The following photos are of a recent bake of the sourdough seed bread found in Hamelman's Bread (p. 176). This is a lovely bread and I find myself baking it time and time again.

Lastly, I'd like to thank all members of the Fresh Loaf for their time and dedication. Your knowledge and help have made me a better baker.


Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread

Hamelman's Sourdough Seed Bread - Crumb

Elagins's picture

Shiao-Ping's picture

My son has been singing a song called Down Under.  Listening to this song with his i-pod ear-phones, he dances out of his room as he comes into my kitchen to check if there are any goodies to snack on.  I asks him what song it is; he says, Mum, this song is iconic and it goes:

Traveling in a fried-out combie
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said,

Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Cant you hear, cant you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, do you speak-a my language?
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich
And he said,

I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Cant you hear, cant you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

Lying in a den in Bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?
And he said,

Oh! do you come from a land down under? (oh yeah yeah)
Where women glow and men plunder?
Cant you hear, cant you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

And he is so stingy; he wouldn't let me take a photo of him dancing.

Driving my kids home from their tennis yesterday afternoon, I was getting an earful of suggestions from them as to how to do an Aussie Sourdough.  My son said there's got to be Vegemite and my daughter said there's got to be some gold or green color (they are the colors Australia wears in international sports).  And so I said, there's got to be jacaranda somewhere because it's the jacaranda season now (the saying goes, if when jacarandas are in bloom and you haven't started studying for your exams, you are in trouble).  And here is our Sourdough Down Under: 









My Formula

  • 350 g starter @75% hydration

  • 350 g Australia's Laucke's Wallaby unbleached bakers flour

  • 70 g Kraft (new) Vegemite, diluted in 35 g water (Note: this new product contains yeast extract from barley (30%) and cream cheese (28%) with caramel flavor and salt.)

  • 200 g water

  • 30 ml (ie, 2 tbsp) olive oil

  • 6 g salt (less salt than normal as there is salt in Vegemite)

  • 157 g pistachio, roasted (I had 250 grams sitting on my stove to cool off, everybody went past the nuts and ate some; by the time I was ready to mix them into the dough, barely 2/3's left.)   This is the "green" color that I can think of for this sourdough.  At the last minute I coated the nuts with one tablespoon of olive oil (just before they were to be mixed in) as I was afraid that the roasted nuts might draw some hydration out of the dough.

  • Extra rice flour for dusting the proofing basket

Total dough weight 1.2 kg and total dough hydration (approx.) 75%


  1. Mix all ingredients (except the pistachio nuts) by hand

  2. Autolyse 40 minutes

  3. Perform the first set of stretch and folds, about 30 - 40 strokes

  4. After 45 minutes, do the 2nd set of stretch and folds and at the same time mix in the nuts

  5. After another 45 minutes, do the 3rd set of stretch and folds

  6. After another 45 minutes, do the 4th set of stretch and folds (and this will serve as the pre-shaping)

  7. Rest 20 minutes

  8. Shape into a boule and place in a rice flour dusted and linen lined basket

  9. Proof in room temperature for an hour then place the dough into the refrigerator for retardation (I did 8 hours)

  10. Bake the next morning with steam at 240 C for 20 minutes and another 20 minutes at 220 C.

I think my starter did not like the foreign elements from the Vegemite.  Every kid in Australia knows that Vegemite is a yeast product which contains Vitamin B.  But it is also heavily loaded with preservatives; it can sit safely in your pantry for a long, long time.  My dough had hardly risen when I put it into the refrigerator (maybe only 50%).  There wasn't much oven spring either (probably another 50%).  If I had done this sourdough before, I would most likely have spiked it with some dry instant yeast.

But the aroma was strong!  The whole house smelled delicious when the baking was going on.








It is a beautiful night tonight, clear and lots of stars.  My husband had just had a dip after a few hours work in the backyard and he called everybody out to see the moon.  In a couple of nights, it will be the Chinese Moon Festival, the 15th of August in the Lunar calendar when the moon will be the fullest and brightest.  I reckon there are more stars visible in the southern hemisphere than in the north; at least that is the case in Asia, where I grew up, lots of industries and, sadly, pollution.

My kids love today's bake and so do I.  My husband said the stencil looks like Australian aboriginals' art work on their cave walls (the latter was considered one of the earliest form of recoding of human history).

You could hardly call pistachio Australian; but roasted, their nutty aroma compliments the rich flavor of Vegemite very well.  I will have no problem having a slice of this toasted with some cheese over a glass of Australian red.  Yum yum ....




Janedo's picture

Anyone who knows me from back when, knows that one of my goals as a home baker in France was to make a great baguette. I went through a series of trials and found that the technique used by Anis Bouabsa gave great results. French bakery baguettes, much like the photos you can see in Calvel's book, are pretty much basic French baguettes and in my opnion, not that fabulous. The BEST baguette in France is either called baguette "Tradition" or a house name, such as Baguette "Catalane". The baguettes respect strict rules about their production, made only with high quality T65 without additives (unauthorized ones) and at least part of the process must be hand done (usually the shaping and oven loading). They often have sourdough in it but spiked with yeast and if there is no sourdough, the dough has probably gone through a longer fermentation period to help develop flavour and a better crumb. Not all bakeries offer this type of baguette because it is more expensive to produce and therefore more expensive to buy, usually turning around 1,05€ vs ,75€ for a regular one or even less in a supermarket. In some areas, French people don't want to spend the money and so the baker just doesn't bother with them. In general they have a more rustic appearance, either pointy ends or sometimes squared off ends, not always slashed as a usual baguette but something more creative. These are the only baguettes I find edible in France.

Now, about flour. There has been a LOT of discussion in this forum regarding French flour and the famous T55. How to get the same result in the States. Well, first of all, there are two types of flour in France... regular people flour and baker's flour. I have always used organic, stone ground flour. This provides inscredible taste but it is hard to get light, great oven springed bread. My baguettes are always on the squashed side even if the crumb is open. I prefer to eat mostly organic foods and so I didn't really look in to other options.

But as an avid home baker, I have "professional" curiosity and so I went about testing baker's flour. Now, you have to know that baker's flour is another ball game. There are a number of different millers to choose from and each bakery has the choice of either being fully independant or affiliated with a flour company (like Baguépi, Banette, etc) The bakery get's advantages when they have a contract wiht one of these companies through free training, loans for starting up a bakery, free packaging, etc. I have had the opportunity to bake with these flours and some are good and others not. I have made a decent baguette with Baguépi but I injected it with sourdough and put it through a cold retarding.

These baker's flours have some common ingredients: Wheat flour, malted wheat flour, sometimes malted barley flour, gluten, fungal amylases, ascorbic acid.

I have seen a T65 baguette flour with additions of corn flour to make the flour more cream colored!!!!

So, I have been playing around with this flour...but a special type called T55 gruau which gives the qualities of a whiter flour but has much more gluten in it... probably around 11-11,5% (I  have to check but don't have the bag because I bought it from a baker). This isn't a flour you can buy at the store and it is hard to find on the internet. Bakers have easier access and much better prices on raw materials. I payed ,74€/kilo! Not bad for a specialty flour!

I have made bagels and some other simple breads to get a feel of the flour. The I made some baguettes using Steve's double flour additon technique where the poolish (in this case sourdough starter at about 100% hydration) and only a bit of the flour and water are combined and then whipped for a minute or so. You can see his ciabatta recipe here Steve's Ciabatta. I made a dough with a 250g starter for 600g flour at 73% hydration. I then added the rest of the flour and water, did an autolyse of 20 min. Added the salt and then kneaded with a Kenwood at 2-3 for about 10 min. The dough was AMAZING! It looked alive, was silky with perfect gluten development. I let it rise about 2hrs, then did a preshaping but not too tight. Then shaped the baguettes. The dough was elastic but easy to roll out. They rose very nicely, keeping their shape. I was scared they were over-proofed as I was outside playing with the kids and sort of forgot them, but in the oven they got good oven spring. I waited til they were cool to cut (hard to do, but I managed!) I could feel the air pockets in them. Here's the result:

I bake my baguettes dark on purpose, I think the crust has better taste and crunch. Baguette tradition has a slightly thicker crust and a crumb with more chew to it. I don't like cottony baguettes.

Anyway, I hope that maybe we can clear up some stuff about what that famous French T55 or 65 is all about. I do think you can make great baguettes in the States without having to have our flours over here. A very good quality flour that is around 11% protein (maybe with some added malt) should do the trick, which I assume is the case since there are some bakeries making great baguettes over there. The way they are baked counts, too. They need to be on a hot stone or four à sol. The ones baked on racks just aren't as good.

I had to type this out fast, it's Wednesday over here... kid day. So excuse the style. Just wanted to share with you!


AnnieT's picture


Believe it or not, finally a picture! Susan has walked me through this and deserves a medal for her patience. This is "Susan's Sourdough", my go to bread and while it got good oven spring the crumb could have been more open. I have a feeling I slightly underproofed it after a few overproofed loaves. Oh well, next time...A.

Susan's picture

50g firm starter, 204g water, 275g high gluten flour, 25g white whole wheat flour, 6g salt.  All mixed minimally by hand, rested for 30 minutes, one Stretch & Fold, two more S&Fs at 1-hour intervals, let rise to double.  Kept the dough temperature in mid-70'sF.  Pre-shaped, rested 15 minutes, shaped, then plopped into linen-lined colander.  Put in plastic bag, then into fridge for overnight.  Out of fridge for 2 hours before scoring, then baked at 450F for 20 minutes covered followed by 20 minutes uncovered.

davidg618's picture

I recently made Hamelman's Vermont sourdough, and especially liked the flavor layer contributed by the ten-percent whole rye flour. However, my favorite bread in this genre remains Dan DiMuzio's Pain au levain formula. I think the stiff levain and the ten-percent whole wheat flour create a more complex flavor profile. So I took what I like from both, and baked a couple of loaves yesterday.

The formula:

480g ripe starter (67% Hydration)

Final dough weight: 1700g

Hydration: 67%

KA Bread Flour: 90% (we like a chewy crumb and crust)

Hodgson Mill Whole Rye Flour 10%

H2O: 67%

Salt: 2%

I ripened the starter, using my usual 3-build method, over the 24 hours before making the dough: 4 minutes, speed 1; 30 minute autolyse; added salt; 3 minutes speed 2 (Kitchenaid stand mixer)

Bulk proof: 2 hours and 15 minutes with S&F at 45 and 90 minutes.

Pre-shaped two boules, 750g and 925g--I have two different size brotforms--rested 15 minutes, final shaped.

Final proof: large boule, 1 hour 45 minutes, small boule 2 hours 15 minutes--I baked them serially; I need a bigger baking stone:-(

Initial temperatute. 500°F; 10 minutes with steam, lowered temperature at 5 minutes to 450*F; at 10 minutes vented oven, baked 18 minutes and 15 minutes more respectively.

I also used dmsynder's before and after steaming procedure see Sourdough bread: Good results with a new tweak of my steaming method

The results: We like it! The difference between this and a pain au levain true to DiMuzio's formula is subtle, a slightly more accented note from the rye flour than whole wheat flour, and the stiffer levain lends its more complex flavor profile.

and the crumb...

David G

Obsessive Ingredient Weigher's picture
Obsessive Ingre...

Below are some detailed crust and crumb photos of Gosselin's "baguette tradition"/"baguette ancienne" from Paris + a report on the experience! I managed to get to all 3 of his shops...

On my first day in the city, I went to the 125 Rue Saint Honore location by the Louvre. Nice shop. Moderate size. Lots of pastries. I was the only one in there at 10AM as the staff was milling around. The cashier was very pleasant. As I left the shop, I broke off a piece of the "baguette ancienne" (btw - this is the only one of the three locations that calls it "ancienne" instead of "tradition") and was sorely disappointed. Much like many of the lower quality baguettes in Paris, it tasted overwhelmingly of hard water and/or raw flour. Fortunately, I purchased two baguettes, so I later tore into the other one...but only to find the same thing...horrible flavor. Somehow I was not discouraged, and I knew I had two more shops to go...

The next morning I visited the 28 Rue Caumartin location. It's on a sleepy street. Relatively small shop. Again, I was the only person in the boulangerie, but the cashier was hurried and not entirely pleasant with me. And, yes, I speak French, so she wasn't just being surly to the "American tourist". Upon leaving the shop, I dug into the baguette and was hit with the same disgusting flavor from the baguettes the day before. I now had major doubts about the quality of Gosselin's famous baguettes. How could they be so beloved and yet be so bad? But I still hadn't been to the flagship store, so I decided to give Gosselin one last try...

Saturday morning I wandered down the Boulevard Saint Germain. Gorgeous street. And despite my underwhelming experiences from the days before, I was excited. The numbers on the building counted down until there I was at 258 Boulevard Saint Germain...

With a shop this pretty, the baguette had to be good, right? I scooted around to the other side of the building and snapped a cliched shot of an old Parisian man shuffling out, baguette in-hand...

I walked inside, ready to give Gosselin his last chance...

There it was, above the register on the right, the "baguette tradition"...

I walked down the Boulevard and took a shot of the virgin loaf. The crust was dark and very well-caramelized. The scent was not too pronounced: very slightly sweet with a hint of nuttiness. This was surprising to me, as my "pain a l'ancienne" loaves have a very distinct pistachio scent...

I sat on a bench, ripped off a piece and gave a taste. Delicious! I don't know who makes the bread at the other two shops, as all three are supposed to have the same source, but this was a world apart...

I walked along thoroughly enjoying my baguette until I reached the banks of the Seine, where I had to take a few more photos. In the few minutes between my first bite and the river, I was blown away. The top crust tasted subtly but clearly of roasted marshmallows. The bottom crust was more blunt, although delicious. And, odd as it may seem, the closest thing I can compare it to are the crispy, slightly charred edges and nooks of a Thomas' English Muffin. Not the most sophisticated flavor in the world, but there it was. The crumb, as you can see, was cream-colored and tasted just like it looked, creamy and smooth...

Just look at that grigne and the gorgeous colors...

The baguettes definitely have an irregular shape, nothing neat and perfectly uniform about them...

I was so happy with my experience on Saturday, that I went back to the shop on Monday morning, got another baguette and sat in the Tuileries Gardens by the Louvre to snap a few more shots on a park bench.

The baguettes have a beautiful oven spring...

Admittedly, this second loaf wasn't quite the religious experience that the one from Saturday morning had been. It definitely hadn't spent as much time in the oven, so there wasn't a tremendous amount of character to the flavor. Visually, excellent crust and excellent crumb, but I'd only go so far as to describe the flavor as "solid".

Clearly, the key is to get a "baguette tradition" only from the Saint Germain flagship store, and make sure it has a deep amber crust. It's guaranteed to knock your socks off.

I sampled many other baguettes while in Paris. Most ranged from terrible to boring. One from the Le Moulin de la Vierge was adequate and certainly worth going for if you're near the Eiffel Tower and need a baguette fix. And I have to say I was quite impressed with the one I had at Gerard Mulot. While it didn't soar to the heights of my Saturday Gosselin experience, it was excellent and absolutely one to check out.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you've experienced Gosselin's work first-hand or love making these loaves yourself. I thought having some close-up photos would be a great thing to share, as I know how many of us love to work on Gosselin's/Reinhart's "pain a l'ancienne" and how much detailed imagery can help us out with our experiments. Bon appetit!

Shiao-Ping's picture

We made olive bread at Artisan II course, SFBI, using double hydration method (see this post for a description of double hydration).  At the time I felt the bread came out a bit dense because, with the double hydration method, you actually end up mixing the dough for quite a long time.  The method is supposed to help build up the dough strength before any add-ins are incorporated into the dough. 

With this Olive & Rosemary Oregano Sourdough, I wanted to experiment if I could first build up the dough strength with stretch & folds by hand, then incorporate the olives and herbs.  What I did was after the usual autolyse of 30 minutes, I did the first set of stretch & folds, waited 3o minutes, then mixed in the add-ins by way of the 2nd set of stretch & folds.  Perhaps because this dough was lower hydration than my usual dough (which is well over 70%), I found that some strength and good elasticity had already developed towards the end of the first set of stretch and folds.  So, I was happy to incorporate the olives and herbs at the 2nd set of stretch and folds.  

My kids are on school holiday this week; it's a week day today but felt like a Sunday for us.  Here is the sourdough we enjoyed at today's lunch table.     





My Formula

  • 704 g starter @75% hydration

  • 412 g water

  • 60 ml or 4 tbsp of olive oil (note: 4 tablespoonfuls of olive oil is 60 ml but not 60 grams; it is about 40 to 44 grams in weight. The SFBI formula that we worked on at the Artisan course does not use olive oil.)

  • 704 g bread flour

  • 17 g salt (I used only 1.5% of total flour because there is also salt in olives.)

  • 280 g pitted kalamata olives, rinsed in water and drained (I used 25% of total flour)

  • Chopped rosemary (I used only a sprig of 20 cm in length; this turned out to be on the light side, you could easily have 2 to 3 times amount of what I used).

  • Chopped oregano (I used only 3 sprigs; this also turned out to be too little, you could at least triple the amount I used. Also note the SFBI formula uses Thyme, not rosemary or oregano.)

  • Extra Whole Wheat flour to coat the olives (just before olives are to be incorporated into the dough); this is said to prevent the olives from being meshed during mixing, but I don't find it necessary.

Total dough weight 2.16kg (to be divided into two pieces); total dough hydration 70% (note: SFBI formula is 66% hydration) 



  1. Mix all ingredients (except the olives and the herbs) by hand

  2. Autolyse 30 minutes

  3. Do the first set of stretch and folds of 30 - 40 strokes

  4. After 30 minutes, incorporate all the olives and herbs at the 2nd set of stretch and folds

  5. After another 40 minutes, perform the 3rd set of stretch & folds

  6. After another 40 minutes, divide the dough to two pieces and pre-shape to tight balls

  7. Rest for 20 minutes

  8. Shape to tight balls

  9. Proof for 2 hours then place in refrigerator to retard (I did 18 hours)

  10. Bake next morning with steam at 230 C for 20 minutes and 220 C for another 20 minutes







Some thoughts on this bake:

(1) The dough was slightly over-fermented as there was not very much oven spring.  From the time the dough was mixed to the time it went into the fridge, it was 5 hours.  Adding the 18 hours retardation, total fermentation was 23 hours.  This normally would not be too much, but I wonder if my active starter has meant that I should shorten the proofing time before the dough gets into the refrigerator.

(2) 5% olive oil increases the keeping quality of the sourdough; the bread stays fresh longer and toasts beautifully.  The oil gives the crumb a very light texture.



SumisuYoshi's picture

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Sunday again, at my house this time. And once again I need a pan loaf for sandwiches! I started flipping through Bread Baker's Apprentice looking for my next target. The Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire caught my eyes, without so much as a picture! People who know me probably wouldn't be surprised by this, because as much as I love various artisan breads, whole wheat or multigrain anything will make me sit up and take notice. And no, I don't eat cardboard in my spare time.

The first step was to figure out what grains I was going to use in the bread. The recipe called for 3tbsp of either corn meal, amaranth, millet, or quinoa; 3tbsp of either rolled oats or wheat, triticale or buckwheat flakes; and 2tbsp of wheat bran. I decided to go with 2tbsp amaranth, 1tbsp millet, 2tbsp rolled oats, 1tbsp buckwheat cereal (not as small as flakes, but who's counting?), the 2tbsp of wheat bran, and 1tbsp of flax meal.

Grain Soaker

I'd also decided to deviate a bit from the recipe and make it sourdough. I already had my starter out to refresh (Friday night), and I had some leftover that I wouldn't be able to use for anything else, so why not right? I used the starter to make a small stiff levain (which I meant to build Saturday, and forgot). I wasn't particularly following a recipe for that part, so I wrote down the amount of flour and water I used so I could account for it in the recipe for the loaf.

Stiff Levain

I gathered together the rest of the ingredients:

MilkFlour, Salt, Brown Sugar

And not shown here: honey, cooked brown rice, and water. They went in after the levain descended on the milk.

Attack of the stiff Levain!

Mixing time! The dough was much gummier and stickier than I was expecting. I think a lot of that gummy/stickyness came from the starches in the soaker. As I emptied the grains into the dough I noticed the somewhat stringy goop of starch conglomeration on the bottom of the container.

Mixing the dough

After a bit more mixing, adding a little bit of flour, doing some stretches and folds, the dough finally reached a point where I could actually handle it. It still was quite sticky and gummy though, definitely unlike other doughs I've dealt with so far.

Mixed dough

Folding the dough

As I mentioned, I forgot to do a build of the stiff levain I made for this loaf. So it took a very long time to rise, in fact, at one point I wasn't even sure it was going to rise. What made it especially hard is that my sourdough starter really doesn't do most of the rising until the oven. So, I gave the dough plenty of time and a few more folds, it had finally grown some and didn't spring back on a poke test, so I shaped it into a loaf and plopped it into a pan.

Ready to proof

In the loaf pan it didn't take quite as long for the second rise, but it was getting late and I really needed to get to bed, so that was all the rising it was going to do!


Into the oven it went, it did get a nice little bit of oven spring (but not as much as I was hoping for, and nowhere near as little as I was dreading). I think next time I'll make it with regular yeast, or make sure I remember to have a build of levain before I start the loaf! It smelled really wonderful when it was baking, in fact it smelled amazing when it was rising too! Never had a loaf that smells that good during bulk ferment and proofing. It was a great combination of yeasty, sour, sweet, and grassy/grainy. I assume the aroma must have come from all the grains in the loaf, but I don't really know for sure. This is definitely one bread I want to make again, and soon! I'll probably experiment with switching it over to whole wheat too, if that turns out well I think I may have found my dream sandwich bread...

Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge



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