The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Neo-Homesteading's picture




Recently my family visited quiet valley living historical farm in stroudsburg, pa. Although we went there for the "craft festival" it was the oven that really captured my attention. I talked with the ladies running the oven briefly and had a brief conversation about how I'm in the process of building my own oven. Well actually its been a few years in progress now. I was amazed at how well their oven looked and how well maintained it is. It really motivated me to want to finish my own.

So far, We dug a 4x4 foot hole, filled it back up, made the foundation with cinder blocks... filled the center with sand, purchased fire brick and now its still sitting there. I based everything off of what I read in kiko denzers book but something I really had an issue with was all of the rocks and trying to find the perfect soil to build with. While talking to the ladies at the historical farm I almost got the impression that rocks are ok? It was just a brief conversation however now I'm somewhat baffled. Dont rocks explode when they are heated? Living in the pocono mountains finding the perfect clay to use for my oven just seems impossible. Has anyone else done this in a similar environment? I'm really hoping to finish my bread oven soon, hopefully before the snow hits this season. I'm wondering if a masonry oven might be a better way to go however I did have my heart set on a cob style earth oven. Any helpful advice appreciated! For more on the historical farm please see my blog post. 


External Link to post:

Neo-Homesteading's picture




Recently I've been on a mission to really try and improve my food photography. Although I make sourdough pancakes quite often i decided to really take a stab at re-vamping my original post. The recipe is still pretty much identical however this time I topped each pancake with some diced lightly seasoned apples. They really reminded me of traditional german Apple kuchen. They came out delicious and perfectly fluffy. We topped some with home made blueberry and cherry compote and I also caramelized some bananas. 

Link to recipe :

Franko's picture




Pain de Campagne


This weeks bake is somewhat of a hybrid between Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with increased Whole Grain and a formula posted by JoeVa back in January of this year for a Pane a Lievito Naturale con Segale Integrale .


The final dough includes a ratio of 20% whole rye flour as well as malt syrup and nondiastatic malt powder. The malt syrup helps provide the natural yeasts with sufficient nutrition during the long fermentation of this dough (30+hrs) and the nd malt powder is used for added flavour, similar to JoeVa's formula. But where Giovanni's posted formula calls for a stiff levain, I used a liquid white levain as per Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough with increased Whole Grain because that's what I had active at the time. Since the levain is a wheat based leaven I'll just call this a Pain de Campagne for now unless someone has a better suggestion for it. The bread has a good sour note to it that combines well with the malt for a balanced overall flavour. The crust is chewy and the crumb is even, which makes it a good loaf for sandwiches and everyday use, and a bread I'll be making often. Formula and photos included.

















Mature white Liquid Culture




Bread Flour
















Final Dough




Rogers Unbleached Bread Flour




Nunweiler's Dark Rye Flour








Malt Syrup




*Non-diastatic Malt Powder
















Total Hydration




  • non diastatic malt powder can be found online at KA


Mixing Time-5 minutes on 1st speed 7-8 minutes on 2nd speed

Desired Dough Temp-76F


Add all ingredients except the salt to the mixing bowl and mix on

1st speed for 2 minutes. Add the salt and mix for an additional

3-4 minutes on 1st speed, or until all the ingredients are combined.

Mix on 2nd for 7-8 minutes until the dough is cohesive but not fully

developed. Turn the dough out onto the counter/bench and work by

hand until the dough is smooth and well developed. The dough

should have a medium feel to it, pliable but slightly resistant to the


Bulk Ferment -2 1/2hrs at 70F

First stretch and fold after 50 minutes

Second s&f after 50 more minutes

After a full 2 ½ bulk ferment, round lightly, cover and rest for 15 min ,

then shape as desired. Place in floured banneton (if using) and place

in refrigerator or at a temp of 58F or less for 26hrs. After this time bring

the dough to room temp for 4 hrs or until almost fully proofed, slash, and bake at

500F for 10 minutes with normal steam then reduce the temp to 440F for

the remaining bake time of 30-35 minutes, rotating the loaf after 20 min

to colour evenly on all sides. Cool for 8 hrs minimum, wrapped loosely in

linen on a wire rack before slicing.





davidg618's picture

I've been immobile for the past two months with sciatica. With steroid treatment and physical therapy, it's nearly completely diminished. Fortunately, the freezer was well stocked with baguettes, sourdough loaves, and a couple of Jewish Ryes at the onset--now nearly depleted. 

Yesterday afternoon, after a two month hiatus, I celebrated my new-gotten mobility by mixing dough for my Overnight Baguettes formula; shaped and baked them this morning.


Nice to know, I haven't gotten too rusty. Sorry, no crumb shot; these are restocking the freezer.

David G

Mebake's picture

I wanted to bake under a pyrex, and an ss bowl this time. The boule on the Right was under a pyrex bowl, and the Batard was under the stainless bowl.

My adapted recipe of Hamelman's Formula:

Total Formula:

Bread Flour: 1lb  (50%)

Whole Wheat Flour: 1lb (50%)

Mixed Grains: 5.8 oz (18%)

Water: 1lb , 10oz (78%)

Salt: 0.7 oz (1 T + 0.5Tsp) (2.2%)

Yeast: (1tsp) instant yeast (1%)

Honey: 1oz (1 T, 0.5tsp) (3%)


Bread Flour: 3.8 oz (100%)

Water: 4.8 oz (125%)

Starter: 1.5 T (20%)


Grains (Cracked oates, or wheat or Rye, Sunflower seeds, Flax seeds, Buckwheat): 5.8oz (100%)

Water : 6.9 oz (120%)

Salt: 0.5 tsp

Final Dough:

Bread Flour: 12.2 oz

Wholewheat Flour: 1lb

Water: 12.5 oz

Salt: 1 T

Yeast: 0.1oz  (1tsp)

Honey: (1T + 1tsp)

Soaker: All

Levain: All


Neat Results, but the chronic charred bottom remains a challenge i have to put up with in My gas oven.

The loaves could have used more proofing time, but i bet the premature levain i mixed in had something to do with it.


breadsong's picture


This bread is from Artisan Breads at Home by Eric Kastel. The original recipe calls for walnuts, but this is Hazelnut weekend in my kitchen.

These are hearty little loaves, loaded down with lots of goodies, and the sweetness from the apple-cranberry pairs nicely with the sourdough.

I want to try making crisps with some of the bread, as described by farine-mc on her blog:

I wanted to try and get a cracking crust, and went for a hot bake which is reflected in the 'colorful' crust.
I didn't get cracking crust, but the loaves did sing to me a little bit!   Regards, breadsong




Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

In this third installment of my weekly attempts to bake a passable baguette, conflict, drama, and a rather too hot oven arise.

Where we last left our heroes:

My weekly goal is to master (sort of) Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish. Last week's baguette possessed only a so-so flavor and texture, a crumb that was somewhat too tight, crust that was a tad chewy, and irregular scoring.  This week I added a few modifications:

  1. I fermented the poolish for only 9 hours instead of 12.  I'm making only a half batch compared to Hamelman's Home measurements, and it stood to reason that if 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in ~21 oz of poolish is ready in 12 hours, the same yeast in half the poolish would take less time
  2. By accident, I left the oven temperature at 535 degrees (probably more like 515 measured by a more reasonable oven than mine) for the first 6 minutes of the bake.
  3. After the baguettes had finished baking, I turned off the oven, propped the door open, and left them in for another 5 minutes, in hopes of a crisper crust.

The Results: External Shots


As you can see, the crumb was relatively tight, and the scores very shallow, and so in that respect this batch was pretty disappointing.  On the other hand, at least the slashes were a little more consistent?  However, the flavor was somewhat better, and although the crumb lacked big open holes, it had a creamier texture than past weeks.  The crust was also nicer--although a little chewy on the bottom, the rest was thin and crispy.

As for why this happened, I have a few thoughts, although if anyone else has some I'd love to hear it.  I think the poolish is still over-fermenting.  Although it wasn't as bad, I could still smell the alcohol, which isn't a good sign.  I can't reasonably let a poolish sit overnight for much less than 9 hours, so I'll have to either cut the yeast (tricky when I'm starting from 1/8 tsp), or make extra poolish and throw some away.  I also think that goofing up the oven temperature may have hampered the ability of the cuts to open, although I think primarily I just didn't slash deeply enough.  I also wonder if I might be degassng too much when I shape the baguettes.

I think next week I'm not going to vary anything except to change the yeast proportion in the poolish, and skip the goof on the oven temperature.  If I still get a tight crumb, then I'll examine other factors.


breadsong's picture

Hello, To celebrate the Hazelnut Harvest which happens this time of year, I wanted to make some sweet rolls, using hazelnuts.

These are rolls made with Basic Sweet Dough. with Nut Filling, from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads by Ciril Hitz.
This is a nice sweet dough recipe and includes some lemon zest for an added dimension of flavor.

Hazelnut flour was used in the filling, and the rolls were glazed (icing sugar + a decent measure of Frangelico liqueur
+ a bit of cream + a bit of pure vanilla extract + a teeny-tiny pinch of salt).

This recipe produced 12 decent-sized rolls, baked in a 9x13 pan, with some extra dough left over; 
the roll ends were baked in small ring molds.

These rolls were good and tasty (I really like the liqueur-spiked glaze!).    Regards, breadsong

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Here's the latest bake...  70% Whole Wheat Pain Au Levain...  I'm trying to make a WW bread that also tastes good.  I think this is one of my more successful results...  I'm also working on a new boule shaping method that I'll call the "snail" method...  I think this is the best method as of late for shaping...  I'll post the recipe and method if anyone is interested... For now, here's another 360 degree view along with crumbshot.  Enjoy!


varda's picture

A few weeks ago, I made an accidental very sour rye bread, which had an addictive quality to it, but unfortunately failed in every other regard.   So armed with advice from some very helpful people on the forum, I have been trying to make a successful loaf with that same tart and delicious taste.   This I have not yet succeeded in doing.   Yesterday I decided to try to follow the Hamelman pain au levain approach with some notable deviations to see where that would get me.   So I started with the basic pain au levain formula, but upped the ratio of rye to bread flour to almost 1, and even higher on the starter.   Then for the second ferment, I placed the shaped loaves in linen lined bread pans for support, and refrigerated for 20 hours.   Then baked for over an hour in my WFO.   I thought that the long ferment and the higher percentage of rye flour would get me to sour (without turning the entire dough into starter which is why the original bread was such a failure) but it didn't.   But I did get a delicious rye bread with a much higher percentage of rye flour than I have ever dared to try.   So I'm not yet daring to make 100% rye (for which I'll follow Mini Oven when I do) and I still haven't managed to get back the sour without the flopping, but nevertheless I'll pause for a minute to enjoy this very tiny milestone. 

Yes, I scored two different ways - just to see - and got some extra scores besides.   Could have proofed even longer?


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