The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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MikeC's picture

I've been away for a short while developing starters using the technique posted by Debra Wink.  I now have two starters that are 7 days old today, one all rye and one that I started with rye until it became active that I now refresh with white KA AP flour.  Both are refreshed at 2:1:1 (starter:water:flour)

In an attempt to reduce waste, and also because I'm anxious, I took yesterday's "discard" and mixed it 60g:60g:60g.  I placed it in a mason jar and waited for it to double, which took two hours.  I searched here for a "simple" recipe and happened upon the 1-2-3 recipe.  So, to my 180g starter I added 360g water, then 540g flour (10%Rye, 90%KA Bread) I stirred this together and let rest for 30 minutes, at which point it was STICKY.  I did the slap and fold about five times and felt resistance from the dough, which seemed to want to tear, so I put it in an oiled bowl to rest.

I came back an hour later to no rise at all.  The dough was still REALLY sticky, so I folded in the bowl and walked away. Two hours later, REALLY sticky, folded again.  All this time there seemed to be no rise at all.  After about six hours, the dough seemed to be about 150% its original volume, though I'm not sure how you can reliably tell.  I shaped a boule, which I placed into a canvas lined colander to rest before putting into the fridge for the night.

In the morning, I took the dough out and placed it on parchment on the back of a baking sheet.  After two hours it felt dense to me, and was still noticeably cold.  When pressed gently with a finger, the indentation was slow to return, giving me concern that I would overproof.  I turned the oven to 490F and preheated for a full hour.  I slashed just prior to baking, but I don't think it was deep enough.  I placed the loaf into the oven, reduced the temp to 450F, added water to the oven, and put a foil baking tray over the loaf for the first ten minutes.  I then removed the baking tray and the steam pan to finish the bake.

I got very little oven spring, which I am guessing is a combination of under/over-proofing and scoring?  Does it mean I over-proofed, didn't score deeply enough?  How, if at all, does the amount of time spent bulk fermenting affect rise, and can that period also be too long or too short?

I liked the color of the top of the loaf, but the bottom was very pale in comparison, even with a full hour of pre-heat time.  I have noticed this on my last three bakes.  I'm guessing I need to pre-heat the stone even longer??  Hmmm, maybe this affected my oven spring as well?

The crust is soft, so I'm not sure if the foil tray over the baking loaf gave me the crispness I desire.  Maybe a longer time next time?  I left the loaf in the oven after it was done for an extra ten minutes with the door propped open.

All in all, I'm pleased with the effort.  It seems my starter is capable of rising dough, though I have a great deal to learn in pretty much all respects.  Looking forward to comments and suggestions.  As always, thanks.

First Sourdough Loaf 

Unappealing bottom!



dmsnyder's picture

It was 1 year ago that I last made cheese pockets. I've been good, even if the scale disagrees. So, prompted by Norm's posting his Crumb Buns, I made my annual indulgence. 

These are made with a sweet, coffee cake dough and filled with a mixture that is mostly hoop cheese, which is a non-fat cheese somewhat similar to ricotta. (Recipe follows.) For some background on these pastries, please surf to my previous blog entry:

I won't repeat all the history, but I will mention of few differences in this bake which resulted from my prior experience and helpful tips from Norm (nbicomputers). But, first, the recipe:

Cheese Pockets

Coffee Cake Dough (Formula thanks to Norm)
Sugar                                     4 oz (1/2 cup)
Sea Salt                                  1/4 oz (1 1/2 tsp, or table salt 1 tsp)
Milk Powder (skim)                   1 oz (3 T)
Butter or Shortening                  4 oz (8 T or 1/2 cup)
Egg yolk                                  1 oz (1 large egg's yolk)
Large eggs                              3 oz (2 eggs)
Yeast (fresh)                            1 1/4 oz (or 3 3/4 tsp instant yeast = 0.4 oz)
Water                                      8 oz (1 cup)
Vanilla                                     1/4 oz (2/3 tsp)
Cardamom                               1/16 oz (1/2 tsp)
Cake Flour                               4 oz (7/8 cup)
Bread Flour                              13 oz (2 3/4 cups)

Other flavors can be added such as lemon or orange rind grated

Note: Using other size eggs or other flours will result in substantial changes in the dough consistency require adjustments in flour or water amounts.

Cheese Filling 
Hoop cheese or Farmer's cheese 12 oz
Sour Cream                              1/4 cup
Sugar                                       2 T
Flour                                        2 T
Egg                                          1 large
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Mix all ingredients well. Refrigerate until needed, up to 24 hours.

Egg Wash
Beat 1 egg with 1 T water

Streusel Topping 
Sugar (all white, or part brown) 2 oz (4 T)
Butter                                    2 oz (4 T)
All purpose flour                     4 oz
Cinnamon                              1/2 tsp. 

1. Cream the sugar and butter. 
2. Add the flour and mix with your fingers, rubbing the ingredients to a coarse crumb. (This can also be done entirely in a food processor.)

Mixing and Fermenting the Dough
1. Mix the sugar, butter or shortening, salt and milk powder to a paste.
2. Add the eggsbeaten with the vanilla and cardamom and stir.
3. If using powdered yeast, mix it with part of the water. If using cake yeast, crumble it in with the flour.
4. Add the water (the part without the yeast, if using powdered yeast, otherwise all of it),  cardamom and vanilla.
5. Add the flour. (If using powdered yeast, add the yeast-water now. If using cake yeast, crumble it on top of the flour now.)
6. Mix well into a smooth, soft dough. (20+ minutes in a KitchenAid at Speed 3 using the paddle.) The dough should form a ball on the paddle and clean the sides of the bowl.
7. Cover the dough and let it rise to double size. (2 1/2-3 hours at 60F.)
8. Punch down the dough, and allow it to rest 10-20 minutes.

Making up the Pastries
1. Divide the dough into 2.25 oz pieces and roll each into a ball. (My dough made 18 pieces weighing 2.35 oz each.)
2. Place dough pieces on a sheet pan or your bench. (I used a lightly floured marble slab.)
3. Stretch or roll out each piece into a square, 4 inches on a side. 
4. Take each dough piece and press the middle with a round,  hard object such as the bottom of a small measuring cup to form a depression in the center.
5. Place about 1 T of cheese filling in the center of each piece.
6. Take each corner of the square pieces and fold 3/4 of the way to the center, pinching the adjacent edges of the folded dough together to seal the seams. (See Note)
7. Cover and allow to rise to 3/4 double. (30-40 minutes at 70F.) Do not underproof! 
8.  Brush the top dough of each pastry with egg wash. Do not get egg wash on the exposed cheese filling.
9. Sprinkle streusel over each pastry.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Bake pasties on parchment lined  sheet pan until golden brown. (25-35 minutes)
3. When pastries are cooled a little, sift confectioner's sugar over each, if desired.

Note: The pastries can be refrigerated overnight or frozen at this point. If refrigerated, allow them to rise at room temperature to 3/4 double, and proceed as above. If frozen, thaw at room temperature, allow to rise to 3/4 double, and proceed as above.

One thing I learned last time was that under-proofing these pastries results in exuberant oven spring, with the pastries bursting open. So, I really proofed these puppies. Maybe a little bit more than was necessary. But maybe not.

Another thing I changed was to pick up on a suggestion for speeding up proofing by putting the made-up pastries in a humidified, warm oven. I found that my KitchenAid conventional/convection oven has a proofing setting! It is actually a "dehydrating" setting, but I set it for 100F and put a pan of just-boiled water in to create a humid environment. This probably cut my proofing time in half, compared to my 70F kitchen.

As you can see, the pastries had just a bit of oven spring, which is good in this case, and they did not burst, which is also good.

Previously, I had topped the pastries with streusel. This time, I just egg washed them and sprinkled on a few sliced almonds. I skipped the painting with syrup to make them shiny. So, I could tell my wife these are the "low-cal version."

I had only one for dessert. Pretty good stuff. It will be even better with coffee for breakfast.



rhag's picture

This weekend I decided to get in touch with my sweet side. I made cinnamon buns on sat and croissants, chocolate hazelnut danish and an apricot basket ( unglazed in pictures). I used the recipe out of artisan baking by ciril hitz. My assistant was also helping me out with the weekend bake.



Assistant below:




Karen_kobelt's picture

Hi. I am a mom that has 4 wonderful girls. they are all two years apart. My youngest has problems with dairy, msg, and soy. If she eats anything that contains one of these three things she will become very sick. The msg part is worse then the other two items. If she has msg she ends up in the hospital. I have been having a hard time with because for six years my other three have loved box dinners, pizza, mac and cheese, and even eatting out. Now we have been unable to have any of this things. What I am asking is help with fun kid friendly recipes that I can use. Please help!



trailrunner's picture

I have liked the Blog entries so much that I decided to try it myself. I made the Ciabatta from Jason's formula posted here on TFL. I followed the semolina formula. It turned out wonderfully. I have never made Ciabatta before so I am really pleased. It sure is light and disappears with great ease.

Photobucket Photobucket I also made Proth5's baguettes. WOW...they are fabulous ! I tripled the formula and got 7 loaves at 8.75 oz each. I baked the 1st three a few minutes longer 22 min and the rest at the 18 min mark. They taste so good. My starter is very active and I had the full bulk rise in 3 hrs. Photobucket Photobucket Last I took my Heidelberg Rye recipe that I have been making for decades and converted it to wild yeast starter instead of ADY. I first got the recipe from the back of a Fleishman Yeast packet. It is a rich chocolate and molasses bread. We always love it and are having it tonight with potato cheese soup. This was a complete success. I had no problem making a pre ferment yesterday from some of the flour and water and my starter. I subtracted the weight of the total starter from the final weight of water and flour and it was perfect. I am cont. to convert more and more of my old recipes. It is certainly worth it . I love the hint of sour and the rich texture of the bread. Photobucket Photobucket

oxler21's picture

Having a surplus of jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes) I found the potato bread recipe a good basis and have tow nice light loaves as a result. Thanks for the basic recipe and the more detailed measurements.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink


I was looking through my old Betty Crocker's Cookbook a while back, and came across a couple of pudding cake recipes. Does anybody else remember pudding cakes? I'm probably dating myself here. My mom made a chocolate version when I was growing up, so this was like a blast from the past. All the ingredients are usually hanging out in my pantry, so I had to whip one up right away...

Well, either Betty's version is a dud, or my remembrance is a little distorted, because it was disappointingly bland, pale and lacking a good chocolate punch. The recipe called for shortening, very little salt, and no vanilla. No vanilla! Well I fixed that. I've omitted the one cup of finely chopped nuts from the cake layer, because I felt the texture didn't belong. And I switched from regular cocoa to Dutch processed for a deeper chocolate flavor. Now it's better than I remember.

The thing is so quick and easy to throw together, that it would be equally great as a week-night treat for the family, or an impromptu dessert that'll impress unexpected company. You don't have to get out a mixer, or even grease the pan. And you don't need to let it cool either, because it's best served warm... or hot with ice cream. Now that's immediate gratification!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Makes 9 servings 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (preferably non-aluminum)

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1¾ cup hot water

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Measure flour, granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, the baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and melted butter; blend in nuts if using. Spread batter in an ungreased 9-inch square pan.

Stir together brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Stir 2 teaspoons vanilla into hot water and pour gently over all.

Bake 45 minutes. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.


AnnieT's picture

After a spell of no baking (tree pollen allergies) I needed a loaf for supper with the family. What else but Susan's Trusty Sourdough? This time I added 1/4 cup of steelcut oats and 1T of flaxseed meal and it made a beautiful loaf. Being a slow learner I was probably the only member of TFL who didn't know that 3 parallel slashes across a boule will transform it into a batard! It was so popular that the "gannets" took the rest of it home with them, along with the pasta! Thanks yet again, Susan, A

Marni's picture

I realized that I've been a member here for a year now, and can hardly believe it!  The old saying "time flies when you're having fun"  couldn't be truer.  I've learned so many helpful techniques here - and I'm so thrilled to have my healthy active starter.  (It's also about to have its first birthday! ) 

I decided that as I've reached this one year mark, it's a good time to start a blog and learn how to post pictures here. Wish me luck, I'm pretty hopeless with the computer.

Thank you to all who share their knowledge here and make this such a great place to learn.


ejm's picture

Rose Levy Beranbaum has put together a step-by-step guide to making bread, plus essential equipment and ingredients and 8 classic recipes for Epicurious. The primer looks good. Except for one part. I would revise the list of "essential equipment" for bread baking by including only the following:

Absolutely Essential:

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons

  • Large Wooden Spoon

  • Bench Scraper

  • Large Mixing Bowl with lid (doubles as a Dough-Rising Container)

  • Cooling Rack

  • Cookie Sheet

  • Parchment Paper

essential equipmentcooling racks

Optional but Nice:

  • Scales (Spring and/or Digital)

  • Proofing Boxes (oven with only the light turned on works well)

  • Banneton (any old basket or colander lined with a tea towel works)

  • Baking Stone

  • Loaf Pans (including a Cast-Iron Pan)

  • Long Bladed Serrated Knife

  • Baking Peel

  • Broiling Pan

  • Pump Spray Bottle (for water)

  • Thermometer

  • Timer

Completely Unnecessary:

  • Stand Mixer, Bread Machine, or Food Processor

Hand mixing is very easy to do, especially if you have a nice large wooden spoon or paddle. Hand kneading is equally easy, especially with the help of a bench scraper. And now, of course, there are many "no-knead" bread recipes that completely eliminate the need (no pun intended) for putting dough onto the board at all.

Other gadgets (scales, bread stones, thermometers, etc. etc.) are nice to have but are definitely not necessary. I gather that electric mixers are very nice as well. But I can't really say as I don't have one; nor do I have any desire for one. (No counter space.) All bread bakers, even novices, can produce wonderful bread in their kitchens with just these few items.

One More Absolutely Essential Item:
Oh yes, and one more thing that is absolutely required for baking bread:

  • a heat source....

An oven or barbecue will do the trick. :-)



This is a partial mirror of a post on my blog that covers all aspects of food. Read the full post here:

And here is the link to Beranbaum's Bread Primer:


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