The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


  • Pin It
Shiao-Ping's picture

In a couple of weeks' time I will be visiting my favourite tea houses in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  Oolong tea has become a drug to me; the first sip of this green tea very early in the morning before the whole household stirs, whilst seeing the sun rise, is like heaven to me.  My tea is my ticket to heaven.

Today is one special day for all of the Chinese in the world - the Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival (more like the Mid-Spring Festival for me down under).  This festival has been celebrated since the 7th century in the Chinese Tang Dynasty.  None of the stories, or legends, as to how and why this festival came into being has ever sounded credible to me.  I hadn't thought of it before but now I think perhaps this festival began more as a way of showcasing the ancient Chinese excellence in astrology, because this day, the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, is considered the day when the moon is the fullest and brightest each year.

The Chinese poet, Lee Bai or Li - Bai (701 - 762) in Tang Dynasty, died from trying to scoop the full moon out of the lake while drinking and dancing to the moon, a drowned drunkard basically.  The following is one of his poems that I love the most; I had it written in mad running style Chinese characters for me; while he drank wine, I drink tea:




I made a sourdough, intending to have it with Chinese sausage in a sort of open sandwich tonight to celebrate the full moon.  I used the "trinity" for Chinese stock pot - soy sauce, sugar & garlic (and I threw in sesame oil too) to flavour this sourdough:




When I was stirring my starter in the soy sauce mixture trying to break it up, I thought I must have poisoned the little beasties - there was absolutely no sign of life.  And sure enough, the dough, after 4 hours of fermentation, was flat as a pancake, dead as a door knocker!  Fortunately, it sprang up in the oven, maybe by 50 - 75%.  The raw garlic was so potent that while it was in the oven baking, I felt sorry for my poor neighbours.  I couldn't even say I liked the smell.  I don't know why I put in so much raw garlic in the first place - maybe I was trying to make a statement.  It really is not good form to be biting into a piece of bread so full of garlic; I mean, not on a night of beautiful full moon!






My Formula

  • 350 g starter @ 75% hydration

  • 350 g bread flour + 1 tsp Chinese five spices

  • 190 g water

  • 30 ml sesame oil

  • 15 g dark soy sauce

  • 20 g sugar

  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced (two cloves should be plenty)

  • 6 g salt

Total dough weight 1.1 kg and total dough hydration 70%







tssaweber's picture


I was ready to leave for our hideout in Wisconsin when I realized that I forgot to prepare bread to take with me. Now a week without my bread was not an option. I decided to (mis)use my rye sourdough starter St.Clair, just refreshed two days ago, and mix some dough together for my simple sourdough bread, take this dough with me and bake it in the cabin. To make the story short, I overestimated the strength of this Montana baby and the bread came out as a brick. Not too happy, I was still without bread, I looked at my options. What I found was a plastic bowl, 2 lb or 907 grams of Gold Medal AP flour, of course bleached etc., a package of active dry yeast and salt.

Well that should be enough to create a cabin bread. I mixed all the ingredients together in the bowl, measured the water with the empty root beer bottle (591ml) and stirred it together for a 65% hydrated dough. I took it out of the bowl and slapped and stretched it (Méthode Bertinet: till it was a nice and firm dough. After an hour I stretched and folded (s&f) it once like Mark Sinclair (Méthode St.Clair) and then left it alone for 3 hours (had to go hunting). The cabin temperature was only 60°F so it worked out well and after this time the dough was ready for another s&f. In the meantime I heated the cabin to its normal 70ºF and after another hour, a s&f I shaped it into two loafs, let it proof for 30 min and put them in the 30 year old oven at 450ºF (more or less?). I added a little bit of water, I was afraid to much would kill this oldie, for steam, and 35 min later, tadaaa I had my simple cabin bread.

A little bit under proofed but ............ and was it good.


Und die Moral der Geschichte: sometimes simple things taste as good as the complicated stuff and of course I will not take bread with me from home anymore when I go up north.



More pictures you find here:

AnnieT's picture

Some time ago I posted a recipe for Cardamom Braids and wished I knew who to credit with the recipe. I still don't know but wanted to share this picture. The recipe called for dividing the dough and making two braids then stretching them to 18". I wanted to be able to give the loaves away and hate to give half a loaf so I made it into four braids. As you can see I baked them all on one pan and they "kissed", so next time I won't crowd them so much. I also made the dough in the morning and shaped the braids and put them in the fridge overnight so that I could bake them early next day. A.




weavershouse's picture

I posted this under Eric's SIMPLE SOURDOUGH CHALLANGE and here in my blog.

Two tries

Ok, here's what I did. Yesterday I made a loaf and baked it the same day. Today I baked a loaf I had mixed yesterday. I'm happy with both but want some improvement and I want to try some things a little differently.


Yesterday I used my starter that was made with AP flour. I consider my starter firm but it's not kneadable. I started at 7am, followed directions using the high gluten flour but 1/4 cup of oatmeal instead of the whole wheat. I wanted to see if I could make a loaf the same day with no refridgeration. I did the S & F's as instructed. It's cold in the kitchen, the dough was taking forever to rise so I moved it to a warmer spot on the oven. I finally baked it at 5:30pm. I was very surprised to see blisters on the crust because I thought that only came with time in the fridge. (Was my kitchen that cold??) Anyway, the crust was both crisp and chewy. Crisp on the outside with a chewy underside. The crumb was very open with nice shiny air holes and chewy. Holes are almost too big, I think. Taste was excellent fresh and this morning made very good toast with butter dripping on my front. I'm happy with the rise but I want the nice round boule with high shoulders. Try again.


The important things for me are:

Use high gluten flour if you like chewy

I did the S & F's in the bowl. Let the dough rise to double, turned it out on a lightly floured board and GENTLY did a S & F, pulling the dough out and folding it over itself, preshaped GENTLY, let rest, shaped GENTLY and it only took an hour to rise enough to bake.

I baked it under cover (in my hot le creuset) as written. Lately I've been turning the oven down from the 450ºF to 400ºF but not this time and I think it helped make the shiny holes and the crisp top crust.


Yesterday when I mixed the first loaf I refreshed my starter with high gluten flour and it was ready for me to mix this second loaf at 4pm. I followed the recipe and was ready to put in fridge at 9pm last night. This morning at 7am I took it out. It was well risen so I turned the oven on at 7 and baked at 8am. I was trying for a nice round boule but used an oblong basket with linen that I folded up around the dough hoping to keep it round. Instead I ended up with a square loaf! The blistered crust is nice, the taste is great with a tiny bit of sour. Very chewy and if you don't like chewy I'd try using regular AP flour.


Getting the dough from my basket to the le cresuet and trying to slash was not easy so next time I'm going to turn the dough unto a cookie sheet and use the stainless steel cover. I know it will bake the same as the le creuset because I've done it before. The slashing was impossible once the dough was in the HOT pot so I just used scissors to cut some kind of pattern that didn't come out very pretty. Next time I'm going to do like hans and just turn the dough upside down and let the bread do its own thing.


Thanks Susan for all your hints and patience. Do you think your very firm starter makes a difference in the outcome? How do you get your dough to the baking surface from your colander? How do you get your boule to pop up so nice and round??



ericjs's picture

Here's loaf number two which after shaping went into the fridge, came out 24 hours later and proofed for an hour before baking. Pretty similar to the last one.

(Apologies for the terrible picture...I only managed a couple of attempts before my batteries died and I was stuck with trying to adjust an over-exposed flash shot.)

That extra bit in the front is the last bit of yesterday's loaf...I'd forgotten there was still a piece in my bag which I'd brough back from work.

(P.S. I've just color-corrected the image to show the yellowish crumb (yes the color of the stone it's on is yellowish also)

ericjs's picture

I made the pugliese recipe from Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice yesterday. The flours I used were the NYB Type 55 Clone, and KA Extra Fancy Durum, in about an 11 oz / 6 oz ratio, counting the all-55 biga made the day before. I didn't bother with the optional mashed potatoes. It came out pretty well, resembling the picture in the book, maybe the holes not quite as large on average, but close. The next day the interior had even receded from the crust as in Reinhart's picture (it's always struck me as a little odd he didn't use a picture of a fresh one). Unfortunately I didn't take a picture but there's a second loaf from the batch in the fridge so I'll get a shot of that one once I bake it.

The color was slightly yellowish from the durum. The texture was quite good, and it tasted fine, but I can't say the flavor impressed me all that much. It seemed pretty plain, and whatever nuance the semolina added, I wasn't able to detect it.

A few bobbles along the way:

The dirrections to mix it the bowl for 5-7 minutes didn't really appeal to me. I enjoy kneading by hand and am not afraid of sticky doughs, so I took it out and kneaded it (with the French lift, slap, and fold method that you see Bertinet and other french baker's use). The kneading went well, the dough wasn't unmanageable, even though I'd been on the generous side with the water, adding at least the 9 ounces and probably a little extra in the biga as well). However after only a couple of minutes of kneading, suddenly it seemed like the dough started losing cohesion. It had been coming together but suddenly it became looser and wanted to stick to the board and come apart in my hands instead of folding properly. So I stopped. I figured a few minutes of such kneading was probably equal to the 6-8 minutes of bowl mixing, so I proceeded with the rest of the instructions (a few rounds of 30 minutes rest plus stretch and fold treatment).

Now I understand durum can encourage gluten to break down, so I'm tempted to blame that. However I should mention that something similar happened when I kneaded the biga, though maybe not as quickly and it was perhaps less pronounced. Is this something to do with the 55 clone? Or does this tend to happen with very wet doughs?

Shaping was a bit tricky...despite using plenty of flour the dough kept wanting to stick to my hands so I didn't feel confident in getting a tight cloak.

I was running out of time at the end (had a birthday gathering to attend) so I didn't proof the loaf as long as I would have liked. I don't think it quite reached 1 1/2 size, though I guess it was close enough.

None of these bobbles seemed to hurt the end result much.

Erzsebet Gilbert's picture
Erzsebet Gilbert

Hello, everybody!

So, here in Hungary, it seems like everybody's got a farm, and coextensively a vineyard.  My husband David and I don't, but we do have an incredibly kind old neighbor who's teaching us to make our own red wine. It's so much fun - picking our own grapes, grinding them, removing stems...  Like so:

Naturally, in gratitude I've baked him lots of bread.  We're not quite done, but in approximately two weeks we will have (for $50) 150 litres of red wine!  Which leads me to my question:

I've seen and read a number of beer bread recipes.  But obviously, we've got plentiful wine...  Are there any breads which call for a splash of wine in the dough?  It seems like it would be possible, but I've never seen any; I'm still a student baker, so I don't know if there are any chemical or taste-related reason for this.  Does anybody know, and if wine bread exists, any ideas?  



Also, if anybody is interested in other pictures and a diary of our winemaking process, it's on my blog -

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 ....





Subscribe to RSS - blogs