The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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ericjs's picture

A quick phone cam pic of my latest pain de campagne (over the kitchen sink where the light is bright).

Scoring was easier and smoother than usual this time. (Perhaps I've been over-proofing and didn't this time?)

Does that expansion of the slash look excessive? Is there such a thing as too much oven-spring?

Still hot, haven't opened it up yet.

wally's picture

This weekend I decided to try Hamelman's Country Bread in the shape of a boule.  However, I lack proofing baskets, and as I proceeded through the recipe, a nagging thought kept injecting itself: So, how do plan on keeping your boule from turning into a pancake?

I baked only one loaf, so I scaled down his recipe thus:

Overall formula:

Flour (sir galahad)    454g    100%

Water                         309g     68%

Salt                                4g      1.8%

Yeast    1/4tsp instant dry       .6%

The pre-ferment is a stiff pâte fermentée:

Flour                        227g

Water                       136g

Salt                              2g

Yeast  1/16 tsp instant dry

Final dough:                DDT = 75° F

Flour                       227g

Water                     173g

Salt                             2g

Yeast  1/4 tsp instant dry

Pre-ferment            365g


The pâte fermentée is made up 12 - 16 hours prior to the final dough.  Final mixing involves incorporating all ingredients except the pâte fermentée on speed one, and then cutting in the pre-ferment in chunks as the dough comes together.  Increase to speed two and continue for 2 - 3 minutes (or longer).  Hamelman's description of the final dough is "supple and moderately loose, with moderate gluten development."  My own experience was that while the dough had developed some strength, it was still relatively slack.

Bulk fermentation:

2 1/2 hours, with two folds at 50 minute intervals.

Shaping and Baking:

Pre-shape, cover with plastic and bench rest for about 20 minutes.  Final shaping into boules is followed by placing the loaf into a floured banneton or a couche.  Final fermentation is approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hour.  Bake is at 450° in a pre-steamed oven that is steamed again once the loaf is loaded.  Baking time is approximately 35 minutes.

The moment of truth for me came at the shaping stage when I had to decide what to do with this boule I had created.  It was clear to me that with a final fermentation time of an hour or longer, even a tightly shaped boule would begin to imitate ciabatta dough, and I do not have any bannetons.  But as I surveyed my kitchen, it occured to me that I did have a fairly sturdy sieve, into which I could fit a floured tea towel.  That revelation then raised the question, how to suspend the sieve so that it was level/  A 2 qt. calphalon pot volunteered and I glimpsed a true jury rigged solution to my problem.

I heavily floured the tea towel with rice flour, which I've discovered is much less absorbent than AP - I haven't had anything stick to surfaces I've dusted with rice flour and this was no exception.

The result is a boule which, though it spread some in the oven, does not resemble the pancake I had dreaded as I began my project.  The country bread has a pleasing taste - thanks to the pre-ferment - and makes a nice (if not so wide) sandwich bread.

Meanwhile I've made a note to add bannetons to my Christmas list.  But in the meanwhile, I'm happy with my sieve and makeshift proofing method!





SumisuYoshi's picture

Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaf

I titled this post Bake Home as sort of a portmanteau of back and bake, as I am back home from Alaska and this is the first chance I've had to bake! My girlfriend and I had a little tradition going, I'd head down to her house and make bread on sunday to share with her and her sister's dog. Well, she's gone up in Alaska now, but I headed down to bake (and make sure her/her sister's dog got some bread too).

Today was a triple threat from Bread Baker's Apprentice, Italian Bread 2 ways (commercial yeast and sourdough) and Portuguese Sweet Bread.

I spaced out a bit when I was making the commercial yeast Italian Bread and added an extra cup of water (the recipe calls for 3/4 cup to 3/4 + 6 tablespoons... OOOPS). I didn't realize this until much later, so I added more flour in while mixing it, but I didn't want to add too much because I'd be WAY off the recipe (oh if I only knew...). So I tried to give it a number of folds hoping that'd make it pull together, it did a bit but it was still a very wet dough. I proofed the loaves using parchment as a couche (as well as a new brotform I got for my birthday!). Turned out I didn't flour the parchment quite enough so when I turned them over onto another parchment on the peel... they stuck. Was no big deal, I was able to pull it off without too much trouble, but it was becoming really obvious the hydration on the dough was higher than it should've been.

I tried with a bit of success to slash the loaves, and went to put them in the oven. This is when bad thing #2 struck, one of the two loaves had oozed a bit off the parchment onto the peel, and while a portion of it left the peel... not all of it did. Unfortunately, enough was left on the peel that I couldn't just pull the peel out, it would've pulled the whole loaf out. So I hurriedly scraped the dough off the peel (getting a little burn on my arm in the process), and found myself looking at some sort of strange mutant loaf. The loaf in the brotform was far less exciting, although it did take a bit longer to release than normal. I was surprised for all the horrible abuse in trying to seperate the parchment paper, get them slashed, and get them in the oven; these loaves came out with a fairly nice crumb!

Italian Bread Italian Bread Italian Bread Italian Bread


The sourdough version of the Italian bread had no excitement, made a sourdough biga the night beforehand, made the dough today, fermented, shaped, fermented, baked ta da. No burns, no spacing out on recipe quantities. I used my other new brotform for one of these loaves. I need to experiment with that one for a really nifty way to slash it.

Sourdough Italian Bread Sourdough Italian Bread Sourdough Italian Bread

And finally, Portuguese Sweet Bread, again relatively uneventful. I needed sandwich bread for lunch at work so I decided to make them as sandwich loaves rathern than in a pie tin as in the recipe. These two loaves made the house smell just wonderful as they were baking.

Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaves Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaves Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaves Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaf

And my assistant in all of this (be nice to him, he got an unintentional shaving (big misunderstanding with the groomer)

Bread, for me? Yay, for me!

(crumb photos for the sourdough will be coming later when I cut into it!)

Floydm's picture

I made bagels this morning using some of the General Mills All Trumps High Gluten Flour I'd ordered from NYBakers.  They turned out well.

With cream cheese and a tomato picked fresh from the garden this morning they were delicious.

ggmauro's picture

Anyone have expertise in production baking? I am a chef with little natural leavening baking experience. I can make a mean loaf with commercial yeast, but alas, cannot seem to get the the "old fashioned" thing down. I am determined to do what ever it takes to make the absolute most natural and best loaf in las vegas and in my restaurant. My main complaint is that the loafs are too heavy. If I try proofing them for longer they are lighter but become "over-proofed". i.e. extra heavy crust that is extremely hard and crunchy. Please let me know if any of you can lend me a hand in troubleshooting my production.

Thank you,


tssaweber's picture


Chouette22 posted a couple of weeks ago pictures of her Zopf ( In a reply to my post she mentioned that eggs in this bread would make it dryer or stale faster. This motivated me to experiment with my recipe, with the goal to have at the end a fully understood, easy to use and "Americanized" recipe.

To have a solid and accepted expert on my side I used Dan DiMuzio's book, "Bread Baking" to support my testing. On page 138 he defines rich dough and the effect of fat, eggs and sugar in dough. This was a good start as Zopf has all this ingredients in it. Sugar seems to be the least influential with just a little bit more than 2%, but butter (11%) eggs (14%) and to some degree milk(fat) certainly do have an impact. I also wanted to see what the difference between AP and Bread flour would be.

Zopf is the favorite bread of my younger son, so he was very supportive of this idea. He promised his friends in school to bring an entire loaf for lunch and that this bread would beat every other dad's bread. I don't know how many other dads of his friends are baking but I like that it is embedded in him that not only moms are baking and cooking.   

Using my usual recipe I had to adjust the hydration significantly using AP flour otherwise the dough would have been too wet to braid. The final result was ok from an appearance perspective but did taste too much like "normal" white bread and with the additional flour was also much dryer.

Not adding the eggs was a little bit trickier. Eggs are contributing to the hydration but also add fat and strength to the dough. I decided to substitute 75 % of the egg weight with ¾ milk and ¼ water. The dough turned out wetter than usual and I had a difficult time to roll the two strands for braiding. The final bread had less oven spring and turned out a little bit less roundish than usual. The crumb was denser and whither in color. The taste of the bread was even more like white bread.

It seems to me that adding eggs makes Zopf heavier and gives it the crumb structure I like. It also allows for more liquid without impacting the final result.

I will stick with my ingredients but have changed the process to make it easier to assemble the dough. First I add butter, salt (to make sure I don't' forget it again) and brown sugar, zero out the scale, add hot water to soften the butter, then the two eggs and with the cold milk I get to the correct total amount of liquid to balance the varying weight of the eggs. After that I add the flour and the yeast and knead 3 to 4 min on speed one and another couple of minutes, depending on how the dough develops, on speed two of my KitchenAid. 3 stretch and folds with 45 min rest, after the 3rd st&f I divide the dough, braid it and proof for 20 min. Bake for 25 min at 375˚F (convection). The bread should reach 200˚F interior temperature.


And here the final result:

For those interested in the recipe you can print or download it here:

The spreadsheet lets you adjust the final dough weight.

Muffin Man's picture
Muffin Man

I was in Portland nearly three years ago to attend the birth of my second grandson (first child for my son).  I had not been baking very long and I knew that Portland was a 'Bread' town.  My son took me to the Pearl where I purchased several breads, including a Walnut Bread.  We took the purchases back to the apartment and tried them all.  I liked the Walnut Bread, but felt that, with a little work, I could produce a loaf that tasted that good.  I'm truthfully not sure of the origin of this recipe, but I have adjusted it over the years based upon suggestions from my best taste-tester (and wife).  I really love the flavors present in this bread, but it will not satisfy a craving for a nice Pain Ordinaire.  Final rant: I feel that one of the most overlooked, and better if the recipe collections, is "Baking Illustrated" by the fine folks at "Cook's Illustrated" magazine.  The really neat feature of this book is that they try many variations on each recipe to see what really produces the best (subjective) flavor.  Variations are discussed so you can grasp what differences  minor variations make.  Anyway, on with the recipe.  Regretably, I have no pics - my son has the camera.

Craisin-Walnut Bread                      


50/50 Flour                                             6.5 oz                 

Instant Yeast                           ½ tsp         .125 oz                 

Room Temp Water                  ¾ cup         6 oz                          


         Combine flour and yeast in a medium bowl.  Add water and stir until the consistency of a thick batter.  Continue stirring for about 100 strokes or until the strands of gluten come off the spoon when pressed against the side of the bowl.  Scrape down the sides, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place until bubbly and increased in volume.

Final Dough

Active Dry Yeast                     1 tsp                  .25 oz                     

Room Temp Water                  1 ½ cup              12 oz                 

Buttermilk                             1 ½ cup              12 oz                 

Honey                                   2 Tbsp               0.5 oz           

Demerarra Sugar                   2 Tbsp                6.25

50/50 Flour                                                 24 - 30 oz        

Salt                                       1 Tbsp             .75 oz                 

 Craisins                                                        12 oz                 

Walnuts                                                        10 oz                 


         Bring the poolish to the work area.  It should be soupy, bubbly, and puffy and should have a wheaty aroma.  Scrape it into the mixer bowl, adding the water and yeast.  Break up the poolish with the paddle attachment and stir until it loosens and the mixture foams slightly.  Add the sugar, buttermilk, and honey; stirring until well combined. 

Add flour (24 oz), stirring until well combined, then switch to the dough hook and add the salt and just enough of the remaining flour to make a thick mass that is difficult to stir. 

         Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead, adding more flour for 10 minutes.  Gradually knead in craisins and continue kneading until the dough is soft and smooth, 15 to 17 minutes total.  The dough is ready when a small amount pulled out from the mass springs back quickly.


         Flatten the dough into a rectangle about ½ to ¾ inch thick.  Spread some walnuts, to cover, over the middle third of the rectangle, pressing lightly to hold them in place, and fold the right side over the walnuts.  Repeat on the folded portion and fold the remaining piece over the walnuts.  Again flatten the dough as before and repeat until all walnuts are incorporated.

         Shape the dough into a ball and let it rest on a lightly floured surface while you scrape, clean, and oil a large bowl.  The dough temp should be 78.  Place the dough in the bowl, upper surface down and turn once to cover (smooth side is now up).  Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment until doubled in bulk.  The dough has risen enough when a finger poked ½ inch into the dough leaves an indentation.

         Degas the dough in the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface and divide into four equal pieces.  Flatten each piece firmly with your hand and shape each piece into a tight round ball, sealing the seam.  Place the loaves on a floured peel, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to proof in a warm place until increased in bulk about 1 ½ times.  Preheat the oven to 450.

         Slip the loaves onto the baking stone, score them and add boiling water to steam pan.  Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the loaves begin to color.  Reduce the heat to 400 and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the loaves are a rich caramel color and the crust is firm.  Test for doneness by thumping the bottom of the loaf and listen for a hollow sound.  If not ready, bake for another 5 minutes and retest.  Cool fully on a wire rack


Good luck.  I'd like to hear from anyone who tries this.


  I am constantly amazed that a little flour, water, yeast, salt, time and temperature may be varied to produce an almost endless variety of great tasting breads.




dmsnyder's picture


I made this bread from Salome's formula a couple months ago. At that time, I couldn't get good quality hazelnuts, so I made it with walnuts only. It was very good tasting, had amazing keeping quality and was excellent after having been frozen.

A new crop of very good tasting hazelnuts finally appeared in my local Whole Foods Market, so it was time to make this bread again. Salome has posted this bread on her own TFL blog since I first made it. She made her bread using a rye sour rather than a wheat flour levain. This sounded like a great idea, so I did it.




Amounts (grams)

Baker's percentage

Bread flour



Roasted potato



Toasted hazelnuts & walnuts

200 (100 gms each)





Active rye sour






Ground coriander

2 tsp



Notes on Ingredients

You may note that I have increased the flour for this bake. Maybe my potatoes had more water content or my flour had less. (Or my water was wetter?) In any case, the dough was even gloppier than previously as I mixed it, so, after giving it a good chance to develop but still having medium-consistency batter in my mixer bowl, I added 100 gms more flour. The ingredient list reflects this.

At this point, I'm not sure what to recommend to others except to not add “too much” flour. This is supposed to be a very slack dough. Alternative methods I would consider would be to hold back some of the water and add water as needed (rather than flour) during mixing. This has the advantage of not throwing off the percentages of other ingredients relative to the flour. Another related solution would be to plan on using the “double hydration” technique often recommended for very slack doughs. This entails initially mixing with only 2/3 to ¾ of the total water until the dough has developed some (gluten) strength, then adding the remainder of the water and mixing until it is incorporated.


  1. The night before baking, activate the rye sour by mixing 20 gms starter with 100 gms of water and 80 gms of whole rye flour. Cover and ferment for 8-12 hours.

  2. The next day, roast, steam or boil the potatoes. Peel them.

  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of your mixer), dissolve the rye sour in the water. Add the flour and potatoes, mashed or put through a ricer and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.

  4. Add the salt and coriander and mix to moderate gluten development. (10-13 minutes at Speed 2 with a KitchenAid)

  5. Transfer the dough to a floured board and, with well-floured hands, stretch it to a 14” square. Distribute the nuts over the dough, roll it up and knead for a few minutes to evenly distribute the nuts throughout the dough.

  6. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover the bowl tightly.

  7. Ferment the dough until doubled in volume with stretch and folds at 30, 60 and 90 minutes.

  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board. Divide it in two equal pieces and pre-shape each into a log. Dust with flour and cover. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes.

  9. Shape each piece as a bâtard and place them, seam side down, on a linen or parchment paper couche.

  10. Cover the loaves and proof them until they have expanded to 1.5 times their original volume.

  11. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 430F with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  12. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone and bake with steam for 10 minutes, then another 20 minutes without steam. If the loaves are browning too fast, turn the oven down 10-20 degrees.

  13. Bake until the internal temperature of the loaves is 205F.

  14. When the loaves are done, leave them on the baking stone with the oven off and the door ajar for an additional 5-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  15. Remove the loaves to a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing

I sliced the bread and tasting it after it was completely cooled. The crust had softened somewhat but was still crisp. The crumb is moist but pleasantly chewy. The nuts are soft but provide little pops of nuttiness. This is particularly true of the hazelnuts, which I roasted longer than I usually do. The overall flavor is outstanding. There is more of a sour flavor than my previous bake of this bread, presumably due to the rye sour. There is no discernible rye flavor, but it does add to the overall complexity of the flavor as well as to the sourness.

I do prefer this version with the walnuts and hazelnuts and with the rye sour. 

I'm taking one of the loaves up to San Francisco tomorrow to nourish 3 of my siblings who otherwise would be suffering with only bread from Acme, Boudin, Semifreddi, Arizmendi, Tartine, Noe Valley, etc. to eat. <sniff>




mrosen814's picture

Here are some photos from last night's Rosh Hashana Challah bake! 

Shiao-Ping's picture


                                                                               SP's Country Sourdough







And let's slice them ...







 Now I found something ... 


And this ...


                                   Lovely crumb to me                                        but this is slightly on the dense side and gummy, why?


A wake-up call:

I recall when I was mixing my starter in the water for the final dough, I felt tiny little lumps of dough in my hands but I was unable to break them up because they were too many.  I used a trick that I learned from making custard when there were lumps - by pushing the starter through a sifter, I managed to get rid of most big lumps, but there were still many very tiny ones.  I got tired of trying to get rid of them, so I proceeded as normal.  Those lumps would most likely have been formed during the 2 hour final levain expansion (see my post here for details of Chad Robertson's sourdough timeline) - I did not mix the starter thoroughly with the flour and water.  And these lumps, however small, became the gummy part of the crumb!  (I may be wrong but that's what I think it was.)

A myth: The longer the fermentation, the better it is for the sourdough.  No, it depends on how time is spent, not how much time there has been.

With this sourdough, I learned something new.  What happened was when I was trying to get rid of the lumps, my hands were stirring the starter in the water for quite a long time (15 to 20 minutes at least).  I had never seen so many bubbles appearing in the water as if all of the wild beasties were woken up from their sleep and were doing their morning exercises.  This would not have meant anything to me, had it not been the fact later on that the fermentation seemed to have advanced in quite a fast pace even though the dough temperature was under 20C / 68F.  (I wish Debra of the Frankendough could help me out here.)

Anyway, with the fermentation kicking along, I decided I wanted to do an experiment, and that is, to really work the dough with my stretch & folds in such a way as to really build the dough strength.  I dipped both of my hands in water (to prevent sticking) and, with one hand pressing the centre of the dough, the other hand grapping a corner of the dough and folding onto itself, I stretched & folded the dough quite vigorously for at least 30 to 40 times at each set of S&F's until the dough felt elastic.  I did 3 sets of S&F's within one and a half hours and within that time the dough expanded quite a lot.  In normal circumstances I would have done a 4 hour bulk fermentation as in my post of Chad Robertson's country sourdough; but in this instance, I decided one and a half hours were enough (the dough temperature stayed under 20C).  I divided the dough into three pieces and pre-shaped them twice as they were very soft and even though I pre-shaped them to very tight balls each time they relaxed and spread out completely.  I shaped them to tight batards and only proofed for half an hour, compared to 2 hours previously when I did my Chad Robertson's.  Retardation was only 9 hours.

This morning before I baked them, the doughs were as flat as pancakes, but in the oven, they rose like hills:


What I learned in this bake is that the dough strength (built up from the vigorous stretch & folds) helped in the volume (the oven spring, the open crumb, etc).


Time for some food,



And pack up the rest,




p.s.  The minor variations I made in the formula here compared to the one in My Imitation of Chad Robertson's Country Sourdough were: (1) 72% hydration; (2) 5% of total flours in rye flour; and (3) total dough weight 3 kg.


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