The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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aly-hassabelnaby's picture

In April of 2015, my wife and I completed a long-awaited move to Luleå in the north of Sweden where she joined the university for her PhD degree. Having lived in Egypt all our lives before that, the move wasn't easy but we're slowly finding our way around town and starting to make sense of the language and the culture.  One of the things that really stand out for me about food in Sweden is how much of a bread culture they are, which of course means a lot of variety. Being a cold weather country, rye, an ingredient that just doesn't exist in Egypt, is available in abundance around here. So I decided to pick up a bag of rye flour and try my hand at it.  Unfortunately though, I had to give my sourdough starter that I've kept back in Cairo for more than a year to friends. I split it in half and gave to two different friends; one of whom actually used it and sent me pictures which was endearing. She also gave some to her aunt who was fascinated by the idea of a live culture that just keeps going.  Anyway, I used a small amount of instant yeast to get a preferment going and let it sit for about 14 hours at room temperature then proceeded with the rest of the dough. Here's what I did:  Pre-ferment:426g water + 200g Wheat flour + 200g rye flour + 1/4 tsp yeast  The next day I added 200g of wheat flour, 13g of salt and another 1/4 tsp of yeast. I did three stretch and folds at 30 minute intervals and then let it bulk ferment for an hour. After the hour, I shaped it into a rough round shape (need more practice here) and let it bench-proof for about 35 minutes.  Meanwhile, I pre-heated the oven all the way to 260C with a cast iron skillet in there. I flopped the dough from a towel onto the hot skillet, scored it, added steam and let it cook for about 20 minutes and for 30 more minutes without steam. The end result was a pretty good looking and smelling loaf which tasted very nice. I thought the rye added some depth of flavor and a bit of earthiness that barley flour just didn't do when I used it back in Egypt.  Anyway, here it is and I'll definitely keep trying new things with rye flour in the future. Greetings from Sweden and Trevlig Midsommar!     Here's a look at the crumb:    

Herbalgarden's picture

"kaku-shoku" - a Japanese sandwich bread. This one is whole grain.

FrugalBaker's picture

Like what Mini said, who cares if it comes with some birds or flowers : )

Got this pot for free from a friend yesterday and baked another sourdough to find out if clay pot can really substitute a Dutch Oven so that I can finally have some good bakes but most importantly, a good crust!

I took advice from some good souls on TFL and started the experiment this morning. I made a Spelt flakes and raisin loaf and suspected the hydration was too low for this bake as it didn't rise very much after an overnight cold retard in the fridge. So I had to bring the dough to room temperature for about an hour and decided to bake it anyway but I knew that it was still under proved. Never mind about the dense texture as today's goal is to see how the crust would turn out. As it turned out, the crust was good but not good enough for my expectation. The pictures below will provide some insight and appreciate some comments on this.


A glossy crust, that's a first, totally unexpected.


A closer look at the crust


I was kinda happy with the crust to be honest but the it didn't stay that way for long. Could it be due to the high humidity atmosphere in where I live? Today's humidity level is at 60 percent as it has not rain yet. Will a Dutch Oven give me a longer lasting crunchy crust? 

Appreciate anyone who has some info on this before splurging on a big ticket on buying a Dutch Oven. 


Many Thanks,



dabrownman's picture

It had been almost 3 years since we did any serious Kamut bread baking.  It was June, 2012 when we did a 100% Whole Kamut at slightly more than 100% hydration.  Perhaps it was a little hopeful but the bread spread set in and it stuck to the basket too making for a really bad looking Fisbee.  Oddly the crumb was very open for a 100% whole grain bread.


This time Lucy thought she would tame it down some to better match herb perception of my current baking talents while getting a load of sprouted Kamut in the mix since it seems that every bread we have baked of late has sprouted grains in it.


This time she shot for 75% whole Kamut, all freshly milled at home and half being sprouted the day before.  The rest of the flour was half LaFama AP and half KA bread flour wit the 2 % salt and totaling 80% hydration.


Sice the sprouted Kamut was naturally tempered, we got a 28% hard but extraction abd since we didn’t temper the whole un-sprouted Kamut we only got an 18% hard bit extraction.  The starter we used was an unusual one in that 5 g of our ryes sour was mixed with 25 g the 2 week old held back starter from the Friday bake 2 weeks ago.  So it was a mix of white and rye .


We added up the sifted out, hard bit extractions for the Kamut sprouted and un-sprouted millings and divided it by 7 which gave us the amount for the first of 3 progressively larger levain feedings.  The un-sprouted hard bits were used first to get the we the longest followed by the larger amounts of the sprouted hard bits.


The levain feeding stages were 2, 3 and 4 hours with the levain doubling after the 3rd feeding.  One the levain had doubled we retarded it Iin the fridge for 24 hours which has now become a standard procedure.


Once the levain came out of the fridge the next day we held back 25 g of it for net weeks bake let the remainder warm upon the counter while we and autolysed the dough flour with the dough water - holding back 20 g of it from the autolyse.  We sprinkled the salt on top and added the remaining water to the bowl after the autolyse was mixed.


This was essentially a double hydration method that gets the salt into the mix easier.  The levain was mixed in and we began the first of 3 slap and fold sessions to develop the gluten.  After 8, 1 and 1 minute of slapping the dough around, we did 3 more sets of 4 slaps each – all on 15 minute intervals.  No stretch and folds this time.


After the gluten development was done we immediately pre-shaped and then shaped the dough into an Altumura shape and placed it into a rice floured basket for a 12 hour retard.  Normally this shape would be for dough of about 65% hydration but, and this is the important part, we don’t care in the leastJ


Sadly, the retard ended up being 15 hours and this dough had to be the most over proofed loaf we have done in some time, Kamut like all durum varieties is very fast and this was likely ready for the oven at the 8 hour mark – Next time!


This is our favorite sprouted bread so far this year.  Even when frozen for 6 weeks it makes a great lunch sandwich - Old School Dark Sprouted Pumpernickel Sourdough – 2 ways

 When the dough came out of the fridge the next morning, we un-molded it and slid it into  a 500 F preheated oven un-slashed and steamed it for 15 minutes at 450 F with Mega Steam - in this case…. 2 lava rock pans.  Once the steam came out we turned the oven down to 425 F – convection to finish the baking.  The bread sprang and bloomed a bit more than a smidgen but browned nicely to that beautiful Durum color you can only get by using a lot of it in the bread mix.


We will have to see how the crumb came out later but don’t expect it to be as open as the 100% hydration 100% whole Kamut variety found here – but you never know…… 100% Hydration, 100% Whole Grain Kamut Flat Boule with YW and SD Combo Starter

The crumb came out fairly open, soft and moist.  it has that Durum yellow color and taste too with more than a hint of tang.  A nice bread for sandwiches for sure.  The crust also stayed nice a crisp and crunchy too - another treat.


With fresh sweet corn in season, it has to go an the salad!


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



Retarded 9 Week Old Rye Starter






2 Week Retarded Near White Starter






17.5 % Extraction Kamut






28 % Extraction Sprouted Kamut
























Levain Totals






Whole & Sprouted Kamut












Levain Totals












Levain Hydration






Prefermented Flour












Dough Flour






82.5% Whole Kamut






KA Bread Flour






La Fama AP






72% Extraction Sprouted Kamut






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter


















Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Sprouted Grain






Whole Grain












25 g of finished levain was taken out for next weeks bake and



not included in levain totals









FrugalBaker's picture

I just made a Norwich Sourdough with lemon zest and poppy seed this afternoon. Without having a Dutch Oven, baking stone or pizza stone, I had to use what I have in my tiny kitchen. So I turned to my roasting pan and my WMF stainless steel stock pot. This is what I did.

I preheated the roasting pan and stock pot at 250 dc for 20 mins prior to baking. Spritz water onto dough. Used the roasting pan as base and the pot to trap steam since it is heavy. The result? No, I couldn't get the crust that I hoped for but it solved my problem with having a pale bottom bake.

The pictures below will do the explanation...


Bulk Fermentation (only spent 1.5 hour on stretch and fold as it is warm in here)


Final rise after 14 hours of cold fermentation (estimated about 75 percent of final proving)


Bottom Shot (much better than all my previous bakes)


Crumb Shot (moist inside but not so crunchy outside)


Meanwhile, I am still searching for a piece of terracotta and a claypot as a substitute. Went to only to find out the shipping cost to my country is higher than the Dutch Oven itself...doesn't make any sense, totally disappointed!

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

When the weather gets warm it means dinners outside and bread from the grill. While the shapes can change based on the rest of the meal - they are mostly a basic pain au levain,

Part wheat and part rye levain - and then flour, water, salt. After so many loaves I still find the highest pleasure in pulling the most flavor out of those ingredients. A nice long ferment and the right mix of levain makes such a perfectly simple treat. The added flavors of the fire and outdoors is just enough to make the bread of summer a special treat.

I am occasionally tempted to throw in some olives, caramelized onions or other goodies. Sure it is tasty, but in the end hides too much of the wheat flavor I have worked so hard to make the star. I do like some seeds in the crust, as they don't seem to mask the flavors to me. I see breads with so many ingredients they seem a bit more like a complete sandwich than a loaf a bread. I am sure they are tasty and I am not judging them, but like so many things when you pull back until you are dealing with just the essence of what you are creating - there is something a bit more satisfying when it is delicious I think.

As I am reading "In Search of the Perfect Loaf" I think the baguette often takes on that role of only basic ingredients taken to an extreme level of taste, feel, and well, everything people use to judge bread.

I am not sure how many loaves like this have already come off the grill this year, they never make it into the house for a picture. This day there was enough baked to leave an end uneaten.

And as I slowly cool off as the sun sets, tomorrows dough has been cooling in the fridge already for hours the flavors building just waiting for tomorrow's bake. 

Sigyn's picture

I have been baking most of my life, the quantity and variety of baking has diminished as my family grew up and I became more careful about what I was eating. I was still baking bread in my usual way, using basic bread flour and commercial yeast, with little variety in flavour, shape or style. I make preserves every year, clementine marmalade, jam from a variety of soft fruit and indulge in the baking frenzy prior to the festive season.  I was however in a bit of a bread rut. I had watched the bread renaissance that was going on around me over the last ten years or so from the sidelines, barely registering the potential to develop some new skills and reinvigorate my interest in bread making and unlock the flavour that is possible with a different approach.

A friend in the USA bakes sourdough bread, he had been discussing technique and the wonderful flavour of this type of bread. We had a grand experiment. He posted me a sourdough loaf. It arrived 5 days after baking. It survived the journey and was in perfect condition. The flavour was superb having matured further over the course of the journey. I was hooked.

I had read that a Rye sourdough starter was the easiest to culture and thought that as a beginner it would be the best place to start. In the early days I was advised to use bottled spring water rather than tap water as any chlorine in the tap water would have a detrimental effect on the fermentation and the bacteria I was trying to cultivate. Once the starter was a little more mature tap water could be used.

I began with a stoneground wholemeal organic Rye flour from Dove's. 

Day one - 25g of Rye flour and 50g water at approx. 37 ˚C mix by hand and pour into a glass jar. I used a mason jar with the lid loosely fitted to allow any gas build up to escape. I placed it on a block of wood on top of the kitchen radiator and left it to get on with it.

Day two - A further 25g Rye flour and 50g water at 37 ˚C was added to the jar and given a good stir. Back onto the radiator to keep it warm.

Day 3 - Adding another 25g Rye flour and 50g water at 37 ˚C and another good stir. Back onto the radiator to keep it warm. It had sprung into life!

Day 4 - Lots of activity in the starter and it smells interesting. 50g Rye flour and 50g water at 37 ˚C was added to the jar and given a good stir. 

Day 5 and its ready to use.

Bakingfanatic's picture

A wickedly indulgent bake, these are great fun to make and are insanely easy to eat! 

I have gone for a very tangy, fragrant strawberry flavour for the ganache inside and for the fondant icing.

The freshly fried crounts are rolled in a mixture of sugar and lemon powder - which gives an almost sherberty flavour. Just wonderful as it cuts through the richness of the pastries themselves!

The full recipe is on my blog post at


mcs's picture

Hey everyone!  I'm back from my big trip and I've got some stuff to share with you, mostly coming in the form of links to stuff I posted along the way on my phone. Lastly is a short video I made of the baking session I had in Moscow in the middle of May. 

Here are a bunch of photos I took, both personal and professional along the way.

These are some photos from when I was working at the Black Dog Bar & Grill outside Prague.

And this is my bakery FB page that provides a little bit of narrative on some of the photos (if you look hard enough)  :)




KathyF's picture

In my last blog, baybakin suggested I try Peter Reinhart's SF Sourdough from Crust and Crumb. I looked at the recipe and actually, his timing works well with the summer weather as you end up baking in the morning. So I decided to try it out. This is the first time I tried retarding the final proof. I let it rise a bit like it said in the book and then put it in the fridge. I panicked a little when I observed that it kept rising for a while until it finally chilled down. I worried for a bit that I would be baking in the middle of the night! But it slowed down nicely once it was chilled. I scaled it down to 2 loaves. Here is the other one:

And the crumb shot:

It was maybe a tad over proofed. The first one deflated a bit when I scored it. Next time I think I will put it in the fridge a bit sooner and if it needs it, let it finish proofing the next morning.

There is a bit of a tang, but not quite as much as I hoped for. The texture of the crumb turned out very well. And this was the loudest I have ever had the crust sing to me. Very nice.


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