The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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a_warming_trend's picture

Happy New Year to all, from a newbie to bread and to this forum!

I agree with CAphyl: There's something special about the notion of giving a yeast bread as a holiday gift. And I could be biased by my recent discovery of wild yeast, but I love the idea even more if the loaf is a sourdough.

Yesterday morning was a busy one in my tiny kitchen. The top loaf was a walnut and cherry loaf for a friend who loves both of those ingredients. The bottom was an asiago and mixed italian herb loaf for a another friend. The splotchy baguette was for a party, as was the final loaf. I really love playing with the FWSY-style natural fissures. All were sourdough. 

I will always remember 2014 as the year I discovered the magic and mystery of bread. I can't wait to start my next experiment in this new year! (Full disclosure: I already have...)


golgi70's picture

Or last 2 bakes of the year.  Took a 2 week hiatus from my bread reservation program and put the culture to sleep in the fridge for a week.  It is back out and coming back into it's own but it needs 3-4 days of regular refreshing before it's ready to build a levain.  Should have thought to freeze some bread for the break.  I didn't so I made French Bread based on the Tradition baguette formula incorporating 5% whole Rye for part of the flour.  I made 750g batard's proofed en couche.  i froze a couple as soon as cooled so i could pop em out and have some bread around for the week. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sweet French a la Tradition for 2 750 g Batards

645 g     H20

407 g     Baker's Craft (11.5% protein)

400 g     Central milling AP (10% protein

42 g       Fresh Milled Whole Rye

1 g         Malt

3 g         Instant Yeast

17 g       Sea Salt

Add all to bowl and mix until a soft dough is formed and all ingredients have been well hydrated.  No gluten should be developed.  DDT 73-75F

Bulk 3:00 with folds @ 20,40,60 

Pre-shape, rest 15 minutes, shape to floured couche. 

Proof about 1:00-1:15  

Bake 480 with steam for 17 minutes and vented for 30-35 more.  

Flour       100% (47.5% Baker's Craft, 47.5% AP, 5 % Whole Rye)

H20         76%

Yeast      .3%

Malt         .1%

Salt          2%


These soon ran out and for the last day of the year I put together a hybrid Ciabatta using my spent starter from feeding.  These are based on the formula from my previous work and came out quite fantastic.  


Ciabatta with Levain and Yeast   4 @ 450g 


Stiff Levain   (66% Hydration - 66% White 33% Whole Wheat)  12 hours @ 73F

7g     Seed  

24 g  H20

22 g   AP

11g    Whole Wheat 

65g   TOTAL


Rye Sour  (100% hydration 12 hours @ 73F)

5 g     Seed

26 g   H20

26g    Whole Rye

58g    TOTAL


  Final Dough :   DDT 78F

779 g     H20

892 g    Artisan Baker's Craft (11.5% Protein)

1 g        Malt

2 g        Instant Yeast

22 g      Sea Salt


1)  Autolyse 30 minutes holding back about 5% h20.  Soak yeast in small amount of H20 to dissolve during autolyse. 

2) Add levain, sour, and yeast along with some of the h20 and combine.  Add salt with remaining h20 and mix to a soft dough with little development but all well incorporated into dough.  

3)  Bulk 2:45  Folds @ 20, 40, 1:00, 2:00

4)  Turn out on a well flour board.  Cut into rectangles and give a gentle letter fold.  Place seams down on a well floured couche.  Be sure to also give the loaf a good dusting of flour before going to couche.  

5)  Proof for about 40-50 minutes

6)  Bake 500 with steam for 15 minutes and vented for 20-30 more.  

Flour  100 %  (97% Baker's Craft, 3% Whole Rye)  

            7% PF (4% stiff levain, 3% Rye sour)

H20      87%

Malt     .01%

IDY      .2%

Salt     2.25%


 Cheers and Happy New Year




dabrownman's picture

We have a tradition to bring in the New Year with pizza.  How this got started I can’t remember but I do remember the lobster tails that used to be NY Eve fare.  This year’s crust was the best yet though and so was the sauce according to my daughter who keeps track of these things.


The crust was 12 g of olive oil, 2% salt and 70% hydration including 25 g of yeast water.  The flour was (588g) half KA bread flour and half LaFama AP.  The other leavens were 5 g of rye SD at 66% hydration stored for 6 weeks in the fridge and 3/8th tsp of instant yeast.  No holiday pizza dough is complete without 3 different leavens according to Lucy.


Since I forgot to start the dough the day before, I got up early and mixed everything together making sure to dilute the SD starter un the water and let the shaggy mass sit for 30 minutes.   Then we started in with 3 sets of slap and folds of 8, 1 and 1 minute and 3 sets of stretch and folds from the compass points – all on 30 minute intervals.


We added the 2 cloves of finely minced garlic and 1 T each of minced fresh rosemary and sun dried tomatoes during the first set of stretch and folds.  These 3 ingredients make for our classic Focaccia Romana recipe that is our favorite pizza dough as well.


In between all the manipulations, the dough was kept in a well oiled bowl on a heating pad since it is so cold here.  The sheets covering some for the plants got rained on last might and were frozen stiff this morning.  We let it sit for 3 hours to bulk ferment and then chucked it into the fridge for 3 hours.


When it came out of the fridge, it looked like it had doubled so we immediately shaped (4) 256 g balls and put them back in the oiled SS bowl on the heating pad for another 2 hours when they doubled again.


The toppings included red, green, Poblano, Serrano, jalapeno and yellow Cuban peppers, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, pecorino and parmesan cheese, two different hot Italian sausages, pepperoni, button mushrooms, black olives, red and green onions.


The pizza was perfect for bringing in the New Year and why it is it its own food group around here.  Wishing you all a fantastic 2015 and remember, like Arnold Palmer said, ‘The road to success is always under construction’ – he must have been a bread baker when he wasn’t loafing around playing golf!

And don't forget that salad! Or maybe some French onion soup on a cold day.

foodslut's picture

So, how'd I do on last year's list I posted?

1)  I will continue to share home-made bread.  Did that pretty well -- my end of year total for dough produced was over 324 kilograms (more than 714 lbs), with (my guess) more than 80% of that gifted.

2)  I will move more.  Haven't done enough of that.

3)  I will do more of what I want.  Still trying.

4)  I will cull and simplify (a bit).  Will be more specific this year.

So, here goes for 2015:

1)  I'll keep sharing home-made bread.  That's an easy one.

2)  I will get rid of at least one item I no longer use or enjoy every day.  A bit more specific from last year's #4.

3)  I'll do more of what I want (including moving more).  Here's hoping.

Here's hoping your 2015 is even better than your 2014.

isand66's picture

I love this basic formula that Karin came up with for these German style rolls.  I've made a Yeast Water version and a Sourdough version with great success.  I have been baking so much rye bread lately as a recipe tester for Stan's new book, yet to be released that I needed something lighter.  My Yeast Water starter is no more and my SD starter was not refreshed, so IY would have to do.

On another note, my wife and I were very excited to find out they were opening up a new German restaurant in our revitalized downtown area in Patchogue, NY.  We were eagerly awaiting it's opening and the other night we accidentally discovered that it was open after our original destination was closed for a private party.  All I can say is after eating there it will be the last time I set foot inside.  I can't wait to go back to our favorite German Restaurant, The Village Lantern and eat some real authentic style German fair, and not the poor excuse for German food from this dreadful imposter.

Anyway, back to these German style rolls, which by the way blow away the pathetic attempt at Pumpernickel rolls they served at the aforementioned restaurant.  I pretty much followed Karin's original formula from her blog,  but to make things interesting I replaced part of the 00 flour with Durum flour which is one of my favorites.

I also decided to try an interesting shaping technique to create the tower effect by using a small doughnut cutter.   Immediately after shaping the dough into rounds I pressed the cutter almost to the bottom of the dough.  I thought the final result was pretty cool, but it does make it difficult to toast them :).

I used some smoked sesame seeds, toasted onions and poppy seeds for the toppings after applying a double egg wash.

The Caputo 00 style four really makes these rolls light and airy and the little Durum flour adds an extra nutty flavor and yellow crumb.

Happy New Year to all of my family, friends and baking buddies and followers.


You can download the BreadStorm formula here.

German Weizenbrotchen Rolls Yeast Only (%)

German Weizenbrotchen Rolls Yeast Only (weights)



BumbleBee84's picture

With my recent obsession to perfect my bread making skills and while still waiting for my sourdough starter to mature (it is 8 days old eexactly but it's still not passing the floating test although it has bubbles and smells vinegary I don't know what I am doing wrong there) I decided to experiment;I decided to do a tester loaf and see if I could come up with something edible .

This Boule is made with some poolish and some of the sourdough starter discard (I thought why keep wasting flour when I can use this in some way even if its to just flavour the dough and here's the result!

This loaf sings really loud and my hubby can't wait to dig into this but i'm not letting him!:-P not yet...till it cools completely so I can assess the crumb then we can taste :-)

Definately looking forward to baking some more in the future (it really is addictive) and thank you all members of for all the priceless knowledge and skills shared daily on this site.

Have a very Happy New Year.xx 


nmygarden's picture

So, my shiny new brotforms (Thanks, Ian, for the lead to Lucky Clover Trading) were calling out, "Use us!" And I had been thinking to use some steel cut oats for something soft and hearty... and maybe adding a bonus of cranberries and walnuts. I started with Wooden Spoon's Steel Cut Oat Sourdough formula and made a few modifications that included increasing the WW to 25%, using AP at 25% (running low on BF) and, of course, adding fruit and toasted nuts.

I managed to take the hydration higher than intended (forensically analyzed afterward to conclusions, my 'note to self' register is getting long!), resulting in a loose, wet mix, to which I partially corrected with some AP during slap and folds, bulk fermented at room temp, then overnight in the refrigerator, out for a couple hours before shaping. That's when I knew it was still overhydrated, was a lovely texture, but also a bit of a blob. And a heavy one, at that! Thank goodness it was going into a brotform, lined with a thin cotton towel and dusted with brown rice flour. Maybe it would hold its form... maybe. A couple hours to proof and it was as ready as it was going to get. Turned out onto parchment and it began to slowly sag... sigh. But into the oven it went, without steam, except to spray it liberally with water - I had no cover that would, well, cover it and my gas oven fairly effectively vents off other attempts at making steam.

Oh, well, it may not be pretty, but as long as it bakes well and tastes good, I'll be happy. And it did and it does. A monster of a loaf, more than enough to feed the family when the kids come for a late holiday this week.

Happy New Year to TFL and it's members!


dmsnyder's picture

My Sourdough Starter Routine: FAQ

December 30, 2014


I get questions about how I manage my sourdough starter frequently enough that I decided to put the information in a single blog entry to which I can refer in the future. What follows applies to a sourdough starter/levain containing mostly white wheat flour. Mostly rye and mostly whole wheat starters are different beasts.

Please understand that this is my routine. It has worked well for me for a number of years. I am not presenting it as the only way to manage sourdough starters. It may not be the best way at all for some one else. But, as I said, it works for me, and here it is:

My starter was originally was purchased from KAF in about 2008. (See: Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter - 1 oz.).

Taking care of mother

I keep my "mother starter" in the refrigerator. It is fed at a ratio of 1:2:4 (Starter:Water:Flour). When feeding the mother, I mix 50 g starter, 100 g water and 200 g flour to make 350 g total. This is refrigerated imediately after mixing. I refresh the mother every 2 to 3 weeks. The flour feeding is a mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Medium or whole rye.

Getting active

When preparing to make bread, I generally refresh the starter as a liquid starter at a ratio of 20:50:50 (Mother starter:Water:Flour) using the same flour mix described above. This is fermented to peak activity at room temperature (generally about 12 hours). 

This refreshed liquid starter is then fed again according to the specific formula I am following. In other words, the degree of hydration, the flour mix, the ratio of levain:water:starter and the fermentation time and temperature are variable.  When posting a formula, I specify these variables. This may involve converting the refreshed liquid starter to a firm starter.


How long it takes to ferment a starter before it is ready to feed again or mix in a final dough depends on four variables (at least those are the ones I can think of at the moment):

  1. What flours you put in the starter. For example, flours with whole grains ripen faster because of their mineral content.

  2. The ratio of seed starter:flour:water. If you introduce relatively more seed starter, it has a “head start” and will ripen faster. All other things being equal, a more liquid starter will ripen faster than a more firm starter.

  3. The ambient temperature. A warmer temperature speeds up metabolic processes, including fermentation, at least within the usual range of kitchen temperatures. (The Temperature/Metabolism curves for fermentation and acid production are beyond the scope of this FAQ.) This effect can be rather dramatic. As a consequence, any instruction for how long to ferment a levain without specifying the ambient temperature should be taken with a grain of salt. (In fact, adding salt to the levain is one way of slowing fermentation down, but that's another topic for another day.)

  4. The flavor profile you want for the bread you are making. A “younger” levain will generally be less sour. A more “mature” levain will have more acid and make bread that is more sour. (Assuming the formula for the bread is otherwise the same.)

 How can you tell how ripe a levain is?

There is a lot of confusion about the criteria to use in judging the ripeness of a levain. The most common criterion I see is how much it has expanded, and “doubled in volume” is most often the specific criterion. The problem with this is twofold. First, unless you are fermenting your levain in a graduated container or have marked your container yourself, doubling is hard to measure accurately. Second, I don't think doubling carries the same meaning for liquid as for firm levains. And, at no extra charge, here is a thirdfold: Depending on the flavor profile you want, doubling (even if you could measure it accurately) may be too much or not enough.

So, as implied, I use somewhat different criteria depending on the levain's hydration, and I do use a container that is graduated, and I do use a semi-transparent container, so I can view the internal structure of the levain, not just its surface. My container is also tall relative to its diameter and has relatively straight sides. It is more like a cylinder than a bowl. This provides support to the ripening levain that permits greater expansion.

My Sourdough Starter Fermentation Container

Ripeness criteria for a firm levain

A firm levain is one with a hydration level of around 50%. That is, it contains half as much water, by weight, as flour. A firm levain can expand in volume a lot more than a liquid levain. So, volume expansion is actually a useful criterion for ripeness. A doubling in volume is generally associated with enough yeast activity to raise your dough well, but it may not be ripe enough to have fully developed flavor. I usually let my levain triple or quadruple in volume before I mix it in the final dough. In addition to volume expansion though, I look for an extensive network of large and small bubbles throughout the levain. I can see these through the walls of the container. I look for a well-domed top of the levain. And, last but not least, I look for any signs that the levain has had a decrease in volume, which indicates excessive ripeness. This is indicated by a concave surface, rather than a dome.

There is a lot of wiggle room between “ripe enough to raise dough” and “peak of fermentation, just short of collapse.” A less ripe (“young”) levain will make a sweeter bread, one with more creamy flavor from lactic acid formation. A riper (“mature”) levain will have relatively more vinegar-like, acetic acid sourness. Besides the criteria already mentioned, the aroma of the levain tells you the relative prominence of lactic versus acetic acid. You could use your sense of smell alone to judge when your levain is at the point of maturity you desire, in order to achieve the flavor profile you want for your bread.


Firm Levain, just fed

Firm Levain, 10 hours after feeding. Note: Approximately doubled in volume. Full of bubbles. Domed surface. I regard this as a still "young" levain.


Firm Levain, after 10 hours. Note: Domed surface. Some bubbles on surface.

Ripeness criteria for a liquid levain

A liquid levain is one with a hydration level of around 100%. That is, it contains equal weights of water and flour. A liquid levain cannot expand as much as a firm levain. Quite simply, all those water molecules get in the way of connections between folds of the long gluten molecules that provide structure to a firm levain and a bread dough. Now, a liquid levain does expand as fermentation produces CO2 gas, but this forms bubbles that rise to the levain surface and pop rather than getting trapped in a gluten web and causing levain expansion. If you use a glass container or a semi-transparent plastic one to ferment your liquid levain, as it ripens you can see the internal structure of the levain become full of tiny bubbles – almost like a mousse.  On the surface, you see bubbles forming, faster and faster as the levain gets riper, until they actually form a froth on the levain's surface. The surface of the ripe levain often has a "wrinkled" appearance.

As with a firm starter, one can choose to use the liquid starter “young” or more “mature.” With a liquid starter, as with a firm starter, levain recession or collapse indicates that you have let your levain over-ferment.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain, just fed.


Liquid Levain after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbly interior.


Liquid Levain surface after about 9 hours fermenting at room temperature. Note: Bubbles forming. Surface just beginning to wrinkle. This would still be "young."

The consequences of levain over-fermentation

Over-fermentation implies any combination of several bad things. The yeast may have fermented all the free sugars they can get at. Reproduction and fermentation will both slow down. The levain may not be as potent in raising the dough to which it is added. The levain may also contain excessive amounts of metabolic byproducts, especially organic acids. A little acid is good for both flavor and gluten strength. Too much acid is bad for yeast growth. An optimally ripened levain has positive effects on gluten structure, but, over time, protease activity increases, and those enzymes will degrade gluten. (That's why a very over-ripe sourdough starter that hasn't been fed new flour for a long time gets more and more liquified.)

What's missing?

There is another important variable in my routine for sourdough starter feeding and use, and that is the manipulation of fermentation temperature. Temperature effects the rate of yeast and bacterial growth and metabolism dramatically. Different metabolic processes are favored by different temperature ranges. Temperature changes can change the flavor of your bread. However, that is an advanced topic which is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

 The one temperature manipulation I will discuss is cold retardation. I often refrigerate my levain, usually at the point that it is nearly fully mature. I do this for two reasons, primarily. The first is, quite simply, my convenience. If I have to go out (or go to bed) at the point that a levain is going to be optimally ripe and ready to mix into a dough, I will stick the levain in the refrigerator, maybe for a few hours, maybe for a day or even two. The other reason I refrigerate a levain is to make it more sour. Especially a firm levain will generate more acetic acid in a cooler environment.

If I have refrigerated my levain, before mixing it into the final dough, I will usually let it come to room temperature. Sometimes, I will let it ferment further at a warm temperature, for example 86 dF in a proofing box. It is appears almost over-ripe already when it comes out of the refrigerator, I usually use warmer water when I mix the dough, so the over-all dough temperature is no excessively lowered by cold levain.

 I believe I have addressed the questions I get asked most often about my sourdough starter care and feeding. As indicated, there are additional more advanced topics I have not addressed in this FAQ. Maybe I will another day. 

I hope this helps.

Happy baking!


emkay's picture

My final loaf of 2014 is the overnight country blonde from Ken Forkish's FWSY. I did everything by the book except I increased the amount of rye from 5% to 10%. I bulk fermented for 15.5 hours (at 64F) and proofed the shaped dough for 3.5 hours (at 77F). I baked at 450F for 45 minutes using my Le Creuset marmitout (aka cast iron combo cooker) with the lid on for the first 25 minutes.

The bread was moist with just the right amount of sour. It turned out as perfect as I hoped it would. 

I began 2014 as a sourdough newbie awestruck by the wonderful bread showcased on this site. I end the year a little less green, but no less amazed by the talented and wonderful bakers here. A big thank you to the TFL community for the support and wisdom shared everyday.

Happy New Year and may your 2015 be filled with family, friends and bread to share with all!

:) Mary

a_warming_trend's picture

For my first real post, I'd like to share the results of this little experiment: I wanted to test the merits of the long cold fermentation vs. the long cold proof.

Both loaves had the same ultimate flour content and hydration (80%). As for the long ferment, I know that 300 grams of 100% levain seems high for a loaf with 500 grams of total flour, but I've had good results with that percentage of levain in my short baking tenure.  I halfed the amount of levain for the long proof, because I have been disappointed with overproofing with that technique in the past. Also, I know that my dollop of cream cheese is unorthodox, but it's my little "secret" ingredient in sourdough...I just like to keep it interesting! 

Ingredients for Long Cold Ferment:

300g 100% hydration levain

300g AP flour

50g WW flour

250g water 

11g salt

Dollop cream cheese 


Ingredients for Long Cold Proof:

150g 100% hydration levain

375g AP flour

50g WW flour

325g water

11g salt

Dollop cream cheese

For both: I mixed flour and water and autolysed for 2 hours, then added levain and salt. Did 4 stretch-and-folds at 30 minute intervals, for 2 hours. I then let both rest for 2 hours at room temperature. I placed the long-ferment dough in the fridge to continue its journey, and I shaped the long-proof dough into a boule and placed it in a banneton. I forgot the pre-shape! Anyhow, it went into the fridge. 

Both doughs were refrigerated for around 16 hours.

I removed the long-proof dough and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hr before baking T 450 for 30 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without.

I removed the long-ferment dough, shaped it, and let it proof for 1 hr before baking at 450 for 30 minutes with steam, 20 minutes without. 


Long Ferment Left, Long Proof Right

Ovenspring almost identical!

But, once sliced...the long-proofed loaf had a much larger and more irregular crumb. 

Long Proof:

Long Ferment:

Both were milder in flavor than I expected. The longer cold-proofed loaf was definitely maltier, had a thinner crust, and was possibly more complex than the longer cold-fermented loaf...but the flavor difference was really minimal. I still find long bulk fermentation more flexible and less nerve-wracking than long proofing (is it over-proofing? Is it over-proofing?!). I almost wanted a more drastically different result, so I could make a hard and fast decision! As it stands...I'm just gonna have to continue experimenting...




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