The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


hansjoakim's picture

There were no loaves in my previous blog post, so I guess it's time to make things right again.

I still have some dried fruit and different nuts lying over from various Christmas projects, and with my chronic sweet tooth, I just couldn't resist putting them to good use as soon as possible. I mixed two batches of Hamelman's "Whole-wheat Bread with Hazelnuts and Currants" (p. 124). In the first batch, I replaced the currants with chopped prunes and shaped four mini batards. For the second batch, I used walnuts and chopped dates instead of hazelnuts and currants, and shaped regular batards. Some of the mini batards and a crumb shot of the walnut-date bread is shown below:

Whole-wheat bread with dates and walnuts

An instant classic in my book, especially the walnut-date combination. The dough has a relatively high hydration (73%), so the crumb is open and light. It's made slightly buttery by the walnuts and the dates add a rather sophisticated sweetness to the bread. It's also pretty good when toasted (trust me).

I've also been baking my everyday pain au levain:

Pain au levain with whole-wheat flour


A couple of days ago I came across a book called "Technologie der Backwarenherstellung" by Claus Schünemann and Günter Treu. I don't recall how I got there, it was probably the result of some oddball Google search, but I eventually ended up at Google Books, which has a limited preview of this German title. It appears to be a textbook for the budding German baker, and I found some interesting bits regarding Detmolder sourdoughs. My German is getting increasingly rusty, but I managed to extract some information from the preview at Google Books. I was particularly looking for information regarding the simple Detmolder one-step build, and found a table that will come in handy. The book gives a table with recommended amount of prefermented flour, based on the overall flour combination of the dough. That is listed in the left table below. The column "Rye sourdough" gives the amount of total flour that should be prefermented for the specified rye:wheat combination. The "Prefermented rye" column gives the corresponding amount of rye flour that is put into the sourdough. The book also gives figures for what level of inoculation should be used in a Detmolder one-step build as a function of the average temperature of the sourdough during ripening. That is listed in the right table below.

DEF table

I decided to try out these numbers, and baked my favourite rye (click here for David's complete write-up) based on the above two tables. This loaf is a 70% rye, so I prefermented 28% of the total flour (before: 35%), and inoculated the sourdough with 15% of my ripe, white starter (it's bitingly cold here these days...*brr*... and neither me nor my starter like it).

The bread turned out really good I think! The crumb is not quite as open as before, but the loaf profile is comparatively taller. No distinct differences with regards to taste. The one thing I did notice, was that the mixed dough was a lot less sticky than what I'm used to. Not very surprising probably, since the total amount of prefermented flour is reduced. This is my "other everyday" bread, so there'll be plenty of time to experiment with temperatures, proofing times and formula variables to optimise the loaf.

70 percent rye


Finally, for dessert, a chocolate cake with luscious hazelnut cream (that was the rest of my hazelnuts...):

Chocolate hazelnut cake

La masa's picture
La masa

The Roscón de Reyes is the traditional breakfast in Spain for the Epiphany day. It's also found in many Latin American countries and it's very similar to the Gâteau des Rois from the Provence.

I don't have a mixer, and don't really miss it... except when I make this bread. Kneading this dough is hard work, by far the hardest of all the doughs I make.

Fortunately, it's the traditional breakfast for the Epiphany day, and not the traditional breakfast for Saturdays :-)

For this dough, you need a flour with a pretty high protein content.

Make a preferment with:

  • 50 gr flour

  • 40 gr milk

  • 10 gr fresh yeast

While it's rising mix in a bowl:

  • 200 gr flour

  • 100 gr milk

  • 55 gr sugar

  • 3 gr salt

  • 1 egg

  • Grated lemon zest

  • Grated orange zest

You'll get a very wet and sticky dough, almost a batter:


Now, you'll have to work out some way of kneading this thing. Well, you cannot really knead it. I did a kind of light French fold.

Pour the dough onto the counter, pick it with one hand and stretch it upwards, repeat for ten minutes, wait ten minutes (keep an eye on it, it could fall from your counter!), knead again for ten minutes. At first you'll think that you will never get a workable dough, but eventually things change. You'll still have a very wet dough, but now you can see a good amount of gluten strands and it looks like a dough more than a batter now.

Knead in 50 gr of soft butter, and knead again, and again, and again. The gluten develops more and more, and you'll begin to feel more confident.

Knead in the preferment, wich at this stage should have doubled, and knead again till you have a proper dough. Now you should be able to do a proper French fold.

Shape in a ball (if you can). Cover and let rest in a greased bowl until doubled.

Punch down the dough, make a few stretch and fold and let it double again.

Transfer the dough to a slightly floured surface (I like wood), poke a hole right in the centre with your finger and gently ease the dough outwards (as shown in BBA for the couronne):

In a perfect world, the crown would be the same width all around. But this is not a perfect world.

Let it proof. You'll have to trust your experience now. If in doubt, bake it. If it's overproofed, when you take it out of the oven, it will colapse.

Paint with egg and spread a fair amount of moist sugar over the top:

Preheat the oven to 200C or 400F. Place your dough into the oven and lower the temp to 160C or 320 F. Bake for 35 min.

The smell while it's baking is awesome.

It should be reddish brown, tender, slightly moist in the inside. The crumb is light, soft, fluffy. This size is plenty enough for four persons.

¡Buen provecho!


ananda's picture

Welcome to my second blog.

I have posted some details below regarding production of English Hot Cross Buns.



Makes: a, 45 buns @ 65g each; b, 12 buns @ 80g each



[% of flour]

Recipe a


Recipe b






Strong White Bread Flour




Caster Sugar




Fresh Yeast




Water @ 38°C












Ferment [from above]




Strong White Bread Flour








Milk Powder












Caster Sugar




















Mixed Peel












Soft Flour
















Caster Sugar









Oven Profile: Deck oven; 190°C for 10 - 12 minutes top heat 5, bottom heat 5.   Dampers are closed, no steam used.



  • In a large bowl, and crumble and dissolve the yeast into the warm water, then  whisk in the sugar and flour to form a batter.   Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for half an hour.
  • In the meantime, prepare baking sheets lined with silicone paper and weigh up all materials, ready to be mixed as follows:
  • Weigh the dried fruit into a separate container.
  • Weigh all the other ingredients for the final dough directly into the mixing bowl.   You need to use the strong flour to ensure the high liquid content is taken up.
  • Attach a dough hook, add the ferment to the mixing bowl contents, and mix for 2 minutes on slow speed to form a soft dough.   Scrape down the bowl to ensure all materials come together in the mixer.
  • Turn the mixer onto a higher speed; no more than 3rd speed should be necessary, and mix for 8 minutes to form a smooth, elastic and soft dough.   This dough is very soft, so care is needed to ensure thorough scraping of the sides of the bowl.   Mixing should result in the soft dough eventually pulling away from the bowl to allow the hook to do the development work needed.   It is quite difficult to mix this dough by hand, but a Kenwood Mixer, or a Kitchen Aid should do the job providing the scraping down is thorough.
  • Take the dough off the mixer and store in a bowl lined with a little shortening to condition the dough.   Allow up to half an hour for this.
  • Place the dough on the bench, spread it out and pile the fruit on top of the dough.   Fold the dough over the fruit to encase it.   Then, take a scotch cutter and cut the fruit into the dough until it is very evenly distributed [see attached photo; this is an excellent way to add fruit without damaging either the fruit pieces, or the strength of the dough].
  • Scale the dough off into 65g pieces, and mould each piece round.
  • Place the dough pieces close together on a baking sheet so they will kiss, and batch together when they bake [6 x 3 on the baking sheets normally used].   Brush with a little milk if you like, or beaten egg for extra colour.   The glaze at this stage will particularly help if you have no enclosed prover.
  • Set to prove for 40 - 50 minutes at 38°C, 85%rH, in a prover.
  • Meanwhile make the crossing paste by crumbing the fat with the flour, then whisking this with the water to form a smooth paste [AP will be fine].   Empty the contents into a disposable piping bag with a very small hole cut in the end.   Pipe up and down, then across back and forth to form crosses on the top of the buns [see attached photo, and the accompanying video link].
  • Bake to the specifications above, as soon as the crosses have been piped on.   Domestic oven should be set at 195°C [170°C for the ferocious fan oven type]
  • As the buns bake, dissolve the sugar in the water to make the stock syrup.   Bring this to the boil in a pan and remove from the heat.
  • Brush the baked buns with the hot syrup as soon as they come out of the oven [see attached photo].

Empty the buns, as a batch, from the trays, and cool on wires


Here is a video demonstration of how to pipe the crosses onto the buns prior to baking.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hi All,

I just wanted to share with you my final bakes of 2009.  I was unable to post them earlier as I went to Japan for Christmas and New Years...  This was a year of much improvement for me, perfecting my version of baguettes, getting the hang of sourdough, refrigerated bulk fermentation, baking very large loaves, making pizza dough, and kneading large quantities (7-8kg) of dough by hand successfully.

Wishing all of you much baking success in 2010.  Now I'm off to do my first bake of the 2010.



Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

So here we are...baking again. Thank God. Seriously. Grocery store bread really does suck. Eating that crap through my entire pregnancy almost killed me. Since the bouncing baby boy is now sleeping a lot better than before, baking once again commences.

Eric's Fave Rye

This was a riff on Eric's Fave Rye. I forgot the sugar and caraway so it isn't really right. I plan on making it again.

My Daily Bread

This was my final formula for my everyday, I-need-something-tasty-that-I-can-be-lazy-with bread. The write-up on my new and improved blog is on my new and improved blog.

Next up I'm hoping to tackle San Joaquin Sourdough and some bagels. All this week.

Maybe a little too ambitious?

alabubba's picture

My daughter has had a Bun in the Oven for the last nine months, this morning he was done.

My new grandson,


rrossi's picture

As the elderly grandfather in Moonstruck exclaimed "I'm so confused" pretty much sums up how I feel right now about sourdough starters and levain....

The heart of the question is, what really is levain?   I have read many comments through-out this site that claim starter and levain is the same thing. 

If that is the case, then can someone explain a recipe that calls for levain (1:3:4 - S:W:F) 100 gms or 20%????? 

Assuming "S" stands for starter (therby starter and levain are different) W = water and F = flour... the weight for each would be 12.5 gms of S, 37.5 gms of W, and 50 gms of flour.  What do I do next if my assumption is correct? Do I mix the levain and let it ferment? if so fo how long?  or do I mix it straight into the dough upon mixing?  I don't know the answer to this and I'm having a hard time finding the answer.

I love this site, lots of great info and really skilled bakers.  I hope someone can clear this up for me.


Richard R



davidg618's picture

This morning I baked a variation of Anis Bouabsa baguettes. The changes are minor: 72% hydration vs. 75%; I bulk fermented the dough at 55°F vs. 41°F for the prescribed 21 hours; and I added distatic malt powder. Otherwise, my formula and applied techniques were essentially the same as those in the Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes thread. The changes were made for the following reasons. I don't trust my skills yet with a 75% hydration dough. I'm sneaking up on it. Over the weekend I made a 70% hydration sourdough (or pain au levain), and today's baguettes. Furthermore, my refrigerator maintains a 37°F temperature on the only shelf that will hold my bulk proofing container, and I was concerned that temperature would severely change the yeast's reproduction rate. (That's not a guess, I've got an erudite paper written by a couple of microbiologists on the subject of yeast reproduction rate vs. temperature as a reference.). I have the convenience of a wine closet--its too small to call it a wine cellar--that maintains a steady 55°F. Lastly, I added the diastatic malt powder to give the yeast all the edge available.

However, messing with the hydrations of these doughs got me thinking. If I changed the shape I could pass this bread off as a ciabatta, or a foccacia, or a pain rustique, and no one would challenge me: perhaps criticise, but not challenge what I called it. On the other hand, if I offered the pain au levain, to a reasonably knowledgeable eater, as a slice of boule, or batard they'd raise an eyebrow at least.

So what classifies a dough? Content (Ingredients)? Preferments? Shape? Weight? All of the above? All of the above, but not necessarily everytime?

My curiosity grew when I checked three published baguette formulae (DiMuzio, Hamelman, and Hines), and two for pain au levain (DiMuzio, Hamelman).  Their doughs' hydrations are within 2% percent of each other, as well as similar ingredients, percentages, and techniques. "Is there a "secret" crib sheet these guys aren't sharing with us?" I wondered. Yet I was baking a baguette dough that was essentially a straight dough, with hydration 9% pecentage points higher than prescribed by "common practice", using atypical techniques. Is Anis Bouabsa a rogue baker?

My interest in things that ferment isn't limited to bread baking. I also brew beer, and make wine. Among brewers there is a crib-sheet. It contains approximately two-dozen beers, and describes each of them by the same attributes which are defined both in scientific precision, e.g., specific gravity, International Bittering Units (IBU's); Lovibond (color) rating; and in subjective terms of taste, smell, and appearance. If there are specialty additives or techniques they are also described, e.g., lambics (a beer made sour by lactobacteria). Wines, of course, are mostly defined by their primary varietal (or mixtures of varietals) ocassionally by craft processes, e.g., malolacticfermentation, ice wines; and a subjective vocabulary codified by a Univerity of California at Davis, professor.

Does anyone know if bread types have been classified, or catergorized and written down, and where is it written? How are bread-baking competitions judged? What are the competitive rules, i.e., do they contain de facto categorical or classifying ingredients, technniques, etc.?

David G

bojangles7's picture

My bread - peasant bread gets beautfully brown outside, but heavy and somewhat doughy inside.  Help?

Shiao-Ping's picture

Thiézac, a village 30 km from Aurillac (260 km north-east of Toulouse, France) has a reputation of pure rye bread.  Just the sound of it is beautiful to me.  When I read about it in Mouette Barboff's Pains d'hier et d'aujourd'hui (page 64 - 67), I felt that had to try it.  I am mesmerized by the rye bread photo and crumb shot in the book, full of soul.  The book has the most beautiful bread photos I have seen anywhere.

What struck me about the crumb of the Thiézac pure rye sourdough bread is its deep caramelized color.  A forum post by Danubian at Sourdough Companion, entitled "Dark" or "Black" colour to rye bread in June 2007 says that the dark rye bread "colour is achieved by method rather than adding an ingredient that imparts 'colour'."   

I had to consult several on-line French translators to get some sense out of the Thiézac recipe and even then I still have puzzles.  For instance, about "5 à 6 kg de levain de 3 jours," to build up the levain over 3 days to 5 - 6 kg?  I guess so; but how many feedings a day, and, more importantly, what is the flour to water ratio for refreshing the starter?  And, stand the levain at room temperature for the whole time?  

There is a knowledge bank at TFL regarding rye sour and rye flour in general, but I am really not interested enough on the subject to study.  My family and myself are not rye enthusiasts.  But anything "pure," as in the case here, I am all for it.  A pure rye bread makes me want to try it and ... dream about it.

So, here it is... the result of my dream:








Now, I have to warn you that my result is quite different from what was in Mouette Barboff's book that inspired me.  For a start, from what I can ascertain accurately from the formula figures, the overall dough hydration in the Thiézac recipe is only 53%!  I cannot work on a dough with that hydration!  I kept adding water until a medium soft consistency was obtained and reached 76% hydration.  Further, the Thiézac rye bread has diamond scoring (3 cut on one direction and another 3 cut on another direction).  My dough was too wet to attempt at any scoring.




This bread is sour, too sour for my family.  Because of the whole rye flour used, it also has a very nutty flavour.  The aroma is simply amazing when it came out of the oven.




My crumb looked similar to the one in the book.  To my way of thinking, if I had done the dough at 53% hydration, the crumb would have been much denser.  I can only surmise that the village bakers' formula is only a guide - they would add water on the spot if they think the dough needs more water irrespective of the formula.  But I don't know for sure.

Well, as nice as the bread is, my family is not the slightest interested in it.  




I have to pile up with something else that they like for them to eat it.  And here it is:



                             Smoke Salmon & Salad with a Dill Sour Cream Spread on Pure Rye Bread


For any one who is interested, my formula of this rye sourdough follows:

Day 1

  • 10 g any ripe starter at any hydration

  • 35 g medium rye flour

  • 35 water

Mix and leave it in room temperature until doubled, then move it into the refrigerator.

Day 2

  • 80 g starter (all from Day 1)

  • 80 g medium rye flour

  • 80 g water

Procedure same as Day 1.

Day 3

  • 230 g starter (all but 10 g from Day 2, reserve 10 g for future endeavour)

  • 230 g medium flour

  • 230 g water

Mix and leave in room temperature for 6 hours or until it doubles.  (Note: I cut short one day here.  The Thiézac recipe does this 6 hour feeding one day 4; ie, using "levain de 3 jours.")

Final Dough

  • 690 g starter (all from above)

  • 345 g whole rye flour

  • 345 g medium rye flour

  • 440 g water

  • 20 g salt

  • 2 g instant yeast (or 2 x 1/3 tsp)

Total dough weight was 1842 g and the overall hydration was 76%.




  1. Mix all ingredients and knead for 2 minutes by hand or by plastic scraper.

  2. Oil a clean bowl and place the dough in there.  Cover.

  3. Bulk ferment for 2 hours at a warm spot of your kitchen.  (My room temperature was 28C.)

  4. Upturn the dough onto a well-dusted surface.  Lightly gather the edge of the dough to the centre, turn the dough over, and lightly shape it into a boule.  Sprinkle some flour on the top. 

  5. Sprinke some flour on a piece of baking paper.  Place the dough on the baking paper.  Cover, preferrably with a big bowl, so the surface of the dough remains untouched.

  6. Proof for one hour (and in the mean time, pre-heat the oven).

  7. Bake with steam at 240C for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200 C and bake for a further 40 to 50 minutes.  




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