The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Shiao-Ping's picture

The first day driving kids to school since I got back from Taiwan last weekend was the first day of listening to Emma Ayres on a fine classical radio show, ABC Classic FM, the familiarity of which filled me with delight which was quite uncharacteristic of me.  That day I counted the flowering trees that I had missed by the road side while I was away.  The flame trees were alight with their chilly red color flowers, the Chinese favorite color.  The vivid colors were like endorphins to me, sending me into fanciful thought of the depth of my memories.

Memories are like ghosts.  I think of Sting's The Hounds of Winter.  His new album, If on a Winter's Night ... has just been released, "an acoustic meditation on winter."   For me trips to Taiwan are trips down memory lane.  While I was there, my mother told me of her youth over many days and many morning Oolong teas.  When she was two months old, she migrated to a Taiwan that was occupied by the Japanese, 73 years ago.  She would have learned to speak Japanese if she were a better student.  Back then, the Japanese encouraged the Han people from China to develop Taiwan - the land was open for grabs to anyone who was strong and had an able body, not unlike that of the New World more than two hundred years ago.  My late grandfather was a strong man, who occupied a big piece of land towards the eastern seaboard of Taiwan. His younger brother was not so able and he occupied land up the mountain, ill-suited to crops.

How memories have faded and how Taiwan has changed.  73 years is a short time indeed.  In this period of time, Taiwan became a very affluent society.  People embraced new ideas, new trends and were afraid to fall behind.  The same thing happened across the Taiwan Straits in Mainland China - today, there are 50 million young kids learning to play western music instruments, 30 million of whom learn piano, which is why you get a Lang Lang, the modern day Mozart in China, as some believe.

We are all co-incarnates.  Don't get caught up in the word that has mystical, and for the most part, superstitious connotations.  It means we are the results of our forbearers, our cultures, and our surrounds as we in turn influence other people.  It has always been in Chinese blood, throughout our history, to learn from other people, to adapt, and then, to call it our own. 

Whenever I go back to Taiwan to visit folks and friends, I see a dazzling array of new stuff, half digested but always presented in a unique way.  Sourdough is one such example.

Inky bread is not most peoples' 'cup of tea.'  When my mother saw a sample of it, she uttered "pee-yew" instinctively (sorry that's an Australian sound, I forgot what she uttered.)  We walked into a humble looking bakery in a busy street in downtown Taipei; and a big tray of inky batards stared at me.  There was a cut-up sample on the side and as I looked closer, the description said "Squid Ink Chicken Bread."  Just when you need a camera, you don't have one.  That is annoying.  I had been carting a camera around the whole week and I had not found anything to shoot.

Savory breads like the "Squid Ink Chicken Bread" are quick lunches you can find easily in the streets of Taipei and most cities in Taiwan today.  I didn't buy one to try, but I think the chicken in the inky bread that I saw was done the Chinese way; that is, with a little soy sauce and ginger, or perhaps honey and ginger.  I wanted a little green color (unsuccessfully as you can see from the pictures below), so I made mine with spring onion and pesto. 

When I did my last inky bread in honor of Sting's song, A Thousand Years, I had no idea that it could be found in the market place.  I used squid ink to color the bread to make a statement - to express the grief and suffering from thousands of years of wars and killing, the subject of that song.  But this time, I am doing this inky bread because I think it is fun and unusual.   Here we go: 


My Formula for Inky Savory Pain au Levain 

Final Dough:

  • 1,223 g ripe starter @75% hydration (5% rye)  This was refreshed three times over 32 hours from a seed starter of 36g from the fridge.

  • 1,223 g flour (5% rye flour and the rest white bread flour, 11.9% protein)

  • 700 g water (divided into 600 g and 100 g, see squid ink below)

  • 4 + 1/2 tbsp or 65 ml. of olive oil (approx. 5% of total hydration)  Try not to use the scale for this. See note below*

  • 7 - 8 g of squid/cuttlefish ink (to be pre-mixed in 100 g of water as above)

  • 35 g salt

  • Sesame for dusting

Pesto and spring onion mixture:  mix the following

  • 100 g pesto sauce

  • 100 g chopped spring onions

Chicken: pan-fry the following in 2 tbsp of olive oil

  • 500 g diced skinless chicken thighs (do not use breast)

  • 4 - 5 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch (as meat tenderizer)

  • salt & pepper to taste

Total dough weight 3.2 kg and dough hydration 67%  (I was aiming for the standard baguette hydration)

The dough was divided into:

  1. 230 g x 3 (rolled in sesame seeds) and 800 g x 1, baked last night (pictured immediately below) for pre-dinner drinks and dinner (note: I left the large one plain without incorporating the pesto or chicken); and

  2. 900 g x 1, 500 g x 1 and 350 g x 1, baked this morning.

* One tablespoon of water is 15 g but one tbsp of olive oil is not 15 g.  It's 12 - 13 g for me if it is scaled on its own, but 11 - 12 g if scaled on top of water or something else. 











                                                                          The above were all baked last night.


  1. Mix squid ink in 100 g water.

  2. In a large bowl, mix starter with 600 g water first, then add flour, then salt, oil, and squid ink (in that order), mix until just combined. (Take down the time when this is done.  Bulk fermentation is approximately 2+1/2 hours if dough & room temperature is roughly 22 - 24C / 73 - 76F.  Note:  almost all bread books calculate bulk fermentation time from when kneading finishes, whether or not autolyse is incorporated.  Because I use my stretch and folds as my kneading, technically this means I should start counting my bulk fermentation time from the end of the first set of S & F's.  But as long as I am getting the results I want, I will continue to do what I have been doing. )

  3. Autolyse 20 minutes; in the mean time, pan-fry chicken and prepare the pesto spring onion mixture (the cooked chicken should be completely cooled down before use).

  4. First set of stretch and folds in the bowl, 60 - 70 strokes.

  5. After 45 minutes, another set of stretch and folds, 20 - 30 strokes.

  6. After an hour, divide the dough as you please.  Pre-shape the dough to a cylinder; rest 15 minutes.

  7. Incorporate the savory mixture and shape the dough into a batard (see pictures below).

  8. Proof the dough for approx. 2 hours if dough & room temperature is roughly 22 - 24C / 73 - 76F.  (Note: I moved my dough into the refrigerator immediately after it was shaped as it was a very hot day, 30C; ie, my dough received no floor time after it's shaped.)

  9. I baked 4 loaves (250 g x 3 and 800 g x 1) after 4 hours in the refrigerator last night at 230C / 445F for 15 minutes and another 20 minutes at 210C / 410F.  I baked the rest of the loaves this morning (16 hours retardation). 




  1. place some pesto spring onion mixture and chicken on the top one-third of the dough

  2. fold the top 1/3 over and turn the whole dough 180 degree

  3. place some more savory mixture on the top one-third of the dough, and fold it over again

  4. fold again and seal it tight





                                                               The above was baked this morning.


The bread was delicious.   This was one of the best breads that I have made.   When it came out of the oven, my husband said that the bread looked sensational; but when I said, it's squid ink bread, he said, Oh, I changed my mind.  He ended up having his lion's share and couldn't stop raving about it.   This bread was a hit with my family. 

As I was finishing my draft for this post, Lang Lang was playing Yellow River Piano Concerto on my hi-fi.  The instrument is western, but the sentiment expressed in the music is incredibly Chinese.  What a piece of pure Romanticism.  With that, I am going to indulge myself with something I have always wanted to do - to paint abstract with flour:



                 flour abstract painting on my black marble work bench 1



                                                                                                          flour abstract painting 2


SylviaH's picture

This is Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pugliese recipe from her book 'the bread bible'.  I hand mixed this recipe.  I made them once before ' photos are posted on my blog'  and in a little lighter roast.  This time I did a little darker roast...simply because I loved the aroma!  The flavor starts with a great aroma and is delicious, creamy, nutty, buttery with a nice little chew.  Just what you expect from Duram flour!  I made these with a 17 hour biga that was kept cool and unrefrigerated for the ultimate full flavor.  They are made with Duram flour..this recipe is not suited to the semolina pasta will not work with this recipe.  I triple the recipe and it makes two nice sized loaves.



GabrielLeung1's picture

I suppose I was too worried about the section final that I had today. Despite many problems that happened when it came to forming my croissants and danishes, everything came together in the end!

It was an extremely interesting experience, fourteen bakers all trying to use a single proof box and two ovens in mostly the same space of time. Perhaps this is similar to what working in industry is like? 

It was extremely necessary to get organized, and organized fast in how our products went into the proof box and in and out of the oven. It was interesting, we spontaneously organized ourselves with people in charge of the proof box and the ovens both in an official capacity (we announced we would) and in a casual one (we happened to be passing by and announced that things needed to go into the oven, come out of the oven). 

But overall, everything got done, and it was a gratifying experience that was tiring but rewarding, and made me hungry for more of the same.

dmsnyder's picture


Ed Wood, who sells sourdough cultures from various parts of the world, insists that a culture will maintain its unique combination of yeast and lactobacillus species and, thus, its unique growth characteristics and flavor, forever. My experience has been otherwise. I've bought his San Francisco Sourdough culture on two previous occasions. Both times, after a couple weeks of feeding, they produced bread with the characteristic San Francisco sourdough flavor, but after six months or so the flavor changed. The eventual culture was in no way "bad," it was just different. I assume the original organisms were replaced by others, and, from what I've read, the new ones derived from the flour with which I was feeding my culture.

My understanding is that the yeast and bacteria which inhabit grains are mostly on the outer surface, that is the bran. I have fed my starters with a mixture of white flour, whole wheat and whole rye for some time. Also, I keep my starters at about 75% hydration. Dr. Wood does not address what kind of flour one should use for feeding starters, but he does recommend keeping the San Francisco culture as a liquid. I believe this favors the homofermentive (lactic acid producing) bacteria over the heterofermentive (lactic and acidic acid producing) bacteria which prefer a less liquid (and cooler) environment.

With these considerations in mind, I have purchased Dr. Wood's San Francisco Sourdough starter a third time. I am feeding it only white flour. I still use whole grains in final levain builds, but I will not feed them to my "stock" cultures.

It is now a month since I activated the SF SD culture. I've baked a few breads with it, but I made no special effort to bring out the distinctive SF SD flavor to date. The breads I baked were very tasty – among the best tasting I've made. The dough rose very well, indicating good yeast activity. The sourness has been mild.

I figure it's time to start following the procedures I understand to optimize the culture for making breads with the authentic, distinctive San Francisco Sourdough flavor.

The first goal is to generate a mature starter with good numbers of active yeast and lactobacilli. Second, to have this starter ferment at the hydration levels and temperatures that enhance the production of the “right” balance of lactic and acetic acid. Third, to mix and ferment a dough with the desired flavor balance.

Incidentally, for this bake, I also incorporated Eric's (ehanner) recently endorsed addition of a small amount of Durum flour to a white flour mix to enhance flavor.


Penultimate levain build


Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Stock starter (67% hydration)



KAF AP flour








Ultimate levain build


Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Activated levain



KAF AP flour








Final dough


Ingredient weights (gms)

Baker's percentages

Ripe levain



Fine durum flour (from KAF)



KAF European Artisan-style flour











  1. Make the penultimate levain by dissolving the firm starter in the water and mixing in the flour. Ferment at room temperature until it is actively bubbling but not foaming. (8-10 hrs) I mixed this early one morning and let it ferment while I was at work.

  2. Make the ultimate levin by dissolving the penultimate levain in the water and mixing in the flour. Ferment at room temperature for 2-3 hours, then at 78-85ºF for another 10-12 hours. I mixed this after dinner and placed it in a warmed microwave oven over night. In the morning, I refrigerated it while I was at work.

  3. Mix the final dough by dissolving the ripe levain (Feed the extra and save it for another bread.). Add the flours and mix to a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let it sit for 20-60 minutes. (Autolyse)

  4. Add the salt and mix thoroughly. Knead by french folding or in a stand mixer until the gluten is moderately developed. If using a KitchenAid mixer, this dough will not completely clean the sides of the mixer. With the flours I used, this was a moderately slack and somewhat sticky dough, even though the hydration was actually lower than what I most often use for sourdough breads these days. I assume this was because I have generally been using about 10% whole wheat or whole rye flour, which absorbs more water.

  5. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover it tightly. Note the volume of the dough.

  6. After 20 minutes, “stretch and fold in the bowl” for 30 strokes. Cover tightly.

  7. Repeat Step 6. two more times.

  8. After the third “stretch and fold in the bowl,” let the dough rest for another 20 minutes, then transfer it to a lightly floured board and do a stretch and fold (“letter fold”). Return the dough to the bowl.

  9. After 45 minutes, do a second stretch and fold on the board. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly. Continue fermenting until the dough has doubled in volume from the original volume that you noted in Step 5.

  10. Transfer the dough to the board. Divide it into two equal pieces, and pre-form each piece into a round (if making boules) or log (if making bâtards). Cover the pieces and let them rest for 10-20 minutes to relax the gluten.

  11. Form your loaves and transfer them to bannetons. Cover with plasti-crap or place each banneton in a food-grade plastic bag.

  12. Cold retard the loaves until ready to bake. (12-16 hours at 40ºF)

  13. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and allow them to warm up and continue proofing until they have expanded by 50-75%

  14. One hour before baking, preheat your oven to 500ºF with a baking stone and your steaming method of choice in place.

  15. Pre-steam the oven.

  16. Transfer the loaves to your peel. Score the loaves. Transfer the loaves to the baking stone. As anticipated, the loaves spread some when transferred to the peel and spread more when scored.

  17. Steam the oven and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  18. After 12 minutes, remove your steaming source. (If it is already dry, you can leave it in place, but do open the oven door for 10-20 seconds to vent the steam.

  19. Continue baking until the loaves are done – about 18-20 minutes more. (Their internal temperature is 205ºF, and thumping their bottom gives a hollow sound.)

  20. Leave the loaves in the turned off oven with the door ajar for 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  21. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.

  22. Cool thoroughly before slicing. (At least 2 hours)


The crust is very crisp and crackly. The crumb is moist, tender and quite full of lovely holes. The flavor is sweet and "clean" with no perceptible sourness. This is a wonderfully tasting bread, but the absence of any sour flavor is a mystery.

My next experiment needs to be to bake the "San Francisco Sourdough" from Reinhart's "Crust&Crumb." If that is not sour, the lactobacilli must have missed the plane from Idaho!


Submitted to Yeast Spotting.


Floydm's picture

By the way, a week or so ago I added a new email notification feature that I think is really handy.  If you go to:

My Account >> Edit >> Email Preferences

and check the box and save you can get a notification any time someone replies to a thread you've started.  I'm finding this a great way of keeping track of responses to blog entries I made weeks or months ago that otherwise I'd miss.

That bring up to 3 the types of email notifications you can have here.  The other two are "Notifications," which sends you a digest of all of the days activity by email, and "Subscriptions," which allow you to subscribe to all updates on a given thread or content type.  Having of these options is quite confusing, I recognize.  Every time I think about doing away with one type of notification or the other to make things simpler I talk to someone who says they really like getting that type.  So I'm not certain what to do, long-term, but it is worth experimenting with the different types of notifications to find the one that fits your reading habits best.

Floydm's picture

I wrote a blog entry on today about The Fresh Loaf Fall Fundraiser that some folks here might enjoy reading.  Fingers crossed, hopefully some other online communities and groups will use what we did as a model and hold similar drives from time-to-time.   

Again, thank you to everyone who participated and/or showed your support.

hansjoakim's picture

I was inspired by Eric's medieval bread and wanted to try something different with Hamelman's oatbread. I ended up with a medieval bread/Pain de Beaucaire hybrid... I first shaped two baguettes of the oatbread dough. The two vertical sides of the baguettes were brushed with water, and the outer edge dipped in rolled oats. The inner side was partly sprinkled with coarse rye flour, and the baguettes shaped as below:


The idea was to sprinkle coarse flour on the inner side to avoid the dough proofing/baking together. Also, avoid sprinkling flour on the very ends: You want some wet dough on each side so you can splice them together in the end.

Here's the baked loaves/baguettes:


Lots of flavourful crust, and it's fun to try something different :)


Salome's picture

Finally... I've done it again. I must confess that I didn't get to baking very often in the last couple weeks. Of course I tried to bake every now and then, but most of the times just well known formulae like my potato-walnut-bread, or a simple white bread such as Hamelman's rustic bread, or something comparable.

I found it rather hard to fit the  baking into my schedule, as my days differ considerably and I always find myself busy when I'd like to bake.

But yesterday I realized that baking, even in the time expensive way I like and enjoy, can fit into my schedule. No miracles, it's rather simple: Sourdough in the morning, mixing in the early evening, first fermentation, shaping in the later evening and final proof in my not so cold fridge and then baking in the next morning before I head to the uni. (it was probably slightly to much proofed, but it didn't matter to much and now I know that I'd simply have to lower the fridge temperature for the next time and it should be perfect!)

The result is very pleasing! (excuse the not so good picture quality, my camera broke some time ago and as I'm not at home I can't borrow my sister's camera. Thus, the pictures are somewhat blurry and pale in colour)


The bread is pleasantly sour, due to the potatoes very "humid" and chewy. I was surprised to find out that it tastes pretty much like the bread I always wanted to copy from my favourite baker but I never managed to get such a moist crumb!As I'm not very familiar with my new oven yet, it charred on the bottom somewhat and I had to scrape some black off, but I really liked this smoky note in combination with the sourness!


Potatoe - rye bread



100 g whole rye flour

100 g water

35 g mature culture


final dough:

all of the sourdough

280 g boiled and peeled potatoes, cooled (I boiled them while I mixed the sourdough)

150 g whole wheat flour

200 g bread flour

200 g water

12 g vital wheat gluten

10 g salt

1 tsp (somewhat less) instant yeast


1. prepare the sourdough in the morning

2. in the evening: mix the sourdough, the mashed potatoes, all of the flour, vwgluten and the water and knead until everything is smooth.

3. autolyse for some time, approx. 30 min.

4. add salt and yeast, knead until smooth and well developed.

5. proove until doubled in size (I put the dough on the balcony (12°C) while I left the house and brought it back inside after I returned to let it double fully, it took me about four hours, I think)

6. shape (I divided the dough into two pieces and made boules out of them)

7. place them in a well floured linnen inside of a bowl (or proofing basket, If you got one) and let the boules ferment over night in the fridge

8. preheat the oven the next morning to full temperature, slash the boules, steam well, turn down to 230°C and bake for approx. 35 min.

9. let cool and enjoy!


i hope you all are doing fine. Even if I didn't write, I've checked in here regularily and followed your baking!



turosdolci's picture

The preparation of the “Torta di Biscotto di Nozze” is by far one of the most important jobs of all in Italian weddings. Members of the family prepare biscotti for weeks for that important day. Layers of different biscotti are arranged in a pyramid and decorated with icing covered with "Confetti" and ribbons - it sits in a place of honor on the main table.

txfarmer's picture

The picture above shows the 5th Horst Bandel Pumpernickel I made, and the last 4 were made within the span of a month, yes, I am just a tad "obsessive". :P


I've posted twicehere before asking about this recipe. Other than the first time, where I over-corrected the "too wet" problem and made the dough too dry, the other times the bread actually tasted fine. When I posted pictures last time, the kind people here even said it looked perfect for an authentic German pumpernickel. There's only ONE problem, the bread did not rise to the top to fill the pullman pan. No matter how much water I put in, how much I knead/not knead, how long/short I let it rise, the finish loaf was ALWAYS 0.5inch below the lid. Even though it tasted great, the smell was heavenly, and the crumb was just the right moisture, I just couldn't rest until it rose to the top! Finally, I noticed that my pan was 4X4X13, while Hamelman's was 3.75X3.75X13, it's such a tiny difference, I never thought it was a big deal. Then I got desperate and calculated the volume difference, wow, it's exactly 1/2inch below my pan!!!

So for this last time, I adjusted all the ingredients, and made 110% of the recipe, guess what?! It filled the top and came out perfectly square!

After 36 hours of resting, sliced thin:


Yummy with smoked salmon

Phew, finally I can stop baking this bread every Sunday, which taks up the oven space for the whole day (17 hours)! I love eating it, but I think I am just a tad relieved that I can take a break from it for a bit. :P

For those who like heavy dark rye breads, this one is a must try, it's in the "Bread" book by Hamelman. Super yummy, and really not THAT difficult to make, as long as you add enoug water, my dough was plenty wet, so wet that I couldn't really lift the column into the pan, I had to dump it in. I was pretty stingy with the soaking water for the old bread, and used probably 95% of the water in the final dough. Oh yeah, it helps to make sure that your pan size is correct if you are obsessed about the shape like me.BTW, I didn't have blackstrap molasses so I skipped it as instructed in the recipe, that's why the bread is not that dark.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs