The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


evonlim's picture

went back hometown to celebrate Chinese New Year with my parents and brothers. it was a long drive because of the heavy traffic. the journey took 7 hours instead of 3 .  i was really looking forward for mom's cooking!!

new year's eve dinner

... of course we started a.. 

Prosperity Toss, also known as lo hei (Cantonese for 撈起 or 捞起). It usually consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients. Yusheng literally means "raw fish" but since "fish (鱼)" is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance (余)", Yúshēng (鱼生) is interpreted as a homophone for Yúshēng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance. Therefore, yusheng is considered a symbol of abundance, prosperity and vigor.

the dishes:

butter prawns :P

hainanese steam chicken.. 


sweet n sour pork ribs..


my all time favorite soup, salted mustard green duck soup!!

this is my nephew, Christopher ( r u ready for PSY??) he loves gangnam song :)


and niece, Le Ann


1 st day new year's lunch

fried yellow noodles .. ( mom had to fried 3 portion of this, everyone was having second helping!)



left my starter for 4 days. refreshed it for 2 days before i bake.

this is a wholewheat with polenta, sunflower seeds and green olives sourdough bread

 (Formula adapted from Tartine) used a rye starter and white starter

the crumb shots... and yes it smells great and tasted delicous



 i had a short and sweet Chinese New Year celebration. started work 2 days ago. my brothers are still back at homtown!!

Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrates, Gong Xi Fatt Chai




loydb's picture

I'm continuing with the theme of 'corn' this week. This time, I'm starting with a 50/50 mix of Heartland Mill's organic blue and yellow corn. It took me a little time to get the mill dialed in for the coarseness I was after -- and I ended up sifting out roughly 50% of the meal, leaving me with true grits (and a bunch of corn flour for my next loaf of bread).

I had a cup or so of a mixture of onion, hot peppers and garlic left over from making tacos the other night, so I used it as the base for the polenta along with chicken stock and (at the very end) butter and shredded cheddar cheese. After 45 minutes in the oven (stirring every 10 minutes), I had a nice creamy polenta that I served with marinara sauce and sour cream. The rest of the polenta was poured into a baking tray and put in the fridge. I'll grill it up over the next few days as a side dish.

isand66's picture

Last weekend I baked some of the best rolls I've made to date using instant yeast instead of my usual sourdough or yeast water.  I didn't have time to refresh my starter which is why I had used the instant yeast.  I wanted to try a similar formula using a combo of sourdough starter and yeast water levain.  I decided to leave out the cream and the eggs for this version since I didn't want the bread to be quite as soft as the rolls even though with the oil, potatoes and polenta the final bread ended up pretty soft anyway.

The final bread tasted great with a nice sour tang but not too overpowering with a slight hint of sweetness from the honey.  The crumb was nice and open and moist and the crust per above was soft.  The dough did spread out more than I would have liked but overall this ended up being a nice tasty loaf.  If I were to make it again, I might reduce the moisture content slightly but other than that this one is a keeper.


I used a combination of my white sourdough starter which I keep at 66% hydration and did a 3 stage build with my fruit flavored yeast water starter.

Yeast Water Starter Build 1

50 grams Bread Flour (KAF)

50 grams Yeast Water Starter

Mix the flour and Yeast Water in a bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for around 4 hours.  The starter should almost double when ready to proceed to build 2.

Build 2

Add ingredients below to starter from above and mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours.

100 grams Bread Flour

100 grams Yeast Water

Build 3

Add flour to starter from above and mix until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or until bubbly and either use immediately or put in the refrigerator for the next day.

75 grams Bread Flour

Main Dough Ingredients

170 grams Refreshed AP Starter (65% hydration)

255 grams  Yeast Water Starter (you may have some extra from above)

400 grams Bread Flour (KAF)

100 grams Spelt Flour

160 grams Mashed Potatoes (I like to mash them with the skins on and used red potatoes)

50 grams Olive Oil

180 grams Cooked Polenta (I used some butter and parmesan cheese in mine)

16 grams Salt (Sea Salt or Table Salt)

40 grams Honey

397 grams Water (80 to 90 degrees F.)


Mix the starters with the water and stir to break it up and make sure to hold back about 50 grams of water.  Next mix in the flours into the starter mixture and mix for 2 minutes with your mixer or by hand.    Let the dough autolyse for 30 minutes to an hour in your bowl covered with a cloth or plastic wrap.  Next add in the salt, mashed potatoes, polenta and oil and mix on speed #1 for 3 minutes and #2 for 2 minutes or by hand.  This dough is very wet but it should start to come together after mixing but will still be very wet.

Next take the dough out of the bowl and place it on your work surface.  Do a stretch and fold and rest the dough uncovered for 10 minutes.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl after the rest and do another stretch and fold and cover the dough in the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Do one more stretch and fold and put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let it sit at room temperature covered for 2 hours.  (If the dough is still too lose, you can do several more stretch and folds until you are ready to put in the refrigerator). After 2 hours you can put the dough into the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 2 days before baking.

The next day (or when ready to bake) let the dough sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.  After 2 hours form the dough into your desired shape and put them in floured bannetons, bowls or on a baking sheet and let them rise covered for 2 hours.

Score the loaves as desired and prepare your oven for baking with steam.

Set your oven for 500 degrees F. at least 30 minutes before ready to bake.  When ready to bake place the loaves into your on  your oven stone with steam and lower the temperature immediately to 450 degrees. (I made a large Miche so I ended up lowering the temperature half way through to 435 degrees).  It should take around 20 - 30 minutes to bake  until both loaves are golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 200 - 210 degrees F.

Let the loaves cool down for at least an hour or so before eating as desired.

Crumb Close-up
Boris the Guardian of the Sandman Residence. Natasha keeps watch in the back of our house.


isand66's picture

I just returned from a couple of days vacation visiting Newport Rhode Island.  We had a great time visiting the shops, historic mansions and sailing the harbor.

I wanted to make some rolls/buns that we could use for hamburgers for today's lunch and I didn't have time to refresh my starters so I used some instant yeast for the first time in a long time.

Since these were going to be used for hamburger buns I wanted to make sure to use enough fat in the recipe to make sure they were nice and soft.  I also wanted to try using some polenta in this recipe after reading about several other bakers trying it with great results.  I decided to also use potatoes to give it some extra softness and for extra flavor I left them nice and chunky with the skin on.

I used an overnight retardation of the dough to build extra flavor as well.  The end result was one of the best rolls I have made to date.  They were nice and soft and moist inside and out and tasted good enough to eat by themselves.  I am sure the polenta, potato combo along with the heavy cream I used contributed to the nice soft and moist crumb and crust.  Next time I will try these with Wild Yeast Water instead to see how that impacts the crumb



550 grams Bread Flour (King Arthur Flour)

100 grams Whole Spelt Flour (Bob's Red Mill)

150 grams Whole Egg (3 large eggs slightly beaten)

1 Egg Beaten with Water for the Egg Wash

180 grams Polenta (cooked, and cooled)

160 grams Mashed Potatoes with Skins (I boiled a few potatoes and saved the water for the dough)

50 grams Extra Virgin Olive Oil

127 grams Potato Water at 85 - 90 degrees F.

142 grams Heavy Cream at 85 - 90 degrees F.

7 grams Instant Yeast

14 grams Seas Salt or Table Salt

40 grams Honey



Prepare the polenta according to your recipe.  I followed the simple directions on the package and only made half the recipe which still was 4 times the amount I needed.  I added some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and butter at the end and also threw in some toasted dried onions for extra flavor.  Left overs will be grilled later this weekend with some olive oil and more cheese on top.

Final Dough

Mix flours with yeast to combine.  Next add remainder of the ingredients keeping about 30 grams of water back.  Mix on low-speed or by hand for 1 minute and let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes to absorb the flour.

Add the balance of the water if needed and mix for another 4 minutes.  The dough should come together and be scraping the side of the mixing bowl and be nice and fairly smooth but still tacky.

Remove the dough to your work surface and knead by hand for 1 minute.  Do about 3-4 stretch and folds and put in a well oiled bowl or container with a cover.  Put it in your refrigerator immediately.

You can keep it in your refrigerator for about 24 to 36 hours.  I ended up baking it in the morning so it was only in my refrigerator for around 14 -15 hours.   The dough should double while in the refrigerator.

When ready to bake the rolls or bread, take it out of the refrigerator and immediately weigh out your pieces or loaves and shape as desired.  I made simple round rolls and let them rise for 1 hour on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

After 45 minutes turn your oven up to 350 degrees F. and prepare your rolls as desired.  I beat 1 whole egg mixed with a little water and put an egg wash on each roll.  I also added some toasted onions to some and some dried cheese mix on some as well.  At the 1 hour or so mark pop them in the oven with steam and turn once after about 15 minutes.  These should take about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Let them cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before digging in if you can wait that long.

Please feel free to visit my other blog at for more recipes.

Below are some photos of my Summer Cottage at New Port :) as well as some other interesting sites.

The Breakers....owned originally by Cornelius Vanderbilt II
The Breakers
Animal Topiary Gardens
More Animal Topiary Gardens
Jacky Kennedy's Childhood Summer House
Playhouse for Jacky Kennedy when Child. Note: I think it is bigger than my current house!
Oldest Tavern in USA originally built in 1642.

breaducation's picture

In my last post, I experimented with spelt flour in a country bread. The flavor was very appealing with slight nutty undertones and the bread came out great! However, I'm never satisfied with my last bread and always want to push into new areas. So I decided to increase the spelt in the formula from 10% to 20%.

I didn't stop there however, as at the last second I decided to add in polenta. I've tried using polenta in bread before and liked the result. There are a few steps to take when adding polenta or any grain for that matter into a bread.

Soft grains and seeds need to be soaked in water first so that they don't steal water from the dough and change the dough composition. With a hard grain like polenta you may need to go a step further and either use a boiling water soaker or just cook the grain beforehand. I elected to cook the polenta as I didn't have time to let it soak in hot water for 2+ hours. Once the polenta was cooled off I simply hand mixed it into my dough.

The loaf was dusted with cornmeal to hint at the polenta on the inside.

But that is not all! Like I said, I had put polenta in bread before and liked it but this time I really wanted to try something new. I decided to consult The Flavor Bible which is one of my absolute favorite books for cooking and baking. It is essentially a list of just about every ingredient you can think of and then under each ingredient is another list of all the other things that pair well with that ingredient. I simply looked up polenta and found a number of options that would go great with it. I decided on roasted garlic.


The still-warm crumb.

If you've never added roasted garlic to your bread I highly recommend it! Think garlic bread except the garlic is built into the bread instead of spread on top. It created a wonderful aroma throughout the apartment while baking. How to add roasted garlic to bread you ask? Simply roast the garlic with your preferred method and allow to cool. Then chop up and mix into your dough by hand. I went with four medium to large sized cloves in my 500g. loaf. I think I could have doubled that though and been fine(the garlic flavor I got was mild and subtle).

All in all this loaf was quite delicious and I would definitely bake it again especially if I was making bread for an Italian dinner.

freerk's picture

Hey guys, I need your help!

So my brother saw my breads and now he wants in on it :-)

He wants me to make him and his wonderful family my variation on a traditional regional Dutch currant-bread associated with the holidays. At Xmas, New Years, but also at Easter, in the East and North of the Netherlands a lot of people eat this traditional "krentenwegge" (a heavy currantbread with an almondpaste filling). This is what the original loaf looks like...


You'll have to imagine the almond paste filling in the middle, I could not find a very satisfying pic.


There are numerous traditional recipes going around on the net, BUT.....

I never really liked these breads as a kid. I'm not too big on currants, but a big lover of almond paste, so as a kid I always found myself in a dilemma; I want the almond paste, but do I really need to eat ALL those currants to get it...? After getting too old to eat the almond paste and feed the rest to the dog, I just left the bread for what it was...


Until now! I want to make a lighter version of this bread. I want it to look like a buttermilk cluster (fresh out of the oven here today :-)


and preferably with the sweet taste of polenta dough, where I replace the currants with a decent amount of dried candied cranberries (also fresh out of the oven here today):


The idea is to fill each individual roll in the cluster with a little almond paste whilst forming the rolls. I'm not at all certain about the polenta dough, but somehow I feel it could give me the crumb that I'm looking for (light, airy, yellowy...). Also the sweetness of the polenta could taste great with the almonds and cranberries. That is; if I manage to get it as light and airy as I have it my mind's eye :-)


Before embarking on this triple-fusion baking experiment I would like to hear your input on what dough to choose for this sweet bread. I've also been thinking about the dough for the cream cheese braid. Could that be a viable option?


Thanks to the members here who originally posted these two recipes here. I can't really find out anymore who posted the originals, but you guys know who you are; Thanks a bunch!


I'd love to hear from you guys




Franko's picture

Savoury Polenta Levain


This summer our garden provided us with a bumper crop of little cherry tomatoes , so many in fact that we, or rather my wife Marie, ended up putting a large portion of them in the dehydrator so we could make use of them through the winter time. The tomatoes were cured briefly in a mix of salt, olive oil and fresh oregano before going into the dehydrator. When they were finally ready to eat we were amazed at how well the pure tomato flavour had been retained. I've eaten a lot of the sun dried type that you can find at the grocer or deli over the years, but I've never had any with quite as intense a flavour as these little gems. At last count we had just over a half pound of dried cherry tomatoes , which made me think that we could spare a few to make a bread with. The idea of using them in a loaf with polenta came from remembering an excellent grilled polenta with a sun dried tomato, garlic, parmigiano and olive oil dressing that I'd had years before at a pot luck BBQ with some friends.

Searches on TFL and the web in general didn't turn up much that I was interested in as most them called for eggs and milk or other ingredients I wasn't keen on, so I thought a little experimentation was in order to make the bread I had in mind. It had to be made with natural yeast, polenta -(more accurately, a hot cornmeal soaker), and the dried tomatoes, other than that I was pretty open to using whatever I felt would help compliment the flavour of the tomatoes. Thinking about the grilled polenta dish that I'd had, I decided to just go with some roasted garlic and parmigiano as the flavour additions and see how that worked. Well it worked just fine! The tomato flavour came through as the main player, the garlic and cheese offering subtle support, and the polenta adding a soft texture to the overall loaf. The sour sort of plays around in the background, which is what I was hoping for since I wasn't going for a tangy or sharp flavoured bread. The polenta gives it a soft crumb, and the wheat provides a good chewy crust, making for a pleasant contrast while you're eating it. This bread is great for panini sandwiches and toasts up quite nicely as well, but to me this is what I call a 'cocktail bread' , or something that you might make to take to a friends for dinner, or to have with some olives and cheese and a glass of wine as your waiting for the main course to finish cooking. There are a number of other things you could add to it such as toasted pine nuts, various herbs, or a different type of cheese but if you're looking for the taste of the tomato to shine through I'd recommend using a light hand. The recipe is included below as well as some photos. If any TFL'rs are interested in giving this one a whirl, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.


All the best,



                      SAVOURY POLENTA LEVAIN













Mature liquid Culture




Bread Flour
















Water-144 F




Yellow Cornmeal




Butter/olive oil *








Final Dough




Bread Flour



















Parmigiano Cheese
















Dried Tomatoes











*drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes to soften before starting the mix.

sundried tomatoes packed in oil and drained can be used as well -all or in part

* either butter or olive oil work well, use butter if a richer flavour is desired


  • Mix the levain 16-18 hrs before making the final dough and keep at room temp.


  • Make the polenta at the same time as the levain. Pour boiling water over the cornmeal and butter/oil and stir well then heat in microwave on high for 1 minute, stir until it begins to thicken, then heat for another minute or less and stir again till the polenta is very thick. Pour into a shallow container and let cool overnight. The polenta should be soft and slightly granular, not gelatinized or rubbery.


  • Break the polenta up in the mixer using the paddle attachment on 3rd speed for 1 minute, then add and mix all the ingredients except the salt and tomatoes on 1st speed until combined in a rough mass. Add the salt and mix on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes then on 2nd speed for 7-8 minutes. Adjust the water if needed to attain a medium soft dough. The dough should be soft enough to incorporate the dried tomatoes easily.


  • Mix in the dried tomatoes on 1st speed until thoroughly combined. Knead the dough by hand on the counter for 4-5 minutes using minimal dusting flour and a scraper until it's developed and the dough is smooth and elastic.


  • 1st stretch and fold after 1 hr, then again after the 2nd hr.

  • Retard at 45F or less for 18 hrs. Allow the dough to come to room temp of 70-75F for 1-1/12 hr before shaping.

  • Lightly round the dough, cover and rest for 15-20 minutes, then shape as desired and roll the loaf in semolina. Try to tuck any tomatoes poking through the suface back inside or underneath the loaf to keep them from scorching. Let rise for 2-1/2 to 3 hrs, then slash and slide on to a stone in a preheated 500F oven with normal steam and lower the oven temp to 460F. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the loaf for even baking if using a non convection oven and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, rotating the loaf once more.

  • Cool the loaf on wire racks for 8hrs wrapped in baker's linen

junebugEnon's picture


October 14, 2009 - 2:31pm -- junebugEnon

The recipe for Struan bread includes polenta.  Does this mean a particular grain/dry ingredient, or the polenta I've seen described as "cornmeal mush" which is wet?  Where can I buy it?  Sorry, I'm clueless :(

pumpkinpapa's picture

I really like the Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire or Struan from the BBA and have been modifying since I first made it with the hope of using sourdough as the main leavening, since Struan is an old Scottish bread I thought it would be good to have it all sourdough.

So with my Spelt starter in hand I changed the recipe once again:

My soaker was:

  • 2 Tbsp Organic Polenta
  • 1 Tbsp Organic red and white Quinoa
  • 3 Tbsp Organic steel cut oats
  • 2 Tbsp organic wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup room temp Kefir milk

Mixed the grains together in a small bowl and poured the Kefir over, then covered bowl and left on the table overnight. I really like the flavour of Kefir soaked grains.

My dough was:

  • 9 ounces organic hard flour
  • 4.5 ounces organic whole spelt flour
  • 1.5 ounces brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 3 Tbsp cooked organic brown rice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Buckwheat honey
  • 1/2 cup Kefir milk
  • 3 ounces Spelt starter
  • 2.5 ounces room temp water
  • handful of poppy seeds (Floyd, I now know your nightmares)

I mixed the flours, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and then added the soaker, rice, honey, Kefir, starter, and enough water to make the dough tacky. After it was well mixed, I transferred it to the counter where I kneaded it for 20 minutes until it passed the windowpane test, then I misted the top with some spray oil and covered it with plastic wrap.

I folded it once every half hour for the next 90 minutes at which point it had nicely doubled in size. Whereupon I placed it in my loaf pan, misted the surface with water and coated the loaf with poppy seeds. I sprayed the loaf with spray oil and covered it with plastic wrap and left it until the loaf had risen about 2 inches above the top of the pan, this took about 5 hours. I had left it to rise so high because I had a pork loin taking up the oven, but it worked out well just the same.

I baked the loaf at 350 F for 20 minutes and after turning 180 degrees I baked for another 20 minutes. The bread turned out nice and soft and with a good spring to the crumb. It was incredible toasted with either raw honey or my wife's strawberry jam.

This is after the first folds and rising (the picture is actually of 12 pounds of dough, not the 2 pound loaf stated above)

And the final loaf, or what is left of it. I actually did this recipe times five and I now have half of a free standing loaf remaining after making it on Thursday evening. This picture doesn't show it well but the loaf is 4 inches high.

Next time I will be going with less yeast and more starter and a mix of whole grains too.

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