The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


dasein668's picture

Whipped up a few loaves of bread for our annual Christmas Eve open house. These included my second sourdough loaf which was much improved over my first attempt. Of note, based on some hints from this site, I had moved my starter toward a much drier starter, then mixed the dough in the evening and popped the dough into the fridge for about 14 hours for the primary. I pulled it out and let it warm up, then gently folded a few times and proofed for about 4 hours at room temp before baking. Results were a nice chewy crumb with a gentle sourness that was quite lovely and not at all overpowering—perfect!

Here are the breads, left to right Potato Rosemary Bread from BBA, Pain a l'Anncienne from BBA, and a simple 65% hydration lean dough using my sourdough starter.

And sliced in a bowl.

mountaindog's picture

After making a decent BBA Pain Polaine the other day, I next made two breads from Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking" book that use a very firm starter. I've made Thom Leonard's Country French bread before (p. 133) and that came out very good, but I was really blown away by how good the Essential's Columbia bread (p. 82) came out! After tasting this Columbia bread, it was disappointing going back to taste the Poilane, I liked the Columbia much better, although granted they are somewhat different styles of bread:


This Columbia is by far the best bread I've ever made, no contest, in fact my French husband and I agree this is the best bread we've tasted outside of France. The taste and texture are wonderful: crispy, chewy, with a very complex sourdough flavor, really not much sour but a lot of flavor! I wonder if it is all the combination of different flours in the recipe, plus the wheat germ and malt syrup...all I can say is this will be my new standard bread to make weekly, as well as to give away as gifts. Next time I make it I may try using oblong bannetons to give the loaves more of a football shape rather than the batards I made here. By the way, that crust is not burnt, the malt syrup makes it carmelize very darkly. I followed the recipe in the book exactly except I retarded the final dough overnight in my cold mudroom for the first ferment. Check out Columbia's excellent crumb and crust:

pmccool's picture

Merry Christmas, All

December 25, 2006 - 9:58am -- pmccool

There's a sourdough batard and boule fermenting on the counter; should be ready to go into the oven in an hour or so.  Just the thing to go with the ravioli soup that's simmering in the crock-pot in anticipation of the last of our travelers arriving this evening.  We'll give them a day to decompress before doing the big Christmas dinner tomorrow.


Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year with your families and friends.



BillG's picture

A Question About Starters

December 24, 2006 - 12:11pm -- BillG

I've learned to make sourdough starters, thanks to this site!  Thanks to sourdoughlady for her formula and hints to making a starter using pineapple juice, and I've successfully made another using rye flour.  Both of these are distinctive in their mannerisms and flavors, but I've asked myself why do I need both?  I've considered discarding one or even [yikes] combining the two.  Is their any merit to this line of thinking?

I've made several loafs of sourdough bread, deliciously I might say, from each starter and most recently sourdough flap jacks [yum yum!] so I'm inclined to continue the lineages separately.  And if so, how many starters do most Bakers have?  Thanks!

T4tigger's picture

dough won't rise

December 23, 2006 - 10:40am -- T4tigger

I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, but I can't get my dough to rise. Both of my starters (I keep them at 100% when I'm getting ready to use them) will double or triple themselves within 5 hours when I feed them, and I try to mix my dough when they are at their peak, but as soon as I try to turn them into dough, they seem to go into hibernation. If I get a first rise, it takes a minimum of 5-6 hours, and then I rarely, if ever, get a 2nd rise. I also can't seem to get an open crumb no matter what hydration of starter I use. Any tips or tricks that I can try? Thank you and Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, and a joyous holiday for all!

Teresa_in_nc's picture

Starter emergency!

December 22, 2006 - 1:22pm -- Teresa_in_nc

Well, it looks like I have truly lost mind and my sourdough starter! This is the starter from Carl's Friends that I have maintained for over two years. I planned to set it out and feed it this afternoon and I can't find it in the fridge or freezer.

I dried some of this starter some time ago and have put half an ounce in a bowl with 3/4 cup warm water as directed when you order some starter from this group. I'm letting it sit to dissolve, but it's not dissolving completely. There are some little hard bits in the bottom of the bowl that I can feel with my fingers.

sewwhatsports's picture

A few months ago I took a class with Jeffery Hamelmann in Vermont on Naturally Leavened Breads.  There were 11 of us in the class and suffice to say, it was amazing.  I learned so much.  But translating what you do in class to the home environment is not always as easy.  It has teken me 2 months and many tries to finally start getting breads that resemble what we did in the classroom.  I have done 2 recipes of pain au levain and they have truned out wonderful.  I would like them a little more sour and think that I will try to retard my next loaf to see if it will be more acidic.  I have a few pictures but they are blurry but I will try to get a better shot soon.  The one problem is that my crust seems to be getting over done, darker than what I want.  I have cut down the time a bit but next time will drop the temperature.  I have checked my temperature of the bread and it is over 205 degrees when I take it out of the oven. 

A question concerning the bake.  I have been using the convection setting while doing my breads.  Could that account for the darker crust and is it better to use the basic bake setting.  I also have a special bake sertting that is supposed to decrease the over browning of bread.  Are there any thoughts on the use of regular bake versus convection bake.  I do steam well with my breads (cast iron pan and hot water) so that is not the problem.

Sourdough loaves

dasein668's picture

Just finished my first "sourdough" loaf. Or maybe I should say "naturally leavened" 'cuz it sure isn't sour! I made a starter 5 days ago, feeding daily, and it certainly leavened the dough, but not a hint of sourness. Great crumb, and the flavor was great too, if I had been comparing it to a "standard" dough.

Maybe my starter just needs to age?

I also had some trouble with the dough sticking to the banneton during the 4 hour secondary. I salvaged it OK, but it looks a little silly:


Here's a shot of the crumb:

sewwhatsports's picture

How often do you refresh?

December 14, 2006 - 4:32am -- sewwhatsports

I have both a liquid and firm sourdough starter in my refrigerator.  I do not make bread more than once or twice a week and was wondering about refreshing my culture in between those times.  I always get a good reaction with the liquid starter when I feed it but am not sure if I am doing my cultures disservice about the amount of time between refreshments.  I tend to like the liquid culture better and convert that to stiff when I need it for a recipe. 

Any and all thoughts and guidance would be appreciated.  Thanks


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