The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Jaymo's picture

feeling very frustrated

I'm trying to make sourdough bread with Tartine's method, and I can't seem to get past the "make your leaven float" part. I've been maintaing a liquid starter for a month now, and a dry starter for a week, and I just can't even produce a leaven that will float, so I haven't even bothered to warm the oven yet. So lots of flour and water going into the recycling bin, lots of time spent trying to keep my  various colonies happy, and nary a loaf to even dislike. It's worse than bad bread. It's no bread. WTF do I do? I'm feeling exasperated. I've tried to track my leaven from start to finish, testing it regularly. It goes from sweet and floury to sour, seemingly without rising, and without every floting when put in a bowl of water. I fed my starter once a day for a while. Then I fed it twice a day. I've basically flushedd ten pounds of flour into my compost heap. Sweet.

I'm not a quitter, but I feel like I'm locked out of any gratification whatsoever from this bread thing. My garden is turning out lots of tasty treats. My cherry tree produced a dandy crop that's baking in the oven. We made the best home-made pasta-based lasagne you can imagine tonight.

But no bread for breakfast. Bummer. 

Maybe I should just put "Tartine Bread" in the shredder, and pretend I never looked into making bread.

ssorllih's picture

Dinner rolls

Made a batch of dinner rolls for company tonight.

one pound of flour

one teasopoon table salt

one teaspoon instant yeast

edit to add: 1 tablespoon sugar

Combine one egg

six ounces of whole milk

water to make 68% hydration

two tablespoons of chicken fat or whatever.

Combine and autolyse for twenty minutes, knead lightly oil the dough and refrigerate over night. shape while still cold the next morning. Bake 375 20 minutes or less.


breadsong's picture

Sun Food / pane di sole

Hello everyone, 
Continuing to be inspired by Beth Hensperger’s beautiful book, Bread For All Seasons…
the next chapter begins with June and is titled ‘Sun Food’.

I’ve baked three breads of Italian origin over the last while, using ‘yellow-colored’ flours -
thinking about 'sun food' (sun bread), I wanted to call these breads ‘pane di sole’ :^)

Micca di enkir e buratto
A dear friend generously gave me some beautiful softly-yellow-colored Italian einkorn flour:
Searching on TFL yielded Giovanni’s amazing post about his visit to Mulino Marino, and finding einkorn (enkir) flour there.
(loved how Giovanni’s post featured six millers, whose names all began with the letter ‘f’ –
this group of men seemed like a brotherhood, or  fratellanza, to me :^)   )


In place of buratto flour, I used 85% high-extraction flour, as one of Giovanni’s comments noted buratto flour might be comparable to a French T80 which may be a light whole wheat?
The einkorn levain was slower to ferment than the wheat levain, so I placed the einkorn levain in a warm ( 90F or so?) proofer for awhile, to let it catch up – I’m not sure if it was the warmer, wetter levain, or the einkorn flour, or both, but when baked, this bread was the sourest bread I’ve ever tasted – and I’m not complaining! It was amazing to taste - been meaning to bake this bread again, to see if I can re-create that flavor.

The crumb is not as astonishingly beautiful as with Giovanni’s loaf...
  ...but I was happy with the oven spring :^)

This bread was baked back in March, and I’m pretty sure at that time of the year, I was still dreaming of the sun. 
Many thanks to Giovanni, for his inspiring and informative post about these millers and their flours – and for baking that beautiful, perfect ‘micca’ – it was wonderful to see!

Focaccia al pomodori

This focaccia is based on Mr. Leader’s formula for Grape Harvest Focaccia in his lovely book, Local Breads.  
There are so many incredible, captivating photos in Mr. Leader’s book – including his photo of ‘Individual Focaccias with Cherry Tomatoes’ – the breads look like they’ve been wood-fired – gorgeous!
When I saw a colorful mix of hothouse tomatoes at the store – these breads came to mind.
After baking, these tomatoes were sweet and flavorful, almost beyond belief – it’s been many months since I’ve tasted tomatoes like these.
It’s as if they’d been vine-ripened in the sun, but it’s still too early here for that! The flavor was an amazing surprise :^)

In making the focaccia, I pre-fermented 21% of the flour in a 80% hydration sponge (used only all-purpose flour in the sponge), then used 40% all-purpose, 30% soft whole wheat, and 30% extra-fancy durum (nice and yellow) flour in the final dough, with 60% hydration overall.

                                                           ...before baking

Sun shots :^)  

Pane tipo di Altamura

Franko embarked on a journey to bake pane tipo di Altamura last year – I haven’t forgotten the lovely bread he baked!
There have been so many other enticing bakes of this bread by Varda and others. Consistently, these 100% durum breads have had vibrant orange-colored crusts, and yellow crumb...
I was intimidated by this bread, and found the courage to try making a version of it this week, having some extra time and having just seen Jeremy’s post of a beautiful and bright-yellow semola remacinata bread. Jeremy included a link to his friend Ibán Yarza's blog where there was yet another beauty! of a bake.
I'm very grateful for the tips and guidance in these posts, including tips on how to build the levain (thanks!, codruta, for your question – if you see this).  I tried to keep the levain quantity  and hydration, and dough hydration to that recommended by Mr. Yarza, and do a multiple-stage durum levain build at varying hydrations (formula below). Mr. Yarza called the levain masa madre, but I wanted to call this levain pasta madre, in honor of durum flour, and Italy  :^)


I used 100% extra-fancy durum flour for this bake, so this bread might be a pane tipo di Altamura?
Whatever it’s called, it was one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever tasted, with a very moist and almost sweet, crumb –
a complex flavor I won’t forget, just like the image of that first beautiful Altamura bread Franko baked :^)

Here are some crumb shots (slices from the loaf on the right, the loaf on the left was given as a gift)


My adaptation of Mr. Yarza's formula:

Baker's %'s:

Just one last link - can't help thinking about Sofie’s absolutely beautiful ‘ray of sunshine’ French Country Bread!  :^)

 Wishing everyone a happy, and sunny!, month of June -
                                                                                  :^) breadsong

Submitted to Susan @ YeastSpotting

nadira2100's picture

Flax Country Pain au Levain

I decided to attempt Pain au Levain again, but this time with a few changes. 

1.) I added Flax meal, Corn meal, and Rye to make my own "Country" Pain au Levain. 

2.) I baked it as 1 huge boule instead of 2 smaller ones. 

3.) I proofed for 4 hrs BEFORE retarding in the fridge this time. 

4.) I had to significantly increase the baking time due to the size of the boule.

5.) I used the starter I had stored in the freezer because I managed to screw up the one I had going in the fridge. I refreshed it 2 times before using in this recipe. 

Ok, so now that I've stated the changes, let me say that this is the first time I've ever experimented with a loaf....and by that I mean alter the flour composition and types of flours used. I think this turned out better than my first loaves in that it's definitely prettier....but I'm not overly pleased with the crumb yet. The crust is also significantly better than my first attempt. 

The day before I mixed the dough, I cut my starter into 6 equal pieces (weighing a total of about 7oz). I kneaded in 1/3 c water with 4.5oz unbleached bread flour and let that develop for 4 hrs before refrigerating it overnight. 

The next day I made the final dough by cutting the starter into 6 equal pieces (about 11.5 - 12oz) with the flours, water and salt. Here are the percentages I used....

100% UnBleached Bread Flour (18 oz)

89% Water (16oz)

64% Starter (11.5 oz)

11% Rye (2oz)

11% Flax Meal (2oz)

11% Corn Meal (2oz)

1.7% Salt (0.3oz)

I hope I did my calculations right...please tell me if I didn't. The decimal demon still gives me problems every once in awhile. Ok...maybe all the time. 

I kneaded the dough and let it rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 3 hrs. It seemed to swell a little but I couldn't tell if it was a "flattening out" compared to a swelling. Before....


But either way I continued on to shaping. Before I made my boule, though, I did do a few stretch and folds to help with structure because the dough was soft and a little wetter than my first attempt. I was nervous and decided it wouldn't hurt. So then I made my boule and put it back in my clean glass bowl to proof. I let this go for 4 hrs....I had made this at night so when I went to bed at 10pm I set my alarm for 2am to stick it in the fridge. 

The next night, I turned my loaf onto a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal and scored it, topped it with a little Flax meal and popped it in the oven.

I baked it at 475 degrees with a pan of hot water for 2 min., spritzed the oven and loaf with water and then lowered the temp to 450 for 30 min. At this point I could already tell I was a step closer to getting the loaf I want because of the oven spring (even if it wasn't as much as I would have liked to see it was still there). I kept increasing the baking time by 10 min. until the loaf registered 195 degrees. This took about 1hr 35 min.

I left it to cool until the next morning.

The crust was "crustier" and more crackly than last time (MUCH BETTER!) and the taste was great....I was able to get the mild flavor of sourdough with the nutty flax.

However, this bread is still pretty dense and I noticed it was more moist than the first loaves I made. A little more than I'd like. I'm guessing I should cut back on the hydration? As far as getting a softer/lighter crumb....should I let it proof longer? Add some instant yeast for added boost? Knead it longer? Make a better/more active starter even though when I was refreshing it, it tripled in volume within 8 hrs each time? I'm not sure what to do or what to try next so any suggestions would be very helpful!

dabrownman's picture

Recent Breads for Lunch, Last Jacaranda Bloom and Desert

Some recent bread made into lunches , the last bloom of the jackaranda and a blueberry, blackberry, chocolate cheese cake.

Sweet Tader Toast with caramelized minneola marmelade


Anomalous's picture

Midweek Sourdough, risen in the fridge

Since I started bread baking last year I've been aiming mainly at sourdough and have made some reasonably good loaves at the weekend but it has been a challenge to fit it into the week's work schedule. The comparatively long rise of approx. 4 hours means I'd be baking at 22:50 if I made the loaf on getting home from work. Letting it rise in the fridge while I'm at work seems a pretty good solution to this, and here's how I've worked it so far.

08:00 Tuesday: mixed 50g starter with 50g wholemeal rye flour and 50g water (the starter is 50% hydrated wholemeal rye and lives in the fridge all the time. It's pretty active despite this). Left it at room temperature, went to work.

18:00 Tuesday: home from work; added 50g strong white organic flour and 50g water. Still at room temperature.

22:00 Tuesday: added 100g white flour and 100g water, still at room temperature.

07:00 Wednesday: added 300g strong white flour, 100g water, 11g salt, a glug of olive oil; mixed, a little bit of folding and stretching, formed a round, left whilst showering, dressing, breakfasting.

07:50 Wednesday: a bit more stretching, folding, gentle kneading and it's looking good. Shaped into a stubby cylinder, into the banneton, bagged, in the fridge. Off to work.

17:30 Wednesday: home from work, dough looks ready. Oven on, 230°C, baking stone in. Oven ready, baking stone out, turned loaf onto stone, dusted with wholemeal rye, slashed, into the oven, 300g boiling water into a hot baking tray for steam. Baked for 20 min at 230°C then 25 min at 190°C. It needs longer baking due to going into the oven fridge-cold.

Result: pretty good. Nice, crunchy crust; moderately airy, moist crumb; reasonably good sourdough tang. For such a relatively small amount of wholemeal rye, it has a surprising amount of wholemeal flavour. I'm not sure where to take it next to get a lighter, airier crumb, but I think I might experiment with leaving it out of the fridge a bit longer before baking in order to let it warm up a bit and do some more rising.

The overall hydration is about 62%. The starter came from a training day at e5 Bakehouse with a reputed 200 year trans-European pedigree and seemed better than my own home-grown starter. I always feed it with equal amounts of wholemeal rye and filtered water and keep it in the fridge.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hocus Pocus from Saveur

Me thinks a sample of n=20 would prove this method completely (as the Car Talk guys say) booo-oooo-ooooo-oooo-gus.

(At least they mention using a scale. That's a plus, I guess!)

nadira2100's picture

Portuguese Sweet Bread

I've caught the bread bug! After making the sourdough (and not being completely satisfied with the results) I had the urge to make some more bread. However, I was having issues with my starter and being the impatient person I am, decided to make something that wouldn't require days upon days of refreshments and monitoring. Since my first attempt at Portuguese Sweet Bread was a disaster I thought I'd revisit this recipe and see if I could correct my mistakes. I don't have a picture of my last attempt because it was THAT bad. Yes, yes it was I'm embarrassed to say. Dense, tough, mottled crust.....not my better baking moments. This time, however, I think I got it right. Or at least I'm stepping in the right direction for the perfect loaf. 

After mixing the sponge I only had to wait about 30min before it became so bubbly that I deemed it ready to use.

So I mixed up the final dough and began kneading....and kneading....and kneading. I followed the recipe in Peter Reinharts book The Bread Baker's Apprentice and he suggests adding up to 6 tablespoons of water if needed for the dough. He also has 1/4c (I think...I don't have the book in front of me right now) powdered milk in the recipe. Both the powdered milk and the water were never added to my dough and I'm not sure they were even needed or would have made a huge difference in the final loaf. 

With the first loaf, I was pretty sure I didn't knead the dough long enough because it never did rise, and it was dense and tough and bumpy. THIS loaf I knew after the first rise that I kneaded it enough because during shaping, one loaf had a little balloon of gas poking out...almost like my loaf was trying to blow a bubble.

After shaping the boules (which I definitely need practice), I popped them in the fridge overnight. 

The next day, I took them out to proof on the counter before work and when I got home they were ready to bake. Another hint that I was on the right track.....they went from this....

to this....

So I threw some eggwash over them (I need to be more thorough in the application I think), and baked them for 30min. However, my loaves reached above 190 degrees after 35 minutes so I'm pretty sure they were done at 30min. They definitely would have been ruined had I baked them at the recommended 50-60min.

After resting and cooling I couldn't wait until morning to cut into and try a slice.

Significantly better than my first attempt and so far this is the lightest crumb I've ever achieved. The loaves are soft like they should be, the cumb is moist and light and the taste delicious! I think part of my success is the use of filtered, bottled water instead of tap. I've used tap water for as long as I can remember and New Orleans water is pretty rough. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me that the tap water could be preventing my little yeasties to do their thing. I'm not sure if that's what helped this time or not but I'm going with it!

To anyone who has made Portuguese Sweet Bread did I do? Be honest please!

Swathi's picture

Whole Wheat Rye Maple Challah



I made whole wheat rye maple challh.


I used white whole wheat, Rye flour, Maple syrup, vital gluten , salt, canola oil,  two eggs  and instant yeast.



Cut piece will be look like this


Recipe can be found  here

breadsong's picture

Susan's Blueberry Sourdough Scones

Hello everyone,
I had some extra starter (wheat, rye, durum) ... and yesterday, saw Susan's post featuring lovely Blueberry Sourdough Scones.
Mixed some up last night and froze them; baked fresh this morning - Yum :^)  
Thanks, Susan, for a delicious recipe and great way to use extra starter! 


These scones are very tangy and tasty. Not too much sugar in the dough - a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar over the top before baking tasted quite nice!

Happy baking everyone!
:^) breadsong

Sending, with gratitude, to Susan @ YeastSpotting