The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Sonieb's picture

I know you've answered these questions a million times BUT....

Ok, I've studied this forum, books, other webpages, and experimented for about a month now. I FINALLY have two LIVING spelt starters, or chefs or mothers, or whatever they're called (it's like a soft dough form) that are at least three weeks old.

Through all my experimenting I've found I like the firm starter the best. I keep it at room temperature (which in my house right now is around 67-68 degrees) and it smells like yeast when it's actively growing (I was awoke at 3am by my barking dog and when I came into the kitchen I was met with the most lovely YEAST smell!). I'm feeding it once a day (although less than 24 hours in-between, for instance today I did it at 21 hours and it just looked a little bit forlorned, or flat instead of puffy, but still double, I keep missing the "moment" when it reaches double though, so I think it does it sometime in the night? I'm not sure because I usually feed it before noon and then forget about it until the next morning) I could probably feed it twice a day but I don't want to waste that much flour :/. 

Ok, for feedings I've tried numerous things but have had the most success with 5 oz of starter, 1.2 oz of water and 2.5 oz of flour. I am mathematically retarded so all these formulas sound like Greek to me...but I've been most successful using that ratio. 

I've baked with the cast off dough twice now but used the recipes that call for fed or unfed starter that have added leavening; one was 2 tsp. active dry yeast (buttery rolls from the Kind Arthur website) and another was a crumpet recipe with only 1/2 tsp of baking soda. The both turned out very nice (the crumpets were delicious, btw). 

Now for my question: it's living but what IS it and am I doing anything wrong? What do I have? And how can I be sure I'm using it right in recipes? What is the hydration? 50%? 

Should I be using less of the starter to feed? I know I'm using more than most people do....does that mean my starter isn't doing as good as I think it is?

Thank you so much ahead of time. You people here are the nicest people on the planet to put up with all us newbies  and our silly questions :)






yamum360's picture

contaminated starter

help! my starter may have been contaminated.

Henry is about 3 months old, was started on dark rye and has been fed dark rye it's whole life, 50g rye flour, 65g filtered water. from day 2 it has been very active, from about day 4 it's been doubling after feeding in about 3-4 hours, i feed it once a day, occasionally twice, sometimes once every 2 days, whenever I remember and can be bothered really. There was a time when I gave up on it and let it fester on the kitchen counter, it developed a dry skin which began growing little patches of mould. Soon after I noticed something had laid eggs on the inside of the jar.

At this point I decided I'd better do something about it. I gingerly peeled back the skin, to be hit in the face by a very strong smell of almost beery yeast. I scooped out about a teaspoon and started feeding it irregularly, and immediately it was as active as it ever was.

Now I assume this is all ok, my starter is active, smells of yeast, doubles in volume quite quickly... I know it's quite hard to kill a starter once you've got it going, but this isn't my concern.

I've never baked with it, I was intending to soon however, now I'm not so sure... I've just gone to feed it, and discovered the butt of a joint in there. I didn't discover this until I'd scooped out half, and mixed in the 65g of water.

I don't know how long it's been in there, or how it got there, but I imagine my flatmate forgot to tell one of his guests that the bins that are just outside the kitchen are not garbage bins. The joint end of it still had tobacco in it, as well as a little of the other stuff I presume. Is this something I should be worried about? I'm not so worried about the ash and plant matter, as after I start with a new jar from a teaspoon of my current starter, only trace amounts will remain, my concern is about the chemicals all over the tobacco, has anyone had a similar contamination? has it affected your starter at all? will I need to start again or am I panicking over nothing?

Casey_Powers's picture

To banneton or not banneton

I really like the look of the rustic banneton.  It also makes (in my humble opinion) my boules easier to move.  They feel more firm.  The boule with the C is a total natural seem opening.  Not bad, it almost looks like I placed a C on my boule myself.  Well, when I do 4 boules with 2 bannetons it does provide options for those that may prefer one to the other. 

Warm Regards,


koren's picture

Tight exterior with loose middle


I have been baking bread off and on for a few years with much success. I tend to keep having this problem in loaf pan breads where the crumb is pretty tight near the edges of the slice and looser towards the center. I have tried to do some research and thought the problem was related to poor forming of the loaf. I have worked on my technique and think I am going a better job now, I made this loaf yesterday from the following king arthur recipe. It tastes very good but the middle of the slices is awfully loose. I would appreciate any ideas as to what I am doing wrong.





nmr82's picture

Sourdough starter w/Chia seeds

Hi! I'm looking to make a sourdough baguette with chia seeds. I can't figure out if I should add the chia seeds in with the starter or add it in when I go to mix all ingredients and make the dough. I'm planning to do a whole white wheat bread. 



ichadwick's picture

Calorie count?

My flour bag tells me there are 110 calories in 1/4 cup of flour. A small artisan loaf takes 2 1/4 cups and gives me roughly 10 slices. That should translate to 110 calories/slice, average (commercial bread is 85-100 per slice).

So is that a good reckoning? Or does the yeast eat some of that and reduce the number of calories in the dough? Does the baking alter it?

Anyone have any ideas on calorie counts for homemade bread?

This is basic flour-water-yeast-salt bread: no sugar or oil.

trailrunner's picture

Sweet Potato YW SD with pepitas

I have been traveling since Oct 5th. No baking but lots of eating of great breads from Canada to NYC ! I got home and found my YW and SD happily resting in the fridge. I fed everything and restored all to working order. I noted Ian's sweet potato bread and had an extra baked one so decided to try a variation using what I had on hand. Wild Yeast Blog has a formula from 2007 and I used it as a base to begin. I used 200g AYW stater and 200g RYW starter each at 100% hydration and made up the rest with my SD 100% hydration . When Ian mentions "wet" sweet potato he is correct. The dough was like ciabatta for sure. I beat it in the KA like a ciabatta until I noted some gluten development. I then placed it in an oiled bucket for 40 min. removed and did a lot of s&f's with a floured counter and gingerly movements. Rested 50 min and did the same...had really nice development at this point and it had nice air bubbles. Divided in two and made no attempt to shape...simply sprayed the top with water and pressed on pepitas and tossed into floured cloth lined baskets seed side down. Proofed for 1 hr and the loaves had filled the baskets. Retarded approx 12 hrs in fridge. Baked straight from fridge as per my usual...500 preheated pans ,place bread in pots lower to 460 , bake 20 min and remove lids and bake 15 min til 210 degrees. Crust snapped and crackled. Amazing fragrance from the pepitas. Lovely crumb but no spring to speak of.Glistening crumb and very tender due to the YW. This is going to be served with a black bean soup tonight . RYW ready to go :  photo IMG_6695_zpse1a8a521.jpg AYW ready :  photo IMG_6696_zps117997ab.jpg "shaped" and seeds on ready for basket to proof:  photo IMG_6697_zps593635ac.jpg straight from fridge:  photo IMG_6700_zps267cefc7.jpg finished:  photo IMG_6701_zpsa15ce6fc.jpg crumb shots:  photo IMG_6702_zps0e9ad8ea.jpg  photo IMG_6703_zps5988ccb8.jpg  photo IMG_6705_zps64ff31a5.jpg

rozeboosje's picture

An onion and seed bread :-)

Very happy with how this turned out so I'm sharing it!

I started off with an organic rye starter back in September (The Monster Raving Loony Starter - see ), and I have since switched to plain white organic wheat flour to keep it going nicely and I've settled into a lovely routine with about two bakes a week and no waste. Happy days.

Yesterday I baked a lovely onion-and-seed brown bread that I'm very happy with so I thought I'd share with you how I did it.

Onion mix

Chop one brown onion finely. In a couple of tablespoons of virgin rapeseed oil (or another non acidic oil, but I like the flavour of rapeseed oil), slow fry them until nicely caramelised. Add a good tablespoon full of linseed and another tablespoon full of sesame seeds and fry off until it's all golden brown. Set aside and allow to cool.

Dough base

200g strong white wheat flour

100g strong wholemeal wheat flour

12g salt

At least two Serving Spoons of starter

Add the onion mix and form your dough. I'm not that hot on hydration percentages, but I know I add enough water to make a firm enough dough to form a nice boule that can stand unaided.

Rising and proving times depend on your local circumstances so I'm leaving that up to you.

I scored the boule and glazed it with milk, then added some poppy seeds to the top just for the look of 'em.


Hope it works as well for you if you decide to give it a go!

Floydm's picture

Bread in restaurants

An interesting piece about the changing place of bread in restaurants.

SF Gate: The cost of serving bread in restaurants

The cheapskate in me doesn't like having to pay for something I get for nothing right now, but I actually like that it makes people think a bit more about bread.  Heaven knows good bread doesn't come for free!  And, yes, reducing food waste is a positive thing.

Clizma's picture

Complex bread

Hello everyone, I am very new to baking breads.

I have successfully baked breads out of white flouer and whole wheat flouer, recently I accuired some quinoa and 12 grain flouer as well as Rye flouer.

I tried making 2 1/2 Rya flouer, 1 /12 12 grain flouer, 1 1/2 quinoa flouer, some 12 grain oats, 2 cups of water, the same way I made my whole wheat breads, but this time the mix became very danse, and the mix did not rise as well as it would rise using white and whole wheat flouers before.

My questions are: what did I do wrong? is mixing so many kinds of flouer give that effect? and how can I make the mix rise better?


Thank you!