The Fresh Loaf

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christinepi's picture

about to try my first sourdough bread, but confused...

I'm a total sourdough beginner. I just made my starter according to gaaarp's directions ( and it turned out beautifully. I stuck it in the fridge this morning. (It actually lost  a bit of volume since--is that normal? It was huge and bubbly) I would like to use it (today is Tuesday) on Thursday evening to start a no knead sourdough with KA AP and WWW (ratio undetermined).

Sooo... what do I do? Could somebody kindly walk me through the steps? I tried to figure this out online but there's too much info out there and I can't find answers to all the questions I have.

--I assume I need to feed it before then? It currently weighs 276 grams. When between today and Thursday evening and how much flour/water do I feed it? 

--Let's say I take it out Wednesday to feed it. I assume I'd take out, say, 50% because I won't need all that starter once it's doubled. So I'll take out 50% (138g), and then add flour and water in equal amounts. Then I let it sit out at room temperature, and let's say it doubled by Thursday morning--do I stick it ALL back in the fridge, or stir it and take out my required amount of starter, leave IT on the counter, and stick the rest in the fridge? Or do I put the measured out amount back in the fridge, too, because it would expand too much until I'm ready to use it? And do I then take it out closer to baking time to have it come back to room temperature? That's where I really need help.

--I've noticed the 1:1:1 ratio rule. Doesn't that mean instead of doubling the amount I triple it? I'm sure there's something I'm not getting.

--Let's say the recipe (I don't have one right now) asks for 1/4 cup starter. Do I stir the starter until it's been de-bubbled and then fill a 1/4 cup?

--Should the starter always be at room temperature when ready to mix the dough?

--Or, to make this simple for now, maybe the starter is plenty ready to go for Thursday and I should just leave it be? Let's say I intend to make the dough at 7pm Thursday evening. How long before should I let the required amount of starter sit out to get to room temperature?

It would be great if someone had a basic sourdough recipe for me to tackle. I'm so excited!!


Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

Levain did't double in size when kept at 85º??

I make the Tartine Country Bread.

My levain is 150 grams water and 150 grams flour (flour is half whole wheat and half all purpose) and 20 to 30 grams of starter.

 I usually keep it on my counter at 70º and it will double in about 11 hours and this gives me a good indication that it is ready to use.

This time I kept the levain in my proofing box at 85º (to speed up fermentation) for about 7.5 hours and it didn't double.  It was very loose and liquidish in when I used it.

I don't understand why the levain didn't not work right when I kept it at a higher temperature?

Thank you.

ichadwick's picture

Breadmaking history

Stuff I thought I'd share here.

While searching for information on ancient grains, I found this PDF file online:

Quite interesting.Several ancient grains discussed, as well as the difference between spring and winter wheats.

Then I started looking into the association between bread and tooth decay or dental problems. That leads to some odd sites, like this one:

Which talks about phytic acid in grains and bran, which would relate to breads. It's a bit esoteric for breadmaking, but interesting nonetheless because it talks about using whole grains in baking. The author says:

Through observation I have witnessed the powerful anti-nutritional effects of a diet high in phytate-rich grains on my family members, with many health problems as a result, including tooth decay, nutrient deficiencies, lack of appetite and digestive problems.

Have to look further into those claims. Has anyone read about this before?

Here's a piece about ancient Egyptian breads:

It notes:

In addition to consisting of wheat, barley, dates or malted grain, some other ingredients were found which suggest that bread may have been a blessing as well as a curse for the ancient Egyptian people. Through x-ray analysis, experimentation involving floating crumbs in water, and microscopical examination, archaeologists have concluded that ancient Egyptian bread often contains inorganic particles of sand, rock, and dirt, making for a gritty loaf. This, combined with dental evidence paints an interesting picture of how the ancient Egyptians' diet affected their bodies.

It also has a recipe for making a bread based on ancient Egyptian style.

Then I found this site which has info about historical bread in Europe:

which also discusses Egyptian breads and their attendant dental problems. But further down in the post, I read this, which really made me perk up:

John explained that he’s discovered, and had confirmed through spectral analysis, that the sourdough baking method ‘de-natures’, ie neutralises, ergot. My ears immediately pricked up because I associate ergotism very much with the mediaeval period. That’s partly because we have records of outbreaks of St Anthony’s fire, as it was known, from that era but also because various things, from the Children’s Crusade (which may be apocryphal or constructed from a variety of separate incidents), to the particularly horrific mediaeval imagery of hell.


However here John’s key discovery about the impact of the high lactic acid levels on ergot is critical. The rye growing Germanic peoples made their bread almost exclusively from rye flour. It’s not possible to get rye to rise using the sort of yeasts produced as a by product of brewing. It requires a sourdough method, ergo (as opposed to ergot) pure rye loaves will not tend to result in ergotism – I won’t say cannot, but that is the inference.

So to produce ergotised bread one needs a mix of rye and other flours that are sufficiently ‘light’ that they can be raised with yeast and not a sourdough leaven. In the very early mediaeval period the Normans introduced rivet wheat and rivet produced a very white flour.

That opens a fascinating area of research... The spread of rye from Germanic to Norman and Anglo Saxon people may have been accompanied by a wave of health-related problems. And perhaps the witch craze. Have to pursue that further!

This comes from research I did for a post I wrote about Chaucer's bread, here:

PiPs's picture

To much baking for blogging ...

Hi everyone,

just wanted to drop a quick note and say hello ...


i am busy baking everyday and thus have basically no time for assembling blog posts ... however ...

... if you would like a quick catch-up with what I am up to, I have set up an Instagram account where I hope to share snapshots of my days.

In the future I hope to find a little more balance and return with longer and more in-depth posts ...

all the best


Floydm's picture

Thanksgiving Baking Ideas

Many wonderful Thanksgiving recipes have been posted on TFL over the years.  Here are a handful:



Lunch Lady Rolls




Thanksgiving Multi-Grain Marble Chacon



Sourdough pumpkin cornmeal buns



Pumpkin breads




Sweet Potato Rolls




Cranberry nut rolls




Buttermilk Cluster



Struan Bread



Cranberry-Orange Walnut Bread




Light Rye Bread



Pumpkin Quick Bread



Wild Rice & Onion Bread



Searching for Thanksgiving here turns up a bunch more wonderful looking recipes and photos.


Link to you favourites below!

DoubleMerlin's picture



I'm a 19-year-old bread baker living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota, USA. I'm researching sourdough at the University of Minnesota on my way to getting a Food Science B.S.

I love all things fermented, especially bread. Gluten is my friend, and I want nothing more than to make the best breads all of the time.



JoeV's picture

Having a sausage & hot dog party.

We're having some friends over for a get-together, and we're serving Kielbasi, Bratwurst and smoked Slovenian sausages, as well as hot dogs for those less adventurous (read: woosies). I made up some buns for the "tube steaks" using my egg bread formula (I also do this with my Italian bread formula as well). When they were baked I tried one with a smoked Slovenian sausage with spicy mustard, horseradish and homemade sauerkraut for lunch, just to make sure they were going to be OK. As you can tell, I lived to write about it. LOL


For those who have never made hot dog buns, I use 2.8 to 3.0 ounces of dough for each bun. After they are weighed out, shape the portion into a tight ball and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Then using the palm of your hand, roll the ball into a tube about 4" long and allow to rest again for a few minutes. Lastly, roll each tube to about 6" to 6-1/2" in length. The tubes should be symmetrical along the length. I baked mine at 390F for 15 minutes, and used a whole egg egg wash to brown the tops. Here's a YouTube video that describes a slightly different approach, but will help those like me who do better with pictures. LOL

Janetcook's picture

100% Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pecan Bread



I couldn't resist posting today's bake for a couple of reasons.  The first being that this formula has won lots of praise from those for whom I currently bake.  The second reason stems from the fact that it is a result of good old tweaking.  It was inspired by a recent post of hanseata's.  

I generally follow a new formula pretty closely when I first bake it but, depending on how the loaf turns out, subsequent bakes find me tweaking away a bit here and a bit there.  I have always found Karin's breads to be excellent and her Pumpkin Whey Bread was no exception but this loaf has ended up with its own section in one of my bread binders- right next to its original format.

At the same time of Karin's post several other people blogged about breads using similar ingredients and so those found their way into my new formula along with ideas out of my Flavor Bible.

The end result being a bread containing:


sweet potatoes

maple syrup


toasted pecans


No crumb shot since this loaf and the others all were given to other households.  Reports were of a nice soft moist crumb full of flavor.

Before finding TFL I never would have tried altering a recipe to such a degree.  Now I never know if a formula will stay in its original form in my records or if it will lead me to something totally unexpected.  This loaf was one of the latter and the adventure was quite fun.



ichadwick's picture

Hello; new enthusiast from small town Ontario

I just joined the forum and I'd like to say thanks to everyone for the entertaining, educational and informative discussions I've read on this site.They have been very inspiring and helpful over the past month.

I recently started making bread again after about 20 years of absence. Handmade, artisanal breads, no bread machine (yet). I've had reasonably good results to date, but I'm still looking to perfect the loaves and branch out to other styles.

And I am becoming quite keen on the historical process of breadmaking.

I've posted a couple of blog pieces and photos on my own site, and Facebook notes about my progress to date. I bake something new every 3-5 days, tinkering with the process or recipe each time to see what I can create.

My keen desire is to make good, crusty, chewy rustic bread. I'm close, but the loaf still needs work. I bought the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and have been working from it and from blog posts about it, to master the basic bread. I keep getting distracted by my innate desire to experiment.

I face a few limitations for further development: in a small town, resources are limited to what the grocery store chains offer (good, Canadian commercial flours like Robin Hood and Five Roses: pretty much limited to all-purpose white, unbleached and whole wheat), although I have a ready supply of some alternative flours at the local Bulk Barn (but not all, like pumpernickel rye). I can make a trip to Toronto (about 2-2.5 hours away) if anyone can suggest a source of materials there.

I also learned from my reading that all-purpose Canadian flour is higher protein than US flour, so I'm not sure if I need to alter recipes to account for our flour.

Yeasts here are also limited to the commercial Fleishman's types (seems to be the only choice). So far they've worked fine, but I'd like to try other varieties. Sourdough is high on my list as a project (but in a house full of cats and dogs, I'm a bit unsure about the wild yeast...). So I'm in search of a starter from an outside source I can use to get my own going. 

I'm also awaiting a baking stone to work with, due this coming week from Amazon. So far I've been using a cookie sheet or a ceramic pot. They work fine, by the way.

And in the future I may get a bread maker, but need to research the models and brands a lot more before I commit to the investment.

My other interest is the historical aspect of baking and bread: what bread did Chaucer eat? Shakespeare? How did yeast get domesticated? What grains were used by the Egyptians? By the Normans? And so on. Any links to books on the history of breadmaking would be appreciated.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for providing a great resource for neophyte bread makers like me.

havefaith's picture

Hello from FL and Thank you

After reading everything I could on this site over the last week, yesterday was the day to bake my first loaf of SD bread. My starter was 9 days old & I was ready to go!  But then I found myself confused  about the different methods and came up against 'stiff' or 'wet' starter?  I read more and asked did I knead too much or too little, the dough was sticky & maybe I should slap and fold? It didn't took like it was rising enough - more reading about 'proofing'- too much too little?  and how should I try to bake - stone, with steam or without, baking sheet, how long. I realized I had read too much trying to take the best ideas and put them all together. I started at 10 am & it is was 8 pm. I decided I had to make some decisions and put the dough in my clay cooker and put it in the refrigerator.  This morning I took it out and realized I wouldn't learn how if I didn't try!  I left the dough alone to warm up and maybe rise. But after 4 hours it hadn't changed much at all.  I soaked the clay cooker lid, set the bottom part with the dough in some water for about 5 minutes, put on the top and put in a cold oven at 475.  After 50 minutes and an extra 5 to brown, my bread was done!  It was stuck and I was prepared to have bread crumbs. But it came loose and while it didn't look like SF SD it smelled pretty good!  My first loaf isn't beautiful, except to me, and I have much to learn but my reward was when I crunched into my first bite. How I've missed my SF SD and now I was tasting that great flavor again.  Thanks for all the help and learning once more there are a lot of ways to reach the end result if you just try!