The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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mattprince's picture



I seem to be struggling with light fluffy bread in my 2lb bread tin. I do as follows..

400g Strong Bread Flour, 6g Yeast in one side of the bowl, 8g Salt in the other side of the bowl. Blob of olive oil in centre and then mix normal tap water in until its a nice dough. I then pour a bit of olive oil on the bench and then kneed the dough on that. I'm finding its sticking very badly no matter how slow or fast I'm kneading. I then keep adding a bit of olive oil to the bench to stop it sticking as and when. I knead for 5 to 10 mins until it feels different and feels very stretchy. I then put it into a bowl and prove for an hour to hour and half (doubled in size). I then get it out on a lightly floured surface and kneed a little bit more and then shape and transfer to the bread tin. I preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan oven) and when its risen to the top of the bread tin , I put it in the oven for 25 mins at 200 degrees.

It cooks fine , and looks quite brown but almost always feels hard outside (the crust) and the inside doesn't have very many big holes , has quite a few little tiny ones but overall it feels very dense.

Any ideas?

I'm thinking the temperature is too high. If I put the temperature down, am I right in thinking it will make the crust less hard and should make it more fluffy inside?


Bakingmadtoo's picture

Causes of spreading?

Hi again, I need to pick your brains. I am starting to get a bit discouraged now. I seem to consistently bake loaves that spread too much. I don't believe that they are over proofed. They don't collapse and they do get lots of spring, but they spread out too much when I bake. The crumb is also coming out really lovely.

This morning's loaf had filled the banneton and turned out beautifully, the dough felt lovely and slashed really well. It didn't lose any volume at all when I slashed it.

However, it has still spread out more than up. I preheat my oven, but really only to temperature, as hot as it will go, which is around 250c. I am using Lacloche, which I do not preheat. Baking covered at around 225c for 20-25 minutes, then uncovered until it is the colour I want.  I usually spray the inside of the lid with water.

I know the problem is happening in the first 20 minutes, the shape is set when I remove the cover.

I have three thoughts, the first is that the oven is simply not hot enough when I put the dough in, giving it more chance to spread. However, lots of people bake from cold start, so it must be possible to get good spring this way. I don't want to preheat Lacloche, I know I will burn myself and I think I might crack it putting cold dough into a very hot Lacloche.  Also, I have had some great loaves come out with this method, so it can't be the method per se.

The second thought is my shaping. Could it be that my i am not getting enough tension to hold the shape?

The third thought is that I tend to bake a smaller loaf, and I am wondering if the extra space in Lacloche means it has the space to spread, so it does. But again, I have also had beautiful small loaves that have not spread.

I will add a picture when my bread is cool enough to touch. But, could any of these thoughts be right? And are there other things that I should be considering. Any thoughts would be welcome as it is really disheartening at the moment.

You will see from today's photo when I load it that there was hardly any ear formed as if it spread and set before it could.

mattwis519's picture

Whole wheat tartine-style loaf

First post and first attempt using CR's method.  I was going for the basic country loaf but realized I was almost out of white flour so I made adjustments. I thought it was going to be super dense but was pleasantly surprised.


90% whole wheat

10% white 

80% h20

20% leaven

2% salt


dosal's picture

My favorite light rye bread

This is my favorite because I am almost always successful with this recipe. This time it spread more than usual. Could it be because I added more water to the mix?

The recipe calls for a levain out of 300 g rye flour, (I grind my own)300g water, 1 Tbsp. of starter (I always use at least 2 Tbsp.) This goes into the refrigerator overnight. I use my warm fridge ( 45 -50F) for this.

The next morning I add 550g AP flour (I used KAF this time)

150g whole wheat (again home ground)

250g water (I use spring water from a local spring)

1 tsp sugar

3 tsp salt

The recipe also calls for 2 Tbsp sunflower oil which I mostly do without, however I added about 1/4 cup more water.

Why do my free form loaves spread like this? This was supposed to be a batard after all.



San Juan's picture
San Juan

Hello and HELP!

Hi everyone and congratulations on a great website and community.

Now, I've been wanting to get into bread making for some time now and finally stepped up as a new years resolution, but wow, it's gone so wrong twice now!

I followed the recipe and instructions on Lesson One on the homepage as best I could, but two attempts went well off the mark.

1)The 'bread' did not rise at all in the oven and came out a hard, brown crust on top with compressed white bread inside.

2)This one rose much better first after kneading, and secondly in the oven. However the same hard, brown crust was in place on top. There was generally OK levels of white bread inside that tasted reasonable and texturally were OK, but it sure wasn't pretty and you could not cut this bread as the outer crust was so hard. It certainly hadn't risen to a decent looking shape either. See picture!


Any advice on what is going wrong and beginners tips would be greatly appreciated as I'm really trying here. Thanks! :)



David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Tartine, Basic Country loaf -- round or rectangle?

 My first sale!

The above breads were made with the same recipe. As I have written before, I was looking for a good sandwich loaf.  The trouble with the round bread is that it is a pain to cut into sandwich size pieces.  The trouble with baking a "white bread" that I have had is that it is so soft that it is a pain to cut into slices without the bread crumbling.

The basic country loaf, when baked in a bread pan, yields a loaf that is both chewy and, as a result, super easy to cut without tearing the bread.  In addition to being easy to cut (and you can cut it fairly thin because it holds together so well), the slices make great sandwiches.

I believe that the pan loaf used about 1/2 the dough or approximately 1000 grams.  I did not weigh it, I just shaped it into a ball and then rolled into a log.  That was not how I planned to do it. I planned to shape it into a baton and put it in the pan, but habit took over and I did it as if I were going to bake it in the combo cooker before I remembered I did not want two round loafs.

I need to take better notes of things like baking times and internal temperatures. I believe the rectangular loaf was taken out before it was as hot as the round loaf, but the thermometer came out dry and the crust was dark enough.  However, the bread is more dense and not as hollow sounding as the round loaf.

pantone_000's picture

Portable Charcoal-fed Firebrick Oven

Hi everyone.

Here in the Philippines, there is a company known for manufacturing firebricks and firebrick ovens as well. The inventor made it as a solution for the high cost of LPG-run stoves and gas ovens. They can also be used for smoking meat, one just has to cut the wood to fit in the pull-out charcoal box.

I am planning to get one as my very first oven, the standard for home bakers (the one in the image immediately below) which measures 15x15x14in on the exterior, 12x12x10in interior. It costs less than $400 (converted from our currency), almost the same as getting a La Germania or Elba LPG-fed oven. This company supplies and customizes for almost all of the restaurants of famous chefs here in our country. I can't wait till my order arrives. :)

They can ship to provinces far from the country's capital,  so I guess they can ship abroad too, if anyone of you would be interested. Here's their facebook page: I am not in any way related to them, just a fan of their firebrick ovens. :)

davidg618's picture

80% Whole Rye Pullman loaf

This is the second time I've baked a high percentage rye bread. The first was Hamelman's Volkornbrot; I wasn't elated with the result. ( ).  That was four years ago.

Lately--happy with my progress with sourdoughs, baguettes, challah and deli rye, and motivated by a number of other TFL'er's seemingly annual flurry of activity with Borodinsky rye Ioaves I thought I give it a go.

I read at least two dozen postings from favorite mentors (ananda, varda, Elagins, and hansjoakim to name a few); I searched other food blogs. I paused feeling intimidated. First of all, I didn't have all the right ingredients--malted rye, and blackstrap molasses specifically. I know where I could get malted rye, but it's a hundred-eighty miles round trip to the nearest homebrew shop that stocks it. I hadn't the slightest idea (other than buying online) where I might find blackstrap molasses.

Secondly, although I frequently use coriander in BBQ rubs, and pastrami crusts, I've never used it to flavor bread. I wasn't certain we'd like it. However, we love adding the flavor of Caraway seeds to Deli Rye.

I wanted to bake when the mood struck, not a week or more from now.

I recalled reading Borodinsky is always 80/20: Rye/Wheat flours in one of the many references I perused.

This bread is based (tightly) on Hamelman's 80% Rye with a Rye-Flour Soaker, in Bread.

I made some changes, but not many. I scaled the formula to produce 2kg of dough; enough for a 13" Pullman pan. I also substituted 115g (4.0 oz) of cracked rye berries for the 6.4 oz. of Whole-Rye flour in the soaker. (I had the rye berries on hand, and wanted to use them.) And lastly, I added 2 tsp. of Caraway seeds, 2 Tbls. of barley malt, and two Tbls. of ordinary Mollasses.

All other ingredients and ratios were as published. I built the Rye Sour in the prescribed manner, bulk fermented and proofed the dough at the recommended temperatures, and baked at the oven temperatures directed. Trusting the strength of my Rye Sour's yeast I did not use any optional commercial yeast. The finished paste filled only slightly more than half of the pan's height, but proofing expansion and oven spring pushed the loaf above the top of the pan.

I rested the loaf for 36hrs before tasting it. (I just couldn't wait any longer!).

The flavors are intense. The rye is immediately present on the palette, the Caraway shows itself moments later: not in-your-face, but not timid either. There is a lingering after taste I think is a melding of the barley malt syrup and the molasses; it has a bit of sharpness.

When I first cut into the loaf the center of the crumb felt slightly sticky. I feared the crumb would be gummy. Much to my delight the crumb's mouthfeel is moist but not  gummy. It is chewy, but doesn't have the springiness I find in wheat doughs, i.e., baguettes and sourdough, nor in the higher wheat percentage deli rye. An ocassional rye berry fragment offers a momentary crunch.

The crust is hard, and thicker than I would prefer. You can see the top of the loaf is partially charred (There is no burnt taste). I think this is due to the relatively high initial baking temperature, 480°F and the excess sugars from the malt syrup and the mollasses.

I've cut the loaf into four equal pieces, and froze three of them. I'm thinking this bread will stand up to my favorites for open-faced sandwiches: sardines and onion with Dijon mustard, home cured and smoked salmon, and pastrami with spicy mustard. I'm open to any other suggestions.

I'm ordering some rye malt, and blackstrap mollasses online. My next attempt will be an "authentic" Borodinsky but not soon. I've made a deal with my wife; I won't bake this style more than three times each year--she's not embracing its intense flavor.

David G

Added Monday, January 6

Monday's lunch

Sardines (water packed), onion, celery, salt, pepper (50/50 mix Tellicherry and Szechuan), mayo, and Dijon mustard on bite size, thin sliced toasted Rye with a pinch of paprika for color. De-light-full!


isand66's picture

Chipotle Cheddar Roasted Corn Multi-grain

  This bread uses a combination of fresh milled flour from my Nutrimill and store-bought flours.  The hard red wheat and hard white wheat were fresh milled.

I used some pecan meal I had bought during my trip to King Arthur Flour a few months ago in the starter which adds a nice nutty flavor to the final dough.  I also used some canned corn that I roasted under my broiler since corn on the cob is not in season in New York right now.

I thought some chipotle cheddar cheese would compliment the corn and the combination of flours and to be honest I love cheese so it couldn't possibly hurt it.

Since I used some low gluten ingredients I decided to use some high gluten flour from KAF known as Sir Lancelot to compensate.

I have to say I was not sure how this one would come out, but it honestly couldn't taste any better.  The spicy cheese along with the whole wheat flours and pecan meal make this one good enough to eat by itself without any butter, oil or anything.  I wouldn't change anything on this.  The only downside is I need to lose some weight and it's going to be hard not to eat the whole loaf by myself!





Levain Directions

Mix all the Levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces),  and honey and mix on low for 5 minutes.  Next add the corn and cheese and mix on low for 1 minute to make sure they are incorporated and then remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.  I made 1 large miche.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.


Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

Lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.


Cosmo decided the doggie toy basket makes a good bed....



Skibum's picture

NY Deli rye take 2

Once again from Peter Reinhart's BBA, but I did change up a couple of things in this half version. I soaked 2 Tbs of dehydrated onion and 1/2 Tbs dehydrated garlic in boiling water. I reduced the amount of milk from his suggested 114g to 54g and used the onion water for the rest of the liquid.

At Josh's suggestion, I also built two rye starters using dark rye flour, one from my sweet levain and the other a yeast water/ rye starter. Boy did those two changes ever improve the flavour profile! Reducing the milk also gavbe a better chew and the bread didn't tear apart when i was cutting it.

I also used the rehydrated onion and garlic in the starter, did not have enough volume by weight, so fried up another 100g of onion in EVOO and added to the starter. I let the starter get happy on the counter for 4 or 5 hours and then into the fridge overnight.

This bread makes a serious smoked meat sandwich!

Happy baking folks! Brian