The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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ghazi's picture

Starter consistency

I recently got involved with making sourdough bread. It is very satisfying and the flavor is really interesting . Can anyone let me know what kind of a consistency I should keep my starter at so it is very active. I have been going for a thicker paste so less water, don't know if it's a good thing as when tried to use for 100% sourdough without any commercial yeast I didn't get much luck with bread doubling in size, although baked with yeast I get a good sour flavor and have been generally happy Would love to hear your comments

Nla91's picture

Confusion about 1st rise from Chad Robertson

Hello there,

Ive been reading "Tartine Bread" from Chad Robertson and have a few questions that some of you maybe can help?

In the section with more details about the basic loaf, Chad writes that you can let the 1st rise happen in the night and let the 2nd rise rise during the day so you can bake the bread in the afternoon - just like in his own bakery. But how do you do that when you need to give the dough turns every half hour? Do I then need to be up all night to let this happen?

How do they do at Tartine as regarding of rise times? 

The he last question: I know Chad uses a blend of flour to his brea.  One is Guisto's. Does anybody know what the other flour brands are?

Thanks in advance!



immigrantstable's picture

Bread "rises" out, not up


I have been silently following this forum for a while, and I am always impressed by people's depth of knowledge and willingness to help. So I figured this would be the perfect place to go with my sourdough questions. And I have a few...

1) My main question is that most breads I bake with my starter tend to expand and rise a bit, but not much. I also find them quite dense, and they harden quickly. Why would this be? I have a few suspicions, but I'm looking to pinpoint things properly... These are some of the potential causes:

2) First off, my starter SEEMS active and nice (ie, it bubbles, smells tangy, and increases in size, doubling after a feeding and 12 hours out of the fridge), but I tend to not discard any past what I use (and I don't use it THAT often). I have a big bowl in the fridge. Could this be causing my problem? Do I need to start discarding some with every feeding? And how often should I be feeding it if it's in the fridge (I feed it once a week at this point)?

3) I always mix whole wheat and white flour in my recipes. Is this another problem? I use a 60:40 ratio, usually, removing a tablespoon of whole wheat flour off of every cup (which has worked for me with other conversion baked goods before I started playing with sourdough, and they weren't dense). Is the whole wheat causing the density? Is there a way to make part-whole wheat bread, but not have it so dense?

4) Another thing I suspect I'm doing wrong is that I let my dough rise too long on that first rise, usually 8 hours (instead of the 2 recipes call for), and then another 5-12 hours when the loaves arte shaped (this varies based on the recipe). The reason for that is that I live in Canada, and my kitchen isn't too warm in the day, so I've been giving my sourdough extra time to develop... But maybe I'm causing it to expand a lot and then deflate, and I'm missing the perfect point? I find that my dough does expand during the initial long rest, but it doesn't really grow during the second ferment, and that's when my loaves turn out a bit lacklustre. What am I doing wrong?

I've documented some of my baking experimentation here (,, and I finally reached a breaking point when I made this lovely-looking challah by Zolablue (, and got some deflated looking loaves (photos attached). So I decided to turn to the experts....

Your advice would be highly appreciated!


cholme's picture

White Bread starting to sour during storage

So, I have a strange problem.  The last couple time I baked white bread, about 4 days after baking the bread gets a fowl, sour smell; not like sour dough.  Here is what I am doing.

  • 4 ¾ Cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 Cup Water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Honey

Baking 325˚ for 40 min. Brushing with butter after baking - cooling for a few hours and bagging in plastic.  My goal was to keep the crust, nice and soft... like my 5 & 6 year old like. :)

Could the butter be going sour?  Any ideas?



David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Delicious pizza is so easy to make.

I live in New York, and I have a pretty good selection of fine pizzerias from which I can get pizza.  The same can pretty much be said for having a good selection of fine breads.  In fact, every day, I walk through Grand Central Station and pass by a market that has some very good loaves at reasonable prices (unlike everything else in that market.)

That said, I wanted to make my own bread, and with my own bread came the desire to make my own pizza. Fortunately, among the first books I picked up was Tartine Bread.  I say "fortunately," because the Basic Country Loaf that forms the foundation of the book, is also recommended for pizza dough.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone!  In Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson recommends the use of the Lodge Combo Cooker, a cast iron set of frying pans, one deep, the other shallow, which works perfectly for making the Basic Country Loaf.  Once I had that bread down, I decided to buy a Lodge Cast Iron Pizza Pan, based on the reviews I had seen.

Now, there are those who make better pizza then I.  I've seen the photographic evidence of it. They also make better bread than I.  But, I am happy to say that I have been making a lot of very fine pizza in addition to a lot of very fine bread.  I have found the Super Peel to be a pretty good aid in getting pizza dough onto a hot pan, whether it is the cast iron combo cooker or the cast iron pizza pan.  (I heat both to 500 degrees, and find the Extra Long Oven Gloves to be great for handling the hot cast iron.

By now, I am seeing that I have spent a boat load of money buying bread baking stuff, but it all pales in comparison to the grain mill I am still waiting to pull the trigger on...

Anyhow, my usual process is to drain a can of crushed tomatoes (lately, I have been using and preferring organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes), saute some chopped onions in olive oil, mix in the crushed tomatoes and divide it into 1/2 pint wide-mouth mason jars. Incidentally, this is what I store my starter in as well.  I use a screw on plastic lid but don't screw it down tight. 

Typically, I have been sauteing chopped onions and then adding a can of crushed tomatoes to make the sauce. I also keep my chopped onions in one of the jars as well, but use the standard rings to keep them sealed tight.  This keeps the onion odor out of the fridge and lets me store onions all week for use whenever I need them.

 On Saturday, I made some dough and let one pizza's worth sit in the fridge until Tuesday evening.  When I went to make the pizza I realized that I did not have any of my sauce made, and I did not want to dirty a pan, so I opened up the can of crushed tomatoes, poured it into a colander to let the water drain out cooked my pizza dough.

The process is as follows: I put the lodge pizza pan in the oven and heat it to 500 degrees.  I take the pan out of the oven, drizzle olive oil on the pan (which lets the dough brown better in my experience) and then use my peal to put the pizza dough on the smoking hot pizza pan for a 5 minute bake.  Once the dough is set and maybe a little browned (in this instance, I actually overcooked the dough since it was very thin in the middle and it became crisp like a cracker....turned out delicious), I add the sauce (1/2 pint jar is enough sauce for the whole pie) and top it with sliced mozzarella, at which point I return it to the oven for a few minutes, and once the cheese is all melted, I take it out, sprinkle some fresh Basil leaves on top and return to the top rack of my oven where I put the broiler on High and broil for a few minutes until the cheese just starts to brown.

The result:


dosco's picture

Recipe ... Portuguese Sweet Bread

Posted below is the recipe I use for my Portuguese sweet bread. I am interested in suggestions from the collective audience that may result in improvements in taste, texture, oven spring, etc.

In my last bake I used about 50g of leftover levain ... not sure it made any difference and it might be interesting to experiment with adding even more to assess its affects on the final product.





6 ½ cups flour (910g) (to date I've only used all-purpose (AP) flour ... I plan on trying *some* bread flour in near future)

½ cup mashed potato, unseasoned (115g)

2/3 cup potato water (159g)

½ cup milk (125g)

½ cup butter

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp grated lemon peel

¼ tsp ground mace

1 packet of active dry or instant yeast (Reinhart recommends Instant because there is more yeast cells in it when compared to other forms of commercial yeast)

Confectioner’s sugar (optional)


In a mixing bowl combine ½ cup flour, sugar, lemon peel, mace, and dry yeast. Feel free to experiment with the type of flour used, to date I have only made this bread using the cheapest store brand all-purpose flour … the bread always rises to double or triple its original volume and is always delicious.


Heat potato water, milk, and butter to about 120dF (49dC), add to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes.


Add the eggs, mashed potato, and another ½ cup flour; mix for 2 minutes.


As the mass is mixing, continue to add the flour until it is all incorporated into a soft dough.


Knead until the dough is smooth and it passes the windowpane test … this will depend on the type of flour used (all purpose vs. bread flour). If using an electric mixer, this can take between 5 and 10 minutes.


Once the dough is formed set it aside to bulk ferment “until doubled” (depending on temperature this could be about 90 minutes).


After bulk fermentation, gently stretch or roll the dough out and form a rectangle of about 10 inches (25.5 cm) by 16 inches (40.5 cm).


Roll the dough into a cylindrical shape and place it, seam side down, into a greased/oiled “10 inch tube pan” (I use a Bundt pan). Pinch the ends together to form a continuous ring.


Let the formed dough proof “until doubled” (depending on the temperature this could be about 60 minutes).


Bake the bread at 350dF (177dC) for 40 minutes, or, until the center of the dough is 205dF and the crust is browned to your liking. Feel free to experiment with baking temperature, time, and steam … I have successfully baked this bread at 400dF with steam although I am not sure if this conferred any benefit to the quality of the bread.


Cool in the pan before serving.


Optionally, dust the top of the bread with confectioner’s sugar.

christinepi's picture

more flavor?

I've been using Breadtopia's yeast no knead method with great success. One thing that's missing (to me), however, is great flavor. I let the dough bulk ferment for 18 hours out on the counter top, then shape and let rise again for 65 minutes. I realize that better flavor can be had with longer fermentation, but I'm totally unsure how to go about that. Could I, say stick it in the fridge once ingredients have been mixed? If so, how long is safe? At what point might the instant yeast run out of steam? 

I'm aware that using sourdough starter would yield more flavor, but I'm taking a break from trying (3 times now) to create a starter that actually will thrive, rather than go to sleep and smell weird. 

jimtr6's picture

hard roll or kaiser roll

years ago in CT my dad was a baker and the small bakery made that were called hard rolls, these were a nice thin but crispy/flakey egg shell thin crust with poppy seeds and the star shape on top, these were light rolls and not heavy or dense, they were unbelievably delicious and left crumbs all over the table when eaten. Sadly they are a thing of the past, they were popular in the NYC area, anyone know anything about them?

jimtr6's picture

no knead bread question

I am trying the no knead bread as directed by the originator (Lacey in Staten Island), it looks like he just left the bread dough overnight (12 hours) uncovered unrefrigerated according to NYTimes video on Youtube, so that's what I did, next morning (this morning it had risen, but had a crust (dried dough shell), is that normal?, also seemed loose so it looks like it will be sort of flat, any help appreciated, I have some starters going, not ready so experimenting with seeing if I can get a decent yeast bread

raypete's picture


Hi all

just started to bake in a woodfire oven I've been playing around for a little bit but started to put it into production a few weeks ago. I'm still learning so I thought I would start with a simple white bread. the one up front has kale, beetroot leaves, spinach, artichoke & asiago cheese in it. the others are just a white bread.