The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

blackhatbaker's picture

Vermont Sourdough

Some Vermont Sourdough I baked this weekend. Increased the hydration to 70%. Baked the batard in a gourmet-topf baker that I got this weekend. Got my best ear so far, and a fairly open crumb. The only thing is, I feel like the boule had most of the holes on the upper half, but still a fun bake.


Twisted Brick's picture
Twisted Brick

Latest Brick Oven Tartine Effort

Hi All,

After a number of successful batches of Tartine Country loaves in the combo-cooker, I made my third batch of the same last weekend in the WFO. I was determined to get the oven hotter than my first two attempts, the objective of getting a deeper-colored crust instead of my previous pale loaves.  I use a handheld infrared laser thermometer and for the life of me, still can't figure out how what part of the oven to read to get an accurate temp.  I am positive that the air temperature is quite a bit lower than the dome temps.  What part the dome's radiation plays in loaf color is an entirely different discussion for later.

Additionally, I am finding out that the downside of soapstone floors (great for pizza) mentioned in The Bread Builders is, sadly, true.  The heat transfer is much greater than the firebrick dome, making it really easy to burn the bottoms of my bread.  Even with parchment to start the bake, they burned a little on the bottom.

Based on the attached pics and your experience, if any of you have advice on how to alleviate the burned bottoms, I would appreciate it.  I am thinking of sliding the bread onto some (half-inch-mesh) stainless steel screens half-way through the bake.  Also, any advice on shaping, I think I need it.

Otherwise, I have changed my opinion on a brick oven being secondary to a combo-cooker's ability to create a deep, rich crust, which I love.




isand66's picture

Durum Tangzhong Sourdough

      I was in the mood for a nice Durum loaf and figured I would use the Tangzhong method to lighten it up a bit.  I've used this method for rolls several times but not on an actual loaf.

I have to say this simple recipe turned out amazing with a nice thin crust and moist and open crumb.  This is one of those breads you can just eat with some butter or cheese or olive oil and call it a day.

I highly recommend you give this one a try.  It makes great toast, grilled bread and sandwiches or goes well with some "Italian Gravy"!

Last week was our Lexie's first birthday and Max's second so we celebrated on Friday with a doggie cake.  Both puppies loved their cake :).




Durum Tangzhong Sourdough (%)

Durum Tangzhong Sourdough (weights)

Here are the Zip files for the above BreadStorm files.


Tangzhong is the technique of heating a portion of the flour and liquid in your recipe to approximately 65C to make a paste (roux).  At this temperature the flour undergoes a change and gelatinizes.  By adding this roux to your final dough it will help create a soft, fluffy, moist open crumb.  It is also supposed to help prevent the bread from going stale.

It is not very difficult to do a Tangzhong.  Use a  5 to 1 liquid to solid ratio (so 250g liquid to 50g flour) and mix it together in a pan.  Heat the pan while stirring constantly.  Initially it will remain a liquid, but as you approach 65C it will undergo a change and thicken to an almost pudding like consistency.  Take it off the heat and let it cool before using it in your recipe.  Some people will refrigerate it for a while but you can use it right away as soon as it cools.

Levain Directions Build 1 (Using AP Starter at 66% Hydration for Seed)

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 used my Proofer set at 81 degrees and it took about 4 hours.

Main Dough Directions
Prepare the Tangzhong per directions above and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the flours, Tangzhong 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, oil and starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), and  mix on low for a minute.   Mix for a total of 6 minutes in your mixer starting on low-speed and switching to speed #2 for the last 2 minutes.  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.  (If you have a proofer you can set it to 78 degrees and only leave the dough out for 1 hour to 1.5 hours before placing in the refrigerator).

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 desire and cover with a moist lint free towel or sprayed plastic wrap. 

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.  Note: I used my proofer set to 80 degrees and it took a little over an hour to be ready.

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.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown.

Let them cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.



ghazi's picture

Feeding storage starter

Hi all

A question on feeding a long term stored starter from fridge.

I keep mine at 50% hydration and left in fridge for about 2 months. Usually I feed 1:6:3 when on counter, can I just do the same feed even after such a long storage?



MJ Sourdough's picture
MJ Sourdough

100% long fermented multi-grain/seed loaf with homemade malted rye

Fresh Loafers,

Just thought i would share my recent bake. Minus the poor scoring it turned out well. A small amount of homemade malted rye really helps with creating a even light crumb.

Any comments would be appreciated.

I can upload method if anyone wants.


MJ Sourdough

108 breads's picture
108 breads

Why do I even freeze my sourdough starter when I go away?

It takes me just as long to revive my starter as it would to build a new one. I ask myself why not create a new one. Still, I take the time to revive the one I froze and I'm happy when it perks up. More details on the last round and bread #57.

alfanso's picture

A Tale of Two Preferments

with apologies to C. Dickens.

The Levain (Charles St. Evrémonde)
I was gone for the two summer months this year.  As this is the first year that I’ve had a levain starter, I decided to “protect my investment” by dividing it into roughly thirds.  One third was spread thin, dried, flaked and placed into a sealed jar.  Another third was double zip-locked and placed into the freezer.  And the last third was treated as I always treat my levain starter when I refresh it.  I wrapped it in cellophane wrap and chucked it into the refrigerator.

As a note, I always play it safe by preserving a chunk of my working starter when it is time for a refresh.  Force of habit, anal-retentive, whatever, but I feel that it is a small price to pay for a little peace of mind and the ever-important back-up.

Here is a picture of the little triumvirate.

In order to revive the starter, decided to try bringing the dried flakes back to life and relied on the steps outlined in a post from Fellow Loafian GAPOMA, found at .  It worked like a charm, and I was back in business.  Here’s a result from earlier this week.

The Poolish (Sydney Carton)
As I’ve mentioned a few time here in some of my very few posts, I still basically concentrate on baguettes only.  Practice makes kind-a perfect.  And in this past year since getting the home baking bug, I’ve pretty much stuck with alternating between Instant Dried Yeast and levain baguettes, but all with long cold fermentations.  I had almost forgotten about poolish baguettes.  But not the other evening, when I didn’t have enough time for any of my standard go-to formulae.  I decided to bake a set of baguettes using a 33% overnight poolish at ~71% hydration.  

Just for fun and experimentation I also decided to mix the AP flour with water and then give it an overnight refrigerated autolyse.  In the AM the poolish was a-bubblin’ away, but I had a few tasks to do for a few hours, so I placed it in the refrigerator for a bit of a cold sleep.

When I did retrieve the poolish and the autolysed blob, I left them out on the counter for a warm up prior to a final mix.  But not long enough to completely warm up.  And so the mix by hand (always by hand with me) was quite difficult as the autolysed half of the partnership was still quite chilly and just not very cooperative.  After giving my forearms a workout, I was able to successfully complete the mix and then go to my standard French Fold step.  

And they baked up quite nicely too.  My wife described the final result as “light, doughy, eggy, almost like a popover”  and the crust had that dark baked crunch that I cherish so much.  Later, after having been gone for a few hours and returning home, the smells still coming from the kitchen reminded me of something like a cake that had been baked.  Here’s a picture.

The verdict (Madame Defarge)
Well, there really isn’t any verdict here.  Just a post-note.  The poolish baguettes were fabulous on the day baked, but by day 2 (today) had lost a step.  The levain baguettes baked on Thursday evening still had some legs this morning and the superior taste.  As a note, after the first day, just about all bread all makes it into my toaster, so the flavor impression is based on toast.  But after more well over a half century of being a toast aficionado, I can still call ‘em as I see/taste ‘em.  

gmagmabaking2's picture

We 3 gmas made "Rustic Potato Loaves"

page 138 "Baking with Julia"... this was a nicely soft dough and made great bread, for those who like soft loaves. I like soft loaves to use for sandwiches and toast, great toast!!! I made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and they were pretty great too. My picture is the lead in... 

Barbra used textured paper towels for a rising mat and the texture transferred to the dough making a nice pattern.

  and her loaves came out lovely.

 and the crumb is nice and soft  

Very nice loaves, nice and light... I am betting these were gifted, since Barb is a tougher crusted loving, tartine loving lady!!!

Helen's loaves are beautiful too... and she, like me, is a soft bread loving lady!!! Helen and I left the peels on our potatoes and you can see the texture is different than Barb's... all good... next week Persian Naan.

Here are Helen's pictures.


Picture perfect and fun times!!! Loving "Baking with my sisters" and with Julia!

Happy Baking, Diane

kenlklaser's picture

Warm versus cold autolyze?

I note that most often bakers prefer to use the cold autolyze. Some years ago, I did a test, two identical baker's yeast loaves, except one had a warm autolyze, the other a cold one. The warm autolyze had better crust colors, and much better baked volume. In studies of homebrewing, barley enzymes from malt are most active at warmer temperatures, such as explained here. Both beta and alpha amylase are most active at temperatures above the beginning of wheat gelatinization, about 127°F according to Hoveling and Cornell, while some others say gelatinization begins around 105°F. I try to use a water temperature that when mixed with room temperature wheat flour results in a dough temperature of 105°F, which must then be cooled. Using this method, after cooling small doughballs for at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator, I get wonderful windowpane test results. I'm super happy with this method for baker's yeast loaves.

What are the benefits and attractions of cold autolyze?

CAphyl's picture

UK baking includes two classic sourdoughs

I just got home last night from the UK (still really jet-lagged!) where I keep a supply of sourdough starter that I carried over last year in checked baggage from our home in California.  I revived it fairly easily after it had been left in the fridge for several months. I enjoy baking for family and friends when I am in town, but I had a number of baking mishaps early in our stay for a variety of reasons, so I was glad to have a couple bakes go well after a number of disappointments.  Not sure if my starter wasn't fully recovered when I started or (as I suspect), I was trying to fit the baking into my schedule and had some over-proofing. I was also very happy to find a Mason Cash clay baker at a local store in the UK, which I thought would help me get back on track.

The first recipe I made included whole wheat and spelt with bread flour above.  The new baker worked very well, helping produce a nice loaf. You'll see the recipe at bottom.

The second loaf I made is more of a classic sourdough, without any added whole wheat or spelt.

I didn't get to try the bread, as we gave it to friends.  They enjoyed it and sent me this crumb shot of the loaf with the added whole wheat and spelt.

My other friends sent me this crumb shot from the bread flour loaf (no WW or spelt).

I also made some cranberry orange walnut bread, banana chocolate walnut bread, five grain levain bread, sourdough rolls and flatbreads, see below. I made the flatbreads with feta, stilton, olives and spices for our friends. I am playing around with the recipe and may post something later.

I had to make pizza as well, of course. We were getting ready to leave, so I wanted to use up sourdough, olives and pepperoni I had in the fridge.

Here are the sourdough rolls I shared in an earlier post.

Below you'll find the recipe for the Classic Sourdough with added whole wheat and spelt. (For the other loaf, I just used all bread flour, with no spelt or ww).

Classic Sourdough with spelt and whole wheat flour

Makes: One 2 pound loaf.

Method adapted from: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood.

I varied the recipe by using my active starter that was a 70/20/10 mix of AP flour, WW flour and dark rye at 100% hydration and added whole wheat and spelt flour. I really liked this mix, as it added a bit of texture to the loaf as the original recipe starter has no whole wheat or rye and there only white AP flour in the bread dough. I also changed the cold fermentation, extending it considerably by adding a bulk fermentation phase.


Final Dough:

  • 230 grams (about 1 cup or 240 ml) active starter, 70/20/10 mix of AP, WW and Rye flours at 100% hydration
  • 300 grams water (Approximately 1 1/2 cups or 360 ml water)
  • 10 grams salt (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 250 grams strong white bread flour (about 2 cups)
  • 125 grams spelt flour (about 1 cup)
  • 125 grams strong whole wheat bread flour (about 1 cup)


  1. Mixing the dough. Pour the starter into a mixing bowl. Add the water and mix well.  Add the flour a little bit at a time until it starts to stiffen.  Hold some flour out to knead in a bit later.  Let the mix autolyze for 30 minutes and then add then fold in the salt.
  2. Kneading the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in some of the remaining flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until it the dough is smooth and easy to handle.
  3. Bulk fermentation. Lightly coat a glass bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball into the bowl, making sure that the top of the dough ball has a thin coat oil. Cover and bulk ferment in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. The original recipe calls for it to proof at room temperature for 8-12 hours, so I made a major change here. Over this period in the refrigerator, the dough should about double in size.
  4. Shaping and final proof. Use a spatula to ease the dough out onto a floured surface. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, shape it into a rough ball, cover it with a cloth, and let it rest again for 30 minutes. Now, shape the dough into a boule or oblong loaf and place it seam-side up into a banneton coated in brown rice flour. Put in a clean plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Baking the loaf. The next morning (or longer if you are letting it retard for an extended period), remove the loaf from the refrigerator and let it warm up before baking. You should be the judge of how long you need it to warm up.  My loaf needed to pop up a bit, so I let it warm up while I preheated the oven to 500 degrees (260 degrees C) along with my new clay baker.  After popping into the baker and scoring the bread, I sprayed a light mist of water on the dough, trying to avoid the hot surface, as I was hoping for a really beautiful crust. I baked it for 30 minutes in the clay baker at 500, and then lowered it to 450 for another 10-15 minutes. If you don't have a covered baker, a baking stone works well with steam. Make sure your steaming apparatus is ready and bake with steam for the first 20 minutes or so. Turn the temperature down to 450 degrees (235 C) and bake for 30 minutes, and then take the temperature down to 435 degrees (225 C) for the final browning, which is another 10 minutes or so, depending on the type of crust you like.  We tend to like a bolder crust, so I bake it a bit longer. Watch it closely during this phase.
  6. Cooling and slicing the loaf:  Remove the loaf from the covered baker tray or stone and let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.