The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BarbaraK's picture

Sourdough - knead vs. stretch and fold

Hi Everyone

I've just started on my sourdough journey. So far  I've made San Joaquin Sourdough from dmSnyder, Norwich sourdough from Susan of Wild Yeast,  Essential's Columbia Country French style and last Peter Reinharts' Basic Sourdough Bread from his B.B.Apprentice book. Many thanks to all who provided lovely recipes, advice and methods on this site.

We've loved all of them although I know they will improve as I become more experienced. I made two loaves each time  and as an experiment held the 2nd of each (as suggested by Susan)  in the frig after forming them, baked them immediately from the frig. the next day   and we found them noticeably more interesting with more depth of flavour than the loaves baked the day before. In fact my husband, who was brought up in Central Europe, thought he had died and gone to heaven to at last have bread which reminded him of his childhood.

Both Essential's and Reinhart's specify kneading or the mixer, which is something I would prefer not to have to do. My question is does anyone know if the kneading is essential with these two recipes or could I substitute wet-handed Stretch  and Fold as I find that physically less demanding than kneading?Also can I use a higher hydration or would it be likely to change the whole character of the bread? 

I almost always use unbleached white bread flour with a proportion of whole-grain rye.

Any help or advice  from more experienced bakers would be so much appreciated.






jims's picture

Valentine Braided Bread

Happy Valentine's Day! This bread is based on the challah in Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Bakers Apprentice". It is 14" across. Will find out this evening how it tastes.

Littlebrooklyn's picture

My first sourdough

After one failed attempt and problems with my starter I finally got a loaf out of the oven.  I cut the top with scissors instead of using a blade as last time the whole loaf sank when I used the blade, although I think it was more down to overproving last time, but didn't want to risk it this time.  I hope it tastes okay!



Mebake's picture


I've had a busy couple of weeks, and hadn't had the time to blog about my latest activities. 

Here it goes: I've completed my Pastry class in Shortcrust and pies some weeks back, and attended my Asessment in baked goods. I had to bake a fruit tart, and soft dinner rolls. Everything went alright, and the Chef approved my products. I have Chocolate classes left (next month), and i'll be done. 

On another note, i've been pretty occupied with upcoming crafts market which is due on Friday, February 14th. I've increased my capacity and expanded my list to include 3, instead of two bread types: 80% Rye with rye flour soaker, Whole Wheat multigrain, and Pain au levain. A total of 14 loaves of different sizes will be offered for sale on the Market.  This is a glimpse on how my products look like. Wish me luck :)

P.s: I've found a great way to use my new toaster oven for uncovered Pan loaves. I've encased the whole pan with two oven proof plastic  (the type used for roasting chicken) to create steam for the first 15 minutes- one from each side, as one isn't enough . Temperature should not exceed 200C , however. It worked!





MostlySD's picture

100% Sourdough Oat Bran Bread

I have finally managed to bake a 100% sourdough bread with oat bran that is not too dense and tastes rather good. The first criteria I decided upon was the weight of the loaf I wanted to bake. In this case, it had to be small since this was an experiment, hence 600g total. I was not sure how it would turn out and did not want to waste flours. The slashes are not very good. Maybe next time.

This bread was formulated to allow for the interaction of a couple of specific enzymes. A dough enhancer was also factored in. I wanted it to be from a natural source, namely in this case extra virgin olive oil. The added oat bran and wheat bran had to be of specific weights, calculated as a percentage of total flour weight (TFW). This bread is hand kneaded.


60g of mature whole wheat/rye starter, comprised of:
14g stone ground whole wheat
22g stone ground dark rye
24g filtered water

Sourdough preferment
All of starter
9g organic wheat bran (finely ground)  [2.5% of TFW]
34g organic oat bran (finely ground) -  [10% of TFW]
102g filtered water (room temperature)

106g unbleached all purpose flour [~ 46% of TFW]
160g unbleached bread flour [~ 31% of TFW]
108g filtered water
7g sea salt - 2%
14g extra virgin olive oil - 4%

Total flours (including oat bran & wheat bran and flours from starter): 345g (100%)
Total liquid (including from starter & preferment): 234g (68%)

1. Starter is built the day before & allowed to grow at room temperature for 12 hours.
2. Preferment is then prepared by thoroughly mixing the starter with the water, and adding the ground oat bran and wheat bran. Fermentation lasted 12 hours.
3. All remaining flours and water are then mixed with the preferment and the salt; the dough is then kneaded until everything comes together.
4. Extra virgin olive oil is then gradually incorporated in the dough and the dough is kneaded for a few minutes more.
5. Bulk rise lasted 3 hours. Dough had not doubled but I did not want to wait longer to prevent the development of too much sourness.
6. Three sets of stretch & fold were performed at 30 minutes interval.
7. Dough was preshaped and allowed to rest for 20 minutes.
8. Dough was shaped and transferred to an oiled & semolina-coated clay baker for proofing.
9. Proofing lasted 3.5 hours.
10. The clay baker finally went into a cold oven and the temperature turned to 450ºC.
11. The loaf was baked covered for 20 minutes at that temperature, then uncovered for another 30 minutes at 375ºC, to an inside temperature of 210ºC.




Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

Tastiest flours

As I know many of us here do, I have tended to buy only KAF and Bob's Red Mill flour for bread-making. I'm perfectly happy with them too :-)

But I wonder if I'm missing something: does anyone have any recommendations, please, for even 'better' (= tastier, more suited to artisan recipes) organic/non-GMO etc bread flour?

Available online.


Rene_nl's picture

sourdough...fascinating but confusing

Hello all,

I'm growing my own starter, it's 8 days old now. I'm following a recipe based on 100% hydratation and currently I'm refreshing it on a 2:1:1 basis I believe(75 grams starter, 37.5 grams flour, 37.5 grams water approx). I started on 100% rye and slowly increasing white flour ratio, in a few days I should be on all white flour. Temperatures measured are between 19-21C during daytime(about 68F) and minimum of 15C during nights(59F). Feeding once per 24 hours.

I know these things get asked a lot, but I've been reading so much it's making me confused, so hopefully somebody can help me here.

It seems to be going well, it was very stinky(vomit like) on days 2-3, now it smells fresher(bit like yoghurt/beer, so should be ok but I never smelled sourdough before so I'm not sure) and it doubled plus some more in 4 hours. Does that mean its ready? I've seen pictures of tripling/quadrupling, but mine doesn't do that, it just starts dropping. Is that because of the 2:1:1 ratio? I figured giving it more to eat will give better results. Does it even mean anything if it can triple/quadruple, I mean is that a measure of health?

Also, since the beasties seem to eat quickly, does feeding every 12 hours make sense? I read so many different things on that...

Another question: I want to start with white bread, but I enjoy wholegrain/rye/spelt. Should you convert your starter to the kind of flour you're using, or is it possible to have one "general purpose"?

Also, I think I read some people taste their sourdough to find out what it's doing. I'm willing to do that, but what am I supposed to taste, and what can I learn from it?

Thanks in advance, any help is appreciated!

Rene_nl's picture

Hello from the Netherlands

Greetings fellow bakers,

My name is Rene, and I found this site searching for more information on baking. I've done some baking in the past, and recently started trying to improve my skills. I'm quite experienced when it comes to cooking, but baking is still a bit of a mystery though. I love the part science/part art that is has. I currently have a 8 days old sourdough starter growing here, and I'm really curious to see what he can do.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I already learned a lot here.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Tartine Country Loaf Magic

Lately, when making the Chad Robertson Basic Country Loaf, rather than "save" the remaining 200 grams of levain (recall, baked with it all for my first loaf, by accident.  The bread came out nice but I think it was a bit too chewy), I have been making another 2 loaves worth of dough.  This results in a surplus bread.   So I have been making Pizzas:

I basically take the dough and shape it then bake it either in a cast iron griddle (in the stove) or cast iron pizza pan, depending on how big the dough gets. Bake is at 500 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until they get browned on the bottom. I actually take the griddle out and add some olive oil to the bottom to get the crust to brown better.

After they cool, I wrap the doughs in plastic wrap and slip into the freezer. To bake the pie I top it with some home made sauce and some mozzarella and I place the finished pie back on the cast iron and place it on the top shelf under the broiler set to high for 5 minutes.  At 4-5 minutes I take it out, put some basil on top and than broil for another minute.


Honestly, I think I enjoy eating the pizza  more than the bread, but I enjoy baking the bread more than the pizza.  Go figure.  Probably because I only make peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese, and toast with the bread.

That said, look how gorgeous last night's loafs came out:


You're probably wondering, how the heck did I get the sandwich loaf to look so amazing.  I used the lodge cast iron bread pan.  Two of them.  And I made my own combo cooker.  I let the dough (half the country dough recipe) rise in the pan for 4-5 hours and then baked it after preheating the top. Just slipped it in the oven and put the other pan on top and let it sit for 18 minutes and then baked uncovered for 18 minutes. All at 450.

To get the ears on the round loaf, I put the first dough in the cold dutch oven pan and I used kitchen shears to cut the square.  But I was careful to lay the shares horizontally along the dough rather than perpendicular to the dough.  That way the cut went across the top of the dough and not too far through it.

The sandwich loaf is in the freezer, one of the rounds is in the freezer, the two pizzas are in the freezer and one of the rounds is going to my parents house to thank them for raising me. :)



Littlebrooklyn's picture

Really in a muddle with my soughdough

I bought a sourdough starter from Hobbs Bakery which came a few days ago so I diligently followed the directions but seem to have a few problems that I am not sure how to solve and hope that someone here may be able to offer me some advice.

The direction on the sourdough starter were to add 75ml of warm water and 75grams of wholemeal flour 12 hours before I wanted to make some bread so I took the starter out of the fridge at 7am, added the flour and water and 12hrs later had what I think looked like a nice frothy and thick starter.  

The recipe I was using asked for 460grams of white bread flour, 230ml warm water, 10grams salt, 300ml starter.  Mix up, knead for 10mins, leave to rest for half an hour, shape, leave in tin or banneton for 12hrs then bake.

By my calculation that meant the dough was ready for the oven by about 8am but I did check it at 7am and it had definitely doubled in size, if not more, but obviously I couldn't check it earlier as I was in bed!

I managed to tip the banneton out onto a makeshift peel and this is when it all started to go wrong.  I tried for the second time to slash the top of the loaf but once again the blade wouldn't go through without really pushing down onto the dough, which then distorted the whole shape of the loaf.  It was like the surface was "set" and I did wonder afterwards if maybe I should just have left it unslashed.  I then tried, with no success, to get the dough off my makeshift peel onto my hot baking tray in the oven, but it wouldn't budge, even though I had oiled the surface.  I am guessing I should perhaps have used some semolina rather than oil, but I ended up with such a mess that I had to bin it, which was a bit of a disappointment.

I don't want to give up with the sourdough bread as I'd like to know what it tastes like!  It seems that it's needing pretty much 24hrs to go from taking the starter out to having a loaf of bread and it would be good to know if I can maybe slow things down so that I'm not having to do things at such odd hours.  I had thought about leaving the dough in the fridge overnight but wasn't sure if you could with sourdough. 

Would it be a good investment to get a proper peel and a proper stone for the oven as I have neither of those at present but don't want to buy things that maybe I don't really need.

Also, before I forget, now I have my starter if I want to make 2 loaves of bread obviously right now I can't as I don't have enough starter dough.  Can I just take some of the starter from the starter jar and put it in another jar to start up a second lot or does it not work like that.

Sorry for all the question