The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Muskie's picture

Newb questions, links requested

It's easy to search for something you want to know, it's hard to search why what you've read isn't working. So, forgive me asking you to point me to discussions where my problems were solved.

  1. I use a convection oven. Seems fairly well sealed. I have baked some number of loaves of sourdough at 375F and the results have been amazing crusts....with no steam. Crumb has sucked, but crust has been perfect. Is my bad crumb a result of no steam? Or can I put that issue out of my mind and focus on the S&F or other issues, resulting in my bad crumb?
  2. Until yesterday, I have always kneaded my dough, and my crumb has turned out poorly; too tight, too doughy. I learned the no-knead separate and fold yesterday, and my crumb has enormously improved. Unfortunately, I have only found a 36 hour sourdough recipe, and another recipe that didn't use sourdough started. S&F seems to be related to leavening time, and temperatures. To use the no-knead recipes with sourdough, must they take so long, and must they spend some time in a refrigerator?
  3. If my scoring, just before closing the oven door, end up disappearing in 25 minutes of baking, what's the most likely cause? I start baking at ambient, no preheat. I don't use steam, and am baking on my silpat. Is this letting the dough reconstitute the scoring?

As I said, if this has been discussed before, please indicate a thread, and tell me which point it is referring to.

mj05's picture


Friend of mine just asked me to bake 12 breads (Tartine) for Saturday evening. I’m up to the challenge :) however I can only bake two breads at time and what is more important I have only three brotforms. I do have food grade “bus tub” but I don’t know if I can keep sourdough (after bulk fermentation) in the fridge. If so, how does it affect final proofing? Can I just take dough; shape it, proof if for 3 – 4 hours and bake?

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

33% Dark Rye with Preparatory Sour

This dough was mixed in a KA K5SS stand mixer equipped with a replacement spiral hook for a KA 6 quart mixer. The preparatory sour was mixed by hand. This batch used 15 ounces (425g) of flour, yielding a 24 ounce (680g) boule.


Preparatory Sour:

  6 2/3%     Dark Rye Flour

13 1/3%     Water

   0.12%     Instant Yeast

Time:24 hours    Temperature: 76°F (24°C)



66 2/3%     Bread Flour

26 2/3%     Dark Rye Flour

  2 1/2%     Vital Wheat Gluten

  1 2/3%     Shortening

   0.19%     Granular Soy Lecithin

   0.82%     Instant Yeast

     1.2%     Ground Caraway Seed

      60%     Water

        2%      Salt

  3 1/3%     Sugar (added for crust color only)

Sliced Rye Buole


The preparatory sour and all of the dough ingredients were placed in the mixer bowl and mixed at slow speed for 4 minutes. After a fermentation time of 2 hours 15 minutes, the salt and sugar were added. The dough was then re-mixed at speed 1 for 30 seconds, then at speed 2 for an additional 2 1/2 minutes. The dough was rounded and given a ten minute rest. The dough ball was then re-rounded and panned. Proof time: 1 hour.

Since this loaf was to be baked in a convection oven, a 9 inch round pie pan was chosen. The dough was quite slack, and it spread nearly to the edge of the pan. Slashing was performed with a Mafter lame that I had purchased a few hours before. With practice (and a less sticky dough), I anticipate better results next time.

ElPanadero's picture

How old can a starter REALLY be?

Couple of other threads are branching off into discussion of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  I thought therefore I would open a new one for better organisation and focus of topic.

I want to ask, just how old can one claim a flour-water "starter" to be?

First a couple of factoids about Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

1. The yeast cells double every 90-100mins or so

2.  The mean life span of a cell is 26 generations


100min x 26 = 2600 mins  which is 43 hours which is just short of 2 days.

Like our own human bodies, every cell that makes us what we are, dies off in time, but thankfully the cells are  replicated before that happens.  The replication time for our various cells varies tremendously but it is believed that the cells with the largest replication cycle are 10yrs.  The implication of this is philosophically intriguing.  It means you are no older than 10yrs no matter how old you believe you are, or at least there is no cell in your body older than 10yrs !  A counter philosophical thought is that everything that is "us" is made up of matter, and since matter can neither be created nor destroyed then all the matter that makes up our bodies has been here since the dawn of the universe itself, in which case we are many billions of years old.

What we choose to define as the "human being" defines how old we are.  If it's our cells, then we're 10yrs old, if it's the primordial matter, then billions of years old.

And so back to wild yeast starters and our good friend Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

If each yeast cell lives no longer than a couple of days, how in any true and just sense could it be said that there exists a "20 yr old grandmother starter"?   In looking for possibilities, I wonder whether this refers to some other elements of the starter that actually ARE 20 yrs old or is the whole notion simply a lot of kidology and hocus pocus?

Consider this.   I light a wood fire in the chimenea in my garden and feed it with a constant stream of new fresh fire wood.  For 20 years I keep it going and never once let the fire go out.  Tell me, is my fire 20yrs old?  Is there any part of it that is truly 20yrs old?   It has had new fresh wood constantly, and new fresh oxygen constantly, so surely the flames I am seeing are new fresh flames and all the gasses and products of combustion are equally being given off freshly.  Nothing in there is 20yrs old unless perhaps the ashes produced linger on for that length of time (but then do the ashes constitute the fire?).

I'm intrigured by this notion of these very old starters given that any starter is a symbiotic balance of yeasts and bacteria that are constantly fed, which replicate for a finite number of generations and then die.

Common sense says there must be "something" in these starters aside from the yeasts and bacteria that does somehow survive through the years or else it's all a bit disingenuous. 

Can anyone tell me what that "something" is?







adri's picture

Notification without posting


is there a possibility to activate notification (subscribe) for a thread without posting a comment.

I'd need this in two scenarios:

1st: I simply forgot to activate it and sometimes people don't reply directly to my comment but on a more general level (which is good if I ask for a formula e.g.).
My workaround: "Track" still shows the new messages.

2nd: I'm learning from the thread without having much to say myself. I don't want to leave dummy comments just to subscribe.


aptk's picture

Onion Bread Supreme

A basic white bread with the addition of onion, garlic, cheese, green chili and bacon. An excellent breakfast bread when serving egg based dishes.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

100% White Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf (remix method)

This bread was mixed in a KitchenAid "Ultra Power" stand mixer, instead of the K5SS equipped with a spiral hook (my preferred mixer). In addition, the absorption was low, making mixing difficult. Even so, after about 12 minutes of re-mixing at fairly high speed, the dough began to soften. Dough temperature dropped from 81° F to 79° F (probably due to convection cooling). The motor housing surface temperature had reached 102° F, which convinced me that it was a good time to cease re-mixing. It took 90 minutes for the loaf to rise to the proper height for baking.

In spite of the difficulties, the final loaf was acceptable. Although a spiral hook does a better job of re-mixing, the "C" hook used by the KSM-90 Ultra-Power was able to accomplish the job.

yozzause's picture

visit of near neighbours

Last year i had permission to hold a promotional class consisting of colleagues family and friends with the idea that fellow TFL member Ross (ROSS-N-ROLLER) would come along and do an article that we could submit to the local paper  prior to a November date for a class on Sour Dough.

Ross and his partner Janice  came along and we had a great evening together.

Ross's article follows 

                                                       Bred to Bake

i recently attended one of Derek Hughes' sourdough bread baking classes at Beaconsfield Challenger Institutes campus. There were 12 attendees in all, most with no bread-making experience. as a home baker of sourdough bread myself,i was struck by the depth of Derek's knowledge and his deft dough handling and shaping skills He was a pro baker for many years,and it shows .He even looks like a baker (see pic)

While Derek's retail bakery days are behind him,he has never stopped baking,enthusiastically passing on his knowledge to Hospitality students at the Institute, in between working on campus as a Supply Officer. He brings this same impassioned approach to his bread baking classes-It's infectious!

The classes take place over 3.5  jam-packed hours. Derek led us through sourdough breadmaking process:weighing and mixing the ingredients:stretching and folding the dough during fermentation;shaping and baking.

There is plenty of opportunity to get down and doughy,with Derek overseeing as mentor-and just as well,in the case of some devilishly naughty but easy to mangle cinnamon scrolls!

The highlight is the sampling the wares,which included a delicious black sesame seed sourdough Pre prepared by Derek  and baked during the class.

We were all given a dozen cinnamon scrolls to take home as well a dough fermented and shaped in class to be baked next day. This  night it was a delicious wholemeal sourdough featuring Derek,s home brew stout recipes are included.

a fun night well run,and outstanding value. ROSS ---------------------------------------------------

As the article didn't get a run in the local paper we had to cancel the proposed date, it was not long after this that i received an email from fellow TFL member Betsy Teo asking if i knew of any one that gave sourdough lessons as she would be visiting Perth and had hoped to book into a class with Yoke Mardewi of Wild Sourdough fame  who lives in Perth but alas was not holding any classes at that time. I said to her it was a pity as i was due to run a class but had to cancel due to no publicity.

Anyway i was able to gain permission to run another freeby for staff colleagues and friends and over seas visitor so emailed the details and to contact me when she got to Perth, which she duly did. i gave the details of where and when. and how to get there.

What follows is an account from Penelope, Betsy's daughter who accompanied her on this trip.    

Over the hill

Now that phrase can be rather misleading.

And this is something i had come to learn last November 2013 as i made my way by foot from the junction of South Tce and Sth St where the free blue cat bus service  had let me off (bus stand7) towards Challenger Institute of Technology.

Stopping every 500 metres or so , i was greeted with the same response ,"over the hill. to your right across the oval"

Well, what would have been helpful was if i had been told  that its a BIG hill - somehow the art of describing how strenuous and challenging the different hills one has to encounter on foot is something only the residents of San Francisco has it refined to the 'T'.

What's interesting is my mother has over the course of 5 years or so been trying to make the perfect San Francisco sourdough bread.

Having left the 'brick' stage some time back with the help of online forums,countless of hours spent on You Tube videos, and many.many guinea pigs  who has been or lived in San Francisco as testers the phase of inconsistent results of 'blisters','open crumbs' and 'ears '  continues to haunt her.

This resulted  first with amassing a collection of sourdough or levain publications  by the who's who  of baking, followed by stalking  self proclaimed  local artisan bakers, to eventually combing farmers markets of Europe and begging strange Swiss, Italian and French men covered in powdery white substances to Pilates professional moonlighting as organic artisan bakers for private lessons.

Almost giving up hope , a lovely Australian man  - Derek- responded to her email queries, agreeing to provide her with some lessons one fine day.

the respond was timely with a last minute  visit i had planned for  after receiving news of an old family friend who was terminally ill in Perth.

Needless to say our laborious hike up Sth Street was well worth the visit and the very fact that we  had travelled all the way from Kuala Lumpur gave us not only automatic access to the Challenger Institute of Technology premises after hours but an escorted  tour around by security personnel on duty.

Derek on first impression was unassuming  and friendly . While waiting  for the rest of the 'friends and family who would be joining the baking session that evening, i went about taking the roots off the spring onions  that were to be used latter, while he went about answering my mothers 'technical questions'

Betsy and Derek  

  With the party ensemble at the agreed upon time ,class started with Derk explaining the lesson  plan for the night and put a batch of flour , sourdough starter and other base ingredients  for a white bread with turmeric Haloumi cheese and spring onion sourdough: one of 3 breads that we would  make that evening into a larger mixing bowl.

Michael one of Challengers'  chefs adding cheese and spring onions into the last few folds

the dough pieces scaled off below


As the dough was getting a good work out in the industrial sized mixer , Derek  produced loaves  of risen 50%wholemeal  with Home brewed stout  and torrified wheat that he had made the previous day and went about describing the technique of slashing . Once we had all had our rounds of slashing 2 or 3 loaves each Derek went about preparing the loaves with a glaze before baking them.

Michael  the Hospitality Technician  prepares the loaves for washing slashing ready for the oven.


adri's picture

Adrian's rustic whole rye bread with some spelt

I just got a new baking stone.

Putting the dough with the folded side down in the banneton and with late but vigorous steaming gives a nice rustic optic:

It is whole rye + 13% whole spelt with 78% hydration.
1370g dough weight; 1163g (2.6 pounds) bread weight.

I built the leaven in 2 steps (very low hydration and cold overnight; very high hydration and warm in the morning); no yeast added. Is anyone interested in the recipe?

Greetings from Austria

suzisweet's picture

Please help with sweet bread issue at my bakery!!

Good day all!

I have a very small town bakery. We have been open for just 5 short weeks. Things have been going well if you do not include lack of sleep and family time!! 

Seeing as I and one other person do all of the making and baking; we have tried hard to come up with ways to save time and produce more. Things aren't bad there either with one familys' prized recipe and creation called the "Birdie Bun". (Picture is a mini version of our bun.) It is a sweet yeast dough that is allowed to rise, then is shaped into a bird, proofed, egg washed and baked. We also use the same dough for a handful of other items....sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and our very well selling tomato rolls. 

Here lies the problem....

In trying to trim time we make a weeks worth of dough for all products. We portion and wrap and let the first rise occur in walk in fridge on racks. The next day we shape items and birdie buns. We then freeze them immediately, well wrapped I might add. We then take them out as needed, leave in fridge over night to thaw and proof in our proofer for 30-45 minutes. We have had success on all of our items made this way with the exception of the birdie bun. They seem to be forming a skin that allows for very little rise in the proofer and when egg washed and baked they have now been covered with tiny little wart like bubbles....they look hideous! BUT the worst is that they are no longer soft and feathery inside and they have even seemed to loose some of their sweetness. I must fix this problem ASAP. We thought maybe a quick freeze, then spray with water so that they get a coating of ice on them then put back in the freezer. Once into the fridge the ice melts and they stay moist. Any thoughts on this? We have not yet had the time to test this but any suggestions will be very much appreciated!! I do not want to loose our following on this roll! We make some of our breakfast and lunch sandwiches on them and lately (probably because of what they look like) people have been choosing to have their sandwiches on bagels and croissants instead!!! UGH!! PLEASE any help....any!!! Maybe a spray of oil?????