The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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clazar123's picture

Anyone having site format issues?

For at least a week I have been having issues with the site. Every page loads in a column and the home page pictures have one layer on top of the other. As the page loads it flickers as it is trying to fit. Is this on my end or is there a site issue? I haven't emailed Floyd-I thought I'd start with a post and see if anyone else is having issues.

I am running windows 7 premium home with IE 10.0.10. Same configuration for the last few years running without a problem.

JamieD's picture

British (UK) Flour good for American Sourdough Recipes?

Hey everyone,

I'm going a bit post-mad at the moment but bear with me, I thought it might be worth starting a new thread specifically about people's experiences with adapting American sourdough recipes to british flour (the topic came up in my previous post here:

As discussed in that post, I've had serious problems with getting british flour to work with both the tartine and jim lahey no knead recipes - recipes that need a long rise - and we think it might be because british flour just hasn't been bred/manufactured to withstand long rises.... it just ends up like unworkable gloop.... not like it looks when americans bake it with King Arthur All Purpose (which appears to be the standard bread flour for american artisan bread recipes)

Are there any other British sourdough bakers who have had similar experiences with american recipes? If so do you have any recommendations?

I'm getting my hands on some T65 flour soon just because I'm so tired of having unworkable bread -- I'll make sure to make a post on my findings with that too :)

All contributions appreciated,


ichadwick's picture

Ergot, witchcraft and civilization

I spent some time reading up about ergot and rye this past week. Really fascinating stuff. It has had a significant impact on European civilization and was likely the reason for Christianity's whole outlook on witchcraft - all through bread.

I did a (rather lengthy, sorry) blog piece about what I found:

It has links to many of the sites I discovered while researching. What it does for me is to underscore the important role bread played in our cultural and social development; how bread impacts everything in our heritage.

I have a lot more research to do in related areas, and I'll let you know when I post anything new.

I am as fascinated by the history of bread as by making it. This is what I like to do when I'm not baking. Here's what I do when I bake:

Latest boule

christinepi's picture

starter won't float

I created my first starter 12 days ago; I followed Gaaarp's instructions. For the last 6 days it's been sitting on my countertop (ca 67-69 during the day, ca 63 during the night) and I've religiously fed it 2x a day. It always doubles within the first 4-5 hours. It always smells nice and strong after it's doubled, and it's bubbly.

I tried the float test just now and the bit of starter sank like a rock. Do I simply need to give the starter another week or more until it's ready to be used in baking? Anything I'm doing wrong? I wanted to bake tomorrow, but I'm guessing that's off?

chris319's picture

Measuring Dough pH

I'm so confused! I want to measure the pH of my dough with some degree of precision. PH paper lacks precision yet I can't find a pH meter which doesn't have a litany of horror stories associated with it if the reviews on are to be believed. What to do?

Can anyone recommend a pH meter that they use and like? I'm looking for a dough pH of around 5.5 and want to make sure my dough isn't too far off from this. Or should I abandon the notion of a meter and use pH paper and consider it "close enough"?

Thank you.

orang3's picture

A beginner's notes on sourdough starters

Hello everyone.  I have recently been enchanted by the idea of making my own bread.  This came about after reading Michael Pollan's Cooked book.  So I started a starter about 2 weeks ago and have been struggling with it.  I am following these two methods: and  And my starters are just not behaving like it such according to the directions.  My effort to troubleshoot the issue has led me to this wonderful forum.  For the past week I have been browsing through the vast wealth of knowledge available here and what I have found is that there just as many ways to start and maintain a starter as there are types of breads!  This is probably due to the huge variability involved with factors such as climate, water source, and the type of flour used.  Thus, my goal now is to learn why I am doing something instead of locating a good set of procedures, which I think will inevitability become problematic due to some deviation from the specific conditions require for a particular method.

These are the notes that I have collected so far.  Perhaps some kind veterans here can provide some pointers and corrections on any mistakes.

  • Mixing flour and water : The source of microbes and the growth medium
    • Most of the starting bacteria and yeast comes directly from the whole grain medium that is used in the starter.  This is contrary to the belief that the microbes are captured from the air around. 
    • Organic rye flour is a great for a starter because it is teeming with live microbes and is an excellent food source for them.  
    • Bottled water is also a good way to ensure that the starter doesn't have to endure any unnecessary hardship (chlorine).
    • The microbes "wake up" when conditions becomes right for them to grow.  This starts when you combine water and flour.


  • Feeding: Provide nutrients for the population of microbes to increase
    • The population of the desired bacteria and yeast should become more active and concentrated with each successive feeding.
    • The ideal time to feed the starter is when the population of yeast is at its greatest.  This will ensure maximum growth and prevent any dilution of your starter.
      • Visual- This happens when the starter has reached its maximum volume and is just beginning to collapse.  However, waiting for a starter to double is not a good visual cue. Because depending on how much you feed it, it could triple in volume or more.  
      • Smell and taste- When the starter runs out of food it will become more sour and alcoholic.


  • Maturing: Waiting for the starter to stabilize
    • The ultimate goal for the starter is to achieve a large and stable population of lactobacilli (provides flavor) and yeast (provides the lift).
    • Natural succession will eventually lead to the correct balance of microbes.
      • The good lacto bacteria will ultimately produce enough acid to kill off the undesirable bacteria(responsible for making your starter smell like garbage).
        • Ideal conditions: 90F and pH 5-5.5
      • Once the neighborhood is cleared of the baddies, the yeast will begin populating the starter.
        • Ideal Conditions-80F and a wide pH range*
      • * In order for the initial yeast population to start growing it needs to be "activated".  This occurs when enough acid is produced by the lacto bacteria to bring the pH down to 3.5-4.  This is also the period where the starter may seem dead and inactive after an initial rapid expansion.  Just wait…


  • The start is ready when
    • It can double itself in 8 hours with a 1:2:2 (starter,flour,water) feeding
    • Make a levain and see if it will float in room temperature water


Sonieb's picture

I know you've answered these questions a million times BUT....

Ok, I've studied this forum, books, other webpages, and experimented for about a month now. I FINALLY have two LIVING spelt starters, or chefs or mothers, or whatever they're called (it's like a soft dough form) that are at least three weeks old.

Through all my experimenting I've found I like the firm starter the best. I keep it at room temperature (which in my house right now is around 67-68 degrees) and it smells like yeast when it's actively growing (I was awoke at 3am by my barking dog and when I came into the kitchen I was met with the most lovely YEAST smell!). I'm feeding it once a day (although less than 24 hours in-between, for instance today I did it at 21 hours and it just looked a little bit forlorned, or flat instead of puffy, but still double, I keep missing the "moment" when it reaches double though, so I think it does it sometime in the night? I'm not sure because I usually feed it before noon and then forget about it until the next morning) I could probably feed it twice a day but I don't want to waste that much flour :/. 

Ok, for feedings I've tried numerous things but have had the most success with 5 oz of starter, 1.2 oz of water and 2.5 oz of flour. I am mathematically retarded so all these formulas sound like Greek to me...but I've been most successful using that ratio. 

I've baked with the cast off dough twice now but used the recipes that call for fed or unfed starter that have added leavening; one was 2 tsp. active dry yeast (buttery rolls from the Kind Arthur website) and another was a crumpet recipe with only 1/2 tsp of baking soda. The both turned out very nice (the crumpets were delicious, btw). 

Now for my question: it's living but what IS it and am I doing anything wrong? What do I have? And how can I be sure I'm using it right in recipes? What is the hydration? 50%? 

Should I be using less of the starter to feed? I know I'm using more than most people do....does that mean my starter isn't doing as good as I think it is?

Thank you so much ahead of time. You people here are the nicest people on the planet to put up with all us newbies  and our silly questions :)






yamum360's picture

contaminated starter

help! my starter may have been contaminated.

Henry is about 3 months old, was started on dark rye and has been fed dark rye it's whole life, 50g rye flour, 65g filtered water. from day 2 it has been very active, from about day 4 it's been doubling after feeding in about 3-4 hours, i feed it once a day, occasionally twice, sometimes once every 2 days, whenever I remember and can be bothered really. There was a time when I gave up on it and let it fester on the kitchen counter, it developed a dry skin which began growing little patches of mould. Soon after I noticed something had laid eggs on the inside of the jar.

At this point I decided I'd better do something about it. I gingerly peeled back the skin, to be hit in the face by a very strong smell of almost beery yeast. I scooped out about a teaspoon and started feeding it irregularly, and immediately it was as active as it ever was.

Now I assume this is all ok, my starter is active, smells of yeast, doubles in volume quite quickly... I know it's quite hard to kill a starter once you've got it going, but this isn't my concern.

I've never baked with it, I was intending to soon however, now I'm not so sure... I've just gone to feed it, and discovered the butt of a joint in there. I didn't discover this until I'd scooped out half, and mixed in the 65g of water.

I don't know how long it's been in there, or how it got there, but I imagine my flatmate forgot to tell one of his guests that the bins that are just outside the kitchen are not garbage bins. The joint end of it still had tobacco in it, as well as a little of the other stuff I presume. Is this something I should be worried about? I'm not so worried about the ash and plant matter, as after I start with a new jar from a teaspoon of my current starter, only trace amounts will remain, my concern is about the chemicals all over the tobacco, has anyone had a similar contamination? has it affected your starter at all? will I need to start again or am I panicking over nothing?

Casey_Powers's picture

To banneton or not banneton

I really like the look of the rustic banneton.  It also makes (in my humble opinion) my boules easier to move.  They feel more firm.  The boule with the C is a total natural seem opening.  Not bad, it almost looks like I placed a C on my boule myself.  Well, when I do 4 boules with 2 bannetons it does provide options for those that may prefer one to the other. 

Warm Regards,


koren's picture

Tight exterior with loose middle


I have been baking bread off and on for a few years with much success. I tend to keep having this problem in loaf pan breads where the crumb is pretty tight near the edges of the slice and looser towards the center. I have tried to do some research and thought the problem was related to poor forming of the loaf. I have worked on my technique and think I am going a better job now, I made this loaf yesterday from the following king arthur recipe. It tastes very good but the middle of the slices is awfully loose. I would appreciate any ideas as to what I am doing wrong.