The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BrianOD's picture

Whole wheat Sourdough starter behavior

I've been SD'ing for a couple of years now and I've never been happy with my results. I am beginning again with a revived starter. (6 months since last baking) My question concerns the activity of the starter and if it is active. The starter, which is a 100% whole wheat from SD International, is at 100% hydration. It will begin growing about 2 hours after feeding, grow to about double, maybe a bit more, and then stay there for about 6-8 hours. All at 75deg. There is no "bubbling" on the surface but the starter is almost a "foam-like" consistency, small irregular bubbles imbedded in the material. This is identical to the behavior it has exhibited in the past, including when it was first activated from the package so I think it has been revived successfully. Is this what I should be looking for, or should it be a little more effervescent? My loafs have not risen well in the past and usually turn out dense. Right now, I'm trying to determine if the problem lies in the starter or somewhere further down the process. thanks for ANY help!


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Spelt Flour Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramelized Apples

After my shopping spree at a local grain mill yesterday, I was in the mood to experiment with some different flours.  I had some left over buttermilk in the fridge from my Danish Rye bake so I decided to make my (ever popular in these parts) buttermilk pancakes but with organic spelt flour.  I was a bit on the careful side and opted to still keep 1/2 cup AP flour in the recipe.  These turned out so well that next time I might even eliminate the AP flour all together.  As a note, the apple topping pairs VERY well with these so don't omit if you have a choice.

Spelt Flour Buttermilk Pancakes with Caramelized Apples


1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ cups buttermilk (or 1 ½ cup homemade buttermilk, see below)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Oil for skillet
Extra milk to thin batter after rest

Combine all ingredients and mix just until combined.  Do not over mix, lumps are ok.  Let sit in fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes.  Before cooking, add up to ¼ milk to thin the batter, if needed.  Note:  This batter takes approx. 1 extra minute per side than AP flour pancakes.  Check the insides by cutting into the middle to ensure batter is fully cooked.
Makes approx. 6-7 pancakes.

Home made buttermilk:  Add 2 Tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 ½ cups total.  Transfer to bowl and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Caramelized Apples:


2 large apples
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
Pinch salt


Peel and core apples.  Half the apples then cut thin slices.  Heat butter on high heat in a saute pan and add the apples, sugar and salt.  Saute on high heat just to caramelize the sugar, about 3 - 5 minutes.  Add a dash of cinnamon to taste.  Take off the heat and let cool slightly.

Top the pancakes with the apples and some maple syrup.





Delbadry's picture

High crown muffins - impossible at home??


I am very, very close to giving up on trying to bake high-domed, large-crowned muffins. I've tried any and every recipe with a picture showing a muffin peak like I'm trying to create, and I've only ever achieved an average-looking, barely-rounded dome; unlike the kind you find at professional bakeries. I've tried different baking temperatures (including combination temperatures), different oven rack levels, different mixing methods, resting times and immediate baking, 3/4 full tins and heaping full tins, room temp ingredients and strict mixing guidelines, different batter consistencies, and even different muffin pans including jumbo and crown pans. Nothing has created that gorgeous dome that's as high as the muffin's base.

My question is: has anyone achieved this? Has anyone personally made these high-rising muffins with semi-sphered domes or even close to it? I've researched all the tips and any recipes you may suggest I've probably already tried.. I just wanted a confirmation before I give up that it cannot be done at home.

Thanks!!! :)

Gene New's picture
Gene New

No success with no need breads

I am new to bread making and very much at the experimental stage. Thanks to a recipe by Micheal Roux Jnr and the method of slap and fold employed by Richard Bertinet  I have successfully managed to make a decent white loaf after a series of nice enough but still quite right  loaves and a few bricks.  

One fairly basic thing I havent managed to do properly is make a successful No Knead loaf, you know the type of bread that is so simple even a 4 year old can do it.  

So far I have tried two variations and failed both times, but never being one to give up easily I though I would give it another go so today was attempt number three.   This time I thought I would try a part wholemeal version that called for 300g bread flour, 100g wholemeal flour, 300ml water, 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1.25 tsp salt.

The recipe is simple enough and after mixing it all I was really happy with how it went last night. However I got up this morning to a goo that stuck to everything, wouldn’t hold it’s shape for anything and gave off a smell in my kitchen was more like brewery than a household ready to bake bread.

I know I didn’t leave it too long and it wasn’t anything to do with heat or altitude since where I live we are only 200 feet above sea level plus it is winter and it snowed last night and we didnt have the heating on so my kitchen was like a fridge when I got up.

The next part of the recipe called for folding the dough which looked easy in the videos but I couldn’t handle it at all since my dough was at pouring consistency and the flour I put out for it to sit on had no affect, it was like trying to handle a very liquid tacky glue!

I couldn't do anything with it so I tried my own version of a resurrection.

Since I have had most success with Richard Bertinets method of kneading and that in turn works well with high hydration mixes I though I would try a little slap and fold and see if I could bring the glue together that way.    Initially I seemed to be getting somewhere but the moment I stopped working it would start to fall apart and stick to everything once again. I tried adding a little of flour but that didn’t work either so after a frustrating and totally unsuccessful hour or so it was back to the Internet and look for a solution but that was to little avail.  The picture at the top shows was what it looked like at that point.

However when I did a search about the strong smell in the kitchen a few people suggested the yeast may have eaten all of the nutrients and some suggested you should add more yeast but no one said how much so I added 1/8 teaspoon of instant yeast and worked it a bit more with another couple of pinches of flour and more slap and folds. After a lot more effort on my part it finally it started to come together so it’s currently sitting in a bowl proving, it’s been about 45 minutes and at least it is rising.

Alas I don’t have the experience to know what I should do next – should I treat it like one of Richards mixes and fold it, let it rise again shape and cook in a bread pan or should I continue treating it as a no knead bread despite all my work and simply shape and cook it in a Dutch oven – I really don’t know!

But the way things have gone with this bread I don’t hold out much hope for it producing anything remotely edible so I may just go for broke and cook it in the Dutch oven anyway, if I do I will report back and let you know what happened but so much for no knead!

jgmathis23's picture

Rustic Bread from The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking

Just started trying to learn how to bake bread.  

First book purchased was the Kindle version of The Fresh Loaf Pocket Book of Bread Baking.

This weekend, I tried making the Rustic bread from this book.

To my amazement, the loaves turned out great.

Nothing in them but the basic 4: flour, water, yeast, salt.  Yet there were a million little decision points that are probably hard to reproduce identically every time you bake.  Hope my second time out goes as well.


Jim Mathis

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

Baking Bread, an exploration of bread and its many facets

Bulk fermentation is done when a dough is strong enough to remember its shape after baking.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

40% Rye With Ground Seeds

I have been excited to bake a simple rye bread since my starter had become ready to use.  Also, I went to a local organic mill and stocked up an all sorts of grains, flours as well as a hard to find Puy lentil from France.  I chose to do a 40% Rye with some toasted and roughly ground seeds (sunflower, flax and caraway) within.  I also got to use a brotform for the first time.  I will update with crumb photos, but I have a feeling I should have seen more oven spring and height from a formula such as this one.  I did forget to bulk ferment an hour, so I just proofed for a full 2 hours.  Any rye experts out there, please let me know if this could most likely be the cause of such a poor spring.

JOHN01473's picture

A light at the end of the tunnel would be really useful right now.

I loaned a book from my library; its called "How to make Bread" by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. It contains some nice SD recipes / formulas. The problem is that all the recipes refer to the starter that he guides you through making. He then uses the same build for each recipe. He does not state the starter hydration for each recipe / formula. Rather than make his starter I wanted to use my one. This is his starter creation / feed plan.

Day 1,
Take 1 Teaspoon of Flour and add 2 Teaspoons of Water and mix thoroughly.

Day 2, 3, 4 and 5:
Add 1 Teaspoon of Flour and add 2 Teaspoons of Water and mix thoroughly.

That makes 5 Teaspoons of Flour and 10 Teaspoons of Water.

His build for baking is take 15g of his starter and add
150g of Flour and 150g of Water. Cover and ferment overnight.
The next day use the amount of starter that each recipe requires.

As I worked through the maths I used the Standard conversion for Teaspoons to Grams:
1 teaspoon = about 5 millilitre ( ml ) = 5 grams ( g )

I carried on working through the maths, using previous guidance. When I finished I was pretty sure I had worked out the hydration of his starter and build for baking.



I came out with 200% hydration for the starter and 103% for bake starter. I was not sure these sounded right so I decided to weigh some flour and water. Using a proper measuring spoon I weighed a Teaspoon of White Strong Bread Flour and a Teaspoon of water; to my surprise the flour weighed 4g and the water weighed 6 ml. this contradicted the 5g / 5ml from the standard conversion.

So now I have lost my way - I am not sure how to proceed, so I need help.
A light at the end of the tunnel would be really useful right now.

The Baking Bear


dmsnyder's picture

Flipping Board (Transfer Peel) Demonstration

I have made a video demonstrating how to use a flipping board.

Enjoy! David

sournewb71's picture

How does bread dough differ from pizza dough, in terms of the process

Where does bread dough and pizza dough differ in their processes (forget about ingredients for a moment)?  Is pizza dough just bread dough without the final proof?  Would an overproofed bread dough work as a pizza dough?