The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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JessicaT's picture

Success, at last!! I hope...

I feel like I must brag a little bit, with this loaf that I just pulled out of the oven. After much trial and tribulation, and lots of loaves donated to the garbage can, I think I mostly understand how to bake a GOOD loaf of sourdough bread.

To start from the top, I had decided to try baking a loaf of bread, after being unsure of whether or not I had rehabilitated my starter. as well as the days being really hot. It had been behaving a bit weirdly still, but I thought, "What the heck." So what I did was use the Norwich Sourdough recipe as a the basis, and kind of did a weird mix of that with the Tartine method.

I did half of her recipe, so to break it down, the ingredients list went as:
450g ap flour

60g rye flour

300g water

180g whole wheat starter

11g of salt, dissolved in 25 g of water

I mixed the ingredients by hand, let it autolyse for 30 minutes. After that, I only did 3 stretch and folds at 30 minutes each. I had contemplated doing a fourth, but I had noticed the dough had been rising quite quickly, so I stopped it there. After the third stretch and fold, I let it sit for 30 minutes, at which point I did a quick and dirty pre-shape, let it bench rest for about 15 minutes, and did the final shaping, and dumped it into the banneton. I stuck it in the fridge at about 9:45 PM, and pulled it out at about 9:15am. I had noticed that when I pulled the loaf out, it had expanded in size up to about 1.5 times. I let it sit for about 45 minutes on the counter while the oven heated up, baked it at 475*F for 20 minutes with the lid on my DO and 450 without the lid for another 20 minutes.

Upon removal of the bread from the oven, I could hear it singing and crackling away. For the time being, I am thankful that I cannot smell the bread due to an on going cold, thus reducing the temptation to hack into it right away. But I cannot wait to let it finish cooling down to cut into it for lunch later.

A couple things to note, mostly for myself, but I had let the dough rise about 1.5x it's size each, during the bulk fermentation and final rise stage. As well, the days have been reaching about 30*C externally, and about 23-24*C inside the house. Bulk fermentation was about 1.5 hours, and final fermentation was about 12 hours.

isand66's picture

Guinness Maple Multi-Grain

I had one more can of Guinness left so figured I might as well put it to good use.  I finally had some time to mill some fresh flour especially after finding rye berries at Whole Foods again. For this loaf I milled some fresh whole rye, spelt and whole wheat flours.

I wanted to add a little sweetness to this loaf so decided to add some real maple syrup I bought last time I visited KAF in Vermont last year as well as some balsamic maple vinegar.

I have to say you can really taste the Guinness in this one and the maple ingredients add a nice sweet background flavor.  All in all it's a tasty bread, great for sandwiches or a schmear of cream cheese.



Guinness Multi-grain (%)

Guinness Multi-grain (weights)

Download the BreadStorm File Here.


Levain Directions

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 usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, rye chops and most of the beer (hold back around 30 grams) 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, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), balsamic and maple syrup and mix on low for 1 minute.  Add the remainder of the beer and mix on low for 5 additional 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.

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 desired.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  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.

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.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 500 degrees and after another 3 minutes lower it to 450 degrees.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.


bread.on.beard's picture

Depth of Flavor question

I've been making sourdough bread for awhile.  I  think I may be at the end of the beginner's stage, as I know how to do the basics,  including:  how to use starter at various room temperatures, or chilled, or fresh, or not refreshed, or aged;  how to use starter to build levains, and pre-ferments; how to use white flours, and whole grain flours, and grains, and combinations of same;  how to retard dough at various times and temperatures, or using warmer temperatures; how to use different hydration percentages;  how to build dough in stages, and so on.  I preface my question this way to not come off as a novice, but, also, to not come off like I think I've tried everything.  Somewhere I read something like this:  "anyone can make good bread; we want to make GREAT bread."  So, that's me.  I can make OK to good bread.  I think I could make great bread, or at least bump it up to a consistently "really good bread" level.   


My question:  At this stage of what I  (think I ) know about how to bake sourdough bread, I think the breads I bake should have more depth of flavor, and I am not referring to sour.  I have cultured three different starters.   The first, I used fermented raisin water which was not what I wanted. The starter worked fine, but the bread lacked flavor.   The second starter was cultured using the Debra Wink method.  The first time I used it, the bread was wonderful. REALLY good.  One of my best.  The second time I used it, the bread had about half the flavor.  I did not change any ingredients or technique(s) that I know of, but something happened (did not happen).  Most of the loaves that followed using the second starter were OK.  They tasted OK to good.  Nothing great.   After trying a variety of techniques, methods I read about from many sources including Hamelman, Reinhart, and Richardson, and this and other sites, nothing much seemed to change.  The bread was  good, but not REALLY good.  So, I cultured a third starter thinking maybe my first starter contaminated the second starter.   Before culturing the third starter, I sterilized all of my utensils and containers and used bottled water. I was attempting to avoid any contamination from the other two starters.   The flour I used was KA AP.   It took longer than I expected, but when it was ready, and I used it, the result was disappointing.  I do understand about young starters, but that was about six months ago, and there still is not really any discernible change.   The bread is good, but I still  think it should have more depth of flavor.  At this point, I will add, that on occasion, when all of the planets were in the correct alignment (so to speak), I would occasionally produce a loaf that landed somewhere between good and really good.   When I would attempt to replicate all of the techniques using the same ingredients, the result was not as good.  So . . . , what is it?



Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Nominingi's picture

When is a starter ready for use? Substitute for red rye malt in Borodinsky

I took a batard of Norwich Sourdough to an potluck recently and was told by new Uzbekistani friends there that the taste of the bread was the closest they've had to that of home they've had since moving to Canada. Long story short: they are joining me in the next few days to bake Norwich SD and will then go home with their own starter. I'm compiling a primer for them and would appreciate tips on how to describe a starter that is ready for use.

The reason I pose this question is because I've left off waiting for my starter to double or bubble acitively. I simply KNOW it's ready after the nine months or so that I've been baking. Gut instinct is not a good tool to with which to teach.

The Uzbekistanis are keen to start baking Borodinsky bread as well, something I've yet to try although this site certainly has enough information available for me to do so sometime. Is there an acceptable substitute for red rye malt


Thank you

Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

Pain de Montagne

This baby kept on rising and threatened to invade the kitchen. Delicious bread.
I found the recipe here:

BetsyMePoocho's picture

Dutch Ovens - usage

Hey Folks,

Quick question….. when using a DO how long do you keep the lid on……?  It's been a while since I've used on I forgot.  Today I think I kept the lid on too long and the loaf was very, actually too moist….


limster's picture

Bread Machine Yeast

I am so glad to have found this website! Lots of great tips and recipes!!   I have not used my Zoj bread machine in a couple of years and now want to resume using it.  I have jar of yeast that has been in my fridge for couple of years.  I read on the Fleishman website about proofing instant yeast.  

Is it still necessary due to the age of the yeast?  

What do they mean by it requires to risings to see if the yeast is viable?  Does this mean one waits 20 minutes versus the standard 10 minute proofing time test?

TIA for your helpful comments!

amber108's picture

sourdough eggless brioche and danish!!

So I made these the other day, 100% sourdough, with what I call an eggless brioche if there is such a thing, as we dont eat eggs. Lots of fun and very yummy :)

hs4816's picture

Ok... now what?? (Pizza dough needs perfecting...)

Hi people. This is only my second post here, but have received much wisdom from you all thus far. Thanks in advance for putting up with my newbishness ;-)     (I've been working with dough/yeast for about like 6 weeks and am a total beginner).

Am working on my pizza dough. Have gone through about 5 batches so far.

Recipe is:

Bread flour

58% water

2% yeast

2% sugar

6% olive oil

1.25% salt

I use a stand mixer. It gets kneaded somewhere between 10-15 minutes. It does rise #1 in oven then spends 24h in the fridge. Then it gets used up or frozen.

It's fairly easy to work with. stretches out nicely, has decent flavor I think. Holds up without getting soggy. Freezes well.

Overall I'm pretty happy.

Have experimented with different temperatures: 350, 450, 500, 550 and with prebaking vs not (doesnt seem to need it).


What I'd like is for the crust edges to puff up/rise more when baking and also for the texture to be a bit more chewy (it gets quite crunchy and crumbly).  I'd appreciate your opinions and expertise. I'm not sure whether to focus on technique (kneading, proofing, cooking temperature) or the recipe itself (more oil, hydration, etc).




Heylo's picture

strech and fold substitute

hi there

since working a lot with spelt and rye, i've been getting lots of advice from you in this forum to S&F in order to enhance dough strength.

unfortunately though, i mainly use  my mixer due to wrist problems. so i'm wondering, what can i do instead of S&Fing? will replacing S&Fs with a few minutes of mixer kneading (in the same time intervals) be as effective?

hoping for an optimistic answer.. ;)