The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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baybakin's picture

House sweet dough

House sweet dough

This sweet dough is a mixture of two recipes; The brioche recipe from the Tartine bread book, but with the percentages of butter, eggs, and hydration scaled back to similar percentages as  Richard Bertinet's sweet dough (My favorite yeasted basic sweet dough).   I use this dough for most of my basic sweet dough pastries, some of my favorites are Monkey Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Orange/lemon sticky buns, fake croissants (in this case with chocolate), Fruit braids, etc. 

Details on the starter/poolish: Chad Robertson advocates the use of "young" levian and poolish, with less fermentation time than more "mature" starters, using them right when they float in water.  I admit that I use them whenever it works best with my time schedule usually between 6-8 hours.  The starter is a 100% hydration, fed with a 50/50 mix of AP flour and whole wheat flour.

For people who like Yeast Water, I think this one would translate very well to YW + SD, with YW used instead of poolish (I'm looking at your dabrownman).  Pictures are of cinnamon rolls and fake chocolate croissants, dough also made an apple/cheese braid which is not pictured.  Baked at 375.

200g Poolish
150g Tartine Style starter (100% hydration, Whole wheat/AP)
210g Milk (Scalded and cooled)
50g Butter
50g Sugar
100g (2) Eggs
20g (1) Egg Yolk (retain the white for glazing/frosting)
500g Flour
12g Salt

hanseata's picture

Rose Hip Levain - Made from Jam!

When I made my wonderful rose hip jam a month ago, temperatures were in the eighties, t-shirt weather for weeks, and we even used the air condition in our bedroom - in Maine!

The glasses were sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting to be properly tagged before going into the basement. But my husband, immobilized by a broken foot, needed special attention, and, between baking twice a week for our local natural food store, answering student questions online, and taking care of our undeserving critters, I didn't get to it for quite a while.

After a week or so, I noticed that one of the glasses showed ominous signs of frothy activity. Obviously I didn't fill it quite high enough to establish a vacuum, and, with the prevailing heat as incubator, my rose hip jam had started to ferment.

I was pretty annoyed with myself. Why didn't I pay more attention, and place the compromised glass into the fridge, before it could turn itself into booze?

No help for it, this was a goner, and had to be thrown out..... Or not? Suddenly I remembered my experiences with apple yeast water two years ago. Made from fermenting apples, the yeast water had proved to be a powerful leaven, my bread even grew a horn!

But in the end the apple yeast water died a slow death from starvation in a dark corner of my fridge, all but forgotten, since we preferred the tangier taste of sourdough.

Wouldn't it be worth a try to experiment a bit, and see what would happen if I fed the tipsy jam with  flour?

I measured a teaspoon of jam in a little bowl and added equal amounts of water....

....and whole wheat flour to the bowl: 

5 g fermented rose hip jam + 25 g water + 25 g whole wheat flour.

Eleven hours later the reddish mixture had become bubbly and spongy, and emitted a wonderful fruity-sour smell.

I fed it two times more, aways with 25 g flour and 25 g water. It ripened faster each time, first after 3, then even only after 2 1/2 hours.

   Fully developed rose hip mother

I was very pleased and contemplated my next move.

I wanted to make a fairly simple levain, with a bit of whole grain, but not too much. I expected a rather mild taste, but I didn't want the blandness of an all-white bread, nor a too hearty loaf that overwhelmed more subtle nuances.

So I adapted a recipe for Pain au Levain, made with apple yeast leaven, from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads and Pastries". I had made this bread before, with apple yeast water, it had been nice, but rather mild.

Hedh's book is gorgeous, with wonderful recipes, though not without some pesky errata - my first attempt of an attractive looking Levain with Bran and Vinegar had ended in a dense, compact brick - thanks to one erroneous Zero too many in the bran department.

Even though it was already evening, I didn't want to wait, and started with 16 g of my newborn rose hip mother - mother, chef and levain are the classic French terms for the 3 steps to make a leaven - to make the second stage: the chef.

 Chef after kneading

I woke up at midnight, went downstairs, eager to see how my starter was doing, and found a nicely grown chef, wide awake, and hungry for more.

  Fully developed chef

After feeding the little guy with more flour and water, I tottered back to bed. The next morning my levain was fully ripened and ready to go!

 Fully developed rose hip levain

PAIN AU LEVAIN  (adapted from Jan Hedh: "Swedish Breads and Pastries")

21 g mother starter (it doesn't have to be rose hip, an ordinary mature wheat or rye starter will do)
   8 g water
21 g bread flour

  50 g chef (all)
  50 g water
100 g bread flour

200 g levain (all)
 16 g spelt flour
 16 g rye meal
282 g bread flour
219 g water
    6 g salt

DAY 1:
1. Mix together all ingredients for chef. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 more minute. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let sit for 4 hours, or until doubled in size.

2. Mix together all ingredients for levain. Knead for 2 minutes, then let rest for 5 minutes. Resume kneading for 1 minute more. (Dough should be stiff, but not hard, moisten your hands to incorporate more water, if needed.) Cover, and let ripen for 5 - 6 hours, or until doubled in size. Knead briefly to degas, and refrigerate overnight.

DAY 2:
3. Remove levain from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up. Cut into smaller pieces and place with flour and water in mixer bowl. Knead for 3 minutes at low speed, then let dough rest for 5 minutes.

4. Add salt and continue kneading for 7 more minutes at medium-low speed. Stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, place it in lightly oiled bowl, turn it around to coat with oil, cover, and let rest for 90 minutes.

5. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, place hands in the middle and push out the air, stretch and fold 1 x, gather dough into a ball, return it to the bowl, and leave it for another 80 minutes.

6. Push out air again, and let dough relax for 10 more minutes. Shape into a round, place in banneton (seam side up), or on parchment lined baking sheet (seam side down).

7. Sprinkle bread with flour, mist with baking spray, cover, and proof for 60 - 90 minutes (in a warm place), until it has grown 1 3/4 times its original size.

8. Preheat oven to 250º C/482º F, including steam pan. Score bread.

9. Bake bread for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 200º C/400º F, and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Rotate bread 180 degrees, remove steam pan, and bake for 20 minutes more, venting the oven once to let out steam in between.

10. Leave bread in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for another 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

  Rose Hip Levain crumb

I changed Jan Hedh's recipe a bit. Instead of long kneading, I added a period of rest (autolyse) while mixing the dough, thereby shaving off some hands-on time.

A total baking time of 60 minutes, as stated in the recipe, was not necessary, my bread was already done after 40 minutes. And leaving it a while longer in the switched-off oven with the door a bit ajar guaranteed a nice crisp crust that didn't soften soon after baking.

Did it taste like rose hips? No. But is was delicious! And not only that: The best of all husbands found it "the crustiest bread you ever made". 

One question remains: what was it exactly that gave the bread its marvelous lift? The rose hips? The apples? Or the red wine the jam was made with?

Bar Harbor Shore Path - where Rugosa roses grow in abundance
Rosalie's picture

New Bread Book by Ken Forkish: Flour Water Salt Yeast

I ordered this book from the library, and I believe I'm the first person to check out this particular volume.  The author, Ken Forkish, had left an unsatisfying career in the Silicon Valley, chucking it all for artisan baking.  He opened Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, Oregon, in 2001.

Checking a bread book out from the library is a different experience from buying it.  I read it more carefully than I read the books that I buy because I only had three weeks.  When I decided I wanted to try out his techniques, I had to take extra pains to keep it clean because it was not my book and it was so new.

He gives the book his own slant, trying to keep home kitchens in mind.  Everything is done by hand, no electric mixers., lots of wetting of the hands.  The ingredients are pretty basic, as suggested by the title: Flour Water Salt Yeast.  He's particular about temperatures.  And he likes the Dutch Oven approach.

But he is perhaps of the supersize generation.  The recipes use 1000 grams of flour (mostly white, with up to 75% whole wheat).  This is, according to his accommodation, about 7 3/4 cups flour, making 2 loaves, each about 1 1/2 pounds.  I was especially shocked that his recipe for making a starter begins with 500 grams (almost 4 cups) ww flour (and 500 grams water); on day two, you toss 3/4 of this mix and add in another 500 grams each ww flour and water; and so on.  He mentions somewhere under maintenance that you can scale this down, but is this really practical for the home kitchen?

There is a section on pizzas, tying in with Ken's Artisan Pizza, which he opened in 2006 in conjunction with his bakery.  He gives recipes for pizza doughs, based on his other recipes, and focaccias.  He also gives real pizza recipes.  Looks good.

I was intrigued by his technique descriptions, especially folding and shaping.  So I tried one of his recipes, adapting it to 100% whole wheat (and 82% hydration, per his suggestion).  I think I need practice, especially on the shaping and the use of the Dutch Oven.

My impression is that, try as he might to be populist, he'll probably scare off beginners, especially with his quantities.

Has anyone else seen the book?  What are your impressions?


thihal123's picture

Help with bread from The Village Baker (Pain de Seigle sur Poolish)

I need some help with a recipe in Joe Ortiz's "The Village Baker" book, in particular his pain de seigle sur poolish (sponge-method rye bread). It seems to me his recipe measurment is way off. I like to convert his recipe from volume measurment to weight measurment. The first time I made this bread, I first measured almost everything in volume and then recorded the weight measurment. Turned out the dough was so wet (like 88% hydration!) I had to keep adding flour (about 2 cups additional) to make this even work with the slap-and-fold technique.

Here is Ortiz's original recipe on page 114:

The Poolish

2 packages (2 scant tablespoons, 1/2 oz.) active dry yeast

2 cups water

1 cup organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour

1 cup rye flour

The Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water

All of the poolish from previous step

2 cups rye flour

2 cups organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour

1 tablespoon salt

Glaze: 1 egg wisked up with 1 tablespoon milk


Here is what I recorded after weighing almost each volume measurment:

The Poolish

1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I think it is a misprint to say 2 packages of yeast is 2 tablespoons. 1 package is only 1/4 oz, so two packages is 1/2 oz which is way less than 2 tablespoons! First error in Ortiz's recipe above).

473g water

125g white flour

128g rye flour

The Dough

355g cups warm water

All of the poolish from previous step

256g rye flour

250g white flour

1 tablespoon salt

Glaze: 1 egg wisked up with 1 tablespoon milk


When I got to the dough stage (i.e., after incorporating the poolish) the dough was still unworkable. I had to incorporate an additional 2 cups of flour to make this workable even for the slap-and-fold method. Turns out the dough, before the additional 2 cups of water, was 108% hydration!! (Total flour = 801g, Total water = 823g, which equals 108% hydration). No wonder it was not workable!

So, can anyone help me figure out where Ortiz's recipe error is, and how do I correct it? I like the method of making this rye bread.

FlourChild's picture

Starter is ailing- what medicine do you recommend?

Recently my firm starter developed a spoiled smell- it has all the smells and appearances of a healthy starter (rises predictably, no visible discoloration, etc.), but added to that is a definite spoiled smell that I would never put in bread.  I would describe it as similar to the smell of spoiled milk.  The smell is much stronger in the early part of fermentation, after a feed, than it is later in the process. 

Luckily, I had a back up in the fridge (I maintain my ongoing culture at room temp) which sprung back to life easily and quickly and is doing well, so I am able to be relaxed about what is going on with that smell.  

My first approach was to let the smelly starter sit for two days after a feed, hoping that the desireable microbes would win out over the undesireables.  That didn't work.  My second approach was to let it go even longer- three days at room temp- after a feed, in hopes that a little alcohol or ketones or something in a underfed, overripe starter might help kill off whatever has taken root in there.   That didn't work, either.

So now I'm curious to experiment with it to see if I can find a fix:  what sort of medicine would you recommend?  I'm thinking of things like salt, freezing, lemon juice, etc.  I'll probably divide it up and try a different approach in each jar.  Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Advice?


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

My oven setup (fan-only oven)

I have got a very simple fan-only oven (BEKO), and it took me a while figure out how to put it to its best use - with lots of inspiration from TFL.

This is how I bake my bread:

Usually use an oven stone and a metal baking sheet.

You can see the backplate of the oven cavity in the picture below - the shelf positions and the hot air outlets are highlighted:

I noticed that airflow changes a lot when loading the oven in different ways - it is not always the bit nearest to an outlet that gets burnt first!

I am now using 2 basic setups that work well. In both scenarios I have a small pan on the oven floor into which I pour boiling water (about 1/4 cup) once the oven has been loaded. The oven keeps moisture very well, and using more water cools it down too much.

Scenario 1: For a batch of 4 X 500g boules or 2X 800g boules or up to 6X 500g tins:

The baking stone receives a lot of heat from below and stays hot during the bake. The side of the boules facing the backplate gets more heat.

Therefore after 10 minutes I shuffle the breads around: turning them 180 deg. and sqapping the loaves on the stone with the loaves on the baking sheet. Usually I turn down the temperature at this point and bake for another 20 minutes. The bottoms of the loaves that started on the baking sheet might still be3 weak after that, so I usually turn those loaves over and bake them for 5 more minutes.

Scenario 2: For a batch of 1 X 100g or 2 X 500g

I place the loaf (loaves) on the baking stone, and rotate them after 10 minutes.

The baking sheet helps distributing the hot air and helps getting a more consistent bake.


I hope this might be helpful,



GSnyde's picture

Hamelman's Whole Wheat with Mixed Grain Soaker and Seeds

Seeking a hardy healthy bread, I decided to try Hamelman's Whole Wheat with Mixed Grain Soaker.  It's 50% whole wheat, made with a pate' fermente', and has a soaker of millet, cracked wheat, corn meal and oats.  I also added toasted sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  It has a nice crispy crust, tender crumb and a wonderful nutty flavor.  This will not be the last time I make it.

Sorry for the lack of detail, but it's been a busy weekend.


Babedia's picture

Established starter suddenly not rising

Hi, I've been using my starter for about 6 months now with good results. I bake once a week, feed the starter and keep it in the fridge until 2 or 3 days before baking again to give it time to build up. Last week I took it out of the fridge as usual but perhaps took a bit longer to feed again (normally I do it within a few hours of taking it out of the fridge but this time it might have been 8-12 hours, not sure). It didn't rise at all. I've had a busy few days and couldn't deal with it so decided to take some of the starter I froze recently, just before going on holiday. I fed it as soon as it thawed and 24 hours later absolutely no rise at all. What could cause well established starter to stop working? Do I need to start from scratch or just keep feeding this regularly to see if I can get it started again?

hornedfox's picture

waffle dough?

I recently watched a TV programme which highlighted  great places to eat. One of these places made outstanding waffles. The waffle batter was more of a dough. It was made with yeast and when place on to a waffle iron it looked like a high hydration dough. I have tried to recreate this with out much luck. Anyone else tried this





SylviaH's picture

Blueberry Pie with Lemon, getting my Starter back in shape, Pizza, not today!

I finally dug my starter out and brought it up to smelling good and looking strong.  So now, it was time to bake a few loaves...though I'd rather be making pizza's.  

It has been a while since I've turned my oven on.  Now the weather has cooled a little, it was nice to turn on the oven and not have the kitchen feeling to warm.  I would even make a pie today.    

Mike was happy to hear there would be some nice sourdough bread to eat and a few loaves to stock up in the freezer.  I also would make his favorite pie, Blueberry.  I had a nice bunch of fresh blueberries.  This time I would add a little extra lemon.  Last night I prepared my lemon wheels, as I refer to them, in a simple syrup.  It turned out it was an interesting and delicious addition to my BP.  I will definately do this again.   The added candied lemon wheels tasted wonderfully lemony, not bitter or to sweet, just a nice balance of pure lemon flavor added to the not to sweet blueberry filling.  I added 3 of the thinnest wheels on top of the bb filling, just enough I think.

I baked six loaves of bread.  They were very flavorful with a lovely just enough sour and wheat flavor notes.  The smell is wonderful.   It was just a few changes to my usual all white sourdough.   20% organic whole wheat flour, a little agave syrup, a little grape seed oil and scaled to make enough loaves to fill 6 of my banneton baskets.  Mixed by hand and a long overnight ferment.  

I also mixed up a batch of pizza dough with Caputo Tipo 00 Italian Flour and placed it into the freezer...just in case I decide to fire up the wfo this week and a gentle breeze comes to the neighborhood.

Not the most attractive pie I've made but it timed perfectly with the last loaf of bread coming out of the oven.  So Mike could enjoy a slice, heading off to work, it was sliced a bit warm before setting up properly cooled.  The texture was just right..not runny, wet,  resulting with a nice crispy tender bottom crust.  To much sugar in your filling is one of those things that will make for a very runny pie and soggy undercrust!  The crust was a combination of butter and crisco, salt, sugar, water.  My old standby, favorite, flakey, tender, flavorful crust.   We also enjoyed a cuban style pork shoulder roast and fresh roasted brussel sprouts for dinner.  

This was earlier prep for dinner's pork shoulder....


Overnight soak of organic lemons in sugar syrup