The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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overnight baker's picture
overnight baker

A nice loaf

After last weeks Rye Soda bread the starter is ready! It didn't take long and was so easy, just a couple of days of refreshments (RYe flour mixed with tap water to a paste) and it was doubling in size within hours. I don't know if the conditions in South England are ideal or whether using fresh organic Rye flour is a sure fire technique but it amazes me how easy it seems to be to get a working starter.

I decided for my first proper bread I'd go for a Wheaten Rye, from the Recipe in Dan Lepard's Exceptional Bread Book. I'd made it before and it's a good compromise loaf being mainly white flour producing a nicely risen crumb but with some flavour from the rye and extended proove times.

The loaf was great, a hit with me and the OH although maybe a little under risen. One thing that did make me wonder was the use of sourdough culture and dried yeast. The book itself is great with a wide variety of interesting recipes and instructions for the home baker (such as hand kneading etc.) The only thing is that it often appears over complicated. This recipe for instance calls for making sponge with dried yeast  then later on adding a rye culture. It is not clear what the benefit of using two yeasts is, does the bakers yeast contribute to the flavour at all? does the Rye culture contribute to the leaven? I feel an experiment is needed. Does anyone use both Bakers yeast and a sourdough culture in the same bake? If so why?



tea berries's picture
tea berries

Acidify Rye Starter?

Hi, I am new to sourdough and started my first starter about a week ago. It's a real mess of craziness, as I began with AP + water (non-chlorinated) then it began to smell funny so I added pineapple juice, whole wheat flour and a dash of dark rye flour. After reading all the stories of success I think I just got impatient. 

Today, I decided to take a deep breath, and start anew (but haven't thrown out the "kitchen sink mixture"). Now I simply have some dark rye flour, water at 100% (non-chlor) and a pinch of salt. I've been reading this is really the way to go, but I've also been reading all about rye and it seems like people make a hearty starter with pure rye flour and then after the culture has taken hold try to end up with an ended starter of around 15% rye and 85% wheat. I guess rye has great starter yeast cultures and fantastic sugars but inferior gluten. I've also read that acidifying the rye starter is necessary. How do I acidify it? Will that naturally happen as the starter ferments, or do I need to add something special? Thanks and God Bless!

NanooseGuy's picture

My first sourdough! Suggestions?



I just finished baking my first sourdough bread - using the Vermont sourdough formula in 'Bread'. My starter is about 2 weeks old and triples in volume between feedings (once per day). The flavour is good but I think the loaf could be somewhat larger and the crumb, while uniform, seems a little 'dense'. I used a 9 inch banneton and made 700 grams of dough. I did one s/f at 50 minutes. I did a bulk fermentation for 2 1/2 hours and a final proof at about 85F for 2 hours.I ran into a problem early - 128 grams of liquid levain instead of what I needed, which was 142. So I added 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast.

It seems I got not enough rise during proofing and no oven spring.  

I did get some nice singing when I removed the bread from the oven. 

Any suggestions for improvements would be appreciated

tea berries's picture
tea berries

San Fransisco style bread machine flour?

Hi everyone, as some of you have read I'm a beginner and making my own starter at home. For pictures and info on that topic, here's the link: 

So today we went grocery shopping, and dropped by the nearest company that sells basically everything you could ever dream of for baking (especially sweets, cakes, etc. but also breads) by bulk. It's called "bulk barn". I went straight to the flour isle and saw two top contenders for purchase to either add to or begin a brand new starter. The first, and obvious choice was the dark rye flour. The second option, which I also picked up some of, was called "San Francisco style sourdough bread machine flour" (the San Francisco part was on the main container at the store). To help with all the potential questions that might be asked by the reader to really identify what this is, I took a picture that will help:

So I guess what I need to know is… what is this stuff? Seems like a pre-mixed bread flour that's supposed to taste like sourdough even though you just add water and instant yeast and bake. Can I make starter out of it? What ingredient makes it taste like sourdough? Is it high quality bread flour, or just a mix for people who want to cheat and make fake sourdough? I'd appreciate any advice you can give on the best use for it, considering I have no bread machine… I just figured maybe I can still work with it and since flour doesn't generally break the bank, it was worth having vs. not having considering I've been struggling with my starter. Thanks and God Bless!

adri's picture

A bread, darker than the ingredients would let you assume!

This is my latest bread:

It has quite a lot of ingredients that would make you guess it would turn out with light color:
~ 9% altus of white wheat bread
~ 24% white wheat
~ 32% white rye

It just has 35% whole rye.

I cooked a part of the rye with diastatic malt for some hours at just below 65°C and then shortly at about 85°C.

This give a highly aromatic and slightly sweet paste, as diastatic malt is mostly active at these temperatures. The 85°C will kill the activity of the malt so it won't interfere with the further baking. (And: I roasted the altus (yes it was really white bread))

On this pictures you can see the main flavour giving ingredients:

Aroma paste, white rye sourdough and roasted and ground altus.

It is a slight modification of this bread:

Have a nice evening and happy baking,

BarbaraK's picture

Sourdough - knead vs. stretch and fold

Hi Everyone

I've just started on my sourdough journey. So far  I've made San Joaquin Sourdough from dmSnyder, Norwich sourdough from Susan of Wild Yeast,  Essential's Columbia Country French style and last Peter Reinharts' Basic Sourdough Bread from his B.B.Apprentice book. Many thanks to all who provided lovely recipes, advice and methods on this site.

We've loved all of them although I know they will improve as I become more experienced. I made two loaves each time  and as an experiment held the 2nd of each (as suggested by Susan)  in the frig after forming them, baked them immediately from the frig. the next day   and we found them noticeably more interesting with more depth of flavour than the loaves baked the day before. In fact my husband, who was brought up in Central Europe, thought he had died and gone to heaven to at last have bread which reminded him of his childhood.

Both Essential's and Reinhart's specify kneading or the mixer, which is something I would prefer not to have to do. My question is does anyone know if the kneading is essential with these two recipes or could I substitute wet-handed Stretch  and Fold as I find that physically less demanding than kneading?Also can I use a higher hydration or would it be likely to change the whole character of the bread? 

I almost always use unbleached white bread flour with a proportion of whole-grain rye.

Any help or advice  from more experienced bakers would be so much appreciated.






Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

observations on fresh yeast

In my neighborhood, fresh yeast is available in supermarkets only during the Christmas holiday season. I bought a couple of the 2 ounce packages this past season and have been using the yeast to bake my bread and pizza. The two packages I bought have a date of 12/25/2013 stamped on the bottom. I bake pizza once a week and generally bake a couple of loaves of bread each week as well.  I still have exactly 1.5 oz. of the second cake remaining in my fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, sitting in the butter saver.

I generally use the no knead method for my pizza, so less yeast is needed, but even so, I find the miniscule amount of this fresh yeast required amazing! I don't even bother proofing it any more. I just cut off a tiny chunk with a paring knife, dissolve it along with a teaspoon of sugar in water, and add the requisite amount of flour. The photo is pizza dough made with 2.5 cups of water, 5 cups of AP flour, and about 1/8th ounce of fresh yeast. Dough was mixed 5 hours ago and stirred down three times during that time to prevent it escaping the bowl. It was last stirred down about 15 minutes ago.

I'll generally keep a batch of dough anywhere from a day to four days in the fridge before baking. The taste of bread and pizza made from this dough is wonderful. I use the same technique with instant yeast with good results, but not quite as good as with the fresh.

I am curious to know other's experience with this type of yeast.

andy24's picture

Construction of my authentic woodfired bread oven

jims's picture

Valentine Braided Bread

Happy Valentine's Day! This bread is based on the challah in Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Bakers Apprentice". It is 14" across. Will find out this evening how it tastes.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.


Over-proofing is often blamed for collapse in the oven. This is not always the case, as will be illustrated in this posting. A fully developed dough with good gas retention properties will not collapse in the oven, but will instead grow enormous in size. Baking this loaf was an experiment in extreme over-proofing, and an investigation into the causes of collapse in the oven.

The experimental loaf was formulated and baked the same way as Buttermilk Twist White Bread (Re-mix Method), only the loaf was not twisted. Optimum proof height was reached in about 70 minutes, but proofing was allowed to continue for an additional 50 minutes, giving a total proof time of 120 minutes. The maximum dough height reached 5” (127mm), which is about an inch higher than normal. Oven spring was tremendous, and the final baked loaf was well over 6” high.

So, it is established that over-proofing causes excessive loaf volume. But what about collapse? Offered below are two quotes from Baking Science and Technology by E. J. Pyler:

“Overproofing is recognized by loaves possessing pale crust color, coarse grain, poor texture, unsatisfactory keeping quality and undesirable flavor caused by excessive acid development. In the case of green or weak flours, it also results in poor loaf volume brought about by a collapse in the oven.” (Second edition, p 676)

Green flour is flour that has been freshly milled.

“Freshly milled flour that has not received artificial maturing treatment will generally give variable baking results and produce bread that is inferior in volume, texture, and grain to bread made from the same flour after a period of storage.” (Second edition p 352)


1) Fully developed dough made with strong flour will cause excessive volume if over-proofed.

2) Using weak flour (such as all-purpose) when strong flour is called for may cause collapse if a loaf is over-proofed.

3) Freshly milled (or “green”) flour may give inconsistent results. Over-proofing is likely to cause collapse in the oven.

4) Storage (under the proper conditions) improves the baking quality of flour.

5) When using freshly milled flour, due care should be exercised to avoid over-proofing.

 The next two photographs show the dough immediately after being panned:

After 70 minutes, the dough is ready for the oven: 

After 120 minutes, the dough is overproofed, and goes into the oven:

Immediately after baking: 

And after cooling: