The Fresh Loaf

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Robert J's picture
Robert J


I baked my first successful loaf of bread last night, due in large part to what I found on this site.  Thanks to all...

Russ's picture

Garlic focaccia with parmesan and herbs

Well, I haven't been active here in quite awhile, but I do still check in from time to time to see what people are baking and to just pick up some tips here and there.

But I baked a focaccia yesterday and wrote up the recipe to post for some folks on a couple of other sites, so I thought I might as well share here too, in case anyone is interested. I'm just going to put it up how I did on the other sites and try to fix up the formatting for how it works here. Here goes:


  • I use instant yeast, the recipe will need to be altered slightly for active dry if that's all you have. For active dry yeast, use lukewarm water, add yeast to warm water, add 1 tablespoon flour, let sit for ten minutes until bubbly, then add mixture to flour.
  • It's simplest to measure if you're working with a kitchen scale, and that's how I do it, but I will include volume measurements in case you don't have one.
  • For the herbed olive oil I tend to mix up whatever sounds good. Usually I'll do something like a clove or two of crushed/minced garlic, and some rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. I've also sometimes just done the garlic and some "italian seasoning" spice mix. You could also leave out the garlic if you like. All references to olive oil mean extra virgin.
  • Oversized parchment paper is very helpful in that it allows you to line your jelly roll pan all the way up the side. I use stuff that is 15" wide and it does the job nicely.

First day:


  • 250 g (2 cups) flour (Bread flour or other high gluten flour recommended)
  • 250 g (9 ounces, 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) water
  • 1/16 tsp yeast

Mix yeast into flour, add water, mix until the flour is wet, it will be a thick batter. Let sit covered overnight or at least four hours, at room temperature.

Next day:

Herb oil:

  • 1.25 cups olive oil
  • Herbs (Crushed garlic, fresh ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dried rosemary)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, add the herbs. After 5-10 minutes or if any of the herbs start to brown, remove from heat. Allow to cool to somewhere in the lukewarm-room temp range


  • Sponge (It should be bubbly by now)
  • 375 g (3 cups) flour
  • 13 g (2 tsp) salt
  • 4 g (1.25 tsp) yeast
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) herbed olive oil
  • 250 g (9 ounces, 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) water


  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (asiago or romano also work nicely)
  • 5-7 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • a sprig or two of fresh rosemary

This is just what I used this time, feel free to use whatever sounds good to you.
Add yeast and salt to flour, Mix well.

Put all dough ingredients in a large (5 qt or so) mixing bowl and mix well until all of the flour is wet. It will not be smooth, don't worry about that. Cover and let sit for a half hour or so.

Oil your hands (use your herbed oil), reach into the bowl and stretch the dough, folding it over on itself. Do this two or three times. Cover and let sit another half hour or so. Repeat this step twice, allowing half an hour between each repetition. The dough will get smoother and the gluten will strengthen each time.

After the third folding session, let the dough sit until roughly doubled in size, usually 40 minutes to an hour.

Line a jelly roll pan (half sheet) with parchment paper. Pour about 1/4 cup of herbed oil onto the parchment and use your hands or a pastry brush to spread the oil to coat the parchment.

Using an oiled spatula or scraper, pour the dough into the sheet pan. Pour about 1/4 cup of herbed oil onto the dough. Oil your fingers a bit with it too. Spread the dough out by poking with your fingertips (hard to describe, poke it with fingers of both hands, pulling a little away from each other as you do, do this repeatedly until the dough is not a mound, but more flat with dimples and spread to about 2/3 the size of the pan). If there are any very large bubbles in the dough at this point, pop them. Pour a bit more oil on the dough so it's coated, using a pastry brush to spread the oil if needed. For the rest of this rise, I don't usually cover the dough, just check on it occasionally and pour a bit more oil on if any part looks dry. Let rise for another hour to hour and a half. It will mostly spread and get bubbly during this time.

About 1/2 hour into that rise, spread the dough again. It should pretty much fill the sheet by now. Try to pop as few of the bubbles that have been forming as possible. You'll want to start preheating your oven to 450 now.

At the end of that rise, Pour the rest of the oil onto the dough, including the herbs in it. try to distribbute the herbs somewhat evenly. Spread your grated cheese and sliced garlic on top.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn 180 degrees, bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. For best results, remove from the hot sheet pan. What I usually do is use the parchment to help me slide the whole thing into another, cool, sheet pan. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.


bronc's picture

Can't source strong flour

Since this is my first post I'd first like to thank you for creating and maintaining such a resourceful website. There is so much information about bread making that still feel overwhelmed even though I've been reading it for the last couple of days. 

I created my starter a week and a half ago with the intention to get into sourdough breads. During that time I watched a number of videos on kneading (Richard Bertinet's method), stretch and fold techniques, and etc. in order to have an idea what process to follow. Yesterday I finally had some free time to bake a loaf so I went to the store to buy some white flour (I feed my starter with wholemeal wheat flour). I live in Bulgaria and the flour types here are quite different from the ones in the US or even in Western Europe. It turned out that the highest protein flour I could find had only 9.5% protein content which is lower than even the AP flour you have in the US. Having no choice I had to settle with it and I didn't think it would make such a huge difference. Well, it does. It looks like low-protein flour absorbs way less water than US AP flour does which means that kneading the flour is a nightmare because it basically sticks so much that I can't get it of my hands. The bread which I tried was a 60% hydration one and I used Bertinet's method of 'kneading' but even that didn't help and the dough was more of a pancake batter than bread dough. Today I tried another one with a 50% hydration level and it's a bit better but even after 15-20mins of stretching and beating it still sticks to the counter. What can I do in this case? If I increase the amount of flour I'm worried that the dough will turn out too dry but otherwise I can't handle it..

christinepi's picture

dough super wet

My 5 sourdough productions so far have ranged from edible to only chicken feed worthy. Most recently I used this recipe:, and it's in the quite edible category. But I think almost everything went wrong and I just kind of salvaged it.

In the evening, I divided all the ingredients in half, and I know I made no mistake there. For the requested 244g (487g : 2) of flour I used 200g of bread flour and 44g KA white whole wheat. I added to that the 150g sourdough starter (fed in the morning, and again at 1pm, at a ratio of 1:2.2:2.2). The immediate result was a super wet dough, beyond sticky. After an hour, at 10pm, after thinking this over, I added 25g of bread flour. That seemed to help some. I let it sit in out at between 65 and 70 over night. At 8am the next day it had risen quite nicely, if not doubled. I decided to let it sit some more since I needed to walk the dog anyway. I came back at 9, and did a stretch and fold (not asked for in the recipe, but I figured it might help get the dough more "together". I did another 25 minutes later, and then another, and then let it rest for 30 minutes. After the first stretch and fold some nice bubbles developed, and they were also there after I stretched and folded again, but by the time I s+t'd again, they were gone and never came back. During the last rest the dough barely rose at all. During all those s+t's the dough was at a 76 temperature. I couldn't do the poke test, because the dough just stuck to my finger when I tried to pull my finger out.

The outcome (baked at 500 in a dutch oven, and it turns out I baked it too long, too, since it had an internal temp of 220) was remarkably un-desastrous, but still far from what I had wanted. Question: does this recipe require more flour to begin with? If so, how much? If not, what else could have I have done differently to get a better result?



Stoertebeker's picture

I'm lost - how to add sourdough to my breaddough

Hello fellow bakers,

I'm at a loss and need some advice.  I have been baking spelt bread with yeast for a while.  It worked well but I really want to use my spelt sourdough starter instead of yeast (instant),  First of all my sourdough starter is very watery. I followed the recipe on this page

When I tried to bake with it I didn't know how to include it into my baker's math (see image).  My dough ended up to watery. The spreadsheet says fresh yeast, but I use instant dry yeast for now.


How can I calculate the amount of water and flour when using my spelt sourdough starter? 

metropical's picture

starter develops skin while rising

my starter has developed a skin when I feed while I'm waiting for it to rise.

Normally it does a rather nice double in about 6 hours.

Though it is rising, it'a no quite double, and I suspect it' somewhat impeded by the skin.

Should I add more water to the feed?

House is at 60f most of the day.

Premium Value Products's picture
Premium Value P...

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dabrownman's picture

Holiday Puff Paste Heath Bar and Chocolate Chip Rugelach

I suppose these really aren’t Rugelach in the strictest sense of the word but they are at least sort of shaped like them and they end up sort of looking like them. 


These are much lighter the heavier sour cream and short crust ones that are terrific too, but not as good as these beauties.


I didn’t brush the rolled out puff paste with butter as usual but, besides the Heath Bar chunks and chocolate chips, Lucy did put some brown sugar and cocoa in the filling as well.

My daughter said these were the best Rugelach yet and mentioned…. Wow Dad you really know how to make puff paste!  She made my day and these treats were the fitting end to long day of baking.

acebaker's picture


Does this look like overproof to you? I've been having trouble recently getting my dough to rise because it's gotten pretty cold lately. I think I've gone to far the other way now.

I usually do a preferment the day before baking, then bulk proof the final dough in the fridge overnight. In the morning I divide and shape then leave in a couche until baking. 

The change I've made is to put the bulk dough into the oven (on proof) setting in the morning to complete the bulk proof.

This is the result.

RobynNZ's picture

Tartine Book No. 3: Modern Ancient Classic Whole

Was surprised to see Chad Robertson's new book included in the Food52 Piglet list, as I didn't think it was out yet.

Checking the link to amazon discovered that it will be released next week, on  Dec 17. No doubt it will be found in the christmas stockings of some lucky TFLers.

Enjoyed reading through the 'look inside' pages. 

Was interested to note the use of Sylvia's steaming towel method for the spelt and toasted corn flour baguettes.

He explains more clearly his choice of not including the levain flour in the overall flour. That will still grate with many of us here (RIP Eric), but I guess I see his point.

When I am in the city over Christmas New Year will enjoy looking for some 'ancient grain' flour. 

Looking forward to hearing how people get on working with the new formula.