The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Ilse's picture

Infrared Ovens

Does anyone know anything about infrared ovens?  Is it better than the conventional ones?



Daniel Rennal's picture
Daniel Rennal

Trouble with crumb structure on high hydration sourdough loaf

So I've only recently been experimenting with high hydration loaves, and have had mostly good results.  The loaf I baked last night, however, was not the best.  It definitely lacked on oven spring, and the crumb was way too closed and spongy.   I didn't write everything down this time, but so far as I remember I made the leaven at about 1 AM, which was 50 G starter, 150 G all purp flour (heartland mills), and 150 gram king arthur whole wheat.   When I checked it at 10:30 AM the leaven was active and floated in water.   I made enough dough for two fairly large boules by mixing 1150 grams of flour ( a mixture of all purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat, and a little coarse rye,) and 850 grams water, coming out to about a 74 percent hydration, not including the leaven...which I used 220 grams of.   I let the dough bulk ferment while stretching and folding during the first few hours for seven hours total, then I let one loaf (the one the in picture,) rise at room temperature for 3 and a half hours and baked it that night, the other loaf proofed in the refridgerator for about 18 hours and was immediately thrown in the looks slightly better, but probably isn't a whole lot better.   Any suggestions?  I'm thinking this may have overproofed...causing the tight crumb structure, or just not enough practice shaping wet dough...


nora sass's picture
nora sass

Starter sinks in water

Hi Everyone, Im new into baking and I've tried a few versions of a simple sourdough bread.  It did not rise as much as I expected it to be. After reading a few blogs, I was told to test my starter by throwing a spoon fool in a bowl of water and if it floats is good.

However, I did that and realised my started actually sank rite down, thou I had been feeding it regularly and it is as bubbly.

Cud someone pls help me out here. I am almost the verge of giving up here.

Thank you to you Awesome bakers out there .


BetsyMePoocho's picture

Figuring Totat % Hydration

Hey Folks,

Been working on my French Baguettes and Sour Dough for a very long time.  I have, through a process of slight additions of water to each batch, been able to nail down good hydration level with consistent results.

But I really do not know what percent of hydration I have wound up with...... So, my question to all you learned folks is:

How to figure total % hydration when using a receipt that incorporates a Poolish or Sour Dough culture???


My Poolish is made up from equal parts flour and water with 1/8t yeast. 

My Sour Dough Starter was originally made using a culture, 1c flour, and 1/2c water.  It is refreshed for using in dough with 1c starter, 1c flour, and 1/2 to 2/3 water.  Then 1c of the refreshed starter is used in my receipt.

It is easy to figure hydration in a normal receipt, simple math.  I'm just lost with factoring the starters in and my wife says that I might be a little slow.....

Thanks for any comments.....


Baking Bread is like Golf..... Always trying for the perfect shot......

The Whole Grain's picture
The Whole Grain

Maintaining starter: do quantities/feeding regime really matter?

Dear all, 

I am new to baking sourdough bread and would love some advice from you. 

My question: does it really matter how you feed or maintain your starter? Will I run into problems if I do it all freehand and by not following a strict regime?

The reason why I ask is that I don't want the whole baking experience to become an exact science, I want it to be a relaxing -and rewarding- thing. 

Thank you for your advice, 

The Whole Grain

My approx 100 gram mother starter is about 4 weeks old, I keep it in the fridge and feed it whole wheat flour approx once every 2 days but more often and bigger feeds if I plan to bake within the next 2 days. It is alive, bubbling and doubling in size after a feed. I like to keep the consistency like creamy peanutbutter so I can mix it using a fork. It smells sour, sometimes of alcohol which I assume is because it has been starving. I like to keep it small and have little waste, especially because I won't be baking bread that often (one person household and trying to keep carb intake low-ish).

yeasty-loaf's picture

Today's Yeasty Loaf experiment.

I've been playing about with my enriched direct dough formula. I reduced the enrichment and the result was a lighter, springier texture to the crumb whilst maintaining a good crust and flavour.  I wish I could post a picture but I don't know how to post more than 1 on a post. I would go as far as to say the flavour was slightly improved by the reduced enrichment.  I think next time I will reduce the butter & sugar a little more. I also want to try not just finishing them off on the shelf to crust up the bottom but finish the baking upside down for a crustier bottom to the loaf and see which one works best.   I'm aiming for the best texture with the fuller flavour.  This is the 5th bake I've done since rediscovering my passion for bread making again. I love the feel of the dough and the excitement and anticipation between each stage of making bread.  Overall a very successful bake and I managed to get a loaf for the freezer. I am one very happy chappy with the results. Especially with my Banneton. I love the lines on the finished boule. With a bit more practice I should get an even nicer looking loaf. And with the other 2 on order all my loaves will soon all have the 'banneton look'.  My baking leaves a lot to be desired with a lot of room for improvement but I'm hoping I will with practice get even better than I was when I baked almost everyday and my loaves look as good as the others posted on this site (Gotta aim high).   My scoring still needs work. It's messy. I have ordered a lame to see if having the proper tool helps.  But I think it's a confidence thing. Iron hand in a velvet glove as they say. I just need practice. Practice is a good excuse to bake.  I plan on giving my starter 'Susie' a try soon with my first adventure in to sourdough. I have previously when I baked bread all the time dabbled in sourdough but never much more and this time I want to really see where the dough leads me.  Cheerio for now & Happy Baking Krisps I'm not sure why the picture has uploaded upside down?!

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Panettone, poolish version.

A quick and easy formula that works.

I wish you merry christmas before it’s too late!


australian artisan's picture
australian artisan

Making bread better.

Hi all I am looking for some advice.

First off, I work at a Bakery in Victoria, Australia. And I have been tasked with improving the quality of our products as I have a background in Artisan Baking, the thing is we make bread using "Improver" for you Americans Improver is a dough conditioner and I am not sure how to use it. At the moment we do not let our doughs bulk ferment at all and I see that as a problem.

So that leads to what I want to talk about:

How long should the bulk ferment be for a white dough with improver in it. And mixed for 4 minutes on slow speed and 8-10 minutes on fast? Or will there be no difference?

Would mixing it using the Improved Method produce a better product? And if so how long should I rest it for?

White Dough Percentages:
Four 100%
Water 60%
Yeast 1.6%
Improver 1%
Salt        2%
Fat         2%

golgi70's picture

Farmer's Market Week 17 (Raisin Levain)

Well we've missed a few markets but I'm back.  And the great news.  The farmer's market will continue through the winter for the first time.  It will obviously be toned down by 75% as there are much fewer folks with product during the winter but a victory for humanity none the less.  I've built of a rye starter over the past couple of weeks and have been feeding it bi-daily and then retarding after letting it sit out for a couple of hours.  it's doing quite well and I opted to put it to use.  Breads made of mostly white flour really get a boost from small amounts of rye so I opted to use a Rye Sour and use 25% rye in the total formula, (all of which is in the pre ferment)  I added .25% cinnamon to the dough to give it a nice hint but not to be the front runner.  I also soaked the raisins in hot water so I can pull some of the sugar into the dough without adding any additional sugar, and added a vanilla bean while they soaked to give the raisins a nice flavor.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  Next time I might up the raisin soak by 50% and puree 1/3 of the raisins into the dough.


For 2 loaves

Rye Sour: 6-8 hours


195 g  Rye Flour, coarse ground

195g  H20

60 g   Mature Rye Starter


Raisin Soak:


120 g  Raisins

120g  H20, hot

1/2   Vanilla bean split and scraped




400 g  Bread Flour

200 g  Strong Flour

75  g  Whole Wheat

3 g     Cinnamon

311g  H20

20 g   Salt


1)  Make Rye Sour and let ferment for 6-8 hours

    Soak raisins with hot water and toss in vanilla bean caviar and all and stir up.  Cover and let sit.

2)  1 hour before the Sour is ready drain raisins.  

3)  Autolyse 1 hour:  Rye Sour, water, raisin water, final dough flour, and cinnamon

4)  Add salt and begin mix on speed one to combine well (3 minutes0
     Turn to speed 2 and continue mixing until medium devlopment.

     Add raisins and mix on low until well dispersed.  

5)  Bulk Ferment:  4 hours with 2 stretch and folds at 45 minutes and 1:30

6)  Divide and preshape.  Rest 20 minutes.  

   Shape to bowls and retard overnight. (my dough was a bit cool and would have benefited from 30-60 minutes                                                                  at room temp before retarding)

   Bake straight from retarder at 500 with steam for 13 minutes, then lowered to 480 vented for about 25 more.

   Cool on rack. 




craigskelly88's picture

starter smelling like acetone

I was wondering if anybody can help me, as ive mentioned above i have a 100 % rye flour starter @ 100% hydration, which has been going for about a week. It has started doubling in about 6 hours, but constantly smells like acetone, even when a few hours in. Im in the uk, and its not really to hot here at the moment, so im pretty sure its not fermenting to quickly due to temp. Sorry in advance for grammar/ and or spelling mistakes in advance. just wanted to get this post out there ! Thankyou, craig.

p.s. ive just posted this in my blog by accident ! not very computer articulate obviously....