The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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CAphyl's picture

Frozen Dough Tragedy and Triumph

As a number of you know, I have experimented with freezing dough and baking it later.  I have had some recent mixed results, and I thought I would share it to see if there are some things to learn from my experience. Recently, I made a wonderful Tartine sourdough with olives, herbes de provence and lemon zest, recipe link below.  I froze the second loaf to bake later, and I baked it in the last few days.  It was terrible--a flat, gummy disk.

It would not get done, and you can see how gummy the dough was after baking forever. The color was slightly white, looking overproofed. I did have another bad frozen dough experience recently when I left some frozen five grain dough in the Midwest and baked it from frozen after it had been frozen for some time.  When I baked it, I got a small, gummy disk that also would never get done. I kind of wrote it off as it had been frozen for a long time.  But, it was interesting that the exact same thing happened again back in my home kitchen in California with the olive loaf, which hadn't been frozen for very long.  The gummy olive loaf sure didn't look like the original loaf below, with recipe link:

Interestingly, I had frozen some other dough a few days before the olive dough, when I made Ian's semolina porridge bread for the first time.  When I made the first loaf, it was tasty, but was a bit flat as you can see in the photos below.

The crumb was fine, but I just didn't get the lift. Ian suggested less hydration, so I tried something different on the second loaf, which I baked from frozen.  I defrosted it and kneaded in more flour and sprinkled it with a bit of yeast to try and get some lift.  It turned out very well when I baked it today, as you can see below.

The crumb came out very well, and the bread was just delicious!  Thanks, Ian. The crumb was just right.

It is interesting that this dough had been frozen longer than the olive loaf. All of the doughs I have frozen recently had pretty high hydration. Is that a clue?  If so, why did the semolina loaf turn out so well, as it was high hydration like the other two that ended up as flat, gummy disks? I have another five grain frozen, which has been frozen for some time, so that will be my next experiment.  Perhaps if the dough seems too wet, I should knead in flour as I did with the frozen loaf I made from Ian's recipe.  So many questions to pursue!  Thought you would enjoy the results of my recent experiments.  Best,  Phyllis

Here is the link to Ian's recipe:


dabrownman's picture

Sprouted Spelt, Barley, Rye and Wheat Sourdough with 5 Seeds and Brazil Nuts

This week Lucy came up with a combination method; part no knead, part slap and fold and part stretch and fold to go along with her recent sprouted flour fetish..  the whole grain sprouts this week were; spelt,  rye, barley and wheat and made up the 34%  whole grains in the mix.


After drying the sprouts, we milled them getting a 25% extraction of the hard bits.  This is the closest we have come to getting a 72% ‘straight flour of the remaining much whiter flour.  As usual we fed the hard bits to the now 11 week old retarded, 66% hydration, whole rye starter.


There was just enough left to hold back for next weeks baking at the 12 week mark and to refresh the starter back to its 120 g whole rye self which we did this week son that the starter when first used will be 2 weeks old in the fridge.


We love Andy’s Toasted Brazil Nut and prune bread and think that Brazil nuts, like pistachios, are vastly underutilized in bread making.  To mix things up, since we haven’t used any seeds for weeks, Lucy prescribed a 5 seeds mix of equal parts of toasted; chia, hemp (for the Queen of Seeds), flax  and poppy seeds with a tiny 5 gram amount of sesame seeds.  After grinding, she soaked them in 65 g of potato water for 24 hours since chia seeds are notorious for stealing water from the dough


The sesame seeds were light because that is all Lucy could find in her double secret, seedy store that she guards with her very life.   Ingredient guard duty is better than having to drag badgers out of holes like normal, non baking apprentice 2nd class dackels have to do I’m sure.  Still, she does go into every hole looking for them,   So, she must be genetically modified for it and can’t help herself like she can’t forego any food, of any kind that she can smell, locate and ‘Dackel Down.’ 


We retarded our built 3 stage levain for 12 hours instead of our usual 24 hours.  An hour after it came out of the fridge the next day to finish its 3rd stage doubling, we also autolysed the dough flour and soaked seeds for 1 hour.  All the liquid, except in the 6 g of seed starter, was potato water from boiling potatoes for the potato salad we made as a side for ribs.  Lucy throws nothing away.


Once the levain hit the autolyse that included the soaked seeds, we did 3 sets of slap and folds of 1 minute each, followed by 3 sets of stretch and folds from the compass points only.  All the stretching and folding we on 20 minute intervals.  The toasted Brazil nuts were incorporated on the 1st set of stretch and folds and they were well distributed by the end of the 3rd set.


This bread made for one fine smoked chicken sadwich for lunch.

We then shaped the dough into a boule, placed it into a rice floured basket, bagged it in our usual used trash can liner and left on the counter for 3 hours of fermenting.  Then into the fridge it went for a cold 20 hour retard where we hoped the dough would finish proofing and gluten development at the same time.


The next day the dough looked fairly proofed and we let it warm up on the counter as we preheated Big Old Betsy to 550 F and readied the Mega Steam.  The steam went in when the BOB hit 550 F and we waited another 15 minutes for the stone to catch up and the steam to be billowing like a thunderhead.


We un-molded the dough onto parchment on a peel, slashed it in a square and slid it onto the bottom stone for 15 minutes of steam as we gradually lowered the temperature to 475 F regular bake after the first 4 minutes.   Once the steam came out, we lowered the temperature to 425 F - convection and, in 15 more minutes, the bread was at 210 F and ready for the cooling rack.


It sprang and bloomed well enough and there were those small blisters we like very much.  The crust was mahogany and crunchy as it came out of the oven.  We will have to wait to see how the crumb came out and how it tastes until lunch time.  Lunch is over and the crust went softer as it cooled.  The crumb was fairly open, soft and moist for this kind oif bread too.   It tasted fantastic!  The seeds, Brazil nuts, sprouted whole grains and sour all worked so well together.  A tasty delight to eat for sure.  Deep and earthy flavor that is healthy, seedy and nutty all at once.  If there were figs in there somewhere, our taste buds might genetically mutate into the killer buds that tasted Chicago and the prison in Joliet.

 Smoked ribs and chicken for Cousin Jay who just bough a house in Phoenix and will be moving here in about a year- Yea!!!  We love Cousin Jay.  Then ther was the Thai green curry seafood for our daughter's last meal at home before heading back to school.


Sprouted MG SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



11 Week Retarded Rye Starter






Whole Rye






25% Ext Sprouted Whole Grain






Potato Water


















Starter Totals












Potato Water






Levain Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour  & Water












Dough Flour






75% Ext. Sprouted Whole Grain






Bread Flour






Total Dough Flour


















Potato Water






Toasted Brazil Nuts






5 Kinds of Toasted Seeds












Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter






Potato Water 371 w/ Starter












Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain - Sprouted Grain












Toasted seeds are 20 g each of: chia, hemp,





poppy and flax with 5 g of sesame.  The seeds were




were then ground and soaked in 65 g of potato water 




overnight.  This Soaker liquid was included in the dough liquid



Lucy reminds us to never forget the salad but why not put the salad on a smoked rib quesadilla?


amoroso's picture

Need Help Containing Steam in Home Gas Oven

I have a gas oven that has a fan, and it turns on and off during the baking. So this really destroys my steam environment and I think it is the reason why my breads haven't been blossoming. I just bought a cast iron for more steam introduction, but need to do something about this fan. I go through the conventional bake, not Convection, which my oven has this option as well, but I've been avoiding that for obvious reason. Should I preheat the oven, and shut it down for 10 minutes and then kick it back on for the final cooking stage? Worried about a lot of heat loss when loading the loaf in. I also do not want to block the fan, as that is a safety concern. Thanks for any help.

edroid's picture

Want Steam?

This takes the "SFBI" steam method to the next level. 

There are two changes to the standard SFBI method: first is the use of a half inch round steel plate instead of lava rocks or bolts. This allows the second change: heat the steel plate and the skillet on the stovetop to whatever temp you want. I took the temp up to 550° with great results. The steel plate weighs 5.75 pounds and holds an incredible amount of heat.

The advantages are that the round steel plate has far more thermal mass than lava rocks or nuts and bolts, you can bring the whole thing to a much hotter temperature by heating directly on the stovetop, and by heating the steel to higher temperature you have less heat loss in the oven. The plates heat quickly on the stove, so my guess is that it is more energy efficient also. 

You can have a local metal shop cut the round plate for fairly minimal cost, or probably order one from BakingSteel Co. The skillet is standard 9" Lodge cast iron. The perforated pie plate is made by Chicago Metallic and is available on Amazon. 

An infrared thermometer is recommended to get a temperature reading of the steel on the stovetop. 




rozeboosje's picture

High Hydration Nightmare

Ladies and gents,

I have a problem. I guess the first step toward resolving the problem is admitting that you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. I cannot handle high hydration dough. I just fail. Miserably.

Yesterday I watched a video of some French guy doing a high hydration recipe, using this lifting, stretching and folding technique. Here is what happened in his video:

1) He mixed the flour and his yeast and the salt I guess

2) He added an almost obscene amount of water :-)

3) He mixed it into a sticky goop

4) He turned it over on the work top

5) He started stretching and folding

6) You could see the gluten tightening

7) As he kept going the dough became silky smooth


Now, I use a sourdough starter, and I'm making a light brown bread with Italian tipo 00 (probably about 12.7% protein) and a brown "malthouse flour" at about 12.3% so things are a little different, but I tried to stick to the above method as best as possible. Because of the sourdough I also decided to autolyse the flour first...

This is what I tried...

1) I mixed flour and about 90% water and left it to stand for 1/2 hour

2) I added salt, mixed that in, and then mixed in an amount of levain equal to the original amount of flour

3) It, too, turned into a sticky goop

4) I turned it over on the work top

5) I started .... well, to the best of my limited ability, to stretch and fold.

6) At first you could indeed see the gluten tightening. It seemed like everything was going swimmingly... but then

7) It's almost as if some kind of "glue" starts oozing out of the gloop. Suddenly it's as if, rather than getting smoother, it starts getting stickier again.


And then it all went horribly wrong





lilae's picture

How to bake a sourdough Kouign Amann?

Hi TFLers!

I have been following some sourdough recipe posters on here for a while and trying to create a sourdough loaf! I've only baked bricks so far, but I'm working on it! I just started a san francisco sourdough starter 3 weeks ago, so it is still quite immature.

Now my questions is how can you bake a sourdough Kouign Amann? A friend showed me a pic and I'm dying to try and make it with sourdough! I think the flavors would be outstanding with sea salt and brown sugar together!

Now there is only 1 recipe online that is made with sourdough, however it doesn't look quite as impressive as the non-sourdough recipes below. 


Sourdough Kouign Amann recipe:


Dry Yeast Kouign Amann recipes:





Is someone who is an accomplished sourdough baker be able to try this out and convert the recipe?

I'm hoping txfarmer will find this post and try her hand at this delicious looking pastry!

Thank you! :)

haydensmith's picture

Help! Newbie with no structure


I'm new to the world of sourdough. I started my sourdough starter (Dave) about two weeks ago. He's bubbling and frothing (adding approx. 2-3  centimetres of foam to the top of the starter jar) consistently after his morning and evening feeds, and this is day five of dying to make sourdough. Each day I'm facing the same issue. The dough structure breaks down to a very sticky and unworkable consistency as it's proving overnight. 

My sourdough (four cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of starter and water to bring the texture together) comes together nicely of an evening. Additionally the dough rises well overnight in a warm airing cupboard (approx. doubling in size). The dough at night errs on dry, is hand kneaded for 10-15 minutes, is stretchy and workable. 

Sourdough risen 



The problem is, in the morning the dough has formed a dry skin like crust. And beneath the crust the dough has collapsed into a a very sticky goopy dough. 

I cannot drop the dough onto a baking stone like this. 

I cannot re-work the dough like this without adding a significant amount of flour and, even then, the dough whilst resting for even 40-45 minutes reforms the crust. 

I've already moved from machine kneading to hand kneading. 

I've already made the dough extra dry. 

Some possible variables are putting the dough somewhere cooler to rise. 

The starter, although I'm assuming the fact it's rising and has a great sourdough taste is a good sign? 

Over to the experts with my deep thanks,





sandy2's picture

Sourdough + Yeast?

I encounter some sourdough bread recipes that include commercial yeast as well as starter.  I read somewhere that this isn't advisable, as the little beasties try to kill each other.  Could this possibly be true?

JoeV's picture

English Muffins

Got up early this morning and made a batch of English muffins, and turned one into a "Joe McMuffin."

ibor's picture

Round bread braid.Double strand,twisted.

The right hand side insert shows the braided dough and the main picture represents the baked bread.

From: "The Art of Braiding Bread"