The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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christinepi's picture

Sour sourdough

I finally managed to create a starter that seems to be doing what it's supposed to be doing. It is about 2 weeks old. I feed the starter every 12 hours 1:1.5:1.5, and it's all white wheat. I went ahead and baked a loaf (breadtopia's no knead sourdough).

I let it bulk ferment for 18 hours, at temps between 61 and 70 (it fermented during the night). The loaf is denser than I'd like it to be, but the crust is divine, so I'm not too unhappy. However, it's sour (surprise!). It may be just me (I don't like SF sourdough very much, for example). How could this already be this (relatively) sour? Is there a way to get it less sour? Also, I had hoped for more flavor overall, though that might come with time, right?

patman23's picture

Using a lame

I have a bread lame and for some reason it sticks to the dough.  Instead of getting nice deep cuts I get a jagged pull across the dough.  What am I doing wrong?


pmiker's picture

Irish Brown Bread (soda bread)

I used the recipe on the King Arthur Flour site and the bread turned out nicely.  I varied a bit from the recipe in that I used a 5 qt dutch oven.  I put the dough into the cold dutch oven, covered it and placed it into a pre-heated oven at 450F for 5 minutes and then turned the heat down to 350F and baked for 45 minutes.  

The dough that I made was shaped into a ball and slightly flattened.  It looked small in the dutch oven.  Should I have flattened it down to a thick disk?  Should I have made more dough for the dutch oven or perhaps used a smaller dutch oven?

In the picture it's hard to gauge size but it is about 3 inches tall at center.  Should it have risen more?

I like the bread and the recipe but if I can do it better I'd like to.


jimtr6's picture

proofing in a crock pot

has anyone tried this, I'm trying it now, I'm at low low heat but think I'll build a timer that shuts off at certain intermittent periods like on for five, off for ten minutes, make it adjustable to maintain a warm but not hot environment. Also several metal ramekins with boiling water

golgi70's picture

Dave's SFBI Miche (Almost)

Well with David's strong suggestion to make this loaf after talking of the Miche in "Bread" I had to see.  I was mostly interested how this amazing loaf was mostly comprised of white flour.  I had to see.  I made 2 loaves @ 2 KG each.  I went with the original formula David mentions with just a couple small changes.  First Change was I made the Levain with all Central Milling T85 opposed to a mix of White/Wheat.  I decreased the toasted wheat germ to 2% (because I had this much on hand).  Finally I prepped a bit shy on levain so I proceeded with 11% pre-fermented flour opposed to 13% and made it up in the final dough. 

A few changes I made were adding a short 30 minute autolyse with the levain included.  I mixed using the pincer method.Then I decreased the folds down to only 2 folds @ 1 hour intervals because the dough had good strength and was lively after the second fold.  The total bulk was 3 1/2 hours

I always like to bake my cold retarded loaves from the fridge and never proof them post retarding.  The less hydration doughs do require or benefit from a 30-60 minute rest out of fridge to soften the cold skin.  I did so with these but still got a bit too much spring.  I think next time I'll let these proof for an hour or so at room temp prior to retarding and hopefully that'll hit the perfect mark.  

The toasted wheat germ is the key to this loaf.  It brings so much to this relatively simple dough.  I've just cut it after about 10 hours (couldn't resist) You can see I shoulda waited til tommorrow based on the slightly moist base.  Both loaves temped at 210 out of the oven after an hour and ten minute bake.  They lost 15% water weight through the bake.  When I did the Miche from  "Bread" the loss was around 10%.  

Tasting:  Well at first bit this bread is sweet like dessert and has a wonderful chew that brings some nice mellow lactic notes.  I'm imagining this will be fun to taste through the next few days.  



bnom's picture

If you work with wet doughs, read this for a "handy" tip.

For those of you who have adopted the stretch and fold in the bowl technique, I wanted to share a handy (pun intended) trick.  I discovered it yesterday when I needed to take my tub of just mixed dough with me to a meeting so I could do some S&Fs during the first proof.  Given the constraints (lack of sink, etc), i decided to bring along some nitrile gloves that I could slip on and off for the S&Fs.  

Wow!  Using the glove was great!  It allowed me to get a good grip on the dough and there was was no dough sticking to the glove. No added water (from dipping hand in water to prevent sticking). No need to remove my rings or wash my hands afterward .  I was able to reuse the same glove for all S&Fs.  I will be employing this hand-in- glove technique, at home or away, from now on. 




hanseata's picture

Farewell to gluten free: Why we are so easily fooled by pseudoscience

and marketing gimmicks when it comes to food. Very interesting article!

I can only say "Amen" to that!


CAphyl's picture

My first Vermont Sourdough

Before I joined this site,  I didn't realize how behind the curve I was as I had never made a Vermont Sourdough. I decided to get with it and make one today.  I have been schooled by the many wonderful bakers on this site and encouraged to try, so I did.  I used David's Hamelman's recipe, but altered it a bit by adding a bit more rye.  I was finishing a bag of bread flour and didn't have quite enough, and I thought the additional rye would add some nice flavor. Lately, I have been making lots of David's recipes, but the next one I would like to make is one of Khalid's....looking forward to trying that.

I was so impressed with this dough throughout the process. It proofed beautifully, the oven spring was really terrific, and the crumb was nice.

I am sure I will make some variations of this in the future. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but probably added a tad more water than called for in the recipe.

Here is the recipe I used (I made two changes to the original recipe, which I noted):

Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, from Hamelman's "Bread”

By dmsnyder




Bread flour

1 lb 11.2 oz.


Whole Rye

4.8 oz



1 lb 4.8oz



.6 oz



3 lbs 5.4 oz






Bread flour

6.4 oz



8 oz


Mature culture (liquid)

1.3 oz



15.7 oz.





Bread flour (I used 1.55)

1lb 8 oz

Whole Rye (I used 6.8)

4.8 oz


12.8 oz

Liquid levain

14.4 oz

(all less 3 T)


.6 oz


3 lbs 5.4 oz



  1. The night before mixing the final dough, feed the liquid levain as above. Ferment at room temperature overnight.
  2. Mix the final dough. Place all ingredients except the salt in the bowl and mix to a shaggy mass.
  3. Cover the bowl and autolyse for 20-60 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix using the paddle of a stand mixer for 2 minutes at Speed 1. Add small amounts of water or flour as needed to achieve a medium consistency dough.
  5. Switch to the dough hook and mix at Speed 2 for 6-8 minutes. There should be a coarse window pane.
  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and ferment for 2.5 hours with one stretch and fold at 1.25 hours.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal parts and form into rounds. Place seam side up on the board.
  8. Cover with plastic and allow the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Form into boules or bâtards and place in bannetons or en couch. Cover well with plasti-crap or place in food safe plastic bags.
  10. Refrigerate for 12-18 hours.
  11. The next day, remove the loaves from the refrigerator.
  12. Pre-heat the oven at 500ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
  13. After 45-60 minutes, pre-steam the oven. Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score them.
  14. Load the loaves onto the stone and pour ½ cup boiling water into the steaming apparatus. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.
  15. After 15 minutes, if you have a convection oven, turn it to convection bake at 435ºF. If you don't, leave the oven at 460ºF. Bake for another 25 minutes.
  16. Remove the loaves to a cooling rack.
  17. Cool completely before slicing.
MaxQ's picture

Semolina Bread MK4

Well, in case anybody remembers, about a year ago I posted this. Well, the time of year has come again when the winter is over, and we have tons of left over semolina (we buy it to make porridge). A lot of water (and flour) has passed under the bridge since that naive attempt, and I had 2 other attempts (unpublished) before this, the final result.

Now, there seems to be some confusion surrounding semolina. Often it actually refers to fine Durham flour. But I mean the coarse grains. (Wikipedia has a good article and a nice picture of the grain.) This confusion means that finding recipes is hard, since (almost) nobody bothers to make the distinction. The purpose of this is to get rid of the semolina, but in a recipe that means something else.... that happened to me once. The result was edible, but only just. So, I decided to experiment, and thus finish the semolina. As a side result, I got a nice, soft, moist bread with a sweet flavor and an excellent crust.

So after a little trial and error (the 2 unpublished attempts) I arrived a good recipe, that I like. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the process, just the end result.

Semolina bread (one loaf)

Step 1

  • 1 cup coarse semolina
  • 1 cup water

Mix together so you get a nice thick porridge. Depending on the size of your grains you may need more water. Let this mixture sit for at least an hour, but the longer, the better. This is to soften up the grains, and to prevent them from drinking all the water from your dough later.

Step 2

  • 1 tbs dry yeast
  • 1 tbs honey or molasses
  • 1 cup warm water (~40 C)
  • 2.25 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast, honey and water together and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until it gets foamy. This is not strictly necessary for dry active yeast, but I like doing it because it smells nice. Alternatively, just follow whatever instructions necessary for activating your yeast.

Add the flour and salt (I used AP flour) and mix on low until a dough forms.

Add the semolina mixture and continue mixing on low until well mixed. Then mix on medium-high for a few minutes, until gluten starts to form. You'll notice at this point that the dough has much more of a batter consistency than dough. That's fine. It needs to be very wet because of the coarseness of the semolina. Keep mixing on medium-high until there is enough gluten. How much is enough? I don't know. Until it looks right.

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap or a wet towel or whatever you like to use and let rise for an hour. It won't grow very much in size, but it will add flavor.

Pour the dough into a well-greased loaf pan.

Preheat the oven to 210 C. When it reaches temp, put the bread in the oven and lower the temp to 180. Bake for half an hour. Watch the oven spring! It's magical.

Once a light crust begins to form (after 20-30 minutes) lower the temp to 150 C and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until golden-brown.

Remove from pan and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

I particularly like that the bread has a moist, spongy texture, and I somehow managed to get a nice even crust, with no sharp delineations between shades of brown.

As a final note, I arrived at this recipe via trial and error. I would like to thank my wife for being a good sport about the whole thing, and even eating the bread from the failed attempts. She said that the end result was worth it.

MisterTT's picture

French Bread with Week Old Pâte Fermentée

Hi everyone!

A few months ago I gave my colleague some rye starter, using which she's been successfully baking 100% rye breads at home. Now some more people have expressed interest in baking a "rustic" white bread. My job was to develop a simple formula that a someone new to bread baking could easily follow, while at the same time yielding a good-looking, crusty loaf with good flavor. I pondered whether to develop a simple formula using sourdough or commercial yeast and finally decided on the later.

After making that decision I knew that one of the most important factors will be for how the bread keeps, so using a simple preferment and having somewhat higher hydration was inevitable. After baking trials using each of three preferments: poolish, biga and pâte fermentée, the decision was made to go with pâte fermentée since it really made the bread keep much better than the other two, while the taste from all three was similar.

The next step was to see what is the optimal fermentation time for the old dough, meaning that you shouldn't have to wait too long, but the end result should also be good. Baked a few trials of that and chose a week long pâte fermentée, given a couple hour kickstart before refrigeration.

Now this formula is ready for more widespread use and I think it honestly makes a good crusty white bread with a nice flavor. The bread keeps very well for a non-sourdough, about three days: the first day unpackaged, later kept in a plastic bag (yes, the crust does soften, but between that and staling I think it's better with a soft crust).

I baked the bread using a stainless steel bowl as a cover. It could have baked up better, but the results in the pictures are, if not great, at least OK. I chose this way of baking because it is a reasonable approach for people new to the game. The scoring pattern consists of random shallow cut along the top of the loaf. No crumb shot -- gave the bread away uncut.

A final note: you can use sourdough pâte fermentée for this bread, but I don't recommend keeping it in the fridge more than 4 days, lest you risk significant overfermentation.

Link to worksheet with formula.