The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

ibor's picture

The triple rope (side by side) 3 strand braid

From:; The Art of Braiding Bread

emkay's picture

Overnight country blonde in a loaf pan

I've been baking mostly boules at home since the cast iron combo cooker has been my method for generating steam. Sometimes I just feel like having a loaf pan-shaped bread, but I still want to have all those hearth bread qualities.

My favorite naturally leavened loaf pan breads in the city are from Outerlands and Josey Baker. Outerlands sells only one kind of bread since it's a restaurant not a bakery. You can see his levain bread in this Tartine video at around 2:30. The other bread is the "wonder bread" from Josey Baker which is the opposite of that supermarket  fluff bread of the same name. It's tangy, chewy and moist with a crispy, crackly crust. Perfect for PB&J (or, if you prefer something fancy, almond butter sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and drizzled with rooftop honey).

For this week's bake I decided to make a naturally leavened bread in a loaf pan just like the ones I mentioned. I used Ken Forkish's overnight country blonde formula. This was my first time using this fomula so I prepared myself by reading TFL posts from others who have already tried it. The "overnight" bulk fermentation at room temperature seemed to be where people had some problems. I mixed my dough late at night so that I would be awake in the morning to catch the dough before it would triple. It's fairly cool in my house (68F/20C) so my 11 hour bulk fermentation seemed to be in line with Forkish's 12-15 hour timeline. My dough didn't have as many bubbles along the sides of the container as I would have liked, but the dough was already 2.5 times the original size so I decided to proceed with shaping.


Dough proofed at room temp for 4 hours then I baked it at 425F on a stone covered with a stainless steel bowl for 20 minutes and uncovered for another 20 minutes. Then I removed the bread from the loaf pan and baked it directly on the stone for 5 minutes.


The crumb was moist and chewy. The crust was crispy for a few hours out of the oven, but softened by the next day. It was quite sour just the way I like it!

My results were very close to what I get at Outerlands and Josey Baker, so overall I was quite pleased.


I also baked some bourbon pecan pie chocolate brownies.



Happy Mother's Day to all!

:) Mary

mj05's picture

Levine question

I couldn’t use my Tartine bread levine “on time”: is any way to quickly “refresh” levine or I’ll have to start all over and wait another 6 – 8 hrs? 

PetraR's picture

Rye Starter Hydration

What is better, a 100% Hydration or a 133% Hydration.

I certainly noticed that , when kept it at 133% Hydration the Starter will tripple in size within 3.5 hours, if I have it at it at 100% Hydration it will take about 8 hours or more to double or tripple.

What I like to know is, what Hydration would rise a dough better?



CAphyl's picture

Pain de Campagne

I was inspired by Syd's bake to try my first Pain de Campagne.  I wasn't happy with the first bake, although my husband really enjoyed the taste and texture of the bread.  It was extremely light and made great sandwiches. As I often do, I froze the other half of the dough to make at a later date, and I baked it today.  As usual, my second bake from the frozen loaf turned out better than the first bake from fresh.  The first loaf didn't get much height, but had good crumb. The second loaf had much better oven spring and more height. Both had excellent, tangy taste. I have made a crumb comparison between the two loaves below. The first crumb shot is from the fresh loaf; the second is from the bake today. 

Crumb from the first bake.

Pain de Campagne (adapted from Syd’s recipe)


  • 50g mature whole wheat starter (mine was mixed)
  • 100g water
  • 100g whole wheat flour

Allow to peak.  This could take from 4-10 hours.  Mine took 8 hours.

Main Dough

  • 200g of the levain
  • 350g water
  • 50g rye
  • 1/2 tsp diastatic malt powder
  • 450g bread flour

Disperse the levain in the water with a wire whisk until there is a good foam on top. Next, whisk in rye and malt powder.  Then add bread flour with spatula and mix until all the flour has been moistened.

  • autolyse for 50-60 minutes


  • add 10g salt
  • knead to medium gluten development (if the dough is sticky, you can use your dough scraper.  Try not to add more flour.  Just enough for your surface and hands.


  • bulk ferment for 1-2 hours with a turn at 30 minutes (I left the dough for 2 hours and turned twice).


  • pre-shape
  • rest 10 minutes
  • final shape

Put into well floured banneton and after about half an hour cover and:

  • retard for 12 hours in the fridge
  • let the dough warm up just before the bake; you’ll see it rise a bit more


  •  at 500F in a covered baker for 30 minutes


  • Remove the lid and reduce heat to 435 convection, baking for another 20 - 25 minutes

If you don’t have a covered baker (Syd’s original instructions):


  •  at 230 C with steam for 15 minutes


  • reduce heat to 200 C and bake for a further 30 - 35 minutes

The proportionately large amount of levain in this recipe means that the dough develops really quickly hence the relatively short bulk fermentation time.

jmucklow's picture

Bakers percentages

Anyone have an easy conversion method for bakers percentages?  

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Wheat free (but not GF) baking

About a month ago I stopped eating wheat. I do feel better, and the time or two that I've forgotten and slipped up - not so better. I am not avoiding other grains that have small amounts of gluten or anything.

I'm starting to miss bread. I used to bake bread that was about 50% wheat plus other grains, and it was fine by my standards, although it only had a moderate rise and not much of a crumb. I'd love a simple recipe for either loaf bread or a hamburger bun/sandwich roll. I don't expect it to be just like bread with wheat! Emphasis on simple, as I don't have a lot of spare cash to devote to experiments and only get to a town with real supermarkets and a whole food store maybe once a month. I'm going there in a couple of days, so it would be great to have a recipe or two in mind.

I'm also looking for a way to make some nice, elastic "flour" tortillas! (you may say I'm a dreamer...)


Thanks in advance!

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

100% Whole Grain Goodness and Fiasco. A tale of two cities.

I put my new grain mill to work this weekend. The first thing I did was bake the teaching loaf in Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  Note, the master formula is not error free. Under ingredients and method he states to use all of the soaker, and then states use all of the soaker (or biga) when he should have said starter (or biga).  See, I read these things, Peter!

More substantively, the master formula states to chop the soaker and the starter or biga into 12 pieces each and to "sprinkle some of the extra flour over the pre-doughs to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other."

What am I missing, here? Why would you flour the pieces to prevent them from sticking if the goal is to mix the 24 pieces and combine them into a uniform mass?  Seems that flouring the pieces is counterproductive.

Anyway, back to the story.

The mill:

The just-combined dough:

The bulk rise:

In the pan -- you can see the pan was a bit too small to contain the dough:

The bakes loaf:

The crumb (this is my PB&J sandwich. It is a little wet with jelly to the right of middle:

Overall, I am not thrilled with the bread I baked. It tastes fine and is not heavy. But it is also a bit too crumbly. It is difficult to slice thin and when sliced sandwich thickness, it does not hold up very well.

That said, I assume that this is the fault of the baker and not the formula.  Although, if those who make this loaf regularly tell me that the bread is always easily torn and this is the best you can hope for from whole-grain goodness, my expectations can be adjusted.

After baking the sandwich loaf, I went back to Tartine and looked at his whole wheat recipe.  That formula and instruction set is fundamentally flawed and I can't even figure out what is supposed to be done with it, because while he says the whole wheat requires extra hydration, he does not give a formula for 100% whole wheat, leaving me wondering how much extra hydration is needed if I decide to go 100% whole wheat.

It is flawed for a second reason also -- whereas the basic country loaf discusses 750 grams (50 grams reserved to add with the salt) of water, the whole wheat description mentions 800 grams of water, mentions nothing about a reserve, and tells you mix the dough and says nothing about when to add the salt (if I recall, it actually refers back to the basic country loaf, but has you starting after the salt has been added).

Anyway, I figured if 800 grams was used with 800 grams of whole wheat, then I should add more than 800 for 100% whole wheat.  However, using 845 grams produced a dough that was rather wet.

I autholyzed overnight at room temperature, added the leaven and let it bulk ferment for 4 hours at 70 degrees.  The dough was bubbling at the surface. But it was very wet. I did not know whether I should shape it or let it sit longer.  So I shaped it.  Unfortunately, it was too loose and so I followed his directions after seeing a too runny bench rest and did another pre-shape.  This time it held together much better, so I finished the shaping and added it to my basket.

After proofing for 3 hours, it rose considerably but it had the consistency of Jell-O and did not look like it would make it out of the basket.

To my surprise, I successfully predicted that the dough would not come out of the basket. No way, no how. It was stuck good what I was able to tear out, was a big gloppy mess.

I baked it anyway. I am afraid to cut it.

It came out like a dense rock. I didn't bother scoring it because the "it" was not really a loaf.

I am ashamed to have wasted so much flour.  I don't know if my 86% hydrated dough was the problem or if I should have let it sit overnight in the fridge to let it dry out.  Unfortunately, I am not yet "there" with knowing whether dough is overproofed and I was a little concerned that leaving it for too long in its whole wheat state, would result in overproofed dough -- especially when I was seeing bubbles at the surface after only a few hours.

I also made whole wheat pizza with the other half of the dough (with 1/2 of that, still in the fridge).  The pizza was chewy and not bad, but not nearly as good as the tartine basic country loaf with white flour.  In part, it was not a fair test because I did not cook it on a preheated pan, but it was just too wet and stretchy to bake it that way and instead I dropped the goopy dough into the rectangular pan, stretched it out a bit and baked it in a hot oven.

chaspan's picture

Calculating calories in bread

I'd like some confirmation that my method for calculating the calories in the breads I make is correct. It seems quite straightforward, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something.

I simply add up the calories of all of the individual ingredients. Then I divide the total ingredient calories by the total weight of all of the baked loaves after they have cooled. For basic sandwich type breads that contain fats, sugars, and maybe eggs, I generally end up with about 2.8 calories per gram of baked bread. Breads that contain only flour, water, and salt, such as french bread, generally yield around 2.27 calories per gram. For Hamelman's Olive Levain, I end up with 2.44 calories per gram.

The bread in the image is a 13x4x4 inch pullman loaf made using the Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe from the King Arthur Flour web site. I calculate 2.82 calories per gram of baked bread. The slice you see in the image weighed 59 grams; 166 calories if my calorie calculation method is correct. I usually cut a bit thinner, ending up with about 50 to 52 grams per slice, and a calorie count of 141 to 147 calories per slice.

Am I calculating the calories per gram correctly?

One reason I'm wondering is that the calorie burden I calculate for my breads doesn't compare very closely to the calorie counts listed for various types of bread on a calorie counting website. One site, for example, shows 100 grams of plain white bread having 266 calories, 2.66 calories per gram. Whole wheat bread is listed as 256 per 100 grams. That same site lists French Bread at 274 per 100 grams, which is a lot more than the 2.27 calories per gram that I always get.

dmsnyder's picture

A Bread Baking Quiz!

There is a traditional type of test question in medicine called “visual diagnosis.” The student is shown a photo - it might be of a whole person, a face or just a piece of skin with a rash - and asked to make a diagnosis. The last time I took a test like that was for board certification in Pediatrics. That was in 1977, and I can still remember most of the photos I was shown - a young girl with an inguinal hernia, a teenage boy’s feet (They were flat.), a rash (Scabies), a child with a rare genetic condition (Progeria). I think there were a couple more. I can’t remember them right now, but I do remember I knew the correct diagnosis for every one of the photos. (Yay, me!)

Anyway, “visual diagnosis” is a valuable skill for bread bakers too, it seems to me. I think others agree. That is why we prefer to see photographs of a loaf’s crust and crumb structure before committing to a “diagnosis” of a problem’s cause. That’s by way of introduction to today’s visual diagnosis quiz.

Here are some photographs of two bakes of two loaves each. All loaves weighed the same (512g) before baking. Both bakes were at 460ºF for 12 minutes then 440ºF convection bake for another 18 minutes. The obvious difference is that one bake is of bâtards, the other of boules, but there is another obvious difference in their appearance. 


Bâtards and Boules, side-by-side

Boule Close Up

 Bâtard Close Up

If you choose to take the test, here are your questions:

  1. Describe (briefly) the significant difference you see.
  2. What are the possible causes of the difference?
  3. What is the specific cause you think responsible for the difference? And why do you think that?

Further instructions: Have fun, and Happy Baking!