The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hamletcat's picture

Working with sticky dough?

Sometimes when I use flours other than wheat, my dough is really sticky.  Usually I mix these doughs with my bread maker so it doesn't stick to my hands before full gluten development.  If I wanted to knead the bread myself, are there any tips for to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands.  I've tried the slap and fold technique but it doesn't really work very well for flours other than wheat.  One example that comes to mind is low fat soy.  

BakerNewbie's picture

Autolyse: minimum hydration levels, other liquids?

When doing an autolyse, what is the minimum hydration level required for it to work?

Also, aside from water, what other liquids can go into an autolyse? Eggs whites? Milk? Etc.?

isand66's picture

Sourdough Date Bread w/Chocolate Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

  One of my favorite breads is my Sourdough Date Bread which was inspired by my good friend Khalid.  Since I recently picked up some fresh dates from the supermarket the other day I figured it was time to try it again but with some slight modifications.

I didn't buy enough dates so I had to reduce the amount used slightly which didn't seem to make that much of a difference.  I also used a higher percentage of French Style flour which I recently purchased from KAF.  I really love working with this flour so I wanted to use a higher amount than before while also removing the Spelt and Durum flour but keeping the freshly ground whole wheat.

The final change was to add some chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar to bump up the flavors a little.  I thought this would add a little more sweetness to the bread and compliment the dates well.

The final bread came out excellent with a nice dark crust from the sugars in the dates and wonderful sweet and tangy flavor which goes well with just about anything.  The crumb was nice and moist as well.

Please note:  the dates are simmered in part of the water used for the main dough and instead of chopping them up  I just mushed them a little in the bowl which worked out fine.


Sour Dough Date Bread Act 2.2 (%)

Sour Dough Date Bread Act 2.2 (weights)

Download BreadStorm .bun file here.


Levain Directions

Step 1

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.

Step 2

Mix the flour and water with all of the levain from step 1 and let it sit at room temperature again until it is doubled.  At this point you can either use it right away or put it in the refrigerator and use it the next 1 to 2 days.

Date Preparation

Make sure there are no pits in the dates and do not trust the package like I did which claimed they were pitted dates.  Simmer the dates in 226 grams of water until they are soft.  After you remove them from the heat, add 100 grams of cold water and let the dates sit until they come back down to room temperature.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours with the remainder of the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the dates, butter and salt and mix on low for 2 minutes and speed #2 for another 2 minutes or by hand for about 6 minutes.   You should end up with a cohesive dough that is slightly tacky but very manageable.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.  I made 1 large Miche for this bake.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.  (Note: since I made one large bread I needed to lower the oven further to 425 F. for about half of the baking time to prevent the crust from burning).

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.




BakerNewbie's picture

How to par-bake, freeze, and do final baking?

I'm making some dinner rolls. I'd like to bake them (but not to completion), then freeze them, then bake them to completion when I am ready to consume them. The post here seems to suggest I should bake until 194F / 90C. Is this correct?

I'm worried about opening my oven to take the internal temperature. Can I just set my oven to 194F / 90C and leave the buns in the oven for half an hour? The temperature of the bread would never get past 194F / 90C then, right? And maybe half an hour (or more?) is enough time get that internal temperature? Or would this cause problems with the oven spring? (By the way, I am thinking of this approach because of what I know about sous vide cooking.)

And once I have properly parbaked dinner rolls that have been frozen, what temperature and how long do I need to cook it to completion? Would I need to thaw out the bread first?

dabrownman's picture

Lucy’s Sorta Tzitzel Like Sprouted Sourdough

Lucy noticed that we were out of Jewish Deli Rye sandwich bread and pumpernickel too so she was flummoxed as to which one she would craft up a recipe for this week.  Of course she chose pumpernickel since I is always her favorite kind of bread but, since I had recently smoked a corned beef, freezing half, I told her the pumpernickel would have to wait.


She knows out favorite JDR is tzitzel and we have messed with the formula  several times trying to get it right – without total success but we love the final SD bread anyway. It eventually became a 40% whole rye bread that was a little less hydrated than out usual bread for that amount of whole grains.


Lucy then decided to continue our sprouted grain baking by using 30% sprouted whole rye and wheat in the mix and increase the amount of whole grains to 60% by using 30% whole un-sprouted rye and wheat as well.  In the past, 30% sprouted grain in the mix became somewhat of a fermenting nemesis making a long, shaped proof in the fridge of 20 hours problematic.  We thought we would give it another go to verify the previous outcomes.


We sprouted the equal parts of rye and wheat on Monday and dried them outside in the AZ sun at 105 F on Wednesday before the monsoon rains came around dumping 2 of rain is a very short period of time.   We milled the sprouted and whole grains together and sifted out the 15% hard bits totaling 42 g which we fed to the 9 week retarded rye starter to make the levain over 3 builds.


The first build was 2 hours the 2nd stage was 3 hours and 3rd stage was 4 hours.  Once the levain rose 50% in volume we retarded it for 12 hours.  An hour after the levain came out of the fridge the next day, we started the 1 hour autolyse with the remaining dough flour, red malt, sprouting water and water with the salt sprinkled on top – so no chance for forgetting it.


I know what you are thinking.  Tzitzel not made with any sprouted flour or even any whole meal flour either.  It is made with medium rye flour, bread flour and commercial yeast.  Lucy’s Sorta Tizitzel Like Sprouted Sourdough is getting pretty far from the mark but since she can’t read or understand English – it isn’t all her fault.


I think she just called it that to please her master and feed his Tzitizel Fever Fetish.  Still, it sounded pretty good if the sprouted flour didn’t create its usual run away fermenting mass that would eat the fridge and probably the most susceptible and most tasty part of the kitchen.


Tough to beat  good, bacon, brie,  blue cheese mushroon burger - once a month!

Once the levain hit the mix, we did our usual 3 sets of slap and folds of 7, 2 and 1 minute – all on 20 minute intervals.   Since the hydration was low for this amount of whole grains. We did 2 slaps to each fold and I can say thy dough completely quit sticking to the counter after the first 7 minutes.  With 30% whole rye in the mix you have to change your rule of thumb about quitting the first set of slap and folds when the dough stops sticking to the counter.  It was sticking much but there was a bit left behind – so no worries.  By the time we finished up the slap and folds the dough came off the counter clean.


Can't remember the last time we had grilled lamb chops.

We incorporated the aromatic seeds into the dough on the first set of stretch and folds and they were thoroughly incorporated after the 3rd set.  The S&F’s were done on 15 minute intervals unlike the slap and folds.  We normally would put more aromatic seeds in this bread but we wanted to get a better feel for the difference in taste using 30% sprouted whole grains and didn’t want as much competition coming from the seeds.


Once the S&F’s were done, we shaped the dough into a boule rather than the typical Tzitzel batard.  It was immediately bagged in a trash can liner and placed in the fridge for a 20 retard but decided we would check it at 16 hours anyway.


We took th proofed dough out of the fridge at the 20 hour mark and let it warm up on the counter for an hour before firing up the Mini oven.  We got 2 of Sylvia’s steaming cups ready in the microwave, upended the dough onto parchment on the top vented cover of the MO’s broiler pan, slashed the boule T-Rex style and slid the whole assembly into he mini oven at 500 F for 15 minutes of steam.


After 4 minutes we turned the oven sown to 475 F.  It is nice to be baking Mini Oven Style again.  After the steam came out, we turned the oven down to 425 F convection this time and continued to bake another 12 minutes until the bread reached 210 F on the inside and was removed to the cooling rack.


We love a rich beef stew even in the hot Az summer.

This bread smelled great when it was baking and filling the kitchen with that aromatic seed smell known to make master bakers fall their knees crying and also so their apprentices can get to them to do a nose rip so no one knows what their master is crying about for sure.  Lucy is famous for her nose rips and my wife and I have the scars to prove it – think Chinatown.


This bread browned up very well, sprang a bit and bloomed enough to reveal the nasty dinosaur footprint.   It came out of the oven very crisp with small blisters.  We will have to see how the crumb came out after lunch.  We had to dig out some smoked pork from the fridge for today's lunch after we tasted this bread.  This might be the best high percent whole grin Jewish deli rye style bread we have ever made.  The crumb was open, soft and moist.  The subtle aromatic seeds came through just enough.  The sprouted grain gave the bread a more complex and deeper flavor.  This is one fine sandwich bread.  Can't wait to but some smoked corned beef on it.



RyeSD Starter Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



9 Week Retarded Rye Starter






15% Ext. Sprouted Rye & Wheat
























Starter Totals


















Starter Hydration






Levain % of Total Flour












Dough Flour






85% Ext. Sprouted  Rye & Wheat






KA Bread Flour






Total Dough Flour


















Sprout Water 180 & Water






Dough Hydration












Total Flour w/ Starter






Sprout Water 180 & Water w/ Starter












Total. Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain - Sprouted Grain






Spice Mix






Red Malt






Hydration with Starter & Adds












Spice mix is 6 g caraway and 2 g each anise, corriander & fennel



And Lucy say's not forget the salad.

Bob S.'s picture
Bob S.

Brown Bread

Another loaf made using the "Sponge and Dough" method, only this time the sponge contained whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten.

70% Stone Ground Red Whole Wheat Flour
5% Malted Milk Powder
2% Vital Wheat Gluten
0.5% Salt
0.6% Instant Yeast
0.18% Soy Lecithin Granules
73% Water (variable)

30% Bread Flour
4% Brown Sugar
3% Shortening
1.5% Salt

The method used is the same as in White Bread. The total amount of flour used in this recipe was 18 ounces (510 grams). The finished loaf weighed in at 2 pounds (907 grams). A Cuisinart DLC-2007 seven cup food processor was used in the production of this loaf.
The photo below shows the dough ingredients in the food processor work bowl before being blended with the metal chopping blade. After several pulses to blend the ingredients, they are dumped on top of the sponge and mixed by hand with a brotpisker (dough whisk).

The metal chopping blade was removed and replaced with the plastic dough blade. The roughly mixed dough is then dumped in the food processor work bowl as shown below:

As can be seen from the photo, the dough ingredients have not been completely incorporated into the sponge (yet). Once the food processor is turned on, all of the ingredients are incorporated within a few seconds. Total remix time: 45 seconds. After mixing, the dough is turned out and rounded as shown below:

After a short rest (known as "floor time") the dough is panned, proofed, and baked.

Nettie Baker's picture
Nettie Baker

Chinese Bread Recipe Question

I have come across a recipe and I have questions about it. I have posted it here. I am wanting to know why a high protein and a low protein flour are combined in the recipe. I have searched for information online and cannot find any, as to why the two flours are combined. I have found a number of other Chinese bread making recipes that call for high protein flour and low protein flour in the same recipe. It appears to be something that is common in Chinese bread baking.  Since so many of their recipes are like this, there has to be a reason. I was wondering about the quality of their flours? Is it for texture? What is the food science behind this?

Can anyone help me understand why two different flours are used?  Let me post the one recipe that started my questions. Here it is:


  • High gluten flour (210 g) = 7.4 ounces
  • Low-gluten flour (90 g) = 3.17 ounces          
  • Yeast (6 g) = .211 ounces      
  • Water (240 g) = 8.465 ounces
  • Fine sugar (24 grams) = .846 ounces

Main Dough

  • High gluten flour (210 g) = 7.4 ounces
  • Low-gluten flour (90 g) = 3.17 ounces
  • Water (54 g) = 1.90 ounces
  • Fine sugar (96 grams) = 3.386 ounces
  • Milk powder (24 g) = .846 ounces
  • Salt (1.5 teaspoons) =
  • Whole egg (90 g) = 3.17 ounces
  • 72 g butter (to taste) = 2.539 ounces
  • Melted butter (small)


marinus's picture

best machine/breadmaker for sourdough? Also: probiotics?


Howdy folks-

The only machine that seems sourdough-friendly is the Zojirushi BB-CEC20W [has a sourdough starter feature].

Do you know of a better machine?  I'm guessing that it's at least as good as any other brand, and it's touted as both high-quality and still-in-business [spare-parts exist!].

I've just read that sourdough has a bonus- some probiotic benefits.  Any comments on this, anybody?

Thanks for your time!


Eagles fly, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.If you don't like that, try: Skeleton walks into a bar, orders a beer and a mop.

birminghamtom's picture

Tips and Hints for rise improvement and easier maintenance of dough...


I have some problems and information I need to source for my sourdough baking, I am still hitting a few brick walls and I would like to hear some opinions or improvements and perhaps ideas or things to consider.

One of the issues I face is that I don’t think I am getting the right rise and I have a feeling that it is due to my preferment and then bulk ferment temperatures, this week I am working at an ambient temperature of 20c in my kitchen and I am refreshing sourdough starter at around 40c as it is coming straight out of the fridge for refreshment. I use a rye starter as this is easier for me to maintain, my wheat starter is in the freezer at the moment as I was constantly getting a soupy starter and it was becoming impractical.

I have followed a few recipes, I believe my better results have come from the Weekend Bakery pain naturel sourdough and then another recipe which is not as detailed and follows a more simple route of no s&f’s etc.

Weekend Bakery – this needs more maintenance and looking after, I can't leave it for long. (latest bake)

Other Sourdough Recipe – less maintenance (latest bake)

I am looking for big rises, a good ear and a professional looking loaf – crumb structure would be a bonus.

100g of starter, 100g of strong white flour, 125g water refreshed at 40c then a bulk fermentation of 200g of preferment for 8 hours. Then I add 520 strong white flour and 275g of cold water plus 10g of salt. This is hand kneaded, bulk fermented for 8 hours and then proved for 3 hours at the maximum. 

What would you do? What do you think of the proportions should I be refreshing at a higher temperature to get the right kind of preferment? My preferment this week didn’t have a lot of bubbles but some, it’s not the bubbliest I have seen it. Also I feel that the final prove isn’t doing much; it looks like the dough is sluggish and doesn’t really have much rise in the final proofing. The taste is there however. It’s the aesthetic side I am not happy about.

Obvious answers would be stick with the Weekend Bakery bake but I am keen to learn more, the reason why I prefer the first recipe is due to the fact the s&f isn’t there and I can carry on with my other activities. Last weekend I built a cob oven as you can see.

I would prefer once it has dried and firing that I can concentrate on my oven to use it for its temperature range rather than be in the kitchen working on dough development. Maybe I am cutting too many corners?

Advice is welcome !

alschmelz's picture

Quark Bread Recipe

Here is the recipe for the Quark Bread that I posted in the pictures forum a few days ago.  This recipe will make 1 large loaf. 

  • 300g All-Purpose flour
  • 150g Whole Wheat flour or Oat flour (For the oat flour I simply took some old fashioned oats that I eat for breakfast and ground them in my food processor until they were a flour consistency and VOILA, you have oat flour), possibly extra for dusting
  • 100ml Warm water
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 170g Quark cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 7g salt (I like kosher salt but regular table salt works just as well.  It's really just personal preference)
  • About a tablespoon of sugar (you can add more if you like a sweeter bread)

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients: flours, yeast, salt, and sugar.  In a separate small bowl mix together the quark and egg.  Put that and your water into the dry mixture and combine everything until there is no more loose flour in the bowl. 

Turn your dough out onto a clean surface and begin kneading!  I don't usually flour my surface because I don't want to mess with the hydration ratio.  The dough shouldn't be too sticky but if it is you can go ahead and add some flour.  

I don't usually time how long I knead it.  I just go off of how the dough feels under my hands.  I knead until it is smooth and springy and really feels alive under my hands.  I guess it would be about 8-10 minutes.  If you are using an electric mixer, use the dough hook attachment on medium speed until it clears the sides of the bowl and is smooth and springy.

Now I like to add some extra strength to my dough by taking the edges and folding them into the middle.  I just keep rotating my dough as I fold the edges into the center until I get a strong ball of dough that has a smooth top. Pop that ball of dough into a clean bowl, cover it, and let it rise until it has doubled in bulk.  This will take about an hour.

Turn out your dough now and punch it down.  Again, I don't usually flour my surface but you can if you like, very lightly though.  I like to let it rest for 5-10 minutes after punching it down but you don't have to.  I'm not sure if this step actually affects the final bread or not. 

I like to preheat my oven early so it has time to regulate it's temperature correctly and it gets nice and hot.  Preheat it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius).  You don't have to right at this moment but at least give it a good 30 minutes before you put your bread in.  Personally I like to bake my breads on a hot pizza stone to simulate an old fashioned stone oven so I preheat my oven with the stone in for an hour before hand to allow the stone to get nice and hot!

Pat the dough out into a square probably about the size or your hand with your fingers spread out.  Fold in the far edge of your dough about 1/4 of the way and press the seam.  Continue folding and pressing until you have a nice log.  Pinch the ends shut.  I like to get about 4 folds out of my dough but 3 works just as well.  I also like to pat out my dough a second time and fold again, usually getting only 3 folds the second time.  Make sure the seams are closed, pinch the ends, and lightly tuck them under so you get a smooth rounded edge to your log of dough. This is the same kind of technique you would use for a baguette. 

Now for the second rising portion you have some options: 

  1. You can place your loaf, seam side down, on a sheet pan.  Lightly flour the top with all-purpose or oat flour (I prefer oat flour).  Cover, and just let it rise as a free-formed loaf.  Let it rise for 30 minutes to an hour (until it's the size you would like your loaf to be), slit the top diagonally 3 times with a sharp knife or razor blade, and put the whole thing (pan and loaf) into the oven.  IMMEDIATELY throw about 2 handfuls of ice cubes onto the bottom of your oven to create steam.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES AFTER SO TO KEEP ALL OF THE STEAM INSIDE.
  2. If you would like to make a tin loaf out of this bread lightly grease a 9x13 loaf pan and put your loaf in seam side down. Lightly sprinkle the top with some flour, all-purpose or oat flour (I prefer oat flour).  Cover it, and let it rise in a warm place until it is your desired size loaf (I like it to be bulging about an inch up from the pan).  This will take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature it is rising at.  Now uncover your loaf and pop it into the oven.  IMMEDIATELY throw about 2 handfuls of ice cubes onto the bottom of your oven to create steam.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES AFTER SO TO KEEP ALL OF THE STEAM INSIDE.
  3. ***Now here's the way I like to do it: I line an oval shaped basket with a smooth, clean dish towel.  Sprinkle some all-purpose flour or oat flour (I prefer the oat flour) around the sides and on the bottom of the lined basket so it won't stick to your towel.  Place your loaf in the lined basket seam side UP.  Lightly sprinkle with some flour.  Cover it, and let it rise in a warm place until it is your desired size loaf.  This will take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature it is rising at.  When you're ready to bake it I think the best way is to lay a sheet of parchment paper onto a flat sheet pan with no edges.  Place the parchment paper side of the pan on top of the basket (on top of the bottom of the loaf) and quickly and carefully invert your basket so your loaf is now seam side DOWN on the parchment paper.  Very carefully lift up your basket and towel off of your loaf.  If your loaf looks like it is deflating a little let it rest 10-15 minutes before putting it into the oven.  If you are using the pizza stone method, slide the whole sheet of parchment paper right onto the stone.  If you aren't using the stone just put the whole sheet pan into the oven.  IMMEDIATELY throw about 2 handfuls of ice cubes onto the bottom of your oven to create steam.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES AFTER SO TO KEEP ALL OF THE STEAM INSIDE.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until your bread is a deep brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!