The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Lap's picture

Baking Steel vs Stone for Sourdough Bread Baking

I recently purchased a King Arthur baking steel with the thought to replace my baking stone for both pizza and bread baking.

How does it perform with breads? I typically create steam in my oven cavity for the crust, by sometimes placing a tray of water or using a sprayer. Does this effect the steel?


Littlebrooklyn's picture

Oops this didn't turn out right

I bought a banneton last week and tried it for the first time today.  I was pleased that the dough turned out of the banneton okay as I had expected it to stick, however I'm not sure why I have no oven spring, in fact when I slashed the top it was quite difficult as there seemed to be a crust on the top, maybe I didn't cut it deep enough or something, I'm not sure, but I don't think it's supposed to look like this.  I am sure it wasn't under or over proved so have no idea what I may have done wrong.


Antilope's picture

CHP Escort for 165-year-old Dough

From the Fox TV 40 website in Sacramento, CA


The Mother Dough has landed in Vacaville, complete with CHP (California Highway Patrol) escort.

First cultured in 1849, the Mother Dough is the sourdough starter created by Isidore Boudin. According to Boudin Bakery, each loaf they make uses a portion of the Mother Dough.

Part of the Mother Dough was delivered Wednesday morning to the new Boudin SF store at the Nut Tree. The dough traveled from the main bakery in San Francisco to Vacaville with a CHP escort.

This portion of the sourdough starter will be used in loaves baked at the new Boudin location.


Vacaville Reporter 02/05/2014 02:03:53 PM PST

'Mother dough' arrives at Vacaville's newest bakery


Muskie's picture

The SD recipe with the most fibre?

Could I ask you to give me a link to the SD recipe that is as close to light and airy as a good BF SD, yet has the most fibre and beneficial ingredients you can think of? Searching using Sourdough and fibre kinda sucks...;-]

FWIW, I have a rye starter already, but I'm open to turning some of it into something else.


spexx23's picture

Tartine Leaven & Rising Issues

Hi Everyone,

This is my first post on this great site, which I've been forced to turn to after repeated failures with my Tartine Basic Country Loaf.  Any advice is appreciated!  After four bakes, I think my biggest problems are with the leaven and the dough fermentation temperatures.  Here's the deal:

My leaven never seems to want to pass the float test.  It increases in volume nicely and gets very bubbly on the top and sides, but it will never float.  I've tried testing it after 8, 10, 12, 24 and 30 hours, but no luck, even in the suggested room-temperature water, cold water, and hot water (not sure if the water temp makes a difference).  It's always spent most of its time fermenting on the counter in a 65-degree kitchen as recommended, and I've tried the book's suggested extra half hour in an 80-degree oven to no avail.  Because it takes so incredibly long to go from leaven to finished loaf, I'm reluctant to keep trying test bakes until I can achieve a proper float.

Even without floating, my loaves have come out better and better with each consecutive bake as I intuit some tweaks to make here and there.  Since the recipe makes two loaves, I've tried each batch with two different methods; the first loaf being baked after a 3-4 hour final rise in an 80-degree oven, and the second after rising in the fridge over night.  In neither case does the dough seem to rise very much and actually appears to deflate a bit, even though it rises properly (I think) during baking.  Every time, the finished flavor is delicious, the crust is nicely caramelized and is very crispy, the crumb looks properly "airy," and I even get the nice hollow sound when I tap the bottom of the loaf.  The problem is that it still seems very dense, feeling like it weighs about 10 pounds (I've never actually weighed it), and the interior seems like it contains too much moisture.  Even after waiting 2-4 hours to slice it, the knife ends up with a bit of a residue on it.  The last time I baked (before giving up in order to wait for a floating leaven), I determined that my main problem with poor rising may have been with too high a temperature during bulk fermentation.  The "pot of boiling water in a closed oven" method just creates an overly warm and moist environment, so I finally figured out how to get my oven to a reliable, dry 80-degrees in hopes this will make a difference in the rising on the next attempt.

So, that's about it.  I think I've covered all the bases, but please let me know if additional information is helpful.  Oh, in case it matters, I've been making my leavens with the same starter I've been using all along (now 6-7 weeks old), which I feed daily when it's been left at room temperature, or every 2-3 days when it's been stored in the fridge.  It doesn't appear to become very aerated in the fridge, but it swells and gets very gassy on the counter.  If it's been stored in the fridge, I always remove it and let it get nice and bubbly at room temperature before making the leaven.  At no time has it ever achieved the "stinky cheese" smell, which kind of disappoints me since I'm hoping to someday make as sour a loaf as humanly possible, and that seems to go hand in hand with the starter aroma.  Tips on that are appreciated too!

Thanks for listening.  Looking forward to hearing from you.


Kbone's picture

The Smoke and Mirrors Behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain

  This is worth a read. I have long been dismayed by the villianization of wheat and other gluten grains as people stuff their faces with deadly animal products instead.

Letitrise's picture

Hi, all!

This site looks great. I am looking forward to this site and learning more about bread baking.

I am relatively new at baking bread.
I am tired of store-bought bread. I made a few loaves of whole wheat rosemary bread this past week
and I really got into it. I loved working with yeast and kneading the dough by hand. Who needs a bread machinc?
My bread is very tasty, but a bit to dense for me. 
Already I have a question: Any idea on how I can make my whole wheat rosemary bread lighter in texture?
Thank everyone!

MostlySD's picture

Mostly Sourdough Brioches

Mostly Sourdough Brioches

Total weight: about 1600 g

3-build starter: 250 g @ 65% hydration

All flours: 732 g (100%), which breaks down as follows:
- 348 g unbleached bread flour
- 232 g unbleached all purpose flour
+ 152 g in starter

15 g sea salt (2%)
353 g eggs (48%)
100 g sugar (14%)
303 g unsalted butter (42%)
3 g fresh yeast (0.4%)
25 g flavours (alcohol: eau de vie & orange blossom water)

This part is not important. Calculated for fun.

All liquids: 497 g (68%), which breaks down roughly as follows:
- eggs water content: 229 g (total eggs input: 353 g in the form of 3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks)
- butter water content: 50 g
- milk: 95 g (not part of the formula, but was added in panic mode - will explain below)
- flavours: 25 g
+ 98 g filtered water in starter


Mixing was done in two stages, using a Bosch Compact. One big mistake: I forgot to remove about 20% of the dough flours for the second mixing. Thus when the first mixing turned out on the dry side, I quickly added some milk to prevent the formation of lumps in the dough. That turned out all right. So maybe I will include milk in the formula next time, or better still some cream.


Using the whisk, eggs are beaten & the 250 g of starter is broken into pieces and gradually added to the mix. Everything is mixed to a smooth consistency.

The whisk is removed & replaced with the dough hook. All the dough flours was added and mixed (here I should have used only roughly 80% of the flours, keeping the rest for the second mix. Naturally the mix was crumbly and that's when I added some milk to help the dough come together.)

That dough is transferred in a loosely covered bowl and allowed to ferment for about 4 hours at room temperature (next time, I would put it inside the lit oven instead for a somewhat higher ambiant temperature, about 28º C)


Fresh yeast is mixed with a little warm water & a tiny bit of the sugar. (Water not accounted for in the formula.)

In another bowl, butter and sugar are creamed and put aside.

Flavours are weighed and put aside.

The first dough is transferred in the mixing bowl. Using the dough hook, the fresh yeast mixture is added and incorporated in the dough. (speed is at level 1)

Gradually, over the next 15 minutes or so, the creamed butter and sugar is added to the dough in spoonfuls. Each spoonful is allowed to be fairly well incorporated in the dough before the next one is added. (Speed is at level 1)

Speed is switched to level 2 and the dough mixed for about 5 minutes. During that stage, the flavours are added.

Dough is transferred to a clean bowl & allowed to ferment overnight in cooler at about + 10º C.

The next day, the dough is transferred to the working board and while still cold, is patted down to a rectangle and folded. That is done three times, at 10 minutes interval. The 1st time is a bit hard, but it gets better as the dough starts to warm up. At some point, it is possible to use a rolling pin to flatten the dough before folding.

Next came the divide and weighing part. This dough was divided into two, one for the brioche pan (which went to a friend) and a smaller portion for the loaf tin for us.

Both went into the lit oven for 8 hours to rise and then baked at 180ºC for about 45 minutes.


Muskie's picture

Crust Crispiness

So I seem to have something amazing, but I'm wondering if its not also a bit of a curse.

Every successful loaf I have baked I've baked on silpat, starting with a cold oven, and baked at 375F. Every one has turned out with an amazingly crispy crust. The crust is thin, no too much, not too little, at least for my liking.

But from everything I read to get my crust I need to bake on a stone, at 450F+, and with some added steam. I don't know why I don't need this stuff...

So here's the curse part. What if I want to bake an English Muffin. Haven't tried one yet, but I don't know why it wouldn't end up with the same crust as everything else I've baked.

If my stove only knows how to make crispy crusts, how do I get a soft one?


christinepi's picture

loaf flattens

I used Peter Reinhart's Classic French Bread recipe twice now. I let the dough sit at 70F as prescribed for 90 minutes after mixing until doubled, then I divide it in two, shape the two halves into boules and stick them in the fridge overnight. There the doughs proceed to ooze and flatten out into a ciabatta shape. The next day, they're so flat and soft that I can't score the dough because it immediately starts imploding if I even think about it. The baked results taste great, the crust is very nice, crumb isn't bad; but I want to get to the bottom of this. The second time I used this recipe I did the S&F 3 times ten minutes apart before I let it sit for 90 minutes, hoping that would make a difference in ooziness, but to no avail. What gives?