The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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fynbos fan's picture
fynbos fan

Crust separating from rest of loaf

Hi all My top crust breaks away from the rest of my loaf. I suspect it may be from using cold tins, or could it be from over proving? I am new at this and do take some shortcuts! Thanks

rainey's picture

Hello, folks


I have just discovered this site and I'm looking forward to learning how to get around and becoming a better baker.

I'm 65 and I live in Southern California.  I baked my first loaf of bread about 45 years ago.  It was probably 10-15 years ago that I used my first preferment and got really excited about making my own bread.

It's amazing to me to see how much the technology and methods of bread making have changed.  On the other hand, I have a lot of stuff to un-learn before I can move forward.  I mean I came from the use-a-whole-packet-of-yeast and rise-punch down-shape-rise-bake traditions and I've only just begun to appreciate their short comings and how much there is that I don't even know I don't know.  

I look forward to "meeting" you, learning from you and the adventure ahead!  Let the fun begin!

rainey's picture

Hello and first problem

Hello, Fresh Loafers.  This is my first post and I need to learn the ropes but I'm happy to have found this site.

I am also in need of some problem solving help.  Short version:  my sourdough doesn't develop a skin and goes flounder instead of springing up.

Longer version:  I'm more familiar with conventional commercial yeast breads.  I could make sourdough but I was making it like more conventional bread and the crumb was coming out pretty tight.  I set a goal to achieve an open irregular crumb and a tight boule shape.  In the process of working my way through this I discovered the stretch & fold technique.  It immediately gave me the crumb I was looking for but I'm not getting a skin that could contain the oven spring.  At least I think that's the current problem.  

In my first attempt, the skin ruptured and I got a sort of doughnut shape beneath the skin where all the folds converged on the center.  I put that back on the bench, did another stretch & fold, tucked it into a ball and it baked into a yummy thing more like a ciabatta than a boule.  

Any tips on how to get a tight boule with an adequate skin?  

Thanks so much!


katyajini's picture

Bread denser and gummy at bottom of loaf?

My loves of bread baked in loaf pans are getting better :).  Something I see from time to time is that the horizontal bottom 10% of the loaf is denser, harder and sometimes even gummy.  Why does that happen?  I have been able to knead and make the bread without adding more flour and the resulting bread is open and moist, not wet or gummy.  Maybe my correlation is not correct but does a wetter dough give denser bottoms? Or am I not kneading enough for a wet dough?

On the other hand when I am making bread from very wet dough like ciabatta, the bread is not perfect but I don't see a denser section at the bottom of the loaf.  Lifts right up.


Did it ever happen to you?  What might I do about it?


Thank you so much 






jrikkers's picture

Tartine crumb structure

I've been making the basic country bread for a few months and am looking for a more open crumb structure.  I'm following recipe very closely, increasing hydration to 80%, varying bulk fermentation time a bit.  Using Artisan Bakers Craft Plus Malted and Organic WW Hi-Pro Fine, both from Keith Giusto Bakery Supply.  Thanks for any suggestions.

SabinaKobiela's picture

Small Bakery Software


I thought I'd share this one with you. It may be of interest to those of you who are baking on a professional level.

It is a cloud software application for small bakeries.  Check out

The software generates all your production and distribution reports, includig delivery notes and also does your invoices in a flash.

At the end of the process, the data is exported, ready to be imported to your accounting software.

Your customers have an account and there they have your product catalogue, which supports individual prices, per customer.

They manage their orders, either by using a standing order or a shopping cart.  

loribe's picture

activating a dehydrated starter ... gone green

Hi friends - I keep a small stash of dehydrated starters on hand ...haven't baked in a while.  The other day I decided to activate 2 different starters ...both have been in storage for about 2 years.  They both started beautifully.

The first starter is now at 60 hours and beginning to double in volume problems.

The second starter, at 24 hours looked good ...a few tiny air bubbles showing signs of life.  This morning, at 36 hours, it had a greenish swirly layer on top ...otherwise it looked ready to feed.  I have never seen this before.  Any thoughts?  Some kind of contamination?  It smelled normal.  I did chuck it ...and started a new one from the same batch of dehydrated stock.  I sanitized the jar - which I did not do previously fact, have never done.  I am wondering if whatever the greenish layer was ...if it would have worked itself out as the starter was feed & grew? But anyway - I threw it out & tried again with this particular stock ...wondering if the stock could somehow be contaminated?  I guess I will see if this attempt goes funky on me.

I dehydrated good active starter and stored it airtight.  Thanks for any ideas.

Dot's picture

White wholewheat flour

Does anyone know if white wholewheat flour is available in Canada (I live in Ontario). I have been unable to find a supplier so far.

 I would like to experiment with it.  What is the difference in nutritional value, taste, texture, etc. to regular wholewheat.

sourdough_2014's picture

Avoiding Non-Stick Bread Pans

Hi all,


I am in the process of looking for some new bread pans to bake my sourdough bread. I will be strictly avoiding any non-stick coated pans.


I'm looking at some commercial grade Aluminized Steel pans but am a bit concerned about the possibility of aluminum leaching - especially due to the acid when proofing the sourdough in the pans. Does anyone have any thoughts on aluminized steel and safety concerns using this product for sourdough baking.

I believe stainless steel pans are not good at providing even heat and the ones I have seen are cheap and nasty so I will be avoiding. It seems glass is the only other option which I can easily get my hands on but of course there is the risk of dropping and breaking or thermal shock when removing from the oven.

I currently have a clay pot but I'm after pans.


Any help would be appreciated.


vivianalondon's picture

One single starter but 3 different looks after 12 hours

Hi, I am a sourdough newbie. I got a small bag of 15-year old starter from a bakery about a month ago and have baked with it for 6 or 7 times since. Still experimenting different ways to keep & feed it, so sometimes I would divide the starter into different jars and feed them differently. So far the starter seems to be working okay. It'd peak at 4 hours if I feed it at 1 : 0.5 : 0.5 or at 9 hours at 1:1:1 or 12 hours at 1: 2.5 : 2.5.

This morning I divided the starter into 3 different jars, all fed at 1:2.5:2.5 (with organic white and filtered water) before being left on the usual worktop (about 24-25C or 75-77F). I was hoping to place them in different corners at my flat later to check for the optimal temperature. I expected the starter in all 3 jars would look pretty much the same, as that's usually what happened before. But I got a bit of problem today. After 10 hours, the starters look very differently. The jars/starters are of different sizes, but all have same hydration %.

(1) 84g in this bottle (14g starter + 35g each of flour & water). Alive but not as active as before. It smells a bit tangier than usual. But the problem is, I am not sure if my "usual" is the right one. Maybe it's normal or even better to smell tangier?

(2) 60g (10g starter + 25g each of flour & water) - Smell yeasty and slightly floury. Not too tangy. This is usually what I regard as "almost ready to use" for baking, not sure if it's true though? 

(3) 120g (20g starter, 50g each of flour and water). It smells funny. Slightly tangy but got a strange smell as well. Weirdly it got a plastic-y smell. 

I am very confused. I think maybe the last jar has been contaminated as I just washed it with some detergent before drying up and putting in starter. But I am also curious about the following:

(1) what possibly made the first two jars behave differently? Was it just a random outcome or there's some other reasons?

(2) I usually regard the stage as in the second jar starter "almost ready to use". This is how my starter looks at peak. It will get more bubbly in the next two hours but the level will be falling as well. I did read a lot of old posts here in TFL for guidance but still got confused. Some claim the starter should be best used when at peak, while others said it's best used when its most bubbly.

(3) I am not sure about how a healthy starter should smell. Some people said it depends. Different strings of yeasts may smell differently. I remember when I first got this starter from a bakery, it didn't smell sour nor tangy at all. But it's also possible that it had just been refreshed by the bakery so my first impression wasn't its usual state.

(4) One last question about feeding. I have been feeding with the same brand of organic white for the last 4 weeks. But I think I've read from somewhere before that feeding with different types of flour (or at least different brands) would do it good. The starter would have the opportunity to cultivate different populations of wild yeasts and it would benefit the strength and flavour in long term. Unfortunately I couldn't find any relevant articles online to discuss this further.

Sorry for the long post and my poor English. Thanks for reading. Any advice or sharing would be appreciated.