The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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dwfender's picture

Sourdough White Bread

I might be a little addicted to sourdough. It takes a long time for the bulk fermentation, but it's really great knowing that I made this bread completely from scratch. Next I'll need to buy a mill and start making my own flour. Slippery sloap this bread making is. 


The toast is so amazing. It would make an absolutely great grilled cheese....mmmm caramelized onions, cheese and russian dressing. Oh my. 

Next time I'll have to buy a real pain de mie loaf and do it like the professionals. 


anthliz's picture

Trying to make my 100th 'first loaf'

Hi All, 

I have been baking bread my whole life, actually, so this is getting to be particularly frustrating for me. As a girl, my Grandma taught me to make simple yeast breads and Swedish sweet breads and rolls. Everyone in my family has their own twist, and we love baking my Grandma's bread roll recipes at the holidays. I am now all grown-up with a son and enough time on my hands to try to make our own perfect loaf of bread or French baguette at home. I want it to be healthy, yes, so I also play with different combinations of flours. 


(I think) My problems are in three related areas, so let me spell out what I did in my most recent adventure last night.

Problem #1: The recipe

Last week, too too much flour and way over kneaded (using my sister's "French bread" recipe) and then cooked at too low of a temperture. So, I turned to my Hodgson Mills Graham/Whole Wheat flour bag recipe and also the recipe for French Baquette in the Betty Crocker cookbook. 

Mixed and proofed the following:

.5c all purpose (King arthur)

1c graham/whole wheat

3 TBLS brown sugar

1.3 TBLS yeast

1 TBLS Vital Wheat Gluten


This all went swimmingly well. *The first time I have ever in my life even purchased the gluten. I thought that's what professional bakers do??? I think I am wrong about that, though.*


Problem #2: How soft should this dough be (does it matter if it is going in a loaf pan versus baquette?)

Then I added the following by hand - I do not have a stand mixer and always did this by hand with Grandma, so... 

1.5-2c All purpose flour

1.5-2c Whole Wheat/Graham flour

1 tsp salt

4 TBLS Olive oil


This made a moist, soft dough. I tried to not add too much flour. I kneaded it for about 5-8 minutes, let it sit in oiled bowl for 1.5 hrs and it more than doubled in size. Perfect! 


I punched it down, divided in two, and proceeded to gently knead (very very little kneading) as I shaped it into two long 'baguette' loaves and put on an oiled cookie sheet. I covered with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. 


Problem #3: Do I ferment it over night in a bowl? In a pan? What if I wanted to make a nice loaf of bread in less than 24 hours time?

It has been in the fridge 12 hours. I was *going* to come home and bake it at 400-425 degrees with a steamy pan of water under it (and slash it diagonally like a french baquette). But, I can see that the loaves have already doubled in size and are all over the cookie sheet like big blobs of dough. 

Given the current unshaped condition of my dough, I am thinking of reshaping one blob into a loaf pan (oiled) and the other blob into a baguette and seeing how they bake. I will reshape them cold, let them sit at room temp for about an hour, and then bake in a steamy oven. 


This batch won't be my last. I would like to have some simple go-to recipes for basic breads. But, like I say, I think I have a number of problems in my recipe, ingredient selection, and process/equipment. Thanks for taking the time to read about my saga -- I appreciate any tips or advice!


glasgowjames's picture

Staple White Sourdough Formula

Hullo all! My name is James and though I've posted a couple of times on here before, I've never properly introduced myself. I am a contestant on the new series of the Great British Bake-Off, on BBC2 in the UK at 8pm on Tuesdays.

This Tuesday, it is bread week (see for how rubbish we are at plaiting, I'm the first guy). And if you tune in, you'll find out if it is possible to fully knead, prove, boil and bake sourdough bagels in 4 hours. But I thought to mark the occasion, I'd look for some opinions on my own staple of a White Sourdough - this is the recipe I use on a regular basis, using the simple formula:

1:1 Starter; total weight of starter should be HALF total weight of flour; overall hydration 75%

Simple! I really do love this recipe, and encourage you to try it (copied from my brand new blog at , contact me on twitter at @bakingjames) and more than anything, encourage you to criticise it:



A few words on your starter:

Your sourdough starter should ideally be kept at room temperature (18-24 degrees) with as little fluctuation in temperature as possible. The ratio of strong white flour to water should be kept at 1:1 and, to steal the term from beer brewing, the pitching rate should be kept constant (this is simply how much you feed it compared to how much starter there is - try and feed it with about twice the weight of starter that remains after use. If you don't use your starter on a particular day, pour some away to keep this ratio constant). Additionally, this recipe assumes the activity of your starter is high, and that it is used as it is fed with the full amount of flour required for your daily bake every 24 hours, as it is used.


But even if you don't abide by those strict starter rules (I must admit, I often don't), my rules to the perfect simple white home sourdough are simple and easy and should be followed:

  • STARTER should be ONE:ONE ratio of flour and water
  • Use HALF the weight of STARTER to your weight of FLOUR
  • Add enough water to keep the OVERALL HYDRATION at 75%


Easy huh? A worked example:

To make a loaf using 400g white flour, we add 200g starter. This means we have a total of 500g flour and 100g water so far. To bring the hydration to 75%, we can work out that we need a total of 375g water total. Therefore, 275g water should be added to bring it to 75% hydration. Of course, make normal adjustments, and add a little more water if your starter is more active or less water if less active.


Recipe (makes one large loaf):

400g Strong White Flour (just go ahead and order a sack from Shipton Mill...)

200g White Sourdough Starter

275g Cold Water

10g Salt


1. Mix together water and starter and flour until combined. Cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

2. Add salt and knead fully (none of this Dan Lepard stuff) until passes the windowpane test. I would recommend the slap and fold method)

3. Cover and rest depending on what suits you: approx 6 hours at room temperature should be enough. Alternatively, just chuck it in the fridge overnight.

4. Shape (you can preshape if you like: if rested overnight it might be a bit floppy - just shape it loosely, except try and use no flour. 30 mins later just shape again) and transfer to basket or brotform

5. Prove for another 4-6 hours at room temp until done. You can retard this prove too if you like, but I wouldn't do both as the sourness can be a little too much (though works well if starter is on 12 hour cycle), and if you retard this prove you're crumb isn't going to be quite as tight.

*** Baking instructions are my recommended, but just on stone or in a pot I'm sure will be fine ***

6. Preheat baking stone at 240 degrees, then add in a cast iron pot (Le Creuset or similar or a dutch oven) with lid on about 20 mins before you're going to bake.

7. Turn down oven to 210, score and bake loaf in the pot for 15 minutes with the lid on, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes. Remove the pot and turn out the bread (bread can be frozen or kept back at this point) and bake on the stone for a final time until done (another 20 minutes or so).

Happy baking!

david earls's picture
david earls

Formulas and preferments

I'm a newbie on this forum, and probably a newbie to bread machines - had one for about a year and a half. I bake 2-3 times a week in my West Bend Hi Rise, a spiffo little double-paddle machine that makes a 2-2.5 lb. horizontal loaf. Shortly after I started baking, I departed from both direct method (where you add yeast directly to the dough) and recipes, and moved to indirect method (preferment) and formulas. I don't make many kinds of bread, so my formulas have been thoroughly tested and refined.

It turns out the bread machine is perfect for preferment. I depart again from the usual preferment - I add all the yeast and all the water to the preferment, and none directly to the dough. I'm probably doing this wrong, but I've generally had poor results adding additional yeast at the dough stage (loaves fall). But hey! It works for me.

I departed from recipes after using King Arthur All Purpose (KA AP) flour the first time - I got a salty loaf after measuring the old-fashioned way (more on this below). Now I do everything by formulas, and my bread is just right. In a formula, every ingredient is measured as a percentage of the flour. I bought a small kitchen scale and weigh everything in grams, so my measurements are very precise - much more precise than cups and spoons could ever be. Commercial bakeries use formulas for the same reason - precision and repeatability.

When I bake, I follow this procedure:

1. Weigh the flour. Calculate all ingredients as a percentage of the flour. I have a little spreadsheet that does this for me. I've done these formulas so many times now that I know the optimal amount of flour for each formula in my machine. Optimal size in your machine could be different from mine - not a problem, scaling up or down with a formula is a snap. I like the top of my loaves to rise above the bread pan so the tops brown in the bake cycle.
2. Put all the water into the bread machine (water is typically about 60-70% of the flour weight). Add an equal amount of flour. Add some yeast - 3 or 4 grams for a 2-lb loaf.
3. Using the Dough cycle, mix and knead the starter. Scrape down the sides of the pan while the starter is mixing. Turn the bread machine off.
4. Add the remaining flour as an even layer on top of the starter.
5. Add the remaining ingredients on top of the flour. The flour layer keeps salt and sugar away from the starter. The only "liquid" ingredients I use are butter, oil, or honey - everything else is dry (dry milk, dry buttermilk, rolled oats, wheat germ, etc). There's no reason to add any dry ingredients that don't contain gluten to the preferment.
6. Select the machine cycle that works best for you - I always use Basic. Set the timer on the bread machine to 13 hours (longest cycle time on my machine). Press Start. I always allow the bread to cool a bit in the machine before removing it - this makes the loaf come off the paddles more easily.

I bake my loaves in the machine. I suppose you could remove the dough after the final kneading cycle, shape the loaves for a pan and do the final rise outside the machine, but I don't.

Why does the formula work over the recipe? For precision and repeatability. My first KA AP loaf was the object lesson. It turns out that a cup of KA AP flour (11%+ gluten) only weighs about 127 grams. A cup of Gold Medal Better for Bread weighs about 135 grams. When I measured my KA flour using volume, my dough was about 10% lighter on flour - so it was salty. Now that I measure all my ingredients in grams, the ratios between the ingredients are always spot on. And the formulas make adjusting ingredients a snap. I had a couple of loaves collapse this summer and reduced the water in my formula by 1% - bingo, problem solved! When you get the formula right, every loaf turn out the same.

Why preferment? Well, for one thing both the flavor and texture of the bread is better. Instead of a loaf with every hole the same size, the size of the holes varies. That means a chewier texture and more flavor. And second, the bread keeps better, though I rarely get a loaf through its third day before I've eaten it. And third, it's way cool...

I'd be happy to share formulas if anyone is interested. I'd also love to hear from anyone who's experimented with either formulas or preferments.

mwilson's picture

Super Sour White Spelt Loaf

Here I am again with another highly hydrated white spelt loaf. This time around it's sourdough raised...

I didn't set out to make this sour but boy, I mean wow is this sour!

If ever proof was needed that warm and wet makes for a more sour bread, then this is it!

My firm sourdough contributes a lot of dough strength via its acidity and lack of protease activity. This coupled with much fermentation mean't that even at 100% hydration the final dough became too strong and was impossible to shape without tearing. As a result the loaf looks rather ugly..

Here's what I did...


  • 50g Italian sourdough (taken after overnight, room temp rise)(50% hydration)
  • 200g White Spelt flour (Doves Farm)
  • 200g water
  • 4g Salt

Dough was mixed initially at 50% with 100ml of water, followed by an autolyse before adding the rest of water in 25ml increments to achieve 100% hydration. Bulk fermentation for ~5hrs at 30C with a few s&f's in between. Room temp proof for ~3hrs.


This bread has a very nice acetic acid scented crust. But under that rough and bumpy crust lies a shockingly sour crumb... I can still taste it as I write this.. I really can't emphasise enough just how sour this bread is... The most sour ever...



foodslut's picture

Ploughman's Lunch Bread Experiment

I love the idea of a rustic "ploughman's lunch", so I thought I'd try to replicate the experience (or, at least, channel it) via a savoury bread.

I started with a beer-bread base inspired by Dan Lepard's stout loaf recipe, only using an ale rather than the stronger stout:

Adding some locally-produced garlic coil, some diced dill pickles and cubed strong locally-produced Gouda cheese, I came up with this formula for an 825 gram/29 ounce loaf:

White flour75304.8
Rye flour25101.6
Sharp cheese1561.0
Instant yeast14.1

I mixed the dough and savoury elements, let it autolyze for about 20 minutes, kneaded by hand until resonably smooth, then let it ferment at room temperature until doubled (about 2 hours).

I then shaped the dough into a boule, and let it proof in a banneton for 45 minutes while the oven was preheating to 510 degrees F/265 C.  The dough was flipped onto parchment, slashed, and put into the oven on the baking stone I keep there.  I sprayed water into the oven from time to time for the first 8 minutes, then lowered the oven temp to 400 F/205 C for 45 minutes.

I was pleased with the resulting crumb, considering it wasn't a levain dough.

The taste?  A nice beer bread, with spikes of meat, cheese and pickles (which baked up tasting and feeling a bit like olives).

A success?  Not as much as I'd hoped in this format.  To better re-create the ploughman's lunch experience, my next experiment will be to make rolls, based on a beer bread formula filled with meat, cheese and pickles (maybe even a bit of chutney - I worried about the flavour spreading all over the bread if I mixed it into the dough itself).

Ideas/feedback (good, bad or ugly) always welcome.'s picture

Basmati-Semolina Bread

I'd been thinking that the sweet fragrance of basmati rice surely earns it some upward mobility out of its lowly caste, buried under the curry, and up into the brahmin bread basket.  A golden crumb seemed appropriate to its elevated status, so semolina was recruited.  I kept the durum to bog-standard Bob's Red Mill Fine Semolina, so as not to put the formula as out of reach as proper fine durum is (i.e., mailorder only).  Golden Temple Atta Durum would probably have been more appropriate (see below) and somewhat more accessible than the pukka mailorder product, but a soaker of BRM fine worked well.  I'm getting in the habit of adding 3% toasted wheat germ to mostly-whiteflour breads, following David Snyder's report on the SFBI miche.  So in that went.  Finally, developing the formula coincided with the recent spike in RYW chatter @TFL and the concomitant successional climax of my little mason jar crabapple/PinkLady/raisin/honey ecosystem, so RYW was fated to be the levain.  The results were surprisingly satisfying.



1. Day before baking,

  • In morning, feed RYW with equal weight of Rubaud flour mix (100% hydration: 30 g RYW + 30 g flour).  Incubate at 77˚F until evening, then make up levain and incubate that overnight (9h) at 77˚F.
  • Bring 3 c unsalted water to boil.  Stir in 2 c white basmati rice (I used Lundberg Organic).  Return to boil and reduce flame to lowest setting.  Cover and cook for 20'.  White basmati rice weighs 142 g/c.  2 c dry came to 909 g cooked = 284 g rice + 625 g water; therefore each g of dry rice contributes ~2.2 g water when cooked.  This is more rice than needed.  Adjust accordingly if you don't want to have leftover rice.
  • In evening: Mix semolina soaker and leave at 77˚F (or whatever room temp is) overnight.                                         

2. Baking day, reduce cooked rice to a grainless mush via food processor and/or Foley food mill (I used the latter -- worked well).  Weigh out 420 g of mush.

3. Combine levain and all final dough ingredients (bread flour was KA Organic) except salt into shaggy mass. Adjust hydration if necessary.  Autolyse 30 min.

4. Add salt and french fold 5' / rest 5'/ french fold 5'.  Transfer to fermentation vessel (I use plastic boxes).

5. Bulk ferment 2.25 h with stretch and folds (in box) at 30', 60' and 100'.

6. Bench rest 25'.

7. Shape into a miche or 2 boules/batards.  Proof in rice+wheat floured banneton(s) for 2 h at 77˚F.

8. Bake on preheated stone in 500˚F oven turned down to 450˚F at start, for 20' with steam.  Remove steam apparatus, reduce oven temperature to 440˚F, and bake for an additional 20' with convection.    

9. Turn off oven, open door slightly, leave loaf on stone for 10'.

10. Remove and cool on rack.  Internal loaf temperature 210˚F.  Wait until fully cooled (preferably 24h) to slice.

Baking definitely diminishes the basmati flavor and fragrance.  Whereas the air was intoxicatingly perfumed with every slap of the french folding, in the finished loaf its presence is more evenly balanced with the wheat flavors.  Perhaps those more learned in the arts of gluten-free baking have tricks that would allow increasing the rice percentage in the formula.  The crust is sweet and chewy.  The crumb is angelfood-cakey soft and creamy yellow-white, slightly sticky on the bread knife but far less so 24h out of the oven than when just cooled.  RYW left no SD tang whatsoever, as advertised.  Toasts up exquisitely, best with butter.  The better the butter the better.  Fairly irresistible, truth be told.  I'll definitely be baking this again.  Maybe next week :-)

One feature of RYW that I'd failed to grok from posts by akiko, dabrownman et al. is the explosive leavening power of these potions.  From pilot builds beforehand, I knew my little homebrew could double a 100% hydration Rubaud flour mix in 6 hrs at 77˚F.  But that didn't prepare me for its Usain Boltian performance in a dough.  This juice could raise the dead.  What's up with that?  Just different bugs?  High titers?  Epigenetic adaptation to anaerobic conditions?  My baking routine this summer has been to start a SD batch and, while its fermentation proceeds at its normal stately pace, I can mix, ferment and bake a CY'd preparation (lately Reinhart's 100% WW sandwich loaf).  But bloody hell.  The CY loaf could hardly play through this time with the RYW dough hollering Fore! from the banneton.  It was nip and tuck, with the WW getting a bit overproofed (bogie?) while the RYW loaf holed out.

Finally, this bake and its score honors the victims of the tragedy in Oak Creek, WI.

Voila.  Blogo ergo sum.

Happy baking y'all,


thihal123's picture

DiMuzio's «Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective»

Is there an errata published for DiMuzio's book? I was scouting through this forum and notice that this is a highly recommended textbook, but according to some reviewers, there are some formula errors. I don't mind if there is a published errata, either online or in print. Does this exist?

thihal123's picture

Help with my 1st starter

It is almost 24 hours since I first started making my sourdough starter and I haven't done the first feeding because I don't know if the starter is fermenting. Thing is, on top of the mixture is a layer of pretty clear water. Is that normal? I have stirred this mixture a few times and each time, after a while, some of the water seems to begin separating.

I followed River Cottage Bread Book's method of starting a starter:

1 cup flour (I used King Arthur Whole Wheat)
1 cup warm water

Using an electric beater, I beat it for 10 minutes on fairly high speed. Then, I covered the mixture. It's sitting in a small crock pot with a glass lid.

Is it normal for this starter to have some clear water separate from the mixture after about 22 hours? My mixture/batter isn't very thick. Do I have to begin over?

txfarmer's picture

10,000 Year Vintage Miche - priceless?

Sending this toYeastspotting.
Click here for my blog index.

No, I am not exaggerating. I took a trip to Antarctic earlier this year. At the end the voyage, we had a charity auction benefitting envirnment research groups for Antarctic. I set my eyes on this bottle of 10,000 old glacier water, $200 later, it's mine. How would I use it? Making a bread of course!

What's better than a traditional miche to complement the history of this water? The formual is based on the SFBI Miche posted a while back by David (here). I have made it before (here) with my own twist, this time I did the following:
1) I used all splet flour(150g) in levain, then some of it in final dough (75g spelt) to make spelt ratio to be about 20%. For the rest of flour in final dough (900g), I used Golden Buffalo High Extraction Flour.
2) Used my usual 100% white starter
3) Baked it in my large Staub cast iron pot. Preheated at 500F for nearly one hour, slash, load the loaf, cover, bake at 450F for the first 20min, remove lid, lower temp to 430F, bake for another 40min, turn off oven, open the oven door a little, leave the loaf (in the pot) in oven for another 20min before taking out.
4)My cast iron pot is oval so I shaped the dough into a batard, which is not the "usual" shape for miche.
5)The scoring was at the request of my husband: he want something that looks like "glacier", that's the best I could do.
Everything else remained the same, including the 2KG size, wheat germ amount, as well as fermentation/proofing schedule.

This formula never fails me, and this time it's no exception. A good thing, otherwise I would be wasting some very pricy water.

Wheat germ is the highlight of this formula, but this time, I can taste the spelt adding more layers of flavor.

Very meaningful and delicious bread. That bottle of glacier water was sacraficed for a good cause.