The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Barbara Krauss's picture
Barbara Krauss

Northwest Sourdough

I baked up two white sourdough loaves this morning using Theresa Greenway’s Basic Sourdough Recipe, with some of my own variations.  The crust was crackly, the crumb soft and fragrant, and the taste slightly sour.  I’m not very used to using a high hydration starter, but converted my 100% starter for use in this recipe.  I was pretty pleased with the results.



Adapted from Norhtwest Sourdough by Theresa Greenway

510 g very active starter, at 166% hydration

397 g water

1 T malt syrup

800 g bread flour

100 g AP flour

35 g rye flour

22 g salt


Mix all but salt for 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

Autolyse 20-30 minutes.

Add salt, mix another 1-2 minutes.

Bulk ferment 6 hours, S&F 3 or 4 times during first 2 hours.

Divide, rest 20 minutes.

Shape and place in floured bannetons

Proof 30 minutes at room temperature, place in plastic bags and then into the refrigerator for an overnight proof.

NOTE: If dough has been very active, skip the 30-minute proof.

Next morning, preheat oven to 500 with stone in place.  Remove bannetons from refrigerator one at a time, about 30 minutes prior to baking.

Five to 10 minutes before the bread is loaded, spray the inside of a roasting pan with water and place on stone in oven to heat up.

Score the loaf.

Lower heat to 475 and bake, covered, for 13 minutes.  Remove pan after 13 minutes and rotate dough.  Bake for another 20 minutes, rotating dough once more mid-way.


Theresa Greenway’s recipe calls for lower oven temps (450 initially and then lowered to 425.)  My oven runs cool, so I need the higher temps. 

She also calls for the roasting pan to cover the loaf for the first 20 minutes followed by another 10 to 15 minutes of baking without the lid.  I prefer a darker crust, so I shortened the steam time to 13 minutes.

By the way, I use the bottom half of the roasting pan because the lid didn’t look tall enough to allow for oven spring. 


JimmyChoCho's picture

What happened to my starter? Help!

I've been baking for just under a year using the starter from Tartine Bread. I've always used water from my Brita pitcher and have had no problems until recently. One day I noticed that the bottom of my pitcher was a little green, looking up online a lot of people seem to be having problems with algae growing in their brita pitchers. The day prior to realizing this, I fed my starter using this water and ever since that day my starter looks like this about a day after I feed it:

A closeup reveals weird looking strands.

I have used the starter a few times since this has happened and it works just fine, it rises and falls after a feeding, smells normal but it just looks like...well this. I'm just worried that I should toss this batch and begin a new starter. I have thoroughly cleaned the pitcher but I wish I would have noticed the green substance before feeding my starter. Has anyone else run into this sort of situation? Would feeding it pineapple juice resolve the problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

lumos's picture

III - When you are DESPERATE….Baguettes with Pasta Flour


As I’ve mentioned in a few posts , until I can find a magic and perfect solution for preventing a large stock of flours infested with flour bugs, I’ve got to make do with whatever flour I can find in local shops/supermarkets to make baguettes and other French breads instead of using proper Type 55 or Type 65 flour. So I’ve been experimenting on combinations of various flours for a while now since I experienced  the invasion and empire building by flour bugs some years ago and stopped ordering lovely flour from Shipton Mill which I still miss.  For larger loaves, like pain de campagne-type breads, I think I’ve more or less found out a reasonably good, reliable combinations of flours to achieve what I want to achieve, but for baguettes I’m still in the thick of experiments; eternal state of purgatory, between many illusions of possible heaven in sight and crashing down to hell. (Yes, I's only just flours, but my handling skill as well.....)

A couple of weeks ago, my regular Typo 00 flour for pasta making (Organic. Imported from Italy. Can’t remember the name…) was out of stock at my local Waitrose, so in desperation I bought Dove’s Farm  Organic Pasta Flour from another supermarket. The pasta I made with it wasn’t very successful. It produced much softer dough with not much ‘bite’ to speak of, compared to my regular one.  So I was left with a half-empty bag of pasta flour with which I don’t want to use for making my pasta again….. I used a part of remaining flour for focaccia one day and it turned out quite alright, got a feel of how it’d behave as ‘bread flour.’ Still really soft, but it had a nice flavour and quite appealing delicate shade of creamy colour to the crumb.  So a few days later, I mixed it with strong flour to make my regular Petit Pain Rustique with Poolish (based on Hamelman’s formula with a bit of twist…or two), replacing my usual plain flour. It worked alright; more airy and lighter than plain+strong combination, though the crumb structure was a bit too uniform to my liking; more even small holes than random large holes. But it was acceptable enough, and more importantly, it tasted good.

So yesterday I decided I’d try this on my regular baguettes recipe and see how it’d work. And this is how I made it...


Poolish Baguettes - Spiked with Pasta Flour

(makes 2 x 40cm mini-baguettes)


117g  Waitrose Organic Strong flour

8g  Becheldre Stoneground Rye flour

125g  water

0.1g  Instant yeast 

- Mix all the ingredients, cover and leave at room temperature overnight (12-16 hrs, or maybe shorter or longer, depending upon your room temperature)


Final Dough

All of above poolish. at its peak

75g  Waitrose Organic Strong flour

60g  Dove’s Farm Pasta flour

Scant 1 tbls  wheat germ

Instant yeast  0.7g

5g  good quality sea salt (Sal de Gris, if I have. If not Maldon’s)

60g  water 

  1. Mix both flours with wheat germ, yeast and salt (ground fine if coarse) in a large bowl and add water and active poolish.
  2. Mix into a shaggy mess and rest for 30 minutes.
  3. 3 sets of S & F every 20 minutes.
  4. Cover and cold retard in a fridge for 6-7 hours.
  5. Take it out from the fridge and leave for 30 minutes –1 hr until the dough almost returns to room temperature. (It’s easier to work with if it’s slightly colder and less risk of over-fermentation this way)
  6. Pre-shape and shape into baguette shape, as you’d normally do to make baguettes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven at the highest setting, with a tray of pebbles for steam and a baking stone in it.
  8. When the baguettes are properly proofed (It usually takes around 40-50 minutes or so at this time of year….inEngland. Finger-poke test is essential!), spray inside the oven very generously to make it moist before it receives the dough. (or you can place a dish of water when you start pre-heating, but I always forget to do so….)
  9. (Now, you’ve got to do these very smoothly and quickly!) Score the baguettes, spray the surface with water, load the bagettes into the oven (I usually place the dough on re-usable oven sheet and slide it onto the baking stone), pour half a cup of boiling water (yes, you’ve got to put the kettle on when your bagettes are ready to be baked) onto the pebbles, shut the door immediately, turn the oven temperature down to 240 C….and relax for 10 minutes.
  10.  After 10 minutes, remove the tray of pebble stones and, if you think the baguettes are getting too dark too quickly, turn the temperature down to 220 C and bake for another 12-15 minutes or so.


 (Hope you're all kind enough not to notice the ragged scoring on the baguette in the back ...)


A vertical shot….


From slightly different angle....



.....and lastly and more importantly....this is how the crumb looked like. 

 Hmmmmm……well, it’s not as randomly-holey-airy as I would like, and the crumb was a bit too fluffy and soft to my liking (I like my baguette moderately chewy with a slight bite), but the crust was very crisp and lovely and the taste of both crumb and crust were quite agreeable.  This is the crumb shot for the uglier looking one (wanted it to disappear from the surface of Earth quicker). I froze the other one, so I'm hoping I'll find slightly more open crumb when I slice into it in a few days time,  because it gained more in volume during baking. But there's no guarantee..... 

 I think I can explore more possibilities in using this pasta flour for bread making, but I’m pretty sure my desperate journey of the quest for a baguette with improvised flours will still continue for some time….



AliB's picture

Now eating wheat again....

Hub and I have had to eat gluten-free for the last three years.  I discovered my IBS, raging restless legs and ultimate virtual digestive collapse was due to gluten, and my Hub followed me as an experiment, and his severe brain-fog, depression and acute irritability all went away to our amazement.

I have been on a quest though to try and figure out why.  Why are so many people becoming intolerant of what is such a basic food group?  How come Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance were virtually unheard of 50 or 60 years ago?

What I have recently discovered is very profound.  It is because modern processed wheat products are not prepared properly.

All grains and seeds - grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, etc., contain phytates.  These are natural nutrient-blockers, designed to prevent the seed from germinating prematurely.  They have to be neutralized by phytase which is an enzyme, and that can only be triggered by prolonged contact with moisture.

All seeds and grains should be soaked for 12 - 24 hours prior to use.  The fact that they aren't in modern commercially-made food explains why many who are gluten intolerant also go on to develop problems with other grains - corn, soy, and other bean flours.  The plethora of unprepared wheat and other grains that are in modern processed food is creating a worldwide undermining of our nutritional strength.  The un-neutralized phytates are preventing us from absorbing nutrition properly.  Without enough nutrition, the body cannot function as it should - hence the rapid escalation of multiple health issues......

The other problem is that modern bread is developed too fast for the chemical interactions between the flour, the yeast and the water to convert the gluten and other proteins into substances our bodies can deal with.  Improperly converted gluten becomes toxic in the body and can trigger all sorts of health problems - which is why so many are gluten intolerant - and why GI is linked to so many different diseases and ailments.

Traditional bakers would typically prepare the dough the afternoon or early evening before, leave it to prove overnight, and bake it the bread the following morning - giving the dough well above the minimum 6 hours needed for the interaction to take place.

Commercially-made breads - and even many home-baked breads, are usually completed within two or three hours - and some is even finished within 45 minutes!  Is it any wonder, in light of this that so many people are developing problems with the grains?

So, I did an experiment and made some long-proved bread to see what would happen.  Neither of us reacted to it at all.

I now make my bread in the afternoon, leave it to prove overnight and bake it the next day - usually a process that takes around 17 hours from start to finish.  I also find that I need hardly any yeast - a bare quarter teaspoonful suffices, because the yeast has plenty of time to work its way through the dough.

If I could find a local source of whole un-milled grains here in South Wales, UK, to grind at home freshly for each loaf, I would be in my element.  If anyone knows of anywhere, I would be very grateful.


Winnish's picture

Pita-bread with Zaatar

Pita-bread with Zaatar (middle-east spice), sesame and olive oil


















Very easy to make, and very tasty. We actually love to eat it with Tehina or Hummus (spead made of chickpeas), but it's great with everything

















For recipe and more photos, pease visit my post

My blog and my posts are in Hebrew, but translator is available (top left side-bar)


varda's picture

40% Whole Durum Boule

Sometimes you have to back up to move forward.   I have tried to make 100% whole durum bread a couple times and couldn't achieve a good density or crumb structure even if I was happy with other things.    I found myself decidedly confused by the durum - did it want a long ferment so that the dough could develop without a lot of manipulation, or did it need a short ferment because it develops much faster than regular wheat doughs?    I decided to back up in the percent of durum and then move forward stepwise to see what I could learn.   So last night and today, I made a sourdough boule with 40% whole durum flour.    Even though I was only at 40% I tried to use the gentle methods that durum seems to need, so I mixed everything by hand, stretched and folded in the bowl with my hands, and generally did whatever I could not to frighten the durum.    I also retarded overnight for convenience sake.    Hydration is 68%.   Prefermented flour is 23%.   I used my regular wheat with 5% rye starter.   Here are some pictures of the result:

Next up:  60% whole durum boule. 

probably34's picture

All purpose flour vs. Bread flour- baguettes

From what I understand, using all purpose flour will result in a crispier, cracklier crust. But what about the crumb? Will the crumb be more open and glossy when using AP flour or a flour with a comparable protein content? Is it all in the mixing and oxidation? Can anyone help me with my question?



KHamATL's picture

Baguette Scoring Help Request

Hi everyone,

I have been reading posts on the forum for many months now and trying to gain wisdom on the topic of baguette scoring.  I have read almost every post on the subject but can't seem to get it right.  Out of about a dozen attempts at baguettes, I have successfully generated a nice ear/grigne one time.  Strangely enough, it was on the 3rd attempt.  Here is a picture:

I have been using Hamelman's Poolish Baguette and Hamelman's Straightdough Baguette for all attempts.  I have been using King Arthur flour and I usually do a 30-60 min autolyze and an extra fold to get sufficient gluten development.  I check the proofing with a "poke test" as most people do.  When the dimple very slowly returns after a poke, I consider it ready to bake.  I slash with a curved lame with a depth of ~ 1/4 in (or what I perceive to be a 1/4 in. It's difficult to say exactly).  I hold the blade at an angle (I think ~30-45 deg) to try to cut a flap of dough.  I cook the baguettes in a 460 degree oven (preheated for 45 min) on 1/2 in unglazed tiles.  For steam, I follow Hamelman's instructions: throw a few ice cubes into a cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf while slashing, slide the baguettes onto the stone, and then pour 1 cup of boiling water into the skillet.  I have followed this method for all attempts.

I think my shaping has improved in the past 4 months and I've tried to vary my slashing technique slightly to see what I'm doing wrong.  Now, I would like to request some advice.  I appreciate any guidance that anyone will offer.  Here are the pictures of my "ear-free" baguettes.  Individual photos can be seen at  Thanks in advance.

On a positive note, I have eaten many many delicious sandwiches from all of this.  Thanks for your help!


eschneider5's picture

Need help figuring out formula for this bread.

I wanted to start a new thread for this.  I need to find out the formula for this bread which is also a sandwich roll.  The roll has a slight sour taste to it, the crumb is soft and chewy, the crust is thin and crunchy.  The crust is the big mystery for me as it is unlike any baguette that I have made or eaten before.  This crust is much thinner than a baguette which makes it great as a sandwich roll.  Help please!

Contannia's picture

Substituting active dry yeast for instant yeast

So, I'm pretty new to bread making and I need to tweak a recipe that calls for instant yeast. All I have is active dry yeast. How will this change the rise time and process? The recipe says to mix all the ingredients, turn out on a floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, let rise in an oiled bowl till doubled in size, turn out and put in two bread pans, let rise until doubled again, and then bake.

The ingredients are water, instant yeast, honey, butter, salt, rye flour, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, and all purpose flour.

I will also be switching sugar for honey, oatmeal for rye flour, flax meal for wheat germ (all of which my boyfriend has done before with no problems) and bread flour for all-purpose (which I've done before with no problem).