The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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aptk's picture

Orange Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday I had a big bunch of starter and two baking plans. One was an artisan loaf, which totally failed, it didn't hold its shape at all, I ended up with a 10 in round disk that had such a crust you could hardly cut it. Today it is bird food out in the back yard.

The second project was the cinnamon rolls, flavored with orange zest, sprinkled with cranberries and walnuts in addition to my regular cinnamon roll fare, frosted with a cream cheese orange glaze, and it's delicious.

lepainSamidien's picture

Divide to Conquer !

Hey all,

So, as usual, I find myself searching through the forums for more wisdom on how to control the intensity of the sour punch delivered by my numerous iterations of a Poilane-clone, a lofty ideal that I've been chasing since my first encounter in le Marais this past April while in Paris for the Marathon de Paris (an encounter that was followed by I-don't-know-how-many repeat trips to the various locations throughout the city).

Since then, I've become more attached to my sourdough starter and obsessed with the quest for the perfect loaf. However, I've noticed a great deal of variance in the sourness of my breads: it seems that temperature and time are the greatest role players in both cases (an increase in either typically yielding an increase in sourness), but--alas!--I often find both of these things outside of my control. New England weather is a crap-shoot, and my life is so littered with vagaries that timing often gets in the way of my being able to allow my loaf to fully develop and mature before being sent off into the inferno of my oven.

I read a really interesting post from a while back from Alpine, who mentioned something about dividing up some starter into two camps, 2-3 days prior to baking: one portion to be fed regularly in order to sustain and encourage yeast activity; the other, to be starved to encourage lactobacillus takeover. This division seems to make sense, and I'm looking forward to using it. But, I have a couple of questions:

1. Should I return the portion of starter meant for lactobacillus development to the fridge for the 2-3 days?, or do I keep it at room temperature?

2. Should the yeasty portion of the starter be built-up gradually from small to large, or should there be discards? If there are regular discards, should these discards be added to the lactobacillus starter, or stored separately?

If anyone else uses the Divide and Conquer process described by Alpine here:, I'd be happy to get some delicious insight. Thanks in advance.

Bake on !

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

More Sourdough Problems

I began a new sourdough. I started it the same way I began my rye sour, using organic rye flour from the local natural food co-op. My intention was to convert it to wheat in order to bake a French or San Francisco style loaf.

Just like the last time, the starter was extremely active early on, bubbling and raising merrily for the first three feedings of rye flour.

After that I started a feeding regimen of organic white and whole wheat flours. All seemed OK the first two wheat feedings, but this morning, I noticed no bubbles and the mixture had separated out a layer of clear liquid on top.

I just fed it again, this time all WW. What is going on here?

bobku's picture

stretch and fold and cold bulk rise

How do I incorporate stretch and fold into a cold bulk rise.

I have a formula for 75% hydration dough that has a bulk rise of about 3-4 hours at room temp which I stretch and fold every half hour in the bowl. How would I do stretch and folds if I want to do a overnight cold bulk rise?

Floydm's picture


Some Lazy Man's Brioche I made this week.  Quite tasty.

My biggest takeaway, baking-wise, from the Kneading Conference West this year is that I've been baking with too strong flour.  I almost always use bread flour, and generally try to bake with the highest protein flour I can find.  It works, in the sense that I usually have strong loaves that can hold their shape well, but they are tougher and less tasty than they need to be.  So I'm trying to ease up and get used to mixing in more AP flour.  I did this with a batch of pizza dough last week and it turned out really nice, much more extensible than what I typically make.  

Still much more to learn about and explore.

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Butternut Sourdough


50 gr. bread flour
50 gr. whole wheat flour
100 gr. water
20 gr. sourdough starter

Mix together and ferment for 12-16 hours.

Final Dough

500 gr. bread flour
100 gr. whole wheat flour
260 gr. water
16 gr. salt
6 gr. yeast
250 gr. cooked, mashed butternut squash
10 gr. pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Mix together bread & whole wheat flour, pre-ferment & water, autolyze for 15 minutes.

Mix in yeast, salt & butternut squash & knead on medium for 10 minutes. Mix in seeds.

Cover and proof for 1 1/2 hours.

Stretch & fold & proof and 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 480 (220C)

Divide dough into 2 balls, let rest for 10 minutes. Fold and proof for 1/2 hr. in brotforms. When oven is preheated, turn out of the brotforms and slash. Bake with steam for 25 minutes.

The dough was very wet and the loaves turned out kind of flat, should I have used more flour or less water? When I have a dough this wet and sticks I flour the board and brotform with semolina.

They have nice crumb.

foodslut's picture

Baking Bread in a Slow Cooker - Crock Pot

I was reading online this week about baking bread in slow cookers (more here and here), so I decided to make a 3.2 kg (~7 lbs) batch of my house loaf - here's the formula ....

.... and bake three 800 gram (~28 ounce) boules in the oven, and one in our trusty old slow cooker/crock pot.

Whipped up the dough, fermented it overnight in the fridge, shaped up the boules and proofed them (three in cane bannetons, one in the slow cooker ceramic insert lined in parchment paper) for about 90 minutes at coolish room temp. 

I baked the oven boules on a stone, 500 degrees for 9 minutes with steam followed by 45 minutes at 400.  I baked the proofed crock pot boule at "high" for two hours.  In both cases, the internal temp of the bread ended up ~200 degrees. Here's what the slow cooker version looked like out of the pot:









After removing the crock pot loaf, I crusted up the top for 3-4 minutes under a high broil.

Here's a compare and contrast shot, with the boule trio on top, and the crock pot loaf down front.











The boules came out with the usual nice crust.  The crock pot loaf came out VERY soft - when I first poked it after the two hours, it didn't feel quite done.  Checked the internal temp, though, and it was up to 200.

The crumbs?  Not a gross amount of difference ....

Both tasted about the same, with the oven version (not surprisingly) having a much nicer crust to chew on, and the slow cooker version being moister overall (again, not surprisingly, given its cooking in a steam environment).

Bottom line? 

Yes, you can bake bread in a slow cooker using artisan formulas, and it comes out like a nice, soft sandwich loaf - probably close to how I imagine it might come out in a bread-making machine. 

No, the crust won't be anywhere near as nice as doing it in a hotter oven.

That said, it might make an interesting "steam bread" tool, or could be a last resort for someone truly desperate for some home-made bread without access to an oven.

pizza fool's picture
pizza fool

Troubleshooting flattish loaf - Reinhart's ABED Pain au Levain

Hiya. I've attemped Reinhart's Pain au Levain from Artisan Breads Every Day several times. I'm used the mixed method, which calls for 2+ tsp yeast in addition to the sourdough starter. Baking after a couple of days cold fermentation, and then after a couple more.  My sourdough is active - I typically refresh it the night before baking, my sponge doubles, and my dough triples in the refrigerator.  Flavor is delicious, and I think I'm getting enough oven spring, but the loaves are a bit flat, and maybe the crumb is too spongy.  The flatness, I'm guessing is caused by one of four things:

1) Not enough hydration: I'm mixing the dough in my Kitchenaid stand mixer with the paddle and then the dough hook.  The dough is very wet and forms a sticky area at the bottom of the bowl, so I add more flour until the dough is still tacky but the dough at the bottom no longer sticks.  I was thinking maybe I'm adding too much flour and it's affecting the hydration levels and I don't know maybe somehow that affects the tightness of the boules or the oven spring.

2) Boules aren't tight enough.  I'm using Reinhart's method as he demonstrates in this video, but his dough looks much more hydrated than mine, and his boules definitely look tighter.  

3) His instructions are to take the dough out of the banneton (I'm using a floured towel in a mesh strainer) 15 minutes before baking, but over those 15 minutes my dough starts to flatten out. I know some people take their dough out right before baking... in your opinion are those 15 minutes essential or are they dispensible?

4) Oven spring - I think I'm getting enough, judging by how much the loaves rise during their first 10 minutes or so.  I have a baking sheet below my baking stone and I heat both at 500 for 45 minutes.  I slide the dough onto the stone, pour 1 cup of hot water onto the sheet and mist the walls.

Thanks for any advice.

kah22's picture

Pullman Pan

Need som advice?

Bought 2 Pullman pans the other day (20x 11x 10 cm) but can't figure out what size of a loaf that would make.

I'm working from the following French recipe:

10g unsalted butter
20g fresh yeast
500g strong white bread flour
10g salt
50g full fat milk
300ml water (the book I'm following opts for high hydration bread)
a little butter for greasing

According to the recipe that should be sufficent for 2 x 500g (20-22cm long) but the loaves don't reach anywhere near the top of the tin.

I don't know how to do the calculations so can anyone tell me what quantities I would need for these 2 loaf pans, or indeed for a single pan.

As always many thanks for your help.



Foodzeit's picture

Mixed whole wheat flour spring onion bread

(The following bread recipe can also be found on my blog, over here.)

A local ingredient, which we can find in most Chinese dishes, is the spring onions (and that not only in spring). The freshness of the spring onion always makes me think of the kind of fresh cheese with herbs that I love to spread on a slice of fresh bread and enjoy with some tomato as a topping, it’s a perfect light spring / summer kind of a spread. So in order to incorporate the spring onion into my bread I wanted to make a lighter kind of bread. So rye flour is out of the question this time. So I am creating a recipe for a sourdough based loaf of artisan bread, which has a higher percentage of wheat flour in it. So as homage to the spring onion I am presenting my light and fluffy home-made spring onion wheat bread.

  • Rye Flour 62 g
  • Water 62 g
  • Rye Flour starter 6.2 g

Mix everything together to smooth dough without any clumps inside and let it rest in a covered bowl at 24-28°C for 14 – 20 hours. After your sourdough is ready, don't forget to take some starter away and keep it in the fridge for your next bread.

Yeast sponge

  • Whole wheat flour 75 g
  • Water 75 g
  • Yeast 3.0 g

Mix ingredients until smooth. Then let dough rest for about 12 - 14 hours, 22–25°C.

Swollen piece

  • Roasted pumpkin seeds 45 g
  • Linseeds 20 g
  • Water 65 g
  • Salt 13.3 g

Immerse everything in the lukewarm water, cover it up and let them swell for 12 to 14 hours at room temperature.

Main dough

  • Rye Sourdough flour 130 g
  • Sponge 153 g
  • Swollen piece 216 g
  • Rye Flour 186 g
  • Whole wheat flour 342 g
  • Water 250 g
  • Dried yeast 2.4 g
  • Spring onion 13.3 g
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Put all ingredients in the mixing bowl

dough with spring onions

and mix them well together and knead them for about 5 – 7 minutes until the gluten in the dough is set free, the dough is a bit soft and gluey. Let the dough rest for 30 – 45 minutes. During this, stretch and fold the dough once or twice.
We now form two breads out of the dough mass. If you are not sure how to form / shape bread, please follow my link on "bread baking basics + know how". This is another one of my free formed bread and so, it has to rest in a form in order to not run flat on you. So normally you would put in a bread fermentation basket it you have one. This is a basket that bakers will let their breads ferment in for a while to get in form while fermenting. As I don't have a special basket for this, I am just taking a normal high bowl (I am still using the same on that I used when I made this bread) with a round bottom that gives my bread more or less the form that I desire for the bread. I flour the bowl well before I add the dough, this way later it won't stick to it. Now I add the formed dough bottom side up into the bowl. Let the bread ferment another 45 - 60 minutes (actually there is a finger test to check if the bread is ready for the oven or not. I will post this method another time because it’s really helpful at this stage).
Once the breads have been fermented, I drop them upside down from their bread baskets on my permanent Teflon baking foil on which I already sprinkled a bed of flour. Also sprinkle a layer of flour on top of the bread before putting in the oven. The oven should be pre heated on 250°C. Now pour a cup of hot water in the oven (if you do not have this inbuilt steaming program in your oven at home), pop the bread in the oven and also place a cup of water on the floor of the oven to give some additional steam later on. Quickly close the door so the hot steam will be caught within the oven. Having all that steam in the oven is, like mentioned many times before, extremely important for a scrumptious crust and a great consistency of the bread.
Bake the breads for 10 - 15 minutes like this until it reached the right brown color that you are looking for in a bread crust, then open up the door, let the steam out, lower the heat on 200°C and continue to bake the bread for another 45 - 50 minutes. Now switch off the heat, keep the door open and let the bread cool down slowly. I always spray a bit of water on top of the fresh loaf when it's still hot. It gives a nice and shiny surface the fresh baked crust.
So, after baking this nice bread, it's time for me to head off to my holidays. Enjoy all and happy baking to you as well.

round loaf