The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Laurentius's picture

A lighter side of baking.

Yesterday I was going to test some new French flour, the night before I prepared my levain. Upon awaken, I checked my levain and it was full of small bubbles somewhat like beer foam, so without thinking I added a spoonful of starter to hasten the development, added it to my flour and water, allowed it to autolyse for an hour, then added my salt and proceeded to S&F every 30 minutes for the first 2hrs of bulk fermentation. Slowly I noticed my dough was becoming slack and slacker and full of larger bubbles. Finally it dawned on me, that instead of bread dough, I had just created a kilo plus of fresh levain. So, I covered it for it to fully develop. So do you have any idea, of what I'm doing now? You got it, I'm testing my new French flour! I hope some of you, have moments of idiocy you would like to share, please. I can not be alone in this behavior, I hope.

dabrownman's picture

Multigrain Sourdough with Sesame and Flax Seeds Toadies and Malts

We needed to come up with a white bread that had around 30% of home milled, whole grains that did't disappoint when it came to flavor and sour.   We have been developing 80% and higher whole grains with robust flavor and sour but, some folks just don’t like breads like that .....even though that should be against the bread laws :-)

My poor apprentice still thinks that, if it isn’t pumpernickel, it’s not even close to real bread and she should know being the determined German she looks like and claims to be.  But, the other girls in the family still like their mamby,  pamby, cotton candy, Oroweat, supposed whole wheat bread even though, it sure doesn’t look like any whole wheat I grind and bake – not even close.


Hopefully, Lucy will come up with a recipe that they actually prefer over their notion of what bread is supposed to be.   So, we took a flyer from and decided to do a bread that required double slap and folds.  Our 2nd set required double slaps to one fold as it was stiffer than normal!


After Tom’s great flavor enhancing invention that Lucy named 'Toadies' (short for Toady Tom's Toasted Tasty Tidbits), you just have to read his latest post on his summer bread experiments and incorporate what ever strikes your fancy into your methods -  like I made my apprentice over her scowls and growls.


This time we dropped the whole wheat from the whole grain mix and added whole oats to the usual rye, Kamut and spelt.  For liquid, we went with water this time instead of some part being yogurt whey.  This white bread should be less tangy than our normal loaf as a result but it should still be tangy enough.


Weonce again put the whole grain bits into the levain to get them wet as long as possible.   We hoped they would be softer that wasy and not cut the gluten strands too much when we went to develop it.  We also did a 48 hour retard after the 3rd stage build had risen 25%  to promote sour and lab reproduction over yeast reproduction.


When the levain came out of the fridge to finish it's 48 hour belated doubling, we started the autolyse with everything else except the ground seeds.  We only sprinkled the salt on top of the autolyse so we wouldn’t for get it later as we sometimes prone to do.


After 3 hours on the counter, the levain was ready by finishing its doubling.  We mixed it with the autolyse and then did 10 minutes of slap and folds.  After a 15 minute rest we did another 4 minutes of slap and folds before resting it again for 15 minutes.  The gluten was fully developed but we still did 2 sets of slap and folds on 15 minute intervals.  The ground sesame and flax seeds were incorporated on the first one and were evenly distributed by the 2nd set.


After another 15 minute rest we pre-shaped the dough into a boule and 10 minutes later shaped it for keeps and dropped it seam side up into a lightly rice floured basket.  A short 30 minute counter proof and into the fridge it went  We planned on a  retard per Toady Tom’s latest near death wait of 20 hours.  We hoped the low levain inoculation of 12% would be small enough so the dough didn't explode.  Low inoculations and long low temperature retards promote flavor and sour better than any other way.


We let the boule warm up for half an hour before starting the mini oven's  preheat to 500 F.  For steam, we used the overturned stainless steel bowl over the broiler pan that had ½ C of water in the bottom.

The boule was un-molded, quickly slashed in a square, covered with the stainless mixing bowl and placed into the mini oven for 14 minutes of steam.  At the 7 minute mark we turned the oven down to 475 F and at the 10 minute mark we turned it down to 450 F.  5 more minutes of steam would have been better but my apprentice forgets to add steaming time when covering with a cloche.


The steaming bottom of the broiler pan came out at 14 minutes and the temperature was turned down to 425 F, convection this time.  The bread didn’t spring much, spread a little and bloomed some under the steam.  A sure sign the bread was proofed over 85% and or not steamed long nough.  These long ferments can be tricky to time properly when you are sound asleep :-) 


We rotated the bread every 5 minutes to make sure it browned properly.  Oddly, as soon as the steam came out, the bread sprang nicely and puffed itself up pretty well.  After 15 minutes of dry heat, the bread registered 205 on the Fahrenheit scale.   It was then moved to the cooling rack all browned up and blistered with the mini oven’s typical crust.

Yesterday's white bread lunch  and this moring's white bread breakfast.

Will have to wait on the crumb shots but will have this bread for a late lunch as see how we like it.  But first a nice sunset.

Followed by today's lunch.

The crumb was open moist and soft.  The crust went softer as it cooled and became more chewy rather than crunchy.  If I have to eat white bread..... this is the one I want.  The seeds really come through and help make this bread flavorful and plenty tasty enough.  I was struck by the sour flavor and some of it must be because of the lowered levain amount to less than 12% and retarding of it for 48 hours.  Toady Tom's 20 hour retard of the dough didn't hurt either.  I could eat this bread all day without ever knowing it is a white bread.  We likie this bread a lot and now have to see what the girlsi think. 



Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



Multigrain SD Starter






25% Extracted Bran
























Multigrain SD Levain






























Levain % of Total












Dough Flour






75% Extraction Multigrain












Bread Flour






Dough Flour
























Dough Hydration












Total Flour












T. Dough Hydration






% Whole Grain Flour












Hydration w/ Adds






Total Weight












Add - Ins






Red Malt






White Malt












Ground Flax & Sesame Seeds






VW Gluten


















75% extraction multi-grain is: 25% Kamut,




 25% Oat, 25% spelt & 25% rye






SylviaH's picture

Which conducts heat better Iron or Steel

I would think iron and more evenly but, then again I think not..because all of these steel heating plates are coming out on the market.  I received an e-mail from Sur La Table and they are offering free shipping on any $59 purchase.  One new item is their Baking Steel plate 14X14 1/4 inch thick.  I haven't experimented with using one of these and I'm thinking about adding one for another baking accessory.  

They can be used on stove tops, bar b q's and as a cold plate.  I was just wondering about baking pizza in an indoor elec. oven.  Has anyone tried the bottom of their ex-lrg Iron Skillet and how did it work for pizza.

I've been meaning to give it a try with my iron pan..but have just been procrastinating about it.


pb9003's picture

Challah, in large quantities -

Greetings -

With the Jewish holidays approaching, I'm considering methodologies for making quantities larger than what will fit in my KA stand mixer and am looking for advice.  I have a challah recipe I've played around with and perfected over the years, basically "Almost Grandmother's Challah", found all over the 'net.  Each recipe makes 2 loaves and is, I believe, at or about the capacity of my 6-qt mixer.  I need a dozen finished loaves, one of which is going to be a 'mega-loaf' in a 7-braid configuration to be used as a centerpiece on one of the tables.  So really, I need 7 batches.  Having watched videos on 'stretch and fold' as well as no-knead, I was wondering if I could just mix the whole thing in one plastic bus-pan (those things they use to bus tables in restaurants, I already have a couple) by hand, using stretch-and-fold to develop the structure, rather than making 7 individual batches in the machine doing the traditional kneading on the hook and ending up with 7 pails of rising dough each at a different stage of rising.  The recipe does call for beating sugar into the eggs and then whipping the whole thing with oil, all before adding any flour, so my plan would be to use the mixer for that part, then dump that liquid (35 eggs, 7 cups of sugar, some honey and 3.5cups of vegetable oil) into the flour and proceed with mixing.  My concern is trying to knead by hand a blob of dough containing 49 cups of flour - I'm a sturdy guy in pretty good health for a 54-year-old, but certainly not a muscle-man and not one who does not regularly expend the energy I imagine would be required to accomplish a more traditional kneading with such a large batch.   Any and all thoughts are welcomed!!!    Among other reasons, I'm trying to streamline this because I also have to cook the rest of the meal, much of which cannot be done in advance.

Thank you



tom_belte's picture

Cleaning/Changing of container....

Hello,  I'm on day 5 of my starter, using a medium sized tubby kilner jar. I was wondering about jar cleanliness and once I have my starter ready to use is it a good idea to change to a cleaner jar ? Obviously there will be continuous feeding so is it a worry which needs no worrying ? Just a little nervous/excited at the moment and very new to this all.  


hashemi's picture

Petit Beurre Problem

Dear All,

We are a producer of petit beurre biscuits. Recently we are trying to develop a new product by making two 75 mm round petit beurres and placing cream in between.

We are currently facing two major problems in the final product:

1. We are getting dimples & blisters on the surface of the products when they get out of the oven.

Our oven consists of two zones, first zone temp is 290 & second zone temp is 310. We lowered the temp of the first zone to 280 which had some positive effects, but the problem is not completely solved.

2. When the goods cool down, nearly 40% of them get cracked in half and therefore we can not put cream on them and package them. So we are obligated to package the goods as soon as they come out of the oven and are still warm, if they remain for tomorrow they will break up!

I would be thankful if anyone could help us solve the problems.

All the best

Abelbreadgallery's picture

Mill loaf by Dan Lepard

This is a sourdough rustic loaf (60% bread flour, 30% whole wheat and 10% rye).

I found the recipe in the book The handmade loaf by Dan Lepard.

More info:

subfuscpersona's picture

QUESTION: mixing all purpose and bread flours...

I've noticed some bakers here mixing some all purpose flour with bread flour in their artisan loaves and I've wondered why they do it.

I realize subbing some AP flour will somewhat lower the gluten forming ability of the dough. What pluses does it bring to the dough?

A typical bake for me is a sourdough artisan bread (flour, water, levain, salt) with about 30% whole grain (mostly whole wheat flour, small percentage of whole rye flour) and hydration of 70-72%, so if you, dear readers, could respond in that context, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance

PS The white flour I normally use is Gold Medal unbleached bread flour (about 12% protein).

hkooreman's picture

Raymond Cavel's Sourdough Starter

Has anyone used Raymond Calvel's process for developing a sourdough starter.  It's supposed to take just 2 1/2 days to get a starter that is ready to use.  I found a description of the process here:

If anyone has used it, how well did it work?  Also, I noticed that the formula calls for both malt and salt.  I was wondering what these ingredients would do for the starter.  I was interested to try the formula out but thought I would check and see if anyone has used it successfully before I start.  Thanks.

Nilsmasters56's picture

Gap Year


Firstly my name is Nils and I currently live in the UK I'm 17 and about to finish college next year (high school in America I suppose). I've been interested in cooking since a very young age and particularly artisan bread since I was about 14, for the past 3 years I've been reading about and baking bread and I love it. Coming to my point, I've decided to take a gap year and something I really want to do is pursue this combining it with traveling. Now obviously I can't expect to become a master baker in a year and it's quite insulting to the craft to assume that I could. I was hoping still for a way for even just a year to train or learn in some way. I had an idea to move to San Francisco as I would like to live in America at some point and the artisan baking movement seems to be at large there (SFBI seemed an option), If any of you could suggest any things I could get involved in, or places to go anywhere in America to learn about bread that would honestly be fantastic.

Thanks very much, Nils