The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
possum-liz's picture

New Zealand Bacon and Egg Rolls

My girlfriend's recently returned from a holiday in New Zealand and is raving about the bread rolls she ate from a bakery in Fairlie (S. island). She discribes them as big white buns with the bacon and slightly scrambled egg baked inside the bun. Have any of our NZ members tasted them? Any idea how to get the egg in? Thanks Liz

swifty's picture

Hydration for spelt/wholewheat sourdough

I have had problems getting the hydration right for spelt sourdough. The last attempt ,I followed the recipe exactly, weighing all ingredients .It was too wet to work with ,then I check the bakers percentages and it came out at 74%.  From another web site, I tried another 100% spelt sourdough no-knead approach ,it was too wet and it was about 68% 

I want to give the spelt/wholewheat a try because the flavor is so good. What hydration would you recommend for 50% Spelt, 25% wholewheat,& 25% white bread flour?


Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

Tartine Loaf: The Formula

There's been some discussion about the baker's percentage formula for the Tartine Loaf in Chad Robertson's book. I thought I'd create a spreadsheet that clarified the formula. As related on page 48 of his book, he gives the baker's percentage but only in terms of the final ingredients. The formula doesn't include the flour and water in the leaven. So while he states the bread has a 75% hydration, it is actually higher, 77% The formula also makes it difficult to convert the recipe into smaller loaves. So I've created a spread sheet that does that, following a method at the Bread Bakers Guild of America. The measurements are all in grams.

The spreadsheet shows the TOTAL formula in the left column and the FINAL formula which mirrors Robertson's. To use this spreadsheet, I've made it available in google docs.

The nice thing about it is that you enter the number of loaves and the size of loaves (THE FIRST TWO CELLS -- NOTHING ELSE). The spreadsheet figures out the rest -- which is highlighted in blue.

I've only given the total leaven you need (white, whole wheat and water). The seed for that leaven should be only a couple of tablespoons. One more note -- the fourth line of the spreadsheet shows the "% flour levain" -- which means the percentage of total flour that is prefermented in the leaven. Many formulas go as high as 40%. Robertson's is much lower, which means the leaven takes longer to mature and has a much milder taste. As I noted before, however, the fermentation is spurred by the presence of whole wheat flour at 50% in the leaven. 

So ultimately does it matter, getting the precise formula? I would say no. But this is it. Now you can make it your own.

yy's picture

First sourdough loaf, a la Tartine

After tending to my new starter for two weeks, I finally got the courage to make some bread with it. I used the Tartine basic country loaf formula, which yielded two decently sized loaves. The leaven was made at around 10 PM the night before, the dough mixed at 11 AM the following morning, and the first loaf baked at around 7 PM. To my dismay, it came out like a dense, insipid sponge with a huge cavern in the middle. My boyfriend said "don't take this the wrong way, but it kind of tastes like my mom's bread machine boxed sourdough." Just to give a little background, he routinely insults his mother's cooking, so that didn't bolster my confidence much.

The book says that bulk fermentation should take between 3-4 hours at 78-82 degrees, and my kitchen wasn't nearly that warm.  I wasn't sure whether it was severely underproofed, or whether my starter wasn't up to snuff, so just for kicks, I left the second batch of dough out overnight at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the morning, the dough had expanded in volume noticeably and felt pretty well aerated. I shaped it, proofed it for around 3 and a half hours, and baked it at 475 underneath a large preheated stainless steel bowl for 20 minutes, followed by 30 minutes uncovered. Here are the results:

The crust got a little burnt on one side due to uneven oven heat, and I didn't quite get the kind of spring I wanted - the profile was a bit flat. However, I'm pretty happy with the crumb:

I think I would prefer to make it a little more sour next time, perhaps by increasing the proportion of starter in the leaven?  Maybe the flavor will come naturally as my starter matures over time. Overall, this bake was a good lesson in adapting to variable temperature conditions, and "listening" to the dough rather than the watching the clock. Around 15 hours passed between the failed loaf and the decent loaf.


CJtheDeuce's picture

I left my Ciabatta dough out all night.

I woke up a couple of times last night & felt like I forgot something, then at 6am I hear my wife call out "hey  you know you have dough all over the counter." Crap.

5 1/2 kilos of dough that I ment to retard overnite had blorped out. I  divided what was left in the container, turned the oven on 500 & when it was ready baked with steam. Mostly it seams my crumb suffered. What my wise friends would have been the prefered method of compensating for my forgetfullness?


sccraft1's picture

What am I doing wrong

My rye bread gets air pockets how do I stop this?

blackoak2006's picture

Sticky Buns

I have been making bread for sometime now, and decided to branch out into making some sticky buns out of some of it.  Bread part works ok, but it is the (sticky) part that is not working so well.  I am using Pecans 1/2 cup,  brown sugar 1/2 to 1 cup, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup.  The result is a real nice coating, but it is so hard it about breaks your teeth when trying to bite through it.  I bake at 350 for about 40 min.  Any help?

GSnyde's picture

People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn't Stow Scones

My first try at scones (with thanks to Breadsong!)


Breadsong’s post last week about flaky scones ( got my sweet tooth going (and so soon after the holidays).  My wife and I love scones—if they’re flaky, tender and a bit moist inside--but had never made them.

The two variations--cheddar cheese and Irish Cream with chocolate-chip--breadsong baked looked scrumptious, but I decided to change them up a bit.  I made a small batch using her cheddar cheese scone formula, but added crispy bacon chopped into bits. 



And for the sweet scone, I used her second formula as the starting point, but instead of Irish Cream and chocolate, I mixed in dried pineapple soaked for three days in dark rum and Grand Marnier, and I added small quantities of rum, Grand Marnier and orange extract to the dough.  This was an attempt at a “mai-tai scone” but didn’t really taste like a mai-tai so much as a rum punch.


Breadsong’s formula and technique produce scones that are flaky, light and tender, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.  Both varieties came out wonderfully, but the rum-pineapple version is especially good.  I had intended to ice them with a rum-lime icing, but my Number One Taster said they didn’t need anything on top.   

Here’s the ingredients list for my adaptation of the sweet scone formula (for 18 small scones).

1 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ Tbsp baking powder 

1/4 tsp kosher salt

scant 1/4 cup golden brown sugar

2 ½ Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple (soaked three days in dark rum and/or orange liqueur)

Just less than 1/2 cup heavy cream (100-105 grams)

½  Tbsp dark rum

1/4 Tbsp Grand Marnier or Curacao

1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Half-and-half (for brushing)

Having been warned about the importance of keeping the dough cold, and knowing my first try would not go fast enough, I took a couple precautions.  I dusted the silpat and dough lightly with flour before I rolled the dough out each time; I put the mixing bowl in the fridge for a while before using it to mix the dough; and—as breadsong recommended-- I did my best to keep my hot hands off the dough. 

It worked out well, and I will try some additional variations soon.  I think the bacon-cheddar scones would be even better with the addition of green onions. Or give it an Italian accent with pancetta and parmagiano.  And the rum-fruit scone could use any one of a number of kinds of liqueur and dried fruit.  Maybe use eggnog in place of the cream in a rum-raisin scone.

Breadsong, my wife wanted to make sure I passed along her gratitude for sharing your winning recipe.  Truly awesome outcome, and on my first try.

My thanks, too.



txfarmer's picture

Tartine Light Rye - baked in a covered cast iron dutch oven

There have been a lot of discussion here on TFL regarding covered baking, ranging from covering dough on stone with a roasting pan, to baking in a dutch oven like a no-knead dough, to baking in a "combo-baker" as Tartin Bread Book suggests. I recently got a 2.5 quart oval enamel cast iron pot at a very good price (William Sonoma winter sale is a gold mine!), so I finally can try my hand on covered baking.


This light rye recipe is from "Tartine Bread Book", with only 15% rye, and some ww, this is really just a country loaf. Hydration is nearly 83%, so the dough is very wet and sticky. This is actually my main motivation for using the pot, such wet dough tend to spread a bit on stone, before it gets a change to spring up. I have so far work around the problem by baking smaller loaves (500g to 600g rather than 1000g+), and manage proofing/dough strength very carefully, however the covered pot does seem to have an advantage over baking stone in that regard.

Moist and open crumb:


Here're my thoughts on baking in a cast iron pot so far:


- Better volume and shape due to a)more direct heat all around the dough rather than just from the bottom; b)limited spreading space, which means the dough size and the pot size need to be matched well. This is especially significant with high hydration doughs.

- No need to steam. This is less important to me since the "hot water in cast iron pan trick" has always worked great for me.


- it's dangerous (much more so than steaming the oven IMO) to handle a hot hot hot pot/lid, while trying to drop a "nearly same size" dough into it without losing too much heat. I have never used a cast iron pot before, so my head dosn't grasp the idea of "it's REALLY a bad idea to grab the lid with your bare hand after preheating it at 550F for over an hour"! Here's the damage, OUCH!

- The size and shape of the dough are very restricted. This 2.5quart one is a bit small, I have gotten a 5.5 quart one (also on sale, yipee!) online, with the bigger one I will be able to bake larger loaves with high hydration, which is the best reason to bake breads in a pot IMO.

- It's a bit tricky to play with time/temp to get a crackling crispy crust, especially with such wet dough. Here's my procedure that finally worked: preheat at 550F for over an hour, with lid on; drop in dough, cover (with a glove!), keep at 550F for 5min, drop to 450F for 15min, take out lid, bake for another 20min, turn off oven, crack the door open a little, and let the pot/dough sit in oven for another 10min. With that procedure I got a crust that cracked, singed, and remained crispy after cooling down. This is for a 600g bread, for larger loaves, I imagine more time would be needed.


- The instruction in the book says to drop the dough from proofing basket directly into pot, then score, this seems impossible to me. Maybe because my pot is quite deep, and the one in book is quite shallow, but there's no way I can flip the dough in there without sticking to something, or missing the pot, or most likely both. So I first flip the dough out of the brotform onto a parchment paper, cut the paper quite close to the dough size, score, THEN lift the corners of the parchment paper and drop the whole thing into the pot. It was scary, but worked, the parchment inside didn't seem to negatively affect the crust.

- The pot I used was Staub, the reason I like it better than other brands is that the metal handle on the lid (the one that burned off my 3 fingers) can take heat up to 500F accoding to the manual. I called their customer service, and was told it actually can take 550F. This is a lot higher than the plastic handle on some of other brands, including Le Creuset.

- I actually baked another loaf using baking stone and normal steaming method (side by side with the pot). Since the pot was covered when I steamed the oven, I don't think it affected the dough in the pot. The following is the result for baking stone, dough size is 500g, stone was preheated at 550F for over an hour along with the pot/lid, loaf was loaded 5min after the pot, so 15min with steam at 450F, then 20min without steam at 450, also stayed in the oven for 10min after it's turned off. Good volume and crust, but it did spread a bit on the stone. Since the shape and scoring are all different from the one in pot, I can't really draw too much conclusion from it, but I imagine a well fit cast iron pot would make it rounder and a little higher.

- The following is a side by side comparison of crumb, they are identical IMO


In summary, the "baking in a pot" experiment is a success. I would definitely use thise method for very high hydration doughs, IF their shape and size match the pots I have. For the other breads, I would stick to baking stone and steaming.


Sending this bread, along with 3 well cooked fingers, to Yeastspotting.

zandor's picture

Rye and cheating with Xanthan gum, Guar gum, Gelatin, etc.

I've been experimenting with whole rye flour a bit lately, and I'm wondering if some of the assorted thickening agents the gluten free crowd uses might help pure rye rise more.  I don't have any objection to using wheat (or additives that don't cause known problems -- I'm just in this for the flavor and texture), but making a fluffy 100% whole rye loaf would be a nice acheivement.  Actually, I'm really more interested in pulling off an open crumb pure rye than a light, fluffy one.  I'm quite a fan of dense, chewy bread.

Just in case you're interested in the back story, I was looking around for a way to make a cheese sauce that didn't have a floury taste a few months back and came across xanthan gum.  I bought some, and it worked great.  Nice thick cheese sauce with no flour.  The thing is, a small amount of xanthan gum goes a very long way and relative to the amount needed I have a huge bag of it.  I did a couple google searches on it, and came across a bunch of gluten-free bread recipes.  That got me thinking that this stuff might help my beloved rye rise more.

Anyone have any tips for using xanthan gum and other "chemicals" to help rye loaves rise more?