The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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William Alexander's picture
William Alexander

Post-Sandy Comfort Multigrain Loaf


We're one of the lucky ones -- power restored after three days -- and pretty much the first thing I did (after a hot shower) was make a multigrain loaf of peasant-y, yeasty, crusty bread, with my 16-year-old levain (aka "starter"), stone-ground cornmeal, flaxseed meal, pecans, and whatever else I could dig up that said "comfort" and "health."

Concerned about getting good gluten formation and a decent rise, given all the non-glutenous stuff I was adding, I made this loaf very wet, as you can see from the photograph.

It's a little sticky to work with, but I was rewarded with a wonderful, airy crumb. This is a truly good bread. If you've never worked with a levain, here's a perfect excuse. The recipe to build your own is here or can buy a premade starter from King Arthur flour.

Best wishes to everyone who was in the path of the storm.  For more recipes and bread thoughts see

Post-Sandy Multigrain Comfort Bread

300 grams unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
260 grams levain (see Building a Levain)
25 grams stone-ground whole-grain corn meal
20 grams corn flour
50 grams rye flour
80 grams whole wheat flour
10 grams flaxseed meal
35 grams walnuts or pecans, broken in half
13 grams salt
3/8 teaspoon instant yeast
310 grams water (room temp)

Prepare the dough
  1. At least 2 hours before beginning (you can do this the night before), feed levain as follows: Remove levain from refrigerator and add equal parts flour and room-temperature water (I use about 130 g each, which replenishes what I'll be using in the bread). Stir/whip well, incorporating oxygen, and leave on the countertop, with the cover slightly ajar. Starter should be bubbling and lively when you begin your bread.
  2. Place a large bowl on your scale and zero out the scale. Now add the flours, one at a time, zeroing out the scale after each addition. Separately weigh and add the salt. Add the levain, a dash of instant yeast, the nuts, and the water.
  3. Mix thoroughly with a wet hand until the dough is homogeneous. Mist a piece of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray, press it directly onto the dough, and leave the dough to autolyse (rest) for 20-25 minutes. Kneading and fermentation
  4. Knead by hand 7-9 minutes (see my kneading video if you've never kneaded before). If you insist, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook for 2-3 minutes. Knead until dough is elastic and smooth.
  5. Clean out and dry the mixing bowl (no soap), mist with vegetable oil spray, and replace the dough. Place the oiled plastic wrap back onto the dough. Ferment at room temperature (68 -72 degrees is ideal) for 4 to 5 hours.
    Forming the loaf and proofing
  6. Place baking stone and old cast-iron pan or rimmed baking sheet in oven and preheat for at least an hour at oven's highest setting (I use 550).
  7. Place dough on well-floured countertop and divide in half. Form into batards, a sort of stubby, torpedo-shaped baguette. (There are numerous YouTube videos and books that illustrate how to do this). Place the loaves between the folds of a couche or parchment paper, cover and allow to proof for about 45 minutes.
  8. Turn loaves onto a peel, sprinkle tops with rice flour if you want a decorative dusting. Score loaves deeply lengthwise, at an angle, with a razor blade and slide loaves onto stone. Pour a cup of water (wear an oven mitt) into the pan.
  9. Lower oven temperature to 475 and bake for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 450 and continue baking till loaves are a golden-to-dark brown (about another 15-20 minutes), and center of loaf is 210 degrees.
  10. Cool on racks.
Justkneadit's picture

Advice on milling my own flour

When I return from this dismal country I would like to begin milling my own flour to bake my loaves. I have zero knowledge of milling and am humbly requesting the knowledge of my fellow TFLer's to point me in the right direction as far as books to read or videos to watch, or even what brand would be good to start out with.

Apart from growing the wheat myself, a feat I will soon accomplish once I have land, it would be a great accomplishment to nearly make a loaf of bread from scratch.

Thanks everyone!


JOHN01473's picture

Help with starter please

Help with starter please

I keep having this problem with my wheat starter.
I take a 100g of starter and add 100g AP flour and 100ml of water.
I mix up and then generally have to add more water as it is too thick.
I mix up to where it is as thick as double cream
After 12 hours there is a layer of brown liquid

I scoop it out with the discard and feed.
I am trying to maintain a 1:1:1 starter.
I have read other blogs where maybe this is due to underfeeding.
A strict 1:1:1 seems too thick or should I just accept that it is thick.
Any advice would be good.

thanks - the baking bear



Bread Head's picture
Bread Head

How do I make a link in my post?

How do I make a link in my post that people can click on and it takes them to another web page?


Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Gluten Development Techniques - What to do!?

Something that I have been wondering lately since learning how to make Tartine's Country Loaf.

Is there a reason that any other technique to develop gluten would be used other than the 'in-bowl pull-fold and rotate' method??

Why all the mess, and flour/oil waste, the sore arms and stress?

There MUST be a reason why the whole world has not switched from the painful old-fashioned kneading process to Chad's (originally French) method.  Right?  If there are, please enlighten this lazy amateur.


Grenage's picture

Poor rise while proofing croissants.

Hi there,

I've not made bread with shop yeast very often, in fact I've probably made under 20 non-sourdough loaves; still they have all risen as quickly as one would expect.  I am however having massive problems with getting proofing croissants.

After seeing one of Txfarmer's posts on croissants, I figured I'd give them a go - the recipe and steps are great, and I've not had any problems with the handling or other details.  All goes well until I roll them and leave to proof, they just will not rise at all.  They rise in the oven, and the small amount of yeast in the poolish does develop as desired, so I know that the yeast is not dead.  I have been using Allison dried active yeast, and the proofing temperature was 18-20C; proofing duration has been as long as 6 hours.

So either the yeast is not ideal for the purpose, or I am doing something very wrong.  Not that the results haven't been good, but the lack of proofing is really hampering a more open construction.   I beg thee, veterans of baking - spare my sanity.

meirp's picture

Daily sandwich loaf

 I've been baking this bread on a regular basis for almost 4 years (several a week). It has long become our go-to sandwich bread. My clients (read family) only like crusty bread - even in their sandwiches - this loaf combines a good crust with a smooth crumb. It's got whole grains, is a bit chewy, but isn't dry or heavy. I also make this as a pure sourdough, in which case, it's very different: crustier and larger holes. Below recipe is for baker's yeast version.

Ingredients Weight in grams (Volume in brackets)
Bread Flour 200
Whole Wheat flour 150
Whole Rye flour 150
4 tbsp seeds (I usually use half sesame, half flax)

Water 375
Instant yeast 3.1 (1 tsp)
Salt 6.375 1 tsp
Date syrup (Silan) 21.5 (1 tbsp)
Olive oil 13.5 (1 tbsp)

Starter 50 (1/4 cup) - I add this even for commercial yeast version (I think it adds flavour, but maybe it's my imagination).

Combine ingredients, except for salt (first dry, then wet). Mix well, then autolyse for 20 min. Add salt. Knead for 10 min. (or dough cycle in bread machine for 20 min.). Bulk rise until doubles (approx. 1 hr. for room temp. of 25 deg. Celsius), then punch down and fold, repeat bulk rise until it doubles.  I preheat oven for at least 45 min. at 250 Celsius with a pizza stone. Put in loaf pan and proof for 10 - 20 min. until top just starts to rise over edge of pan. Bake @230 Celsius deg. (less for convection oven) for 45-50 min (until internal temp. is 200 deg. F). Produce steam for first 10 min. of bake. Turn out loaf directly onto pizza stone for last 20 min. to get good crust and colour all over. Cool on rack for 2 hours.


Nick Sorenson's picture
Nick Sorenson

Put two 1/4 thickness Solid Concrete Blocks in the gas oven and WOW! Much more even cooking.

This isn't FDA approved so proceed with caution if you try this but it worked for me! I was trying to find a way to give my cheap gas oven a little more even/radiant heating so I picked up a pair of 1/4 thickness (about 1.5" thick with the usual dimensions in other directions) concrete blocks from Walmart's garden dept. I popped these in the oven (wrapped in foil to protect the oven and the bricks) and fired it up... they are almost a perfect fit! So far I've had them in there for about a week or two and I like the results. It adds about 10-15 minutes to the preheat but it's a very even cooking now. I've made several bread loafs and a DiGorino pizza. Everything I've put in there has turned out great. The crust in the store bought pizza REALLY stood out. It was fluffy and soft and it was actually done very evenly. We all thought WOW! for the first time about a DiGorino pizza. Usually we make fun of their slogan (the whole delivery thing) when we eat one of those. This time it really was a great pizza. I was surprised.


While I was at it I also added a Steam "feature" and it's also worked great. I added a big canned tomatoes can (28 oz approx) with the label and glue removed (important) and with a tiny hole punched from a drywall screw head (Drill bit holes were too big I thought) and this filled 3/4 with water and place in at the end of the preheat gives a nice steamy oven for the first half of a bread (or pizza baking). It's really worked great! And it's adjustable by the size of the hole.

RebelBakingCompany's picture

Hamelman's and "Flipping"

I tried Hamelman's bagel recipe this weekend...and will never let go of it! But I do have a few questions:

1. High-gluten flour *not* bread flour...where do you buy this?

2. I felt the bagels lacked the flavor that my other recipes have. Should I add more salt?

3. I was very surprised that his recipe did not include malt powder IN the dough. Might adding it improve the flavor? Will that affect other ratios?

4. I noticed there was no egg wash and I felt they were much paler than other recipes. How can I improve this? Normal for this recipe?

I also tried "flipping" the bagles this go-round, although I don't have a bagel board. I'll admit, the shape was very nice. But it seems to be a small benefit. Anyone disagree? Any techniques you'd recommend?

Skibum's picture

Ahhhh . . . biscotti!

Double chocolate and sweet biscotti:

It ws time to bake another batch of DaveG's fabulous double chocolate, hazelnut, chipotle biscotti  and also try the seeet biscotti recipe he provided.  To the half batch of 2x choco, I added 1 tsp of expresso coffee powder, was out of hazelnuts, (aka filberts) and used alsonds instead.  The hazelnuts provide a better flavour balance to the cocolate and chipotle, but hey, almonds work too!

I have been working through Carol Field's, "The Italian Baker," and checked her biscotti recipe also, which looked much like Dave's.  In the end I used the TIB recipe because, horror of horrors, I had no lemon zest -- my only lemon had been previously zested!  Now the TIB recipe is forgiving in that you can use either lemon extract or zest and/or orange exract or zest. I used lemon extract and orange zest for half the batch and baked according to Daves's loaf style 2x bake instructions, rather than shape the TIB cookie rounds.   I have not been able to stay away from these biscotti, oh my do I love the subtle flavoring!

Today I added lemon zest and some chopped almonds to the last half of the sweet biscotti dough and baked it up.  The lemon zest kicks the flavour up a good notch or two.  I think next batch, I will do half with lemon zest and half with orange zest.  At the pace I am eating these things, I may have to do another batch in the morning, (oink, oink).  The TIB biscotti recipe is listed at the end of this post.

A little ciabatta and salami by the campfire:

The last camping days of the season are now but a distant memory that ski season.  The photo was taken at a campsite along The Icefields Parkway, in Banff, Alberta Canada.

Bake ON TFLoafers!  Brian

Biscotti, from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field

160 g unsalted butter

200 g sugar

1 Tbs honey

2 eggs room temperature

Cream sugar and butter and add eggs one at a time and cream.

1/3 C + 3 Tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp orange extract or zest of 1/2 orange

1/2 tsp lemon extract or zest of 1 lemon

500 g flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

11/2 Tbs or so coarsly ground almonds to top

1 egg for glazing

I bake @ 300F 20 munites turning halfway, chill 15 munites or so then slice on the diagonal 3/4" thick, turn on sides and bake for 20 munites @ 300F turning halfway, then turn the slices over and bake for another 20.  Yumm