The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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CallmePeggy's picture

Freezing the Starter Mother

I've dried and frozen some dried starter as a back up that I have.  My question is, has anyone ever froze the whole Mother in it's container?  I'm going to be gone for close to a month and I don't have anyone here to feed my 2 starter. 



SylviaH's picture

My favorite steaming tool

I needed to be able to reach back into my oven to pour water into my lava stone filled iron pans.  A 7" small for pre steaming and the extra large 12" iron pan filled with lava rock because with this size I can add more water for extra steam if needed.  I leave them in oven the whole time.  I steam from above because my 2 stones are made to cover the complete shelf and I leave both stones because I like room it gives for baking.  I took my ladle that holds just under a '1/2' cup of hot water and bent it so the handle became even with the cup.  Now I can easily reach far back and with an oven mit and without my hand or arm going into the oven itself and I don't have to worry about breaking blubs, oven glass 'it's still covered with a towel. I tried several pouring devices..this works great for me and was simple to make..I just bent the handle.  Now I have a very long reach with just a simple twist of my wrist to pour in the water.  I grab the towel off the oven glass door with my left hand and quickly shut the oven door with my right with ladle still in hand.



rolls's picture

richard bertinet dough again

i made another batch of dough from richard bertinet's book 'dough', this time i made the olive dough. i weigh all my ingredients but still feel i need to add more water. still, love his technique and books. had a couple questions though,

in his book he speaks about keeping back some dough and refreshing it from time to time, i wasn't sure though if i immediately cut off a pce of dough and leave on the side or after i let the dough rest? also does it matter what the dough contains eg sugar, fats etc does it have to be just basic flour water salt yeast?

also, what is the point of bulk fermentation? does it make much of a difference, because it seems that resting time would be faster if you divide immediately and shape into small balls eg if making pizza etc

thanks heaps in advance for any feedback.

im very excited because i just bought some razor blades from the barber, so had to make some dough to try them out, hopefully i won't have any trouble with scoring.

if anyone's familiar with richard bertinet methods etc please share, i am currently poring over his books dough and crust.

KenK's picture

Sourdough pancake

I tried the instructions from King Arthur's website this evening to make a pancake/crumpet from sourdough starter.  It came out pretty good, a little tough but they tasted good.  I removed four ounces as I would to feed it.  Added 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda.  It foamed up nicely.

After it was cooked I put a little butter on it and cut it into eighths. I put orange marmalade on one "stack" and maple syrup on the other.  The syrup was better.

I think I will continue to make at least one every day and accumulate them in the freezer for Sunday breakfast.  I wouldn't mind getting a couple of English Muffin rings and try that also.

My starter (Larry) is a pain in the butt so it (he) may not be long for this world. 

Salome's picture

Potato Rye Bread

Finally... I've done it again. I must confess that I didn't get to baking very often in the last couple weeks. Of course I tried to bake every now and then, but most of the times just well known formulae like my potato-walnut-bread, or a simple white bread such as Hamelman's rustic bread, or something comparable.

I found it rather hard to fit the  baking into my schedule, as my days differ considerably and I always find myself busy when I'd like to bake.

But yesterday I realized that baking, even in the time expensive way I like and enjoy, can fit into my schedule. No miracles, it's rather simple: Sourdough in the morning, mixing in the early evening, first fermentation, shaping in the later evening and final proof in my not so cold fridge and then baking in the next morning before I head to the uni. (it was probably slightly to much proofed, but it didn't matter to much and now I know that I'd simply have to lower the fridge temperature for the next time and it should be perfect!)

The result is very pleasing! (excuse the not so good picture quality, my camera broke some time ago and as I'm not at home I can't borrow my sister's camera. Thus, the pictures are somewhat blurry and pale in colour)


The bread is pleasantly sour, due to the potatoes very "humid" and chewy. I was surprised to find out that it tastes pretty much like the bread I always wanted to copy from my favourite baker but I never managed to get such a moist crumb!As I'm not very familiar with my new oven yet, it charred on the bottom somewhat and I had to scrape some black off, but I really liked this smoky note in combination with the sourness!


Potatoe - rye bread



100 g whole rye flour

100 g water

35 g mature culture


final dough:

all of the sourdough

280 g boiled and peeled potatoes, cooled (I boiled them while I mixed the sourdough)

150 g whole wheat flour

200 g bread flour

200 g water

12 g vital wheat gluten

10 g salt

1 tsp (somewhat less) instant yeast


1. prepare the sourdough in the morning

2. in the evening: mix the sourdough, the mashed potatoes, all of the flour, vwgluten and the water and knead until everything is smooth.

3. autolyse for some time, approx. 30 min.

4. add salt and yeast, knead until smooth and well developed.

5. proove until doubled in size (I put the dough on the balcony (12°C) while I left the house and brought it back inside after I returned to let it double fully, it took me about four hours, I think)

6. shape (I divided the dough into two pieces and made boules out of them)

7. place them in a well floured linnen inside of a bowl (or proofing basket, If you got one) and let the boules ferment over night in the fridge

8. preheat the oven the next morning to full temperature, slash the boules, steam well, turn down to 230°C and bake for approx. 35 min.

9. let cool and enjoy!


i hope you all are doing fine. Even if I didn't write, I've checked in here regularily and followed your baking!



cgcrago's picture

Pain Bordelais

pain bordelais

This bread is often referred to as a pain de campagne or a pain au levain and it is certainly both of these things, though more specifically in the tradition of the Bordeaux region. So far, this is one of my favorite breads that I have made and I eat it literally every day. I finally made it today with a culture that I have been growing for a few weeks and I am extremely pleased with the result. It grew huge and crusty, and the score split nicely to form two strong grignes.

Stay with me here, as I have never tried to transition a commercial recipe (this one was for 12,000 grams of dough) for home use before, so this might be a bit on the rough side. The only thing that would complicate making this bread at home is that it requires a liquid levain, which requires a sourdough culture, which not too many non-breadheads keep around the house. If you happen to keep a culture around, I will explain (all the way at the bottom) how to build it so that it is ready for baking this recipe the next day. I will give the bakers' percentages first, with measurements in grams for a hand-mix batch listed thereafter. I recalculated the recipe to produce 1500 grams of dough, which makes two nicely sized batards or boules.

Levain Build
Flour: 100%
Water: 125%
Sourdough (levain) Culture: 10%

Final Dough
Bread or AP Flour: 90% (667 g)
Rye Flour (course if possible): 8% (59 g)
Whole Wheat Flour: 2% (14.8 g)
Water: 60% (444.6 g)
Salt: 2.4% (17.8 g)
Liquid Levain: 40% (296.4 g)
Fresh Yeast (a spike): .1%: (5 g)

First, assemble your mise en place. Scale out the water and the liquid levain in the same container (save the dishes!). They should both be somewhere in the neighborhood of room temperature. Scale out the flours and put them in a fairly large mixing bowl. Scale out the salt and the yeast and set them aside.

Form a small well in the flour and pour in about half of the liquids. Mix slowly using a wet hand or a bowl scraper. When those liquids are reasonably well incorporated, add the rest of the liquids and continue to mix until the dough is a fairly consistent texture.

Flip the dough out onto the counter. Form two little wells in the dough and place the salt and yeast in each one, respectively. Flip the bowl over to cover the dough and let it sit for about 15-30 minutes. This, friends, is your autolyse and it will save you a lot of kneading later on. Put the salt and yeast on top so you don't forget them, spill them, or add them to the wrong thing. This is not as much of a problem in a home kitchen. Just don't forget them.

When that time has elapsed, start with your bench knife, moving around the edges and bringing the dough up over the salt and yeast. Continue to use the bench knife to bring the edges over the top as much as possible. One note of caution is that, in general, what started as the bottom should be the bottom when you're finished. Throughout the process, it forms a sort of skin the protects the gluten network that you're working so hard to develop.

When the dough has become more smooth, we're going to start kneading. If you do this in a mixer, be careful not to overmix, which will create a more dense final product. On the counter, this doesn't take a ton of flour, but it's sticky stuff so you'll definitely need some. Less is always best. Remember, fold the dough toward you and use the heel of your hand to push down and away from your body. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. And repeat until the dough is much stronger and smoother. You can try to make a window at the edge of the dough, though it's pretty hard to over-knead this by hand. I would say about eight minutes of solid kneading should do it.

Grease up your bowl, put the dough back in it, and cover it with plastic wrap. Now we're in bulk fermentation, which takes about two hours for this dough if the temperature of the dough is around 75 degrees. After one hour, fold the dough. Folding is the clever man's version of punching down. Fold the top two-thirds of the way down, repeat with the bottom, and then repeat with the sides. Flip the lump of dough over, cover, and continue with fermentation. Folding has multiple purposes: it strengthens the dough's structure, stabilizes the temperature of the dough, and redistributes the yeast and what it eats.

Divide the dough evenly in half. If you measured correctly, each half should weigh 750 grams. No preform is necessary for this dough, though if it's something you want to do, preform it to round and let it relax for about twenty minutes. The final shape is a batard approximately 10 inches long, and it should proof in a banneton/brotform if you have one available. As an alternative, it could proof on a couche or on a very-well-floured towel. Proof the dough until an indentation made with the finger springs back about 50%.

The oven should be set to about 470 degrees and a pizza stone is recommended though not ultimately necessary. Gently steam the oven, score the bread down the middle with a lame or a knife, and insert the bread into the oven. Steam the oven again after 30 seconds and again after 3o more seconds. Cook the bread until it is deep brown, almost burgundy, a color brought about by the non-white grains.

I have never made this in a home oven, but the cooking time should be in the neighborhood of 35-50 minutes. When you think it's done, crack the oven door to release any remaining steam and leave the bread in for five to ten more minutes. Remove the bread and cool completely.

On scoring: This bread takes a single long slash from end to end. When scoring, the knife or lame should never be vertical. Try slicing with the blade at a 45 degree angle to the top of the bread (__/__). This will get you a better grigne in the end.

On Levain: The recipe requires approximately 300 grams of developed levain. If you have a culture at home, this should be quite easy to build. You must feed your culture 24 hours before you plan to bake so that the yeast in the culture has time to develop and eat lots of sugars. The bakers' percentages are as follows:

Flour: 100%
Water: 125%
Culture: 10%
Total: 235%

So, to achieve 300 grams of levain, we need to calculate what one percent is. To do so, take the desired amount of product and divide it by the total percentages in the recipe. For the levain, we divide 300 by 235 to get 1.27. At this point, we multiply this number by the percentages of each ingredient. So, calculated out, the levain recipe is as follows:

Flour: 100% x 1.27 = 127.7 g
Cold Water: 125% x 1.27 = 158.75 g
Culture: 10% x 1.27 = 10.27 g

We can check our math by adding the calculated weights of each ingredient in the recipe and comparing that number to the amount we wanted to make. (127.7 + 158.75 + 10.27 = 296.72, which is close enough) So, with that done, mix these things together in a container and let them sit room temperature for 24 hours before you plan to bake. Don't forget to feed your culture so you can do this again. The best idea would be to build the levain in a separate container.

chouette22's picture

Mexican ‘Pan de los muertos’, two ‘straight’ breads and a fruit tart

After many months, I have baked loaves from straight dough again, besides my pretty regular Zopf. I had refreshed my starters on Friday, but then the weekend presented itself in a way that I just couldn't keep up with a lengthy sourdough schedule, so in the fridge they went again, unused.

Yesterday, on Sunday, I made a "Pan de los muertos," a sweet and enriched bread traditionally baked on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico. One of our neighbors is from Mexico, but nor he nor his wife (who is American) have ever tried to bake this bread, thus to say thank you for so many little neighborly services, I made them a loaf (and one for ourselves). My yeast wasn't behaving properly and during fermentation, the dough hardly rose (I wasn't entirely sure if it was the yeast or the heavy buttery and eggy dough). However, it still turned out pretty well, and the taste was fabulous. The recipe called for orange blossom water and since I didn't have that, I added a little bit of rose syrup (something my Indian husband cannot live without). Result: the dough turned slightly red-orange (really pretty) and the flavor, also from the zest of a lemon, was simply amazing.

The top represents a skull and the sides are bones...

Today, while working from home, I looked through "Bread" in search of straight recipes and ended up trying the Semolina Bread with a Soaker (without the fennel seeds, p. 244) and the Five-Grain Bread (p. 238). I halved both recipes, thus producing only one loaf of each. My only changes to the recipes: I added 100g of discard sourdough starter to each (plus a little extra salt, since I increased the dough amount), thinking if nothing else, it might add some flavor.

For the durum flour called for in the recipe I used chapati flour (also called atta flour) that we still have from my mother-in-law's visit this past summer. It is a type of whole wheat flour made from durum wheat, high in protein, yellow in color. I just don't know if this is the same as what is used in semolina breads (despite researching it); anyhow it turned out pretty well and is very tasty.

Five-grain bread

Both of them were easy to make while grading online speaking assignments and papers.

Last week I needed to use up some plums (the very last of the season) and baked this rustic tart. I just love these fruit tarts, so quickly made and so tasty, not too sweet, just wonderful. Now I always add 1/3 to ½ cup of corn flour to my dough (pâte brisée), recommended by my French friend Sophie - I really like the extra crunch this produces.

subfuscpersona's picture

Commercial Flour Milling

Simplified Milling Process Diagram, courtesy of



alabubba's picture

Wanted: Thin, Crispy, Cracker like crust.

We do pizza about once a week at my house, I usually use a crust that is really tasty and comes out quite nice, slightly crisp and chewy.

However, a couple weeks ago my daughter said she wanted hers thinner, crisp and crunchy, Cracker like.

I have tried rolling/stretching the dough, Pre-baking, oiling. These didn't do it, so in my never ending quest to win father of the century I am turning to my friends and peers here in TFL for help.


I need a recipe for the ultimate crispy, crunchy, cracker like pizza crust.


carrtje's picture

Need help with par baking

I've been recruited to bake for our church Thanksgiving feast.  They asked me to bake a loaf for each table, which will only end up being 10 or 12.  I thought I'd use my dutch ovens to do the baking, as I'm very comfortable with this way of doing it (15 min covered, 20 min uncovered basic white)

I was thinking I could do this over a couple of days by par baking the loaves and freezing them. Then, on the day of the dinner, put them all on baking sheets and finish them off.  I have, of course my home oven to work with.  Then, at the church I have two ovens.  Am I right in this thinking?

So, how would you suggest I go about doing it?  I was thinking of taking them out after the 15 minute covered bake.  Then when I go to rebake them, bringing them all to room temperature first and spritzing them with a little salt water.  Then toss them into a preheated 500 degree oven.

What are your thoughts?