The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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subfuscpersona's picture

Susan's Simple Sourdough Challenge - Take Two


On October 4th, ehanner's blog presented Susan's Simple Small Sourdough Challenge. Eric's challenge was simple - make Susan's bread and report back. My first attempt at Susan's bread was posted to Susan's Simple Sourdough Challenge - Take One on November 7, 2009. I was so enthralled with her bread I made it a second time a few days later.

Susan's basic recipe and method can be found on her blog post of April 17, 2008. I would also recommend you check out Susan's Blog for variations and lots of great photos of her bread.

The ingredients are straightforward: sourdough starter, unbleached bread flour (either regular or high gluten), whole grain flour, water and salt. Dough hydration is 70%.

What really makes this bread special is her method (minimal kneading and periodic stretch-and-folds, a long bulk fermentation and, after shaping, an overnight proof in the refrigerator). The only change I made to her method was to add a one hour autolyse at the very beginning (combine all the flour and water, roughly mix and let rest, covered, at room temperature, for one hour). After the autolyse, the starter and salt were mixed in and from that point I followed her instructions.

The dough can be shaped as a boule or a batard. Susan usually shapes it as a boule and covers the dough with a heat-proof metal bowl for the first 15 minutes of the bake. (If shaped as a batard, she suggests using the lid of a turkey roaster). Covered baking eliminates the need to steam the oven and results in great oven spring.

For this trial, I used my 100% hydration sourdough starter, unbleached bread flour, rye flour (home milled), ordinary tap water and sea salt. I shaped the dough as a batard (I prefer this shape) and used the bottom of an enameled metal turkey roaster as the cover.

This is a wonderful bread. A nice sourdough flavor, open crumb, crispy crust. Here are photos...

Kneaded Dough Ready for Bulk Ferment

My Rising Container - a plastic basket lined with a cotton tea towel rubbed with rice flour

Risen Dough Ready to be Baked.

On the Peel (a cookie sheet) and Slashed

Cooling After the Bake

Crumb (photo is a little blurry - sorry!)

alabubba's picture

My Daily Bread

I have had several people ask about this recipe so here it is. Sorry for taking so long.


Nicho Bread (Named for my grandson)

19.25 oz Good quality AP flour    
10.65 oz Milk
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Butter
1.5 tsp Salt
1.5 tsp Instant Yeast

This makes up about 2 pounds of dough, I bake it as a single loaf and it makes a TALL loaf. That's the way we like it around here but you could easily make 2 smaller loaves with this recipe.

Place the Flour, Salt, Sugar, and Yeast in a Large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
In a small sauce pan heat milk until very warm. (I do this in the microwave, about 90 seconds) add the butter to the warm milk. Stir until the butter melts. This gives the milk time to cool if you got it too hot.
Dump the milk/butter on the flour mix and stir with a big wooden spoon until it has absorbed all the liquid. Dump onto your counter top and begin kneading by hand for about 1 minute, Just trying to incorporate all the flour at this point. Cover and let the dough rest/hydrate for 5 minutes.
Continue to knead by hand for another 5 minutes. It should not be sticky. If it is, use a little flour to help make it workable. It should form a smooth, soft dough that is not sticky.
Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Let rise until doubled, usually takes about 60 to 90 minutes but let the dough dictate the time.
After doubled, deflate and form into a 5 x 9 loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. Again, let the dough set the time.
Bake on the lower rack of a 325° oven until done. I use a thermometer at between 195° and 200°
You may need to place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the loaf to keep the crown from burning.

(I often have to cover with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent burning the top crust)
(You can use bread flour if you want, Also, I sometimes use 30% WW flour)
(I use 2% but have used whole, skim and even buttermilk, I have also made this with water in a pinch)
(I have used Honey, brown sugar, Lyle's Golden syrup and molasses)
(I have used margarine, Vegetable oil and olive oil, and lard)


Lets make some bread, No fancy Kitchen Aid required

First the dry.

Now the wet

10.65 Ounces is about 1 and 1/4 cups

Nuke it to get it warm. But be careful not to get it too hot.

3Tbsp butter

Melt it in your warm milk, Should look something like this.

Now, Everybody into the pool. and mix with a spoon until the liquid is absorbed.

Dump onto the board and work just enough to get it incorporated.

Then let it rest 5 minutes and then knead for 5 minutes

You should end up with a lovely smooth, soft, not sticky ball of dough.

Proof it

Deflate and pan.

Can you see where I poked it with my finger. It's ready.


Surface tension causes the dough to open at the cut. Can you see the crumb structure even in the raw dough?

Nothing left but to put in a 325° oven. It bakes for about 25 minutes but I don't watch the clock, When it looks done I check it with a thermometer.

This loaf is so tall that I have to cover it with foil for the first 10 minutes to keep it from burning on top. Maybe if I had a bigger oven, but even with the rack on the lowest setting it still will burn if I am not careful.

Wow, Talk about oven spring!

and the requisite crumb shot...

dmsnyder's picture

Rx for the uptight, perfectionist baker

I just viewed a video of Julia Child making Tarte Tatin. This was a 1971 broadcast of The French Chef TV program.

Now, Tarte Tatin is a favorite of mine, but my reason for pointing you all to this video is Julia's performance. I won't say more. Just see for yourself.



txfarmer's picture

Pumpkin Challah


The recipe is from Maggie Glezer's " A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking from Around the World" I got the book from the library and just love it! So much fascinating history and background information, along with many recipes, I had no idea challah breads have so many variations. This time of the year, I am in a pumpkin kick, so I immediately made pumpkin challah. Even though there are many interesting braiding techniques in the book, my shaping/braiding was from Hamleman's "Bread", which consists of 20 strands, 6 sets of six strand braids, and one 2 strand braid in the middle. I have been wanting to try this massive braiding project for a while now, so glad it turned out well!

The pumpkin flavor is quite subtle, I would probably increase the amount of pumpkin puree next time, but the spice combo was on the mark, crumb was soft, and crust was slightly hard from the egg brush.

I love the golden color, combined with the star shape, I think it's quite a looker! And I think I will buy the book, a worthy addition to my already huge bread book collection.


txfarmer's picture

Dutch Crunch/tiger bread question

Hi all, I have some wild rice onion dough (from "Artisan Breads Everyday") in the fridge right now, will make some rolls tomorrow. Want to add a layer of Dutch crunch/tiger bread topping on them, and I found several recipes:

- BBA has a simple formula, which can be applied before/after proofing;

- this one applies the topping in the middle of proofing:

- this one applies the topping after proofing, before baking:

- and this one applies the topping before proofing:


Just wondering whether anyone here has first hand experience with any recipes? Either one of the above, or something else. I usually proof rolls more fully than a free standing loaf, does it mean I should apply the topping during/before proofing? Since it will get limited oven spring?

koloatree's picture

does someone here know what kind of bread this is?


i think this kind of bread is my favorite for burgers and pulled pork sandwiches and i would like to learn to make these. anyone know?





Chode's picture

I need some help troubleshooting my spongy crumb...


I'm quite new to this, and really happy I found this site. My starter is about a month old and I'm having some problems with a dense kind of spongy crumb on the loaves I am baking. I'm hoping someone can make some suggestions so I can get a better result.

Some background:

I feed my starter about every 3-4 days (kept in the fridge), and I feed it a 1:1 ratio of BF/cold water. 

The starter shows signs of life, but doesn't double per say in the fridge. It does show bubbles on the sides of the container and on the top -- so I think it's doing OK.  About 2 weeks ago my starter looked really inactive so I gave it a boost by adding a packet of red star dry active yeast to it. I've made several loaves of bread since then -- and the ones I made immediately following the introduction of the DAY had the best rise but the worst taste (not like sourdough at all, but like white bread).

Since then I've baked at least 4-5 loaves of bread, so I think my wild yeast is starting to take back over. It has a more sour smell to than before, and the bread has plenty of rise.

My routine:

I use 500g starter, 300g bread flour, 91g of water and 16g of kosher salt when baking a loaf.  I mix this in a KA mixer with a dough hook for about 1.5--2 minutes and proof for two hours. I form a loaf without punching it down, by gathering the sides of the ball together to make a smooth round loaf and proof another hour. I'm baking it 15M at 450F, covering it with foil (my oven has a lot of hot spots) baking another 15 minutes at same temp, then basting it with clarified butter and baking at 400F for another 30M.

The crumb seems weird -- hard to explain but it is sort of dense even though there are lots of uneven sized holes in it. Spongy almost. Not entirely pleasant to eat. Not bad, but not the same thing I've experienced with loaves purchased from a bakery.

Any suggestions would be appreciated! (thanks in advance to any readers/replies)

PS: Here's a picture of the bread loaves themselves. Picture of the crumb below.


Poolish Starter

dmsnyder's picture

Hamelman's Normandy Apple Bread

Today, I baked Hamelman's "Normandy Apple Bread" for the first time. This bread is a pain au levain spiked with instant yeast. It uses a firm starter and bread flour and whole wheat in the final dough. The apple flavor comes from chopped dried apples and apple cider.

Jeff (JMonkey) posted the formula and instructions for this bread May 19, 2007, so I won't duplicate them here. For those interesting in making this bread, Jeff's entry can be found here: Hamelman's Normandy Apple Bread

I followed Hamelman's instructions pretty much to the letter. I machine mixed for about 7 or 8 minutes and did a French fold before bulk fermentation. I did one more fold after one hour of a 2 hour bulk fermentation. I had to refrigerate the formed loaves for about 3 hours to work around an afternoon outing. I then let them proof about 60-75 minutes at room temperature before baking.

The loaves smelled wonderful while baking. The crust was crunchy. The flavor was somewhat disappointing. The apples do give pleasant little bursts of sourness, but the crumb flavor was not my favorite. It was basically like a light whole wheat levain, and that is not a type of bread I particularly like.

Your taste (undoubtedly) varies, and you may enjoy it more than I.

Then again, the Vermont Sourdough had such spectacular flavor, anything else would be hard to compare. Again, that's my taste.



KenK's picture

Sourdough rolls

I derived this formula by combining from several sources and doing some rounding.


3 ounces starter (100 % hydration)

8 ounces KA AP flour

8 ounces water

Mix and let stand overnight



12 1/2 ounces flour

5 1/2 ounces water

2 t salt

1t yeast

68% hydration

Mix in bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Knead and rest, knead and rest; for a while.  I lost track.

Let rise in bowl for an hour, fold let rise another 2 hours.  Form rolls, let rise 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 450.

I think they came out ok, I was hoping for a more open crumb.  At least I have reached the enviable beginners stage where the mistakes are edible.  The last sourdough bread went into the trash. 

After eating a test bread the rest went in the freezer. We will split one every night for our dinner next week.  I normally reheat 10-15 minutes in a 350 oven. 

I debated until the last second about adding the yeast.  The preferment was working nicely but I chickened out.

jeffbrook1's picture

Pizza Dough

Hi ALl:


I have been using American Pie by P Reinhart for dough recipes and for the most part am satisfied. I love the focaccia! For the Napolitano dough, I like it but it always seems like it lacks stiffness, it is too loose. I am a little reluctant to add too much flour and thought I would ask the forum what experiences you have all had with it. I also made the neo-Napolitano and after retarding overnight it seemed to lose its shape and be more of a blob. Any thoughts or comments?