The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Franko's picture

Derek's Delicious Stout Loaf

The bread I've been baking lately is one I ran across on Ross/rossnroller's latest blog back in September. The bread, a Wholemeal and Stout loaf enriched with egg and butter is one that Derek/yozza put together using his own home brewed stout and demonstrated to his students during one of his sourdough bread classes at the college where he works.

When I saw the photos of Derek's loaf (above) that he'd baked off at home the next day I was sold. It looked so good to me I knew right away that I had to give it a try. Derek was kind enough to share his formula on Ross' thread and answered a few questions I had via PM as well. My thanks go out to Derek for his inspiration and good advice in the making of this fine bread. 

The first attempt got off to a rocky start when I was scaling out what I thought was whole grain flour for the overnight soaking in stout. After I had the flour soaking and was putting the bag away I realized I'd used whole rye flour instead of whole grain wheat flour... yikes! That's what I get for starting a mix at the end of long day and for not accepting the fact I need to wear my glasses more often than I do. Fortunately I like rye breads, and other than the loaf not being what I'd intended, it turned out reasonably well. By the time I began the final mix 15 hours later, the levain I'd started the night before had over-ripened and I wound up having to add some commercial yeast to the mix in order to kick start it enough to get fermentation going.

This turned out to be a pretty tasty mistake, all things considered, and one I'd like to try again but next time with the intention of using rye flour.

The second attempt was better in terms of looks, but the flavour was lacking due to rushing the bulk fermentation. I needed a loaf for the next day and instead of giving it a long retarded BF, the dough was mixed quite warm with an increased leaven and overall hydration at 58% for a 2 hour BF at 78-80F with the final rise being approximately 3 hours. The loaf had terrific oven spring, producing quite a lofty, high profile bread, due in part to the lower than normal hydration. The soaker used for this mix was made with Cooper's bottle fermented Australian Stout and One Degree Organic Sprouted Whole Meal flour. I've wondered since if that may have had some impact on the overall leavening of the loaf, the soaker becoming a secondary levain of sorts. Overnight temperatures were in the low 70F range at that time, and I suppose it's possible but since I didn't do a float test on it I can't say with any degree of certainty.

The price I paid for using this abbreviated procedure of course was flavour. Not that it tasted bad, just rather ordinary. Considering the high quality ingredients that went into the mix it's a bit of a shame, but being that I pushed things along the way I did it didn't come as total surprise. In the end I was happy the ingredients didn't go to waste and that I had a loaf of bread to see me through the coming week.



For the third mix I allowed sufficient time to give the dough the long retarded fermentation that it needed to build flavour and stuck close to the Derek's original procedure but made a small addition to his formula by including 15-16% cracked wheat to the overall mix to give the loaf more body. The cracked wheat was added to the stout and soaked overnight along with the wholemeal flour. If there had been any fermentation going on in the soaker of the second mix I'm quite sure there was little, if any, this time around as overnight temperatures had cooled off considerably in the interval between mixes. Going by how long it took before the loaf could be baked off, I'd say the leaven did the job all on it's own this time. Hydration for this mix was increased to 70% and the leaven went back to 30% from the 40% of the previous loaf. Bulk fermentation was 3 hours with 3 stretch and folds at 45 minute intervals, then an undisturbed 45 minutes before rounding, resting, shaping and placing in the pan for the 24 hour retarded ferment. The final rise took over 5 hours in the B&T proofer at 78F before I thought it had a hope of doing anything worthwhile in the oven and even then it wasn't clear what I'd wind up with. When I checked the loaf after the first 10 minutes, removing the steam system at the same time, I could see it hadn't jumped as much the previous loaf, thank goodness, looking much more like the loaf that Derek had made, which was my goal from the beginning.

Total bake time was 40 minutes, initially at 485F for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes at 465F and the final 10 minutes at 440F, leaving the loaf in a dead oven with the door ajar for 20 minutes.

Third times the charm it seems as this turned out a very nice loaf, just rich enough from the butter and egg to give the crumb a soft and moist texture but not so much that the crumb is dense or cakey.

The sour level is in the medium range, appropriate for this type of bread I feel, with the flavour of the stout coming through slightly stronger, imparting it's malty characteristics to give the overall flavour some deep and delicious notes that make it hard not have just one more slice. For my tastes this is a bread meant for cheese and with that in mind and some leftover stout I decided to make a Welsh Rarebit to have it with. 

Straight from the broiler and piping hot, this may be the ultimate way to enjoy the combination of stout, sharp cheddar and good homemade bread.



Neddy's picture

Newbee asking the same old questions!

Greeting fellow bakers.  

As at retirement project I have constructed a wood oven, brick by brick.  Simultaneously, I've been developing a very tasty artisan bread recipe.  This new found interest led me to this fascinating and informative forum both for education and problem solving.  

I don't mind boasting that my "project" bread's flavor (IMHO) is now nothing short of terrific.   So far, however, i've have not been able to keep proofed loafs from flattening 10-15% as they are transfered from lined wicker baskets to peel.  From readings in the forum, it would seem I needed either modified proofing, improvement of gluten structure, perhaps handle the dough less or all of the above.  I'm not writing of my successes here.

Currently I thoroughly mix/knead a poolish/ dough (@ 80 degrees) in a Magic Mill for 5 minutes then continue kneading for another 14 minutes.  The recipe has been a consistent 87% hydration.  Although, the latest batch was reduced to 77 % as an evolutionary step. The kneaded dough is bulk fermented in a rectangular tub with additional stretching/folded (by 1/4s) 2-3 times in the first hour. Increasing gluten structure?

Once the fermented dough has developed to  2-1/2 times original size (2- 2-1/2 hours @ 78 degrees) it is divided, folded again and shaped into balls using the pull/ rotate /pull method to further increased surface tension.  The shaped dough is proofed @ 78 degrees in lined 10" baskets from SFBI. Each basket is inside an individual non-perforated "tented"plastic bag for an hour or until the "dent" test indicates proofing completion.

The dough has a lovely domed shape until it is carefully transferred to either a peel or parchment paper at which time is spreads and significant height is lost.  Needless to say, scoring with a blade has done nothing positive to improve this condition.

Each batch of dough has received increased #s of folds, or increased kneading time or both.  

Non of the lost volume is reclaimed in the densely heated wood oven usually @550-600.  A solid oak door, pre-soaked in water seals the baking chamber with the steam created providing a great crust.  Unfortunately it  does not appreciably influence oven spring.

And it looks so easy on paper!


I thank you in advance for any consideration to my problem.


Betty Garb's picture
Betty Garb

Active dry yeast beginner - what am I doing wrong??

Hi! I hope someone can help. I've been baking with quick yeast for a good few months now and have fully embraced it and am loving it. It's been mostly fantastic and I decided to move on to active dry yeast to try to achieve a better flavour.

I've followed a basic recipe on the back of the yeast tin, which means putting 15g of yeast into 150g of water after disolving a teaspoon of sugar in it, letting it bubble up (never need to wait the 10-15 mins stated, it grows a foam over 2cm within 5 mins) adding it to 650g of flour, with a teaspoon of salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil (which is what I used to add for the quick yeast...not sure I should still be doing it?) and as much extra luke-warm water that is needed to turn it into a kneedable dough.......I kneed for well over 10 minutes, stretching and folding and rolling etc until it feels springy and lively.

Both attempts so far have risen quickly on the first prove to beyond double the size within a fairly short time. Then I punch the dough down and shape into a tin and let it  prove again, but not as much the second time... it seems to be rising quicker during the prove than the quick yeast.

 I cook on gas mark 7 for probably only 20 minutes. when the top gets dark (and it's cooked and hollow sounding on top) I take it out of the tin and flip it upside down onto the oven shelf to get a crust all around the loaf (which I used to do with the quick yeast successfuly). B

Well my problem is the texture of these two active yeast loaves I've cooked in this way.... it's very 'spongy' - like a bath sponge I mean... almost plasticy... it has a good springy feel but almost more like a crumpet.... Not unlike a ciabatta in some ways....lots of bubbles inside almost...The crust is better than any I got with the quick yeast, without a doubt.... But the inside is just not working.

This would be a quandry enough for me.... but the MOST frustrating part is this.... Every time when I make a loaf I cut of a small handful (that I've started kneeding for 5 mins or so) for my 2 year old daughter to 'kneed' with me... she plays with it, stretches it, folds it, rolls it, adds way too much extra flour just because it's fun... Today we gave her little 'play bun' two rises also. Punched it down a little later than the main loaf, so didn't have as long to prove the second time...... Then I put it on the second shelf of the oven, under the loaf... When the main loaf was ready to come out I took her bun out too and flipped it in its ramekin.... I noticed it was cooked way less than the loaf - seemed damp underneath at that stage but had 'cooked' (which makes sense as it was lower down).  In 5 mins or so I  took it out and LOW AND BEHOLD, when we cut it open it was the perfect springy pillowy soft close texture that I would have loved to see in the loaf.

I'm going to try to attach a pic of the loaf so you can try to see what I mean... but I have no picture of her perfect little bun as she devoured it within 5 minutes of it being cool enough.

ANY ideas what exactly I could do with the loaf next time? Lower heat? Less proving?! Agh! Any suggestions greatly appreciated :)



chris319's picture

Dough Hook Doesn't Knead

I wanted to automate the process of kneading bread dough so I got a Kitchen Aid K5A and a spiral dough hook. What happens is that after a few minutes of operation, all of the dough has wrapped itself around the hook which is whirling around and around with this glob of dough wrapped around it, but there is no real action on the dough. It is not being stretched or kneaded; it's just spinning around and around, wrapped around the hook as the motor gets warmer and warmer. I swapped in the "C" hook and the mixing paddle and the results are the same. I had to dump the dough  onto the counter where I did a hand knead. So much for labor savings.

What am I doing wrong?

LousPeachy's picture

Sweet Bread or Quick Bread?

I just started baking again after many years of having little free time.  Today I made pumpkin bread in my new bread machine and it turned out yummy.

But, at the center of the finished loaf, a very small section, about a inch wide and a inch and a half deep, the bread was not cooked.  I used the sweet bread setting because the recipe did not say anything specific. Did I use the wrong setting?  I plan on giving loaves of bread as Christmas gifts and I want to be sure I get it right.  Any suggestions about what I did wrong would be appreciated!



Darwin's picture

3rd try at SD

The flavor is nice, but could be more sour.  The crust did not come out real crisp, I had 3+ pounds of dough cooking, maybe that is too much.  Feel free to critique 

sasafred's picture

Baking bread that's not a room temperature

I put a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread in my cold garage overnight because I didn't have time to bake yesterday. It was already formed and in the pan. I'm using a new sourdough starter that seems to be rising slower than previous ones, so I figured a night in the garage would slow down the rise enough that I could put it in the kitchen in the morning and let it rise then. I grabbed it this morning and it's risen beautifully! My problem is that I want to bake it now, but it's still cold from the garage (probably about 50F). Do I have to wait for it to warm back to room temp or can I go ahead and bake now?

isand66's picture

Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Sourdough

  In hindsight I should have baked this bread as a Ciabatta since it ended up such a slack and wet dough.  While I was working on the final formulas and trying to figure out what hydration level to use for maple syrup and sweet potatoes I discovered that sweet potatoes are extremely high in water.  In fact they are around 85% water which I now know is the main reason why this dough ended up so wet.  Next time I bake this one I would definitely adjust the water content to get it down to around 70-75% hydration or cut down some of the sweet potatoes.

In any case since I wasn't using my head when baking this one I used my bannetons to place the extremely wet dough and ended up with 2 flattish breads but great tasting none the less.

I wanted to make a nice flavorful fall style bread so I figured the maple syrup would go great with the sweet potatoes and some oat flour and rolled oats with crushed pecans couldn't hurt either.

One thing I did a little different in this bake was to add part of the sweet potatoes to the second build of the starter.  It did not seem to have any detrimental effects on the starter other than as I now know to make it much wetter than usual.

If you decide to try this one yourself I would either bake it as a Ciabatta bread or lower the amount of potatoes or water.

The overall taste of this bread was excellent with a nice moist crumb and hints of maple syrup and crunchy pecans.  You don't really taste the sweet potatoes but they are there in the background adding subtle overtones of sweetness.





Levain Directions

Build 1

Mix all the levain ingredients together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled. I used my proofer set at 83 degrees F. and it took around 5 hours.

Build 2

Add the stage 2 ingredients to the first Build and mix thoroughly until incorporated.  Cover and let sit at room temperature or in your proofer if you have one.  In my proofer it took around 4 hours to double.  You can either use it immediately in the main dough or put it in the refrigerator overnight and use the next day.


 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, and the water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter, balsamic and sweet potatoes and mix on low for 6 minutes.  Add the pecan pieces and mix for an additional minute to incorporate them evenly.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  Since this dough is so wet I did a total of 5 stretch and folds but if you adjust the hydration you won't need to do this.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.    Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray or use your favorite Ciabatta shaping method.


The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.


After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack for at least 2 hours before eating.



greedybread's picture

yum yum yum....Buttery Oatmeal, Almond, Raisin & Wholemeal Spice Bread......

This has to be one of the best breads I have ever tasted.

This bread will blow you away!!

The texture is cake like but it's not.

It is just gorgeous, a crumbly flakey crust and crumb.

Sweetness comes mostly from the raisins.

Plus you can adapt the recipe and play around with it as I have done.

In this one, I added almonds and mixed spice but my first one, I used cinnamon,raisins and cranberries mixed up.


I know, you are thinking " as if"  or "Ohhhhh Yuck".....

BUT so did I and curiosity got the better of me and it was all downhill from there...

step away!
step away!
loaf style..
loaf style..
free form:)
zeee dough..
zeee dough..

What will you need?

1 cup of water warm

1 cup of raisins

1 cup of flaked or slivered almonds (or another fruit or nut)

1 & 1/2 cups of hot milk

200g butter

1 cup of rolled oats

2 tsp of mixed spice

1 tsp salt

6 tbsp muscovado sugar

15 g dried yeast

2 cups of wholemeal flour

2 cups of strong bakers flour.

mmm buttered oats....
mmm buttered oats....


Heat the milk to hot and then melt the butter in the hot milk, then stir in the oats.

Warm the water and place raisins in the warm water.

Leave both for an hour.

Stir the oats occassionally...


Drain the raisins and leave to the side.

Warm the raisin water and stir in the muscovado and the yeast.

Leave ten minutes to froth up and feed!

Put all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, spices) in a bowl and mix through.

putting in the fruit and nuts
putting in the fruit and nuts

Pour oat buttery milk mix and yeasty mix into the dry ingredients.

Form a sticky dough and knead for 5-6 minutes.

Add in the fruit and/or nuts and knead for another 2-3 minutes.

Remember to lightly dust the fruit/nuts with flour before putting in the dough.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover, leaving for an hour.


Remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured bench.

Knead slightly and knock back.

Cut into two pieces and form your shapes or place in a well-greased loaf tin.

Cover with a damp cloth and leave for 90 minutes.

20 minutes before time is up, preheat oven to 180 Celsius.

Uncover, place dough in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

You want it to be golden brown but not too brown.

oven time...
oven time...
P1120125 (800x600)
boule style...

Leave in loaf tin and/or baking tray for ten minutes.

Transfer after this to a wire rack and cool .

Slice when slightly warm or cold....



lovely and lots...
lovely and lots...
up close.....
up close.....

Recipe adapted from "The Secret of Everything" by Barbara O'Neal.

There are other wonderful recipes in this book as well:)

Did you like this bread?

Have you tried our fudges?

fudgey wudgey...
fudgey wudgey...
katiecooks815's picture

Planetary Mixer vs. Spiral Mixer - Help needed!


I am making a pretzel dough (firm dough - about 55% hydration) and am starting to expand my german pretzel business and need to buy a mixing machine. I am looking between a planetary mixer (hobart) and a spiral mixer (Esmach). Any suggestions on what I should go for?