The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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david earls's picture
david earls

biga or poolish for short pre-ferment?

I can't believe I didn't start a pre-ferment last night - but I didn't and Sunday has to be a fresh loaf day.

I'm doing focaccia, which i usually make with an overnight poolish. But today i only have time for an hour or two for the preferment, and i'm trying it with a biga. This really just means flipping the hydration percentage in the two stages, and it will turn out to be what it turns out to be. But I am curious.

When you have a shortened period for preferment, is one or the other (biga or poolish) more favorable? I will, as they say on talk radio "Take my answer off the air."

Superman07's picture

First Post - First Loaf!

Greetings.  Been waiting to get into bread baking while until we received a nice stove, but not sure when that's happening.  Anyway, been getting impatient with local stores and offerings so decided to take a crack myself.

I used the Anis Bouabsa approach I came across here -

Split dough 2/3 and 1/3 - made a larger boule and a small loaf (was supposed to be baguette...).  For a first attempt I think it turned out okay.  I hadn't added enough salt initially, so I think the taste was a bit lacking.  The dough was very wet to work with and was difficult to form.  Hence the flat globs and flatter end products.  The crumb structure I was very pleased with, although a little dense and chewy.  Would have liked an airier end product.

Next time I'm thinking of either reducing the water by ~20g or leaving the water and subbing in 25g of bread flour.

Feedback or suggestions?!


Skibum's picture

Sourdough Pulla!

I have baked this in the past as a yeasted recipe and thought I would try a half recipe using my SD starter.  I fed the starter 1:1:1 and 4 hours later it had more than doubled, so I mixed as per the recipe only using dabrownman's sourdough process:  knead for 5 minutes, 5 rest then knead for another 5.  Bulk proof on the counter with S&F's at 30, 60 and 90 minutes, 11/2 hours on the counter then into the fridge to retard overnight.  An hour to warm up this morning, then divide and scale the dough, pre-shape and bake.  I baked about 25 minutes @ 400F on convection, using steam for the first 10 minutes, which is something I have never done with pulla.  The steam seemed to help.

This bake nearly turned into a gong show as I ran out of bread flour before the dough was mixed and ended up using about 5% each cake & pastry flour and durham semolina.  The result is some of the best tasting pulla I have ever baked!  Fantastic with strong, fresh coffee!

I also let the dough tell me when to bake and proofed for 40 minutes, rather than the suggested 20 in the original recipe.  I had 2 loaves, so I proofed the 2nd for 60 minutes and saw no difference in the loaves, so 40 minutes is right.

I paid a visit to this morning and gifted the head baker a half loaf and was able to purchase another 20 kg bag of Bakemark Deluxe Strong Bakers Flour for $20 and that should keep me out of trouble for another 4 or 5 months.

Happy baking TFLers!


Gene New's picture
Gene New

Rehydrated frozen starter


I wonder if someone could tell me if this is normal or not.

Just  after the new year I started making my own starter but in April I was due to go on a course which meant I would be washy from home for a while so I dried some in my oven and froze it.  The rest I left in a pot in the fridge and asked hubby to feed it once a week which he apparently did for a few weeks but then he got bored or forgot.

When I got back  the refrigerated starter had a grey yukey liquid on the surface, smelt like a brewery and looked pretty bad so I threw it out.  

I didn't hold much home for the frozen starter because I had dried it in a slightly warm oven and had no way of telling whether I had killed the yeast or not so the day before yesterday I mixed flour and water with the intention of starting again but just for the fun of it I weighed a packet of the frozen starter and rehydrated it with an equal volume of water.  

When I got up this morning the container was full of quite big bubbles so I thought why not and I mixed the two starters together and gave then a feed of 70g flour 70g warm water and after mixing its all in I left them on the side. That was around an hour or so ago and I am shocked to find its more than doubled in size and bubbling like a witches brew see photo.

I would have thought it needed a couple of feeds at least before it started to work again so is this normal or do I have something weird going on?

all the best Gene




ericb's picture

"beat the batter one whole hour..."

I recently ran across this reproduction of a 17th Century recipe for "Prince Bread," which apparently produces a cookie with the texture of angel food cake. The ingredients aren't anything special, but I couldn't get over the mixing time: 45 minutes! In fact, the original instructions say to "beat it all to batter one whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better your bread is."

Seriously! Check it out:


I can't imagine that it would work, but the author seems to have tried it with good results. What's going on here? What advantage could mixing a batter for 45 minutes possibly have over mixing it, say, five or ten minutes?

taurus430's picture

Pumpkin Bread with Seeds





Another great bread for sandwiches or for breakfast with apple butter!


DEREKLJ's picture


Thank you so much to all of you who gave me some really good advice with making these rolls.

It's only taken me just over a year of disaster after disaster.

I think I now know where I was going wrong.

1) My dough was'nt the right consistency.

2) On the second proofing I left them too long.

3) the covering on the second proofing was too heavy and squashed the rolls down.

4) the oven was on 140c instead of 200c

The only problem I have now is that the rolls are tasting quite bland.

Any ideas please ?

Thank you all again


dabrownman's picture

Multi-grain Sourdough with Figs, Walnuts, Whey and 4 Seeds

We took last week's more tame bake and decided to gussie it up some.  There is just no way to hold my apprentice back when it comes to gussieness.  She decided to add some walnuts and re-hydrated black mission figs (one of our favorite combinations for fruit and nuts in bread) and some pumpkin and sunflowers seeds


These new additions went along with last week’s ground sesame and flax seeds, Toadies, red and white malts and VWG.  We cut back on some of the whey and white whole wheat flour and replaced them with more water and our special mix of 75% extraction home ground flour consisting of 25% rye, 25% spelt and 25% Kamut and 25% farro.


Since we again used the 25% sifted out bran portion to feed a smaller levain, we ended up with 85% whole grain bread instead of 100% like last week.  With all the fruit, nut and seed additions, I didn’t honk that Lucy would notice that some of the whole grain was missing.  We need some sifted bran and middlings for the next batch of Toadies.


Even though the 85% hydration was the same as last week’s bake the dough felt more wet and sticky.  This was probably due to some of the whole gain missing and that the re-hydrated figs may have carried some extra water with them.  In any even the dough was more slack for sure and hopefully this will open the crumb some more and still provide proper lift.


We followed a similar method to last week with one exception. We built the levain on Tuesday instead of Wednesday so that it could sit in the fridge for 48 hours to get more sour.  Since all of the whole grain bits were in the levain we autolysed the dough flours for 3 hours while the levain was warming up and finishing in final doubling.  The levain was refrigerated when it showed a 25% volume increase after the 3rd feeding.


We did 12 minutes of slap and folds since the dough felt slacker.  We incorporated the ground sesame and flax seeds, along with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, during the first set of (3) S&F’s that were performed 20 minutes apart.  The figs and the walnuts went in on the 2nd set and by the end of the 3rd set everything was well distributed.


After a short 15 minute rest the dough was pre-shaped and then shaped into a short squat batard to fit our oval basket and then it was placed into a used trash can liner and immediately retarded in the fridge for 20 1/2 hours.  It wasn’t quite were we wanted it when it came out of the fridge so we let it warm upon the counter an hour.


The dough was then un-molded on the parchment covered mini broiler top, slashed and  placed into the 500 F preheated mini oven that was steaming with 2 of Sylvia’s steaming cups and a ¼ cup of water thrown into the bottom of the mini oven as the door was closed.  Three minutes later we turned the oven own to 475 F.


We let the bread steam for 16 minutes before removing Sylvia’s steam generators and turning the oven down to 425 F, convection.   We rotated the bread every 5 minutes and in 25 minutes the bread tested 203 F when it was removed to a cooling rack.  So, this time the total bake was 41 minutes.


The bread bloomed OK but didn’t spring that much.  It might have been over proofed a little bit. It must have been that extra half and hour in the cold.  It browned well and had the crust that the mini oven puts on bread nearly every time but without the blisters.  The kitchen smelled like bake day for sure even without any aromatic seeds in the mix  - I knew my apprentice forgot something!

This bread is one that you won't forget.  Earthy, nutty, seedy, with a hint of sweet figs.... just plain tasty.  The crust is boldly baked, thick and it stayed crunchy too.  the crumb is soft moist and fairly open for a near whole grain bread with lots of stuff in it.  If you are all alone on a deserted island, this is the bread you want to have in your knapsack.  It made one of the tastiest grilled chicken sandwiches with the typical fruits and veggies, some pickled veg from the sausages last night and a slice of brie - Yummy!


Brunch with this bread the next morning.  Delicious!


Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



Multigrain SD Starter






25% Extracted Bran
























Multigrain SD Levain






























Levain % of Total












Dough Flour






75% Extraction Multigrain






White Whole Wheat






Dough Flour


















Whey 135






Dough Hydration












Total Flour






Whey 135 & Water






T. Dough Hydration






% Whole Grain Flour












Hydration w/ Adds






Total Weight












Add - Ins






Red Malt






White Malt












Ground Flax & Sesame Seeds






Re-hydrated Figs












Pumpkin 25 & Sunflower Seeds






VW Gluten


















75% extraction multi-grain is: 25% kamut,




 25% Farro, 25%, spelt & 25% rye






sunhana's picture

Calling out to bakers from Kampen, netherlands - Vikornbrood

Is there any baker from Kampen? I am very interested with this special bread from this KLAPPE BAKERY in kampen, netherlands. The bread is known as vikornbrood.

I managed to get some helps from this nice baker, levine, from netherlands. She found out that this bread uses a premix from zeelandia ( It comprises of gluten flour, wholemeal, rye, oatmeal, corn, linseed, barley malt powder, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. I tried to come up with my own premix that comprises of the 9 ingredients.

I've modifed levine's bruinbrood ( to use the premix to come up with my own vikornbrood. My bread turns out very nutty and soft/springy (as i modified to do prefermented dough too).

But somehow my friend said the bread is not what KLAPPE BAKERY has. If anyone has eaten this special bread from KLAPPE BAKERY before and has a close recipe to it, can kindly share? I myself has never eaten this bread but just amazed by the way my friend describes it. She said she is not a bread lover but only this bread she can eat half a loaf at one go. Just wonder what makes it so special.

sunhana's picture

Preferment dough in warm water "bath tub"

Does anyone know this method of SOAKING a prefermented dough in WARM WATER? i came across this method from the video clip ( The prefermented dough is left in a tub of warm water and let it slowly ferment. Once the dough floats to the surface of the water, it will be used to mix with the remainder ingredients.

I wonder what is this technique? wonder if by using this method, it will give better texture to the bread.

Will give this method a try as i love to try out new method to achieve better bread texture (without the use of bread conditioner/improver).