The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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varda's picture

White Batard

Over the last month or so I have been chasing the elusive yeast water open crumb.   I was working under the theory that one could replace a regular poolish with a combination of yeast water and flour and then bake as usual.   This ran into some technical problems - namely aggressive protease action.   In trying to figure out how to respond to this, I came upon the following enlightening sentence in Hamelman: "Protease is an enzyme whose function is to denature protein, and in a loose mixture like poolish, protease activity is relatively high."  I think this means that protease is generated by yeast as it tries to digest (i.e. denature) the proteins in flour and that in a poolish environment at 100% hydration and with an unknown quantity of yeast in my yeast water  that I was overdoing it.   This time, I pulled back on the amount of yeast water and the hydration of the poolish but not on the hydration of the bread.    The result was much better.  

I have still not got the cuts to open as I would like, but I am quite happy with the flavor which has a lot of depth and somewhat happy with the crumb.   Suggestions for improvements are most welcome.








Final Dough









Yeast water


























Mix yeast water and flour night before.   Leave on counter for 12 hours.   Add flour and water for final dough and mix to develop dough.   Autolyze 1/2 hour.   Mix in salt and mix again.   Ferment for 30 minutes, then stretch and fold in the bowl.   After 30 minutes stretch and fold on the counter.   Gather dough together and do a loose shaping.   Do a third stretch and fold after 30 minutes and another shaping.   Let ferment for 30 more minutes.   Cut in half and preshape.    Rest for 20 minutes.   Shape into batards and place in couche.   Proof for just over an hour.   Bake for 20 minutes at 450 with steam, 25 minutes without. 

A few notes about this.   The dough was quite liquidy until the first counter stretch and fold when it came together pretty nicely.   This was despite two 3 minute mixes in a kitchenaid at progressively increasing speeds.   It was difficult to slash because it was quite sticky and the blade got caught.   

dablues's picture


I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right place.  Hope so.  Does anyone know of a online source that sells skins for stuffing sausage.  Since I've never bought them online before, am looking for a place that is reliable.  I can't find them in Athens, GA.  I thought they would be easy to find.  I had no problems when I lived in NY.  I could purchase them at our local supermarket.  Also, if anyone makes their own sausage, do you use the real or synthetic skins?  Thanks in advance for any help I can get.

mimifix's picture

The Joys & Challenges of a Home-Based Food Business

In the United States many states have cottage laws which allow for home-based food businesses. In New York the Department of Agriculture & Markets has a home-processor exemption. There's an interesting article, "The Joys and Challenges of a Home-Based Food Business" in the Chronogram about Mor Pipman, owner of Much Mor Bread, a home-based artisan bread business. For those interested in starting up a business, she mentions how much she can bake and earn. While her main products are bread, she supplements her baking income with a few sweets. (Article by Peter Barrett, photo by Roy Gumpel.)

BelBaker7's picture

New to this: Please help me with my starter

So I recently began the sourdough process this month by building a proofing box and yesterday I began activating a starter I got from a local baker. This morning I go to check on my creation in its cozy 82 degree environment and this is what I see...

A three layer mixture of dough mixture on the bottom, a yellowish liquid solution in the middle, and and a bubbly mixture on top.

Here is a pic of what I am talking about...

Should I be concerned? I am so new to this and I really have no clue where to begin and I just happened upon this site. What steps should I take to ensure that the starter is good to go?

Thank you so much for the help.

Mebake's picture

Whole Wheat W/multigrain soaker

I made this bread yesterday from Hamelman's yeasted prefermets section. I used 50% Strong white Hovis bread flour, and 50% Snowflake Nutty Wheat Flour. As the latter contains too much bran, i adjusted by adding some all purpose flour to the final dough.

I mounted two baking stones on two separate racks. The oven spring was better this way, i think. I used Sylvia's Steaming technique.. (very effective).

I cut some slices today morning, and the bread smelled strongly of buckwheat. I used buckwheat in lieu of millet called for in the recipe. The crust is crunchy, and the crumb is soft and satisfying. I love this bread!


JonnyP's picture

Kefir Sourdough Starter: initial observations and concerns

Here is my experience with kefir as a component used in sourdough bread making.

Summary:  When adding kefir milk/curds/whey to my typical slow-ferment (no-knead) bread dough recipe, I find the quality of the gluten to be degraded: the dough tears more than stretches compared to if I use plain water instead. I suspect that proteases present in the kefir are cleaving the gluten strands.

Background:  I have been making bread dough using the "no-knead" method and the "5-minutes-a-day (refidgerated)" method, employing regular dry yeast (with proofing), instant yeast (without proofing), and sourdough starters (including my own local wild yeast starter and Carl Griffith's Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter).  I thought that adding kefir (instead of water) to my various doughs might add more flavor.

Method:  Using a 80% hydration ratio: 100g whole-wheat, 400g bread flour (13% gluten), I compared a loaf using 400g of water to another loaf using 400g of kefir milk/curds/whey, plus 50g of water (to account for the solids in the milk).  To these, I added 1/4 cup of my sourdough starter.  Primary fermantation of the dough (first rise) was done in my cool Michigan basement for 12 to 18 hours, covered in a plastic bag.  For baking, I used the preheated dutch oven method at 450deg for 30 min, then uncovered at 375 for 20 min.

Results:  After the 12 hour rise, the kefir bread dough did not seem "over-risen" compared to the control (water) dough.  However, using kefir instead of water seemed to degrade the gluten: the resulting kefir dough was much more prone to tear, and the resulting baked kefir loaf did not have the elastic crumb compared to the non-kefir (water-only) control.

Comment:  As far I know, there is no well-established historical cultural tradition of using milk kefir to leaven bread.  Although kefir might add more flavour than water, the resulting dough and loaf seem inferior to using traditional sourdough starters with plain water in the method described above.  There may indeed be an adventage in using kefir in fermenting/levening other types of bread (using different flours), or varying the water/kefir ratio, or using younger kefir or older kefir.  Such variables may be seen as either as a headache, or an opportunity to explore.  Because these 2 loafs were prepared and baked on different days, I plan to repeat this experiment under better identical conditions.  If there is enough interest, maybe I should post photos at each stage.

Until then, your kefir-levening experience comments/advice are greatly appreciated,


SylviaH's picture

Sourdough Fig Focaccia


This sourdough focaccia if based on the excellent post,  for a 'sourdough raisin focaccia' by bwraith.

 I halved the recipe and adjusted the hydration to use all duram flour to mix with my regular bread flour sourdough pre-ferment.  It turned out very much to our liking, my husband ate 3 slices and said he liked it best with the goat cheese.  Thanks to Franko recent posts on using duram flour, I was inspired to bake a semolina sourdough focaccia today.  I knew my figs were not going to wait for my next wfo baking!

So for winging this recipe, it turned out quite delicious. 

                                       The focaccia is steamed oven for 10 minutes.  Placed in a 10" oiled pan.












       Happy Fourth of July!



breadbakingbassplayer's picture

7/2/11 - Pizza au Levain for Breakfast

I had some extra sourdough starter that I needed to use, and have been craving pizza for breakfast.  This recipe is extremely easy and the dough is very flavorful and has a light sour tang.  Enjoy!


266g AP (+ 1 tbsp of whole wheat flour)
176g water
54g stiff SD starter at 50% hydration straight from fridge
6g Kosher salt
502g approx dough yield

Canned crushed tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella (sliced and or diced)
Whole milk ricotta cheese (strained)
Fontina (sliced)
Radicchio - washed and shredded
2 eggs

12:15am - Mix all ingredients by hand in a mixing bowl until you get a shaggy dough.  Cover and let rest.
12:35am - Knead dough for a few seconds until it is smooth.  cover and let rest.
1:05am - Turn dough (stretch and fold) in bowl, lightly coat dough with olive oil, cover and let rise on counter overnight.
8:30am - Place baking stone with longest side parallel to the oven in the center of the bottom rack, preheat oven to 650F (turn oven on convection to 550F and preheat for one hour).  Place oven thermometer on stone to you can see the actual temp of the stone.
9:30am - Take thermometer out of oven.  Turn oven off convection.  On a floured work surface, stretch dough out to the size of the pizza peel, lightly flour peel.  Place pizza dough directly on baking stone and bake for 2 minutes.  Then, take pizza  crust out of oven, spread crushed tomatoes to the farthest edges.  Then on 1/3rd of the pizza, arrange the radicchio and fontina, on another 3rd, place the mozzarella, the final 1/3rd, place the ricotta.  In the center break 2 eggs.  Place pizza back into oven close to the left side of the stone for 3 1/2 minutes.  Scoot pizza over to right side of stone, bake for another 3 to 3 1/2 minutes or until the egg is cooked to your liking (slightly runny yolks).  Take pizza out, let cool for a minute or so, cut and eat.

Notes: Placing the pizza close to the edges of the stone allow the crust to receive the maximum amount of heat radiating from the bottom of the oven, so it chars like a wood or coal fired oven.  Moving the pizza from each side allows both sides of the crust to char.

Prebaking the crust avoids the wet soggy crust under the toppings, and also makes the pizza easier to place into the oven without risking the dough sticking to the peel, or the sauce and toppings weighing down the crust.

johannesenbergur's picture

Recycle rye recipe

This recipe is inspired by quite a few recipes I've read the past few months. In my opinion this makes an excellent rye loaf.


  • 300 g Cold water
  • 100 g 5-grain
  • 100 g Stale rye bread
  • 100 g Sourdough (click for my recipe)
  • 5 g Fresh active yeast
  • 10 g Sea salt
  • 200 g Whole rye flour
  • 200 g Graham flour
Pour the water into a bowl and dissolve the yeast. Put the grain mixture and the stale bread, which you have shreadded into tiny bits, into the water. Let it soak for 15 minutes or so.Add the sourdough and salt, mix. Start adding the flour, little by little to make it easier to get a smooth dough.Start kneading. The dough should be rather sticky and difficult to knead, unlike white breads. But you need to knead it for a while to heat up the dough and activate the yeast.Leave it to rise until doubled. I left it for 90 minutes and then I put it into the fridge over night. The next morning I took it out, shaped it into a loaf in a baking tin. Let it again rise to about double size. Just make sure it doesn't overrise and collapse on itself.Get your oven to max heat and place the loaf on the bottom shelf. Turn the heat down to 170 degrees celcius and bake for around 90 minutes, until it makes a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom.If you enjoyed the bread, repeat the process when it gets stale.
johannesenbergur's picture

My sourdough

Here's my take on sourdough, it as worked for me.


  • 3 dl Cold water
  • 75 g Rye flour
  • 75 g Graham flour
  • 150 g Wheat baking flour
  • A small handful of raisins
Put the raisins in a bowl with the water. Let them soak for about 15 minuts and take them out. Mix in the flour and put it in a glass jar. It's supposed to be rather watery, so don't worry about it not looking like dough.Cover the glass jar with a piece of regular kitchen paper, held by an elastic band. This allows the sourdough to breathe without attracting unwanted bugs.Stir the sourdough once every 8-24 hours. And once a day remove 50g and add 25g regular wheat baking flour and another 25g cold water and mix. After a few days you should be able to bake with sourdough.Continue the process for as long as you want to have sourdough.Every time you use some of it, add the same amount half and half of wheat flour and cold water to the sourdough. Depending on how much you use, your starter should be ready again in a few days.*Note: Mine did start so smell a bit like old milk after the first few days, but the smell went away and it started smelling like delightful yeast.