The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Mylissa20's picture

Bake-At-Home Sourdough at Costco?? Stays good for months?

Costco just recently started carrying a three-pack of bread made by "The Essential Baking Company" that intrigues me on so many levels.

 It is shelf-stable (non-refrigerated), organic bread that supposedly will keep for months in their special packaging without molding. Here is their statement: 

Our sourdough bread is made the tradition way, using a natural starter (mother dough) or “Mamacita” as we lovingly call it and only four organic/non-GMO ingredients; Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Organic Malt. That’s right, we don’t add commercial yeast and our bread is naturally fat free and sugar free! Unlike other imitation sourdough bread, our true sourdough ferments very slowly for over 12 hours at a cool temperature which creates a more complex, distinguished taste. Our unique Stay-Fresh Package keeps our bread Fresh For Months, Not Days.

I guess it just seems too-good-to-be-true. True sourdough, no commercial yeast, all organic, no fat, no sugar, and can be stored on the shelf for months? Did the world just become magical or is there a catch?

here is the link to their website:

blueboy2419's picture

I've given up on Sourdough

No matter how much I've tried, I simply can't get any success with Sourdough. I must have wasted kilos of flour trying to get a successful starter and even when I think I've cracked it, it all goes wrong and I'm back to square one.

An experimental approach has led me to my own technique that consistently gives me a tasty loaf. I use very little AD yeast, maybe 3g in 500g of flour, 70% hydration and a two day refrigerated fermentation.

I'm happy.and not wasting any more flour.


dickeytt's picture

Under Cooked bottom and quick 2nd prove

Hi All, I have only been baking bread for a few months and have now made 4 sourdough loafs using Dan Lepard's starter and method.

I have 2 problems that I am not sure how to solve

1) I am cooking my loaves in a UK Fan oven on a metal tray with a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven, but each time the top of the bread is cook, the bottom looks pale and under cooked.  Today I turn the loaf over to finish cooking the bottom.  The oven temp was at 200 C (about 400 F).  Can you suggest how I can correct this?  Do I need a baking stone?

2) The basic sourdough recipe from Dan's book, it suggests that the bread should prove for up to 4.5 hours or until it doubles, my bread only takes 2-2.5 hours before it doubles, the bread does taste lovely, but is this ok, would it be better if it proves slower?   If so, how do I get a slower prove? 

Janet Yang's picture
Janet Yang

Osmotolerant yeast weight/volume!

I'm literally in the middle of making pandoro according to Susan Tenney's Wild Yeast blog. It calls for "0.8 g (1/4 t.)" of yeast.

Is 0.8 gram of yeast really only 1/4 teaspoon?—because my scale says that 1/4 teaspoon is less than half a gram.

Either my new scale has a problem, or the recipe has an error and I need to add much more yeast right away. Any guidance appreciated!


P.S. I bought an Myweigh i2500, accurate to 0.5 gram. Now I wish I'd bought one that does 0.1 gram increments.

MANNA's picture


I started a new culture over a month ago. It was active then about a week in it smelled like someone barfed in dirty gym socks. I figured we're in the stinky phase just keep going. A month in with regular feedings the stink was gone but no activity. So I ditched it and started anew with the pineapple method that has worked in the past. That has worked. Not much activity again but I get the horrid acetone smell after 12 hours of feeding. Two days ago I popped it in the oven with the light on and got great activity from it. I feel my kitchen was just to cold being winter here. I have gone from 24 hour feedings to 12 hours to keep up with the increased rate of fermentation. This morning I fed it from a hydration of 100% to 70%. Im hoping to get some sourness into it and try for a bake in the next day or so. Anyone have thoughts on this? It has been driving me nuts with the acetone developing. It appears like the acetone has subsided with the increase in temp. does that seem right? I didnt get the acetone smell with the other culture that was started with just flour and water. Yes, it was stinky during the second week but after that it never stunk like acetone. Every time with the pineapple though it gets the acetone smell. Again, any thoughts?


Tech stuff: I use KAF Sir Galahad Flour, water is filtered spring water, I was feeding 1:1:1 every 24 hours and have switched to 1:1:1 every 12 hours. I have been at 100% hyd intill this morning, now Im at 70%.

dosco's picture

First Attempt at Tartine

I thought it might be interesting to try The Weekend Bakery's version of tartine.

I deviated from the recipe in many ways. First, I mixed the "Water 1" with the flour and let it autolyse overnight while the poolish fermented (I did this on Monday night 12-9-2013). The second deviation was that I only performed 4 stretch and fold sessions. Third deviation was that I used my silicone spatula and stretch/folded the dough in the KA mixing bowl ... each S&F session included 100 folds. Fourth deviation was that I shaped the dough ball into a boule and let it rest for 15 minutes, then shaped it into a batard. Final deviation was that the final rise was 75 minutes and not 150.

When I shaped the dough into a boule, I floured my work surface with WW flour (cleans up more easily) and used my hands to work the dough. It did seem to tighten up a bit, but when I formed the dough into the final batard it flattened upon itself. I'm not sure how y'all are getting "surface tension" with these higher hydration doughs.

Got a nice oven spring, the crumb looks pretty good, and the taste is nice. Kid #1 had a piece with breakfast and thought it was good.

Seems to be a better result, but I am still puzzled as to how I can get surface tension, good oven spring, super open crumb, and a nice cut on the surface. Seems I can get some of these results but not all.



Tiffany's picture

Sourdough starter

Okay this is my first time making a starter and I must admit I haven't been precisely measuring. I'm not a precise kind of person. ;) Anyways, I'm on day 7 and my starter is quite active almost tripling in 3-4 hours. The problem? is it still smells pretty strongly of alcohol. I keep it on the counter and was feeding just once a day and have bumped it up to twice a day. I've also not been throwing out my starter, just putting it into another bowl and feeding them all. I plan on doing a lot of baking once I know it has been established. I do not know how much starter I have currently, but I add about 1/2c rye/1/2c ap to about 1/2 c water to each bowl. It is a pretty thick starter.  I did make pancakes last night with it and it came out fine. what should I do about the alcohol smell? And how soon can I attempt to make some bread?

chris319's picture

Vinegary Sourdough in San Francisco

I am in the San Francisco bay area and bought a loaf of Boudin sourdough. It has a distinct vinegary taste and aroma.

What would cause a vinegary taste and aroma? Could it be the use of a cold, stiff levain?

Boudin was never a major player back in the golden age of S.F. sourdough and now I can understand why. The gold standard back in the day was Larraburu.

BTW I have sampled many breads from bakeries in the city this trip and they were mostly awful. It puts the lie to the myth of the "magic" of S.F. yeast, climate, fog, air, etc. as creating great sourdough bread.

There is a bakery/cafe called "Tartine" and its bread is almost pretty good, except that the half loaf they sold me was burnt, i.e. the crust was badly charred.

Aaron E's picture
Aaron E


My name is Aaron and I am a brand new bread enthusiast  Sure, I have enjoyed eating delicious bread my whole life, 31 years, but never baking! Until now.  i have been reading so many books and sites regarding bread making I finally gave it a try. Three nights ago I made my first brick, I mean loaf of bread. Tasteless, dense and downright terrible. So last night I tried again. Slightly more success but still the wrong density and no flavor. 

Now I am not one to give up so just a short while ago I tried again. Started with a nice yeast, bread flour, water, salt, honey, egg, oil and next thing I know, I have a dough that looks sort of like what I have been dreaming about. 

It is currently in the first rise. I put it in my oven, turned off of course, with a bowl of warm water to get the temperature up to 75 degrees. 

I am so excited to see how it looks after this rise. I will let it double, plus a bit more then do a second rise in a baguette shape. 

if it is a success I will post my victory pictures!  If not, back to the drawing board

isand66's picture

Pain au Levain with Barley Flakes

   This past weekend I decided to make 2 different styles of bread, with one being a classic Pain au Levain and the other a new higher percentage Jewish Rye.  I will post on the rye separately shortly.

I have made different versions of Pain au Levain in the past with moderate success so I wanted to change-up the flour a little and also add some barley flakes to hopefully add another layer of flavor.

I used a high percentage of KAF French style flour which I love baking these hearth style breads with and one of my favorite whole wheat flours called Turkey Whole Wheat.  I also added some white rye to make it interesting.

The final bread turned out just as I was hoping for with a nice thick chewy crust and an open crumb.  The taste was just enough sour tang along with the whole wheat nutty flavor profile.  My wife who tends to be very picky about my breads, ate more than half the loaf herself over the last few days, some even with no butter or cheese which is a major compliment to yours truly.

This is also a great bread to eat with a nice hearty soup or use to make a grilled cheese sandwich for the snowy cold days that have already arrived.  My apprentice Max gave it 2 paws up and was eager to taste another slice after his first romp in the snow.







Levain Directions

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 usually do this the night before.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, and 275 grams of 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 (cut into about 7-8 pieces) and mix on low for a minute.  Add the rest of the water unless the dough is way too wet.   Mix on low-speed for another 5 minutes.  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.  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.  I made 1 large boule shape.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  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 550 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 500 degrees and after another 3 minutes lower it to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 degrees.

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