The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Faith in Virginia's picture
Faith in Virginia

Levain building method question

Looking for some scientific comparisons to building a levain in relation to what I have been doing.   I won't say that what I do is wrong,  just not how others do things.  I have great results and quite happy with my breads but I'm trying to find out other than the method, how things are fermenting in comparison to conventional levain building.  Also if this method could fail me at some point.

Instead of a conventional levain build I use the discards of my feedings to make my bread. 

I take the first group of discards and feed it appropriately then pop it in the fridge. On the next feeding I just add the discards to the fridge group and fold it into the last.  So fridge bowl gets a fresh batch of starter discards and folded twice a day.   The starter becomes very fibrous and rubber like even on a 1:1:1 ratio.  After a few days I have a bunch of discard that fermented in the fridge for a number of days.

I use a large amount of this in my bread, I tend to keep my preferment flour 50-50 to final flour amount.

I'm getting very nice sourdough flavor , better then on a conventional build and everything else is business as usual.

So for those of you that understand the scientific aspect of the dough I would appreciate your thoughts on what my method is doing different to the dough then a conventional build.  Also for a home baker will this method fail me for other bread types?  I do know it also works for Pizza dough and is the first time I have good sourdough taste to my crust.

Thanks for your thoughts, Faith    

Sorry for the first line  it won't go away even in an edit...this is a copy and paste from a word doc.


Matt H's picture
Matt H

Last week's bread baking contest in SF

Found out about this too late: Yeast Affliction! All-Out Artisan Bread Bakedown & Craft Beer Tastiness took place last weekend. Any Fresh Loafers involved? Worth looking at some of the photos and checking out the team names...

People's Choice: Team #11 / Fire in the Fornix! / The Hurricane

People's Choice Honorable Mention: Team #14 / Dark Horse Breads / Pear Walnut Bread

Photog's Choice: Team #9 / The Fancy Boyz / Pain a l'Ancienne

1st Place: Team #19 / Jen Rosa / Rosemary Sourdough Bread

2nd Place: Team #20 / Rocket Baby / Cherry Poppin' Walnut

3rd Place: Team #16 / Bread for Gold / Sour River Loaf


uberathlete's picture

Questions about Potato Flour

Hi everyone. I'm considering using some potato flour in my bread roll recipe. I have a few questions:

1. Does potato flour help to increase softness and moisture retention?

2. Does potato flour affect crumb structure significantly?

3. If I replace a % of flour with potato flour, should I increase the % of liquid?

4. Does potato flour adversely affect rise and volume? When dough has potato flour, will rise time (second rise) be affected (ie. should I let the dough rise for a longer period)?

Basically, I would like to make my bread rolls softer or as soft as they are now but with better retention of moisture, and without sacrificing volume. I would like my bread rolls to stay soft for a longer period of time. I'd love to hear about people's experience with potato flour, and ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks!

peartree's picture

perforated bread pan without teflon?

I have a dilemma. I regularly bake crusty french loaves in a 2-loaf perforated Chicago Metallic pan. Our family recently acquired a pet bird, who could potentially die if the non-stick coating on the pan overheats. The chemicals used to make nonstick coatings, when heated to high temperatures, give off gases which are fatal to birds. I am looking for a non-non-stick alternative pan. So far my searches have yielded absolutely nothing. Does anyone know of a sticky (just plain aluminum or ceramic or steel) perforated bread pan? I'm looking for the kind with rounded bottoms, for making batards. Any help would be gratefully received! I'll miss that pan!


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

A Fine Day to Bake

Today was a lovely day in Arizona. Still in our little rental RV. The garden is taking off and I'm procrastinating on buying dirt for my new garden area where the tomatoes need to get transplanted. That will be a hard day or two of work. So, I bake and train my dog instead.

I started my PR's whole wheat sandwich bread last night. This has become one of my three "go-to" breads for me. (Eric's Fav Rye and Hamelman's multi-flour miche being a couple of others) I decided to double the recipe as my mother says it was her "favorite" out of all the breads she tried so far and I'm going to see her tomorrow. I substitute soy milk for milk in the recipe which seems to work just fine. This time I also had stone-ground flour from Flourgirl51 which I had never used before. (her rye flour is wonderful!) So, I was wondering how a 100% stone-ground whole wheat would turn out compared to one made with King Arthur's flour. The other changes I made were coconut oil instead of veggie oil (or butter) and barley malt syrup for the sweetener. (he leaves all these substitutions fairly open in the recipe and I have used the soy and coconut oil before but I used honey and King Arthur flour the last time.

Results-taste is excellent. Crumb is surprisingly very open and less dense than with the finer store bought flour!! Perhaps because I was concerned and kept it extra hyrdrated to the point of extreme stickiness? I also did a couple of S/Fs this time as with the double recipe I couldn't use my machine so my kneading was inadequate so this could also have effected crumb? I highly recommend this sandwich bread if you're searching for a solution to the whole wheat "brick" that so many readers complain about (although I have yet to have too much trouble with myself)

Onto other adventures in baking...Hubby begged for more crackers. Being "me" I simply couldn't leave a good thing alone so I changed my original cracker recipe. Thankfully, it came out even better. Here is the recipe. (can you believe I wrote it down?)

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup rye flour

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/8 cup nutritional yeast (finally found something to do with the stuff!!!)

1 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp flax seeds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/4 tsp each of ground garlic, cumin, cayenne, chipolte

1 tsp salt and coarse ground pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water

Mix into a loose, crumbly dough that comes together in a ball. Put into the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to about 450. These can cook on a stone. (except in the RV, I used a cookie sheet upside down, that's another story) I rolled out about 1/3 the dough as thin as possible on a Silpat. (you may have to kind of put this together with your fingers as you go, it's a bit crumbly) It will look a little rough, try to smooth out the cracks in the middle so that it's all one sheet, don't worry about the edges.

Bake about 6 minutes. Check to see that's it's toasted dark brown but not burned. Take out and cool flat (I used a cool cookie sheet for this while I cooled off silpat for another batch)

Took me awhile to get the timing right in my oven, I'm sure you'll have to do some trial and error to get just the right doneness without being burned.  I think the recipe is very flexible just so long as the oil/flour/water percent is about the same. (I used all spelt last time)

Tastes like an expensive, health food store multi-grain crispy cracker.

To go with-I made homemade hummus with garden fresh parsley/mint and Meyer lemon juice. MMMMMM!Whole wheat sandwich bread

svirden's picture

What things can I add to my wheat bread without otherwise altering the recipe?

I have a regular wheat bread recipe that I like. I'm not a skilled baker, but this works well for me.

Last week I bought a fabulous nutty/seedy bakery loaf that has a plethora of yummy stuff. So I kept the sticker that lists those things, with the idea that I'd alter my own wheat bread recipe by adding them, thereby semi-recreating the yummy bakery loaf.

Will it work? For a 3-loaf recipe, how much of each can I use? Do I need to adjust the standard recipe to accomodate the additions? Sure seems like I'd have to add more fat or liquid.

Here is what I have:

  • cracked wheat

  • bulgur

  • millet

  • pumpkin seeds

  • flax seeds

  • sunflower seeds

Would appreciate your thoughts!



MsL's picture

Enzyme additives listed in flour ingredients?

Hi.  i'm not sure if this is the right place to post but I'm sure folks who have allergy issues are experts in ingredients lists.  Does anyone know if enzymes ADDED to flour have to be listed in the ingredients on the flour bag (in the US)?  I could not find this info on the FDA site.  Thanks.

turosdolci's picture

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti for Valentines Day

Why not try something different for Valentines Day and give your love ones a real double chocolate treat. These biscotti are perfect and wrapped in a pretty red box with ribbons would be a real surprise when opened.

jpchisari's picture

80/20 Pan Bread with levain

Janknitz's picture

Levy's Deli Rye Bread (Variation)

I made this lovely rye bread from the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum this weekend. 

If you like a deli-style rye, this is the bread to try.  It has a fantastic balance of rye flavor and a beautiful crumb that stays fresh-tasting for days.  The crust is just beautiful (never mind my scoring).  And the oven spring on this bread, in my 10 1/2" clay baker

Is truly spectacular!

This bread weighed just shy of 2 lbs (14.9 oz to be exact)--more than I thought my clay baker could even handle. 

But there's a secret.  My "variation" was actually a mistake--a mix up between caraway seeds and anise seeds.  And delicious--I don't like caraway at all, but it was truly yummy with anise.  A good mistake.

I've blogged about it here if anyone is interested.