The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hushsweetcharlot's picture

When is the best time to use your sourdough

I am new to sourdough.  I ordered a starter from, it is from New Zealand.  I think it is doing fine, it looks and smells good.  I keep it on the counter all the time instead of in the fridge so there is no getting back activated.  I feed it twice a day, at 6:30 in the morning and 6:30 in the evening.  a couple of hours after I feed it, it bubbles up a couple of inches just like it is supposed to.  My question is - when is the best time to use it?  before I feed it? after I feed it, if so, how long should I wait?   I made muffins yesterday, I used starter that was bubbling.  as soon as I added the flour to my bowl it went flat and the muffins were like little rocks.   I tried making cinnamon rolls the day before with some dough that I let set out and rise overnight - they were like rocks.  So what am I doing wrong?   I'm not feeding it the same amount of flour/water as the amount of starter I have (because the starter in the jar is probably about 8 cups) - I feed it about 2 cups of flour/water twice a day, throwing some out every few days when I see it starting to accumulate.

I'm starting to get frustrated, so any advice would be appreciated.

patnx2's picture

Hello and thanks

Hi my name is Patrick and I am having lots of fun baking and learning from you all. Thanks all.  My question is in regard to building a biga(using Fooydm's rustic bread. My sd starter is at 100%. So my plan is to build at 50%.  so 6 oz sd starter,6 water and 12 bread flour. will this be close to the amount of biga in the recipe. I hope this is clearer then mud. Thanks again for all the great advise, Patrick from Modesto.


ClimbHi's picture

This weekend's bake

Not much activity in this folder lately, so I thought I'd post this weekend's baking in the WFO.

Made a double batch of SD bread starting with the PR recipe in BBA, but substituting 1/3 of the flour weight in the final dough -- about 12 oz. -- with whole wheat, 7-grain, oatmeal and barley. Also added 2 Tblsp. each of honey and brown sugar to counteract the bitterness of the 7-grain, and added some sunflour seeds and some pine nuts. Split the batch into 5 loaveabout s, batard shaped, and set them to rise. I tend to bake my loaves on parchment and I use scraps of wood between the loaves to keep things straight, and direct the rise up as opposed to out. Kind of a parchment couche. Then I cover the whole batch with plastic to rise:

DSCN2739 by you.

DSCN2742 by you.

 DSCN2743 by you.

About two hours later, I light the oven. This firing, I just burned a bunch of scraps from my woodshop -- about 1-1/2 liquor boxes worth.

DSCN2745 by you.

DSCN2749 by you.

Notice how the heat/smoke stratifies in the oven.

Two hours later, the loaves have fully risen, the oven has heated to "white hot", the fire has been raked out and the oven has been allowed to sit empty and closed to allow the heat to soak into the masonry. When the air temp gets down to around 500F, it's time to load 'er up.

DSCN2753 by you.

I made two of the loaves into batards, and three into pan de epi. and loaded the oven.

DSCN2752 by you.

DSCN2754 by you.

Misting the loaves after loading. I use a garden sprayer with a fine spray that pretty much evaporates to steam before it ever hits the walls, etc.

DSCN2755 by you.

20 minutes later, they're done. I really like the touch of WW and other stuff in these loaves. Despite the additions, they rose well and have a light and open crumb:

DSCN2756 by you.

Then, the desert goes in -- this week it was peach/blueberry cobler with pecan streusel topping -- for another 20 minutes or so. Served with a nice chilly sangria. Major Yum!

 DSCN2757 by you.

(We also roasted a beer can chicken that had been started on the grill along with the desert, but I didn't get a pic of that.)

Pittsburgh, PA

colmax's picture

HIgh Fiber bread

I am looking for a high fiber wheat bread recipe I can make by hand. I have tried making high fiber bread in the bread machine, it comes out like a deflated brick. I like working by hand and was wondering if anyone has a recipe that would make not only a good tasting high fiber bread, but one that rises and isn't flat.

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Hamburger buns from Saveur

I had just come back from a month-long vacation in Asia where I gorged on fresh seafood and vegetables every day, so I was craving for some good old-fashioned hamburger.  Fortunately, Saveur had the hamburger for its Sept. issue focus story.  The sesame seed bun recipe for 12 buns took only 4 hours from start to plate.  The texture was soft without being airy like the commercial kind, and the taste with just a hint of sweetness- perfect with salty blue cheese burgers.

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)

1 1/3 cups milk heated to 115F

1.5 tsp. + 2 tbsp. sugar

4 cups flour

1  1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lightly beaten egg

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

3 tsp. sesame seed 

  1. Mix yeast, milk and 1.5 tsp sugar; let foam.

  2. Stir in remaining sugar, flour, salt and egg. Mix with paddle on low speed until dough forms.

  3. Replace paddle with hook and add butter. Knead on medium high speed until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 8 minutes.

  4. Let rest in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 2 hrs.

  5. After bulk fermentation, divide dough into 12 and shape into tight balls.

  6. Let balls rise in parchment-lined sheets, covered with oiled plastic, for about 1.5 hrs.

  7. Spray tops with water, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

  8. Bake in 400F oven until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.sesame seed buns


dmsnyder's picture

100% Whole Wheat Bread from BBA

Almost all the breads I bake are sourdoughs, but there are two non-sourdough breads I really like – Cinnamon-Raisin-Walnut bread and a hearty 100% Whole Wheat sandwich bread. Whole wheat bread is my bread of choice for tuna salad or egg salad sandwiches and for nut butter and jam sandwiches. It's one of my favorites, toasted, to accompany eggs, although it has stiff competition from San Francisco-style Sourdough bread and un-toasted Jewish Sourdough Pumpernickel (with cream cheese).

My favorite whole wheat bread has been the “100% Whole Wheat Bread” from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice.” It uses both a poolish and a soaker and is essentially identical to what Reinhart calls the “foundational bread” in his later-published “Whole Grain Baking” book. It incorporates what Reinhart calls “the epoxy method” in the later book.

These books are widely available, so I will not duplicate the formulas here. However, Reinhart offers a number of options, and I will tell you which I used for this bake.

The Poolish in Reinhart's BBA formula isn't really a poolish in the classic sense of a 100% hydration mix of flour and water with a little yeast. In the WGB book, he calls it a “barm,” and it's not really a barm either, as I understand the strict definition. I suppose you could call it a “sponge.”

The Soaker calls for “coarse whole wheat flour or other coarsely ground whole grains.” In the past, I've used bulghur (medium size). This time, I did have some coarse ground whole wheat flour on hand. I used 2 oz of the coarse whole wheat and 2.25 oz of bulghur, soaked overnight in 6 oz of buttermilk (One of Reinhart's options), rather than the water I had used before.

The final dough uses fine ground whole wheat flour, salt, honey and instant yeast. No additional water is added in the formula. An egg and 1 T of vegetable oil are optional. I used the egg but not the oil. The honey I used was Orange Blossom honey.

Using these ingredients, the dough was considerably drier than it had been when I had used water (rather than buttermilk) and all bulghur (rather than coarse ground WW and bulghur). I ended up adding about 3 T of additional water during mixing and still ended up with a rather stiff, barely tacky dough.

Fermentation to doubling and proofing to almost doubled took about 75% as long as the recipe specified. This was because my kitchen was 80F yesterday.

The dough made two 17 oz pan loaves which baked at 350F for 45 minutes.


This is a very flavorful, somewhat dense yet tender bread. The flavor of red whole wheat predominated, but the Orange Blossom honey flavor was very much “there,” too. If you pay attention, I think you can also taste a tangy overtone from the buttermilk. I tasted some just after it cooled and had more toasted with almond butter and strawberry jam for breakfast. It's still a favorite.

I am curious how I would like this bread made with white whole wheat, and I'll probably make it that way next time.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

shuttervector's picture

Gluten Free baking

Dear Group,

A friend of mine was diagnosed with a serious allergy to gluten and needs to find some decent recipes. Thanks in advance for any recipes I could bake for her.


Shiao-Ping's picture

2.3 Kg Miche and Zen

Many years ago I became interested in Suzuki Daisetsu's (or known in the West as Daisetz T. Susuki, 1870 - 1966)'s Japanese Zen Buddhism. He was accredited in bringing interest in Zen and Buddhism to the West in the early 20th century. Before I realised it years later, the stuff I was reading was actually Zen aestheticism, rather than Zen per se.

And so a few days ago when I decided to do a giant Miche to imitate the French village bakers years gone by, that was the analogy that came to my mind. The village bakers in France with their torn and worn out proofing baskets, sun weathered and wrinkled faces are soulful to me. There was something quite fundamental and down to earth about their way of life. In our modern day of comforts, we can afford to bake almost every day if time permits and in any sizes we want. We are not constraint. And if the truth be known, small sizes are more practical for our small family units.

I am going on a journey in a few days time for three weeks and I wanted to make a special bake before I leave. Like the New York Stock Exchange closing down its bourse games on the last trading day of the year, I will be "shutting down" my oven once I've done this bake, I told myself. Talking about shutting down, in the days when I was working, I always thought when the Chinese (Taiwanese) say they are "shutting down" ("feng" in Mandarin) their stock exchange ("guan" in Mandarin), it sounded really "epic;" in Mandarin, that is. Because the Mandarin "guan" relates to the Great Wall in China and so cajoles images of the long history of China. A "guan" is a bastion in a strategic geographical location; the two most famous "guans" in Chinese history are "Chia-yu-guan," far west of China, near Tun-Huang, where the famous silk road starts, and "Shan-hai-guan" to the far east, north-east of Beijing in the eastern sea board of China, winding 6,700 Km apart. I am not comparing my oven to the Chinese "guan" or the Big Board of NYSE, but I felt the last three months of bread baking has been quite a journey to me, and I hope the next one will bring me to the next level.






My formula

  • 500 g starter @ 75% hydration (refreshed four times over 72 hours with 100 g rye meal and 100 g white whole wheat and 86 g white flour in total)

  • 1000 g KAF Sir Lancelot Flour

  • 700 g water

  • 65 g olive oil

  • 24 g salt

dough weight 2.3 kg and dough hydration 76%

  1. Bulk fermentation 3 hours

  2. Proof 4 hours

  3. Overnight cold retardation 8 hours followed by 90 min. at room temp

  4. Bake for 80 minutes (230 C for 20 min, 210 C for another 20 min, and the balance 40 min at 195 C)




My husband asked me what the character was.  I said my maiden name.  He said, Oh, Whoo made it.  Who?  Whoo.  He was doing the Abbot and Castello routine of Who's on first.   

We were having this sourdough for our lunch when his boss rang. I said to tell him that the Miche was 2.3 Kg. His boss asked, was that the weight before bake or after. Now, this sounds to me a question by a person in the know. The water shrinkage was nearly 18%! It was only 1.9 kg after bake. I cut off a quarter of the Miche:


to be wrapped in foil and put into the freezer for my husband's next business trip (but I am not confident that it will stay as fresh as today).



                                                                                     Does it look like we are big on this crust?


tananaBrian's picture

The baker is living in my ciabatta... :(

I think it's called the "Baker's Bedroom" or the "Baker's Pantry" or some such thing when your loaf has a large open cavity under the top crust, right?  Well, I made the biggest, baddest, bedroom (or pantry) you've ever seen today!  I made Jason's Cocodrillo Ciabatta ("Quick Ciabatta") last week and 2 of 3 loaves had a good distribution of holes in the crumb, and a nice pattern of large and small holes.  One of the three had the "baker's bedroom" syndrome however.  This weekend, I made Reinhardt's first Ciabatta recipe, the one without mushrooms, and got the HUGE "baker's bedroom" ...on all three loaves.  This was also the first time that I baked on a baking stone, my new fibrament.  I got GREAT oven spring too.  In the Reinhardt version, the crumb below the big cavity did not have a large number of larger holes and had a more even pattern (of smaller) holes instead.  I find this to be more typical of breads made with higher levels of gluten, e.g. bread flour.

Jason's ciabatta was made with all-purpose flour, and the loaves were turned over when shaped (to allow bubbles in the dough to distribute more evenly.)  Reinhardt's recipe is made with bread flour, and the loaves are not turned over at any time.  From what I understand, the large cavities are created by lots of oven spring combined with the dough not being extensible enough to rise with the spring, and the crust tears away from the rest of the dough as the gases expand.  As adjustments for next weekend's attempt, I'm thinking of the following: Shorter proof time, use all-purpose flour rather than bread flour, whole bake at 450 F rather than 5 minutes at 500 F followed by (yeah right) 30 minutes at 450 F, and maybe mist the loave during the final ferment followed by dusting with flour just prior to baking rather than dusting with flour prior to the final ferment.  My oven measures accurate temperatures, as verified by a electronic thermometer (with 5 degrees or so) and the bread baked twice as fast as Paul thought it should, and the internal temperature when I thought it looked done was 205 F ...exactly as it should be.

What do all of you think?  What might be the problem?  What might be the cure?  Are my adjustments a good idea?



PS: I thought that the 'quick ciabatta' ala Jason also tasted better than the 2-3 day poolish-based ciabatta out of the Reinhardt book (Crust & Crumb.)  BTW, if you request it quick ...I can take photos if you like.  Bread doesn't last long around here.



alliezk's picture

Summer Zucchini Bread


This morning after my spinning class I stopped by the local farmers market. While I was there I picked up some beautiful dark green zucchinis and immediately thought of the wonderful spicy taste of fresh zucchini bread. This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember - a family friend shared it with my mother ages ago. Hope you enjoy!

Zucchini Quick Bread
This Recipe will make two good sized loaves. I have often doubled the recipe to make four and find that the bread freezes well.

Preheat oven to 350.

3 Eggs
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
2 Cups (loosely packed, coarsely grated) Zucchini *
2 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon All-spice
1 Teaspoon Ground Cloves

Optional - 1 Cup Chopped Nuts
* Do not peel! The color of the bread will vary depending on the color of the zucchini. The darker the zucchini, the darker the color of the bread. Personally, I prefer a darker loaf.

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.
2. Add the sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla. Beat the mixture until think and lemon colored.
3. Stir in the fresh zucchini.

 Green Mess

4. Sift together and add the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Generally, I tend to ignore the spice measurements and just dump them straight in. I love a strong spice flavor. When I make this bread, the dry ingredient mixture tends to be a light brown and very fragrant.
5. Add the sifted dry ingredients in two portions. Fold in the chopped nuts if desired.
6. Pour mixture into 2 oiled and floured loaf pans and bake for about one hour or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
7. Invert the pans onto a cooling rack and allow the loaves to gradually fall as they cool completely.

Finished =]