The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Janetcook's picture

Enriched Dough Getting Slacker as it Ferments

I have been baking a lot of REALLY enriched breads this holiday season and they are behaving differently than my usual enriched doughs and I am wondering if anyone can shed some light on what I am experiencing.

I have been making Panettone, Stollen, Julekage and Challah.  I am using a sourdough starter and I have been retarding the doughs overnight after mixing in the evening.

Ordinarily when I do this with enriched doughs they get stiffer the longer they ferment due to the acids in leaven. Not these loaves.  They stay slack and, despite numerous S&Fs, they remain slack.  

They are still very tasty breads so my question is more out of curiosity as to why I am experiencig the opposite with these loaves and the only thing I can come up with is that they all contain a large %age of dried fruits that have been soaked prior to adding to the final dough.  The water used to soak the fruits is counted as part of the total hydration so no extra liquid is ending up in the dough.

Doughs are all made with freshly ground organic hard white spring wheat and Kamut....50/50 combo....I am thinking the Kamut may   play in to this too but am not sure.



DougMathis's picture

Wild Yeast Sourdough Bread

I have been working with my sourdough starter for a few years. I began with a recipe using the starter and commercial yeast. This year I got adventurous and decided to only us wild yeast for my sourdough bread. I worked with a few recipes without much luck then I decided to take a few tips, hints, and prcedures and use what I alreadty knew and came up with a recipe that I thought had been tweaked and "perfected". I made 3-4 batches of breaqd with this recipe and each adn every loaf came out beautiful. Since the last successful baking I have ran into dough that won't become fully elastic thus during the long rising time the top or crsut if you will begins to tear apart just at the top. I have kneaded and kneaded and made sure I had ample enough flour for the mixing stage. I have kneaded for a total of 30 minutes or more with resting time in between each kneading which last for about 10 minutes and the rest period generally lasts for about 10 minutes. The bread not only looks unappealing when it dos this but the tesxture on the inside is not light and fluffy and sorta dense like quick bread. Below is the recipe I use:

1 cup starter

2 tsp. sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup hot water (100-110 degrees)


Mix together in a bowl and cover with a
towel overnight.


1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups flour


Mix together until you have firm dough. Knead on
floured surface until dough is elastic. 22-32 minutes, kneading in increments
and resting for 10 minutes between each kneading. Rise at least 3-4 hours or
until doubled in bulk.


Any help or tips is greatly appreciated.






Joe Fisher's picture
Joe Fisher

Getting my Ciabatta right

Hi all!  Been a while, but I'm getting back into the bread swing.  Last night I did a batch of Reinhart's ciabatta.  The loaves were beautiful and delicious, but not what I was looking for.  I'm hoping for some tips that will get me that last inch to the perfect ciabatta.

The problem is the crumb: it's not the caramelized, chewy interior I associate with ciabatta (like the gorgeous photos in PiP's Hybrid Ciabatta here), but soft and light, almost like an enriched bread.  I'll take some photos of the crust and crumb when I get home tonight.

Notes from the bake:

  • Dough was made with a poolish
  • Instant dry yeast was used
  • Room temp is ~66-70F
  • All water used was room temp
  • Dough was kneaded in my KitchenAid with hook for ~8 minutes on medium speed (4 I think)
  • Dough was *very* slack
  • After the mixer, it was put on the counter and stretched-and-folded letter-style once.
  • 30 minutes later, stretch-and-fold again
  • 2 hours later, divide into 3, stretch-and-fold each once into slipper shape and put in couche
  • 1 hour later, put on Fibrament stone that was preheated in 500F degree oven for 45 minutes
  • Add water to steam pan, spray sides of oven several times
  • Bake at 450F for 15-20 minutes

I got good rises at each stage, an excellent oven spring, and the internal temp was 209F when I pulled them.

Thanks for any suggestions!


PiPs's picture

Sunflower Sesame Wholesome Wholemeal + Roasted Malt Grains

It is 4:45am on a quiet and cool Sunday morning.  I am taking my time … a cup of tea while listening to the birds. I can smell mangos on the table next to me.

Nat and I packed a lot of effort into yesterday. The yard work is done, and in between all the mowing and trimming necessary after summer rain I managed to put a few loaves of bread through the oven.

Have you ever stopped to think about a grain of wheat? I am slowly learning the scientific terms and descriptions … but my brain is not really wired that way. What I am slowly starting to appreciate is that these little grains are really packets of life. I don’t stop and take the time to think about this enough. They hold all that is required to germinate … just needed is the right balance of moisture and warmth.

For the baking this weekend I wanted to take a step beyond sprouting into the world of malting. During the week I sprouted wheat, rye and barley grains. After drying (kilning), I gently roasted the grains in search of flavour and colouring, not diastatic power or enzyme content. The house smelt amazing during this process …

… I now wanted to try them freshly milled in bread … and it turned out Nat’s parents were staying with us – to offer them bread is the perfect excuse to bake.

I decided upon the sourdough formula from Richard Bertinets book Crust. This formula was probably the first I knew off the top of my head. I have made it so many times in all sorts of weather with every flour combination imaginable. It is a 75% hydration dough with 25% of the total flour being pre-fermented in a stiff levain. With this amount of pre-fermented flour you need to pay attention to the ripeness of the levain builds as they have a big impact on the final dough.

Included in this I combined roasted wheat and barley malt flour at 5% of the total flour. I have been racking my thoughts on a way to best describe the aroma and taste of the roasted malt flours. I can’t. There is malt flavour in the roasted barley but also stronger rich dark toasted overtones, especially when combined with the malted wheat.

The difference was apparent as soon as I combined the ingredients. You could smell the malted flours and see them streaked throughout the autolysing dough.

On Saturday morning I took the risen bread from the fridge and allowed it to come to room temperature before filling the waking house with the aromas of fresh bread.

In the end I think the roasted malt flours did more for the colouring than flavour. The blistered crust is packed with colour and caramelized flavour while the crumb is a little darker but I find it hard to pick a noticeable difference in the overall flavour. I thought this strange after the difference I had sensed in the mixing stages but with a crumb so soft that we struggled to cut it without serious squashing and squeezing – it was deemed a delicious success.


Sunflower and Sesame wholesome wholemeal

I have noticed how much I missed using the mill after last weeks bake of ciabattas and brioche. I somehow felt disconnected from the bread I was making. It all tasted great but it wasn’t ‘wriggling with life’. I missed the planning and preparation, the smell of freshly milled grains … oh and the eventual endless cleaning I seemingly produced. The vacuum and I are getting very well acquainted.

I pictured bread with freshly milled grains and roasted malt flour packed with seeds. Instead of an endless variety of seeds I paired two - sesame and sunflower. The aromas of these lightly toasted seeds complimented the roasted malt wheat flour bringing a richness and depth to this wholesome bread.





Total dough weight (minus mix-ins)



Total flour



Total water



Total salt



Prefermented flour



Desired dough temperature 24°C






Levain build – 8 hrs 18-20°C



Starter (not included in final dough)



Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)









Final dough






Freshly milled wheat flour (Four Leaf biodynamic grains)



Roasted malted wheat flour












Sesame seeds lightly toasted



Sunflower seeds lightly toasted



+ Sunflower seeds for coating





  1. Autolyse flour and for one hour. (hold back 50 grams of water)
  2. Meanwhile lightly toast sunflower and sesame seeds until golden and allow to cool.
  3. Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
  4. Gently mix in seeds until combined.
  5. Bulk ferment two hours with one stretch-and-fold after the first hour.
  6. Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape. Spray the outside lightly with water and roll in untoasted sunflower seeds.
  7. Final proof was one hour at room temperature (25°).
  8. Bake in dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 10 mins at 200°C. Remove loaf from dutch oven and bake a further 20 mins at 200°C.



After a day of mowing and raking, it was magic to stop and savor a slice of this while still warm. To top it off ­– a scraping butter. Sigh …

The Four Leaf milling grains lend their typical golden hue to a soft crumb packed with seeds. The sesame is subtle and appears in the background on occasions to remind you of their presence while sunflower seeds are the champions – from the tender bite in the crumb to the roasted crunch on the crust to the final enjoyment of picking at fallen seeds on the plate.

All the best,

Urchina's picture

ITJB Week 3: Honey Whole Wheat Challah (p. 31), 12/17/11 - 12/24/11

I'd never made challah before test-baking for ITJB, and just loved the beauty and ease of it. I chose this bread for this week because our traditional Christmas Eve dinner is clam chowder with homemade bread (usually Swedish limpa). This year I'm going to substitute this challah for the limpa -- different culture, equally festive. I'm especially looking forward to the variety of braids we come up with -- I tested the six-strand bakery braid in the book and it's a stunner and not as hard as it appears. Looking forward to seeing (and yes, finally, posting) some great pictures this week!

linder's picture

Back to Basics Bread

I decided to return to my roots as it were, and reprise an old standard bread
recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book, Whole Wheat Bread. I topped the loaf with
a little egg wash and some sesame seeds before baking.  It's not 100% whole wheat but about 70% whole wheat - (2 1/2 cups ww flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour). I used to make this bread every week for
morning toast. After seeing and smelling it, I remember why - it's just good.

varda's picture

Tzitzel Bread - The Journey Ends

Not quite two years ago, when I joined TFL, I had a simple goal:   I wanted to figure out how to make Tzitzel bread which was a favorite when I was growing up in St. Louis Missouri.   I had recently started baking bread, and I figured how hard could it be.   When I searched the web, I found nothing for Tzitzel, but plenty of recipes for rye bread - many of which I tried.  Nothing was even remotely like what I remembered, and given my level of expertise, it was pretty poor eating.   I joined this site where I had been lurking for awhile and asked the question.   Again, no one seemed to have heard of it.   I did get a lot of great advice for baking Jewish Rye, and settled on "Jewish Corn Bread" which was a combo of some points in a comment by Norm (nbicomputers) on a David Snyder post, and one of Greenstein's recipes from Secrets of a Jewish Baker.   This kicked up the quality several notches, but still wasn't right.   When I started my quest, I had emailed the retiring owner of the St. Louis bakery, Pratzels,  where my father had bought Tzitzel.   Early on she told me that it was "just" a Jewish Rye wrapped in corn meal.   Later, when I knew more, I asked her again, and she told me that it was made with medium rye and bread flour.   It wasn't until a few weeks ago, when I got my latest shipment of King Arthur flours, that I had some medium rye to play with.   At the same time, admiring a gorgeous Challah posted by dawkins, I gave up my resistance  and bought a copy of Inside the Jewish Bakery.   And there was the answer - I was off base using the corn bread recipe.   I should have been baking Jewish Deli Rye.   On page 74 the authors include a paragraph saying that to make Tzitzel one should modify their Jewish Deli Rye thus and so, and voila - Tzitzel.   And so ---- Tzitzel.   Thank you Norm and Stan!  


Szanter5339's picture

El amor el pan de maíz.

Mukoseev's picture

No Knead Ciabatta pics

Szanter5339's picture

Christmas is coming! I can say that I played good.

Baked honey but I am not happy with myself.
The cake but I'm good I am at odds mézessel. They are so ugly and does not show you. You'll have a lot to learn from modeling!
Not pretty but it's mine. I can say that I played good.
In the spirit of a snowman I have tavaj photo playground. Very cute photo!