The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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J.K.L.'s picture

Sourdough Bao Zi or Mantou - anyone with experience?

I am gearing up to make some sourdough Bao Zi (chinese stuffed, steamed bun). Scoured the web and there's really hardly anybody doing something like that. Most of what I found were people using a quick yeasted dough with white flour. 


I want to try a whole wheat sourdough Bao zi or Mantou (steamed bun)!! 


But before I start with the experimenting, I wanted to gather any tips...Anybody tried steaming sourdough before? Or making a stuffed sourdough that was steamed or baked? Difference between using a whole wheat vs. white wheat vs. white whole wheat? 


Thanks! BTW, this is my first post and haven't properly introduced myself, but am glad to find this forum. Greetings to all! 

txfarmer's picture

SFBI Miche - A big one!

This miche is from David's wonderful post here. I didn't change a thing. Even kept the weight exactly same at 2KG, which makes it the biggest bread I've ever made. I debated using high extraction flour instead, but decided to use AP and WW as SFBI specified just to see how it will come out. Can you tell? I tried to draw Tic-Tac-Toe with my scoring pattern, kinda hard to see after being baked for so long.


The dough is wonderful to handle - soft and fluid which I love, but not too wet. Crumb is very open on the edge


But denser in the middle, which I expect from a miche this size.


Crackling singing crust. It was a mess to cut because the crust was flying everywhere!


We had it for dinner, after out of oven for 8 hours. Crust is thick and chewy, crumb is moist (cool) and spongy in the middle. Not very sour. Less flavorful than my previous miche made from high extraction flour, but the texture is just perfect. Of course I do expect the flavor to deepen by tomorrow and the day after. I think I will make the formula again using high extraction flour just to compare.


David, thanks for a great formula. This is a good base to tweak from. Other than different flour combo, I would like to try larger size. I THINK my baking stone and oven can take a 3KG one, we'll see...


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Oatmeal Maple Bread and More Baguettes: Mishaps, Mistakes and Lessons Learned

Thanks are due at the top to Farine-MC for her charming blog and its marvelous, useful content, and also to breadsong, scoring master and exemplary baker.

In brief, I neglected to take account of the very low humidity in New York City right now. My maple oatmeal was both too stiff and underproofed. Yes, I made the same mistake two weeks ago with another loaf. Now I have two striked against me, so I hope that atleast it will be something different that I overlook next time. The effects of the underproofing are clear on the batard.

I didn't dare try to duplicate breadsong's perfect scoring on her loaf, so I opted to try chevron scoring for the first time. Not bad, although I think there should be a clearer "spine" down the center of the loaf, the scores beginning closer to the center line, in other words.

The bread itself is rich, fairly light in texture, all things considered, and, as breadsong has said, with a sweet background that isn't specifically identifiable as maple. It went very well with blue cheeses and goat cheeses.

I'm glad I made this bread for the lessons it provided.

Following that, baguettes based on Pat's 65% formula. This time, I did adjust for the humidity with some extra water. However, it seems that at some point in the bake, I brushed the touch panel of the oven and turned it off without hearing the little beep because the opera was on. So when I returned to the oven, it showed 227F, and a couple of very pale baguettes. With no choice but to carry on, I cranked up the oven and finished the bake. Again, no beauty contest winners, but quite serviceable and tasty.

I include another side by side shot of the two loaves sliced, as well as a repeat of last week's side by side, so you can see the very wet baguette from txfarmer again. These baguettes are more than 15 points apart in hydration.

and last week again:

Apologies for the ongoing green cast photos. My little cybershot can't decide if it wants to white balance for fluorescent or incandescent light.


GSnyde's picture

SpudBuns (Sourdough Potato Rolls)

I wanted to make a sandwich roll that had some substance both for chew and to hold up under moist sandwich ingredients, but something tender enough to be compressible.  I’d been meaning to try a bread with some potatoes in it, as I’d heard that potatoes add some tenderness to the crumb (and every crumb needs a little tenderness).

I looked in several baking books and all over TFL.  I settled on the Sourdough Potato Bread that Prairie19 posted about back in 2007 (, which was described as a sourdough version of Hamelman’s Roasted Potato Bread.

I mostly followed Prairie19’s formula, except I didn’t have the extra night to retard the dough. And instead of bread flour, I used Central Milling’s Organic Artisan Baker’s Craft flour, along with some fine ground organic whole wheat flour from my market’s bulk bins.

I found the formula very straightforward.  The dough was easy to work with.  Somewhat loose, but trainable with appropriate discipline.  Since these rolls were made to surround Salmon Teriyaki, I sprinkled them with sesame seeds when they were shaped, since every one knows that sesames are Salmon Teriyaki’s favorite seeds.  

The rolls came out very nicely.  The crumb and crust are tenderer than lean sourdough bread, but by no means wonderbread soft.  I was hoping for a slightly softer roll. Maybe I’ll try this formula but with a bit of milk in place of some of the water.  The potato flavor is scarcely noticeable.  The flavor is nice, a bit sour, but unremarkable (ok, I’ve been eating great miche, so what can you expect?).




Though the rolls were not perfect, the Salmon Teriyaki was pretty close.  And the sandwiches (with garlic-lemon sauce and cukes) went down good with a nice pale ale.


This is a very nice sourdough roll.  I’d enjoy a full sized loaf, too.

The formula is on the page linked above.  I used the same quantities for 6 rolls.




sprouted bread baker's picture
sprouted bread baker

calling all sprouted wheat bread bakers


I want to host a conference/gathering for bakers of sprouted wheat breads. Commercial bakers and home bakers. Anyone who has been working to perfect the wonderful breads that are derived from sprouted wheat. At Columbia County Breads, we buy our wheat from local organic farmers and bake our sprouted whole grain breads in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania - about two and a half hours due west from NYC. 

If you're at all interested, please contact me as we would love to host a yearly gathering to share information, techniques, tips and breads and dispel myths and false claims about sprouting and sprouting techniques. The time frame for this gathering is likely to be fall of 2011 but no date has been set.

Thanks so much,



columbia county bread & granola


emmsf's picture

Baker's Math and Soakers

I've been playing around with Baker's Math, and I believe I've got the idea.  But I do not know to calculate hydration in a formula with a soaker.  I recently made bread which called for a soaker with quite a bit of water in it.  Much, though not all, of the water was soaked up by the soaker grains.  Do I include the amount of soaker water with rest of the water in the formula for purposes of calculating hydration?  This seems to make sense, since this is basically what happens when calculating hydration in a formula with a preferment.  What about the soaker grains?  Do I add their weight to the weight of the flours, since they consumed much of the soaker's water?  I'm just a bit confused.  If this is discussed in a thread elsewhere on The Fresh Loaf, let me know - I've searched but haven't found it yet!  Thanks for any guidance you can give.

nowhereman's picture

What is hydration?...

Hi everyone - I keep seeing the phrase 'hydration'. and I am quite mystified;-) can someone enlighten me as to what it means (water content/ratios??) and is the term different when used in the context of sourdough starters?






Dowens8's picture

Corn meal burning the bottom of my bread?

I have. A question... Can it be the cornmeal burning the bottoms of my breads? I have. Been making a lot of BBA lately and the last few have had burned, inedible bottoms. It didn't happen during my first ciabatta, but the last few breads have been really dark and hard. Anyone help???? Last night I made pizza and used flour instead of cornmeal, and it didn't burn...

Ruralidle's picture

UK based baking course for TFL users?

Regular readers of the TFL forum will have seen that we have amongst us an expert baker and educator in the form of Andy (ananda).  It is clear from Andy's posts on this forum that he is a very accomplished baker and he has access to kitchens that are suitable for teaching bread baking, the college where he works has even just invested in some deck ovens.  

Having such a resource within our community made me wonder whether we could arrange a course that teaches Artisan bread baking techniques to experienced amateurs (such as myself and most other contributors to TFL).  It is likely that such a course would last at least a couple of days and, given Andy's location in the North East of England, an overnight stay would be necessary for most participants.  However, one great advantage of a course like this is that participants could have a high degree of involvement in developing the course content.

I must stress that this is only an idea at present but, if there are enough interested bakers out there it may be worthwhile exploring things a little further.  It is unlikely that the course could be arranged before June or July 2011.

Is anybody out there - particularly those of us who are UK based - interested?

ssor's picture

english muffins

I had some left over biga from making pain puglese last week. last night I weighed the flour left in a bag, 21 ounces. The biga amounted to about a cup and a half. I scooped that with my hand and mixed it with 16 ounces of warm water and a teaspoon of yeast and 10 grams of salt. I calculated that this gave me about 75% hydration. I mixed the dough by hand and allowed several periods of resting between turning and folding the dough 3 or 4 strokes. After about six hours I covered the dough for the night and refrigerated it, because I have learned that cold dough is not as elastic as warm dough. This morning I speard cornmeal on the table and dumped the dough spreading it to about a half inch thick. I cut rounds with an empty #2 tomato can.
Several years ago I rescued an electric griddle that had no power cord. I removed the legs and handles. It fits perfectly over two burners on my gas stove. On this I baked the muffin rounds. The heat spring was impressive. Going from the half inch cold thickness to a bit over an inch. After they have been turned I could lift them with my fingers to check the bottoms. The texture of the crumb is typical english muffin with nice holes and peaks.
The biga was quite sour and imparted that sour to the taste.
The yield was 14 pieces about 3 1/2 inches across.