The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Elagins's picture

Book Release: Inside the Jewish Bakery

As many folks on the site know, long-time TFL community members Stan Ginsberg (Elagins) and Norm Berg (nbicomputers) have been working for a couple of years on a baking book. Their hard work is about to pay off as Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking will be released on Camino Books October 15.

I was lucky enough to receive page proofs of Inside The Jewish Bakery and have to say it is tremendous. Norm's recipes collection from his years as a professional baker was already legendary on this site, but Stan and Norm together were able to put together a wonderful book that mixes in the cultural, historical, and religious contexts that make these recipes so precious.

Congratulations, Stan and Norm.


Inside the Jewish Bakery will be released October 15th and can be purchased on the Inside The Jewish Bakery website, on,, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookseller.

As you can imagine, Stan and Norm are extremely busy with the book release, but as time and energy permit they've offered to answer anyone's questions about the recipes or the book. Just comment below.

3 Olives's picture
3 Olives

Hydration Level of Rye Sourdough Starter

I've been reading Hamelman's BREAD and he appears to be very fond of rye. I have used rye but not as the main flour, and I want to give it a shot. I just activated some rye starter I received from the generous folks at NY Bakers. Is 125 hydration the most common level for rye sourdough starter? Thanks.

loydb's picture

Sourdough Biscuits

I've been disappointed that all the sourdough biscuit recipes I found included baking powder. A search here, however, revealed David's attempts at an all-sourdough version (

I keep 8-10 oz of starter at 100% hydration in small quarter containers in the fridge. Yesterday it had been 7 days since I fed my King Arthur New England starter. I divided into a 3 oz portion and a 5 oz portion. Both were fed 1:1:1, and left on the counter. After 5 hours, the 3 oz batch (now 9 oz) was returned to the fridge. I left the 15 oz batch on the counter overnight in a larger container. It was bubbling wildly this morning. I followed David's recipe with the following alterations:

1) All butter. I had no lard (rectified that at the grocery this afternoon, I'll try again with 50/50 lard/butter). I used a food processor to mix the chilled butter with the AP flour (KA bread flour in this instance), sugar and salt. I hand mixed in the starter, and just barely got it to hold together as per David's advice. After a 45 minute rest, I did the 4x stretch/fold/roll.

2) Nearly a 5-hour proof. They hadn't risen enough after 2.5 hours, so I went to the grocery store. When I came home, they were nearly doubled, and got to sit another 45 minutes while the oven warmed.

3) 19 minutes @ 425 versus 15 mins.

 The biscuits are light, and perfectly sour with just a little butter (also great with honey). We'll be having them with spiral ham and Tillamook cheddar tonight.


nicodvb's picture

I'm beginning to tame the durum beast

I hate durum wheat. One moment it seems it doesn't want to stop absorbing water and few seconds later you find in your hands an unmanageable paste.

I've been trying to bake a decent durum wheat loaf for several months, and after countless failed attempts finally I obtained (twice in a row!) something satisfying.

Rather than using preferments (that always made matters worse for me) I prepared a straight dough with this ingredients:

-500 gr semola rimacinata (13% proteins.... if the seller is to be trusted)

-400 gr water

-10 gr salt

-20 gr butter

-20 gr of rye starter from the fridge (133% hydratation).

I used the bread machine to knead the dough, starting with 350 gr of water (with the starter dissolved within) and adding the remaining liquid in tablespoons.

Reading a description of the disciplinar of "pane di Altamura" I decided to follow the instructions (only in part, of course, or I wouldn't be myself :-) ) and rather than using a no-knead method I kneaded extensively for 30+ minutes.

After the first fermentation I gave two sets of double folds and proofed for 2 more hours, than I scored the dough 1cm deep and finally baked the bread. This one was baked at 185°C, the former one (maybe a bit taller) at 230°C, in both cases starting from cold oven.

I'm satisfied both by the soft crumb and by the intense taste.

The more I deal with durum wheat flour the more I'm convinced that you have to overknead it to make it develop the little and poor gluten it has.



Another specimen tamed, with a different recipe based on the disciplinar for Altamura bread. 70% hydratation with 20% additional biga and 1% dead yeast (it supposed to release the anti-oxidant glutathione, not expected in the dusciplinar).

The consistence of the crumb and the taste of the bread are exactly like that of Pane di Matera, the less know twin brother of Pane di Altamura.


ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

The Tartine has become a staple

My hubby can't get enough of these babies.  If I ask him 'What bread should I make?' his reply is ALWAYS 'Baguettes!'  I just use Chad Robertson's baguette recipe, but substitute 150g organic wholemeal stoneground flour for part of the all purpose flour in the final mix and add 65g extra water.

wassisname's picture

In Search of Salzstangerl and a Nice Surprise

     I've had salzstangerl (salt sticks) on the brain for a while now. I loved these in my younger days and ever since I saw them mentioned in Bread I've been looking for an excuse to try them.  Hamelman recommends his 40% rye sourdough dough for the purpose.  It's been quite a few years since I've had one, but I can say with confidence that the German bakeries in southern California I once frequented were not using a dough like this.  They were more like straight pretzels.  Probably no rye and certainly not sourdough.  As with most breads I'm sure there are innumerable variations, but I'm a sucker for rye sourdoughs so I went in the Hamelman direction. 
     I already have a 30% rye that I like so I used that instead of the recommended 40% rye.  The dough came together nicely, then I began shaping...  oh, the poor unsuspecting dough.  The look I was going for was a long, slender, gently tapered roll.  Imagine a croissant, without the layers, and straight, and not so plump in the middle, and sprinkled with coarse salt and caraway seeds.  Easy, right?  Heh, heh, heh...   I was laughing aloud by the time I "shaped" the last of them.  "Sea slug" was the first association that popped into my head.  Having since looked-up photos of sea slugs I don't think that was entirely fair... to the slugs.  Ba-dum-bum!
     They still turned out pretty well, but not quite what I was after.  The recipe for Czech Crescent Rolls in Leader's Local Breads actually sounds closer to what I remember.  I think somewhere in the middle is where I want to be.  The next batch will have less rye, less prefermented flour, and lower hydration.  I'll add some butter and maybe some yeast.  And now that I know how not to cut the triangles the dough will be less abused during shaping. 


The nice surprise came from the other half of the same dough:

Clearly this is what this dough was meant for.  I was really happy with this one (though, by the look of the crumb, I still need to work on the ol' shaping skills) and it only got made because I didn't feel like shaping another pan of salzstangerl!  The dough is 30% whole rye (all fermented @ 100% hydration) with a final hydration of about 70%.

I've been tinkering with my oven set-up, testing the lower limit of my top stone placement.  The loaf sprang more than I ever thought it would and just touched the rack above it.  That's cutting it a little too close!


Jonathankane's picture

Tartine Country Bread in Dutch Oven – without getting burned.


This is my third batch of Tartine country bread with very good results each time-this is one my favorite breads.  I Followed his instructions for preparing the leaven and dough, I retarded the dough in the refrigerator overnight in the baskets.  

I use a standard D.O. for baking. The technique I use for placing the dough in the D.O. I picked-up from Cooks Illustrated Almost No-knead bread recipe. I place a sheet of lightly oiled parchment over the basket, place a bowl on top and quickly flip the basket over. I score the bread while in the bowl, lowering the dough into the hot D.O. holding the edges of the parchment paper.  Jonathan





drdudidu's picture

My sourdough bread has soap taste - any idea?

I am making Hamelman's sourdough seed bread according to the instructions on this website for almost a year - a wonderful bread. I am using a very successful starter that I started myself. Recently (about a month) the bread has a taste of soap ??? You take a bite, and first it is unnoticed. But after few seconds you cannot be mistaken - a sharp taste of soap. I discarded several loafs, and started from the beginning trying to improve anything I could: bought new flour (King Arthur), new flax seed, new sesame and sunflower seeds. I made sure no soap remnants in the tools I use - everything was washed and dried with a lot of water, including the kneading area. And today - 2 new loafs with the same taste.

Does anybody have an idea? is it any chemical reaction that creating that weird and bad taste?

Janetcook's picture

Math Percentage Question Seeking Solution

Okay, when I began baking I didn't expect to have to remember my college algebra but little did I know what was awaiting me.


I have 150g of starter at 75% hydration.

I want to know what the formula is that I can apply to determine the weight of the flour and the weight of the water included in that 200g.

If I was working with a 100% starter the solution would be a snap.

But with this I have tried applying all the formulas I know and the only way I can come up with an answer is to do my 'hit and miss' method of math....I find a number less than 200 but greater than 100 and multiply it by 75% until I hit upon the correct combination.

I know there has to be a more direct path but when a problem calls for more than one unknown - I am lost.

So far all I can come up with in a way to express this as a formula is: w= (f x 75%):    f + w = 200g therefore (f x 75%) + f = 200g.  I am at a loss because I don't know what 'f' equals to begin with.... When I try to go any further I get helplessly lost...

Anybody have a SIMPLE formula they would like to share with me???? 



whosinthekitchen's picture

Sourdough Biscuits

I began a rye and pineapple juice starter this week.  When Igot to day 5 and needed to split the starter, I just couldn't throw any away.  The culture has a fruity aroma and a good bit of rise action.  Not wanting pancakes, I decided to make sourdough biscuits.  The result was a two and a half inch rise from oven spring, a tosty crunch for the bottom with a tender crumb inside.  Appealing to the eye? Yes.  The aroma in the house, divine.  The real tell, of course, is in the taste. And the Mr. was pleased.  A hint of the sourdough with a bit of a nutty-ishness (from the rye in the build?), the biscuits were a hit.

Sour Dough Biscuits from www.sarah'

2  1/2  cups flour

1/3 cup lard (I used butter)

1/2  t  salt

2 t  baking powder

1/2  t baking soda

1 cup stqarter

1 cup milk

Directions:  I mixed the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter.

I added this to the starter and did a rough stir to start.  Then I added the milk.  I used a fold type stir action to incorprate the milk into the rest just until all was mixed.  I turned the sticky dough out onto the foured board for a light dusting of flour and a three fold action.  I repeated this as the dough was quite sticky.  I patted the dough to about an inch thickness and cut.  I placed biscuits in a greased pan, brushed the tops with butter and allowed them to rise for about 45 minutes.  I baked them for 25 minutes in a 350 oven.  

So, don't throw out that starter!  Bake a batch of biscuits instead!

The next bake with the starter will be No Knead Scilian Bread by Ed P.  Recipe and results are hared on

Bake Away,