The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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beakernz's picture

noobie, very confused over recipes calling for "1 cup sourdough starter", do they mean pre-ferment?

So I've got a good healthy starter.  I feed it once a day which is removing all of it but 50grams, then adding 100gms water and 70gms organic rye.  Over the next 24hrs it doubles and I repeat the process.  Now I have all this leftover starter I do not want to throw away.  I then see recipes for pancackes and biscuits.  They call for 1 cup starter + 1 cup flour etc.  But someone here in new zealand says to me that that would be WAY too powerful, that they would only need 1 cup starter to make 75 loaves.  So is the recipe right?  I actually use an entire cup of raw starter?  I don't want to cook something nasty or overpowering that makes me ill.  If it's pre-ferment then why don't the recipes call for it.  I'm not even sure how to make a pre-ferment that meets the requirements of said recipes so that I have "1 cup starter".  Thanks for any help clearing this up.

evonlim's picture

sourdough loaf with raisin yeast water and red wine

after reading last couple of week's blogs.. lead me to experiment with new ingredients.

with kiki's help, she gave me this tutorial website on yeast water

started soaking my raisins with water in a clean jar as showed in the video. to my surprised it work wonderfully.. on the 8th day i used it to make this bread. mixed 75gram yeast water with 75gram of bread flour, left it 8 hours in room temperature to mature. 

my formula

bread flour   100%     750gram

water             75%      563gram 

salt               1.5%       11  gram

starter                         150gram

since i have some 320gram of Chateau Charmail 2009 left over from saturday's dinner, thinking to myself why not.. so i did :) water 243gram. mixed with AP flour and left overnight. 2nd day added the starter. autolysed for 30mins. added the salt after. rest for 40 mins and SF. realising i had a couple of small Tasmanian purple carrot in the fridge.. i grated and added in the dough when i did my first SF. 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds and 1/2cup of soaked n drained raisins went into the dough as well. (this is because i am baking for a friend who loves raisins!!) 2nd SF after 40mins.

left it rest for another 40mins, put in the fridge to retard. 3rd day, in the afternoon after my work, took dough out from fridge. rested for an hour, scrapped out from bowl and divide into two and preshape. rest for 30mins. transfered into 2 small loaf pan. covered and proof for 1 hour. score the top, sprinkled with blue poppy seeds. baked 450F for 20 mins covered with aluminium foil. uncovered for further 15 mins. 

it smells divine during baking. lots of depth in flavor ends with a nice bitter in the mouth as you chew on it.

my lucky experiment inspired by kiki, Ian and Yuko :) thank you

happy me


more pictures..






dazzer24's picture

sourdough preferment

Hi all

I've been baking sourdoughs a couple of months and messed about with all sorts of variables. Lots of starter,little starter,short fermentation/long prove after shaping, fridge proving,warm water, cold water and many more. I've a tendency to change more than one variable at once too which doesnt help evaluation! Just cant help myself;)

Anyway current method

Mix 50g starter, 200g flour and 125g of water. Cover and ferment at approx 70f for approx 16 hours.

Mix the fermented batch with 304g flour and 221g water achieving 70% hydration(my starter is 100%)

Making 900g in total

Knead this mixture for 10 to 15 mins adding 8g of salt after 10 mins or so.

Pop back in bowl and do 3 stretch and folds at approx 40 min intervals

I then split the dough in two for 2 mini loaves. degass a little then preshape into boules. Final shape 10 mins later.

Into baskets, into plastic bags and prove at 70f for about 2 hours.

Bake! Im lucky to have an oven with multifunction including bottom heat only function..this has transformed my ability to achieve bloom/ I've realised it anyway!

I bottom heat for first 10/12mins, then fan only 15 mins,then off the stone and 5 to 10 mins with top and bottom heat to crisp up the bottom as well.

I suppose in am I doing? My loaves look great(in my opinion-feel free to critique!), have a nice rich flavour, soft texture and lovely fruity aroma-not that much sour flavour though.

I'm thinking should I be bulk fermenting the whole dough? I suppose currently I'm simply feeding a small amount of starter and letting it grow overnight..? I think i read somewhere yeasts grow more rapidly at room temps but the lactobacillus are responsible for more of the sour notes and these develop more(or more in proportion to the yeasts) when in the fridge. Have I got this right? 

I had previously been fermenting the whole dough for 4-5 hours and then shaping and proving overnight in the fridge. This has the advantage of course of being able to bake first thing in the morning but seems a little less controllable?

Sorry I'm writing an epic here! I'll stop now and be very grateful for any thoughts/feedback.

Cheers and thanks for your patience. Hopefully I'll be able to help people day!


Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

Eric's Favorite Rye

....or my "tinkered with" version.  I love Eric's bread but needed to refrigerate the dough for time sake and chose to do that after shaping.  I shaped two loaves (used 1/2 recipe), placed in a couche, covered with oil sprayed plastic and refrigerated immediately.  The next morning I removed the loaves, placed on the counter while the oven preheated (about 30 to 45 minutes) and baked on a stone with steam for 12 minutes.  I rotated the loaves, and baked (I guess) another 30 minutes at 375F.  

Other variations were molasses vs sugar (about the same weight) and an egg glaze.  I've not got the cornstarch glaze method working right now.


cmylime's picture

Southern style yeast rolls

 Cafeteria Lady Rolls

 Ready in: 2 hrs
 Serves/Makes:   16   

4 cups flour
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup melted shortening (may use butter)
1 3/4 cup warm milk


Add yeast to warm milk and let sit 1 minute; stir and add melted shortening.

Have dry ingredients ready and add to milk. Slowly mix on medium speed until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.

Place dough in a well-greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk. Stir down and form into rolls (note that dough is sticky) and let them rise again. Bake at 425degrees until brown and brush with butter while hot.

I halved this to make 8 rolls.  I used 1/2 Tbsp yeast and about half of everything else.


Dan Barclay's picture
Dan Barclay

Beginner with an active starter... Next steps

Hi Guys

I am completely new to the world of sourdough but have been baking fairly regularly for a few months now. I have an active starter which doubles between feeds (in about six hours) and have made a few loafs so far which, as far as I can tell, have been fairly successful. However the starter is only about 600g at its peak, so can really only make one loaf each time. I was wondering how I go about increasing the size of the starter without over feeding it. I tried adding more flour/water without discarding any to bake but it didn't double at all so thought perhaps I added too much.

Any help would be much appreciated. 



breadforfun's picture

Tartine Whole Wheat miche & boule

What can I say, I like big loaves.  I have made the Tartine Country bread a number of times in all sizes, from 500 gm to 2 kg, and am always happy with the results.  I refreshed my starter when I returned from a week away with the intention of trying the whole wheat loaf as well.  On my last visit to Central Milling I picked up a 5# bag of Acme Organic Whole Wheat flour, so what better bread to test it on.  I pretty much followed the method in the book, with a small deviation because I forgot to hold back the required 50 gm of water to add with the salt after the autolyse, so I had to add some extra water.  The formula was supposed to be 80% hydration, and the extra water took it up to 83%.  The formula is quite basic:

Levain          200 gm    20%

Water           830 gm    83%

WW flour    700 gm     70%

AP flour       300 gm     30%

Salt                  20 gm      2%

I made a double batch and shaped them into 1 miche at 1950 gm and three smaller boules at around 700 gm each.  The bulk ferment was about 4 hours at a controlled 74˚F with S&F at 30, 60, 90, 120 and 180 min.  After shaping, I retarded the miche and one smaller loaf overnight (about 16 hours), and continued proofing two of the smaller loaves for 3 hours.  Baking was on a stone heated to 500˚F which was reduced to 460˚ when the boules were peeled into the oven.  Steam for 15 min. then turn on the convection to 425˚ for 20 min. more, rotating as necessary.  For the miche, the convection temperature was 415˚ and the convection bake time was 35 min. 

The loaves showed lovely bloom and grigne.  I have been playing with different scoring lately, and I like the effect using two interlocking half-circles.  A bit cumbersome to do on the large loaf, but it's a nice look.  I think the bake times could have been a bit longer.  Though the loaves registered over 205˚ and were left in a cooling oven with the door cracked open for 10 min., I didn't get the nice singing and crackling crust like I do on the Country Loaf, which I suppose is due to the higher hydration dough and not being baked out completely. 

The crumb on this bread is sublime - airy and with a fairly soft chew.  The flavor is nutty and wheaty with a distinct tang on the retarded loaves (I didn't get to try the others).  Curiously, the 2% salt seemed a little on the light side.  This photo is the crumb of the smaller loaf - I'll post the miche once I cut it.  The final size of the miche was about 10 inch diameter and 4 inch tall at the dome.


varda's picture

Rye Class at King Arthur - Pictures Added

This weekend,  I and three other TFLers took a rye class at King Arthur with Jeffrey Hamelman.    Larry - aka Wally -  Faith in Virginia, and Otis - aka burntmyfingers - were there each driving from a different corner of the region.   It was fantastic to meet them for once, knowing them only from their bread and words up to now.  The class had 11 students (one didn't show up!)   ranging in age and experience, with the one from furthest away hailing from Malibu, CA.  

If I had any hopes in advance for the class, it would have been to gain a bit more skill in particular areas like mixing, shaping, slashing.   I can safely say that I did not make even an inch of progress in any of these areas.    That does not mean however, that I didn't learn anything.   Here are the lessons I learned in the order that I think of them. 

The most tangible lesson to come out of this class for me  is that my rye starter needs work.   The smell of the Hamelmanian rye starter is like nothing I've ever smelled before.   Since of course we were dealing with large enough quantities of starter to make 25 large loaves of bread for each of the 4 formulas we made over the weekend the mass was much larger than anything I'd ever worked with.    The smell was completely overpowering, and I had to move back a pace or two just to keep from keeling over.   My rye starter, even with my nose right up to it, just cannot compare.    This carried through all the way to the taste of the breads.

Chef Hamelman gave us a disquisition on the benefits of taking good care of our starters, explaining that extended refrigeration without feeding  (mea culpa) leads to an acid buildup that in turn begins killing off the yeast and beneficial bacteria.    While the King Arthur bakery feeds their wheat and rye starters twice a day, every day, he understood that might be tough for those of us who only bake once or twice a week, but he nevertheless suggested that we up our feeding schedule to at least a few meals per week.   While I have been skeptical of this in the past, I am not anymore.   In fact, if I could get the flavor in my breads that came out of the King Arthur classroom ovens yesterday, I would gladly feed twice a day no matter how much I had to throw out.    Consider me converted at least in theory.   We'll see what happens in practice.  

Home bakers are at a disadvantage when it comes to equipment.    Our loaves came out of the ovens with a sheen that I have never been able to achieve with my gas oven and various steaming techniques.    One press of a button and the deck ovens filled magically with steam which was then vented at just the right moment.     The spiral mixer just mixed the heck out of all the doughs while we all stood around with not much to do.   What can we do about this?   Be jealous.   That's it.

Chef Hamelman spent a lot of time testing us on when things were done.   Is the dough mixed enough?   Proofed enough?   Baked enough?   He kept a poker face throughout, there were always divergent opinions, and most of us were wrong as often as right.     What I did learn is that you can't just knock the bottom of a loaf to see if baking is done.   He recommended squeezing, looking, etc.   He did not pull out a probe thermometer and check.    Glad of that as I fried mine awhile ago and haven't replaced it.  

Peels with 8 or 9 loaves of bread on them are really heavy and getting them into the hot  oven was too scary for me.   I finally took a stab at removing a load, and that was bad enough.   Chef Hamelman's assistant was a quite thin and small young woman who was originally a baker in the KA bakery, so some are made of sterner stuff than I.    Other than that, the professional baking environment seemed much more manageable to me than I had imagined (see lesson about equipment above.)

Steam matters.   I already knew this, but we had a great accidental demonstration.   In addition to the 100 or so loaves that got made over the course of the two days, we also made a batch of salt sticks,  and a batch of deli rye rolls.   These were baked in the same oven as some 80% rye panned loaves - not a deck oven.    They came out looking very inedible, as it turned out the steam wasn't hooked up to that oven much to Chef Hamelman's surprise.   The loaves made of the same dough that were baked in the deck ovens were burnished and plump as could be.    The 80% rye did fine however, as it was very wet, and had the protection of the pans.  

Loaves made were a deli rye (best I've ever tasted) the 80% rye pan loaves, a flax seed rye, and a quark rye.    We each came home with two of everything but the pan loaves and I immediately wrapped most of it up and froze.   My husband who has always expressed an aversion to rye, has been chowing down on the flax seed loaf, and says it is the best loaf I've ever made.    Well I didn't really make it in any sense other than shaping it.    As my son put it,  I paid a lot of money to find out just how much I have yet to learn (and he didn't say it quite as nicely as that.)  

Final lesson:   if you are going to depend on your phone for picture taking, you have to remember to take the charger.   

Hope other participants will post themselves or add to this.

I sign off tired but happy.


Update:   Rod, a student in the class, kindly sent in his excellent pictures and descriptions for posting:

Jeffrey put whole rye flour on the top surface of the sourdough as much to pay homage to his German mentor and less for environmental control.  In pursuit of tradition.  This sourdough was developed after 16 hour at room temperature with a plastic wrap cover over the container.

From the French word  gémir, to groan.  The backbreaking work of the third year apprentice.

So few caraway seeds in the deli rye dough but the flavor was pronounced.

Never far from the mixer.

Applying flour to the outer edge for an artistic flare.   It was recommended to perform this task while the dough was still moist and consider using niger seed for a more dramatic effect.

Here is a shot of the quark loaves.   Remember how hot they were when we were attempting to determine if they were done.   It was easier to compare the color in the loaves in the oven.

Fruits of our labor.'s picture

Spent Fuel Boule

Baking from his book this winter, I've come to appreciate Ken Forkish's practice of growing higher volume levain refreshments and builds than had previously been my habit.  I like to feel the warmth generated by, and smell the sweetness of, fermentation in these larger levains, raising them in plastic vessels chosen to minimize the culture's surface-to-volume ratio when it enters log phase.  I'm a believer in The Mass Effect and the proof is in the baking: The loaves raised with these levains have been unfailingly delicious.

But like many, I don't relish composting so much 'spent fuel'.  This week I  tested a alternative I'd been anxious to try:  Building a dough using all the leftover levain from a bake's refreshments and final build, plus some fresh flour, water and salt.  The result was surprisingly satisfying -- a thoroughly delectable loaf that rivaled in flavor and texture that of the 'main bake' from which its levain was merely the remains of the day.

I try to refresh my 80% starter twice before the final build -- something I learned from David Snyder.  Makes it sweet and active.  Each of these refreshments' volume is 200 gr, with the final levain build being 400 gr for my standard weekly 2kg bake.   So no, I only bought into Ken F's levain volume excess hook and line -- but not sinker -- sensibly short of his one kg levain builds when only ~240 gr are needed.   These three successive cultures, grown over the 36 hr prior to mixing the final dough, leave 180, 160 and 160 gr behind, respectively, a total of 500 gr of 'spent fuel' destined for compost.  However, retaining 20 gr from the final build to seed next week's bake's first refreshment, I am left with 480 gr of recently matured levain to rescue and raise a Spent Fuel Boule.   

For the Spent Fuel Boule, I designed an 800 gr bake based on that prodigous amount of leftover levain, 480 gr.  I chose only 55#-sieved durum semolina as the fresh flour, for a few reasons.  This organic product, enjoying a recent return engagement in my local food coop's bulk bins, yields a nice flour through the sieve (and the retained fraction, a good peel lubricant), and I've wanted to support the co-op's move by purchasing some.  But more importantly, I hoped the durum's sweetness might balance the expected tang of a loaf raised with such a high proportion of cold-stored starter. From zolablue's seminal Sourdough Semolina formula, I went with 70% hydration (click on formula below for functional GoogleDoc spreadsheet).

One convenience of this exercise was how quick and simple it was.  Using such a high proportion of preferment is like time-traveling forward in a normal bake, leap-toading in after bench rest.  The Spent Fuel Boule could barely be expected to sustain even the short fermentation time of a commercial yeast bake: an hour plus of both bulk and proof, give or take.  The resulting loaf was a surprising joy -- the mildest of tangs, a nice soft, if durum-predictably close but light crumb.  I do all my levain building with Gerard Rubaud's flour mix (thank you, MC), so from that, this loaf had some whole wheat, spelt and a dash of rye from the levain.

I look forward to making this or something very much like it part of my routine for all future weekly bakes. My compost will have to satisfy its carb lust elsewhere.

Happy Baking!


eddieh70301's picture

Forkish- White Bread w/80% Biga

I just received Ken Forkish's FWSY this past week. Started skimming through it and thought I would try this bread to pair with spaghetti. I only did 1/2 of the recipe as two loaves would be too much.

I followed the recipe except I used my KA mixer to incorporate all of the dough. The biga was made on Sat night at 6pm and sat in my oven until 815 this morning. I will say that the finished dough was very wet, more than I expected. I never worked with a 75% hydration dough and it was fairly easy to work. The recipe calls for two -three folds but I ended up doing 4 as the dough was still pretty wet after the 3rd fold. Probably could have done another one just to tighted it up a bit. I also do not have any proofing baskets to I had to improvise. Need to pick up a couple of round wicker baskets and use those in place of proofing baskets.

Granted I am still a newbie and I've made breads from Reinhart's book and AB in five and this one from Forkish was the best tasting and best looking yet. The crumb was great as was the color. The only fault is the bottom crust was too crispy as I had a little difficulty cutting through the bottom. Probably could have pulled it a bit sooner but overall I am very satisfied. This recipe is a definite do again.

Here's a couple of pictures. Go easy on me.