The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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fsu1mikeg's picture

Stiff vs. Liquid--What's really the difference?

I ask this question because I had trouble converting my stiff starter to liquid recently.  I have a very active stiff starter that I refresh at 50% (per Dan Leader's formula).  It is very durable and always doubles within 8-12 hours.  I followed the advice I found on here to use 24g of my stiff starter plus 143g water/100 g flour to readjust the hydration to 130%.  It never rose even slightly, barely bubbled, and water appeared to separate and float on the top of the mixture.  I tried refreshing it for a few days at 130%, but same results day after day.  ANYWAY, I got to wondering if I wouldn't be better off just using my reliable stiff starter for all formulas calling for a liquid starter and just adjusting the hydration in the final dough.  My question is....

Is there a difference in the character of the finished bread when you use liquid starter as opposed to stiff starter?  In other words, aside from the inconvenience of having to re-calculate all formulas calling for a liquid starter, is there any legitimate difference in the resulting bread?





ericb's picture

"no-knead" bread with leftover starter

Due to a miscalculation, I ended up with 300g of leftover starter this afternoon. I decided to play around with this a bit, and used PR's Pain a 'lancienne technique to make the starter into a high-hydration dough. It worked so well that I thought I would share it with the group.

300g ripe starter (100% hydration)

75-90g bread flour

9.6g salt

Mix ingredients thoroughly with a spoon for a few minutes until gluten strands develop. I started with 75 grams, and added a few handfuls of flour until the dough was stiff enough to no longer be considered a batter. Cover and proof for 1 hour.

Prepare the counter with a thick layer of flour, about 8"x8". Turn out the proofed dough onto the flour. Flop the dough over to coat the other side, and fold in thirds like a business letter. Transfer to parchment paper, seam side up.

Set your oven to 450 and let the dough proof on the counter while oven comes up to temp. Bake on a bread stone or baking sheet for... well, I can't remember how long, but you'll figure it out. 20 minutes or so, I guess.

The resulting dough closely resembles the chewy texture and buttery taste of "no-knead" bread.

This is nothing to write home about, but it was kind of a fun, quick way to use up 300g of extra starter. 

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

Sourdough pet peeve

I've been baking with sourdough for about a month now with good results, but most of the stuff I've made has been by feel, not a recipe. So I go looking for recipes online, my cook book collection being a little sparse right now, and I find tons of recipes.  I have one problem, though: they specify however much starter, but not what hydration that starter is.

What do you do in this situation? I've been assuming 100% hydration starter and going from there.

krekdayam's picture

garlic with little effort

Procedure for preparing a few days worth of mild garlic  

What you need

30 minutes of free time

the desire for garlic

As much garlic as you want, probably 3 heads, Minimum 50 cloves recommended. If you are going to the effort, make it worth the effort

Olive oil


a sharp knife

a frying pan

the top to a frying pan

a stove top,  BBQ, small thermonuclear device, or other controllable heat source

A spoon, or a fork, or chopsticks to stir the garlic in the frying pan

A preferred beverage

Optional: Bread & Cheese, maybe some jamon de jabugo 

If you prepare garlic , the accesories are probably available

Procedure Heat frying pan to "low to medium" heat, put in olive oil to  cover the bottom of the pan

Cut off the root end of each garlic clove.


Don't bother peeling

put the unpeeled garlic in the frying pan and cover it. Walk away to enjoy a cool refreshing beverage,

return occasionally to stir . The skins fall off with stirring. This is the equivalent of blanching tomatoes or peaches, but smells better. When all of the garlic is soft, they are done.  

Once cooled, add salt on the naked garlic. Or don't.   The result is good for everything from spreading on the good bread, to scrambled eggs, to spaghetti sauce, to any appropriate destination .   




mcs's picture

John and Jan's Hippie Bread

OK, I know you're out there.  Maybe those Birks are getting dusty or they're hidden in the closet along with your beaded vest and shrunken tie-dye, but you're really hankerin' for some good ol' fashioned hippie bread.  Just like the kind you used to eat while working on your macrame choker and groovin' to Cat Stevens before he became public enemy number one.  Here you go.
A friend of mine was looking for something all-too-healthy, and I came up with this recipe.  It is primarily whole wheat with buckwheat flour, flax seeds, toasted almonds, and other goodies.  It's not exactly airy like ciabatta, but it sure has a lot of flavor.  Plus, if you need to, you can put some loaves over your wheels in the bed of your truck in the wintertime to get some extra traction.  I've tried a few different shapes, and the boule seems to help the loaf out the most because you can give it some height in the shaping for a boost of confidence in the proofing stage.  Try it out and hope you like it!  This is a link to the recipe in PDF format.


PS, I'm about 2 weeks from finishing a couple of instructional DVDs. If you're interested, I can email you when they're ready, or you can stay tuned here since I'll be posting about it on TFL when they're done.


ericb's picture

bread pudding recipe?

I have a freezer full of stale bread and a hankerin' for bread pudding. The one thing I don't have is a recipe!

Would anyone mind sharing his or her favorite bread pudding recipe? Maybe something with a splash of bourbon? I'd love to make it tonight if at all possible.


trailrunner's picture

Hamelman no-knead Baguettes w/ wild yeast culture

My husband asked me to please make baguettes for him today. I had the starter already going . I already knew how much I liked this formula since I had done it once before. So I subbed 250 g of my 100% hydration starter for the yeast. I didn't adjust the flour or the water at all. I wanted a really wet dough. Boy did I get it. It was like a ciabatta. But I persisted and am very pleased. I tried to score the loaves but they were so wet and I didn't do the best but I got huge oven spring and grine so I am OK with it . The crumb is lovely and creamy and since I don't keep my starter out on the counter it is a very mild flavor. Here is the crust:

: Photobucket and the crumb: Photobucket

bostonphotobill's picture

Looking for a home use dough roller

I am looking for information on a home dough sheeter.  Does anyone have any experience with the Somerset CDR-100 Dough Sheeter?  I am most interested to know if it will roll croissant dough. Any other suggestions?


dmsnyder's picture

My Weekend baking - Variations on familiar themes

These were baked yesterday ...

I wanted to try some variations on a couple of breads that I have baked a lot - The "San Joaquin Soudough," which is a pain de campagne that has an overnight cold retardation at the bulk fermentation stage and the Sourdough bread from SusanFNP's Wild Yeast blog.

My San Joaquin Sourdough (SJSD) derived from Anis Bouabsa's baguette formula, as related to Janedo. See this blog entry: 

I used KAF European Style Artisan flour with 5% each Giusto's whole rye and KAF White Rye. I also add 100 gms of firm sourdough starter. For this variation, I added to 500 gms total flour (not counting the starter) 3/4 T barley malt syrup and 3/4 T toasted wheat germ.

The malt probably resulted in the darker crust color. I really could not perceive a distinct effect from the wheat germ. In any case, this was a very tasty, wheaty, mildly sour bread. The bâtards were somewhat under-proofed, resulting in exuberant oven spring and bloom, as you can see. 

San Joaquin Sourdough Variant

San Joaquin Sourdough crumb

SusanFNP's Sourdough bread formula has proven to be a reliable and easy bread to make. Her formula can be found here:

I used a mix of high gluten and bread flour with 10% Giusto's whole rye flour.

 The boule was formed and cold retarded overnight, proofed for 5 hours in a cool kitchen.

Susan's formula calls for 68% hydration. For this variation, I made a 70% hydration dough, trying for a somewhat more open crumb, which is what I got. I plan to boost the hydration even higher next time.

The cold retardation results in a somewhat more sour flavor in this bread compared to the SJSD. The bread was fully proofed, so I got decent oven spring and bloom, but less than with the under-proofed SJSD pictured above.

Sourdough boule

Sourdough boule crumb


hansjoakim's picture

A loaf and something for the coffee

I've seen Hamelman's five-grain rye sourdough bread recommended a couple of times, but it wasn't until this morning that I had the opportunity to bake it for myself. It's a modest 25% whole rye, but the loaf is also studded with seeds and cracked rye, and there's a lot of flavor in it.

Hamelman's Five grain rye sourdough

No easily obtainable "high-gluten flour" around these parts, so I used my regular flour, but made sure the dough was strong and well-developed before bulk fermentation. It looked delicious even at that stage: A nice brown ball, flecked with dark flaxseeds and cracked rye. The rye sour infuses each slice with great taste, and the soaker and the high hydration keeps the crumb ultra moist and tender.

Hamelman's Five grain rye sourdough

So, when breakfast's over, and you pour yourself a cup of black coffee, what better way to finish off your meal than with some Viennoserie? Last week I made a batch of croissant dough, using some prefermented dough and putting 20% whole wheat flour into the mix. Half of the dough was rolled around spinach and feta cheese filling, and the other half was brushed with pastry cream and sprinkled with raisins. Yum!

Whole wheat croissants