The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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zorgclyde's picture

Recommendation for beginner who likes whole grain breads?

I just recently started got into baking breads, and I want to get a book that's suitable for me. 

One thing I found out is that the breads that I like to eat are slightly dense, multi-grain breads -except for quickbreads- but these are also trickier to make especially for beginners.

So my question, which book would be good for this purpose? I would like one that's beginner accessible, have hand making instructions (I don't have a mixer and won't get one soon), and have good number of recipes that won't take 3 days to make. I've read the book reviews online but am still a little undecided so I thought to get more feedback here.

Thanks and I appreciate your suggestions.

Boulanger D'anvers's picture
Boulanger D'anvers

Newbie from the Netherlands

Hi everyone,


As a long time lurker I decided to finally get myself an account and introduce myself. I'm a 39 old guy from the Netherlands and I have been baking bread for about 1,5-2 years now. As many I started out with a bread machine but soon got a little bored with it and went for the hand kneading and shaping. I bought Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice and read it from cover to cover and started making some of the breads from the book, some more succesful than others. But it did make me even more enthousiastic about baking breads. Having baked on and off for the last six months I got myself back to making it a (almost) every other day routine. In recent months I have experimented with different types of flour like spelt and even though the taste is good I always seem to go back to the basic white loafs made from wheat flour. Luckily my little town has it's very own grain mill ( that sells good quality flour.

I have been reading this site on a daily basis for a while now and got some good ideas from it with regards to some of the techniques, like stretch and folds, cold fermentation, shaping, slashing, etc. My latest discovery is baking in a pan, which has improved my breads a lot. Somehow I never got the over spring and crust I was looking for before but baking in a pan seems to improve my success rate. While not perfect yet I am starting to get really happy with the results of my bakes. Even my wife now has to admit that she likes the taste of my breads. So let me show you the results of my last bakes. I don't have crumb shots of all of them but you will just have to trust they were good.

These breads are mostly based on the Anis Bouabsa recipe found elsewhere on this site: autolyse, add salt and yeast, stretch and folds, cold ferment for 20+ hours, preshape, shape and...bake.

First off is a half spelt, half wheat flour boule (75% hydration).

Half spelt, half wheat boule

Next up a boule made from something called 'nature flour' (70%+ hydration).

And last but not least a basic white boule (68% hydration).

Whitel boule

And the crumb.

White boule

The crumb of the last one is holey but not too much and the crumb is nice and chewy.

I am quite happy with the results and would like to hear from all of you how you think the results turned out.

Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge on this site. I find it extremely helpful and am looking forward to share some of my own ideas every now and then.

medex's picture

If no-knead is so good, why bother with anything else?

I had a bread machine I had to return because it was defective twice.  I then thought it a good idea to get a mixer, which I haven't gotten yet, but I still may.  Anyway, people keep raving about no-knead bread and how it's the end all be all of bread.  If this is true then what's the point of kneading in general?  it is certainly a lot of work.

Is it better to just forget the mixer and buy a dutch oven?

earth3rd's picture

Ciabatta - No Knead Bread

I found this recipe for Ciabatta No Knead Bread on the internet at this site:

Watch the video... I followed every step as seen in the video.

I converted the recipe to weight measurment... here it is...

 Ciabatta -no knead bread 1 loaf

455 gr. - APF (all purpose flour)

64 gr. - WF (whole wheat flour)

0.9 gr. - yeast (active dry yeast)

9.5 gr. - salt (table salt)

473 gr. - warm water 105 - 110F  


The bread smelled and tasted fantastic, I would definatly make it again. Very easy to make. Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

By the way... it went very nicely with the Moroccan Lentil Soup I made as well!!!!

The soup recipe can be found at this site:




geraintbakesbread's picture

Casola Marocca/Marocca di Casola

I’d been wondering lately what to do with a small amount of chestnut flour that was languishing in a bowl in the cupboard when I saw this thread started by dorothydean (Thank you Dorothy!) after she’d read about Casola Marocca on the Slow Food Foundation website.

Chestnut Flour

I brought back around a kilo of chestnut flour from a holiday in Tuscany last October. The holiday had been organised by The Handmade Bakery, the UK’s first Community Supported Bakery (CSB), and included three mornings of baking classes (which turned into more like 3 full days!). We were staying in a villa in Ponte a Moriano, near Lucca, in the foothills of the Alpi Apuane in the north west of Tuscany (Garfagnana region).

October sees the start of the chestnut harvest in the mountains (the chestnut trees only grow above a certain altitude, above the level of the olive groves & vineyards) and on the first day of our holiday we visited the mountain village of Colognora where a chestnut festival was being held. The weather was atrocious, and by the time we arrived (after getting a little lost) the torrential rain had caused the smattering of small food & craft stalls that had been erected amidst the narrow, steep & stony streets, to start packing up. A few hardy souls continued to roast chestnuts, distributing them gratis in soggy paper bags. We were treated to a tour of the Chestnut Museum by the museum’s director, who unfortunately spoke no English. With long fluid sentences & elaborate hand gestures (translated into curt one-liners by our Australian guide!), he explained the innumerable applications of the sweet chestnut; we’d run out of time before we even got to the culinary uses, but there’s a useful summary here.

In order to make flour, chestnuts are dried over smouldering chestnut wood & old husks, in specially built smokehouses, before being shelled & stone-ground.

There seems to be some dispute over it’s keeping qualities, with some sources saying it keeps well year round, whilst others say it needs to be kept in the freezer. This might be affected by production methods which I believe also vary. Mine has kept perfectly well in the cupboard since October.

In the UK, Shipton Mill produce a flour from ‘chestnuts [that] are sourced directly from a small hill farmer, Patrice Duplan, who gathers them from the hills in the Ardeche region of Southern France', according to the blurb. In Tuscany we were told that the French use a different method of drying the chestnuts (I forget how - I've got a vague memory it involved paraffin?! – although I'd be surprised if this was the case with the Shipton.

Other UK sources (thanks zeb) include &

I have also seen it stocked in wholefood shops.

In the US, Dorothy found this online supplier: & breadsong found it here.

The flour seems very expensive in relation to bread flours, but when compared with other nuts, ground or otherwise, it is very reasonable.


The recipe that mrfrost dug up was a hybrid whilst Daisy_A found a pure sourdough version.

(Thank you both!)

Both recipes were in Italian but had been google translated. I started the mrfrost recipe before seeing Daisy_A’s post but had decided to leave out the commercial yeast anyway.

I didn't have as much chestnut flour as the mrfrost recipe called for, so made up the amount with extra white bread flour. After all the additions, the dough was still dry & crumbly, so I added the potato I had left over & extra milk to make a stiff, sticky but workable dough.

So my modified recipe was as follows:

290g  chestnut flour

210g  strong white flour (Doves Farm)

10g    salt

150gr  sourdough

100g   milk

80g   water

20g   oil

110g   mashed potato


I only kneaded it briefly after mixing as I figured there wasn’t much gluten to develop. I gave it a ‘fold’ after the first hour - a bit of an exaggeration: the dough had lost a little of its stickiness but was still stiff, so all I did really was to form a slightly smoother, taughter ball than before.

After another hour, the dough had some spring & had lost it’s stickiness. I just tightened up the ball, being careful not to tear the surface, and put it into a floured banneton. I’m not sure what my reasoning was for doing this, it was more an instinctive act! I guess I felt that the dough wouldn’t benefit structurally from any more folds. If I do this again, I might knead just a little longer after mixing until the stickiness is gone & then put it straight in a banneton.

Another 2.5 hours later, the dough had risen only slightly, almost imperceptibly. I was faced with a choice (since I had to go out an hour later): I could either bake it, leave it on the counter for another 4 or so hours, or refrigerate it (if I could find the space, which was doubtful). I decided to bake. I turned out the loaf and scored it with a deep cross, as mentioned in Daisy_A’s post.

I baked in the same way as I usually bake my sourdough wheat breads: on a preheated kiln shelf, starting high (250-60c) with steam (boiling water in tray below) for 15mins, then down to 200c. I checked internal temp after 30 mins (c.60c) & 40 mins (c.75c). After 55 mins, the internal temp was 92c but the bread still felt very heavy & moist. I needed to leave, so I turned the oven off but left the loaf in.


The dough was obviously underproofed & the bake a bit high, but the result was very visually appealing. I don't think the picture gets the colour very accurately: the crumb was quite purple when first sliced (think darker & more purple than walnut bread), with a purple-red-brown crust, which darkened & mellowed overnight to a chestnut brown (go figure!); the crumb colour too was less pronounced a day later.

When I sliced the loaf in half, I was worried that it wasn't quite done & would be gummy like rye can be, but not at all. Although visually, the crumb texture resembles a rye bread, it feels very different to the touch & in the mouth: it's much drier for a start; this might be due in part to the manner of baking, but I also think that the chestnut flour retains less water than rye. I imagine that one reason for adding the potato is to preserve moisture.

The high bake led to a crunchy crust, like a sweet nutty biscuit (I think the milk contributed to this), which is a great contrast to the close textured, almost meaty, crumb. The sweet smoky flavour is terrific & I’ve had some rapturous responses from some friends who tried it.

I had it first with some Manchego, & the following day with a very similar, but more authentic(!), Pecorino Toscano, both hard ewe’s milk cheeses: a wonderful combination. I also made a mushroom soup, using fresh mushrooms & dried porcini, which was also a good accompaniment.

Other suggestions are soft goat’s cheese & (chestnut) honey, and lardo di Colonnata, or any other salty Tuscan (or other) cured meat.

Why not give it a go!

earth3rd's picture

Ciabatta - No Knead Bread

I found this recipe for Ciabatta No Knead Bread on the internet at this site:

Watch the video... I followed every step as seen in the video.

I converted the recipe to weight measurment... here it is...

     Ciabatta -no knead bread 1 loaf

455 gr APF (all purpose flour)

64 gr WF (whole wheat flour)

0.9 gr yeast (active dry yeast)

9.5 gr salt (table salt)

473 gr warm water 100 - 105F  


The bread smelled and tasted fantastic, I would definatly make it again. Very easy to make. Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

By the way... it went very nicely with the Moroccan Lentil Soup I made as well!!!!

The soup recipe can be found at this site:



pollyanne's picture

Tartine Starter

Hi - beginning sourdough baker - though quite a bit of commercial yeast experience

If I am trying to listen and observe my starter, for when to feed, do I feed it when it has doubled and seems fresh and alive?  Or wait until sometime later, when it apparently will fall and/or get hooch on top?  My question is regarding regular feeding, either to keep it going, or to rebuild it to then use it to inoculate leaven.

Thanks for any information.

Boboshempy's picture

Best Overnight Proofing Temperature

I am able to control the temperature of my sourdough loaves for overnight retarding and proofing and I wanted to get everyone's opinion of what you think the best temperature is and why. There has been a bunch of recent thoughts and discussion on this circulating in books and whatnot and I wanted to put this question out there to the masters.




Elagins's picture

Bakebook Chronicles - Continued

Actually, I posted this elsewhere, but am not sure how many have seen it, so I'm reposting under its own heading.

It's been a good while since I last chronicled our adventures and misadventures in the world of publishing, and a lot has happened in the interim.

Many of you know that our publisher wasn't entirely happy with our original title -- The New York Bakers Jewish Bakery Book -- and so after putting out several suggestions for informal feedback, we finally settled on Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking. Looking back at it, Norm and I both agree (as does the publisher) that this title is much more indicative of the contents of the book and leaves a lot more room for Norm's stories and reminiscences of how it was back in the day.

It's also amazing how content inflation works: originally, our contract called for a 70,000 word book, which translates into about 250 pages. In September, when the manuscript was due, it came to about 90,000 words, but the publisher didn't make an issue of it. With additions -- more Norm stories and a whole section on Passover baking -- and revisions, we suddenly found that we had 100,000 words -- about 350 pages -- and the publisher freaked.

Someone once asked Ernest Hemingway to name toe most important quality of great writing, and he answered, "a willingness to murder your children." And so I murdered about 28,000 of my kids and got the book down to around 72,500 words -- which probably isn't a bad thing, since the discipline of self-editing made me think about what was really essential -- the must-includes versus the nice to includes. So basically, most of the background info in ingredients, techniques and equipment went bye-bye, along with redundant recipes and those that people can find elsewhere.

I expect that a lot of the cut material will end up on the NYB website at some point. Norm suggested that we try to sell it as Volume 2 -- The Lost Chapters. We'll see ....

Also, it looks at this point like the pub date will be more like July than the March-April timeframe Camino Books was thinking about before ... understandable, given the complexities of editing, design, marketing, etc etc.

And speaking of marketing, one of the things we're also learning is that being an author is different from being a writer. Writers write and get paid for it; authors become public personas and have to go out and do signings, shows, media, etc etc. More than that, if you're an unknown at a small publishing house, you have to pay for it yourself. Fortunately, we found this terrific publicist who not only has done a bunch of cookbook work, but whose father owned a Jewish bakery in West LA in the 50s and 60s. So not only did we get a great professional; we also got a member of the family, so to speak ... and we even got a great photo of her dad rolling bagels that's gonna appear in the book.

So that's what's been going on ... except for one more great thing.

We had to re-shoot a bunch of the photos, including rainbow slices and French cookies, and Norm was having some health issues (all resolved now), so it was up to me to do the baking. Unfortunately, I couldn't find glace cherries, needed for the French cookies, in quantities less than 30#, so I went to a local bakery and asked if I could buy some. The woman at the counter went in the back and came back out, telling me there was no problem with that. The baker himself followed, with 1/2 a pound of the cherries and told me "no charge."

I thanked him, introduced myself and told him what I was doing and we talked shop for a bit, then his wife came out. "Ooooh, rainbow slices, I love them. He made me a tray for my birthday!" Jerry, the baker, smiled. "A lot of work," he said. So cherries in hand, I went home and baked. You can see the results here:

After the cookies were finished and photographed, I took a plate over to the bakery and got huge smiles and thank you's from both Jerry and his wife -- talk about positive reinforcement: I floated on air for days!

So okay, that's where we stand coming into Valentine's Day weekend. Stay tuned!

Stan Ginsberg


ananda's picture

100% Rye Sourdough with a Rye Flour Soaker Plus 3 Pains au Levain



I've had a heap of marking to do again this weekend now that my bakery students have successfully completed their exams for the unit in dough fermentation, and as I prepare for a visit from our External Verifier tomorrow.   I hope she is suitably impressed with their wonderful work.   So, I thought I'd make some bread at home to keep me on track as I wielded the red biro!

In case anybody's interested, the exam consists of a one hour written paper seeking to give credit to knowledge, and a 5 hour practical exam, in which students make a range of 3 fermented dough products.   I asked them to categorise these as 1] simple bread using either bulk fermentation, or a no-time dough; 2] an enriched dough with a ferment, or, a laminated dough; 3] something using complex fermentation such as biga, poolish or levain.   This tests practical skills, and understanding with 3 questions looking at dough production, temperature and fermentation.   So, quite a challenge!

Anyway, I ended up challenging myself in the end, with my chosen baking schedule, as I ran short of flour....again.   I live about 12 miles from a town, so this is not good!

I ran short of flour because I ended up making too much wheat leaven, and didn't want to waste it.   Originally, I planned to make just short of 2kg of the Pain au Levain dough, but ended up with over 3kg.   So my plan to make the 80% Rye Sourdough took a radical transformation, and became 100% Dark Rye instead!!

I have made thousands of All-Rye Sourdough breads like this, so I'm not sure why I'm using the exclamation marks?...100% Rye Sourdough with a Rye Flour Soaker

It's my formula, really, but with the inclusion of the rye flour soaker in Hamelman's recipe on pp. 213-4.   There are 2 elaborations on the sour, which I maintain at 1 part flour to 1.67 parts water, done on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon ready to make the paste early Sunday morning.   I made the soaker on Saturday afternoon at the same time as the second elaboration.   It's just one big loaf in a Pullman Pan, weighing in around 1860g of paste, and taking nearly 3 hours to bake!


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour Build One



Stock Rye Sour


80 [30 flour; 50 water]

Dark Rye









2. Rye Sour Build Two



Sourdough [from above]



Dark Rye










80g saved for stock

935 used in the final paste

3. Soaker



Dark Rye



Boiling Water






4. Final Paste



Rye Sourdough [from 1 & 2]

35% flour; 58.5% water

935 [350 flour; 585 water]

Soaker [from 3]

20% flour; 20% water


Dark Rye Flour






Water [40*C]






Total Pre-fermented Flour



Overall Hydration



Bake Profile 2¾ hours @ 170°C, with constant supply of steam from a "larva pan"


  • Let down the soaker with the warm water, add the salt, then combine the liquid sour
  • Add the flour and use wet hands to mix and form a paste
  • Ferment in bulk for 1 hour
  • Line the Pullman Pan with silicone paper, and use wet hands to mould the paste for the pan. Smooth the top and set to proof, covered, for about 3 hours.
  • Dust the top of the loaf with Dark Rye flour and cut the top with 4 "X" shapes down the loaf. Put the lid on and set in the pre-heated oven.
  • Bake as profile above
  • Cool on wires



Pain au Levain

I aimed for 720g of levain, but ended up with 860g.   The excess of final dough meant I ran out of flour, hence the wonderful All-Rye loaf above!


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Build One



Carrs Special CC Flour






TOTAL [nb. Stock leaven included above at 80g]



Build Two



Leaven [above]



Carrs Special CC












3. Final Dough



Leaven [from 1 & 2]



Carrs Special CC



Dark Rye Flour












Total Pre-fermented Flour



Overall Hydration



Oven Profile: Pre-heat to 250°C, and bake on the bricks using steam.    Drop the heat to 225°C after 15 minutes, and to 215°C after 30 minutes.   Bake each loaf out, then move to the next!


  • Autolyse flour and water for 1 hour
  • Combine autolyse with leaven, mix by hand to start development, then rest 5 minutes
  • Add salt and mix further 5 - 10 minutes to develop. Rest 10 minutes
  • Mix a further 5 - 10 minutes to achieve window pane
  • Bulk ferment, covered, for 2 hours in a bowl lined with olive oil; "Stretch and Fold" after 1 hour
  • Scale and divide [I used 1400g, 950g and 700g banneton pieces]. Mould round and set to proof upside down. Refrigerate 2 of the pieces a short while to set a working production schedule. The first loaf should be ready after 3 hours final proof; bake to profile.
  • Cool on wires



Nice looking breads; the house smells great; bread supply now sorted as we move to Confectionery in the student groups at College!

The weather, though wet, has turned mild, but the stove continues to blast out the heat.   It's outrageously warm, and the cat has been quite disgracefully indulgent in front of the fire!!!   Meanwhile, I gather you may be snowbound in parts of the US.   You are hopefully better equipped to deal with it all than the authorities are capable of back here in Blighty, that's for sure!

Best wishes to you all