The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Janknitz's picture


OK, so I'm a little backwards.  I've been feeding my 100% hydration starter "all wrong" according to conventional wisdom.  Here's why:  After refreshing the starter with flour and water, most directions say to leave it on the counter for a few hours to get perking, then refrigerate for up to a week.

I probably misread the directions, so what I do is refresh the starter and put it directly in the fridge.  In the fridge it sssssssslllllllllllloooooooowwwwwwwwwwllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyy grows and bubbles.  (Look, Ma, no hooch!).  When I'm ready to use or feed it, I put the starter on the counter until it's nice and bubbly and has doubled from it's original volume.  This takes about 8 hours, just like a regular counter feed.  Then I can discard and feed as usual. 

So when I reread directions and realized that I was doing it all backwards, I tried it the "right" way.  But I don't like the "right way".  My starter did not seem happy.  It developed a yellowish layer of hooch and didn't smell as nice as it usually does. 

I think my way, the backwards way, is actually better and safer for the starter because it reduces the danger that the yeast will eat up all the food before it's time to be refreshed. 

Just wondering what all you sourdough experts out there think?

hansjoakim's picture

Schwarzbrot and Le Fraisier (updated)

There are a couple of things you can do with stale bread. Loaves that are past their prime can still be enjoyed for toast or paninis. Dried slices of lighter bread make for awesome croûtons. Not too spoilt breadcrumbs go well in stuffings or even in biscottis. Sourdough leavened pain de campagne is an awesome choice for putting in fishcakes. If you're really adventurous, hearty rye loaves mixed with rye starter, molasses, water and raisins can be made into kvas. If you're, as me, not that adventurous yet, you can slice stale rye bread, toast it until it's dry and dark (but not carbon), and put it into a new loaf of bread. If all else fails, stale bread is good bird fodder ;)

I recently made a boule of Hamelman's black bread - a 60/40 sourdough rye bread, where stale bread is mixed with ground coffee, vegetable oil and hot water. I mixed the soaker at same time I set the sourdough, and the overnight soak turned the mix into a (not very appealing) dark water slurry. I heated the soaker slightly to get the right DDT, and mixed the dough:

Mixed Schwarzbrot

I used bread flour instead of Hamelman's suggestion of high-gluten flour, so the dough came together after approximately 6 minutes in the mixer. By then it was well developed and pretty strong when I tugged at it.

Here's the fully proofed dough:

Proofed Schwarzbrot

It has a lovely brown, almost chocolate-y colour to it, and a heady aroma of fermented rye flour and strong, black coffee. The  aroma became even headier and more penetrating as the loaf baked:

Baking Schwarzbrot


The loaf weighs in at about 1 kg, so it baked for 45 minutes.

Baked Schwarzbrot

The loaf has a dark, crackly crust and an intense smell of dark coffee.

Side view of Schwarzbrot

I really like it - the flavour is unlike any other rye sourdoughs I've made. There are no hints of sweetness to it (as there are no molasses or other sweeteners/colour agents in the dough), but rather a subtle roasted coffee flavour that fits brilliantly with the taste of a 60/40 rye. I didn't include any caraway seeds or other herbs or spices, but I would like to try some dark caraway seeds next time, since Hamelman suggests that these pair nicely with the flavour of this black bread.

Side view of Schwarzbrot

Have a go at it! I think you'll enjoy it.


Crumb Schwarzbrot

As you can see, whether it's a black bread or not is certainly debatable - at least compared to a fully fledged Pumpernickel. But it's still very dark in colour as compared to other 60% medium rye loaves.

PS: Any other tips for what to do with stale bread?


The first locally grown, fully ripe strawberries are filling up the shelves at the local grocery store. Earlier this week, I couldn't resist the tempting berries anymore and went a little over board. They're absolutely delicious - soft, juicy and sweet with an almost blood red colour. This was the perfect opportunity to have a go at the Fraisier - a French strawberry cake. Some of the prettiest Fraisiers I've seen on the net, are the ones at La Tartine Gourmande, Tartelette and at Foodbeam (everything they make are stunning, and their takes on the Fraisier are no exceptions). I was stoked to be able to have a crack at this myself.

The Fraisier is traditionally a genoise cake base split in two and soaked in Grand Marnier cake syrup. The two layers are sandwiching a stack of strawberries and heavenly crème mousseline (crème patissière mixed with softened butter to make a buttercream slightly lighter than a typical meringue-based buttercream), and topped with a thin layer of marzipan.

Here, I'm in the middle of assembly:

Making Le Fraisier

Some hulled strawberries are divided in two, and lined along the rim, while whole, hulled strawberries make up the interior. Crème mousseline is then piped over this, before the second genoise layer is pressed on top, to flush the cream. Top the second genoise layer with a thin layer of crème mousseline, before chilling the cake in the fridge to firm it up.

After being chilled, a thin coat of marzipan is put on top. Here's how it turned out with my rather sparse top decorations:

Le Fraisier


This cake is all about good summer vibes. It's filled with fresh strawberries, the luscious taste of vanilla and soft butter from the crème mousseline, backdropped with the smooth Grand Marnier syrup.

Le Fraisier

If you have even more strawberries lying around (as I did - as said, I went a bit overboard), they're great on a tart, resting on a pillow of crème chantilly folded into pastry cream:

Strawberry tart

xaipete's picture

Grilled Asiago Rounds Video (KA's Susan Reid)

Video: King Arthur's Susan Reid shows how to make Grilled Asiago Round. Who's the guy in the background?


hansjoakim's picture

Pulling a window pane

LeadDog's picture

Lemon Rosemary Sourdough

Lemon Rosemary Sourdough

I saw a post here on The Fresh Loaf  by someone looking for a formula for a Lemon Rosemary bread.  This combination sounded really good to me so I decided to give it a try.  First I had to decided how much Lemon Zest and Rosemary to put into the bread and I decided to try for about 2% for each of them.  Then I decided that I would use up the last of my bread flour and use some fresh milled whole wheat and rye.  I figured on a hydration of 70% and that the percentage of the sourdough preferment would be 20%.  It is summer time here and the temperatures have been hot so I figured less preferment would slow things down a little bit.  I now had a plan on how I was going to make this bread now I'll tell you how it went.

 The first night I made my first build of the preferment.

1st Build  Grams  Percent 
 Starter 50% 
 Flour 14  100% 
 Water 50% 
 Total 28 


 The next morning I add more flour and water to the preferment for the 2nd build.

2nd Build  Grams  Percent 
 1st build 28 54% 
 Flour 51 100% 
 Water 36 70% 
Total 114 


When I got home from work the afternoon I mixed the dough up as follows.  

 Dough Formula Grams  Percent 
 Flour* 571  100% 
 Water 400  70.05% 
 Salt 10  1.75% 
 Preferment 114  19.96% 
 Rosemary 11  1.93 
 Lemon Zest 12  2.10% 
 Olive Oil 11  1.93% 
 Total 1129  197.72% 

*Flours  Grams  Percent 
 Bread Flour 445  77.93% 
 Whole Wheat 69  12.08% 
 Rye 57  9.98% 
  First I dissolved the preferment into the water and then  mixed in the bread flour.  I let this sit while I went and milled my wheat and rye flours.  Next the wheat and rye flours were mixed in and the dough was let sit for 30 minutes.  We have Rosemary growing in the yard so I went and picked enough for 11 grams and then chopped it up into small bits.  I used a small grater to make Lemon Zest from one lemon and ended up with 12 grams.  I added the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Salt and the Lemon Pepper infused Olive Oil all at the same time.  The rosemary went in first and my first reaction was it was going to just over power the bread.  The Lemon Zest went in last and after that all I could smell was lemon.  This seemed like it was going to be one powerful bread.  I mixed the dough until the gluten developed.  Then the dough was turned out into an oiled bowl and placed in the wine cellar for a cool ferment.  Four hours later I placed the bowl in the refrigerator so I could cook it when I got home from work the next day.  I checked the dough in the morning before I went to work and it had raised up to touch the plate that I place on top of the bowl.  When I got home that day the dough was lifting the plate off of the bowl.  I set the bowl out and let the dough warm up for two hours.  Then I turned out the dough on to a floured work surface and folded the dough over on itself to get some flour on all the surfaces of the dough.  When I looked at the dough after I did this the dough looked so nice I just want to bake it like that without shaping it any more.  I figured that if I rolled it over onto some parchment paper that it just might work.  Then I put the dough into a counche and turned the oven on to 460°F to preheat it.  I used a cast iron roasting pan to bake this bread in so it is oiled and preheated in the oven too.  When the oven gets up to temperature I place the dough in the pan and cook it with the lid on for 25 minutes and then the last 15 minutes without the lid.  The bread had great oven spring and just looked wonderful to me when I pulled it out.  The aroma of the bread just filled the house but now I had to get some sleep.  Cutting the bread would have to wait for the next day at work were my coworkers are my bread testers.   My testers really liked the bread.  They were eating great big slabs of the bread all day long.  I told my boss what kind of bread that I had made and she said she didn't like Lemon Rosemary.  Later a coworker tells my boss how great it tastes and talks her into trying a slice of it.  My boss then emails me telling me how great the bread is.  There were many great compliments on this bread, it was just incredible.


davidg618's picture

Dan DiMuzio's baguettes with liquid levain

I'd planned to do yet another bake of classic baguettes ala Hitz' formula, but after seeing and reading Pamela's blog entry a week ago, and after comparing Dan's formula with what I've been doing--they are very similar except for the liquid levain--I gave into my temptation and made the DiMuzio formula. The only change I made was to scale the formula to 1000g final dough weight (four 250g small baguettes) which isn't really a change, merely a diminuation. The DiMuzio formula calls for instant yeast, in addition to the liquid levain. I considered not using it, ultimately deciding to be faithful to the formula.

I prepared the liquid levain from my starter cache, using the 3-Build process I've made my own, over a nineteen hour interval. I mixed all ingredients together in my stand mixer for five minutes--bread hook, on lowest speed--then 3 minutes on second lowest speed, rested the dough 30 minutes, did a stretch & fold, and started to chill the dough for overnight retarded bulk fermation. I did two more S&F at 45 minute intervals before I was satisfied with the dough's development. Left to ferment overnight in the fridge, approximately 12 hours. Next morning, I divided the dough, and returned half to the refrigerator. I let the dough rest for thirty minutes. It didn't reach room temperature, but it had doubled in volume so I divided it again in two,  preshaped, rested 20 minutes, shaped, and proofed for an hour. Baked for 10 minutes, with steam, at 480*F, cleared the steam as much as possible, dropped the temperature to 450°F and baked further to 208°F internal temperature. I had decided to do the bake in two two-loaf batches. The one time I baked four baguettes simultaneously, despite the convection oven, I experienced uneven baking among the loaves.

Meanwhile, I'd removed the remaining dough from the refrigerator.

I was pleased, with the first batch's oven-spring, but one of the two loaves had a minor blowout. I'm still not confident my shaping and slashing is what it should be, and the visual results of the first two loaves didn't boast my confidence even an iota. I prepared and baked the second two loaves like the first batch with two planned changes--and one mistake. Planned: I allowed the shaped loaves to proof 15 minutes longer, and I slashed approximately 1/4 of an inch deeper than the first batch. Unplanned: In a senior moment, I forgot to lower the temperature to 450°F after the first ten minutes.  I think this only effected the crust thickness and color. The second two loaves are on the right in the picture below. I removed the loaves, like the first two, at 208°F internal temperature.

The crumb is all I could ask for, and the flavor, in my perspective, not surprisingly, is better than the poolish initiated baguettes I've been baking. Let me hasten to add, I love their flavor as well, but the sourdough levain adds complexity absent in the classic baguettes. I especially like the crust's nutty flavor bursts, and the chewier crumb. Furthermore, the flavor is only mildly sour.

So, I'll claim a conditioned success: Taste: A, Visual: C. Procedures: C+; I got a lot of them right, but not all of them. I've watched shaping and slashing video's and read shaping and slashing instructions ad nauseum, but my hands haven't yet developed the muscle memory to be able to do it rightly, without thinking about it. More practice, practice, practice. At least I've got lots of mouths that love to eat my bread, regardless of how it looks. I did, however, see one neighbor close her eyes while chewing a mouthful. I had assumed it was a gesture of ecstasy, and felt flattered, but maybe, that wasn't the real reason!


Dragonbones's picture

Baking in the land of typhoons and earthquakes

I've decided to blog my baking and look forward to sharing recipes and getting advice from y'all.

For the past 15 years here in Taiwan, I had made far too many doorstops and hockey pucks instead of edible bread, until a couple months ago I decided to invest in a few good books on baking (I got PR's BBA (Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice), RLB's BB (Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible), and NS's BLB (Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Tarpits), and also found this wonderful forum. It's helped immensely -- thank you all!

I've learned not to work so much flour into the dough (wetter is better!), and have also learned to weigh, not scoop and pack (!) flour. Equally importantly, I've learned to let it rise and proof by volume and not by the clock. I've started doing lots of pre-ferments, using sourdoughs as well as commercial yeast, and using pâte fermentée. Finally, I've gotten a hotter oven and started using steam.

My first big success was my Fifteen-grain Torpedo, based on the Tyrolean Ten-Grain Torpedo in RLB's BB p. 394. I changed the flour to 日清特高筋麵粉 extra-high gluten flour (sorry, but the brands here aren't generally in Roman script -- I'll sometimes post the original Mandarin because there's at least one other forum member here in Taiwan who might want to know the brand name or the product name in Mandarin; you can just ignore it if you don't read Chinese). I also added vital wheat gluten (小麥蛋白). The very high gluten content gave this loaf incredible shape-retention during its rise.


Dragonbones Fifteen-Grain Bread

This was baked in my old oven, which I got rid of a couple weeks ago. It didn't get hot enough (only 400F max, sometimes 365F), especially the lower element, so the bottom crust in the above pic could obviously be improved upon.


Make sponge.   

  • ¼ tsp instant yeast

  • ½ TBSP malt syrup

  • ¾ cup + optional 1-2 TBSP water, RT

Should be DRY, to make up for the very wet mixture of grains and seeds to be added later. Let hydrate an hour, then add 100g (about 2/3 c) extra-high-gluten flour (日清特高筋麵粉 brand).  Original recipe called for bread flour (throughout). 

Make flour mixture (dry mix). In a separate bowl, mix these:

  • 200 g (about 1.25c plus ½ TBSP) extra-high-gluten flour

  • ¾ tsp instant yeast

  • 4 tsp (12 g) vital wheat gluten (小麥蛋白))

Whisk these 3 items together, dry. Spoon onto the sponge to cover it completely. Cover this with plastic, ferment 4 hours at RT, then overnight in the fridge.  This will form the 'dough' on day two.

Soak grains and seeds: Mix the following (or your own creative mixture of seeds and grains) in a small bowl, then add ½ c minus 1 TBSP HOT water, stirring well. Cover tightly, soak overnight at RT.

RLB's Original: ten-grain cereal mix, ½ c plus 2 TBSP, or 100 g

My version - equal amounts of the following, mixed into a larger bag (then measured out ½ cup of the mix, saving the rest for a subsequent batch):

  1. buckwheat flour, fine

  2. pumpkin seeds, toasted

  3. sunflower seeds, toasted

  4. cornmeal

  5. whole oats (chopped in my spice grinder) then toasted

  6. pearl barley; briefly chopped in spice grinder then toasted

  7. barley tea (=roasted unhulled barley), cracked (in my spice grinder)

  8. whole millet, toasted

  9. sesame, white

  10. sesame, black

  11. rye crumbs

  12. caraway

  13. spelt flour

  14. wheat germ and wheat bran

  15. zaliang 雜糧 (multi-grain) powder


Mix the dough on low (KA2) 1 min., then medium (#4) SEVEN mins; will be dryish. Rest 20 mins (do not skip). Add salt (1.25 tsp) and presoaked seed mixture including liquid.

Knead another 3-5 mins until well incorporated; should be slightly sticky. Adjust with flour or water; will weigh 680 g (24 oz). Taste to check whether salt was added.  Due to errors on my first attempt (failure to realize sponge should be so dry, leading to adding too much water), I kneaded longer, working in flour, for about 15 minutes before dough was smooth; it was a very firm dough, resilient, slightly tacky.

Put in greased, flat-bottomed bowl; turn once. Push down to make top level, and mark this and the double level. Cover tightly. Let rise RT til double. Dough becomes more slack, workable.

Oil spatula. Scrape onto floured counter, press into rectangle.  Letterfold, turn, repeat; return to oiled bowl, turn, cover, let rise until doubled again, 45-60 mins.  

Shape and final rise:  Turn onto lightly floured counter, press into a rectangle. Shape into a torpedo-shaped loaf or bâtard. Spray parchment with oil then dust heavily with cornmeal. Set parchment on a peel or the back of a cookie pan;  set torpedo atop this, and cover with a large container, proofing box, or loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled. Meanwhile preheat oven to its maximum, with stone on lowest shelf, and cast iron pan on oven floor.

Dust with light or medium rye flour and score.  Prepare a cup of boiling water. Open the oven, slide the dough with its parchment sheet onto oven stone directly, and pour water onto cast iron pan underneath. Shut door quickly. After 30 seconds, spray water and shut door. Repeat once more.  I didn't lower the oven temp because my old oven maxed out at a wimpy temperature. A hotter oven might need to be turned down at this point, especially the top element.  Bake 20-30 mins, turning once, or until golden brown; internal temp should be about 208°F.  Cool completely on rack before cutting.   

RESULT: Excellent! Chewy, full of grain, nice crust, nice flavor. Maintained shape, rose more than expected during final rise (had to orient diagonally on parchment to fit in oven!). Cuts opened well, looked great!  Cornmeal on bottom contributed nice texture too.   

My first real bread success! (This was about 6 weeks ago, I guess).  I'll be trying it again with a hotter stone this time for a better bottom crust, now that I have a new oven.




rainwater's picture

Italian "00" flour continued..... is the final chapter...maybe/probably in the Italian "00" imported flour Saga.  I have made the "00" pizza crust with pretty much the same consistency as the crust made with King Arthur Unbleached bread flour.  The "00" flour makes the crust with a bit more bite (al dente?), but it's barely noticeable, but mentionable.  I used the same formula for both crusts, but the Italian "00" uses one Tablespoon of olive oil instead of two like I use with the King Arthur.  I'm not sure the Italian flour likes olive oil added??? I have to say......the Italian flour does have flavor and scent that is noticeable.  Especially when the baked product reaches that point in the oven when the aroma drifts into the house....The Italian flour has an aroma that is unique.....These pizza crusts are 75% hydration. 

When my stash of Italian "00" flour is finished, I probably will not order any time soon in spite of the's a bit expensive to mail order the Italian flour......

The first photo is the Italian "00" crust, the second photo is the King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour.  I have to say....I haven't tried all the European flours (of course), but I'm not sure they have any advantage over our American flours in texture of finished product.  The perfect crust would be King Arthur texture with Italian "00" must be something in the soil..or maybe it's the particular strain of wheat that's used.  Caputo states in their website that they use flour from many places to mill....maybe it's not just Italian soil, but maybe the strain of wheat.....This would be a great study for a company like King Arthur to research.....maybe get American farmers to use some European strains of wheat to produce or coax some different qualities from our flours.

dmsnyder's picture

Advice regarding sourdough baking in hot weather

Janedo currently has a nice entry on her blog about sourdough starter feeding and sourdough baking during the heat of Summer. (It's in French, and I haven't checked the English version.)

Anyway, Jane offers some good things to think about as the weather heats up. (It's 106F where I am today.)

Here is a link:



PeterPiper's picture

Retarding Dough How-To

I had great success with overnight retarding of my ciabatta dough.  The flavor was sweet and nutty, the crust turned to a beautiful golden brown, and I got great big holes.  I thought that trying an overnight stay in the fridge for my rustic bread would yield similar results.  But I tried it this Saturday and my dough ended up with small uniform air pockets, and lacked in the rich develoepd taste of the ciabatta.

So I'm wondering what's the secret to overnight retarding of dough?  How long does it need to warm back up?  Should you knead once then put in the fridge, or knead twice and form?  Should you use a poolish, as I did, or just mix all the ingredients and then retard the dough?

I think this method has a lot of promise, but I'm wondering how everyone else does it.  Many thanks!