The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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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


ajkessel's picture

Feeding ferment (Bertinet method) - how much to take out/replenish?

I'm doing the best I can to follow Richard Bertinet's sourdough method set out in "Crust." One thing I'm quite confused about is the volume of ferment. I bake about once per week. Bertinet suggests you should have 800g ferment; take out 400g for two loaves, and then refresh with an equal mass of water (i.e., 400g) and twice the mass of white bread flour (i.e., 800g). So after taking out the 400g and feeding the ferment, I have 1200g of mixture. If I kept this pattern up, the ferment would just keep getting larger and larger.

Is there an undocumented assumption that you will be throwing out 400g every week in addition to the 400g that you take out to bake with? Or is the mass supposed to magically decrease? Or are Bertinet's measurements just wrong in the book? I'm wondering if I'm missing something obvious here.

Thanks in advance for any tips/suggestions/advice!

sharonk's picture

Gluten-Free Sourdough and Perfect Loaves, Yeah Right!

HI All,
Lately I've been asked many questions about various technical aspects of making my bread. It seems the universe decided to remind me of some of the challenges so I could answer your questions from the best experience possible.

I'm preparing to vendor at a conference in a few short weeks.

Let's set aside that I decided to revise my book so the books I sell will be the most current and needed to have that done in time to self-print many books.

Let's set aside that my editor had to let go of my project about 10 pages into the book.
(My wonderful daughter took over the editing while she was preparing to move out of my house. The first night in her new apartment she stared at her computer for many hours, faithfully editing my book. I owe her big time)

Let's set aside that the ink I bought, at a good price online, has been delayed. When it finally arrived, I wasn't home and the delivery people needed a human to sign for it so it is still in their truck. (got ink from different site, not the best price, no shipping, next day delivered. I'm printing books as we speak, or as I write)

Let's set aside the logistics of packing my car for the conference: books, bread samples, humans, our own food, (we're all on special diets) rice cooker, toaster, hot pot, special pillows.

Now we come to what I wanted to really write about: I'm making samples, Mock Rye Bread. I froze some starter last week, took it out on Friday and planned to bake on Monday. The starter was sluggish, minimal bubbles, not much ferment smell at all.
Gave it an extra dose of water kefir but it didn't really help. (someone just wrote to me about just that).
Then I had to be out for a whole day so fed the starter and refrigerated it. (someone asked about that recently).
Still sluggish, no smell. I kept feeding it worrying it wouldn't be ready or perhaps it was never going to ferment properly. (Now that it's Fall the ambient temp in the house is cooler, probably part of the problem)  (3 cold aspects, frozen starter, refrigerated starter, cool house)

Monday morning comes, I hoped to have Peggy videotape a Mock Rye Bread demo for the online course but the starter is just sitting there. We switch gears and do a Feeding Technique #1 and #2 video.

Early Monday evening I feed it once more rather than dump the whole thing in the compost.
Late Monday night the starter starts rumbling and quaking and is in danger of overflowing its 16 cup bowl. (someone just asked about batters overflowing their pans)

I divide it into quart measuring cups, feed, cover and plan to bake on Tuesday morning. I'm left with 5 batches, a lot to do at once but hey, a baker's work is never done.

As I assemble the ingredients for the first loaf I see the starter is a bit too thick, so I add a little water to the next 4. They seem to be alright but instead of a slow pour into the pan, they plop in to the pan. Nowhere in my book do I mention "plop" as a batter texture.

Of course, my schedule for Tuesday does not allow for a proper rise. I will get home one and a half hours later than a 7 hour rise but I really can't get around it. As I'm driving home I visualize that the breads should stay nice and risen, hold their texture, be tall but when I come home they've fallen quite a bit. (someone just wrote about too short and too long rise times).

I bake them, they seem okay. I cut them open using a hacksaw (like someone just wrote about) Although they rose they're not fully cooked through on the top in the center of the loaf. (some wrote about that, too) I would have cooked them longer but they started to get a scorched smell.

A lot of it was usable, though, I cut off the uncooked pieces, hacksawed the rest into slices and froze them for the conference. I feel 99% sure they will be fine after thawing and toasting.
Luckily I also have some perfect loaves I made a few weeks ago.

I saved the uncooked parts and will see if they respond to double toasting. (more info for future questions)

So, All, if you thought I made perfect loaves all the time, you now know the truth. I'm still working with this fluid animal called Sourdough.
And Loving It.

Sjadad's picture

Tartine Baguette

I've baked many loaves of the Basic Country Bread out of the Tartine Bread book and they have all come out very good to great. Many friends and family members have told me it's their favorite of all the breads I bake. So I decided to try the Tartine baguette, and my expectations were very high. Either I screwed up (a distinct possibility) or this recipe/formula has some issues. First of all, it makes a huge batch of dough. The directions say to form it into two or three loaves. Perhaps if I had a commercial oven and could make 24 inch baguettes, three would be the right number of loaves, but limited by a 16 inch baking stone, my loaves are not what one would consider to be proper baguettes.Baguette of Unusual Size! The timing and manner of the salt addition is also a bit awkward. About 40 minutes into the bulk fermentation you are directed to add the salt when you do the first S&F. I didn't think the salt got incorporated very uniformly.

The loaves proofed up like balloons in the Macy*s parade and exhibited prodigious oven spring (I use Sylvia's wet towel steaming technique).

Big Oven Spring

The loaves came out of the oven looking like edible zeppelins. The crumb was not as airy as I would have expected, but that is probably my failing.

Crumb Shot As for the eating - Tasty, but not the best baguette I've eaten by a long shot. These are my baguettes a l'ancienne, which are of proper size and are much tastier:Baguettes a l'Ancienne To be fair, the crust is very good; thin and crackling. You should have heard how it sang when it first came out of the oven.DSC_0133

Has anyone else made this Tartine baguette?

tomsgirl's picture

As promised pictures of my vermont sourdough in loaf pans


Had a very nice oven spring you can see the line have not sliced into one yet. Hope it's good as I already delivered one to my father in law. He placed his order the other day.

txfarmer's picture

36 hours+ sourdough baguette with 60% whole grain - it works even when I mess up, a lot.


Continue to push the limit on how much whole grain flour can be used in baguettes, yet still maintain the light texture. (original recipe here, 3 earlier variations here, 3 more variations here, previous whole grain experiments here)

AP Flour, 200g

barley flour, 75g

ww flour, 150

ice water, 375g

salt, 10g

rye starter (100%) 150g

-Mix flour, ice water and autolyse for 12 hours.

-Mix in salt, starte, then follow the basic 36 hour sourdough baguette formula here.

15% rye (in starter), 15% barley, 30% ww, which makes 60% whole grain flour in total. Since my last try of 45% whole grain baguettes were a bit heavy, I was not holding too much hope for this batch, which means I was reckless and not paying too much attention. (Quote from my husband: you were BEGGING to fail!) And boy, did I mess up in so many ways:

1. Didn't have enough rye starter ready. The 12 hour autolyse was done, but I only had 100g of rye starter, Ugh! Decided to use that, and added another 25g of water and 25g of rye flour to make all the ratio "correct". However, 1/3 less starter means much slower rise, so I knew I had to really read the dough carefully.

2. At first S&F, something is off. What? Oh, the salt! I had forgot to mix in the salt! Luckily the rise is long due to less starter, so I had plenty of time to add salt and S&F to distribute it evenly. On the other hand, it may have helped the dough to rise faster by "holding back" the salt.

3. I literally "forgot about" the dough after taking it out from fridge to finish rising. Again the reduced starter was a blessing, the dough was way bubbly and expanded, but not disasterously so.

4. The hydration was 90%, yeah, you read that right, remember? I was "begging to fail"? That hydration, along with too long of a bulk rise, made shaping and scoring...interesting. UGH.

5. When it's time to score, I knew it wasn't gonna be easy, so I decide to install a new blade on my lame. Apparently I was so careless that it was not properly installed, it came loose during scoring, and by second baguette, it fell!! Into a puddle of dough. Sigh, fished it out and continued.

6. Forgot to prehead the oven well in advance, so when the baguettes went in, the stone was only reheated for 30min, much shorter than my usual 1 to 2 hours. 

After all that, I was expecting bricks and making alternative dinner plans, yet this is what I got!


Was I ever surpised! Talking about a no fail recipe! The weekend after, I made this formula again, properly this time. The results were even better.


Here's the best part: due to my reckless 90% hydration, the crust was not too thick - unlike my 45% whole grain baguettes, so the battle with super wet dough was well worth it! Nice crispy but "not too thick" crust, along with open crumb with lots of holes, and great whole grain flavor, make this formula a winner.When I started out this "whole grain in baguettes" experiment, I didn't expect anything beyond 50% whole grain would still produce light baguettes, but this formula proves me wrong. Of course, now I have to try even more whole grain flour, and even more water!


Submitting to Yeastspotting.

BeekeeperJ's picture

Impossible to Overknead in Kitchen Aid

I just picked up Reinharts book, The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  In it he mentions a detail about kneading and goes on to say that the home mixer will burn out before it overkneads dough and the human body will cramp up before IT over kneads the dough. Anyone have other ideas about this. I feel the home mixer ie. Kitchen Aid could break down the dough before it burns out. Opinions? Or personal experiences ?

prijicrw's picture

White Levain Multigrain


By adding some yeast to speed up my winter sourdough baking I received teriffic results. I used my Cuisinart 5 quart mixer for kneading and 8 inch proofing baskets.


White Levain Multigrain



270 grams H2O

¼ teaspoon (heaping) yeast

170 grams starter (100%)

460 grams flour

10 grams salt

1 cup mixed seeds/grains (add ¼ cup boiling water during autolyse)


1.     Autolyse 20 minutes

2.     Mix 6 mins medium speed, 4 mins med-high, then at seeds for 2 mins

3.     Bulk ferment 2 hours at about 78-80 degrees (warm oven) w/ fold at 1 hour

4.     Divide - preshape – rest 15 mins

5.     Shape

6.     Proof 2-2.5 hours

7.     Bake at 475-500 for 30 mins w/ steam at 3 & 6 mins