The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Most bookmarked

  • Pin It
Daisy_A's picture

Pierre Nury's Rye as Stick and Boule


I decided to attempt this bread, which Daniel Leader records in Local Breads, after seeing the beautiful pictures on Zolablue's blog.

After working so hard to shape and steam the barm bread I also wanted to relax about shaping and concentrate on opening up the crumb of the next loaf I made. Made with white flour the barm bread can be open, but I had chosen to make it with quite a high amount of rye for a denser crumb and that much-loved rye flavour. Nury's rye with its rustic shape and lower rye content seemed an ideal bread to make next.

Maybe it's true that we can learn as much from what goes wrong as well as what goes right, even if it's not always so enjoyable? Certainly with my first two sourdough breads there were a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to get good loaves out of the oven!  Looking back, the story of making these breads reads a little like this - baker attempts sourdough bread, baker seems to be losing bread, baker rescues bread - eventual happy ending (phew). Can any other novice bakers relate to this? In comparison baking Pierre Nury's rye was much more straightforward.

The only adaptation I made to the formula was to use dark rye in place of light rye. Since starting to bake sourdough in May I've had to get up to speed fast with the different flours and grains used in artisan baking but wasn't yet aware of the range of rye flours. According to historian E.J.T. Collins, prior to 1800 rye bread was eaten widely in Britain and only 4% of bread was made of white wheat only. However breads made with rye flour are not so common now. Pumpernickel is available in some shops but is generally imported.

So, unused to a range of ryes, I have to admit to my chagrin that my first thought was that 'light rye' meant 'light on the rye', as in 'light on the mustard' or 'hold the mayo'.  Even when I realized that light rye was a type of rye flour I couldn't find any locally, not even at our local whole food cooperative, which carries a very good range of flours. I now realize I will have to look online. In the meantime, having scheduled time for baking, I pressed on with the darker rye. Zolablue notes on her blog that a stick made with darker rye is a different loaf from the original Pierre Nury's Light Rye. I have to agree but it was still delicious and I have baked with the darker rye a second time and again loved the flavour, although  I suspect the loaf may not rise as much. The flours used were from the Dove's Farm organic range; Strong White Bread Flour, Wholemeal and Wholemeal Rye.

I have to attribute success with this bread to Nury's beautiful formula. Although wet the dough handled well. The resulting loaf had a wonderful crunchy walnut crust and an open crumb. The flavour was fantastic! Tardis-like it seemed to have more rye flavour on the inside than might be guessed from a quick glance at the formula. Several bakers have posted on this being part of the attraction of the bread. I'm currently experimenting with different sourdough recipes but when the experimentation calms down I'm sure we could go for this as our weekly or even daily bread. Put it this way I baked two of these sticks in the evening and by the early next morning both were gone...

This was also one of only two sourdough formulae that I have been able to get through a long retardation without the dough losing elasticity. The other is a sourdough adaptation of Jan Hedh's lemon bread.  With a high concentration of sourdough in the initial mix my starters can get going like kittens in the wool box and reduce a nice tight ball to a much looser scattering of chewed gluten strands in a relatively short time. However in the case of both formulae mentioned here the amount of sourdough in the preferment is relatively low.

I haven't included the formula and method as it is given in full on Zolablue's blog and I followed that more or less to the letter. Thanks Zola.

I have just one main reflection on method. Several people on TFL have pondered how to hand mix a dough that calls for 12-14 minutes of initial development by machine until smooth and very stretchy. I obtained a well-developed dough with 20 minutes of continuous S&F on the bench, 10 minutes rest then another 10 minutes S&F, although this can be achieved in a variety of ways as other TFL bakers show.

I have since adapted Nury's formula to make a boule. I read Janedo's inspiring blog on her development of a boule from this formula and was encouraged by that. However I chose to start with a lower hydration dough. Following welcome advice from Andy/Ananda I  kept the hydration percentage in the 60s so I could work on my shaping skills with a lower hydration dough. Nevertheless, writing up the formula for the chart I think it could have gone up as far as 69%. I was also working with re-strengthened starters, which had previously been too acidic and were rendering wetter doughs too elastic to be shaped easily. In fact they were turning some boules into Dalí-like clock faces! This was another reason for trying a less wet dough. Obviously more experienced bakers who prefer to work with higher hydration dough can adjust the formula accordingly but it may suit those wishing to start with lower hydrations. I will also continue to experiment with this formula.

The final crumb was less open than in the unshaped sticks but it was even and still moist. I found I could shape and slash the bread more effectively with a lower hydration dough yet the crust was still well-coloured and crisp. The flours used were Marriage's Organic Strong White Bread Flour and Organic Whole Wheat with Dove's Farm Organic Wholemeal Rye. The Marriage's flour performed particularly well, yielding a nicely-developed, well-flavoured bread.

The process of mixing used was as for the sticks, following the information for initial autloyse, mixing and S&F from Leader as described by Zolablue, with the substitution of hand mixing for machine mixing.

The bread was baked on a stone with steam in the first 10 minutes of baking. I had been using an iron pan which I wet with half a cup of water before baking. However my domestic oven was struggling to get both this and the stone up to temperature. Since I replaced this with two much smaller fajita pans, one on each side of the oven, the steaming has been great.

The rye formed a slightly lower percentage of the overall flour in this formula and the rye taste was less prevalent than in the original sticks. However the mellower taste suited the boule and the bread was still extremely flavoursome.

Crust and Crumb


The formula below is for a 845g boule at approximately 69%  hydration once flour and water from the levain are accounted for. (I hope this is correct. As said below, any maths corrections accepted gladly. I have left in some of the 'working out' in the last column'. I've been enjoying doing the maths but it's testing me!)

Total Formula



Marriages organic white strong bread flour


 (397 + 7 + 45)
Marriages 0rganic wholemeal flour


Dove's Farm organic wholemeal rye flour


 (7 + 3)


 (310 + 8 + 24)





I estimate the hydration at 342/496 = 69% once the levain is factored in




Original stiff levain 34g (approx. 11 water, 12 white flour, 11 wheat flour)
23g (7, 8, 7 in final 94g)
Marriages organic strong white bread flour


Marriages 0rganic wholemeal flour







Final Dough



Marriages organic strong white bread flour


Dove's Farm wholemeal rye flour










saltandserenity's picture

Cheese Biscuits

Just made these buttery, crunchy and a little bit spicy cheddar biscuits.  Just the thing to serve with frozen peach bellinis in this summer heat.  Here are some photos and the recipes.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Bread Bottoms - looking at the underside

Bread Bottoms   What do they tell us?  Lots of information there yet we tend not to show them.  Yet we flip over a loaf as soon as we have it in our hands, many times before it lands on the cooling rack.   Some bottoms we don't see, others we do.  Dark, they speak of a hot oven; pale, a cooler one.   The hallmark of an English muffin > two bottoms.  They also leave clues as to what surface the loaf was baked.

In a discussion on evidence of the use of baking parchment, the subject of wrinkles came up.

Parchment Wrinkles.  I'm guessing the wrinkles come from moisture from the bread going into the parchment and deforming it where the dough lies, the outside edges being dry.  In the oven, the paper dries out shrinking & releasing steam which escapes in channels forming wrinkles where the still impressional  dough is touching it.  It marks the bottom like a fingerprint.  No two bottoms are alike.  :)  It's great when the bread doesn't stick and clean up is made easy.

Paper wrinkles like paper does.  With wall paper, one wets the paper with watery glue and lets it "size" until the paper has stabilized before hanging it or risk wrinkles as it dries.  I have not yet bothered to wet the parchment first, let it "size", and stretch it flat to park my dough on it to rise.  There might be a difference, less wrinkles or more.   Hasn't  bothered me enough to test it... yet.  Someone who is about to bake two loaves with parchment, might want to try it and report back.

Playing with those thoughts, it also might be interesting to create a pattern in the parchment that would show up in the baked dough, the bottom of the loaf becomming the top or loaves with signature bottoms.  We've lightly touched the subject before on TFL.  Orgami cranes pops into my head set under the wet dough... or folded rows for a rilled effect.  Cut paper?  Pizza with patterned bottoms?  What could I do with a cool iron and parchment?  So, I started this new thread...  "Bread Bottoms"  What do they tell us?

Dreaming of baking on the surface of relief tiles?  Does your wfo oven leave brick marks on the bottoms of loaves?    What does the bottom of a grilled loaf look like?  What does a bottom look like baked on Iron?  Bamboo?  Perforated pans?  Or baked on seeds?

Show us your bottoms!

sarafina's picture

Rustic loaf out of my Zorushi!


A wonderful friend got a new Zo three months ago and kindly passed her perfectly good older model down to me. I have, since then, been learning how to use it. It's been about 20 years since I was a weekly baker so it took a while to get in the swing of things and to learn how to use the breadmachine, which was totally new to me.

For the last few weeks I have been searching for a way to make a chewier, more open, more rustic loaf, while retaining the ease of the breadmachine one bowl, pretty much effortless baking process.


Tonight I think I have made a real breakthrough!


This morning I dumped a cup of water and a cup of bread flour and a half teaspoon of yeast into the Zo. I programed the homemade cycle to preheat for 15 minutes, knead for 10 minutes, rise for 2 hours, rise again for 2 hours and then stop. In the early afternoon, about 4 and a half hours later I added another half-cup of water, 2 and a half cups of bread flour and a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon and a half of salt.


I set the home made cycle to preheat for 15 minutes again, to knead for 15 minutes, to rise for 2 hours on the first cycle, to rise for 2 hours on the second cycle and then to turn off.


I dumped the dough out gently, it was very sticky but had nice stretch to it and clung together as it slowly gave up it's grip from the Zo bowl. I floured the board lightly and stretched out the dough, folded it in thirds, turned and folded in thirds again and then gently tightened up the loaf and stretched it out into a long wide flat loaf on the pizza pan, sprinkled generously cornmeal, that I usually cook freeform loaves on. I covered it with saran instead of a tea towel because I was worried it would stick to dough.


I preheated the oven to 525 and put a cast iron skillet on the floor of the oven.

I let it rise for about an hour and then slid it into the oven on the pizza pan and poured boiling water into the skillet, closed up the oven and let it bake about 20 minutes until dark gold.


My family raved about the taste and texture. It came out so beautiful and more open than any of the previous loaves I have tried. The crust was thin and crisp with nice little blisters all over it, the body chewy and tender.


I have been reading thru the artesian recipe threads, the french bread lessons, the bread machine discussions, the poolish/preferments threads, absorbing all of the knowledge here. I feel like today's sucess was a direct result of all that wealth of information and experience everyone here has shared.

I am SURE I have room for improvment, but tonight?

I am so happy ; -)

Thank you all so much.

hross's picture

Hamburger Bun didn't rise

The recipe I used was very simple; but the dough didn't rise, and the buns are tiny. What did I do wrong? Did I kill the yeast?



1 cup milk 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup butter 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast 2 tablespoons white sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 egg

1. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until very warm, 120 degrees F (50 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture, and then mix in egg. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
3. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Cover, and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes.
4. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
fastmail98's picture

Baguette Shaping...Suggestions Welcome!

Hello, Friends...

I'm practicing making French bread and seem to have the texture, flavor, and crust okay, but the problem that I have is in the shaping. I've been following Peter Reinhart's instructions as to preparing the pate fermentee, mixing, fermenting, and proofing, but when it comes to shaping the final dough, I end up with something between a baguette and an oval. It looks okay, kinda rustic. From what I can see in the video that came with Ciril Hitz's 'Baking Artisan Bread', he uses a wetter dough that takes the shapes like magic. I'm using a dough that is stiffer. From my final dough, I can get a batard or boule, but I need some help on getting a more tubular shape and those wonderfully crafted ends. Here's what I baked up firm or slack should my final dough be so that I can get a better shape? Thanks!


French Bread from Russ

cookingwithdenay's picture

Michigan Cottage Food law, formerly HB5837, signed into law

The Michigan Cottage Food law, formerly HB5837, was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The cottage law allows residents to make and package "nonpotentially hazardous foods that do not require time/temperature control for safety" without licensing and inspection from the Michigan Department of Agriculture.The baked goods, jams, jellies, popcorn, candy, cereal, granola, dry mixes, vinegar and dried herbs, must be created in a kitchen and stored in the residence, which includes a basement or attached garage of the home where food was made.

For more information visit the Michigan Department of Agriculture


trailrunner's picture

ain't no accident...

I had to get rid of starters and Larry's post the other day was the inspiration I KNOW he meant it to be :) I had enough bubbly weekold starter and I added that to his measurements. I added a couple more splashes of water as my KA mixed since it seemed dry and I wanted it to really slap the bowl. All went perfectly. I used my Grandmother's old blue granite roaster to bake. I have another really large one also. I have not tried this but saw the post by another TFL member and decided to give it a shot. Perfect. HUGE oven spring. I preheated my stone at 500 and then placed the covered pot on the hot stone  for a few minutes . It gets hot quickly. I sprayed the loaf heavily with water and placed it in the pot and covered. Baked at 460...lowered temp ...for 25 min and uncovered for 15. internal temp 208. 

Photobucket We should all have such great accidents. Pics of crumb tomorrow after it cools.c

Here is the "other side of the story" LOL. My scoring failed to take into consideration the huge oven spring I would get. Photobucket Lovely fine even crumb : Photobucket closer: Photobucket

ryebaker's picture

new member - wood-fired oven

a brief introduction.  just completed a 3 by 4 wood fired oven, similar but unique from an Alan Scott type design.  cure is complete so we are busy experimenting. some charcoal, some great successes this past week and given the oven seems to stay warm for half a day or more, lots to come.  particularly interested in rye breads, but have Clayton's Breads of France, and working through all the breads in there.

dmsnyder's picture

Back from Fort Bragg

We're back from 5 days in Fort Bragg with family. I took along 7 breads and, because of menu compatibility and dining out, I only baked once while there. I made a couple loaves of Sourdough Italian Bread which went well with baked coho salmon and grilled veggies.

We did breakfast one day at the Fort Bragg Bakery. They make very good bread and pastries, as well as pizza. They do the pizza's in a gas fired oven built with bricks salvaged from the bakery that was on the same site a couple generations ago and eventually torn down.

On the drive home, Susan and I stopped for lunch at the Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg. Along with our bill, the waiter left us a 2 lb sourdough epi to take with us. It was outstanding with a comfort food coming home dinner of scrambled eggs and tomatoes from our garden.

On a non-bread note I just have to share, I found myself taking all but a couple photos with my new iPhone 4. It's pretty amazing, especially the macro capability.

Begonia at the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens

Fly on Begonia petal

So, we're back home, doing laundry and re-packing for my week at SFBI.