The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The closest-to-perfect bake I've ever had.

mneidich's picture

The closest-to-perfect bake I've ever had.

This is my first post, so before I get into the details, here's a little bit about me. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and I took up breadbaking a few years ago when I moved here from the Southeast. The first breads I made were Challahs, and I got pretty good at making them. I'd make pizza, too, but that doesn't really count. After a while, I decided to start my own sourdough starter earlier this year, and after baking every week (except during Passover when I wasn't supposed to), I was starting to get a little annoyed that my breads wouldn't turn out how I wanted them.

Yesterday afternoon, i decided to do some calculations and create a bread that is about 65% hydration. I also knew that I needed to adjust my flour. I like using Bob's Red Mill because it's local, but it only has about an 11.7% gluten content. I adjusted my flour by adding vital wheat gluten to the the flour I used.

So, here are the results: The holes are just right, the crumb is nice and open, and the crust is nice and crusty (duh - it's a crust, right?!). Here are some pictures, and below the pictures are the instructions.

Evening before bake:


  • 300g Bread flour (13% gluten content)
  • 225 grams lukewarm water
  • 50g highly active firm starter
  1. In a medium-sized ceramic bowl, mix the starter into the water, then add the flour.
  2. Mix until even consistency is achieved (a couple minutes)
  3. Leave mixture in bowl and cover with plastice wrap.
  4. Let sit in kitchen for ~10 hours (overnight)


The Day of the Bake:


  • 450g Bread flour (13% gluten content)
  • 262g water
  • Starter mixture from previous evening.
  • 20g kosher salt
  • 30g olive oil
  1. Mix flour and water in a large bowl.
  2. Separate 50g of starter mixture and store in a jar for a future bake. Add all of the rest of it to the flour and water mixture.
  3. Mix just a little bit, then add oil and salt. Mix again until fairly incorperated.
  4. Turn out onto a clean surface (no flour or oil)
  5. Knead for 10 minutes, until gluten is well-formed.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and roll it in a little flour (to prevent it from sticking to the bowl while fermenting).
  7. Put the dough in a large ceramic bowl and cover with a damp cloth.]
  8. After ~2 hours of fermentation, take the dough out and form it into loaves, The dough probably has not changed much in size at this point.
  9. Put semolina flour into two bannetons to prevent loaves from sticking.
  10. Place formed loaves in bannetons and let proof for 5 hours (until dough doesn't spring back when poked)
  11. While dough is proofing, put baking stone on the second-to-top shelf in oven and heat oven to 550 degrees. Put a metal cookie sheet on the bottom shelf in the oven for steam-creation.
  12. Just before baking, lower temperature to 425 degrees.
  13. Turn loaves out onto a peel, slash them, and put on bread stone.
  14. Pour ~1 cup boiling water into the cake pan to create steam.
  15. Bake for 45 minutes, turning loaves at the half-way mark.
  16. Cool loaves uncovered on wire racks.

Okay, so that's it. If you try the recipe out, let me know how it goes :-)



Paddyscake's picture

Tell us, how did it taste?


mneidich's picture

Not too salty, just the right bit of sour. I'm not the biggest fan of sourdoughs that make my mouth feel like I just ate a lemon, so this one is prettymuch just the way I like it. The loaf has a nice, complex taste and a good chew to it.


Pablo's picture

Those are a couple of beautiful loaves.  You ought to be pleased!  And you didn't mention the scoring, which is also terrific - opened up beautifully.


althetrainer's picture

Makes me hungry!  Now I have to get something to eat.

Andreas's picture

Thanks for posting. I will definitely try this. 

I have just started to bake my own bread - I come to baking from cooking, so this is quite the adjustment for me - and even my failures are so much better/more interesting than anything store bought that I am completely hooked. Exact recipes like yours are great for people like me who ares still figuring things out. 

I am just about to move into sourdough, something that terrifies and excites me in equal measures. 

janij's picture

I must try this one.  I have been looking for a good sourdough bread.