The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hi! My first naturally leavened bread.

Beka's picture

Hi! My first naturally leavened bread.

Hi to all! I'm a teenage baker, who has been into cakes and cupcakes and cookies and pies (but not much of pastry). One of my passions has always been beautiful, crafted breads, the like of which are seen on this site. I hope very much to contribute as much to this site as I have already gained from it and continue to gain.

I'm home-based, which means that I research, order books, and study them, trying out recipes at home. My favorite cookbook author has to be Rose Levy Beranbaum, who is thorough and precise, and whose recipes always satisfy.

My first artisan bread bakes, besides the loaves of "regular" whole wheat bread stuffed with nuts, and/or seeds, and/or cranberries and/or raisins, have been under the instruction of Rose Levy Beranbaum.When I mean  "regular", I mean, a recipe from, with an unessarily high amount of yeast, meant to be made in a bread machine. Among other recipes, this was one bread recipe I made a lot of.


The first recipe I made that could come close to the complication of artisan is the Bread Bible's Challah. And we loved it! The flavor!


For a few years I experimented on and off with artisan bread, but now I'm back to it with a passion. So here's my first project.

Naturally Leavened Pain de "Simcha"

100g high protein bread flour

50g hard whole wheat flour (atta flour)

50g rosh hashanah starter (explained below)

1 (heavy) pinch salt

100g water

1 tbsp oil (to work the dough and grease the bowl)

Add enough water to the dry ingredients to make a moist dough. I went for 150g flour to 100g water, which was just nice. Then I let everything rise for 7 hours, overnight, until it was really, really, risen. Then I shaped the bread into a round (is it a boule?) and did a cross-slice in the middle. It is sitting on a tray, spread generously with cornmeal, and rising at this moment in the toaster oven.

Yes, that's right. I hate heating up the huge oven to do crafted breads, because the temperature requirements I am afraid will sky-rocket the electricity bill. So I make tiny loaves, and do them in my parents' really  lovely, new Panasonic toaster oven that has temperature adjustments and gives me the perfect crispy crust and well-done insides I desire, at about 220C and below.

This is the first time I have scored the bread, because before, I never had a knife or razor sharp enough not to completely botch the surface. Now, I received a Swiss deboning knife for my birthday. It is sharp and flexible, and made my first beautiful (but very imperfect) score. But I am happy, and oh-so-pleased.

The Starter

The starter is a big of a strange experiment, a cocktail of natural yeast (fermentation of raisins, sugar, and water), alcohol, and solid fermented fruit parts.

1) The first step, was me experimenting with natural yeast starters and raisins. Using the raisin yeast water, I attempted to multiply it alla' sourdough without the  sour part. But it turned sour. I hate sour! Sourdough has been a big failure for me, and I have attempted to eat almost all of the mishaps and i do not wish to do so again.

2) The second step was me giving up temporarily on using the raisin yeast water for bread- so let is be wine. I kept adding cordial to the raisin water, and sugar, and syrup. I brewed and fermented wine.

3) Meanwhile, the raisins used for the wine sat at the back of the fridge, still full of yeast.

4) One fine day, it was Rosh Hashanah 2012 and i wanted to try and make Rosh Hashanah charoset, which is basically apples and honey and wine, without the nuts. So I chopped an apple, added it to the fermented raisins, added some honey, added some watermelon fiber (strained out of fresh juice) and doused it with my blackcurrant cordial wine. And I went on a holiday, so I took it along to eat.

5) It so happened, that with all the bubbling yeast activity, I did not attempt to eat the charoset. So it came back home with me. I took it home, and blended it with water, and added flour, and voila - it is a yeast starter. It is stiff, and purplish in color. It is made of the oddest things, really, but it is a really effective starter. Several experiments with this has yielded bread with a delicious crumb and subtle aroma.

So that's why I call with my Rosh Hashanah starter, because I started it on Rosh Hashanah. And I finally baked it into a proper bread with weight ingredients and everything, after Simchat Torah. So it is Pain de "Simcha".


Pictures to come!


isand66's picture

Very innovative starter and bread.  Love your story about how you developed your hashana starter!

Look forward to seeing some of you photos.  Make sure to include a crumb shot for us.


Wild-Yeast's picture

As often is said, "It wasn't derived scientifically but it worked anyway" seems apropos for your starter Beka.  Now for some images...,


Beka's picture



Beka's picture

The comments that I got were,

"Oh yum" *gouges in greedily and eats half the loaf at one go* (that's me)

"A little gummy" (person used to fluffy pain de mie)


"Can I have some starter?"

isand66's picture

Way to go.  Looks like a very nice loaf.

If you think the crumb is too gummy, you may want to bake it a little longer and make sure when you start off have the oven at least at 500 degrees F. then once the loaf is in the oven lower it to 450 degrees.  Also, are you using steam in the oven?  That is very important in developing a nice crisp, dark crust.