The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New loaf. Working with feedback, keep it coming.

Bigblue's picture

New loaf. Working with feedback, keep it coming.

I've finished Tartine and Bread Revolution and 1/2 way through The Bread Builders--it is by far my favourite. 

I keep tweaking my loaves based on TFL feedback and the literature I'm getting through. This loaf I did a 20 hour retard b/c it got sunny and had to go outside. I was surprised with the results. I can't really pick up on subtle differences in sour/tang with the 20hr ferment. Happy with the oven spring, colour, open crumb. The spreader loaf I had last time is completely gone likely due to less hydration.

500g Flour weight loaf. 24% sds (fermented flour weight). 75% Anita's Organic Sprouted ww. 25% Bob's Mill Artisan bf. 77% water. 1.8% salt. 

  • 45m AL.
  • Add SDS ST&F 5 min.
  • Add salt and 20g wat. ST&F 5 min.
  • Folds in bowl every 30m for first 2 hours.
  • 3hr BF. 25m bench rest. 
  • 1hr proof.
  • 20 hour fridge retard.
  • Bake straight from fridge cold. 450 20m covered hot DO. 25m 425 uncovered.


  1. What should I tweak? See any imperfections and things worth improving on?
  2. The crumb was the chewiest loaf yet (not in a bad way). Does a long fridge fermentation affect chew?
  3. I intentionally pinched a couple bubbles under the surface while I was shaping. Is that standard?
  4. I didn't cover the loaf in the fridge with plastic, just a towel. Is that standard? What about when proofing on counter? Towel or upturned bowl/plastic? Do we want higher humidity?
  5. Is a relatively higher hydration a trade-off between a more open crumb but less loaf height? Does high hydration impair gluten strength allowing for an open crumb but less structural strength and therefore less height? 
  6. I'm guilty of only refreshing my starter once the night before with a ~90% dump then inoculating my dough ~12 hours later. The ratio of new flour/water to old starter is about 5:1. I've had my sds on the counter for about two weeks now feeding every couple days if not baking the next day. See a problem with this method?





DesigningWoman's picture

That looks great!

Enjoy it.


Bread1965's picture

.. that's a great looking bread..

Your questions:

- I use shower caps to cover my bread in their banneton baskets when i put them in the fridge; the kind you get at hotels.. otherwise use a plastic bag.. it will help to keep the moisture in the dough..

- I think it's a common misconception that higher hydration = more open crumb; trevor wilson wrote an e-book you should add to your list called open crumb mastery (just google him/it and you'll find his site - it's 9.99 or something like that).. he makes a low hydration dough with a beautifully open crumb. I'm no-where near mastering his technique.. but it's a worthy goal I'm inching my way towards..

- structure and strength is about technique; again - it's all in Trevor's book

- feeding your starter as you do is obviously fine - look at your results; but the healthier it is (ie more consistent feeding schedule right before a bake (not between bakes)) will improve results - but again, your results are pretty good!

On thing worth trying.. instead of scoring both lengthwise and across, try just a good score along the full length with a shallower angle to get a fuller bloom. I could be wrong but I think your cross-cut releases some of the energy the dough has to push up and out.. a single long cut will concentrate where all that gas can expand during the bake.. I might be wrong on this, but I think it's worth experimenting with..

Again, great bake! Bee good and bake happy! bread1965!


Bigblue's picture

I appreciate the comments, thanks.

I have gone through all of TW's posts on his site and he certainly mentions a good loaf is 80% fermentation and handling. And that an open crumb can be achieved with a lower hydration. But I'm finding that there are more bakers out there that suggest all things being equal, a higher hydration is more conducive to a more open crumb. 

I wonder if keeping moisture in during proof is always a good thing? Is a slight drier dough skin perhaps conducive to spring or bloom? I'm seeing many bakers not covering their loaves during proof (both bench and fridge) so I'm curious.

Interesting comment about scoring only one slash on a boule. I'm now curious if that would in fact lead to more spring. Hopefully we get more commentators.


dabrownman's picture

exceptional on the inside.  The outside would have much better with the  dough covered on plastic as it proofed.  Hard, thick, and leathery is not at all what I want.  I want crispy, thin and dark though.  It looks like you caught it at the right time to bake right out of the oven.  This is hard enough to do and with that much sprouted flour it is really amazing.  I prefer a hop scotch score making a small square right in the middle top too rather than a cross which is my least favorite except for Irish soda bread.  Single scores are for batards not boules.  The cross is fairly raditional for a Pane de Altimura -  Pope's hat score though.

The inside of this one is the show stopper.  Since you are baking right out of the oven you can probably get it up to 80% hydration for even larger holes if that is what you want.

Very nice indeed and happy baking

Bigblue's picture

Thanks for the actionable feedback. I will definitely bag the next one in the fridge and observe the difference in crust. I'll try the tighter pattern hop scotch square as well. Seems like the fridge retard really relaxes the margin of error. This loaf had a 5 hour refreshed starter vs the 12 hour starter last loaf. And this loaf fermented for 15 hrs vs 20 hrs for the last and both looked very similar. 

Outstanding questions:

1. Should I pinch bubbles that are forming on the crust at the end of the pre-round or shape?

2. Any thoughts on proofing fast at higher temps when using whole wheat so gas production outpaces gas loss?

3. Why does the NMNF starter use rye? Because of it's vigorous fermentation characteristics from the high mineral content? Because it adds flavour when baking predominantly AP or BF / white flour loaves? Would the NMNF starter work well with all whole wheat?

4. I've yet to experiment in any manner with rye. Am I missing out?

5. If max oven temp before burning develops flavour in bread, should I insert loaf in a preheated DO at 500, immediately drop to 450 for 20m, then 20m at 425 uncovered?

6. Many respected bakers suggest looking for 20% dough increase during bulk. Others suggest up to 100%. What is your go to for a 75% ww loaf? Please explain reasoning if your desired size increase during bulk changes with different flours and hydration.