The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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blackhatbaker's picture

Hello, bakers! There was no school today because of snow, so I thought I would post about some of my more recent baking endeavors. Here they are:

3-Stage 90% Sourdough Rye

Sorry for the lack of a crumb shot; I'll try to explain the crumb as best I can. It was pretty dense, probably because I underproofed a little, but not too bad. Still getting used to rye, I guess. The flavor was excellent; earthy, smooth, tangy, sweet, and something else I cant quite say. 


Whole wheat pan loaves

The crust on this bread was very interesting. It had almost a pretzel-like sheen to it; not quite sure why. I used some a cracked wheat soaker in it, and also used white whole wheat flour, because I was out of regular. Overall, a tasty bread with lots of uses.

Mixed flour miche (and batard)

This bake was really the same as the one in my last post, except I scored differently. Again, I retarded the final rise in the refrigerator; I find this makes the flavor complex and only very slightly tangy, because my starter is so mild. A very nice bread overall


Vegan Madeleines

Look at the humps! These were really tasty, especially dunked in espresso.


Bye for now,



Maine18's picture

The past few weeks I’ve had a chance for some good weekend baking, and below are the latest results.

I started off on a school night trying Kenji’s take on focaccia, not so much for the recipe composition as the easy technique (simple overnight rise, baked in a cast iron pan).  The results were surprisingly good – really nice crust & crumb, 1 to 2 inches thick, easy to slice in half for sandwiches.  The crumb flavor was a bit bland/simple – not unexpected with an instant yeast build, a bit like Jim Lahey’s no knead bread – so I might experiment a bit with a longer retard process in the fridge and/or introducing some levain, but for a “night before,” easy bread to go with a dinner or sandwiches, this was a very good method.

Next I made a batch of Field Blend #2, from FWSY, as I’m trying to get more into rye recipes, and this was an easy step.  Loved the flavor and crumb of this bread – I made a double batch and gave it to friends who similarly raved.  I’m starting to understand the complexity (and stickiness) rye adds, which is fun.


I then built on the Field Blend #2 recipe by adding toasted sesame seeds, inspired a fellow TFL user (I think) and his great, if dormant blog.  The results were stellar – one of my favorite loafs in a while – as I really loved the flavor and dimension added by the toasted sesame seeds.  It takes everything is different direction than my normal levain breads – nutty and savory – I think it would be amazing toasted with cheese. I’m going to keep on this one, and will try adding toasted sesame into other breads to see how it goes (bonus: it’s much easier to make and incorporate sesame seeds than some of the poridges I’ve been trying).  

One further note, I baked these loafs free form on my baking steel.  It produces really great oven spring (and I was heating it up for pizza later, so it was efficient).  One thing I have to watch, though, is over cooking the bottom of the loaves – they got a bit darker than I might normally like, which I suppose is because of how efficient steel conducts heat, but was curious if others had a similar experience? Could be as easy as inserting something in between halfway through the bake, perhaps…

Wrapped up the week with some pizzas on said baking steel, and [for fun, another batch of habanero hot sauce (if only because I put it on almost everything, including the pizza…)

Cheers from the Pac Northwest

greenbriel's picture

So not such a success yesterday.

I'll keep it short(ish:) but I figured even though it didn't go well I'd post so hopefully others on the baguette path might avoid the same mistakes.

Mistake #1 - I ran two batches at once (dmsnyder's SJSD and txfarmer's practice baguettes), and inadvertently had them both wanting to go into the oven at the same time. The SJSD were seriously overproofed by the time they got into the oven.

Mistake #2 - I tried dabrownman's simpler method of Sylvia's MegaSteam, and I messed it up, probably not enough preheat, because it sure didn't make as much steam as last time. I also used pyrex dishes instead of a superheated cast iron pan.

Mistake #3 - all of the above! I vowed that this bake was going to be about changing just one thing from the last batch (removing the steam at the peak of bloom), and ended up doing a bunch of things differently. 

So here's the bread:

Practice baguettes:

These went into the oven first and weren't as overproofed, they probably would have been pretty good if the steam had been there. One ear from 15 slashes! :) I subbed 50g of AP for 25g w/w and 25g dark rye and added 5g of water to compensate. I did like the taste better this way.


Crumb not too bad:


But what's going on with the lumpy Nessie profile?! I'm positing that I didn't overlap the slashes enough, and wondered if I made them too deep. Tried to remedy both on the SJSD loaves, but hard to tell because they bloomed so poorly.



Crumb too dense and almost zero bloom. After my previous SJSD bakes I took the dough out and let it come to room temp for nearly three hours. That, plus the delay in getting into the oven (plus the warm kitchen due to the oven) resulted in ridiculous overproofing. Despite all that, the taste, as always, was great. If I wasn't going for classic baguettes, these were actually quite nice tangy sourdough ficelle-like breads.

Anyway, there you have it. I wish it had gone better, but I'm not disheartened. I will get this!!!

Thanks all,


a_warming_trend's picture

For whatever reason, these last few weeks have forced me to challenge my preconceptions about sourdough baking. My previous challenge: Could I bake nice loaves from dough retarded in the back of a Ford Fiesta during an ice storm?

And then there I was, with every intention of baking my first sourdough hearth loaf with a lot of seeds and multiple grains. I crafted such a promising recipe: 20% whole wheat levain, 85% hydration, 20% whole wheat, 20% whole rye, 7% pumpkin seeds, 7% sunflower seeds, 3% flax seeds, 3% sesame seeds, 5% honey, 2.2% salt. 7-hour autolyse of flour and water. 

I mixed and slap/folded for 5 minutes. I performed my standard stretch-and-folds at 30-minute intervals for 2 hours. I let the dough rest for 3 hours. 

It rose what I judged to be 40 to 50% -- just the right amount for shaping for a long, cold proof in the refrigerator. So I thought. 

When I went to check the dough after 8 hours in the fridge it had not risen visibly at all. I knew I wanted to bake it that morning, but I knew I couldn't in good conscience bake such an obviously under-proofed loaf. 

So, I decided to leave it at room temperature while I was at work. I was fairly sure I could be home early -- within 6 hours. 

As it turned out, I wasn't able to walk through the door until 11 hours later. The dough was brimming over the banneton in the most disheartening way. It was terribly over-proofed. 

But I wanted to rescue it! I had to rescue it!

Shaping it into a hearth loaf was out of the question. It was just too goopy and unwieldy. So, I got out my loaf pan for the first time in years, and I sort of shaped/poured the dough into it. 

I let it sit for 1.5 hours. The weird, unorthodox "third rise." Third rise!

It rose beautifully, so I baked it at 475, with foil over the top for the first 20 minutes, and no foil for 25 minutes. 

The result was a delicious loaf of bread from a bread pan. A bread pan! I think that I need to open my mind to the notion of the bread pan. Because this triple-risen accidental bread tasted very good -- nutty, tangy, slightly sweet. so custardy that it begs to be toasted. 

Yet again, the lesson is: Never give up on your sourdough. Find a way to bake the bread. Even if it's gotta rise three times. At least a significant percentage of the time, you will be rewarded!


TigerX's picture



This Bread  was made up of %100 Water Percentage (Hydration)...



- 350 gr APF

- 150 gr Whole WF

- 15 gr Potato Flour

- 15 gr Wheat Germ

- 530 gr Water  (%100 Bakery percentage)

-150 gr Starter (%100 Hydration)

- 12 gr Salt


Overall hydration is : %100...



Anconas's picture

Adventures in Baby Steam and Razor Blades!


Recipe:  Txfarmer's practice baguettes

Results of Take I - My beginner baguettes


I did some more research based on dabrownman's and greenbriel's advice from last week to see what I could tweak with scoring and steam.   And thanks to alfonso, I did compare my weighing 17 times on my scale to the volume recommended by the yeast converter and I did end up really close, like grains close so I don't think my yeast level was off.

I made a full batch of the Beginner Baguette recipe and did 3 different things in the baking process, keeping everything else in the process the same.  I haven't changed anything with dough handling (much) yet, I wanted to see if I had the same results with a second batch of dough changing things after.

  1. I baked 2 baguette's like I did previously, on an aluminum air bake sheet covered with a lasagna pan.  This time I eliminated the parchment paper, added a tiny spice dish with water, and preheated those prior to baking.  (the first time I put those in cold with the dough)  I also increased the temp to 460 as the recipe says, instead of the 450 I did last time due to the parchment paper warning.
    1. The bottoms cook much better with parchment paper on the aluminum surface so that was not an improvement, rather awful actually.
    2. I steamed for 10 minutes as the recipe stated and was surprised that this was too long with such a baby steam component - the scores did swell but they puffed and blended right back into the rest.  So improvement, still adjusting.
    3. The 460 is too high for my oven and baby steam, they crusted a little to fast and hit hard vs. crispy in spots - good to know.  They bowed because my pan bowed at the higher heat.
    4. Crumb results are very similar to the ones from BB Take I, with a very slight improvement.
    5. Scored with hand held razor blade, better but not good.
  1. I baked one on parchment in the same manner
    1. First change with dough handling - I suspect that my flour is weak/lower protein count than the KAF in the recipe and that my handling is still very inexperienced so I left this loaf to proof after pre-shaping for an additional 45 minutes, then shaped and rested for 30 minutes while the other two were cooking.  This showed distinct improvement.  It still doesn't seem good, but it was noticeably better.  So the question is why - gluten development, weak yeast, something I still don't know about? 
    2. Steamed for 8 minutes - still too long
    3. Removed the cover and baking sheet and finished on parchment on the oven rack - Much better and this one got the crispy crackle crust and the crumb had another slight improvement.
    4. Scored with Cutco table knife, serrated with curved tip - this shape is good in that it allowed a better scoring motion and the sharpness broke through without too much drag on the wet dough, getting better.
  1. The last one I put in the refrigerator over night just wrapped up in cling wrap.  Baked it today and invited Mom over for lunch.  Took it out and warmed to room temperature, shaped and rested for 30 minutes.  Dough was better yet, getting closer, still need more gluten development to get a tight skin surface as recommended.  At least I think that is what is needed :)
    1. Used parchment paper, oiled - kept the paper from browning too much
    2. Steamed for 4 minutes and removed cover and steam - this is really close
    3. Left baking sheet until the 10 minute mark and removed it to finish baking on parchment on the oven rack
    4. This one I did at about 455 F and I got teeny tiny edges to the scores - better!  This one was scored with the Cutco table knife as well.
    5. The crust is crazy crispy with a lot of tiny cracks and bubbles but just edging past that - I think I'm going back to 450 F next time, maybe higher for the preheat then turn it down slightly.
    6. The crumb still came out really well after refrigeration and the flavor was creamier if that makes sense, less crisp white bread tasting, fuller and well, better.

Batch 1



Batch 2


Batch 2 Crumb, Batch 3 Loaf


Batch 3 Crumb


With my very simplistic setup of existing items in a tiny oven and with my grandmother's voice echoing in my head "you already touched it too much!" from when she would teach me how to make country biscuits as a child,  I'm pretty geeked I'm actually making bread, and it doesn't suck lol.  I cook, I don't bake so this is a whole new world. 

Super basic setup to start

Really old pans and oven, tiny and old


It is kind of like lasagna though, if I'll take a week to develop the flavors from picking the right tomatoes, adding the right herbs and spices at the right time, aging it appropriately, make and dry the noodles, culture some of the cheeses, until it all comes together with smiles and sighs around the dinner table, then I guess bread is kind of quick lol.  It took a long time to get it to my idea of perfection but I loved every minute.  Baguettes, my new lasagna….at least they're cheaper….so far. 

I'm actually going to read a bread book this week, Bread Baker's Apprentice should be in at the library soon.  There is only one copy in our system so it's coming from a few counties over.  The first one they had available was The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  In my naiveté, I thought it sounded like skill development and concept sharing, terminology, the whole learning over time thing.  Um, no, not what I was looking for.  I want a bread journey, not a recipe book and not the cliff notes.    They don't have the Ken Forkish or the Jeffrey Hamelman books that are referred to often.  I may be able to get a friend in the city to check if their system has them if they are better.


So off to work on dough development.  I'm thinking the next batch I will divide at the first S&F point into the 4 batches and work 1 the same way I have been as a control to compare, and then each of the other three with different degrees of change in the dough handling.  Any suggestions on how to incrementally set up those batches would be awesome.  The current formula is mix to shaggy mess - At 45, 90, 135min, do Stretch and Fold (S&F) - single and gently, minimal touching of crazy sticky dough.  At 180min preshape, rest 25-30 min, shape, rest 30-60, bake.  And her caps "AND MINIMAL TOUCHING". (see why I hear my grandmother?? :)

And then repeat with KA  AP flour with a known protein count to see if my theory holds or if I'm on the wrong track completely.  Hope the neighbors like baguettes….

nmygarden's picture

I've been following everyone's posts and successes, but life in the fast lane has kept me busy (and away or in the office). I've baked, but less frequently and the freezer was finally sighing with relief. But a (promised) rainy weekend was perfect for catching up. Saturday's bake was a Seeded Multigrain (Hard) Cider Loaf, with Rye, WW, Whole Spelt, BF and KAF's Harvest Grains. You can smell the cider and detect a bit of apple-y sweetness, the crust is thin and the crumb soft and hearty.

Next up was a revisit to the land of sprouted wheat. I've shied away for a couple of months after a couple of disappointing attempts and generally overdosing on whole wheat - needed a break. So back at it by sprouting some berries - farro, and incorporating them into a 50% WW dough (half of which was sprouted WW flour) and tossing in some chopped dates, as well. I worried about overproofing, but watched carefully and managed to catch it in time. The crust was thin and rough with bran, the crumb soft, glossy and open, the add-in wheat berries and dates maybe a bit sparse, but were well distributed. This will be great toasted for breakfasts.

emkay's picture

It's been a while since my last post. The day job has been keeping me quite busy and I haven't had the bandwidth to bake bread as much as I would like. I'm baking every third weekend to keep the bread box full and the freezer stocked. My go-to bread has been Ken Forkish's overnight country blonde (just like I posted here: It's mostly hands off and seems to work well especially with the mild San Francisco temperatures we've been experiencing lately.

I decided to shake things up and bake something else. This weekend's bake was an olive boule made with 50% liquid levain and 60% water in the final dough. That gave me an overall hydration of 68%. Hydration-wise, 68% is pretty much as low as I go for a lean dough.

The resulting crumb was not too open which was a good way to keep in those delicious olives. The complex tangy taste of my bread was due to the age of my starter. I keep my stiff maintenance starter in the refrigerator unfed and then feed/build it using dabrownman's no fuss method whenever I want to bake.



Olive Bread

  • 80% AP flour
  • 20% whole rye flour
  • 60% water
  • 2.4 % salt
  • 50% levain (100% hydration, 20% rye)
  • 30% pitted Kalamata olives
  1. Mixed all ingredients by hand.
  2. Bulk fermented for 3 hours at room temperature (about 70F) with 4 sets of stretches and folds during the first 2 hours and untouched during the third hour.
  3. Preshaped and bench rested for 30 minutes.
  4. Shape retarded in the refrigerator (40F) for 12 hours.
  5. Baked at 450F for 35 minutes (for 600 grams dough).

:) Mary

STUinlouisa's picture

Was doing weekly grocery shopping and noticed some steel cut oats at a very reasonable price and since I was deciding what bread to make this weekend it was a natural.

150g steelcut oats

75g quinoa

200g milk

230g water

20g agave nectar

300g fresh ground white wheat flour 95% extraction

80g fresh ground spelt flour 95% extraction

20g amaranth

100g 100% hydration starter fed and active

10g salt

additional water

Cook the oats and quinoa in the milk and water until most liquid is absorbed and the grains are softened add the agave nectar and cool to room temp.

Add everything but the salt together and mix until incorporated adding enough water to hydrate I'm guessing about 30 or 40g. Make into ball and make a shallow well in which to put the salt and enough water to start dissolving it. Let the dough sit for 20 min. Fold the dough over the salt and use pinches and folds to distribute.  Add water until the consistency feels like about a 75% hydration. Form ball cover and let rest for 20 min. Do a S&F. Cover and place in a cool place 50-60F for 12 hours. It will swell but not double.

Place on oiled counter and cover with oiled plastic wrap until warmed to room temp. Form a boule and put in banneton coated with a combination of rice flour and  wheat bran seem side up. Cover and let proof 2 hours until passes finger poke test. Meanwhile heat a DO to 500 F and coat a peel with flour. Flip the boule onto the peel score, put into the DO and put covered in the oven turning it down to 450 F. Bake 20 min remove the lid and turn down to 425. Bake another 20 min until the center is 195-200F place on cooling rack and let sit about an hour before cutting.

 The bread turned out tasty and moist in the center. When I do it again a longer proof will be done to make a better crumb.


TigerX's picture

This is my BAGET ...



- 450 gr APF

- 50 gr Whole WF

- 325 gr Water  (%65 Bakery percentage)

-100 gr Starter (%100 Hydration)

- 10 gr Salt









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