The Fresh Loaf

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tortie-tabby's picture

Hi, I was inspired by some recipes I saw here. I didn't end up following any in particular because of my busy schedule. At this point I sort of have a standard protocol which involves roughly autolysing and stretching and folding the dough whenever I get home in the evening, bulk fermenting up till I go to bed, then cold fermenting until I get home the next day. It's worked well for me, this loaf was soo yummy, but I do have a few questions.


1. Why do I get such a bimodal distribution of large and small bubbles, as in why do I have so many huge bubbles and many tiny ones, but few in-between?
2. Do people usually add steam to their DO? I lined the bottom with foil and slipped 3 cubes of ice down the side when I first loaded the loaf.

This is my first time using a dutch oven. Maybe the DO is why this loaf had the lightest, crispiest crumb I’ve had yet.

I know I didn’t S&F very consistently, maybe the lack of gluten development and short bulk ferment led to the inconsistent crumb. I'm guessing I shouldn't put the dough straight into the fridge after my last S&F?


250 g AP flour
50 g WW flour
226 g water (78% hydration)
5 g salt (1.5% salt, lowered to adjust for salinity from olives)
0.5 g IDY (roughly a pinch, to make up for the slow starter)
70 g starter (fed 8 hours prior with 3:1:4 AP:WW:water)


These steps are just what I ended up doing and probably aren't ideal. I recommend anyone interested to refer to these two recipes.

1. Feed starter in the morning
2. 8 hours later mix flour, water (minus 20 g), IDY, and starter and autolyse for 40 mins
3. Use remaining water to help incorporate the salt into the dough
4. Let the dough sit for 30 mins and then add the olives and herbs
5. S&F roughly every 30 minutes 6 times
6. 20-hour cold ferment (refrigerated right after the last S&F) total bulk ferment roughly 4 hrs
7. Remove dough from fridge and let sit at RT for 20 minutes
8. Pre-shape dough and rest for another 20 minutes
9. Preheat DO and oven to 500 F, line bottom of DO with foil, leaving one corner folded up
10. Shape dough and final proof on floured couche for 40 minutes
11. Score and load loaf with floured baking paper
12. Slip 3 cubes of ice into DO, ideally under the folded-up corner of foil, so the water doesn’t come in direct contact with the dough
13. Bake at 500 F, covered, for 15 mins
14. Bake at 450 F with convection uncovered, for another 30 mins
15. Rest in cracked oven for 20 minutes, cool before slicing

Hotbake's picture


No sifting bran, no autolyse, turned out way better than I thought, fluffy and even crumb not dense at all😋

bluesbaz's picture

I've been having real trouble with my baguettes but finally found something that works. 

As a semi Frenchmen, I've found I need to take matters into my own hands when it comes to baguettes. 

sourdough recipe. 

60% hydration 95F

100% bread flour (Bobs Red Mill)

2% starter - I will vary this depending on the ambient temp to control for time. 

1% salt

autolyze 1hr

salt in and slap + fold until incorporated and smooth maybe 5 min

Ferment on the counter at 55-60 18-24hrs  

This was a major part of the learning curve. I pay no attention to time only the development of the bread.

If things are slow I wait. If they are moving too fast I put the dough in the fridge. 


Cut and weigh for 250g pieces in the am with a rough tuck and shape. 1hr rest

roll out to baguettes and place in a couche while the oven heats 30-45


I have a 1/2" steel plate in the oven along with a 4" deep 12x20 hotel pan. Note that I have a baking steel I cook literally everything on. I picked this one up at a steelyard from their discarded cuts and paid $19 US for it spent an hour removing the mill scale and couldn't be happier. 


Preheat on the broil setting for 30-40

I pull the rack out and place 2 baguettes on the steel. Because the steel is preheated I do have time. The whole motion likely takes under a minute but I'm sure I have several minutes before this would be a problem. 

lame the baguettes throw in an ice cube or two right onto the steel and cover with the hotel pan push the shelf in and close it up.  

oven goes to 450 from there. 

When I smell bread I pull the cover (hotel pan) and let it brown. 

The hotel pan makes things a whole lot easier and I'm finally consistently seeing ears on my loaves 


Fondue's picture

I had cooked white rice and mixed (black and brown) rice in hand so I decided to add in using an adapted brown rice porridge bread recipe from the book, Chad Robertson's Tartine Book No. 3.

The ingredients are:

Spelt flour 50%

Whole wheat flour 50%

Water 85%

Leaven 15%

Sea salt 2.5%

Cooked mixed rice 70%

30 min autolyse, 4 hour bulk fermentation (4 sets of stretch and fold), cold-proof in the fridge for about 18 hours.

Preheat 480F, then bake at 450F in a dutch oven for 20 mins with a lid, 20 mins without a lid.

I love the crust. So crisp and not too thick. I wish I could reproduce this kind of crust every time I bake!

Crumb was moist and chewy. Unlike other porridge breads such as oatmeal or corn porridge bread, the crumb was not so soft and velvety. It rather resembles that of cracked wheat porridge bread I've baked. 

The aroma of the spelt flour seems to overpower other ingredients. I wonder what it would be like if I used just wheat flour as in the original recipe.

Overall, it was a very scrumptious & aromatic experiment. Porridge breads never disappoint :)

ninarosner's picture

The first in a series of experiments on my 'Loaf 3' recipe.

Loaf 5 
250g white flour, 250g wholegrain wheat flour.
80% hydration
15% starter
2% salt

Experiment: Refreshed starter overnight. 

In the morning, did 1 hour autolyse, then mixed in starter & salt.

4 stretch & folds over 2 hours, then a bulk ferment at (cool-ish) room temp for about 5-6 hours.

Pre-shaped and let rest for 30 mins

Proofed in a glass bowl, at room temp for about 2-2.5 hours.

Baked in dutch oven at ~230c for 20 mins covered, 30 mins uncovered. Let cool overnight.

Result: it seems like refreshing the starter has resulted in bigger air holes, a more open crumb. The crumb itself feels a little dry, though that could be because of the cooling overnight. Overall I'm happy with this, and it seems like refreshing is a good idea.

Also, I was more 'intuitive' with this bake, in the sense that I tracked bulk rise to make sure it had risen and had a few air holes before moving on.


What to try next: Slashing the top before baking!

yozzause's picture

Can you bring some bread for our old friends gathering?  Sure can, so this is what i put together  i chose to do 20% wholemeal breads,  some sticks using fresh compressed yeast with butter and an egg in the mix . After hand mixing the dough was split into two one half getting an addition of chopped apricots and soaked fennel seeds the other half getting white sesame and dark malted whole barley grains.  i had made a sourdough loaf the day before and that was cold retarded overnight in the fridge this was straight mixed and 4 hour bulk fermented no stretch and folds,  1 hour after shaping on the bench in its banneton then o/n in the fridge, it followed the sticks into the oven it was baked in a dutch oven.  im sure the folks are going to be happy with these!


Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

Much improved this week.  After last week I did some TLC to my starter.  I had been using it and then feeding it and sticking right back into the fridge until the next bake. I wasn't giving it any feeding before I baked.

So I got some rye flour and several  50/50 rye/bread flour feedings to build it back up. I also experimented with different feeding ratios.  I did a 1:1:1, then a  1:5:5, followed by a  1:3:3, before I settled on a 1:4:4. The last one gave me what I wanted,  and that was the ability to feed once in the morning before I left for work. The starter would go through a complete cycle of rise and collapse in about  24 hours being left in room ambient temperature...about 62 to 68 degrees.  Feeding it in the morning would put it near peak by 8 PM when I would use it in my bread. Still a young levain. 

I increased my hydration from  65 to 67%, also my flour from 400 to 450 grams.  Salt 2% and I increased my levain from 15 to 20%. 

I noticed the dough felt much better. Last week it was stiff and hard to work with. This was more in line with my expectations.  After mixing and a 30 minute autolyse I kneaded it doing a lot of stretch and folds for 15 to 20 minutes.  

Then I let it do a bulk rise, long and slow...approximately 16 hours. The next evening after supper i shaped and put in my banaton basket for the final proof while I preheated my Dutch oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then I baked it at 500 for 30 minutes with the lid on.  Then I removed the lid and baked another 15.

yozzause's picture

I finally got around to having a go using a Beer Barm, the flour was 20% wholemeal flour with 80% Black and Gold  supermarket  flour.

The Beer Barm was from the residue in the bottom of the fermenter from a home brew that i did before Christmas, a London Porter. The  barm is grown on like you do with a S/D starter  given a few feeds  and in this case used at a rate of 25% in the dough. the dough had a very nice aroma no doubt from the maltiness of the LP. Suprisingly this dough was very slow taking around 9 hours to bulk ferment and a further 3 hours to proof in a banneton. It was baked in a dutch oven lid on for 15 minutes lid off for a further 25.

This loaf had great flavour and mouth feel no doubt in part from the long fermentation period, i wasnt in any hurry anyway.


Story Teller's picture
Story Teller

Greetings Everyone,

     I am a 74-year-old man, and I recently began to experiment with sourdough starter.  Actually, I never baked bread at all until last week:  I baked some bread just to use up the free flour that I received from commodity (for the first time).

     Anyway, I came across several warnings about sourdough starters:  Some claim that the starter can be deadly if not properly made or properly maintained.  If the information is correct, why have I never heard of anyone actually dying from eating bad home-made bread.

     I am scared to share my bread with my 76-year-old sister.  Please comment, I am not joking.

     Thank you,

Bread doc's picture
Bread doc

Quite a while back, I was seeking information how to get a chewier, more elastic crumb in my sourdough loaves.

I was advised regarding protein content of flour and going for a higher hydration, and I would like to say a big THANKS to the several bakers who advised higher hydration, because it really did the trick.

I did have to figure out that 75-80% hydration means 750 or 800 GM water to 1000 GM flour, so it is 75% or 80% by weight. Then you have to convert that to cups for conventional measuring in the kitchen.  I threw in a 45 minute autolyse before mixing the proofed starter into the dough.

Now my bread has the texture we enjoy and my husband raves about it—and eats it all up.  Good thing I have a great mixer. (Ankersrum Assistent).

Thanks for the help.


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