The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
alfanso's picture

In this edition of what the heck can I do with a tub of dough, I decided to tackle the fabulous batard known as Ken’s Artisan Country Blonde.  In the first attempt early this week, I mixed 1000 grams of dough and came up with two ~500g batards.  As an aside, I am a believer in couche rather than banneton proofing whenever possible.  I was pretty happy with the results for a first time out, as evidenced by the first photos.  

But I decided to up the ante AND sneak in some more baguettes, as improbable as that last part is to believe ;-) .  Upping the ante also meant trying to get a batard in the same weight range as what Ken sells, which is in the 750g vicinity.  So I made 1500g of dough, carved out ~750g or so for the batard and then divided the remainder into the two baguettes.  

A 4 hour bulk fermentation, refrigerated for the last hour, followed by divide and shape, and then a 12 hour couched and shaped retard.  Then directly into the 470F oven for a bake.  12 minutes of steam.  The baguettes baked for a surprisingly long 30 minutes total, and the batard for a mere few minutes more.  Even after removing the steaming tray and venting the oven while rotating the breads, there was still steam coming out of the vent from the residual hydration in the dough.  I would have liked to bake the baguettes to the next darker shade, but after 30 minutes I felt the desire to pull them before they might have burned.

Both the batard and the baguettes are oversized behemoths, although it might not be evident in those last two pictures.

Here is a picture of Ken's Country Brown, his whole wheat version.  It was the closest that I could find to a good picture of the Country Blonde.  From his FWSY book: 

Here is my first attempt at the Country Blonde at ~500g apiece:


And the blisters and crumb:

Today's haul.  Ken scores his Brown twice and his Blonde three times, and so I tried to keep mine consistent with his.  Baguettes took my standard 4 scores.  Need to get a better score on the batard, but the baguettes opened up just dandy!  Batard at ~750g, baguettes at ~375g each:

I better watch myself or I might just get hooked on batards and kiss my baguette phase goodbye.  Naaahh, on second thought, I guess they can play nice and coexist!


breadforfun's picture

About a month ago I wrote about my attempts to reproduce a Pane di Altamura that I tasted on a visit to Italy.  For the past few weeks I have been working on the formula and on my technique, and I’m happy to post my most recent results, which are much closer to the original look I was after.  I researched the techniques a bit more and found some information I had missed the first time around.  The key one was that I had not achieved sufficient gluten development.  A post on TFL (with much thanks to nicodvb) described a 30+ minute knead to fully develop the dough, which was contrary to much of what I had read about gentle kneading requirements of durum.  I had been doing S&Fs every 30 minutes previously and although the strength felt right, it was apparently insufficient.  A couple of other important changes came from the D.O.P. document which said that the preferment should be 20% PFF (I was using 17.5% based on other recipes), and mixing the dough with cold (~55-60˚F) water.  (While I perform these experiments I am keeping a 100% durum starter as well as my normal wheat starter.)

My two last bakes shown in the photos below differed primarily in the overall hydration.  Most of the formulas available indicate hydration around 65% for Pane di Altamura, which I stuck with at first.  The dough was easy to work with, but it was quite stiff, and the resulting crumb was very closed and tight.  The aroma was lovely and taste was mild and somewhat sweet.  The sourdough flavors were mostly undetectable.  My shaping technique is still not perfect, although it is improving. The finished loaf is pictured at the top of the post and the crumb is shown here.

On the most recent bake I increased the hydration to 72%, more like the minimum I would use for a wheat-based sourdough.  Keeping with 20% preferment, I split the batch into 2 loaves and shaped them into boules.  One loaf was proofed for 2½ hours and baked as a boule.  The second was retarded overnight, then shaped in the traditional folded loaf and baked the next morning.  No steam was used during the bake and the oven was propped slightly open during the first 15 minutes of bake.

     Active starter after 12 hour fermentation


     Boule and crumb with 72% hydration dough.

     Folded loaf and crumb


I plan to work with this general formula a bit more, making adjustments as the mood strikes:

17% prefermented flour using 110% hydration durum levain. This was based on a misreading of the regulations that the levain is 20% of the overall dough; it should actually be 20% prefermented flour. The levain was fermented for 12 hours at 75˚F with the ratio of seed:water:flour of 1:3.5:3
72% overall hydration (the calculation includes the levain)
100% patent durum extra fancy flour (fine grind, or Italian rimacinata)
1.9% salt
Final dough weight ~1300 grams (this large because it makes it easier for me to accomplish all the folding needed to shape the loaves) kneaded for at least 20 minutes, plus 4x S&F for the first 2 hours.
Bulk ferment 3 hrs @ RT, final proof 2½ hrs or retarded overnight.
Baked in a falling oven for 1 hour, starting at 460˚F and finishing at 400˚F, dropping the temperature in 2 steps, without steam.

They both had chewy crusts and the crumb less so, but had a bit of resistance.  The folded loaf had noticeably more flavor and a more pronounced but not overpowering sour tang and came out really tasty. Another major difference was that the crumb of the boule that was scored was drier than the boule shaped in the folded loaf form, which was quite moist.  They were baked with roughly the same temperatures and times but clearly the scores allowed more water to evaporate.  They both had thick crusts reminiscent of the authentic loaf.  I plan to extend the baking time and lower the temperature more quickly for the next folded loaf to dry it out a bit more.


PetraR's picture

Today we are to lazy to cook so we shall have bread with butter and different spreads.

I made my everyday SD bread as per usual and also SD hybrid rolls.

They are so good.

They will be soft on the top but crisp on the bottom and light and fluffy on the inside.

Due to the crips bottom the rolls, that is light as a feather can carry a good weight of all kind of topping, from sweet to savoury.

The bread was made with

150g 80% hydration starter

400g warm water

400g wheat flour

200g wholewheat flour

    2Tbsp olive oil

   13g Salt

Kneaded in the mixer for approx. 7 minutes and kneaded by hand for a further 7 minutes.

Formed into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for 4 hours, shaped, put in banneton and put in the fridge 12 hours.

Baked straight from the fridge in preheated oven and dutch oven on 250 C for 30 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes at 200 C with the lid off.



The rolls

100g 80% hydration starter fed or unfed , whatever you have at hand.

   14g fast acting dry yeast

450g warm water

400g wheat flour

200g wholemeal  flour

  15g Salt

    1Tbsp dark treacle

    1 Tbsp caraway seeds * optional *

    2 Tbsp olive oil

Have 120g of wheat flour and 20g of wholewheat flour at hand in case you need to add some more if the dough is to sticky.

Knead in your stand mixer for approx. 10 minutes, form into a ball and let rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 1 1/2 hours.

Turn out on the working surface and weigh and divide into your individual rolls. 

Place your rolls on a baking tray/s lined with parchment paper, put in large plastic bags and let rise for 45 minutes.

While they rise preheat your oven to 250 C.

Brush your rolls with a mixture of 1 egg and 1Tbsp of water.

Bake the rolls for 5 minutes on 250C , turn down the heat and bake for a further 20-25 minutes on 200C.

Let them cool * if  you can * and enjoy.

The treacle gives those rolls the special malted and sweet/ish flavour and of course , a nice colour.

My Son had 2 rolls with butter and scrambled egg. * drooling *



yozzause's picture

I am on a countdown now from leaving  paid employ , for the last 10 years or so i have been with Challenger Institute of Technology which is a Government training organisation formally known as Tafe which stands Tertiary and Further Education.

I have had a number of rolls at Challenger being a Purchasing Officer, a stint with Hospitality Section as the technician and back at supply currently as a Contracts Administrator and auditor of credit card spending.

Fellow TFL’rs will have seen the breads and read of my exploits being able to use the in house Bakery that the Hospitality section has  attached to its training Restaurant  as well as the classes for commercial cooks and apprentices. Sadly this will all come to an end on June 30th my last paid working day  after accepting a voluntary severance whereby i get 12 months pay not to go to work!!!

Anyway I was asked if I would do a full day of Professional Development with the 13 Chef Instructors as they had requested  a baking day. I didn’t need to be asked twice I lept at the chance, the date set and  I started to plan a day of interest for both them and my self.


Kick off was going to be 8.00am  I decided we would do a full sourdough 3:2:1   but needed to have quantities larger than i have previously done so that became 6:4:2 kgs Just over 12 kgs this was then stretched and folded over 3 hours and taken on the 4th and placed on couches.

Dough 2 was Baguttes using a poolish that I prepared the previous day before I went home  this was to be used for our lunch

Dough 3 was the Hokkaido milk dough (tangzhong) which was also scheduled for lunch as we were making into buns. We Had a slight hiccup here as we discovered that the salt was still on the counter after the mix was placed into a proving tub, it gave me a chance to ask them what they would do, general consensus was that they would try to add the salt, we discussed the pros and cons. My thoughts were that the dough would then be over mixed  the salt was likely not to fully dissipate and would show up as coloured spots on the buns which would likely be tough. My plan was that the dough was essentially a Pate Fermente and that if we cut it into 500g pieces and stuck it in the freezer it could be used  in the coming weeks in the rolls that they would be making for the Restaurant.   

The fact that we were using a pre prepared Pate Fermente later in the day in another dough would show them the advantages of that. So another dough was required and if was going to be ready for lunch it would now be made an Instant Hokkado milk Dough with the simple addition of Bread Improver.

Dough 4 was also an instant dough this being a very rich fruit dough  using Honey instead of sugar and 50% fruit this was to be turned into Cinnamon scrolls using both cinnamon and roasted nuts in the roll up. Again a large dough so that all could have a go

Dough 5 was to be Dereks Home brew stout  with Wholemeal a touch of Rye and Sprouted Rye Berries. The home brew wasn’t quite ready for drinking anyway but was able to get the restaurant bar man to provide a very worthy substitute in a boutique Raging Bull Dark Beer from Margaret River an area famed for West Australian wines and this week monster surf waves. And to cap this off it was destined for the wood fired oven which was also being demonstrated.   

Dough 6 was the panini olive oil bread from Hammelman, this was one that i thought might have great potential for use in the training restaurant  this was a smaller dough than all the others  and used the Pate Fermente i had prepared the day before 

Dough 7 Last but not least was a gluten free offering, i had been in contact with Lauke’s flour mills from South Australia and they had kindly donated some of their Gluten free, yeast free, dairy free, multi grain mix. We do get a number of patrons to the training restaurant that are gluten intolerant or vegans and it quite important to be able to offer a substitute to enhance their dining experience.

I shall revisit this story with more details of the doughs with pictures in part 2

It will probably be after my return from a cruise that i am taking on P&O Pacific Jewel from Fremantle up the West Australian Coast calling at Geraldton, Broome then up to Indonesia calling at Lombok, Bali and Komodo before retuning to Fremantle.

I know its a hard life but someone has to do it. 


Regards Derek

dmsnyder's picture

Sourdough Italian Rolls

April 18, 2015

Those familiar with my San Joaquin Sourdough will recognize the rolls I baked today as its Italian cousin. Besides the obvious difference that these are rolls rather than bâtards, they also have around 20% Durum flour, some sugar and olive oil, and they have a sesame seed coating.

I developed this formula in 2011. Originally, it had both diastatic malt and suger. It was pointed out to me that the AP flour is already malted, and, as a sweetener, the malt is redundant. I really didn't need both malt and sugar. So, today's version omits the malt.


Total Dough




Amount (gms)

Bakers' %

AP flour



Fine Durum flour



WW flour



Whole Rye flour



















Liquid Levain




Amount (gms)

Bakers' %

Liquid starter






AP flour



WW flour



Whole Rye flour






  1. Disperse the liquid starter in the water.

  2. Add the flours and mix thoroughly.

  3. Ferment at room temperature until expanded and bubbly (8-12 hours). If necessary, refrigerate overnight and let warm up for an hour before using.


Final Dough



Amount (gms)

AP flour


Fine Durum flour








Active liquid levain







  1. In a large bowl, disperse the levain in the water.

  2. Add the flours and sugar to the liquid and mix to a shaggy mass.

  3. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 20-60 minutes.

  4. Add the salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. (Note: I squish the dough with my hands until it comes back together, then do stretch and folds in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball and the oil appears completely incorporated.)

  5. Transfer the dough to a 2 quart lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl tightly.

  6. After 30 minutes, do stretch and folds in the bowl. Repeat 3 more times at 30 minute intervals.

  7. Refrigerate for 12-36 hours. (Today, I retarded for 23 hrs.)

  8. Divide the dough into 8 or 9 equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds or logs. Cover with a clean towel, baker's linen or plasti-crap and let rest for one hour. (Today, I scaled 6 rolls at 4 oz and 3 rolls to 3.65 oz.)

  9. Shape as long rolls and proof en couche or on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes. (Note: Optionally, roll the rolls on damp paper towels, then in a tray of sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.)

  10. One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  11. Transfer the rolls to a peel. Score them, if desired. Transfer the rolls to the baking stone. Or, if the rolls were proofed on a baking sheet, score the rolls and place the sheet in the oven. 

  12. Steam the oven, and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.

  13. After 10 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus. (Note: If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake and turn the oven down to 435ºF for the remainder of the bake.) Continue baking for another 6-8 minutes or until the rolls are nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 205ºF.

  14. Transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating.

Sourdough Italian Roll crumb

My wife frequently asks me to make “soft” rolls to use for her sandwiches, but I seldom do so for some reason. I baked these while she was out. When she got home and saw them, she asked if she could use them to make sandwiches for the bridge group she is hosting next week. I know I can make more, so I just asked to save one for us to share with dinner. Well, after tasting the dinner roll, she started talking about getting rolls from the bakery for her bridge group and reserving the sourdough Italian rolls for us. I thought they were pretty good too. In fact, the flavor was so good I would hesitate to cover it with sandwich fillings.


I also made some blueberry muffins. The recipe is from The Best Recipe, by the America's Test Kitchen folks. 

They were delicious as well.


Happy baking!


Submitted to yeastspotting

thedoughycoed's picture

I based this loaf on the Semolina from Tartine. Very pleased with this one. I incorporated a bench rest period, which I think may have helped my shaping issue from last week. The crumb is so nice and chewy and a little sweet and nutty. The crust is a little thinner and lighter than in previous loaves which I like, and I attribute to using parchment in the dutch oven instead of oil. I'm currently enjoying it as a triple decker sandwich with butter lettuce, guacamole, smoked turkey, and bacon. 

Grobread's picture

Lately I've been experimenting with steamimg methods. Before this I had been using a pan full of lava rocks, preheated with the oven, and pouring a cup of boiling water after loading the bread. It worked rather well, but the main problem was that it was really hard for me to get the oven hot enough with the rocks in --the most I could get was 230°C-- and then after I loaded the bread and poured the water there was a lot of steam immediately, but most of it vents shortly after, and the temperature droped about 20° or more, and the flame goes out so I have to reach under the burner with a lighter (wich is probably not very safe). Also, I burned my hand the last time I did it because I forgot to wear an oven mitt; so I decided it was time to look for a more efficient method and came up with this:

I plugged a plastic tube through the hole on the lid of this pressure cooker. I stuffed it with aluminum foil so that most of the steam goes through the tub, but some of it escapes through the sides, but still most of it makes its way to the oven. I insulated the last section of the tube, which goes inside the oven, with masking tape, and also cover it with a piece of cloth; and it goes in through the broiler door, beneath the flame.

I think it should work fine, I tried it before with the oven off and saw that after only a few minutes the oven is saturated with steam. And my favourite part is that with this method I can get the oven to 250°C or more and the steam doesn't cool it down at all. But when I tried baking some baguettes with it I got a very pale and thick crust. I pre-steamed for five minutes, then let it on five minutes more after loading the oven, turned the steam off and waited for 7 minutes before opening the door to vent it, then baked them for 18 min more (30 in total).

My only idea is that the paleness is due to an overproofing (they were also very flat), and that the thickness means it was too much? Maybe I should try steamming for 5 minutes and venting immediately? 

I would like to know if anybody has tried this before and if they have any thoughts on why it isn't working well.

victoriamc's picture

I tried and tested a few dough combinations and surprising as it may sound, the sourdough whole spelt marries amazingly well with an enriched yeast chocolate dough.  It was such a labor of love this bake I have published it, rather demo-style.  For details look on


WendySusan's picture

Stumbling across a video from Der Back Profi making Kaisersemmel, this morning I just had to try them.  And I can't find where I stumbled over it!

The recipe is posted on his website along with a video of how to shape the Kaisersemmel, but I needed to make a few minor adjustments for my kitchen.  It is very similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe from Karin aka hanseata, which has been a staple in our house.  I had to have help from hubby translating from German.

500 gr. Tipo 00 Flour
10 gr. Kosher or Sea Salt
10 gr. Barley Malt (I used non diastic)
5 gr. sugar
40 gr. butter, softened
7 gr. dry active yeast
60 gr. milk
180 gr. very warm water

Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer.  Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes till all the ingredients are incorporated.  Continue to mix 4-7 more minutes at medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of bowl, adjusting hydration as needed.

Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.  Pull off a small piece and perform a window pane test...the dough should be soft, supple and able to pull thin.

IMG_0687After 15 minutes rest, divide the dough into 12 pieces of approximately 80 grams per piece and form into balls.

IMG_0688IMG_0689Take each ball and form into a kaiser shape by following the instructions here.  Place each roll upside down on a cookie sheet lightly dusted with flour.

Allow to sit under a tea towel for 25-30  minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 475 dF with a pan in the bottom for steam.

Carefully turn each roll over onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  Before placing in the oven, spray the rolls liberally with water.

Place the pan in the oven and immediately pour hot water or drop a handful of ice cubes into the steam pan.  I used ice cubes this time.  After 3 minutes turn the temperature down to 425 dF.

The recipe calls for keeping the oven steamed.  Since I don't have injection in my oven, I kept an eye on it and after baking for 10 minutes I turned the baking tray for even baking, and added more ice cubes.  Total bake time is 18-20 minutes.

IMG_0693This first time out I feel they could have proofed a bit longer or even been cold retarded 6-12 hours, similar to the Weitzenbrötchen recipe.  I may try that recipe with this shaping technique. But according to my panel of independent taste testers....delicious!  

dabrownman's picture

Lucy has had a bit of Desert Durum berries burning a hole in her pantry.  We can’t get any more until this year’s AZ crop comes in since last year’s crop is all sold out.  She decided to use it up with some whole sprouted and milled 4 grain consisting of rye, spelt barley and wheat.


With some LaFama AP this bread came in at 64% whole grain and half of that was sprouted.  Per our recent usual, we used 6 g of 5 week retarded rye sour starter and fed it the sifted hard bits from the Desert Durum and sprouted grains for the 3 stage levain build over 10 hours and then refrigerated it for 24 hours to bring out the sour.


The sprouting started on Tuesday, with the drying, milling and levain building on Wednesday.  On Thursday we baked the scald for 2 hours and did a 2 hour autolyse with the dough flour and water and salt sprinkled on top as the levain warmed up on the counter. 


Once the levain and baked scald hit the mix we did 3 sets of slap and folds on 8.1.and 1 minutes followed by 3 sets of stretch and folds – all on 20 minute intervals.  The pumpkin, poppy, ground flax and chia seeds were incorporated into the mix during the first set of stretch and folds.


The 40 g of chia and poppy seeds were soaked in 60 g of water which was not included in the hydration calculations.   Once the gluten development was done we moved away from out usual methods and decided to let the dough ferment on the counter for 2 hours before pre-shaping and shaping Altamura style.


The dough was then placed in a bartard shaped, cloth lined basket with the folded side up (so the fold wouldn’t be squished) for final proofing in the fridge over 12 hours.  After warming up on the counter for an hour, we had to use a flipper board to get it out of the basket and flipped to folded side up on the parchment covered peel when it was time for the oven.


Because of the fold, no slashing was necessary.  The bread slid easily onto the bottom stone in a Mega Steamed oven at 500 F.  Once the oven door was closed, the oven temperature was immediately turned down to 450 F.  The bread was baked with steam for 12 minutes.  Once the steam came out, we continued to bake, at 425 F convection until the bread hit 208 F. 


The oven was then turned off but the bread was left on the stone till it hit 210 F our favorite temperature for sprouted grain breads.  The bread blistered, bloomed and sprang pretty well.  It also browned up beautifully to the mahogany color we love so much.  The crust was very crisp.


We will have to wait till after lunch to see how the crumb came out and have a taste.  The crumb came out a little more dense than we wanted but ,with so much whole grain and seeds in there, it wasn't too bad.   Soft moist and very tasty with the sprouted flour and seeds really coming. through,  A very deep , complex and earthy taste for sure.  We like it a lot and so would you. 


Real authentic Altamura bread would be made with at least 80% durum, 20% stiff levain and a hydration of around 60% using water from Altamura and baked by a baker there too!  So this isn't anywhere near a real Altamura but, it is shaped like one (not the Pope’s hat though) so it qualifies a semi sorta like Altamura in Lucy’s kitchen :-)

This bread made for fine sandwich for lunch today with the usual salad, fruits veggies, cheese, salty olives with some pickled red onion and jalapenos.


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



5 week Retarded Rye Sour






15% Extraction Desert Durum






Sprouted 22% Extraction 4 Grain
























Levain Totals






Sprouted 4 Grain Flour












Levain Hydration












Dough Flour






85% ExtractionDesert Durum






LaFama AP






78% Extraction Sprouted 4 Grain






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter & Scald


















Hydration with Starter and scald






Total Weight






% Whole Sprouted Grain






% Whole Grain






20 g ea Sesame, Flax & Poppy Seeds






Pumpkin Seeds






Red and White Malt












The baked scald is 10 each g of sprouted 4 grain 72 % and 85% extraction

Desert Durum plus 5 g each of red and white malts with 30 g of water








4 grain sprouted flour is equal amounts of wheat, rye, barley & spelt








The flax seeds were coarsely ground.  The poppy and chia



seeds were soaked in 60 g of water That was  not included in hydration




And Lucy reminds us to never ever forget that fine salad. 


Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries