The Fresh Loaf

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Elsie_iu's picture

Before you turn away, please allow me explain why I’m posting this poor-looking bread. There’s no doubt that it had poor rise, yet it’s also true that its flavour is so exceptional it deserves to be shared.

This is not a complete replication of dabrownman’s bake but there’re plenty of similarities. Obviously, the dough flour used is the same and I adopted his idea of bran leaven. However, the baked scold was skipped to make my life easier. I also included Tom’s Alt Altus after realizing how much flavour it added to my past bake. Another change I made, which was a stupid mistake, is upping the hydration slightly as it felt like the dough can take a bit more water (WRONG!). 


100% Whole Spelt Sourdough with 50% sprouted flour


Dough flour:

150g      50%       Whole spelt flour

150g      50%       Freshly milled sprouted spelt flour


For leaven:

10g       3.3%       Starter

20g       6.7%       Bran shifted out from dough flour

20g       6.7%       Water


For dough:

280g     93.3%       Dough flour excluding bran for leaven

193g     64.3%       Water

48g          16%       Whey

50g       16.7%       Leaven

13g         4.3%       Alt Altus, powdered

9g              3%       Vital Wheat Gluten

5g           1.7%       Salt

3g              1%       Dark barley malt powder


305g       100%      Whole grain

266g      87.2%      Total hydration


Sift out the coarse bran from the dough flour, reserve 20g for leaven. Soak the rest (I got 22g) in equal amount of whey taken from dough ingredients for a minimum of 4 hours.

Combine all leaven ingredients and let sit until doubled, about 4 hours.

Roughly combine all dough ingredients. Skip the autolyse so as to lower the risk of gluten breakdown. Let the dough ferment for 6 hours.

Stretch and fold the dough for a few times then let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Conduct another round of stretch and fold before another 15 minutes rest. Shape the dough and put in into a banneton. Leave it on the counter for 10 minutes before retarding for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven at 250°C/480°F and pre-steam at the last ten minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and score it. Bake straight from the fridge at 250°C/480°F with steam for 15 minutes then without steam for 25 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 205°F. Let cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.


As anticipated, the dough spread out immediately after entering the oven. It was unquestionably over-hydrated. I had a seriously hard time shaping it. However, it did rise quite a bit after the spreading stopped. The crust browned and crisped up well thanks to the sprouted spelt, dark barley malt powder and Alt Altus. This bread has considerably open crumb being over-hydrated and 100% whole grain. The crumb is moist, custardy and chewy, which are basically everything I could ask for. 

Let’s move on to the flavour. It has to be outstandingly good such that I’d be willing to share this unsightly loaf to embarrass myself. Really, this is the best tasting bread I’ve made so far. It’s sour but not overwhelmingly so, forming a nice balance with the mild sweetness of the sprouted spelt. But what sets it apart from other bread is its complexity. The three flavour contributors Alt Altus, dark barley malt powder and the spelt flour work together to achieve well-rounded savour. The experience of eating this bread is like wine tasting, there’re so many layers of flavour: sweetness, saltiness, sourness and slight bitterness. Once you acknowledged the delectability of whole grains, you'd have a hard time going back to bland commercial white bread. 


I'm sure this would have turned out amazing if the hydration was dropped back to 83%!

Beatrice's picture

Hi bakers,

few days ago I posted a khorasan loaf and I wasn't totally happy because of the lack of spring!

Today I tried again with the exact same recipe and I am proud to say that I now have a ear :)

The spring isn't the biggest but, since khorasan is not a very strong flour (as some of you pointed out), I am happy with it.

The crumb is good and I think that the aromas and flavors of khorasan can compensate this lack of spring, I'. in love with its chamomile taste and smell and with its mildly yellow color.

I have to point out that here in Italy the temperature has gone up quickly (we have 27-30 degrees in the middle of the day), and for this reason I think I have to look after the dough even more accurately and to adjust the proving time over the feelings. It's amazing to see how external elements can determinate the bread and how you have to be the best observer you can to have the same result in different conditions.

Let me know what you think of this second khorasan experiment of mine!

Happy baking, ciao!

Elsie_iu's picture

No. You didn’t read it wrong.

It’s goat cheese with milk chocolate. Not in their chucky form but melted into the dough. Confession: I absolutely hate the idea of chocolate cheesecake. I mean, both of them are heavenly food on their own but when combined together? Neither of them can be tasted. Well, to me at least. Many of you would disagree. Still, I’m not changing my mind. Then what’s up with this bread? The thing is, the thought of making chocolate bread came to my mind again yet I didn’t want to include any dried fruits (because I dislike the combo of chocolate and dried fruits as well…). Using nuts only seems a bit boring. Therefore a quick research was conducted and the goat cheese chocolate truffles caught my attention. I figured that the strong flavour of goat cheese might go well with the sweetness of milk chocolate so this bread is born.



Chocolate Goat Cheese Sourdough with Cashews 


Dough flour:

210g      70%       Whole spelt flour

90g        30%       Freshly milled oat flour


For leaven:

10g       3.3%       Starter

20g       6.7%       Bran shifted out from dough flour

20g       6.7%       Water


For chocolate-goat-cheese mixture:

68g        22.7%      Soft goat cheese  

33g           11%       Milk chocolate


For dough:

280g     93.3%       Dough flour excluding bran for leaven

116g     38.7%       Chocolate-goat-cheese mixture

196g     65.3%       Water

49g       16.3%       Whey

50g       16.7%       Leaven

15g           5%       Tom’s Alt Altus, powdered

9g             3%       Vital Wheat Gluten

5g          1.7%       Salt



30g        10%      Toasted Cashews


305g      100%       Whole grain

270g      88.5%      Total hydration (the chocolate-goat-cheese mixture should have added a significant amount of                                                               moisture as well)


Shift out the coarse bran from the dough flour, reserve 20g for leaven. Mix the rest back into the dough flour or soak them in equal amount of whey taken from dough ingredients for a minimum of 4 hours.

Combine all leaven ingredients and let sit until doubled, about 6 hours.

Bring a shallow pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat. Cut the goat cheese and chocolate into small pieces and put them into a bowl covered by cling wrap. Place the bowl into the pot. Put on the lid and let steam until the chocolate and cheese are melted, about 10 minutes. Stir until smooth then set aside until needed.

Roughly combine all dough ingredients. No autolyse since it’s mostly spelt. Let it ferment for 6 hours. 

Fold in the cashews and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Stretch and fold for a few times and let it rest for 20 more minutes. Shape the dough and put in into a banneton. Leave it on the counter for 20 minutes before retarding for 10 hours.

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes. At the same time, preheat the oven at 250°C/480°F and pre-steam at the last ten minutes. 

Score the dough and bake at 250°C/480°F with steam for 15 minutes then without steam for 25 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 205°F. Let cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.

There’s little oven spring as the dough is already fully proofed out of the fridge. The crust is very crackly and has a rather matt colour. I suspect that it has something to do with that uncommon addition of melted goat cheese and chocolate. The scoring is far from perfect but it’s already one of my better scores.

I failed once at making Tom’s Alt Altus: it was burnt completely. This time, the starter dilution was skipped so that I was left with a thicker paste. Also, the oven temperature was turned down to 300°F. And what’s the result? A great success! Thanks Tom for the brilliant idea! It surely added some toastiness and depth to this loaf.

This bread smelled divine when it’s baking. You can definitely taste the goat cheese so it is not one for goat cheese haters. It’s noticeably tangy but with a subtle sweetness from the chocolate. Unexpectedly, this closed-crumb loaf has a very crumby but also a porridge-bread-like texture. It’s something I’ve never had before.


Some pretzels made with a baked baking soda bath.

pul's picture

This is an update on the small amount starter experiment. I followed Dab's suggestion to drop the starter amount to 1 g and reduce the amount of fermented flour in the levain. 

The levain was built using 1g starter, 10 g bread flour and 10 g water. Left to mature on the counter at 30C for about 8 hours. The final dough was comprised of 220 g total flour (including levain's flour) and 75% hydration. I used a similar flour mix as in the first experiment: 50% bread flour and the rest a mix of white spelt, rye and ruchmehl (half-half whole wheat). 

Basic steps were used to build the dough and the bulk fermentation occurred over 4 hours. About 3 stretches and folds have been applied and not much handling of the dough was done. Shaped and proofed in the fridge for about 5 hours, and baked straight our from the fridge. 

Even though the fermented flour in the levain was a mere 5%, it got the job done without any issues. Now I am even more concerned on how to spend my starter, since I have been using pretty much nothing to build up my levain, and I have not refreshed it for at least two weeks already.

This method has worked well twice, so I think I will keep it throughout summer.




TomK's picture

I haven’t made Baguettes in over a year and I’m pretty rusty although I’ve never been as consistent or practiced as the master. I used the “36 hour + Baguettes” recipe by txfarmer, but I reduced the hydration to 72% which was too dry in retrospect, but easier to handle when out of practice. I used Central Milling Type 70 malted flour which gives excellent flavor.













Wow do I need practice scoring!













Not a bad crumb though. And the other problem is that they seem to disappear pretty fast!

adelie's picture

So I’ve always wondered of different brands of flours actually made a difference, and from researching the internet, the answer seemed obvious... yeah. Especially KA flour, which seems to have an extremely loyal group of followers. But rather than just taking their word for it, I wanted to put it to the test. So I made 2 loaves of the same bread, but one with KA bread flour, one with cheap, store brand bread flour. 

I was able to get the store brand bread flour on sale for only $1 (score!), while KA bread flour was about $5 a bag.

So now that we’ve established that there was a drastic price difference, it comes down to the actual flour itself. Obviously, I was pretty skeptical of this $1 flour, and I had to put it to the test. A side-by-side comparison was the only way to go.

The recipe I use to test was from KA website. I made their Hokkaido Milk Bread, or Japanese milk bread. The link can be found here:

I've made this recipe several times before and the result is always the softest, fluffiest, almost melt-in-your mouth bread. First, you make a tangzhong by combining flour, milk and water, cooking it until it thickens. Then, it relies on very heavy kneading in order to achieve the right texture and and crumb. 

Store-brand flour loaf:

So I decided to make my first loaf with the generic store-brand flour. I made the tangzhong and put all the ingredients into the stand mixer and began the kneading. I waited for the dough to become smooth and elastic. And waited. And waited. 

Okay, so it took a little more than an hour for the store-brand flour bread to knead into a beautiful, smooth bread dough. That's a pretty long time... I have to guess that the long knead time may have been due to lower gluten-content, which caused the dough to require a longer amount of time for enough gluten to develop. But eventually, it kneaded up into a nice and smooth dough that passed the windowpane test (I found it a bit difficult to take a picture of showing the windowpane test, so it's not perfect).

I had to run out for a little so I let it bulk ferment in the fridge. When I came back, it was ready to shape and proof for the final bake. Usually. For Japanese milk bread, I like to make 3 rolls and put them side-by-side, so they look like 3 cute little mountains when they bake. The dough was very smooth and shaped up nicely.

Again, I let it proof until the rolls were puffed-up and very soft and airy.

Ready to bake!

A giant bubble formed during the final proof, not quite sure how that happened. Also, I may have not shaped it well, because a few tears began to appear on the side rolls. Or maybe the store-brand bread flour wasn't strong enough to withstand the proof? 

Anyways, the bread baked out nicely, aside from the tears on the surface. The bubble disappeared for some reason. It bread rose nicely in the oven, and it smelled wonderful (oh, the smell of baking bread!). 

Is it just me or does anybody else think that bread can be cute?

My initial thoughts: It's bread, all right. It seems pretty soft and springy. Has anybody else heard the good bread is like a sponge? That if you press it, it should spring right back into the original shape? I'm not sure if it's true. Anyways, the results seemed pretty decent. Time to see if KA bread flour can beat it out, though I hadn't tasted it yet.


King Arthur's Bread Flour:

So I followed the procedure the same way: made the tangzhong, combined all the ingredients, and kneaded it all together. Only this time, it only took 45 minutes for it to become a smooth and elastic dough.

Actually, I could feel a difference in the dough. KA flour's bread dough felt a lot softer and smoother than the store-brand bread dough. I doubt that it was because I over-kneaded the store-brand bread dough because I had kept a very close eye on it. I have a feeling that the flour really did make a difference. 

Anyways, wow! That is a significant time difference for kneading the dough. 15 minutes may not seem like a lot to some people, but it really is. Again, I had to run out for a little so I let the dough bulk-ferment in the fridge and came back later to shape the dough.

Soooo, I forgot to take a picture immediately after shaping, so these rolls have already proofed for a little bit. Also, I forgot to take a picture of the bread that had fully proofed, and the bread right after I pulled it out of the oven.

The rolls proofed beautifully. I thought that maybe I hadn't shaped these well either, and that they would tear like the other loaf, but nope. No tears! The bread rose beautifully in the oven. My initial feel of the loaves, the KA loaf was definitely softer. The crust didn't seem as tough of thick. But first, we needed to slice into the loaves and actually taste the bread before we could compare.

One thing I noticed was that the store-brand flour loaf (top) had a split where it rose in the oven. while the KA loaf didn't. Was it because I didn't proof the store-brand loaf enough, or what? If anybody knows a possible reason, please comment. 

KA flour loaf is on the left, store-brand flour is on the right.

So just looking at the bread, the crumb doesn't look TOO different, except the crumb for the KA loaf seemed very slightly airier. However, I could feel a difference. The KA loaf definitely had a softer crumb and crust. When I tasted them, the store-brand flour bread was pretty good. Soft and fluffy. However, the KA flour loaf was definitely softer and the crust was a little less tough. However, I wanted to actually put it to the test, with my family. I let them try both the crust and the crumb, without knowing which bread was from which loaf. This eliminates some potential bias I may have.

The winner was clear with my family. They all agreed that KA flour loaf was better, with softer texture and crust. However, a few members said the difference was pretty small, though some thought the difference was obvious. 

My conclusion? The store-brand flour baked a pretty decent loaf. Especially if you're just baking for fun or just starting out, $1 for a 5 lb bag of bread flour is a pretty good deal. However, there was definitely a difference in the 2 loaves, like in the kneading time. If you're willing to shell out a few extra bucks to save some time and maybe get a better loaf, KA flour is definitely the way to go. 

I made some delicious fruit sandwiches with the KA loaf with the some strawberries, bananas, blueberries and nectarines:

As for the store-brand loaf, since it wasn't as soft, I made french toast. I love using Hokkaido milk bread for french toast, and the store-brand loaf french toast was still perfect to make french toast. 

What do you guys think? Are you willing to spend a few extra dollars on KA bread flour? I definitely am. 

Also, if you have any thoughts about my test procedure, or just the bread making process in general, please comment. I'd love to hear your feedback, and I'm always looking for knew ways to make better bread.

Happy baking!






TomK's picture

I’ve been making Trevor’s Champlain sourdough a lot recently and have made progress but the open crumb still eludes me. This is last weekend’s bake and I’m pretty happy with it.  I increased the hydration by 2% and that helped. But I’m nowhere near “volcanic crumb”. Very pleased with the oven spring and blisters!





































Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

This is one of the prettiest breads I bake - Buckwheat Cranberry Levain! I used to make it just for autumn / winter, but it is such a favourite that I decided to put it in the baking rotation today. This time I baked it in cast iron pots seam-side up, and the resulting natural burst is quite attractive. The original recipe was inspired by cmatecun's Buckwheat Cherry Levain, but I've probably modified somewhat over time.

Ru007's picture


Hello friends! 

Nothing fancy happening here today. I really like white sourdough bread, but, adding a bit of whole grains makes it taste better to me. So I figured if nothing fancy is happening inside the loaf, I would challenge some of the habits I had developed when making bread. Just try something new and see what happens, right?


 I reduced the levain that I would normally use in a loaf like this to 12% prefermented flour. I was trying to slow down the bulk fermentation and see what that did to the taste. I’m very happy with how this loaf tastes. Result!! 


 I tried a different shaping technique, from Trevor J Wilson's how to make tartine style country bread video. I enjoyed the process. Normally, I wouldn’t dare rolling up my dough like that and would go for less a aggressive shaping technique, but I did it and the sun still rose today!! I just need to practice getting the right balance between getting enough surface tension and being gentle with the dough. 


 Oh and I decided to get a little creative with the scoring, see the little forest on the side?! Okay, it wasn't really my idea. I got the idea from instagram (@brooklynsourdough). 

Considering that getting the dough out of the bowl was a bit of a disaster, I’m happy with the crumb. In hindsight I think I should have let the bulk fermentation go for another hour or so or maybe left the shaped dough out at room temp for a little while longer.



Here’s the whole formula:





Weight (g)

Final dough


Levain (80% hydration)
















Unbleached white bread flour




Whole wheat flour




Rye flour




















Total dough weight





 The method was pretty simple:

1. 1 stage 12 hour levain build. 20 g NMNF rye starter plus 50 whole wheat flour and 40g water2.

2. “Pre mix” the dough i.e. all the flour, water and salt is mixed the night before mixing chilled in the fridge for a few hours and set out to come to room temperature overnight.

3. I spent about 30 mins mixing the dough initially and then I did 4 set of stretch and folds, not quite hourly but they were done within the first 5 hours of the bulk fermentation. Then another 2.75 hours bulk fermentation (yes, things were slow because its cold here!)

4. Pre shape and let the dough rest for 30mins.

5. Shape and let the dough sit in the basket for about an hour before refrigerating overnight.

6. Baked at 250 dC for 20mins with steam and then at 230 dC for another 25mins.

Happy baking everyone! 



leslieruf's picture

I was so very happy to see Ru back with us that I decided to make her Toasted Oat Sourdough.  I started of with a hiss and a roar and then decided I should check the recipe (alway dodgy to trust memory these days.)  

Wednesday evening I milled the whole wheat berries and rye berries that I would need for this recipe.  I sifted the wheat flour to get the bran. 

Levain Build (wednesday evening)

25 g refreshed starter + 105 g flour + 28 g bran + 106 g water. Mix and leave overnight on bench.

Soaker (Thursday morning)

133 g rolled oats, dry toasted then cooled. Then added 266 g boiling water, covered and left while I went off to Pilates.

Levain has risen but not looking as active as I would like so quite happy it is not ready yet.

Final Dough Thursday 12:30 pm

Levain is looking better, temperature has risen a bit so ok, ready to go.  Mix together 438 g bread flour + 20 g gluten + 229 g wholewheat + 8 g rye and 275 g water.  Not enough water for this dough!! Added another 55 g - still too stiff.  Added soaker and mixed in more or less.  Still to dry but will leave to autolyse 1 hour.

1:30 pm Add 17.8 g salt, 263 g levain and mix in.  It is still too firm for me so added another 50 g water.  Still think dough is too firm, I don't want a dense loaf.  I think I will add more water over stretch and folds.  

Stretch and fold 3 times incorporating another 30 g water (total water is now 410 g instead of 275 g!) and dough while still firm is more pliable. Leave to bulk ferment.

7:30 pm dough has increased in volume 60 - 70% so I preshape,- Lovely firm preshape leave for 45 minutes before easy final shaping.  Dough was divided into 2 * 555 g and 1 * .675 g loaves.  Overnight retard and baked Friday morning at 240 deg C, 15 minutes lid on and 20 minutes lid off.

I checked Ru's method when I was ready to mix the dough and realised that she had used the wholewheat flour in her levain build.  I had used the bran + bread flour and the sifted wheat flour in the main dough.  This dough was super thirsty and it ends up at about 94 % hydration and I think I could have added more water still. 

Question: would using the wholewheat flour this way be more thirsty than if I had used it in the levain?  Does the added gluten make it more thirsty? 

Crumb shot

This bread is really delicious and it will certainly be made often in future.  The 2 smaller loaves were gifts for friends.

I needed some hamburger buns so I used the Hokkaido Milk bread recipe posted by Breadbabies. 100g rolls, flattened slightly before baking, brushed with milk and topped with sesame seed.  Hamburgers are on the menu tonight so I will see how it goes.

Happy baking






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