The Fresh Loaf

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bluezebra's picture

METHOD: The purpose of this test on the sourdough starter is to test how long he takes to rise in a 60% hydration, lean dough.

Time 3:00pm

75.7 degrees F

31.5 and rising barometric pressure

2 oz General Chaos Starter

4 oz AP Walmart Brand Flour

2.25oz Filtered Water (Pur)

3/8 tsp Iodized Salt

Mixed all ingredients together for about 2 minutes until dough formed that pulled away from sides of dough but still stuck to bottom.

Transferred to a large glass measuring cup and covered with plastic wrap and a saucer.

bluezebra's picture

Well Bill and Katie, apparently all that General Chaos aka Sir Stinksalot needed was to be threatened with the arrival of a new kid on the block, "Flat Stanley" (from Katie's parchment experiments)! I used Bill's 1:4:4 for yesterday morning and yesterday night feeds. Each time the little guy doubled in a little under 8 hours!!!! Yippee!!!

So last night I really wanted to drill down on the proper amount of feeding for him every 12 hours (for now) and I tested 3 different formulations and the temp was 75.7 degrees yesterday and last night in the kitchen, with the following results:

1. Test 1 is a 1:4:4 feed using 1oz starter: 4 oz water: 4oz flour and I got a 100% rise at 8 hours.

2. Test 2 is a 1:9:10 feed using 1 tbsp starter: 9 tbsp water: 9 tbsp flour and I got a 30% rise in 8 hours.

3. Test 3 is a 1:1:1 feed using 1/4 cup starter: 1/4 cup water: 1/4 cup flour and I got a 10% rise in 8 hours.

So I know the 1:4:4 makes a happy starter for now... Bill am I looking for a starter that will double in 4hours? Do you think that in test 2 and 3 my sample was too small? Or do you think that the starter is just still building steam? I guess I will go ahead and wait for it to completely peak before feeding again this morning, then refead the 1:4:4 with the same ratio again?

Thanks Katie for your generous offer! It might be fun once I get this guy going to "trade" starters and have a "friends" starter going and do a tasting. To see how two geographically different starters taste side by side! :D

On a side note, General Chaos is really smelling ok these days. He hasn't been stinky in quite awhile even though he did have a pretty strong vinegar smell there for awhile! ;) Now he just smells acidic towards the end of his rise time.

AnnieT's picture

Beautiful bread, kjknits! It hadn't occurred to me to use my own sourdough starter instead of the barm, and now I can't wait to try it. I have the poolish sitting on the counter for Floyd's Daily Bread, and now this! I am getting panicky about running out of flour, and my freezer is getting full - not sure I want the family to know I am baking so much. Luckily my neighbors are always happy to take a loaf off my hands. I don't have a mixer so maybe won't get the great results you did, but I'm going to try, A

kjknits's picture

I tried another batch of bread with my new white starter. This time, the basic sourdough from BBA. I just replaced the barm in the book's formula with my own starter, since it seems to be about the same consistency. I made the firm starter yesterday and let it rise on the counter for 4 hours, at which point it had doubled. So into the fridge it went. This morning I took it out, cut it into pieces, and let it sit for an hour, then I used the KA mixer to mix the dough. I used KAF Bread flour and gray sea salt. The dough doubled in 4 hours, so then I gently divided it into two pieces and formed baguettes--taking LOTS of care not to degas it. Sat them on semolina-covered parchment strips in a towel-made-couche. They proofed for about an hour and a half, then I slashed 'em and baked 'em with steam.


The crust is delicious and not too hard, but pleasantly chewy and crusty. The crumb is substantial, yet still soft, and quite moist, without becoming gummy. We ate one whole loaf this afternoon and evening. And I had the audacity to not go walking after dinner, tempting those extra pounds. Well, at least it's fat-free. =)


Love the little tiny bubbles on the crust.


Still need to work on the slashing, although this time I just used a single-edge razor blade and it did go better then usual.

bwraith's picture

Seawater Sourdough Wheat Bread

Xma commented about trying seawater in bread on a diving trip. I decided to give this a try.

Please note: I have not researched health hazards that may result from using raw seawater directly in bread dough.

Based on some discussion on the internet, it seems that seawater has a salinity of approximately 32 to 35 parts per thousand. However, not all of the ions are Na+ or Cl-. In fact, seawater is a complex combination of various salts. However, as a naive assumption, I used 3.2% grams of salt per grams of water to approximate the saltiness of the seawater. One of the web sites indicated that the salinity in the Gulf of Maine, where I baked this bread aboard my sailboat, was 32 parts per thousand.

One of our crew members was able to obtain some KA White Whole Wheat Flour at a store in Portland on the way down to the docks, so we decided to make a whole wheat pan loaf. Just in case, a jar of percolating Glezer firm starter, fed the night before, was hidden in my duffel bag waiting for the grand seawater bread baking experiment.

We arrived at the docks and boarded "Chaos" a 40 foot sloop, and set off from Portland after having quickly fed the culture 1:2:2, expecting it rise again and then ripen a bit in time for an evening of a firm "recipe starter" preparation. We collected our seawater by using a seawater foot pump to draw seawater into bowls in the galley sink when we were at the eastern end of Casco Bay, about 1/4 mile southeast of White Bull Island, not too far from Cape Small. The winds were light, so we ghosted along, hardly spilling a drop of seawater. We therefore had plenty of our valuable test sample to use in the dough when we arrived in The Basin, a beautiful completely enclosed harbor on the eastern side of Casco Bay.

Seawater Sourdough Whole Wheat Recipe


Please see a spreadsheet with quantities in grams and ounces and baker's percentages.

Recipe Starter:

  • 114 grams (4 oz) of fully active, ripe 100% Hydration Starter (In my case I took my Glezer firm starter and fed it 1:2:2 with KA White Whole Flour and water such that I would have approximately equal weight flour and water, and allowed this to ferment for about 8 hours)
  • 283 grams (10 oz) whole wheat flour (I used KA White Whole Wheat flour, which is what was available)
  • 198 grams (7 oz) water


  • 652 grams (23 oz) seawater drawn from the coast of Maine at the east end of Casco Bay off of White Bull Island near Cape Small (if you draw the water from another location, you may need to consider the variation in salinity in different parts of the ocean in your calculations, or mix 32 grams per liter of fresh water and use as a seawater substitute).
  • 99 grams (3.5 oz) fresh water. (I used water from the freshwater tanks, of dubious origin - the dock supply in Portland - laced with a touch of bleach to keep the tanks "sweet").
  • 850 grams (30 oz) whole wheat flour (I used KA White Whole Wheat Flour)

Starter Preparation

I brought along a small amount of my new Glezer firm starter, thanks to consulting extensively with Zolablue, who has a thriving Glezer style firm starter and lots of great sourdough bread to prove it. I fed this starter with KA White Whole Wheat flour using the following: 32g Glezer starter:88g fresh water:80g KA WW. The mixture was stirred and allowed to rise while we sailed from Portland to The Basin in Casco Bay. Fortunately, it was a warm day, so the starter did rise just fine and was reasonably ripe later on in the afternoon when we made the recipe starter.

Recipe Starter

Around 6 P.M. the recipe starter was mixed. First add the recipe starter water to the 100% hydration starter and stir to fully mix the starter in the water, then mix in the flour. Knead into a dough, which should take about 3 minutes of kneading or less. Cover and allow to ferment until at least doubled. In this case, the temperatures were around 65F, and dropped down to about 55F over the course of the night, so we just allowed the starter to ferment all night. At room temperature, it would have taken about 5-7 hours to double this dough with my starter - your mileage will vary greatly of course.

Hydrate Flour

According to advice from whole grain experts, and realizing that seawater might impede the proper hydration and gluten formation in my KA White Whole Wheat Flour, I decided to give it a good long overnight soak in the seawater.

Mix seawater and freshwater together into a mass, cover, and allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator, or in our case, on the salon table where the temperature dropped down to about 50F overnight.

Mix Dough

In the morning, we mixed the dough. Take the mass of flour and water and lay it on a slightly wet counter and spread it into a large round disk like a pizza. Cut up the recipe starter into small pieces and push them into the larger flour mass, like toppings on a pizza. Roll up the dough and fold it a few times to begin mixing the starter with the dough. Since the hydration of this dough is fairly high, the starter and dough should mix together quickly and easily. I started the gluten formation and continued the mixing by spending about 30 seconds doing the following. Wet your hands and pick up one end of the dough, allow it to stretch with gravity, toss the other end on the table and pull it toward you, then flip the end you are holding over the dough in a folding action and pull your hands out and rewet them if necessary. Repeat this action a few times, rotating the dough each time.

Once the dough is well mixed and folded a few times, let it rest covered for an hour.

Fold Dough Periodically

To develop the gluten, fold it about once per hour for the first 3-4 hours. Some of my other blog entries (miche recipes) describe the folding technique, and there are even some photos of the steps. Hamelman describes the technique in "Bread", as well. This dough should rise in about 4.5 hours at room temperature with my starter. Again, your mileage will vary. However, it was cold on the boat. The dough started at a temperature of 55F. Luckily the sun managed to come out for a while and it warmed up, so the boat warmed up to about 70F for a few hours later on in the day. While we were sailing to Christmas Cove in Muscongus Bay, Maine, the dough rose nicely by a little more than double. The extra unexpected warmth probably resulted in a slightly overfermented dough, but not by much.

Shape Loaves and Final Proof

Two loaves were shaped approximately into batards, with the ends folded under, using JMonkey's video instructions. However, the dough was very wet and was a little too fermented, so it wasn't quite as easy as it looks in the video. Good luck - stay calm and don't overhandle the dough. Place the loaves in greased pans and cover. We placed the loaves in plastic bags and folded the opening to create a balloon for them to rise in.

Slash and Bake

Normally these loaves would proof in about 2.5 hours at room temperature. The boat was luckily at about room temperature, but we were also having too good a time cooking dinner and enjoying an after sailing happy hour. The boat warmed up inside, we had dinner, and before we knew it, the loaves had proofed for about 3 hours in the mid-70s. They seemed overproofed, but I tried slashing them anyway. At least they didn't collapse.

We baked in our anemic boat oven from a cold start for 1.5 hours at "400F", which means that it may have reached 400F at the very end of the bake, if that. Someone reflexively turned off the gas safety valve at that point, so although the loaves were just beginning to brown, we didn't realize the bake was over and the oven was off. These high hydration loaves do benefit from a good long bake, so our crumb turned out a little moist and the crust a little light. Still, the bread was good.


The flavor was very good - not overly sour at all, but definitely a sourdough loaf. I am not a big fan of white whole wheat, but that's what happened to be available in the store. I don't know if the flour itself contributed a slight bitter flavor, or if this was a side effect of the seawater. While reading about how salt is made from salt water, I discovered that the process is more elaborate than just evaporating seawater and keeping what remains. Usually a series of evaporator ponds are used which allow some of the less desireable salts to precipitate out before and after the desired sodium chloride we know as ordinary salt is extracted. Some of the less desireable salts were said to have bitter flavors. So, it may be that I have effectively used "low quality" salt that has contributed a bitter flavor to the bread by using seawater. The bread was calculated to have 1.8% salt in baker's percentages, based on a salinity of 32 parts per thousand for Gulf of Maine seawater, yet it tasted less salty than that to me. There are seasonal variations I didn't try to take into account. Also, it seems salt in seawater is about 85% sodium chloride, if I read some of the discussions correctly, and maybe the salty flavor is only imparted by the sodium chloride and not by any other salts. If so, then I needed to increase the seawater or add a little more salt to make up for that.

TinGull's picture

When I was living back on the coast of Maine, this was one of my favorite breads I would get.  The recipe is simple, just a regular ol' white bread with some oil added to it and then TONS of dill.



Also made some strawberry jam yesterday from strawberries we picked yesterday morning.  The first jam I'd ever made and I loved it!


 Just strawberries, sugar and agar-agar and lemon juice.

AnnieT's picture

I hope you didn't think I was being rude when I asked for some help clarifying your instructions - and didn't direct the question to you because I wasn't sure whether you were available. I found your recipe and pictures and would like to try it, but I wasn't sure whether you refreshed your starter and left it on the counter overnight or put it in the refrigerator? I just split my starter, which seemed rather thick, and 1/2 is on the counter and 1/2 in the frig. In containers, LOL. So now I have two starters on the go. I'll need a bigger frig at this rate, what with the bags of exotic stuff in the freezer - spelt, wheat germ, durum flour... Hope you had a good vacation, A

Floydm's picture

Oregon strawberries are in season, so this morning I whipped up a batch of fresh strawberry freezer jam and a couple loaves of whole wheat bread.

Hard to beat.

AnnieT's picture

Brotkunst, Thanks for such a speedy reply. I can see that there is a great deal of difference between flours, lots to learn. I used Bob's Red Mill No.1 Durum Wheat Semolina Flour which I think is finer than the semolina. Living on an island I don't have access to a huge variety, and I was always worried that shipping on a heavy item like flour would be prohibitive. In my area we have one decent store and I did find the Hodgson Graham flour there, along with several KA flours. I shaped my loaves and placed them on parchment paper on a large cookie sheet, then into the frig overnight. I wasn't sure how long to let them sit out before baking - I see that you baked yours right away. Oh well, I'll try again. While I think of it, can anyone tell me how much less instant yeast to use when the recipe calls for regular yeast? Also, I am using Diamond Crystal kosher salt and never seem to get the amount right. Does anyone have the answer, please? Finally ( for now!) I want to make Floyd's sourdough loaves, and I'm not sure when he will be back so I'm throwing this out in case he is still away - he says he refreshes his starter around 8pm, then mixes dough the next morning. Does the starter sit on the counter all night or go back to the frig? Sorry if that is a silly question, A


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