The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

tattooedtonka's picture

Here is my Mocha Java bread.  The bread has the color of WW but only contains white bread flour.  It is infused with chocolate and coffee.  The crust is soft, with a very soft creamy crumb that has melted chocolate and caramel throughout.  With a nice flavor of coffee to go with the chocolate.


  • 20oz. Bread Flour
  • 20oz. Brewed Coffee; Cooled ( I used Green Mountain Coffee Roasters - Mocha Java)
  • 1oz.   Finely ground coffee  (same as above )
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Instant Yeast

Mix all together and let rest on counter for 1 hour.  This is not really done for yeast activity as much as it done to help start the extraction of the coffee oils from the grounds. This allows plenty of time for the hydration of the coffee and start blending the flavors in a wet environment)


  • 2lb. 8oz. Bread Flour
  • 16 oz. Brewed coffee; cooled (Mocha Java)
  • 8oz. Milk
  • 4oz. Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3 1/2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 10oz. Bag of Milk Chocolate/Caramel Morsels (I used Toll House)
  • All of Sponge from above recipe

Mix all items together in large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let set for 1 hour. 

After hour is up, dump contents onto lightly floured counter top and spread out only lightly degassing.  Fold top towards you into the middle, then fold the side closest to you into the middle, then fold left in, then right in.  Then place back into bowl seam side down, and cover.

Do this again two more times, folding at 1 hour intervals.

After this third hours fold, cut dough in half.  Shape two loaves as you wish, I used a basic batard type of shape but a round loaf would work as well.  After dough is shaped I put them right into a cold start oven and did the slashes just before putting them in. Both loaves opened up nicely.  (basically after fold, cut-shape-score-bake, no waiting around for final resting.....daaaa)

I Baked at 375' F. for 40 minutes until  internal temp of 202'F.

Image of SpongeSponge Image

After 1st mixing all ingredients

After 1st rise before folding

After first fold

After final fold

Finished product



bwraith's picture

Sourdough Whole Grain Sandwich Loaves

Sourdough Whole Grain Sandwich Loaf

Sourdough Whole Grain Sandwich Loaf

I finally decided to give a try at an (almost) whole grain sandwich loaf. Admittedly I didn't switch my starter over, but I only have a few percent of the flour contributed from the white flour starter. Many thanks to all the contributors to, including at least JMonkey, ehanner, mountaindog, browndog5, Srishti, zolablue, sourdough-guy, sourdolady, tomsbread, and breadnerd for the very useful pointers on handling of whole grain breads. I didn't quite do justice to the good information, as you can see, but the crumb is certainly open enough, light enough, and soft enough, as well as having a nice flavor. I was happy with these results for a first try. I definitely overproofed them, partly because the cooler with warm water technique for the final proof was very effective.

I've included a few additional photos, although I didn't photograph the whole process this time. I also included a spreadsheet with weights of ingredients in ounces, grams, and baker's percentages.


Recipe Starter

  • 142 grams 100% hydration starter (I used a white flour starter)
  • 227 grams whole spelt flour
  • 113 grams water


  • 40 grams malt syrup
  • 4g diastatic malt powder
  • 581 grams water
  • 397 grams red whole wheat (I used KA organic WW Flour)
  • 57 grams rye (I used KA rye blend, but substitue with WW flour if you want)
  • 170 grams white whole wheat (I used KA Organic White WW Flour)
  • 17 grams salt
  • 28 grams olive oil


The night before you plan to bake, mix the starter ingredients, and knead them for about 2 minutes to make a dough out of them. Let rise in a covered container for about 4 hours at room temperature until doubled and refrigerate overnight.

Also the night before you plan to bake, mix the malt syrup, diastatic malt powder, water, and all the flours and place in a covered container. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, cut the starter into small cubes. Spread the refrigerated mass of flours, water, and other ingredients out on the counter and press the cubes into the mass. Sprinkle the salt and oil over the mass. Press the heels of your hand into the mass to force the ingredients to mix well. Roll up the mass and knead a few times to further mix the ingredients. You can then spread the mass out again and press it flat and then roll it up. After 2 or 3 repetitions of spreading out, pressing flat, and rolling up the mass, the ingredients will be well incorporated and the mass will seem more like a dough. It will be very sticky, but if you keep the counter surface, the dough surface, and your hands wet, it is not difficult to handle.

Bulk Fermentation

Place the dough in a rising bucket. Every 30-60 minutes for the first couple of hours, turn the dough out on the counter and fold it. After a few folds, just let it rise until it has doubled. The dough should double in volume in a total of about 4 hours at room temperature. The idea is to do enough folds to get the dough feeling elastic and resilient, but not so many that it begins to feel very stiff and loses its elasticity.

Shaping and Final Proof

I shaped according to JMonkeys video. The dough should be split in two, formed more or less into batards, and placed in two loaf pans approximately 9 inches long. To form the batards, just lay one of the two halves of the dough out in a long rectangle and roll it from the short end, stretching the outside surface as you roll it. You may want to tuck some of the end of the roll in toward the center a little as you roll it up. Seal it and tuck the ends under, and place into the pans with the nice, stretched surface up. You can put a little oil on the surface of the loaf to protect it from drying out. Place the pans in a warm humid place to rise. I put them in a cooler with a bowl of warm water next to them. Allow them to rise by approximately double or a little less.

Unfortunately, the temperature was very warm in my garage, where the cooler was, probably around 85F. I let them go for 4 hours and then realized they were way overproofed. The result was no oven spring. I shouldn't have slashed them and just put them in the oven. You can see what happened in the photos. I think if I had stopped the final proof at about 2 hours at 85F, I would have had a better slash with oven spring and so on. I know I'm getting close to figuring this out, as the loaves still had a flavorful, open crumb.


I baked these starting in a cold oven for about 45 minutes at 425F.


Once the loaves have cooled for a minute or two, remove them from the pans and allow them to cool on a rack. 

mountaindog's picture

With warm weather and more time spent in the garden than in the kitchen these days, I finally decided to give the "no-preheat" method a try since ehanner, crumb bum, sourdough-guy, and many others seem to like the results and the ease (not to mention energy savings).

I must admit I have been very skeptical of this method, it goes so against the grain of how I have made bread my whole life - I couldn't bring myself to do it for the longest time after carefully making each batch of dough, not wanting to sacrifice it, and I was convinced people who liked this method didn't require a thick, crispy crust like my family does - maybe it works fine for sandwich loaves, but crusty, chewy hearth loaves? Bread is sacred to my French husband and not something to be trifled with (he often hovers about the kitchen while I'm baking to make sure I hear the oven alarm and don't ruin the precious bread...)

So this past weekend I made a double batch of both the Thom Leonard and the Columbia (both from Glezer's ABAA) and decided to try the Leonard as the no-preheat and compare it to the Columbia which I would do on the hot baking stone as usual. First, as I mentioned to Zolablue in another blog, this weekend's bake was different than any previous sourdough bake I've done since starting back in November in that with the warm weather and warm house temps (70-75F) my starter was incredibly active and I've never seen these same doughs rise as much in the same time period as they did this weekend, they nearly blew the lids right off the dough buckets I use.

So I was a little worried the dough would be over-proofed, but when I slashed the Thom Leonard loaves after flipping them out onto a cold parchment covered baking sheet they seemed to hold their shape well. I put them in the cold oven on the middle rack (baking stones removed) and turned the oven on to 425F to bake the whole time, no steam or mist (needless to say, my husband was probably more nervous than I was...). I kept the light on to watch, and I noticed the slashes opening up and the loaves spreading - and I thought "great, I'll end up with pancakes", so I was extremely surprised to check back about 10 min later to see the loaves had bloomed and rose up very high - good oven spring - I was impressed! I left them in for about 15 min. before I opened the oven and rotated the loaves, then let them get nice and brown for another 15-20 minutes. I took them out when they looked nice and brown and the internal temp was about 204 . The crust felt nice and hard as they always do when you first take them out of the oven, but I knew the real test would be once the loaves cooled and we could cut into them and taste them. I should also mention that I have a gas stove, so the oven pre-heated and reached 425F pretty quickly without the stones in there.

Results below: we were very pleasantly surprised at the oven spring and open crumb, and the crust was crispy, but thin. Still, I could live with that considering how easy this was to do, no waiting for the stone to heat up, no misting, etc.

For comparison, below in front are some Columbias that I baked on a hot stone that I let heat up to 500F after the oven was already hot from the previous bake, then turned down to 400F after misting first 2 minutes. No-preheat Leonards are in the back. I made these Columbias as very large 3 lb boules rather than the usual batards (I like this large shape as it seems to keep the bread fresh longer throughout the week with just the cut side wrapped partially in foil). These Columbias also had tremendous oven spring, height, and open crumb, in fact they had better height and more open crumb than the no-preheat Leonards, and they also had a very thick crisp crust, which we prefer over the thin.

That said, I am still very happy with the no-preheat results given how easy it is, and will continue to use this method throughout the hot weather when I'm using the oven less anyhow. So I tip my hat to Sourdough-guy, ehanner, crumb-bum, and others who use this method, I've learned much from your advice before, but on this particular one I was skeptical, I'll never doubt you again...

Still, in cooler weather we cook so much on the weekends in the oven that I prefer to keep the stones in place, and my husband definitely prefers the resulting thick crust. Here is a crumb shot of the Columbia baked on the hot stone.

JMonkey's picture

Helas, that appeared to be the situation Saturday afternoon.

I'd thought I'd learned something about properly dusting a very wet loaf before proofing. And, in fact, I did learn something. Unfortunately, I subsequently learned something else: how to shape a wet loaf properly, thanks to MountainDog.

But we'll get to that in a minute. First, let me show you these beautiful and delectable Spelt and Flaxseed Blueberry Muffins. MountainDog, you are a genius. My daughter gobbled hers up in record time. My wife said, "Honey, you can make these again anytime you like."

Highly recommended. Sweet, but not too sweet, with a crunchy top, nutty texture and delicious spelty flavor. More about spelt to come.

Anyway, back to how MountainDog ruined my Desem through good teaching. Thanks to MountainDog, my boule of Desem rose higher than it had ever risen before, and all in just 2 hours instead of the usual 2.5. As a result, the undusted bottom of the loaf rose up and stretched to touch the sides of the top of the brotform (or banneton or proofing basket, whatever you will). The top of the loaf was ready to slide out just fine, but the bottom edge stuck to the sides - the whole loaf just tore itself in half. The moral is that I need to dust the loaf again after I place it in the banneton.

It was very dispiriting, especially since I'd aimed to bring that loaf to dinner with some friends we'd not seen in some time. Luckily, I had a loaf of whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread in the freezer, which served just as well for dinner bread.

But, as Marie Antoinette said (or more likely, never said but later had political enemies ascribe to her anyway), upon her coronation in the midst of a terrible bread shortage: "If they no longer have any bread, then let them eat brioche." So I made some brioche - specifically, the "Rich Man's Brioche" from the BBA. In baker's percentages, the butter is 87% and there's 5 large eggs in the recipe -- heck, I figured, if I'm abandoning whole grains, why not just go all the way. My wife loves lemon curd, and nothing goes better with lemon curd than brioche, so the Saturday before Mother's Day, I made up the dough. Stretch-and-fold is a great technique, but I couldn't figure out how to make it work with brioche. After all, we're talking about plowing a full pound of butter, that's FOUR FREAKING STICKS of pure, unadulterated, totally saturated fat into about 18.25 ounces of white flour.

It's not easy.

But I love my wife (even if I'm not showing much love for her heart, arteries or vascular system in general), so I soldiered on. After I got it incorporated, I put that slab of dough on greased parchment, covered it with transparent petroleum product and put it into the fridge.

For the following morning, I had a plan. I was all jazzed about spelt, so I decided to make my usual whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread, but with a spelt starter and 1/2 spelt flour.

Over two feedings, I built up enough spelt starter from about 10 grams of my whole wheat starter and measured out everything the night before. Then, Sunday morning when I woke up (as usual) at 6am, I could just mix everything together on autopilot, which would help me get warmed up to make good old fashioned buttermilk (whole wheat - what else did you expect from me?) waffles. No sourdough waffles this time; I got in pretty late Saturday night, and didn't feel like messing around with buttermilk at 11:00 P.M.

My plan actually worked! I mixed up the sourdough around 6:30 a.m., took out the brioche dough and shaped it, and then placed the brioches in my makeshift proofbox - we'd left the windows open overnight, so it was a chilly 61 degrees in the kitchen. I had to have everything done by 11am to be at church (my wife was singing a duet), So I couldn't let it proof on the counter.

Now, the BBA says that the brioche recipe makes 3 lbs of dough, but I only got 2 lb 12 ounces. So I decided to make two loaves and a 6-muffin tin full of mini-brioches. It was a great idea, but unfortunately, they wouldn't all fit in my beer-cooler-turned-proof box. At least, not flat on the bottom. A couple of tall plastic cups later, and I had a two-tiered system, which worked great until I tripped over the proofbox, uttered swear words, and sent the muffin tin careening into one of my half risen loaves, deflating it mightily right in the middle. So, I took the muffin pan out of the proof box and tried another trick. I boiled a cup of water in the microwave, open the door and quickly shoved the muffin tin inside. Presto, instant proof box.

It worked! I pulled the last loaves of brioche out of the oven at 10:52 a.m. which gave Iris and I the 5 minutes we needed to bike to church. The deflated loaf, unsurprisingly, looks deflated, but the braided pan loaf looks OK. And they taste ... very, very buttery.

As for the Whole-Wheat and Whole Spelt Sourdough Sandwich Bread? The stretch and fold, no-knead approach was a winner! The shaped loaves rose in the proofbox while I was at church and were ready to go into the oven when we got home. I took the stone out of the oven, and tried the cold start approach. Again, it was a winner! This bread's a little less light than my 100% sourdough sandwich loaves usually are, but not by much, and the flavor is sweeter with a nutty overtone. It's nice, especially with peanut butter.

Next week, I'll beat this sticky Desem beast, even if I do learn something useful yet again from MountainDog. Which is altogether likely.

browndog's picture


Dutch Crunch 2

Meteors...or morels? Dutch Crunch makes an odd and intriguing loaf, and I don't pretend to understand the mystery behind the results. A thick coating of yeast and rice flour transforms your loaf into something other-worldly, and it was with more than passing surprise I saw it turn up on redivyfarm's no-knead loaf uninvited, a wild version of this domestic specimen. Honestly I find Dutch Crunch in the eating to resemble nothing so closely as grit in its Sunday best, however, my family is taken with it and it makes a spectacular presentation. The bread itself is a basic white loaf to which was added leftover mashed potato and brown rice flour. With more than a little chagrin I must allow this to be the tenderest crumb ever to emerge from my oven, presumably due to the combined effects of potato and rice. My son on taking a bite exclaimed, "Oh, I'm eating Wonder bread!", but I let him live.

redivyfarm's picture

We're having fun on the farm! With the Mother's Day picnic coming up I decided to bake my own version of a filled braid. I admired the fruit filled braids and loved Floyd's suggestion that a savory filling with a different dough would be good. A search of the BBA formulas led me to use Pain de Campagne because it is said to be suited to shaped loaves; never disappoints. I followed Reinhart's steps with the exception that I used an overnight retarding of the dough after the first partial rise to better fit my schedule. I knew that this dough was going to have to stand up to some serious handling and honestly, I had my doubts.

Today I proceeded with Floyd's excellent instructions, dividing my dough in half to make two braids. Rolling it out to about a 3/8 inch thickness required letting the dough rest a bit with the rolling pin anchoring the corners to achieve the pan sized rectangle. My silicon baking sheet was helpful; I was able to handle the dough a little less when transferring it to the pans. I lined two baking pans with oil sprayed parchment and sprinkled a little rice flour where the braid would rest. Scissors worked well to make the inch wide angled strips. The short sides on my pans did not allow enough room to cut with the scraper. The dough with filling looked like this-

Braid Building

Braid Building

For this braid I used part cream cheese, part grated parmesan with one tablespoon of the egg wash mixture per Floyd's example. On top of that, sauteed Italian sausage, mushrooms and sweet peppers with garlic and herbs, salt and pepper. The other braid is filled with caramelized onion and sauteed mushroom on cream cheese with s and p. They get two applications of egg wash, the last one just before baking. The criss-cross fold works for me just like it works for Floyd. Wonder of wonders, in spite of lots of handling, the dough rose up puffy in about an hour and a half! Floyd and I agreed that the oven temperature should most likely be 450 degrees as required for the Pain de Campagne. I baked one braid at a time for 20 minutes.

Mushroom Onion Braid

Mushroom Onion Braid

Braid Slice

Braid Slice

This is really a fun baking, yields an impressive product and will adapt to limitless tasty fillings. I strongly recommend the ultra-reliable BBA Pain de Campagne formula for shaped breads.  

tattooedtonka's picture

I started my day off making french bread from some yeast pre-ferments from last night. 

After mixing, folding and so on, I figured I am not going to try anything fancy I just want rustic looking bread (ugly bread that is). 

And I am happy with the results of my ugly breads.

We had this loaf for dinner and it was quite good. 

I also made a couple loaves of country bread

Both the french bread and country bread recipes are from Hamelmans "Bread"

And they are both very good in my opinion.


Floydm's picture

Per community request, I deleted the trying-to-be-offensive-but-mainly-just-immature post from this morning. When I first saw it I thought about deleting it, but I was trying to be good to my word about not meddling or doing anything that can be construed as trying to censor folks here. But given that it annoyed other long-time community members and the poster wasn't a preexisting community member (they joined this morning and that was the only post they've ever made), I went ahead and deleted it.

Sourdoughgirl153: if you are legitimately an amateur baker with questions about sourdough starters, please post your question again omitting the phallic white bread photo.

mse1152's picture

Funny how the rye discussions have popped up in the last couple of days. I'd been planning to make the New York Deli Rye from the BBA this weekend. I couldn't find white rye flour locally, and had to mail order some. The bread turned out very different from those I've made with dark rye. Looks great for sandwiches. The book calls for sauteed onions in the starter (which I'd probably like), but I chose to omit them to see what the straight bread is like.

NY Deli Rye















The recipe starts with a rye starter, based on Peter Reinhart's barm. Well, to get a barm, you have to go through 4 days of building what he calls a seed culture, then another day or so to turn it into a barm. I've read the instructions several times, and I still don't really get the difference between the two. Years ago, I made the barm, and ended up with several pounds of stuff. So I used my own well-refreshed starter instead. Neener, neener. The barm is equal weights of flour and water, with seed culture added, which is not quite equal weights of flour and water. So I figured that refreshing my starter to equal weights would get me close enough.

Overall, I think it came out well, but I may have let the starter cook too long... I made the starter at 2:30 one day, put it in the fridge at 7:00, took it out next day at 9:30, and didn't use it till 1:00. was bubbling very nicely though, and the final dough got 2 more teaspoons of instant yeast. I glazed the dough with beaten egg white before slashing.

The flavor is quite mild. If it weren't for the caraway seeds, it wouldn't taste very rye-ish, though the flavor is good. Maybe I'm just too used to dark rye breads. The crumb is moist and feels good, and the loaf is really surprisingly soft, easy to flatten while slicing. I'm going to make it again (sometime) with the onions added to the starter.


redivyfarm's picture

I'm just getting a break in the action and able to post after several days away from The Fresh Loaf. I'll never get caught up with the new content; my loss! This past weekend I made a couple of breads with long fermentations to fit into a schedule of Kentucky Derby and NBA Playoffs. I used Bwraith's version of Sourdough Raisen Focaccia with tasty results!

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia


Sourdough Raisen Focaccia

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

Sourdough Raisen Focaccia Proof

This was a fun 24 hour preparation and it was great to see the trusty sourdough starter work to perfection. I suspect that the moist raisens might make this focaccia more perishable than I'm used to so I'm refrigerating and popping a couple of servings into the toaster to enjoy it hot.

I also went to work on my first attempt at Pain a l'Ancienne. Reinhart describes it as the best so I aim to work at the technique and produce a respectable version at least. My product bears little resemblance to some of the lovelies I've seen posted in this community but I will continue to read your posts and tweak my process. I'm realizing that the notes and variations posted by my fellow home bakers are useful well beyond the info in the bread books. I followed the BBA formula pretty closely but at the end of the final proof it seemed to spring up and surprise me. As a result, this baking is probably over proofed. See how the slashes didn't really bloom? I think sourdough is more forgiving in that respect. It seems that I lost a great deal of gas in the forming of the baguettes and as a result didn't get much oven spring or a nice open crumb. I wonder, has anyone formed the baguettes on parchment prior to retarding in the refrigerator?

Ancienne First Attempt

Ancienne First Attempt 

Ancienne Crumb

Ancienne Crumb

 In spite of all the things I would like to improve, this bread is really delicious. I recommend eating it with chipotle mayo, sliced tomatoe, salt and pepper for every meal until it is gone!


Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries