The Fresh Loaf

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foodslut's picture

My oven has been out of commission for a few days, and the front-panel computer gizmo needed to make it bake when you hit bake (instead of broil until the "too hot" alarm goes off) is on order. 

I have back-up plans if I really start jones-ing to bake (use friend's oven, and leave some hot bread behind as "payment"), but I've decided - after a couple of less-than-sterling attempts here and here) to use my baking down time to try to make a sourdough culture.

Why?  I feel I have the time, and a taste of bread from this local bakery (first bread I've purchased since starting baking in 2007) got me thinking I'd like to get bread with a touch of sour as well.

After reading all sorts of literature out there (including here at TFL), I've decided to try the Real Bread guy Andrew Whitley's approach to sourdough as preached in his book "Do Sourdough: Slow Bread for Busy Lives".

I'm also trying a 200% hydration liquid levain (using locally grown and stone milled whole wheat flour) instead of the 100% because I think I can aerate it a bit more easily during the build & maintenance.

Day 1 today, 16 minutes in:

As usual, all input/advice welcome.

More, as it happens ....

isand66's picture

  If you haven't noticed by now I seem to like porridge breadas, so it's no surprise I made another one yesterday.  My wife had some left-over caramelized onions from her Quesadillas she made last weekend and I had some left-over potatoes so the beginnings of a bread began to form.

I wanted to use some of my fresh milled Spelt flour for this one and I also added some freshly milled whole wheat and some Caputo 00 flour to round it out.

I compensated for the 81% water content of the potatoes by cutting back the actual water added to the main dough and ended up with a nice wet but manageable dough.
The final result was a wonderfully moist and open crumb with a fantastic nutty flavor from the spelt and just enough onions to make this one a winner.


Spelt Potato Grits Porridge Bread  (weights)

Spelt Potato Grits Porridge Bread  (%)

Here are the Zip files for the above BreadStorm files.


Levain Directions

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.  You can use it immediately in the final dough or let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

Porridge Directions

Add about 3/4's of the milk called for in the porridge to the dry ingredients in a small pot set to low and stir constantly until all the milk is absorbed.  Add the remainder of the milk and keep stirring until you have a nice creamy and soft porridge.  Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature before adding to the dough.  I put mine in the refrigerator and let it cool quicker.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours  and the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, cooled porridge, potatoes and salt and mix on low for 5 minutes.  Now add the onions and mix on low for another minute until they are incorporated.    You should end up with a cohesive dough that is slightly tacky but very manageable.  Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.


Cosmo--"Panda Bear" catching some sun on the cable box.


FrugalBaker's picture

I have been testing my own limit on dough hydration of late and have come to the conclusion that I shall stop at 78 percent and not to challenge myself any further unless I am feeling extremely bored over the weekend.

This bake has started out as another attempt of 1:2:3, which I failed miserably the last time I tried my hands on but I guess I have progressed a fair bit for the past month. Not only that I increased the amount of hydration, I was convinced that I could go further than that. But then, the harsh reality sunk in..

I could barely do the slap and fold as the dough, well, it was not looking like a dough at all. And then I reminded myself of all the previous bake, on how I persisted and be able to pull through. So, after a 3 hours of stretch and fold, the dough firmed up but I could not shape it. I tried to do the best I could in the big container and pour it over to a heavily floured brotform. By now, the dough wobbles like a giant jelly. After some cold retardation, I was faced with yet another challenge. This time, I got to really use my grey matter on how am I going to get the dough out as part of it was still stuck to the ok, I managed in the end, big time!

The look of the dough looked like a complete flop initially but when it finally rose up in the oven....I said a little prayer (yes, I will have some fresh bread for breakfast today), phew....

Exciting it was, traumatic at times but I think it is worthwhile. Though, I should really be back to the basic now and focus more on shaping and scoring.


A better look at the crumb shot.


Finally, that's a the gloss : )

p/s: I think it looks ok for a rookie. Happy Baking everyone.


Best Regards,


Herbalgarden's picture

Made 2 sizes of dome for the cottage loaf. I should make more distinguish next time. I used spicy orange thyme and black sesame seed for both loaves.

greenbriel's picture

Hi Loafers! I've been baking a bit less, mainly straight dough same-day or overnight baguettes, and I figured I've posted enough baguettes to bore the most ardent enthusiast!

Made some of David's SJSD baguettes in batard form today, and they came out quite nicely. Crumb could have been better (more consistent and open), but flavor is good.

My starter has become a champ. It sat in the fridge for about six weeks, and responded to it's first feeding as if it had been on the bench with daily feedings all month. Very pleased.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!




Closest I've come to blisters:



Anne-Marie B's picture
Anne-Marie B

A bottle of dark beer, a touch of rye and molasses gave birth to this puppy.

Keep a small glass and some smoked almonds on hand.

My wheat starter was bubbling nicely after a feed so I did not make a sponge. I would normally have used wheat malt extract, but I had none on hand. So I melted a big tablespoon of molasses in a quarter cup of dark beer for about 15 seconds in the microwave. Added enough beer to make 350ml, 1 Cup of my starter, 1 Cup of Rye flour, 2 - 2 1/2 Cups of bread flour and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix and rest. Drink the rest of the beer and nibble the almonds for about half an hour. Then mix, adding a tablespoon of flour at a time until the sides of the bowl come clean. (Since my cycling accident, I have been using a mixer). Rise for hours, until bedtime. Form a round loaf on your baking sheet and cover with a big mixing bowl. Place in the fridge. Get up at 5am. Turn on the oven for 220 C while making the first round of frothy coffee. Paint the loaf with eggwash. Sprinkle with flour. Slash. Once she goes in, fling in a few ice cubes on the lower sheet for steam. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 180 C. Back to bed with a book. Usually you can smell it when it is ready, at least half an hour. Turn the oven off and read for another 10-15 minutes. Take her out and make another round of coffee. Enjoy slices of warm bread with slabs of ice cold butter melting into it with your second coffee. 

Herbalgarden's picture

Rolled up the bacon in each fold. I will try thinner dough next.

dabrownman's picture

It has been a while sine Lucy came up with a bread that was 60% whole grain so this one was a treat and it didn’t disappoint – even if a bit over proofed. 


This one came it 80% hydration with 17% pre-fermented flour, 30% sprouted 4 grain of spelt. rye, wheat and Kamut in the dough flour.  We used whole wheat for the levain flour making sue to use all the hard bits first.


We did a 3 stage levain build and then retarded it for 24 hours.  An autolyse of 1 hour for the dough flour and water only worked well the next day as the levain warmed up.  Once the salt and levain went in we di our usual 3 sets of slap and folds of 8,1 and 1 minute and 3 sets of stretch an folds – all on 15 minute intervals.


We did a short half hour bulk ferment before shaping the dough into a boule and placing it into a rice floured basket.  The basket was bagged and retarded for 18 hours.  It should have been 12 but I’m not letting possibly over proofed bread get in the way of good nights sleep - for Lucy!


We let the dough warm up on the counter as the oven preheated to 500 F with the combo cooker inside.  We un-molded the dough and slashed it in a square, slid it into the CC and placed it the oven for 15 minutes of steam at 450 F.  We then baked it at 425 F for 15 minutes with the lid off and the bread coming out of the CC at the 20 minute mark.


The bread browned well but didn’t bloom or spring well.  The crumb came out nice a airy for a 60% whole grain bread, was moist, glossy and soft.   Once again the best part of this bread is how wonderful it tastes – a nice combination of whole and sprouted grains for sure.  It made for one fine bologna sandwich for lunch.


SD Levain Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



Retarded Rye Sour






14 % Extraction Whole Wheat






84 % Extraction Whole Wheat
























Levain Totals






Whole Wheat












Levain Hydration












Dough Flour






KA Bread Flour






Sprouted 4 Grain






84% Extraction Whole Wheat






Total Dough Flour






























Dough Hydration






Total Flour w/ Starter & Scald


















Hydration with Starter and Scald






Total Weight






% Whole Sprouted Grain






Whole Grain












4 grain sprouted flour is equal amounts of wheat, rye, spelt and Kamut



Lucy says not to forget the salad that goes with that apple berry crisp 


KathyF's picture

Having recently purchased Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish, it seemed appropriate that I try out a recipe! I decided to try the Overnight Country Blonde. I studied the recipe, watched Ken's videos on Youtube and read back any posts I could find here on TFL (and there were quite a few!).

The first thing I noticed was the long overnight bulk rising. At first, for some reason, I thought the bulk rise would be in the fridge. But after reading Skibum's recent post I realized that the rise was suppose to be at room temperature. Now, I have had pretty good success with a sourdough version of the almost no-knead method, but by my calculations, I would be using about twice as much starter. Wasn't sure how that was going to work. Also, I noticed quite a few people had issues with the long bulk rise, especially in a warmer environment. Night temperatures here have been around 70 degrees lately, so it is a tad warmer than Ken's kitchen. However, I did want to try to stick as close to the original recipe as possible. Here is my process:

First off, I didn't use his method for building the starter. I just built up my starter to the amount needed for the recipe. That worked well, though of course I have no idea if it makes a difference in the flavor.

I adjusted the time schedule a bit. I started the autolyze and mixing later in the evening. Because I was worried about ending up with soup the next morning, I decided to decrease the hydration a tad. I would say down to about 75%. The final mix was around 8:00 pm and I did my final stretch and folds just before midnight.  I got up at 7:30 am and this is what I saw:

The blue line shows about where the dough was when I went to bed. It passed the 2 liter mark and was just starting to fall. A tad over-proofed. The dough was quite slack but not totally unworkable. I was able to do the letter folds but had a heck of a time getting good tension when forming the boule. Can't say I totally succeeded with that. 

I then put it in a small casserole dish lined with parchment paper (next purchase... bannetons) and let it rise. At 1.5 hours it looked and felt like it was approaching overproofing so I quickly turned on the oven and a half hour later popped it in the dutch oven. And here is the result:

All in all, I think it turned out pretty good. I think it lacks big holes because I worked a little too hard to shape it. But the texture is good and the crust is thin and crispy. And the flavor is great.

I want to try it again, but have to think about how I am going to control the bulk rise. 

victoriamc's picture

Of course, one cannot host a herb-bread blog feature without including a classic rosemary focaccia!  So I have just finished a recipe for a really tasty rosemary focaccia its the final bread recipe in my herb bread collection.  Go head over to for the details.  With a 75% hydration the dough is pretty slack but still workable and the end result is great. A soft, supple airy interior with a nice thin golden crust.   Thanks to my little herb garden for providing me with such great flavour.


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