The Fresh Loaf

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alfanso's picture

On May 1st BreadBabies posted her SJSD batard twins.  And they were lovely.  But her post started off with a lament on her rye levain.  After being built and "ready" her resultant bake yielded the comment "Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough was more like a Vermont pancake". 

I suggested that her rye levain was the issue and that it was way past usefulness, having expired all of the yeast's food by the time she got around to employing it.  It was in the throes of death at that point and therefore she shouldn't throw in the towel so soon on trying to use rye levains.  

As her SJSD was so nice, I provided a bastardized version of it replacing David's 100% mixed flour liquid levain with a 125% all rye flour liquid levain.  She replied along the lines of - after you.  So be it.  I guess that was the bee in my bonnet that I needed!  And so BreadBabies - here it is:

One other point that I want to re-emphasize.  Is once you / I / we make a mod to someone else's formula, it is no longer their formula that we are making, it is our own version, a one-off.  And again, to me, a good thing.

First order of business is to know what a ripe and ready 125% rye levain should look like.  Doubled in size from when it was fed, it started out at the horizontal "gelato" line.  This took 5 1/2 hour in my 78dF kitchen:


Changes from David's SJSD formula for this run:

  • the obvious switch to the 125% rye liquid levain
  • incorporated the levain with the water and flour up front.  Otherwise it would have been a little difficult to incorporate the post-autolyse levain by hand.
  • Bulk rise with letter folds at 40, 80, 120 and 150 minutes.  Then whisked into retard for ~16-18 hours.
  • baked straight out of retard without a bench proof.

The dough was incredibly extensible throughout the letter folds.  Soft and quite pliable for final shaping.  With a  modestly floured couche they released quite easily, with no sticking although they shed a fair amount of moisture onto the couche.

Baked at 480dF.  Steamed for 13 minutes.  Rotated and baked for an additional 10 minutes.  Vented for 2 minutes more.

375g x 4 baguettes.  

Crumb shot added.  Preparing for my morning toast...

Floorman's picture

After about a year of my last post, I thought I share this one. I have been baking lots of bread past year. Average of 25 loaves a week. Trying to start up my own business from home. As a stay at home dad with 2 kids under 5 it seems to be quite a balancing act. Luckily I only do sourdough bread, and I find it very forgiving... And the fridge became a very good friend. At the moment I am sitting on 45 loaves a week that I am selling, but would like to get to about 80... Then I can say I sell enough to justify a new and bigger oven :)

 This one is a experimental loaf. As I usually bake in tins, just to utilise the space in the oven, it was quite nice to do a free form again. Also usually my doughs are too wet to hold their shape. I really enjoyed baking this one. The dough fermented just over 48 before I shaped it and let it rise for another hour. Then in the oven for an hour with lots of steam.

For those interested: (from memory)

150g white starter, 50g rye starter ( both 100%), 450g water, 20g salt, 200g wholemeal rye, 500g strong wheat flour, 150g kibbled wheat, good sprinkle of caraway seeds (probably 8g). Baked at 250c, turned down to 220c after 20 min.


dabrownman's picture

This is the last of the series end up at with 100% sprouted grain bread.  We started at 30% then 40% than 50% and last week was 75%.  What we learned last week was that the dough was getting very fast and it over proofed in the fridge during a retarded final proof.  So we cut the pre-fermented flour in the bran levain to 10% hoping to slow the dough down but did retard the levian for 24 hours after it doubled after the 3rd stage.

Rather than retarding the final proof we let this bread bulk ferment on the counter for 5 hours in our warmish kitchen after the 2 hours of gluten development using slap and folds and stretch and folds.  We kept the 1 hour autolayse.  The hydration ended up at 80%, 5% lower than last week because  it was so fast and over proofed the week before with 25% less whole sprouted grain.

Look how this proofed seam side down in the basket.  I've never had a loaf proof and crack like that on the smooth side before - weird!

The bran levain was so small that some of the bran ended up with the high extraction dough flour this time so not all the bran got the full immersion and softening in 100% hydration and the acid of the SD for 36 hours.  It was 78F in the kitchen overnight.

The 7 sprouted grains, in equal amounts, remained the same: red and white wheat, oat, barley, spelt, rye but this time we doubled up the Kamut hoping for that color to come through more.  This dough was really fast because we fermented it on the counter.  In 5 hours it had tripled!  I thought it was over fermented for sure but I degassed it and pre-shaped it and then 10 minutes later did a final shape.

This week was Hamburger Once a Month Day with home made buns. And we love grilled shrimp kabobs with grilled veggies

We plopped it into a rice floured basket seam side down because we knew we didn’t want to slash this giggly mass after it proofed in the trash can liner.  We checked it at 30 minutes and it was already 50% proofed so we fired up the oven to 500 F with the combo cooker inside.  In an hour it was 95% proofed. Over proofed for sure but not horribly so.

We also love grilled Ahi Tuna.  Yummy!  The cherry tomatoes from the back yard make killer bruschetta for lunch

We quickly un-molded it onto parchment on a peel and slid it right into the hot cooker and in the oven it went as we turned the heat down to 450 F for 18 minutes of steam.  When the lid came off it had cracked OK but no huge spring.  We turned the oven down to 425 F convection for 6 minutes of dry heat.

We then took the bread out of the cooker completely and finished baking it on the bottom stone for 6 more minutes.  At that point, the bread read 208 F on the instant read thermometer and was fairly brown but we turned the oven off and left the bread on the stone with the door ajar to see it would take on some more color.

Well it didn’t so 5 minutes we put it on the cooling rack.  The Kamut color did come though too.  Now we wait on the crumb shot for lunch.  I would expect it to nit be as open at the 75% but still very nice since it proofed up so well.  With the longer bulk ferment that tripled, I would expect a very nice sour coming through with this one.  It smelled wonderful coming out of the oven so early this morning.'

Yes it is Cinco De Mayo a fresh blackberry margarita is in order. Have a Fiesta!

This one did come out a bit more sour than usual which is fine for a whole grain bread.  It is pretty tasty overall and the crumb was open soft and moist.  It is hearty and healthy too.  So a whole sprouted grain bread is possible but you really need to watch it since it lightening fast and I was not fast enough. 3 hours bulk and 45 min proof is enough already!

A prickly pear margarita  is the perfect chaser for the blackberry one


10% pre-fermented 7 sprouted grain bran levain 100% hydration

90% of the remainder of the bran and the High Extraction 7 sprouted grain flour

80% hydration overall

Lucy says to not forget the salad with all other good stuff



dixongexpat's picture

Because ... that's what we have in the fridge. Dried cherries. :)

I started the levain last night, but it spent the night and most of today in the fridge in-between build stages. I'm not sure if this will be good or bad for it, guess we'll see...?

May or may not get the dough ready tonight. I would like to, just so I can bake in the morning. The last loaf is running low!

BreadBabies's picture

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village - a village of Fresh Loafers - to raise my bread.

Things were going swimmingly until one day, my starter had an identity crisis. But it wasn't that simple, because it was a secret identity crisis. My starter culture, which consisted of purely rye, was rising beautifully after each refreshing...3.5x in 10 hours. It was so airy that beyond the water float test, it looked like it might fly.

My bread on the other hand was flat -- and not in a flat is beautiful kind of way. I wasn't making rye breads either. Sure, they had a few grams of rye for flavor, but these were primarily white sourdoughs. Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough was more like a Vermont pancake. And this was the sourdough people started with...the easy, introductory sourdough people recommended to first-time bakers because it's yummy and straight-forward. But I wasn't getting it.  I tried 3 times. Same story. I tried other recipes. No luck. My loaves looked nothing like the loaves other community members were making, even beginners baking their very first breads were putting me to shame. Frustrated, I considered giving up the whole thing. I have about 10 bread baking books and I've read every inch of them, but clearly, this just wasn't my particular talent. So the choice was to give in or double down.

The Fresh Loaf is the only reason I even had that choice. This community rescued me, troubleshot with me, advised and encouraged me.

I re-educated myself on shaping, benching, fermenting, everything I could think of that might compromise my rise. But in the end, this community helped me figure out that my problem was that my rye starter had become a picky eater, refusing to respond to any other variety of flour. And this community advised me on how to transition to a starter that would have more umph.

I'm still figuring out the perfect way to maintain my starter; it's a work-in-progress. But after about 2 weeks of working with it, I tried a loaf today. And as I have this community to thank for keeping me in the game, I wanted to make a TFL classic. Pictured is David's San Joaquin Sourdough.  It rose beautifully and tasted great. The crumb was as good as any I had baked, even before the identity crisis. It's not perfect...I'm still pretty new at this...but it's light years beyond where I came from.

So, this is a Fresh Loaf Loaf because without this community, it never would have happened.

Special thanks to Mini Oven, Trevor Wilson, and the patron saint of sourdough starters, Debra Wink.  And of course, to the good doctor for his great recipe and many others who offered advice.

I'm still working on it and the questions will still be coming...but a big THANK YOU for getting me here.

yozzause's picture

I have not posted for a while but thought id share some bread that was made today , I was using up some stout that I had opened and I also used up the wholemeal flour that I had, it was intended to be 50% but it ended up a bit more than that. same goes for the stout where I used 420mls and 160ml s of water. I soaked the w/m in all the liquid and had chores to attend to. I weighed up the rest of the ingredients so that I could add them upon my return. As it happened  l had to go to the city to file some legal papers and the soak ended up being 7 hours!  The dough was then mixed by hand and again used up some compressed yeast that I had on hand. The dough ended up having a 3 hour bulk fermentation and was divided and given 20 minutes bench rest before final shaping . I  made 2 loaves that I have not previously shaped before and I cant recall the name given to these, but they remind me of  a frenchmen's beret .They are currently cooling so will have to post an inside shot later.

kind regards Derek





FrugalBaker's picture

Hey everyone, 

It's a long weekend here and I am glad am able to report back on my baguette baking journey. First of all, I would like to thank Alan (Alfanso) for taking the time and guided me to baking Bouabsa's Baguette. I must admit I got a little lost along the translation when going through the formula. And out of curiosity, went to Youtube and search for some visual guidance and comes Alan with his comprehensive video, bravo Alan. Should have told me earlier : )

As usual, the formula serves only as a guideline when it comes to baking in my kitchen and I am always on the look out of hot and humid environment here. Another hurdle would be the types of flour and sourcing of equipment too. Getting things on Amazon is possible but not always practical as shipping fees usually cost more than double of the price of the item itself, so I gave up! And therefore, am always looking for some alternatives.

Just last week, I was really crazy looking for some terracotta tiles around the neighbourhood but none suits my requirement as they were all glazed. My husband was kind enough to drive me to another part of the town and finally got what I wanted. I wasted no time that afternoon and jumped straight into the baguette baking bandwagon.

Below are a few method I tried out and of course, the results came in few variations too...


Same formula as Bouabsa's but with a lower hydrarion, 65%.



  Crumbs are fairly open for a 65% hydration dough.     The bottom was my 1st attempt on this formula but it was                                                                                                 under-proofed!

Method : Mix all ingredients with ice-cold water till homogenous.

               Set aside for 3-4 hours.

               Stretch and fold 3 times on every 20 mins.

               Preshape and bench rest for 8-10 mins.

               Final Shaping.

               Proof for about 30 mins.

               Place dough in freezer for 5 mins.

               Score dough and bake (with steam) till cooked.

Verdict :

  • Easy and fuss free.
  • Everything can be done on the same day should you need a quick fix.
  • Dough at that hydration is easy to score. 
  • Not a tasty bread if one is used to sourdough breads.


Bouabsa's Baguette Formula at 75% hydration 


Verdict :

  • Gluten was difficult to develop because of hydration (could be the use of type 550).
  • Scoring and shaping was tad difficult (again because of hydration issue).
  • Open and airy crumb, so it is visually satisfying.
  • Improved flavour due to long and cold fermentation but not significant (could be flour issue here).


All in all, I can say that my baguettes are looking decent but am still on a long journey to perfect it. 


p/s : Thanks Alan for your word of encouragement and your baguettes and batards remain inspirational to me. 






IceDemeter's picture

I had a few things that I wanted to experiment with this week:

     - using a stiff (66% hydration) levain instead of a liquid (100% hydration) levain

     - using a whole wheat levain instead of all rye

     - changing the timing for using the levain to waiting until it had peaked and fallen for a couple of hours and then retarding in the fridge for a day or so

     - increasing the hydration after the majority of gluten development is completed, so essentially adding a second round of mixing / kneading to get more water in

     - trimming the parchment paper sling more so that I could get a better seal on the roaster that I use in lieu of a dutch oven (and so get more steam during the beginning of the bake)

With that in mind, I had been reminded by the thread asking for rye recipe recommendations that I really enjoy my version of the rye banana loaf from as a treat.  Since it was something I'd experimented with before, it seemed ideal for trying the variations, so that I could see what impact the changes had.  I ended up with:

35% whole milled rye (including 18% pre-fermented in the stiff rye levain)

65% AP

4% oat bran / 4% wheat germ: toasted and cooked in to a porridge (added in autolyse)

7% toasted and crushed almonds (added during first stretch-and-fold)

47% bananas (counted as being 75% water)

79% hydration (includes the water content of the bananas; started at 74% hydration with another 5% added in second mix)

The dough felt great while mixing and kneading, and I restrained myself from adding too much more water!  I let it bulk ferment for 6 hours at room temp (it rose about 30%), and let it proof at room temp for a couple of hours after shaping before retarding it in the fridge overnight.  I pulled it out to finish proofing for another couple of hours before baking covered at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, uncovered for 35 minutes, and then in the cooling oven with the door cracked for a final 10 minutes.

I got a nice ear happening on the single score, and a nice level of dark on the crust:

The crumb ended up wonderfully tender, light, and airy:

The change to the stiff levain and the timing have given this the best "sour" input that I've managed so far.  In texture and flavour, this is pure candy for me (although my husband thinks that it's a bit too sour - but it's right where I love it). 

For our "daily" loaf, I built a stiff whole wheat levain (starting with 3g of my rye NMNF starter) and ended up with:

46% fresh milled hard red wheat berries (includes 18% pre-fermented in levain)

8% fresh milled whole rye

16% whole spelt

30% AP

0.7% each white rye malt and red rye malt

81% hydration (started at 70% in initial mix - 11% added in additional mix)

The build and timing of this levain was done at the same time as the rye one, and it was interesting to see how much faster and higher the wheat version reacted and more than doubled.  The dough mixed easily, and I may have gotten a wee bit carried away in adding water...

I've never had a dough quite so active in bulk ferment (huge bubbles coming up within the first hour), and it felt silky and extensible and lovely during the stretch-and-folds.  I let it bulk ferment at room temperature for 5 hours, until it was almost doubled, then de-gassed it and attempted to pre-shape it --- which seemed to go not too badly, but it spread in to an unstructured blob during the bench rest.

Shaping, however, was a hoot!  I wish I had it on video, and there was much giggling going on.  I flipped my blob on to the smooth side on a lightly floured board, de-gassed it gently, and stitched and rolled it in to a batard shape that looked quite nice.  When I picked it up in both hands, all seemed well --- but apparently someone had sneaked a slinky in to the dough, and as I turned to put it in to the banneton my hands separated by an inch and suddenly --- woof - down went the centre to the counter!  I managed to get the ends down safely without any tearing of the dough, and quickly ended up rolling the darn dough snake the other way and plopped it safely in to the banneton (all while giggling hysterically at the dough-slinky juggling).  it went straight in to the fridge for the night, but I brought it out for an hour before baking to finish proofing (which it did need - although I ended up with a few big bubbles at the surface that I had to pop before I scored it).

I got it scored and it tried its very best to spread out in the couple of seconds it took for me to get it from the banneton and in to the roaster.  It baked for 25 minutes covered at 475 degrees, then 35 minutes uncovered at 450 degrees - and ended up with an odd shape, but a good rise:

This one had me pacing a bit, wondering how the crumb would turn out after the juggling session, and I was thrilled when I sliced in to it the next day and found:

This is the most tender crumb that I've managed so far - and the flavour is absolutely grand.  The wheat didn't end up with the extreme level of sour that the rye levain did, but there is a wonderful tang that totally complements the grain combination.

My only issue with this week's bake is that someone sneaked in an ingredient that I didn't want, and both of these wondrous loaves ended up filled with the dreaded calories....  I so want to gobble down both of these in large quantities, but seem to have a bad reaction to an excess of those calories and so have to sadly restrain myself.

Ah well - it was a grand bake, and I was happy to discover that the stiff levain and change in timing greatly increased the sour, that trimming the parchment and getting a better seal increased the oven spring (presumably from the crust not setting as quickly), that developing the gluten at lower hydration and then adding more water feels like a winning approach for me, and that juggling slinkies and rolling up dough snakes apparently doesn't have too bad of an effect on the crumb!

Hope all of your experiments are as much fun, and that you all keep baking happy!

sadkitchenkid's picture

Cinnamon Rolls:

These were the best I've ever made! I've been trying to create a cinnabon dupe for literally years. This dough is the closest I've gotten.

Next time I'm going to experiment with putting guar gum into the cinnamon sugar mixture. I've tried xanthin gum in the past and didn't like the texture.


Next up is donuts!

I tweaked the cinnamon roll dough recipe because I felt like it would make great donuts and i was right! Donuts are another thing I've been trying to perfect, I've never gotten that pale ring around the middle like classic yeast donuts have.

I didn't take good pictures of the donuts. Mainly videos and I can't post videos here!

So pillowy and chewy. Tossed half in cinnamon sugar and the rest I injected with homemade custard then dipped the tops in dark chocolate.


Pies have always been my specialty haha. I made this batch on st patricks day to bring to different friends!

Four butter caramel apple pies in total. Had to carry these babies on the train. Not fun.


Happy Baking! 


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