The Fresh Loaf

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agres's picture

I learned to cook by going out to the garden and picking vegetables, and then going down to the hen house and seeing who had stopped laying, was ready to be dinner.  That taught me an improvisational style of cooking - cooking as a form of jazz - the garden produces similar products over a period of weeks, and one cooks variations on a theme, because every day the basket from the garden varies, but there are themes that carry over from day to day and from week to week.  That calls for improv bread. Certainly there is always pita, but . . . . 

Many of the recipes for pain de compagnon take days to produce - more of requiem than jazz.  However, if you have a very good sourdough starter, you can make a very good pain de compagnon that  can be served for supper. (If you start first thing in the morning.)  That is, sourdough starter to baked loaf in 10 hours, and that is a loaf that can be served after only an hour of cooling.

My approach:

starting first thing in the morning ; I weigh 12 grams of salt, 400 grams of bread flour, and 200 grams of whole wheat or high extraction flour into a container. I measure out 400 ml of water into a (canning jar.)(Canning jars have volume marks that are close enough for this kind of bread.

I put 100 grams of starter in the kettle of my stand mixer, add 1/4 of the water in the canning  jar, and enough of the whole wheat flour on the top of the flour container to make a batter. I split a plastic bag to cover the kettle with the dough hook in place, and let the "first refreshment" rise till bubbly - a couple of hours.

I add a third of the water remaining in the jar to the kettle, and enough flour to again make a batter, cover and let ferment on the counter. At this time, I put a teaspoon of yeast and a teaspoon of flour in the jar, and let rise on the counter.

After lunch, I add the water/yeast in  the jar to the kettle, and stir in the flour/salt from the flour container into the kettle by hand-fulls to make a shaggy dough. I let the flour hydrate for half an hour, and use the dough hook to knead the dough, adjusting the water/flour to make a dough the consistency of baguette dough. 

I take the dough hook out and let rise at 85F (proof setting in my oven) for an hour. 

About 2 pm I turn the dough out on the bench, round up, bench rest, shape the loaf, and set to rise in a floured, fabric lined colander at 85F

About 3:30 pm I take the dough out of the oven, and preheat the baking stone to 375F.

About 4 pm I put a piece of parchment paper on the peel, turn the risen dough onto the parchment paper, lash the loaf, and slide it into bakestone in the 375F convection oven. It will need about 45 minutes to bake.

After an hour on a cooling rack, it will have set enough to be served at a 6 pm supper.

This approach uses a few hacks. First, the sourdough rises faster in a whole wheat batter.  The sourdough bacteria started at room temperature dominate the dough to provide a mild flavor, sourdough texture, and reasonable keeping qualities. The yeast have time to multiply, and form a poolish flavor. The yeast and bread flour combine to provide a moderate density crumb with good volume - this big bread.   I think big loaves have better texture and flavor. And the yeast/bread flour allows the loaf to set quickly as it cools. These loaves will make huge Reuben sandwiches that do not leak melted cheese or Russian dressing.  Many bakery loaves of this size - leak.

I stone grind my own whole wheat and high-extraction flour. The grain mix usually contains ~5% rye and often at bit of spelt or kamut or both.  My fresh ground flour seems to allow faster sourdough fermentation than any of the commercial flours I have tried.  On the other hand, the bread flour I use is optimized for yeast, and allows faster yeast fermentation than my normal stone ground flour.  If I wanted faster yeast fermentation in whole wheat, I would sprout, dry, and grind some of my grain berry mix. The commercial white bread flour gives much better volume than my stone ground whole grain flours.  When I am serving herring with cream sauce, the bread is 100% whole grain, and dense enough not to leak, with enough flavor to stand up to the herring. 

Danni3ll3's picture

The inspiration for this bread is David Snyder’s Fig Walnut recipe. I followed it pretty closely but I subbed out dates instead of figs since I had some that needed to be used up. I also used a stand mixer rather than doing it by hand. And of course, I can’t forget the yogurt to tenderize the crust!





Makes 3 loaves



158 g strong bakers unbleached flour

40 g freshly milled Selkirk wheat flour (Selkirk wheat berries)

158 g filtered water

40 g sourdough starter



594 g strong bakers unbleached flour

92 g freshly milled Selkirk wheat flour (Selkirk wheat berries)

194 g freshly milled rye flour (Rye berries)

682 g filtered water

22 g pink Himalayan salt

30 g local yogurt

220 g toasted walnut pieces

220 g chopped dates

396 g levain


Make sure to refresh your starter a couple of times before making the levain.


The night before:

  1. Mill the needed grains if you mill your own flour. Cover and set aside.
  2. Toast the walnuts in a 300 F oven for 9 minutes. Cool. 
  3. Chop the dates, add to the walnuts and reserve.
  4. Dissolve  the sourdough starter in the water for the levain. 
  5. Add the flours listed for the levain to the bowl, mix well and let the levain rise at room temperature until it doubles (8 - 12 hours).


Dough making day:

  1. The next morning, a couple of hours before the levain is ready, place the dough water in a mixing bowl. Add the dough flours and mix on speed one of a mixer for a couple of minutes until you have a shaggy dough with no dry flour. Let sit for a couple of hours.
  2. After the autolyse, add the salt, the yogurt and the levain to the mixing bowl. Mix for a minute to integrate everything and then mix on speed 2 for 9 minutes. 
  3. Add the walnuts and the dates, and mix only until everything is evenly distributed.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Let rest 30 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 
  5. Do 2 sets of stretches and folds at 30 minute intervals and then 2 sets of sleepy ferret folds (coil folds) at 60 minute intervals, and then let the dough rise to about 40%. This took another 2 and a half hours. It’s a very slow moving dough due to the amount of fruit and nuts in it. It should have irregular bubbles visible through the sides of the container and bubbles on top as well. 
  6. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~815 g. Gently round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 1 hour on the counter. 
  7. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Gently overlap the edges of the dough in the center. Flip over and pull the dough towards you on all sides to seal the bottom. Be super gentle not to degas the dough. Did I mention to be gentle with this dough? 😂
  8. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons and cover. Let rise for an hour and a half in a warm spot and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge overnight. 

Baking Day

  1. The next morning, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 
  2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 425 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 22 minutes at 400 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.


Next time, I would do only one set of folds rather than 2 in the first hour. This dough is heavy and needs time to rise. As well, I dropped the temperature of baking on the second batch as the bottom of the loaves from the first batch baked up pretty dark. The recipe reflects the lowered temperature. 



Peter.granger4's picture

I made this sourdough yesterday and baked it this morning. I really feel like it’s the best whole grain I’ve made to date.

It’s 30% whole grain that I milled at home with my new Komo Grain Mill. I used 10% each hard spring red, 10% hard spring white, and 10% soft spring white. I’m not sure why I used those ratios but it seemed right at the time. The other 70% is King Arthur AP. I went with 80% hydration over the usual 75% for my go to sourdough. Bulk rise time was 7 hrs vs 5 hours. All other variables were the same that I’ve come to like. The final proof was 12 hours in the fridge. I like this for two reason. Number one is flavor, flavor flavor. Number two is the ease of handling when scoring and transferring to the Dutch oven.

I’m pretty excited about the results and want to keep making adjustments on time, hydration, temp., etc. How do I get the same or close to the same rise and crumb? I’ve read some other tips on other baking sites but they all lack the personal story element. And that what I like most about The Fresh Loaf. 

I’d appreciate any stories about early adventures with home milled sourdoughs. I still have a lot to learn. Good thing I treat every loaf I make as a tasty stop on the bread baking journey. 


ninarosner's picture

Loaf 4 - 250gwhite flour, 250g wholegrain wheat flour.
70% hydration
15% starter
2% salt

Made sponge overnight by mixing starter (straight from fridge) with 200g flour and 70% water.
The next morning, did 1 hour autolyse with remaining 300g flour and 70% water.

Used scoop & stretch method twice to combine, then roughly 4 hour bulk rise with 5 stretch and folds.

2 hour proof on baking paper in bowl, covered with plastic.

Baked at ~230c for 20 mins covered & 30 mins uncovered
Left to cool for a few hours.

Good result, though not better than the last loaf, so doesn't warrant the additional steps. Considering it was 10% less hydration, the result was good. 



Angelica Nelson's picture
Angelica Nelson

This experiment worked out very well.  It's an everyday bread that I'll be using. It has no egg, only milk, and is suitably simple to use even if you're retired and aren't up for a kneading session.  Most Celiac diagnoses happen after mid-life, so my series is meant to empower everyone to make their own bread, even if they're limited in mobility.  My focus is on nutrition and simplicity.  Please comment and tell me what you think.  There is more detail in the article I'm linking to, but the recipe is reprinted here with a picture of the crumb. The texture is very similar to a classic rye bread.  Which shouldn't be surprising, I baked many a rye loaf when I was able to eat gluten.


The big surprise is that processed starches weren't needed to make a very nice bread machine bread that's gluten free. I always suspected that.  Now here's the proof. 

So far it hasn't lasted longer than two days, to check for staling. :)  It doesn't even stick tot he knife when you cut it.  I had a problem with that when I was using egg as a protein network. Not that those breads weren't delish, but this is more recognizably bread and less like a cake that tastes like bread.

Rice and Buckwheat Bread with Chia Seeds

A great tasting gluten free bread, equally good with stew or as french toast.
Allergens: Contains Milk

West Bend 1-3 lb Hi Rise Bread machine --  Whole Wheat Cycle 2.5 lbs, Dark Crust
Vitamix 5200 with Dry grind attachment

Baker's percentages and grams are used. Excluding soaker, 100% hydration.

Soaker:  30g chia seeds + 70g water (set aside for 5-10 min to thicken)

400g rice flour (I fresh ground mine,  this is a good one)
200g buckwheat flour (I fresh ground it, this is a good one)
600g whole milk  (100%)
15g vinegar (2.5%)
15g oil  (2.5%)
15g turbinado sugar (2.5%)
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast (or Bread Machine yeast, or Instant Yeast, these are the same)
    *that's 7g in a packet or around 1% also
6g guar gum (1%)  with the chia also, you don't need much of this
6g salt

Combine, flours, guar gum, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In the Bread machine container, add milk, sugar and soaker.

On top of the milk mixture, put the flours mixture.  Don't stir.  Make a hole or channel in the top, and put the yeast there.

Along the side, slide in the oil and vinegar, just before starting the machine.  That is to say, set the settings for the machine, pour in the oil/vinegar, and press Start.  Since we're using milk and vinegar, I'd rather not take a chance at curdling the milk.

My machine takes 3 and 1/2 hours for the whole wheat cycle. Don't open it in the last stage of rising and baking, it can collapse, otherwise, feel free to scrape the sides down in earlier stages if you feel it needs it.  But it shouldn't need that. This dough works pretty well, hands off.

Important Note:  Using a thermometer I've noticed that the bread in a bread machine doesn't always get to fully cooked temperatures.  This is even more important when you're baking gluten free.  So either use a thermometer that can monitor the temperature and beep when it's at 210 degrees F in the center of the loaf, or do what I do....  leave it on Keep Warm after it's finished for another 45-60 minutes, then cool on the countertop for another 2-12 hours.  All this is before slicing. It will be worth the wait.  

Jacob Lockcuff's picture
Jacob Lockcuff

      With a rainy day off work, this past Tuesday I decided to make some sourdough bread. I fed my sourdough starter (composed of King Arthur bread flour) that afternoon, which left me until that evening to decide on what recipe I would follow. 

      Being a fan of Richard Bertinet, I eventually decided to use a version of his “White Sourdough” recipe from his book, “Crumb”. This is a great book for all things bread, by the way. I highly recommend it!

      So, around 7:30 P.M., I mixed up the bread. The formula was as follows:

  • 1,000g King Arthur Bread Flour
  • 20g Salt
  • 400g Sourdough Starter, 100% hydration
  • 720g Water

Obviously the ingredients for this bread are quite simple. It’s also fairly easy to work with, being only 72% hydration.

      Once I had combined all of the above ingredients, I kneaded it (by slap-and-fold) until it passed the windowpane test. All in all, I’d say it took around 10 minutes to build the gluten structure properly.

      After then letting it rest for about an hour at around 80 degrees F (in our water heating room), I gave it a fold on the counter. It then went back into the bowl to rest for yet another hour, at which point it passed the “poke” test.

      Now the bread was ready for its final proof. I dumped it onto the counter, divided it in half, and roughly formed the halves into boule shapes. I then let it rest on the counter for about 25 minutes. After this time, I shaped one of the boules into a batard, and I reformed the other into a boule. Into the proofing baskets and subsequently to the fridge they went.

      They proofed for a total of 14 hours at around 38-40 degrees F before being baked. I loaded them onto my baking stone at 475 degrees F on the oven’s convection bake setting, after which I dumped about a cup of water into the bottom of the oven for steam (it is built like a tray to hold water, intended for the steam cleaning setting). After 5 minutes, I turned the oven down to 425 degrees F and baked for another 20 minutes. Then it was turned down to 400 degrees F and baked for yet another 5-10 minutes. This was the result...


Have a good weekend everyone.


tortie-tabby's picture

Changes compared to round 1

1. Accidentally made the hydration way too high.
2. Add-ins were ~29% total flour weight compared to ~38% last time. Didn’t soak the nuts and dates beforehand though, and forgot to toast the walnuts
3. Baked for much longer and at a lower temperature, seems like I could have still baked for even longer
4. Let the starter grow for 3 hours instead of 1.5 hours, rise of the dough was much better this time

Things I might change

1. Bulk ferment was still relatively short at 2.5 hours, I had to go to bed. Would try 4-5 hour bulk ferment next time.
2. Was it under or over-proofed? I’m not sure anymore, see video below.
3. Would bake for even longer


Starter 150 g (100% hydration)
AP flour 300 g (total flour weight 525 g)
Whole wheat flour 150 g
Water 364 g (84% hydration)
Salt 12 g

80 g chopped walnuts (forgot to toast)
70 g dates

1. Feed starter (70g starter fed 30g AP flour, 10g whole wheat flour, 40g water)
2. Mix flour and water and autolyse for 3 hrs
3. Dimple starter into dough and gently fold to incorporate
4. Add walnuts and dates
5. 4 rounds s&f in 20 minute intervals, total 2.5 hour bulk ferment
6. 20-hour cold ferment
7. 1 last S&F to help release dough from the bowl, divide into two, tightly shape then bench rest for 1 hr
8. Shape, 30-minute final proof on floured baking paper
9. Score, spritz with water
10. Bake at 480 F covered with steam for 15 mins
11. Uncover, remove steak and bake with convection at 450 F for 20 mins, 400 F for 15 with foil, last 5 minutes with the bread upside-down


ninarosner's picture

Loaf 1 - 100% wholewheat, 450g
90% hydration
30% starter
2% salt

Long overnight autolyse in fridge.
Also proofed overnight in fridge and baked in the morning.
Baked at ~230c for 20 mins covered & 20 mins uncovered

This worked out well - a beautiful colour and tasted great. Alas, needed more time in the oven, and the crumb wasn't as open as I would have liked. Also, I used the wrong baking paper and it stuck to the bottom!


Loaf 2 - white/wholewheat mix, 500g.
40% white flour
10% white stone-ground flour
25% wholegrain wheat flour
25% wholegrain spelt flour

80% hydration
15% starter
2% salt

1 hour autolyse.
Proofed overnight in fridge and baked in the morning.
Baked at ~230c for 20 mins covered & 20 mins uncovered

Turned out really nice. Again, could have done with a bit more time in the oven for darker crust and less gummy interior.


Loaf 3 - white/wholewheat mix, 500g.
50% white flour
25% wholegrain wheat flour
25% wholegrain spelt flour
80% hydration
15% starter
2% salt


1 hour autolyse.
Bulk ferment + proof on same day. Proof over 2-3 hrs at room temp. Dough stuck to tea towel.
Baked at ~230c for 25 mins covered & 25 mins uncovered
Left to cool overnight

Rose significantly in oven despite it sticking to tea towel. Result was definitely as good as the overnight proof from Loaf 2. It benefited from a longer cooking time, though still feels a little gummy.



Moving forward: Loaf 3 is my benchmark. I'm curious to try this with 70-75% hydration to see what happens. I also want to try Jose's alternative 18hr bulk ferment for a very open crumb. If that works, I want to try the same thing with 70-100% wholewheat flour. 

jhrmnn's picture

465 g all-purpose, 390 g whole what, 50 g rye, 81% hydration, retarded bulk fermentation, short retarded proofing, 55 mins on baking stone ∴ single 1556g loaf

Benito's picture


I had another go at this bake, but made a few mistakes right at the start.  Rather than using the recommended 214 g of bread flour and 109 g of water for the final dough, I accidentally use 321 g bread flour and 243 g of water which I reduced to 236 from the total formula column, yikes.  Other changes I made include reducing the soaker water to 150 g.

I’m quite happy with the end product considering the accidental changes I made.  This was the largest loaf of bread I’ve made to date and it kind of overflowed my banneton which is better sized for 750 g loaves.  So taking that into consideration I’m pleased.


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