The Fresh Loaf

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fuge's picture

Main ingredients: 100% Bread flour, tangzhong, oatmeal, carob, generic preferment.

The texture is soft like any bread with tangzhong.  It's actually a little too soft like store bought white bread that gets stuck in your teeth.  But I'm surprised at how bland it tastes.  It's like the only ingredients were water and flour.  I'm not expecting an answer here though, since I didn't measure many ingredients and just sort of added things as I went along.  I did use 2% salt, so that shouldn't be the cause.  I'll have to try again and see what happens.

I also think the flour I'm using is pretty bad.  It's this enriched First Street bread flour, and it has a pretty distinctive taste to me, and it's really all I notice in the bread.  It has a subtle sour and bitter taste, not the good kind of sour.  I even threw the slice away that started eating.  It could be that I've had the flour for almost 3 months too?  I don't know...but I'm not looking forward to finishing this bread.  :)

Cedar Mountain's picture
Cedar Mountain

Over the course of the past few months I have been impressed with the diversity of the flora and fauna within even the relatively small confines of our property; the broader area of the community I call home is naturally beautiful too, breathtaking at times, and is a lovely place to live.  But I speak today of a recent adventure in my own yard...

We have lived here for more than 30 years - raised our children, hosted countless family and neighbourhood gatherings, birthday parties, cared for various pets (three dogs, several rats, guinea pigs, a skunk, two raccons, a cat), cultivated various fruit trees, garden vegetables and fruits, wildflowers.  All this activity of living has left a footprint on this property that I like to think is characteristic of us, a flavour if you will, imparted by our use of the land. So, I thought what better way to capture a sense of all this then in a new mixed culture starter!  

Ainsworth is my mellow new house "estate heritage" starter born from the various wild yeasts and bacteria living on this summer's begonias, Italian plums, raspberries, calendula and squash flowers growing on our property.  I regard them as an organic expression of our eco-footprint; all growing in the same spot we have occupied for many years, drawing from the same air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil our kids and the neighbourhood kids played in, our pets roamed over and some are buried in, that we have cultivated with various plants, trees, shrubs...the DNA of our little lives lived here.


He joins Richardparker, my type-A starter, born two years ago from organic grains grown further abroad in Agassiz...he is not to be trifled with, likes regular feedings and fresh water but is predictably vigorous if properly cared for (although he can turn on you without much warning too!)

Both of them are unique in their own way, subtle flavour differences, performance but both make really good sourdough bread!


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I issued myself a challenge (posted here in the Challenge forum) to see what kind of fun I could have with a simple 123 method sourdough. In other words, 1 part fresh starter, 2 parts water (or other liquid) and 3 parts flour. Also, a customer had asked me to create a 'sweet' version of my Three Friends Levain (Tom[ato], Olive and Rosemary) that she could have with peanut butter and jam. So, a double challenge!

My first version was bread flour and whole wheat flour, 100% hydration fresh levain, chopped Brazil nuts and dried figs, and a bit of cardamom. It turned out very nice, but still needed something. Oh, and just as an aside - I use Brazil nuts because they are about the most environmentally-sustainable tree nuts around. They grow best in an intact rain forest!

I had to try it with my home made nectarine jam, just to check! :)

Good, but still needed a couple of tweaks.

Today's version was much the same, but I toasted the chopped Brazil nuts and added a bit of honey and some poppy seeds.

Here's the formula:

Bread flour22575%
Whole Wheat flour7525%
Chopped Brazil nuts3010%
Chopped dried figs5017%
Poppy seeds83%
Ground cardamom (1/2 tsp/loaf)00%

The method was pretty basic:

  • Mix flours, water and levain and let sit for 30 minutes
  • Add salt and add-ins and mix [note, I mixed this in the big Univex mixer (Max) because I actually made six loaves today; you can mix and develop the dough in other ways]
  • Stretch and fold every 30 minutes over the next couple of hours, until the dough is strong, stretchy and springy
  • Leave in a cool basement to bulk ferment overnight [in the morning the dough had nearly tripled in volume and was beautiful - soft and jiggly but with a nice dome on it and still a lot of strength]
  • Bench, scale and pre-shape
  • Shape and let proof for about an hour
  • Load onto peels, then into hot stones (475F) with steam. After 5 minutes, turn heat down to 425F. Turn loaves after 15 minutes, then bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Internal temperature around 205F

It looks a little rough at the pre-shape stage but was actually beautifully strong and springy.

You can see how nice and taut the shaped dough ended up.

Slashed and ready to load.

Very nice oven spring and burst, and a lovely colour on the crust.

The crumb is divine - very moist and chewy, and the flavour is now everything I was looking for.

So, over to you! See the 123 challenge on the Challenge forum for details... :)


alfanso's picture

Not to be complete and comprehensive and certainly not to be pedantic, but I decided to list a set of my own do and don’t “baking rules”.  I expect no one to take any/some/all of these to heart or put into practice - least of all because I say I do them.  None of these are absolute, but in general, they serve as my personal list of commandments – at least around dough and baking.
We have, will develop and hopefully forever evolve our own individual set of rhythms and axioms for what works best for each of us.  There is probably no “one size fits all”.
I’ve been doing these long enough now that it is pretty much second nature to me and I don’t need a checklist to abide by.  Let’s start with the don’ts...


  • I don’t do a float test.  Once I have a mature and reliable levain, it works.  I trust it.
  • I don’t temp the water.  After a while the old “baby bottle drip on the wrist” is all that one needs.  Get to know what temperature your water needs to be.  Need colder water?  Add ice.  Need colder still?  Put the flour in the freezer.
  • I don’t do a windowpane test.  It is not necessary to wring my hands over a failed windowpane, and to keep on mixing, especially because I almost never use a mechanical mixer.  So far I can’t be convinced that I’m wrong on this.  This rule does have a singular caveat.  There are a very few doughs that may be absolutely dependent upon a successful windowpane.  But they are few and far between.  And that is when I’ll use a mixer.  
  • I don’t temp the post-mix dough.  It will be 77-78dF.  I know that from experience.  I trust it.
  • I don’t watch the dough, I watch the clock.  This is the get-myself-into-hot-water-around-here rule.  My kitchen temperature is almost always 78-80dF.  Once I am comfortable with how a dough reacts to the fermentation and the room temperature, it is a reliable and repeatable activity.  I trust it.  Science!
  • I don’t really care how long my retarded dough sits in the refrigerator post-bulk ferment.  As long as it is more than at least 10-12 hours and under ~24 hours.  I’m fine with that.
  • I don’t care how long the dough goes without a divide/pre-shape/shape.  As long as it has been retarding for at least more than an hour or two.  Ten hours is also just as okay in my book.
  • I don’t temp bread when it comes out of the oven.  I trust that experience will lead me to judge that the bread is sufficiently baked.
  • I don’t use any excessive raw flour on my breads.  I’m a minimalist here.  I understand that there is a rustic look that some appreciate, and I’m okay with that – on occasion for myself too.  But in general, the least amount of flour that I can use on the dough without it sticking to a couche or other surface, the better.  For me.
  • I don’t allow the loaves to be loaded too close to each other.  Insufficient room between loaves will keep the sidewalls of the dough insulated and lead to under baked and under colored/gelatinized sides.
  • I don’t change a blade until it has scored a number of loaves or has had a rough time of it due to nuts, seeds and/or fruit on prior scoring.  My double edged razor blades stay sharp for a long time.  And of course I get four tips out of each blade.


  • I do pay attention to pre-shape.  Every inconsistency that is made during a divide and pre-shape will almost always be magnified in a subsequent step.  I still make occasional mistakes here.
  • I do return the couched dough to retard after shaping.
  • I do bake directly out of retard – with occasional exceptions.
  • I do pay attention to the depth and angle of the blade when I score.  And at times I’m still not giving the individual scores enough room for oven spring and find that the bloom will just plain burst through the scoring.
  • I do place a pan with Sylvia’s Steaming Towel into the oven 15 minutes before baking.  Yes, I know that all of the steam it creates will be gone the second I open the oven door to load the dough, but the water surrounding the towel is boiling away and already prepped to go right back to work the second the oven door closes again.
  • I do use parchment paper as a base for delivery of the dough to the oven deck.  I’d rather not have the dough get stuck on the peel and as stated above, I don’t like to introduce excess raw flour or corn meal, etc. to the underside of the dough to facilitate the movement between peel and baking deck.
  • I do use a secondary source for steam – a 9”x13” pan filled with lava rocks for a brutal burst of pure steam. Near boiling water poured onto the lava rocks just after the dough is loaded.
  • I do remove the parchment paper when the steam is released.  The paper, as thin as it is, still acts as an insulator between the deck and the dough.
  • I do reuse parchment paper at least a second time.  I do it just because it is “fun” to do, but it is a money-saver, however minimal.  I can see no degradation in the finished product with a re-use.
  • I do rotate the loaves from left to right and front to back halfway through baking.  I want equal opportunity for the dough to be exposed to front and back temperatures, oven side walls and hot and “cool” zones in the oven.  The baking deck immediately above the lava rock pan is consistently cooler than the remainder of the baking deck.
  • I do try to vent the finished bread for 1-2 minutes before removing from the oven, thereby giving the bread its first opportunity to dry out a bit.  This can’t be done to the first loaves when there are mixed sizes baking at once – i.e. baguettes and batards.

These baguettes are Forkish Field Blend #2.  At 78% hydration they are a bit too sticky to work with as baguettes, so I lower the hydration down to 75% and they are delightful to handle.


Yippee's picture

It was a super busy weekend: I was also making a few other things besides Joze's cranberry tarragon bread...

isand66's picture


My Lexi


In honor of National Mutt day I baked this mixed grain bread using freshly milled whole wheat, spelt and durum flours using my Mock Mill.  I also added some smoked sesame seeds to the dough itself for a little extra texture.

I used a dog shaped cookie cutter to give it the "Max and Lexi" seal of approval but in hindsight I should have used an egg wash and filled it in with some seeds to really make it stand out.



Spelt Durum Whole Wheat Bread (%)

Spelt Durum Whole Wheat Bread (weights)


Download the BreadStorm File Here.

The final dough was very tasty with the freshly ground flours but the crumb was a bit tight for an 87% hydration dough.

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 8-12 hours or until the starter is nice and bubbly.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours,  and 400 grams of the water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 60 minutes.  Next add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces), olive oil, sesame seeds and balance of the water, and mix on low for 6 minutes.  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.  (If you have a proofer you can set it to 80 degrees and follow above steps but you should be finished in 1 hour to 1.5 hours).

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.   Place your dough into your proofing basket(s) and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature.  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 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 210 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.





BXMurphy's picture

This weekend's bake was a bread with honey in it. I decided to try to get a honey swirl in my bread by flattening the dough, smearing some honey on it and rolling it up. Since honey is 17% water, I thought I'd make a paste to equal the hydration of the dough.

This recipe is based on David Snyder's Sourdough from San Francisco Baking Institute's Artisan II class. I think this recipe is PERFECT for Beginner Baker II students as it's complicated enough to stretch your brain but has enough detail that you can't get lost.

I deviated by using 350g King Arthur all-purpose flour, 100g whole wheat, 10g spelt, and 77g rye. I autolysed the flour for about an hour and when mixing in the levain, I adjusted the hydration with lemon juice by adding a tablespoon or two.

Since I was unsure how the spread would go and I was the originator of the Honey Challenge, I decided that I'd better get some honey into the dough one way or the other. I added two tablespoons or so of honey into the dough as I was mixing it.

I bulk fermented the dough for three hours and then things went south when I tried to spread on the 1/8 cup of honey. As soon as the honey hit the dough, the whole thing turned to goo! It was such a mess. Honey was oozing through the dough as soon as I tried to roll it. I then abandoned all hope and tried to form a boule but honey was squirting out all over the place.

You can't believe how crest-fallen I felt. Here I was, a new baker challenging old hands to a honey bake and failing miserably. I just wanted to chuck the whole pile of honey and dough into the trash can. Everything was so sticky - the dough made even moreso by all that honey.

With the dough and honey running all over the place, I decided that I'd at least practice doing some slap and folds since I really haven't had a high hydration dough in my sourdough journey. If nothing else, this mess would be put to good use with practicing technique. I can't even begin to tell you how slaps and folds work with a goodly amount of honey in it! I pressed on and, wouldn't you know it, that dough came together!! I was SO SURPRISED!

So, in for a penny, in for a pound... I pre-shaped, rested for 30 minutes or so, and then shaped into a very firm boule - like a meatball. Very tight. I was pretty angry at myself and didn't really care about the bread. I thought it would be trash but at least I got some technique practice and, you know, everything must bake. I pre-heated the Dutch oven to 500ºF, plopped the dough in and turned the oven down to 425ºF for 12 minutes. Removed the cover and baked for five minutes. I removed the loaf and baked on the stone for another five minutes. I then let it go 10 minutes in a turned-off oven with the door ajar.

My friends, I'm pleased to report that this is my BEST bread so far! The crust was so deep and dark; that same mahogany color that I see all the time on TFL. The crust went soft as it cooled so that it was more chewy than crunchy but the toasty-caramelization was unlike anything I've ever tasted. Kind of salty-sweet, dusty with a little charcoal tang. The crumb was soft and tender but with a little tooth to let you know that this was a special bread. It tasted so wheaty with rye highlights. I was surprised that I didn't taste more honey but it was there in the background and came out in the aftertaste. For me, THIS is what bread tastes like! I'll never go back to store-bought again.


Shutzie27's picture

These are my attempt at black rye rolls, again from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible.* I thought I wouldn't have enough rye flour but then I did -- phew!

I consider these rolls a success, cracks and all, for several reasons: 

First, this was only my second time working with rye flour, and I almost didn't have enough. 

Secondly, I really had to follow my gut here because I didn't have one of the ingredients and knew I'd have to adjust the moisture to make up for it. Which I did. While I don't "blind bake" bread, exactly, I also don't like to deviate that much from a recipe. I think the fact that I could feel my way into a successful roll is a sign that I am learning and getting better. 

Thirdly, I don't have a food scale and so when making rolls use what I call The Scone Method; I divide the dough into scone triangles and then roll them into rolls. Despite this, I still ended up with a mishmash of rolls and mini-boules. 



dabrownman's picture

Risking being struck by lightning from the Dark Side, Lucy came up with another white bread this week.  This one was bit different since it had 20% pre-fermented flour – in the summer – twice as much as usual.  It also had a 1 hour bulk ferment before shaping and no retard of the dough two additionally unusual processes.

I suppose it just shows how variable sourdough bread baking can be.  This one did have a bran levain made from 9 sprouted whole grains and the levain was retarded after it doubled after the 3rd stage but only for 3 hours since the 3rd stage was 9 hours instead of 3 like it should have been.

The levain had peaked and was in the process of falling when we tossed it in the fridge – we fell asleep and it was left on the counter till 5 AM - nearly overnight.  In this case the sprouted flout was almost, but not quite all in the levain


The levain didn’t seem to care that is was ignored and mistreated.  When we took it out of the fridge the next morning and stirred it down, it quickly doubled again in one hour as the dough flour and water was autolyzed with the salt sprinkled on top.  Perhaps the larger feeding, nearly double, of the 10 g of NMNF starter allowed it to keep itself ready and raring to do its job.

The bread ended up being 25% whole sprouted grain with the remainder being 1/3 high gluten from Smart and Final and 2/3rds bread flour from the Winco bins.  The 9 grains were: spelt, red and white wheat, oat, buckwheat, rye, emmer and Kamut – our recent 9 grain mix.  Overall hydration was a very low 72%.

Lucy's favorite is Pie - in this case: mango, plum, blueberry, white nectarine and white peach - Yum!

Once the levain hit the mix we did 50 slap and folds to mix it all together and get the gluten development underway in earnest.  We did 2 more sets of 10 slap and folds – all on 20 minute intervals.  Then we did 2 sets of 4 stretch and folds on 30 minute intervals.  Then the dough rested for an hour before pre-shaping and shaping.

We placed the dough in a rice floured basket for proof.  The dough proofed for 40 minute before we started the preheat of the oven to 500 F.  This dough was really moving fast during bulk and proof due to the high amount of levain and the 80 F kitchen temperature.   By the time the oven hit 500 F with the combo cooker inside the dough was 95% proofed – a bit more than one hour after shaping.

We un-molded the dough and slashed it quickly in a square and placed it into the combo cooker.  After 18 minutes of steam at 450 F we removed the lid and continued baking at 425 F convection for 6 more minutes before removing the bread from the bottom of the cooker to finish baking it on the bottom stone.  6 minutes later it was nicely browned and tested 208 F.

The dough sprang, bloomed and blistered nicely under steam and we expect the crumb to be open, moist and soft since there weren’t huge amounts of add ins to get in the way of holes this time.  We started the sprouts on Wednesday at 1 PM and the bread hit the cooling rack at 1:45 PM on Friday afternoon – a 48 hour sprouted, home milled SD – about as quick as you can get all the work done.  Now we wait for the crumb shot. The crumb came out soft moist and open and the crust went soft as the bread cooled.  it has a very noticeable tang too,  Yummy!

And donlt forget that smked chicken 


20% pre- fermented flour, bran sprouted 9 grain levain @ 100% hydration


25%  Sprouted whole grain

37.5 % High gluten flour

37.5% Bread flour

72% water

2% salt

Lucy loves a great salad and any kind if Mexican food.  In this case Green Chili Chicken Quesadilla and Enchilads


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