The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Regarding Enzo's pepperoni versus Rosa Grande. Enzo's wins, way less greasy no need to microwave. Just the right amount of grease. Smile. Closing thought I need to get that bar stool guy to stop around my way. I will make him a pie to knock his Brooklyn accent back into last month!

Nice even playing field. If you want a nice result, you have to pay attention at this juncture.
Now that is a nice stretched skin
Oven ready

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Portus's picture

Having returned from holiday with a spare pre-mixed Ziploc bag of Abe’s VSSD loaf ingredients, I decided to use them with Anis Bouabsa’s baguette method to see what they produced.  Main changes were upping VSSD’s hydration to +78% and, as the baguette’s 24-hour retard method yielded no dough expansion, I added a further 12-hour, overnight ferment at room temperature (the norm for VSSD), which only offered a meagre ~10% increase in volume.  The VSSD stiff starter was about 3 weeks old.

This combination produced a pleasing baguette and loaf.  Both presented surprising oven spring, as is particularly evident in the loaf’s bloom.  For my palate, however, I am not sure about the hint of sour for the baguette that presumably came with the long retard and ferment cycles; for the loaf, the sour was more pronounced and better suited.  As the one picture shows, the loaf’s crumb was more baguette- than loaf-like, though some may prefer the irregular, larger holes.



Whatever, I was happy that 60% whole wheat delivered a delightfully crisp crust and an open and chewy crumb ahead of expectations. I am also rather amazed about what a mere 2% of a very mature, stiff starter can do without any intermediate levain-build.  I surmise that part of the answer may lie with the high % whole wheat, a touch of DMP (substituted 5g white flour), and gentle folding - aside from being fortunate with times and temperatures.


gavinc's picture

This is Hamelman’s Five-Grain Levain. I used the same grains as per the formula; cracked rye, flaxseeds (sold here as linseed), Sunflower seeds and oats. I made the cracked rye by milling the rye very coarsely, then sifting with a 40# mesh sieve.

I recalculated for a 750-gram dough (to suit my banneton) and have included the formula below.

I mixed the final build of the levain about 5 pm the day before and made the soaker at the same time. The levain and at its peak by 7 am the next morning.

The flours are bread flour (11.5% protein) and home-milled whole-wheat. The overall hydration is 98%! I mixed and kneaded by hand and tried not to add too much extra flour, but it was a struggle not to as I had to keep flouring my hands to keep them dry. The dough was very sticky but became less so after 15 minutes of stretch and folds.

I was not intending to retard the proof, so I chose to bulk ferment for 1 ½ hour with a fold at 45 mins. Shaped into an oblong and proofed for 1 hour at 25C/76F.

I scored the dough laterally with a serrated knife and baked. The dough held up reasonably well when moved from the couche to the peel and scored.

The bake went well with a good oven spring and the loaf took on a nice rich colour. I allowed the loaf to cool before slicing.

Tasting: Hamelman states “This is one of the most delectable breads I have ever eaten”. A big statement which is why I wanted to bake this. I was not disappointed, the flavour from the overnight levain added a lovely character and combined well with the choice of grains. The small amount of IDY did not detract and helped to create a medium-light crumb. The aroma when slicing was enticing.

Benito's picture

In order to bring out much more miso flavour I used my red miso and increased it to 10%.

Total Flour 494 g 


Bread Flour 88.5% 437 g


Whole Wheat 11.5% 57 g all in levain 


Total Water 387.5 g 78.5% hydration 


Levain 115 g


Miso 49 g 10% 


Salt 7.5 g 


Overnight Levain build 1:6:6 


In the morning dissolve ripe levain and miso in the water holding back 10 g of water.  Add flour and mix until no dry flour visible.  Rest for 20 mins.

Add salt and gradually add the hold back water 10 g.

Rubaud kneading x 5 mins.  Rest 30 mins.

Strong bench letter fold.  Set up aliquot jar.  Rest 30 mins.

Lamination sprinkling on furikake (I do no measure how much is added but I like to sprinkle on quite a bit)

Do coil folds at 30 mins intervals until good window pane achieved.

Bulk ends when aliquot jar shows 60% rise.  Bulk was done at 80ºF and was completed in 4.25 hours.

Shape into batard.

Left on bench until aliquot jar shows 70% rise then place in 3ºC fridge for cold retard overnight.


Next morning 

Preheated oven at 500ºF

Bake 450ºF lid on for 30 mins


Dropped to 420ºF lid off 20 mins


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

The holidays are playing all kinds of tricks with my baking schedule and thinking, so here is another salvaged near-flop.

My girlfriend's brother has been staying with us over the holidays, and when he was leaving yesterday I wanted to gift him a loaf of bread to take with him. But of course I didn't manage to plan it properly, and only could set up the very simple sourdough dough the night before, and spend minimal amount of hands-on time on it yesterday during the day.

I mixed a dough with 25% spelt, 10% extra strong whole wheat and 5% rye (rest BF), and 73% hydration, plus probably a few more percent from wetting hands during kneading (slap&folds): So I developed the gluten to a good degree, and left to ferment overnight (11 hours). Potentially important point is that I used 100% hydration rye starter from the fridge, not a stiff starter as in the recipe (since that's what I had). And more importantly, I used my "proofer", and I think I still need to play with the setup, since it appears the heating pad was on all night - and the dough overfermented! Especially at the bottom of the mixing bowl, where the heat is coming from, it was much more sticky than usual, and a lot of it was stuck to the bowl when I inverted it to remove the dough. And I got a very big rise, and I even had a feeling maybe it had peaked and started falling by morning. I'd never had dough overproof significantly in bulk like this, so it was a goo learning experience.

I tried shaping it, and while it was not a complete disaster at first, the gluten membrane on the outside was tearing very easily, and I couldn't make a tight boule or batard. So I decided to follow the common advice, to just dump the dough into loaf pans. I managed to shape one of them into batard-y roll, but the other one was impossible to work with, and just went into the pan as an unshaped mass of dough. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top, even if the bread is not great they are guaranteed to come out delicious. I then tried to proof it for a bit, but didn't see a significant rise. But by then it was time to go out for a walk to meet a friend, so I couldn't bake it and put them in the fridge, where they stayed a few hours, and I don't think it rose more than half a centimeter overall. I then scored it and baked it from cold (again, pressed for time I didn't even preheat the oven fully), and was pleasantly surprised by pretty good oven spring.

I lost track which one was shaped relatively well, and which was a complete mess when went into the pan, but they looked very similar in the end (I thought having a "skin" on the surface was beneficial for the crust, but it doesn't appear so!). I kept one of the loafs, and tasted it this morning.

Probably unsurprisingly, this is the most sour bread I've ever made! I still like it, but would prefer less acidity.

ifs201's picture

I decided to make one of my favorite Community Bake recipes again and made two of the Hamelman Five Grain loaves using cracked rye, oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I used a mix of bread flour, hard red winter wheat, and rye. I also upped the hydration a bit. I tried to develop the gluten before adding the soaker, but then the large volume of soaker made it hard to I corporate.



dmsnyder's picture

Maggie Glezer's book, "A Blessing of Bread," is a wonderful collection of Jewish baking from around the world along with a sort of ethnography of baking in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora. This book has, by my count, about 40 recipes for challah, the bread particularly associated with the Jewish sabbath. But the author also identifies the challah recipe she makes for her own family. As with most of her recipes, she provides both a commercially yeasted and a sourdough version (without saying which her family prefers).

I have made the sourdough version several times over the years. I like it quite a bit but my wife. doesn't. Today I finally got around to baking the non-sourdough version. You know what? It is the best challah I have ever tasted, and my wife loved it too. I should not be (and am not) surprised, if the author of the book with 40 challah recipes has chosen this one as her favorite, one might expect it to be something special.

This is clearly an enriched bread with quite a lot of vegetable oil, egg and honey, but it is not rich like brioche nor even as sweet as a traditional Vienna dough. It is perfectly "balanced." I had some for dinner without any accompaniment other than a bowl of chicken soup. I could have eaten both loaves right then (but didn't). Tomorrow, it's going to be French Toast for breakfast!

Addendum: DanAyo found that Maggie Glezer had shared this recipe on Epicurious in 2004. Here is the link:

Note: Glezer hand kneads this bread. I mixed in a stand mixer, once the flour was added to the wet ingredients. I mixed about 3 minutes on Speed 1 and 4 minutes on Speed 2.

Addendum: It did make delicious French Toast.


peacecow's picture

I did a lot of holiday baking this year, and part of that was gifting out bread. I made milk bread and potato bread.

This is the most even my milk bread has looked. I always weight each section, but this time, I was more careful about shaping the dough into rectangles before rolling them up, and that really helped.

Years ago, I had potato bread from Macrina bakery, and thought that it was so amazing, so I wanted to give this a try. I feel like I'm missing something, but it was so long ago, I'm not sure what I need to change.

My friend gifted me some flour from our local mill for Christmas, so I was very excited to try them out! I made the basic loaf from Full proof baking with 25% millet using artisan bakers craft from central milling (my current bread flour), espresso bread flour and Skagit 1109 from Cairnspring mills. And very non-scientifically, I also proofed them at different times. I tend to over proof, so I wanted to shape at different points to really get a feel for how the dough changes.

ABC- shaped at 30% rise. Fridge at 35%

Espresso- 45min later at 74C, shaped at 40% rise, fridge at 45% rise

Skagit 1109- Shaped at 45% rise, Fridge 52% rise

I enjoyed noticing all the differences. Taste wise, ABC was the most plain. Espresso and Skagit 1109 were darker and wheatier tasting. Skagit 1109 definitely added the most flavor, and as described, couldn't handle as much water. I'm getting better at lamination. I can tell better how shaping underproofed dough feels. It was not lively at all. 30% rise was definitely too little. When I was shaping the last dough, it still felt like I could have pushed the bulk longer and got the dough more airy, but I didn't want to make the same mistake I always do, so I ended it.

It was also good to see approximately how much wiggle room I have. Between the first and last shaping was about 1.5- 2hrs at 73-75C.


I also got my hands on Caputo 00 flour for making pizza. I tried both of Maurizo's pizza recipes. They both turned out well. I think the 00 flour really made a difference in how easy it was to stretch the dough. One of the difference was the size of the recommended dough balls (290g vs 250g). I think 290g was perfect. The crust was crispy on the bottom and not too thin, whereas I made the middle too thin with the 250g ball, and one slice couldn't support its own weight.

Jeff P's picture
Jeff P

I recently discovered a fantastic Youtube Channel called Tasting History, in which the host presents recipes from across history. In one such video, linked here, he describes the Sally Lunn Bun, a traditional bun made in Bath, England.

After seeing the video, I decided to try them for myself. The recipe is very straightforward. The only part that takes some extra attention is warming the milk and combining in the sugar and butter.


- 1 ¼ cup (280ml) whole milk

- 6 tablespoons (85g) of butter at room temperature

- ¼ cup (50g) sugar

- 3 3/4 cup (450g) of bread flour (or all purpose)

- 7g instant yeast or active dry yeast.

- 2 eggs (Plus an extra egg for the egg wash)

- The zest of 1 lemon

- 1 ½ teaspoons of salt

- 2-3 saffron threads (optional; for color only)


1. Warm the milk over low heat.* Add the sugar and dissolve. Once warm, add the butter and melt in. If you are using saffron for color, add the threads to the milk and set mixture aside to cool to 110° or cooler before adding it to the other ingredients.

**If you are using instant yeast, heat the full amount of milk. If you are using active dry yeast, warm only 1 cup on the stove. Take the other 1/4 cup and mix with the yeast and a sprinkle of sugar to activate the yeast.

2. Sift flour into a large bowl or a stand mixer. If using instant yeast, whisk in to flour. Once milk mixture is cooled to 110° add to flour and mix (remove saffron threads with a strainer). Add lemon zest, eggs and salt and mix. If you are using active dry yeast, add that last. Work dough until it comes together and forms a smooth sticky dough. (About 8 minutes on medium speed) It will not form into a ball.

3. Cover and let rise for 60 - 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Once doubled, punch down dough and put out onto a lightly floured surface and separate into 3 or 6 pieces, depending on the size bun you would like. Form dough into balls and place on lined baking sheet, slightly flattening into a cake. Cover and let rise for another 45 - 60 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C and make an egg wash with either a whole egg or egg white (if you used the saffron for color).

6. Bake buns for 15 minutes, tenting them if they begin to brown too much. An instant read thermometer should read 190°F-200°F (approx.90°C). Cool on a wire rack and serve warm with butter, jam or clotted cream.

 The end result are some of the softest, lightest buns I've ever enjoyed, period. Slightly sweet, very airy, and perfect with butter or jam. My wife is expecting these in the summer to be used as burger buns. 

For those who have made brioche before, my understanding is that this is similar but a bit lighter. I'd love to know if that's true, since I've not made brioche yet.

I highly recommend these fantastic buns, and will definitely be making more of them myself!

headupinclouds's picture

This summer, while social distancing in our cabin, I purchased a small wood fired pizza oven where I practiced applying my sourdough starter to making sourdough pizza.  At temperatures between 900F and 1000F (the later being "Hi" or my IR gun) the challenge is to continuously rotate the pizza to keep things from burning while ensuring the top and bottom cook evenly in 1 or 2 minutes.  In addition, chopping lots of tiny hardwood pieces of the precise size needed to keep the little firebox roaring adds to the list of chores.  Our felled locust burns very hot and works exceptionally well for this. 

I was missing the sourdough pizza from the Summer and have also been missing the excellent Neopolitan style pizzas from several nearby restaurants (Motorino, Robertas, etc) due to pandemic driven isolation now that we are back in our little Brooklyn apartment.  Inspired by recent TFL posts on home oven pizza, and after recently acquiring an oven stone to support the task, I leafed through some whole grain focused pizza recipes in Adam Leonti's Flour Lab and settled on the Pizza Napoletana [1] .

The recipe calls for a soft spring wheat flour (Frederick preferred).  I went with a Palouse Soft Spring Wheat (unknown variety) that would arrive in time for milling and baking on New Years Eve, but am interested in sourcing some of the recommended Frederick for a follow up.  He indicates his preferred wheat variety for each recipe.  In this case he explains:

I used Frederick soft spring wheat flour because it maintains that signature white hue, mild flavor, and soft crumb that is synonymous with Naples's most famous food.

The recipe is a basic 63% hydration dough:

  • 630 g water
  • 1000 g soft spring wheat flour
  • 14 grams sea salt
  • 2 grams active dry yeast (I used a chunk of Desem starter)
  • Neutral oil for greasing
  • Desired topping

I wanted to experiment with my cool low hydration Desem starter, which I substituted for the ADY.  I milled the soft white wheat coarse-to-fine and then made a soaker (saltolyse) which sat in the fridge for a couple of days to improve extensibility.  The dough felt far too dry at 63% hydration with this wheat (noticeable cracks and fraying) so I ended up increasing the hydration significantly after warming it up and mixing in a chunk of refrigerated Desem starter prior to bulk fermentation.

To add to the list of accumulating violations, this was destined to be a plant based pizza (i.e., no mozzarella).  I sourced a plant based cheese that melts reasonably well, tastes good, and doesn't resemble a rubbery polymer based lab creation upon melting: Miyoko's organic cultured vegan mozzarella.  On a related note, I sampled a fermented tofu at a Japanese restaurant in the Lowesr East side last year that was one of my notable culinary memories of 2020.  I think it would work swimmingly in this context, but I have yet to find a local source for it.  The process is described well in online videos, so it may be another one for the home fermentation lab.

I waited for some signs of fermentation and reasonable gluten development given the low protein flour, then shaped it carefully with the backs of my hands before finishing the slightly fragile dough into a pizza with raised crust using the tips of my fingers, taking care to de-gass the center portion before adding toppings.  The oven stone was approximately 525F.  After 5 minutes or so I added the fresh basil (at 500F the pizza cooks too slowly and the basil would otherwise dry out) and then cooked for another 2 minutes or so before removing it.

The flavor of the crust was excellent (beyond my expectation at least), with a mild tender sweetness and suppressed but still noticeable tang.  It did rise pretty well for the whole grain flour, but the biggest mark against the pizza was the crust color, which was unfortunately pale and somewhat lifeless, which was a real shame.  From recent discussions, I believe this is related to cooking uncovered in a gas oven.  I always use a wide clay cloche for my hearth bread bakes, and have not had success with open stone bakes and improved steam.  Perhaps something akin to a cloche is needed to trigger a maillard reaction.  Following older TFL posts on the subject, I may experiment with an inverted Graniteware roaster placed on top of the baking stone, or a "disposable" aluminum alternative. 

Another consideration is the lack of top heat in the home oven.  When the mini wood fired pizza is roaring, the chimney draws the flames from the rear firebox along the low ceiling over the top of the pizza and up and out the chimney.  That is helpful for matching the heat pizza stone underneath and providing the signature char. 

In our gas home oven there is no top heat source, but there is a broiler that could serve this purpose.  Next time I'm inclined to bake 1/2 way through covered on the stone, then remove and place under the broiler with a turning peel to add a hint of charring to the top crust.  It is worth a shot and would add the main missing element to the final product.

Any thoughts on this issue are appreciated.

[1] baking 400 F degrees short of the 932 F target using home milled whole grains would clearly cause some concern in the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), so this is really an "inspired by" translation.  In the words of Stevie Wonder "Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with."


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