The Fresh Loaf

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alfanso's picture

I felt that I could take the Pan de Cristal a further step if I kept at it.  And so I did.  Further micro improvements from last time.

The first that I went with but abandoned after two attempts was to combine a biga with a levain.  While the results were okay, they were not all that much better than with just a straight levain mix. The downside is that it has an additional few steps to accomplish without the payback.  So I abandoned that process and returned to a single preferment - the 100% hydration strong white flour levain.

Other breakthroughs, beyond those reported last time, included:

  • Discovering that I could indeed retard the dough overnight, rendering a bit more flavor but principally to get the 95% hydration goop to firm up a little more.  And this worked.
  • Changing out from a quite well-floured workbench for the dough to be dumped onto for dividing.  Instead saturate the workbench with water sufficiently.  The dough is easier to manipulate, and with a pair of wet hands was slightly malleable and easier to transfer to the oven peel with minimal deformation.
  • Learning that the shorter the time the dough rested on the peel before being loaded into the oven the less propensity it has for spreading out.

There’s no getting around that this dough is still a trick to wrangle with, but I think that I finally unlocked the door to producing a quality Pan de Cristal.

Here's a partial stack from previous runs these past few days.

When loaded into the oven, these plump up quite impressively, only to settle back down some after a while.

The finished product.  These cannot be scaled, so eyeing the size of each baton is necessary.

A bird's eye view of the runt of the lot that was not up for giveaway.

And a snail's eye view.

Looking in from the outside.  You can see how open the crumb is, and how thin the crust is on these breads.  A structural marvel.  The crust just shatters as it is bitten into, while the crumb stays moist and delicate.


The formula for these is on the earlier entry.

4 x ~300g batons 

Jeff P's picture
Jeff P

My wife was craving cinnamon rolls Sunday morning, so I figured I'd give them a shot. I used the recipe in The Baker's Apprentice, with the exception that I omitted the lemon zest.

Overall, I liked working with this enriched dough. The addition of the egg and sugar made it a bit different than my usual bread dough, but it ended up with a very nice consistency. 

One thing I noticed as I was working, though, is that there seems to be limited rise during the first ferment. I think this was due to the fact that we keep our home very cool (about 68° F). I've noticed this with other breads I've made, and resolved the issue by placing the dough on one of our floor heating vents. That way, it gets a blast of warm air every so often. With these, I kept them off to the side of the vent, so they didn't get as much direct heat.

The end result was a large oven spring, and a chewy, more dense roll than I've had before. The filling was good, and I did not make any icing for them. 

Questions that came up during this bake:

- With such a low room temperature during mixing, should I be trying to find/create a warmer space to ferment the dough?

- I omitted lemon zest from the recipe, and am wondering how that may have altered things. Is this purely a flavor thing, or does the zest somehow alter the dough consistency?

- I used Lactaid 2% for the milk in this recipe, which lacks lactose. This is the milk we generally use at home, but I'm wondering if the lack of lactose may have an impact on the result? Not that it was bad, but the consistency was different from "traditional" cinnamon rolls.



Sorry for the poor picture quality, had to use a different phone for this.

Peter.granger4's picture

I am new to bread baking (about 9 months) and am glad to find a community of bakers, amateur and professional, that truly enjoy sharing their stories. I love the discussions about successful and not so successful baking adventures. I’ve quickly learned that there is no such thing as a bad loaf of bread if it has some of the baker’s heart and soul in it. 

I started baking after being encouraged by my wife to try something new. I’m a retired US Army infantry officer and about 10 years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD after three combat deployments.Years of therapy has helped me cope with day-to-day life and heal parts of myself. Yet I was yearning for more.

Then, I found bread. I received a copy of Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread from my wife and started to read. Long before I started my sourdough starter (which I am still using) I found myself drawn to the stories. What I quickly discovered, as you all know, is that bread is a living thing. There is a connection between the baker and the bread. This connection extends to those who get to enjoy in the fruits of the baker’s efforts. 

Baking has become more than way to fill the dinner table with healthy food. Ok, the lunch and breakfast and snack tables get filled too. Baking is a way to connect to myself and others. It is not the only, or even the primary, tool in my therapy plan. But it is a really nice addition to it.

I have added sprouted Einkorn, semolina and buckwheat to my basic country white sourdough repertoire over the last few months. The sourdough is still my go-to bread, while the others are for fun and experimentation. I recently bought a Komo Fidbus 21and started experimenting with home milled flours (with mixed results, but I’m keeping notes in my log). 

I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories and tips. I’ve picked up a few pointers from here already and I hope I can share my adventures to help others along the way. Cheers.

Danni3ll3's picture

It was time to redo this recipe with a few tweaks. I toasted the buckwheat groats prior to milling into flour. And a few things were changed on the fly. I decided to use a set amount of water to soak the groats rather than soak them in an undetermined amount of water and drain them. I was very conservative with the water as my notes from the last time said that my dough was way too wet. Well that swung things in the other direction. I decided to add some honey as the main dough was quite stiff. Then the dough was still very firm after putting in the add-ins, so I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of bassinage. This seemed to work very nicely and I had a gorgeous feeling dough to shape. 




Makes 3 loaves



150 g Buckwheat Groats

200 g hot water

50 g Yogurt

55 g honey



700 g strong bakers unbleached flour

300 g freshly milled durum flour (or durum berries)

50 g buckwheat groats, milled into flour

50 g freshly ground flax

720 g water + 10 g + 10 g +10 g

25 g pink Himalayan salt

250 g levain (procedure in recipe)

Extra wholegrain and AP flour to feed the Levain. 


Two mornings before:

  1. Take 2 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 4 g of filtered water and 4 g of wholegrain flour. Let sit at cool room temperature for the day. 


The two nights before:

  1. Feed the levain 20 g of water and 20 g of wholegrain flour. Let that rise at cool room temperature for the night. 


The morning before:

  1. Feed the levain 100 g of filtered water and 25 g of wholegrain flour as well as 75 g of strong baker’s flour. Let rise until doubled (about 6 hours). 
  2. Place into fridge until the next morning. 


Mid afternoon or the night the day before:

  1. Toast 200 g of buckwheat groats in a dry frying pan or the oven
  2. Weigh out 50 g of the toasted groats and mill that into flour. Place the buckwheat flour in a tub.
  3. Reserve the remainder of the toasted buckwheat groats for the next day.
  4. Mill the durum berries (if using berries) and place the necessary amount of this flour in the tub. 
  5. Add the unbleached flour to it as well as the freshly ground flax. Cover and set aside. 


Dough making day:

  1. Early in the morning, take out the levain to warm up. I usually give it a good stir at this time.
  2. Using a stand mixer, mix the water with the flour, and mix on speed 1 until all the flour has been hydrated. Let this autolyse for a couple of hours. 
  3. At the same time, soak the toasted groats in the hot water for a half hour.  After the time is up, mix in the yogurt. Cover and set aside.
  4. After the autolyse, add the salt and the levain to the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed for a minute to integrate everything, then mix on the next speed up for 8 minutes. 
  5. Add the buckwheat groat mixture and honey, and mix another minute or two until incorporated.
  6. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Add the first 10 g water on top. Let rest 30 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 
  7. Do 2 sets of stretches and folds (adding an extra 10 g water each time) at 30 minute intervals and then 2 sets of sleepy ferret folds (coil folds) at 45 minute intervals, and then let the dough rise to about 40%. It should have irregular bubbles visible through the sides of the container and bubbles on top as well. Things were moving along nicely so it only took another 30 minutes. 
  8. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~850 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 30 minutes on the counter. 
  9. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and cross over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make a nice tight boule.
  10. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons. Let rest for a few minutes on the counter 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 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 22 minutes at 425 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.

These had great oven spring and smell amazing. Can’t wait to cut into one. 

tortie-tabby's picture

Followed some recommendations from Maurizio's recipe, adjusted the rest to suit my schedule/comfort zone. Feedback always welcome, I've only come so far with help from this community.

50g quick oats soaked in water overnight then drained (used drained water for dough)
12g flax seeds, soaked with oats (4 tsp)

Whole Foods 365 Organic AP flour 450g (70%)
KAF whole wheat flour 150g (23%)
Water 438g (use water from oats, 75%, including water absorbed by oats closer to 80%)
Starter 100g (2:1 AP to whole wheat, hydrated at 100%) (17%)
Salt 10g (1.5%)

Things I learned
1. Yes, definitely cover your loaf with an inverted pot if you don’t have a dutch oven to trap steam
2. It’s not too damaging to divide your loaf and reshape again if you do it early
3. Yes, I should’ve been doing a longer bulk ferment. My previous BFs were 1-2 hrs, this time it was 6 hours
4. Starter really does make your dough more slack, I’m still trying to figure out how to work with it, not really sure I should have added it during the autolyse as Maurizio did. At least I managed to resist adding more water
5. Measure everything! Even when I’m sneakily adding more water I should at least measure what I added so I can keep track and make appropriate changes next time.

1. (7:45am) 1-hour autolyse with starter at 77-79F, add starter and 408g water first and mix, hold out 30g of water
2. (8:15am) Add 10g salt and added all hold out water
3. Bulk fermentation for 5 hours, fold oats into dough after first 30 minutes, stretch and fold every 30 minutes (forgot to weigh the soaked oats to find out how much water I was adding, calculated based on the final dough weight of 1.3kg that I probably added 40g max of water from oats)
4. (1:15am) Cold ferment in fridge 7 hours
5. (8:15) Preshaped then divided into two then pre-shaped again
6. Pre-shape, circling dough tightly, then let rest for 20 minutes
7. Preheat oven for an hour with oven-proof pot inside and cast iron pan under the baking stone
8. Shape and proof, fold dough up into package and roll on surface to create a tight skin, roll boule over oats before final proof, seam side down on couche for 40 minutes at 74F. Dough was pretty wet and a little difficult to handle.
9. Score and slide loaf in, spray generously with water
10. Cover loaf with pot with overhang so steam can get in, pour water into cast iron, place ice onto baking stone
11. Bake at 500 for 15 minutes then at 450F uncovered with convection for an additional 18 mins


Soaked oats and flax, very wet even after draining for over an hour

Soaked oats and flax

Had trouble incorporating it into the dough at first, didn't fold it into the layers as uniformly as I would've liked

Combining into dough

Dough came together well after first s&f

After first s&f

Baking covered vs uncovered

Covered loaf clearly had better oven spring.

Pretty good crumb, any feedback? Maybe a little underbaked. This is a cross-section of the uncovered loaf, I haven't cut into the other one yet but I might post updates. It's got a weird distribution of hole sizes, many really big ones, and the rest are tiny, not many in-between. Why is that?

Cross section of the covered loaf. So yummy. It's a bread I highly recommend, anyone interested should probably check out the original recipe.

Hotbake's picture

Way bigger loaf, it puffed up so tall it touched the top of my d.o. ! 



idaveindy's picture

Jan 21, 2020.  17th TFL bake.  Best so far.

Goal:  1200 g boule (fits in 1 gallon storage zipper bag), 90% home-milled flour, 10% AP flour, try more autolyse, reduce amount of Kamut, increase autolyse/soak, short ferment (not overnight).

9:15 am: Mix 354 g Prairie Gold HWSW, 91 g Kamut, 91 g HRWW, all home-milled, 429 g bottled spring water, 1/8 tablet of a 500 mg vitamin C tablet (approx 62.5 mg).

 429 / ( 354 + 91 + 91 ) =  429 / 536 = 80% hydration.

~~ [1 hour, 55 minute autolyse/soak.]

11:10 am: Mix in: 40 g water, 50 gr King Arthur AP flour, 97 g of 125% hydration cold starter (last fed yesterday).

97 g of 125% starter = 44 g flour + 53 g water.   Assume 13 g of flour in starter is AP flour.

PPF:  44 / (536 + 50 + 44) = 44 / 630 = 7.0 %.  High enough for a same day bulk ferment and proof.  7% is high for a mostly whole-grain dough that has been autolysed for a while.

Percent white flour ( 50 + 13 in starter ) / 630 = 10% white flour.  ~~ 90% home-milled whole grain.

PPM Vitamin C: 62.5 mg / 630 g = 99.2 parts per million.  

11:45 am: Slowly mix in 20 g water, and 12.0 g Himalayan salt, via stretch and folds.  Dough becomes very stiff due to salt, but it will slacken.

Total hydration so far:  ( 429 + 40 + 53 in starter + 20 with the salt) / ( 536 + 50 + 44 ) = 542 / 630 = 86%. 

11:50 am: finish adding salt and water. 

12:19 pm: Stretch and fold.

12:54 pm: Stretch and fold.

1:54 pm: Stretch and fold.

2:55 pm: Stretch and fold.

~~[5 hrs, 7 min bulk ferment.] 

4:17 pm: Letter fold and shape on an AP flour-dusted surface.  Did a better job of stretching skin of boule than before, dragging boule across the surface to develop tension. Dusted 8.7" O.D. linen-lined banneton with tapioca flour and brown rice flour. Slightly wetted top of boule with water and spread soaked chunks of bran that had been sifted (#20 mesh) from milling process. Shouldn't have soaked the bran chunks. Flipped into banneton so the seam side was up, and dusted the now upper side (seam side) of boule. 

Immediately did finger poke test, and it seemed it was ready to bake!  So, it had too long of a bulk ferment, and therefore I used too much starter.

Immediately started preheat of oven to *495/475 F  and also Lodge 3.2 qt combo cooker.

(Had to adjust bake timings a bit due to doing laundry, not wanting to let laundry occupy community dryers too long.)

Oiled and lightly dusted with corn meal, the deep pot part of the cooker. Sprinkled corn meal on seam side of boule and covered boule with a circle of parchment paper. Inverted pot over banneton and flipped them over.  Scored the boule in a double X, or 8 legged asterisk, all cuts converging in the center top.

~~[1 hour, 3 min final proof.]  

5:20 pm: Bake, covered, *495/475 F, 5 min.

5:25 pm: Bake, covered, 475/455 F, 5 min.

5:30 pm: Bake, covered, 430/410 F, 20 min.

Success!  Oven spring!  All legs of the 8-point asterisk scoring opened well. No "ears" because it was a vertical cut.

5:50 pm: Bake, uncovered, 400/380 F, 11 min. 

It didn't look like it was browning fast enough so raised temp.

6:01 pm: Bake, uncovered  410/390 F, 10 min.

It didn't look like it was browning fast enough so raised temp again.

6:11 pm: Bake, uncovered, 420/400 F, 6 min.

6:17 pm: Done. Internal temp 209.7 F.

* First number is the oven's thermostat setting, second number is actual. 

~~ Total bake: 57 minutes.

Very light crumb. BEST BAKE SO FAR.  And my friend who likes white bread even liked it.  Looked so good I cut it open after cooling two hours. Normally have to wait 20 hours to improve flavor.

Forgot to take photos of crumb. Will post other photos when I get a new computer.

Jeff P's picture
Jeff P

Another day off, another baking adventure!

I don't have my notes with me as I write this, so I'll just give an overview.

After last weeks attempt at a basic french loaf, I went back to re-read a few things, including my copy of The Baker's Apprentice. This book has been a big part of my push to get into baking, and it includes a lot of great tips and ideas that are easy for me to get my head around.

I decided to try the French Bread recipe from the book, using a pate fermentee that I chilled overnight. Below is an approximate measurement of the ingredients. Again, no notes today!

284 g Flour

5.5 g salt

1.9 g yeast

182 g water

The following morning, I cut the dough and let it warm on the counter for about an hour. After mixing in the new flour, salt, yeast, and water, I had a good amount to work with.

While the recipe claimed that the dough would become tacky in 3 - 4 minutes, I found it far more sticky that expected, and so kept adding flour while I worked it. This ended up being fine, though it threw me at first.

Instead of simply letting it rise, I used the pull-and-fold technique 3 times at 30-minute intervals, before letting the dough rest of an hour. I definitely noticed a lot of gas buildup by doing this, and was very careful to not degas any more than necessary to perform the folds.

The biggest change I made was to work the dough into a boule shape instead of the baguettes called for in the book. I decided to extend the baking time but keep the rest of the instructions (heat/steam). I initially started at 450, but ended up dropping it to 425 just before putting the dough in. I also didn't spritz the dough itself; instead, I used a pan of water to steam it in the beginning.

The result was a well-shaped, crispy-crusted wonder! Soft and chewy inside, tight uneven crumb, and delicious. The outside definitely crisped more than my last loaf, with a nice dark brown crackle when I cut into it. 

So, overall, I'm extremely happy with the results. This one is definitely worth making again!

UPDATE: Here's photos of the loaf, a day out of the oven. The top is flaking a bit, so perhaps the crumb was a bit uneven, with too much air at the top. Thoughts?


ifs201's picture

My husband requested a recipe I'd made a few years back (before I got into sourdough) of kubaneh from the cookbook Golden. Since I now know a bit more about bread, I decided to make some slight changes. I didn't have time to convert to sourdough, but I did add 10% sourdough starter and added some whole wheat. It was even better than I remembered! Next time I'll convert the recipe to sourdough. This bread is baked in an 8-inch deep cake tin covered in tinfoil and the outside gets beautifully dark and caramelized. The burnt bits are the best part. Yum!


  • 250g AP flour
  • 75g whole wheat
  • 150g bread flour
  • 350g water
  • 3/4 tsp active yeast
  • 50g starter
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 60g light brown sugar


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g butter
  • honey

I mixed the dough for a good long while and then allowed it to roughly double (2 hours). You then divide the dough into 7-8 pieces and place on a tray covered in olive oil. Take each piece of dough, place about 10g of butter in the center, form into a ball, and place into buttered tin. Drizzle the top with honey I then let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing in the fridge overnight. I baked in the morning - 30m at 425, 30m at 400, 30m at 350 and then leave the dough in the turned-off oven for 1 hour before eating. 


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