The Fresh Loaf

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MarieH's picture

I've been baking bread a long time and I'm still amused by the narrow line between success and failure. I fed my sourdough starter last night in preparation for baking a (singular) rustic loaf today. When I looked at the starter early this morning it had grown to over 16 oz. by weight. Being a frugal person I decided to use all the starter and made a monster ball of dough. I blended 2 recipes, substituted and blended flour, and basically just winged it with autolyse, proofing, and shaping. I ended up with a 2 1/2 pound boule and 20 2 oz. rolls. I stayed on the right side of that fine line somehow and ended up with great looking bread and awesome crumb and taste.



And just because I like a challenge, I made a 100% whole wheat focaccia at the same time. I almost crashed and burned with getting everything in and out of the oven on time, but again I stayed on the line.

The lesson?  Learn to trust the instincts you develop through experience and have some crazy, risk-taking fun! It is a hobby, right?

Whole Wheat Focaccia

This 100% whole wheat flour recipe was adapted from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook.


Mix together until well blended. Cover and let stand at room temp for 12 to 16 hours.

4 oz. KAF white whole wheat flour

4 oz. water

Scant pinch of yeast


In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer add:

All the biga

9 oz. water

1 oz. orange juice

12 oz. KAF white whole wheat flour

3 Tbs Vital Wheat Gluten

Pinch of ascorbic acid

2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp instant yeast 

With the paddle beater, mix on the lowest speed until dough starts to come together. It will be very wet and slack. Scrape down the paddle and add 1 to 2 Tbs water if the dough seems too dry. Mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and knead for 4 minutes. The dough will be very soft.

Cover and let rest in the bowl for 30 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a silicon mat and fold like an envelope length-wise and width-wise (4 folds). Return to bowl, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the fold process again, and let rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the fold process once more and turn out onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan. With oiled hands, press the dough outward to the pan edges. When dough stops spreading, let it rest for 10 minutes then continue pressing the dough out with your fingertips. The dough will not cover the pan - it will be approximately a 10" x 13" oval.

Cover and let rise for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 500 degrees. I use a baking stone set in the bottom third of my oven. Uncover the dough and drizzle with olive oil. With greased fingers, gently dimple the dough. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in the pan on the stone for 18 to 20 minutes until a deep golden color.


Przytulanka's picture

My lovely husband brought two bottles of Polish beer. He is not an average man who enjoys his time with pals watching games and drinking beer. He said that he was given the beer and  I could make the bread with it. 

So I did. In my opinion the best place for alcohol is in food. I also marinated and baked a leg of lamb with the second bottle of beer.


1st build of the sourdough starter

Wednesday 1:30PM-8PM

7.6 g mature whole rye sourdough  starter

11 g water

9g whole rye flour (always stone ground)


Second  build

Wednesday 7:30 PM- Thursday 10 AM

all of the starter from the first build

90 g water

90 g whole rye flour


Final build

Thursday 9:30 AM-2:30 PM

all of the starter from the previous build

245 g water

245 g whole rye flour



Soaker: Thursday 9:30 AM-2:30 PM

500 g beer

475 g whole rye flour

162 g steel cut oats



Final dough:

all of the sourdough starter

all of the soaker

119 whole wheat flour

19 g salt

Combine the ingredients and let ferment for 10 minutes. Shape and score the loaf . Proof  it seem-side down for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven with a baking stone and steam pan to 500F. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 15 minutes . Then reduce the temperature to 450 ºF and bake for 30 minutes.


Internal temperature of the baked loaf was180F.






oceanicthai's picture

My first attempts at boules weren't so grand and glorious.  I had several flat, dense loaves that I was too ashamed to take pictures of.  Things have progressed but I am just a newbie.  My friend called me a bread nerd, I felt kind of excited about that.  Maybe I can truly be a bread nerd someday.  I made a pretty good loaf this morning, but now I want to do something a little more add more ingredients.

  This was a little better than my earlier attempts.  LIke I said, I was too ashamed to take photos of them.  I did eat them, though, and my family dutifully chewed their way through them, with some hot soup to help soften them up a bit.

  This was my first loaf that resembled a boule.  Unfortunately I forgot to add salt, so it was pretty terrible.

  This was another one, it came out better but I had major problems with slashing the dough.

  I was really excited and proud of how this loaf came out, but I must confess, I forgot to add the salt till the last moment and it, uh, didn't get distributed very well.

  This was one I baked 3 days ago.  Just a sourdough boule with some whole wheat flour.  I couldn't get the poppy seeds to stick very well, I had used too much flour.  I didn't slash deep enough & I couldv'e baked it a bit longer.

  Today's bread, another sourdough 7-grain boule

I've had a great time reading, experimenting, eating and sharing my newfound bread obsession with my bemused family and entertained friends.  It is difficult for some of them to understand why I want to take photos of my bread.  I know, however, that you, my bread heroes, will understand.

Jo_Jo_'s picture

This is by far the best tasting whole wheat bread I have made so far. It is soft, tender, and very light. I soaked the ground flax and fresh ground Hard White Winter Wheat flour in the kefir and water in my recipe for 20 hours. I then added the rest of the ingredients and mixed them together, plus kneaded for 6 minutes in my mixer.  This is the first test to the theory that soaking the freshly ground whole wheat flour for 12 to 24 hours makes it easier to digest.  I have had problems in the past with large amounts of fresh ground wheat making my stomach hurt, and have come across a lot of info both for and against soaking the entire amount of fresh ground flour in the liquid of the recipe.  I started with the soaking method, just to make sure that I don't upset my stomach by not soaking.  I have eaten this bread since yesterday and haven't had any problems at all, so maybe there is something to this.  Just have to see...

I formed it into a boule, it was slighty tacky and not sticky at all.  Nice looking flecks of the flax meal, and a nutty smell.

Allowed the dough to ferment for 1 1/2 hours, till double.  Then shaped and measured the dough into 2 two pound loaves, and 3 small rolls. 

I then let it rise for 45 minutes for the rolls, which I cooked first. 

I then put the loaves into the oven @ 380*'s for 30 minutes, and then tented it with foil for 15 minutes. I pulled from the oven these huge wonderful loaves.

The last whole wheat bread I made I also used 2 lbs of dough per loaf pan, and they were about 1/3 smaller than these.  This is just amazing bread, great taste, and light and fluffy.  Andy says it's the best whole wheat I have made so far.....

From WWFlax
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MadAboutB8's picture

I finally got around to make the famous SFBI (San Francisco Baking Institute) Miche the past weekend. I have been wanting to try this recipe for sometimes after reading so much rave reviews from the TFL members.  

The recipe was posted by David (dmsnyder). Many of the TFL members have made this Miche and all reported fantastic results (many thanks to David and all TFLers who baked the bread and share their results). 

The bread has a mixture of bread and whole-wheat flour in the starter. The recipe also contains wheat germs, which was toasted before the mixing. I have never baked with wheat germs before, or have any wheat germs for that matter. The aroma of toasted wheat germs was fantastic. It has nutty and sweet aroma and give the earthy flavour to the bread.

The original recipe yielded one 2-kg Miche. It was suggested not to scale down the recipe, or you'll be sorry if you do, as the bread was really nice. I didn't scale down the recipe, but instead, I scaled it up to 3-kg batch for two of 1.5-kg Miches.

The dough was soft, silky and nice to work with. I was surprise how well the gluten has develop with little effort. I almost did ZERO kneading but the gluten seems to develop itself from the very beginning, which I was wondering if it was the result of high hydration.

It is one of the tastiest bread I made so far. I love its chewy crumb, crackling crust, and pronounced sourness (which I wonder if it has anything to do with whole-wheat flour in the starter).

I have also posted about this bake in my blog, here.






leighbakes's picture

If you enjoy my blog, please check out the original at!

Thanks for reading!

leighbakes's picture

Read the original blog post here!

On Valentine's Day, I rediscovered a heart-shaped cake pan in the back of my pantry and knew I had to put it to use. Since it was my first cake attempt, I wanted to use another fairly simple recipe, so I found this recipe for dark chocolate cake on Dark Chocolate Cake. It got some pretty excellent reviews from the site's readers, including one person who wrote, "I am a pastry chef, and this is the only chocolate cake that I will make from now on." Awfully high praise! When I pictured the finished cake, I couldn't get the image of a glossy chocolate ganache-covered heart cake out of my I dug up a recipe for red wine chocolate ganache I'd seen on What could be more sexy and romantic than dark chocolate cake with red wine ganache for Valentine's Day? Okay, here's something you should know about me (if you haven't already noticed): I'm a chocoholic. This means that I often don't consider a dessert worth eating unless it contains a fair amount of chocolate. This also means that I'll need you guys to urge me to try recipes that aren't all about chocolate. I'd gladly welcome any non-chocolate recipe suggestions any time! I didn't really run into any problems mixing the batter, although it did take a long time to prepare the chocolate mixture, sift all the dry ingredients, and beat everything together. I tend to be a slow worker, but I also lack some of the tools that would make all this a lot easier, like a freestanding mixer. The cake came out looking good, though I found those big cracks down the middle distracting. Is that normal for a cake? Maybe I filled the pan too high. Because I wanted to cover this cake with poured ganache instead of frosting, I knew I had to flip it over to hide those cracks. I did, and it looked pretty great. Because I had a lot of extra batter (the recipe fills three cake pans, which I don't have), I made some extra cupcakes. These looked nicer than my last ones, but just like last time, one oozed in the oven. Seriously, why does that happen? Of course, the oozy cupcake became my taste test. I liked this cake a lot, and I can see why it got good reviews: it had a delicate texture and a nice chocolate flavor. It wasn't as moist as my last batch of cupcakes, though, so I think I'll stick with that other recipe the next time I make chocolate cupcakes. But if you're looking for a classy dark chocolate cake, this is a lovely one. More on those cupcakes later! Back to the cake... The ganache was a breeze to make. I liked the way it tasted, though it's not for the faint of heart--that stuff is rich. The very thin layer I poured over the cake turned out to be plenty; if I'd spread it on, it might have been overwhelming. As for the pouring process, it went well except for two snags. Because the cake was so rounded on the bottom, it cracked a little when I flipped it over, which showed through the ganache. Second, it was difficult to coat the sides of the cake as thickly and neatly as I'd have liked. If I were to do it again, I'd make a little more ganache for that purpose. Here's a photo of the cake covered in ganache, plus an ill-advised decoration attempt. I've learned my lesson: ganache and edible red gel do not look good together. I wanted to make a border of gel hearts, but they barely showed up on the dark background. Should've known better. As you can see, I ended up with more of a broken-heart cake than a heart cake...which seemed a little more cynical than what I was going for. I decided to cover up my bad decoration and the crack down the middle with a design using pecans. It was very experimental, but I'm pleased with the outcome. The result was a tasty cake with just the right amount of tasty ganache. The pecans didn't hurt a bit, either. My mom, who loves all things rich and chocolatey, was in love. This was the first thing I'd baked entirely from scratch that I was truly proud of! I'll save my stories about frosting those cupcakes for my next post. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting! It's great to have supportive readers to keep an eye out for me as I stumble through this self-taught baking course.


varda's picture

After struggling with several formulae which never seem to come out right, I decided to change things up a bit.   First, I completely changed my starter routine.   Second I found myself at the counter with an empty mixing bowl and no idea of what I was going to make, so I made something up.   I'm not that good at computing percentages in my head, so I kept it simple, basically going with a fairly simple sourdough, but swapping in some white rye.   The results were less than stellar - the loaf exploded in the oven - basically jumping to around three times its unbaked height.  The second time all seemed well in the oven but halfway through, suddenly it slipped a gasket and a huge cancerous growth leaped out the side, almost as big as the mother loaf.    The third time, I could probably have waited another half hour on the final proof but it was way past my bedtime.   It may have opened too much but it didn't explode, so I call that a victory. 

The addition of white rye (which incidentally Hamelman says is not fit for bread baking) makes some pretty interesting but subtle changes in taste an texture.   My husband, who generally will only eat a slice or so of my more obviously rye breads eats this as if it were an all white bread which I guess it is.  The crumb is denser than a lower percentage rye sourdough, you can cut extremely thin slices without tearing the loaf, but still quite open.  

In general, the taste is such that I wouldn't mind having this as my everyday loaf.  

One of the things I've been working really hard at is trying to control the temperature of my dough.   I came upon a very simple method.   I take a pot and fill it with very hot water directly from the sink, and put the lid on upside down.   Then set the bowl or proofing basket on top of it.   I replace the water after the second stretch and fold as by then it has cooled down a bit.   I have found that I can maintain dough temperature in the mid 70s F by using this method.    Even so I still underproofed because it just seems to take so long to ferment this dough all the way through.   Here is my set up:

Finally the formula - simple but good if you throw in a little patience:



Final Dough











White Rye/Dark Rye






























Total grams/ estimated pounds







Autolyse flour and water for 20 minutes.   Mix in salt and starter.   Bulk Ferment for 3 hours with three stretch and folds.  Proof for AS LONG AS IT TAKES.   Bake at 450F with steam for first 15 minutes, without for 17 minutes.

Anonymous baker's picture
Anonymous baker (not verified)

Hi I tried mixing some of the bread mix and letting it rise, then let it sit in the fridge overnight.

The next day I mixed in some more yeast and some more flour (quite a lot actually) and this monster came out :D 

(Ingredience are strong flour, 1 egg, some veg oil, full fat milk, dry yeast, demerera sugar)

:) I think it could have done with a little more time in the oven, so I popped it back in - I also covered it with a tea towel to try to soften the crust - it's worked pretty well.

The initial rise looked excellent, so I think I'll try baking it the first time around.

Having fun :) 


oceanicthai's picture

I live in Thailand where many specialty baking items aren't available.  Improvising has been interesting, sometimes fun and occasionally quite frustrating.  Pictured is what I found at a local kiln to bake my breads in.  I would have loved a La Cloche, but this is working wonderfully.  To acheive an extra steamed effect I soak the lid of this unglazed terra cotta pot in water before I bake. 

I preheat it all in my oven and when I take the lid off to slide my bread in, steam wafts out.  I use a metal pizza peel made locally that I was really excited to find.  I can't buy a banneton so I use a stainless steel bowl.  For a couche I cut up an old thick cotton apron & it is working great!

This is a traditional style terra cotta pot used for food.  I have lived here in Thailand for 12 years now.


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