The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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gingersnapped's picture

[crossposted to my general baking blagsite,!]

The day you find yourself laboring over a fine grained sieve sifting the bran out of otherwise a-ok whole wheat flour: might as well admit it you’re addicted to yeast.

relax piggybank, it's turkey

open up; sandwich time

Personal success: half batch + stretch and fold + autolyse with a hella wet dough and shaped! appropriately! neatly!  It looks like bread when it came out of the oven! (this is perpetually delightful and surprising)

Personal failure: forgot to score and got ants in the pants and pulled it out before the crust could fully harden.  The biggest advantage I’ve found to cooking in someone else’s oven — I tend to walk away and leave well enough alone (perhaps an important life lesson there).

rossnroller's picture

One of my experiments went awry a couple of days ago. I had some leftover buttermilk and decided to sub that for milk in my usual SD pancake mix. I've used buttermilk in traditional pancakes and it was good, but I found it wasn't prepared to socialise properly with the SD leaven. No matter how much buttermilk I added, the batter refused to thin to the consistency I like. Added milk in the end, and that made things runny, but alas - the batter refused to behave in the fry pan. While browning to a nice golden finish, it was like custard inside. No amount of extra heating would remedy this.

Moving right on, I decided against pancakes. Crepes were the go! So, swirled the batter quickly around the pan to keep it

Time to quit, so I sulkily dumped the bowl of batter on the kitchen shelf and left it there for the rest of the day. It could get as sour and nasty as it liked. Only one place that mess was bound - the compost.

Towards evening, I returned to the scene of the crime and made off out the back to dispose of the evidence. Then a thought struck me - wasn't this fermenting mess a sort of starter, or sponge, or whatever...? And if so, why couldn't I add flour and attempt to bring off a disaster rescue? I hate throwing out anything edible, especially starter, so promptly rationalised my way back inside with my bowl of trouble and set to work.

I left my premium bread flours alone, not wanting to waste them on something that was likely to be mediocre at best, and grabbed some plain (AP) supermarket flour. Threw in enough to get a good consistency.  Thought better of ignoring my good flours, and tipped in a bit of organic wholemeal. And some milk powder - why not?

Since there was sugar in the batter, I figured sweet(ish) and spicy was the way to go. Chucked in some cinnamon, and lesser quantities of mixed spice, ginger, plus a bit of dry-roasted coriander/caraway mix left over from a cooking venture some days earlier. The dough was a bit sticky.  A sprinkle more flour... Nice.

Recalling Sylvia's tantalising recent pics of her walnut and raisin bread, I chopped up some walnuts, then raisins (not golden ones - the large flat relatives) and a bit of candied spice. Folded them into the dough. Didn't worry about pre-soaking.

And so it went. No weighing, no recipe, working only by the light of instinct and experience - and it dawned on me that I was enjoying the freedom of it all! In fact, it was exhilarating!

Bulk proofed 3 hours with 3 S&Fs, rolled the dough in on itself lengthwise, bunged it into a bread pan, and retarded in the fridge overnight.  Baked straight out of fridge next morning: 40 mins @ 185C (365F), no steam. I didn't even bother with a glaze.

The result was thrilling! A rustic-looking loaf that rose well and when sliced for a sampling 2 hours later had my partner and I raising our eyebrows. The crumb was even and soft, but well-structured and elastic. The only thing I might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight was brush a bit of milk on the top before loading the dough to slow down the browning of the crust. Got away with not pre-soaking the fruit - it wasn't at all hard or too chewy, possibly because I cut the raisins into smaller pieces. And the taste test? An A-grade pass!





So, what began as a failed experiment ended as an unlikely triumph. I'm a bit regretful I won't be able to duplicate this bread exactly, but letting go of recipes and weighing was a liberating experience. I do firmly believe in exercising some precision in bread baking as a general procedural principle and will continue to tweak and take notes, but winging it every so often is a buzz. I do that all the time in cooking, but for some reason have not felt safe removing the safety net with bread baking until now. Will be living a little more dangerously in future!

Best of baking!


wassisname's picture

Have you ever made a loaf of bread that turned out really, really well, better, in fact, than you ever would have thought possible, and then find yourself utterly incapable of making it again?  This is that loaf.


It was a revelation.  Shocking, actually, because of how different it was from previous attempts at the same basic bread.  It was a long, cold fermented 100%WW sourdough – just flour, water and salt.  But the crumb was open, soft, and fluffy like no other WW sourdough I’ve baked.  The crust, too, was remarkable – thin, yet toothsome.  It even stayed fresh for an uncanny length of time.

I am not including the formula here.  Whatever happened that day clearly had nothing to do with what was on the page, because, try as I might, I haven’t baked anything like it since.  And, oh, how I’ve tried.  The original formula doesn’t really even exist anymore, because I eventually I grew frustrated and began tinkering with it to try and find the elusive x-factor.

In time I managed to move on.  I hardly think about it anymore, really.  When I stumbled across this photo I felt I should share the tale, as I can’t be the first and won’t be the last person to go through this.

But occasionally I still wonder… what happened that day?  An exceptional bag of flour?  An accidental flour mix-up?  An extra ingredient that was meant for the other thing I was making that day (whatever that may have been)?  Pixie dust in my starter?  Maybe someday I’ll know, maybe someday…


txfarmer's picture


Some facts first:

- Hokkaido is a place in Japan.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf is THE most classic/common/well-loved sandwich bread in Asia. It's enriched with milk, heavy cream, butter, egg, milk power, and quite a lot of sugar - which makes it richer than most Asian soft sandwich bread recipes, pushing toward brioche territory. The finished loaf is very tall, very soft, rather rich tasting.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf has nothing to do with the place Hokkaido. Nothing. Well, other than the name.

- Hokkaido Milk Loaf is usually made with dry yeast, a sample recipe can be found here using straight method:, many TFLers have also done this bread successfully.

My notes:

- I adapted the recipe to use SD only. In fact it was over a year ago that I first attempted, since then, I have gone through many iterations on ingredient ratios, fermentation schedule etc. This is my measuring stick on how well my SD sandwich bread method works. What I am posting below is the latest version. In the begining I reduced sugar/fat ratio, but now I know my SD starter is strong enough to take on what the original Hokkaido recipe calls for, so I have slowly raised fat/sugar ratio back up, now it's comparable to the dry yeast version. The bread has the classic rich flavor and soft texture of Hokkaido loaf, and a slightly tangy taste thanks to SD starter.

- Like other soft sandwich breads, the success of this bread relies on intensive kneading. Please see the following two previous posts about this topic:

- The same dough can be used for rolls and other breads. Other than the sandwich loaf, I also made some rolls filled with chocolate hazelnut paste. I didn't specify ratios for the filling because I winged it, using whatever was on hand. I like to over fill the rolls with filling, which means lots of coca/hazelnut/sugar mixture, AND lots of softened butter to absorb it.

- Comparing to my previous soft sandwich breads, you might notice that baking temperature is higher (400F rather than 375), I find it gives a better lift to the bread.


SD Hokkaido Milk Loaf

Note: 19% of the flour is in levain

Note: total flour is 250g, fit my Chinese small-ish pullman pan. For 8X4 US loaf tin, I suggest to use about 270g of total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I would suggest using about 430g of total flour.

Note: for the rolls, I used a 8X8 square tin, and 340g of total flour.


- levain

starter (100%), 13g

milk, 22g

bread flour, 41g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- final dough

bread flour, 203g (I used half KAF bread flour and half KAF AP flour for a balance of chewiness and volume)

sugar, 33g

butter, 10g, softened

milk powder, 15g

egg whites, 38g

salt, 4g

milk, 74g

heavy cream, 63g


1. mix until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec), see this post for details.

2. rise at room temp for 2 hours, punch down, put in fridge overnight.

3. takeout, divide, round, rest for 1 hour. shape as instructed here for sandwich loaf. For rolls, roll out the dough into 16X12in (quite thin), mix together coca, toasted hazelnut, and sugar in a blender, first brush the dough with lots of softened butter (LOTS), then spread on coca/hazelnut/sugar mixture (again, LOTS), roll up, cut off two ends, then divide into 9 pieces, and put in 8inch squre pan.

4. rise at room temp for about 6 hours. For my pullman pan, it should be about 80% full; for US 8x4inch pan, it should be about one inch above the edge. The dough would have tripled by then, if it can't, your kneading is not enough or over.

5. for sandwich loaf, bake at 400F for 45min, brush with butter when warm. for rolls, bake at 400F for 25min.


Thanks for all the protein, fat, and sugar in the dough, the bread should be very tall - if not, more kneading is needed.


With enough (but not too much) kneading, and proper fermentation, the crumb should be velvet soft.


Same for the rolls. The rich taste of the dough matches well with the filling.


I am sure I will keep tweaking the recipe, since I just can't leave a good thing alone. :P


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

I was inspired by a loaf made by breadmakingbassplayer that sounded very good. I began by calculating a 75% hydration dough. With the water content from the scallions, and the addition of some sesame oil, I'm not sure how much higher than that it wound up. Parchment paper and rice flour are your friends in a case like this.

The levain was about 12% of the total weight of the dough. I bulk fermented the dough for three hours, probably too long at almost 80F, with a set of about 20 strokes in the bowl every hour. I proofed the loaf for about 45 minutes, as the kitchen was heating up from the oven. 

Unmolded onto a piece of parchment covered with sifted rice flour. To form, lifted from the bottom four times, turning the loaf a quarter turn each time, sort of like a kaiser roll. I like the shape.

Baked covered for the first ten minutes. 

The sesame oil adds even more richness to the sourdough. The scallions make the whole thing very onion-y. The crumb is soft but resilient. The crust is somewhat crumbly. Very full flavored and delicious. I had some as a tuna fish sandwich last night.

The crumb looked like this throughout. However, as the result of the forming motion on the rice flour-covered parchment, a small seam of uncooked flour turned up here and there, which is not attractive for photos.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Despite failing to post about it, I'm still at my quest for a perfect, hole-y ciabatta.  The last two weeks were interesting, to say the least.  

If you recall, two weeks ago I baked Craig Ponsford's ciabatta (a la Maggie Glezer), with results that were just about perfect.  Last week I tried to replicate the experience.  First, the formula and proceedure:


  • 300g King Arthur AP flour (the original calls for 200g Bread Flour and 100g AP) - 91%
  • 15g Whole Rye Flour - 4.5%
  • 15g Whole Wheat Flour - 4.5%
  • 185g Water - 56%
  • 0.016g Instant Yeast - 0.005%* 

*(originals calls for mixing 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 cup water, then measuring 1/2 tsp yeast-water into the biga. I have a scale with 0.01g graduations, and just measured 0.02g. )

Final Dough

  • 325g King Arthur AP flour
  • 342g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 1.55g Instant yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • Biga (All)
  1. Mix biga ingredients together until smooth.  Biga will be quite stiff.  
  2. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, or until tripled (Two weeks ago I didn't keep track, last week I only waited for a little more than double, possible a mistake).
  3. Combine all final dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with the hook for 5 minutes.  Dough will be very gloopy.
  4. I gave it 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Not sure if this had any effect--I'll probably skip in in the future.
  5. Ferment 3 hours.  At 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface to stretch and fold.
  6. Divide the dough in half, making two oblong shapes.  Fold each oblong in thirds, letter style (this will produce something vaguely square).  Gently stretch each dough piece into an oblong, and place on a well floured couche (I omitted the stretch last week--I think this was a mistake), seam side down.  Yes, down.  Cover with plastic, but try to keep the plastic off the surface of the dough.
  7. Proof 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees (or with my POS oven, 535)
  8. With wet fingers, make small dimples all over the exposed surface of the dough.
  9. Flip the loaves onto parchment on a sheet pan or peel.  Slide the loaves into the oven, turn temperature down to 450 and bake for 35 minutes, using your favorite steaming method for the first 15.
  10. Crack the oven door, turn off the oven, and wait 5-10 minutes more before removing the loaves to a cooling rack.
This formula is fun to make.  This is the dough after mixing:

First Fold, Before and After

Second Fold, Before and After

Third Fold, Before and After

Last Fold, Before and After

Ready to divide and proof:




This bake was...puzzling.  As you can see, these loaves were awfully tall for ciabatta.  The crumb was tighter than the previous week, more akin to a batard.  The flavor profile was a bit difference as well--the sour and whole-grain notes were stronger, while the poolease-y flavor (what I think of as pain a l'ancienne flavor) was more muted.  Indeed, if I'd stuck a couple of sourdough batards into my oven, and pulled these out, I'd have been neither surprised nor displeased in the least.  Since I in fact loaded a pair of conventionally leavened ciabatta...well, color me puzzled.  

Cut ahead to today.  I had intended to take another stab at the Ponsford recipe, but a number of circumstances prevented me from putting together a biga in time.  That 24 hour fermentation time is tricky to work around.  I did have time for a poolish, so instead I took another stab at SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta, with some modifications inspired by the Ponsford Ciabatta.  It went like this:


  • 190g KAF AP flour
  • 190 Water
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)

Final Dough

  • 310g Flour
  • 190g Water
  • 15g Olive Oil
  • 10g Salt
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)
  1. Mix poolish, ferment 12 hours.
  2. Whisk poolish with 150g water and oil.
  3. Add 30g flour and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy.
  4. Add remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Autolyze 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle salt, yeast and remaining 40g water over dough.  Mix by hand until smooth (I started with the wooden spoon until the water was incorporated, then did about 60 stretch-and-folds with a spatula).
  6. Proceed as in the Ponsford recipe from step 5, except omit the 3rd fold, and the letter-fold after dividing.

The results:

Curiouser and curiouser!  Excellent crumb this time, much better than my two previous tries.  The dough seemed much stronger than on my previous two attempts, and I think the crumb is a result of that.   The dimpling technique may be a factor as well, hard to say.  Also rather tall for ciabatta, although not as ridiculous as last week.  Crust was nicely crispy.  Flavor was clean, sweet and creamy.  I think I liked the Ponsford ciabatta's flavor more, but it would be somewhat deceptive to say that one was "better" than the other, because they're really very different.  

Proposition: An open crumbed ciabatta requires a strong dough.  Getting a wet dough like ciabatta to be strong is the trick, but multiple stretch-and-folds will do it.  

Happy baking, everyone.


ananda's picture

Already the freezer stock of bread is running low, but the supply of Bacheldre Dark Rye and Gilchester Pizza Flour is just about exhausted.   There was enough to make a refreshed Rye Sourdough, but the wheat levain needed to be switched over to an alternative flour for its second refreshment to build up the amount needed to make these 2 loaves.   The rye sour had one refreshment from stock; the wheat levain had two refreshments.   There is still some Gilchester Farmhouse flour [c.85% extraction] in the cupboard, so I built this into the final formula for the bread, and used it in the Ginger Cake described below.

Two Large Boules

Alison found some Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour for me on Saturday, so the levain build was complete, and I could start dough mixing this morning [Sunday].   Here is the recipe, formula and method:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour dough



Bacheldre Dark Rye









2. Wheat Levain



Gilchesters Organic Pizza & Ciabatta  Flour/ Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour









3. Final Dough



Rye Sour [above]



Wheat Levain [above]



Marriage’s Organic Strong White Flour



Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour












Overall Pre-fermented Flour



Overall Hydration



Wholegrain: White





  • Autolyse flours, water and rye sour for 1 hour
  • Add levain and form dough.   Add salt and develop.
  • Rest for 15 minutes, then mix a further 10 minutes.
  • S&F after 1 hour.   Bulk Proof 2 hours.   Knock back after 1½ hours, gently.
  • Scale and divide.   I made 1 boule @ 1000g and 1 just over 1500g.   Carefully mould dough pieces.
  • Proof upside down in bannetons for c.3 hours.
  • Tip out of the bannetons, cut the top of the loaves and bake in a pre-heated oven with steam.   I baked the 1.5kg loaf for 1 hour and the 1kg loaf for just less than 45 minutes.
  • Cool on wires

The steam has given these loaves a lovely shiny appearance.   They are quite bold and have expanded well around the cuts.   The crust has a few cracks appearing.   The crumb gives evidence of well developed dough and proper attention to fermentation.   We are both looking forward to a week of enticing sandwiches for lunch.   Photographs shown below:


Spicy Ginger Cake

The British contingent here may have come across Dan Lepard’s “Honey and Treacle Cake” in The Guardian Weekend Magazine on Saturday.   I’m quite a fan of these “blended” Ginger cakes, and one of my students made Dan Lepard’s “Whisky Ginger Cake” [see his website for this one] in the Confectionery exam last Monday…and it really is loaded with alcohol too!

Alison saw this article and decided it was a healthy option because it had no refined sugar in the recipe!!?   Well, this is my take on it, although the Mascarpone and Orange Icing  is down to Alison.   It’s very spicy and full-on ginger.   The finished cake texture is exactly how I like to eat cake; you decide for yourselves.

Recipe, formula and method are shown below.   I’ve made a good few changes to the recipe published in the Guardian, so I’m happy to list it below as my own take.


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

Organic Honey



Blackstrap Molasses



Ginger Syrup






Black Peppercorns









Ginger Powder






Orange Zest



Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour



Baking Powder



Stem Ginger [diced]



Dried Fruit






It is not so clear in the table above, but I have tried to show the formula in relation  to constituent parts, so 16% is proportion of spice, and 154.3 is proportion of syrups, both to flour.   Fruit is 172% of flour; this could perhaps be lower 


  • Gently heat the sugars, butter and whole spices to 80°C in a pan.
  • Lightly beat the egg
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and ginger powder.
  • Strain the syrups off the whole spices.   Add zest plus dry ingredients and fold to form a smooth batter.   Fold in the egg.   Fold in the fruit.
  • Scale equally between 2 loaf tins.   Bake at 160°C for 40 minutes
  • Cool on wires.

Photographs of the finished crumb are shown.   Lovely cake, but neither of us ever really eat much of the stuff; let’s hope it will keep the week in the fridge?

Best wishes


varda's picture

A few months ago I made a loaf of Russian coriander rye which was not Russian enough and way too coriandery.    I have been meaning to get back to it with changes since then but so much bread, so little time.   Today, I used that bread as a starting point and tried again in the process losing all of the Russian and most of the coriander.   This is a mostly dark rye bread with some spelt and wheat flour.   It uses a dark rye sour seeded from wheat starter.   It was quite wet, so I shaped by patting and stippled instead of scored.   The crust is covered by mixed seeds - sesame, poppy, caraway, and a tiny bit of coriander.   In my original version I used molasses, honey, and oil.   I ditched all of that this time.   Dark rye has plenty of flavor without the sweeteners and I couldn't remember what the oil was for.    All in all, a tasty rich bread.



The formula

Dark Rye
























Whole Rye





Dark Rye



































Whole Rye










Dark Rye




















Seed mix





baked pounds





total grams










Build starter the day before and leave on counter for 17 hours until very holey and sour smelling.   Mix all but salt and seeds.   Autolyze for 1 hour.   Mix in salt.   Move dough to wet bowl and pat into ball.   Brush top and sides with water.   Leave on counter until it expands a fair amount but not until dough shows signs of breakdown.    This took around 2 hours.   Flip onto parchment paper - I had to use a wet wooden spatula to get it out of the bowl since the dough was so sticky.   Brush out irregularities with a wet pastry brush.   Stipple with a fork.   Sprinkle with seed mix.    Bake at 450F on stone with steam for 25 minutes, and 25 without. 

Bee18's picture

Hi everybody,
Since the buttons don't want to appear when i'm writing my posts at TFL I continue to upload photos on my blog. Sorry that you have to go there but I don't have any other choice.
To find my blog the best way is to type Bread and More Bread mock rye bread gluten free. it should bring the right page and then you will see my address
i cannot find another way to bring the right page. From there you can see all the posts I had posted from the first one about rice sourdough - may 2011. as well as all the photos of the breads I done since.

I have done a water yeast from apple sultanas and dry apricot, it very much alive, i already used a part of the water in my breads and to feed my Rice SD and my Rye SD and the growing is phenomenal.

i'm going to try and use different combinations of GL Free flours like this one that is very high protein :
1 1/4 cup of soy flour or chickpea + 1 cup of potato flour + 1 cup of Tapioca Flour + 1 cup of Brown Rice Flour.
after mixing them together you use the quantity you need in the recipe you follow.

I will post the photos and the results of all my attempt and again I invite you to find my blog and have a look.

GSnyde's picture

Since we got back from Hawaii a few weeks ago, we’ve been craving Hawaiian sweetbread.  When we were there we bought a local bakery’s cinnamon sweetbread, pull-apart buns coated with cinnamon sugar--not gooey sticky buns, just barely sinful.

When there, I tried the Hawaiian sweetbread recipe in this post (  It was very good, and totally true to the local sweetbread we’ve often enjoyed.  Very much like the “poor man’s brioche” in Reinhart’s BBA.

Today, I decided to go for Hawaiian-style cinnamon buns.  I used the same dough recipe.  I divided the dough into pieces of about 85 grams each.   I made seven of them into plain sweetbread buns without cinnamon sugar.

They are soft, tender, shreddable and delicious.  They will make good teriyaki chicken sandwiches tomorrow.

The other 12 buns were brushed with water, rolled in cinnamon-sugar, and placed in a buttered baking pan, each with a dollop of butter-cinnamon-sugar glaze on top.  They were baked at 375 F for about 25 minutes.  The glaze was too dry to run down the sides of the buns, but it makes a nice crispy sugary crust on top.

They are delicious!  And not as guilt-inducing as “real” cinnamon rolls.

Tasha, of course, snoozed through the whole thing.

Hope you all enjoyed the day the world didn’t end.



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