The Fresh Loaf

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prijicrw's picture

I used Hamelman's formula for this classic Vermont Sourdough. Used Heartland Orgranic flours that I found at Whole Foods. Dough was hand-kneaded and retarded overnight. Baked on 2 inch firebrick and covered with aluminum roasting pans ($1 at Dollor store) for first 20 mins of baking. Sorry there is no crumb shot, but trust me that it was as soft as a pillow! I attribute my success to the gentle kneading, organic flour, and aluminum covers. Enjoy!

Mebake's picture

This is yesterday's bake, a sourdough rye from Hamelman's "bread". I used dover farm organic whole rye flour, and sifted it to obtain something near to medium rye flour called for in the recipe. I followed Hamelman's instructions to the word, including the addition of yeast to the final dough. i have baked higher ryes before, so i was pretty comfortable with handeling the dough. This recipe is very easy to understand and bake, as opposed to other higher percentage ryes in hamelman's book. I used 12.9% protein strong bread flour from waitrose.

The sourdough levain was ripe in 8 hours at 26c. I chose to proof the dough seam side down in a brotform, and used a bamboo skewer to pinch holes in the batard.

This is by far the best rye i've baked. I'am now encouraged to bake this recipe again!



MadAboutB8's picture

I was still trying to use up the coconut that was approaching its use-by date. Apart from making Cherry Ripe macarson the other week, I was thinking about coconut bread.

Trying to replicate the coconut bread from an Asian bakery that we love (it's buttery bread with random moist coconut filling throughout), I was thinking about making the bread into babka-shape with the coconut butter filling. I also made half of the batch into coconut rolls baked in a muffin pan.

This might not sound like traditional babka with one layer twisted dough, coconut filling and no struesel, it probably looks like one. Babka style shaping does make the bread pleasing to the eyes.

My house were filled with the wonderful aroma of coconut when the bread was being baked. With its sweet, creamy and toasty aroma, coconut is one of the most aromatically appetising food item, in my opinion.

Full post and recipe can be found here.


gingersnapped's picture

my starter (affectionately named "dr. hip hop", which has definitely stuck) is definitely getting stronger with the twice daily feedings (have kept to co-op flour and will be moving back to bread flour today since i've run out until the weekend), although isn't really back to one hundred percent and still takes closer to 3.5 hours to double.  i have not been throwing away the extra that you scoop out of the dish -- i've been reserving and then cooking new loaves with it and running up a list of baked goods that also include starter.  it's not super strong, but i've been augmenting with some instant yeast and got great results.  i was a litlte irritated to have to do that at first, but the bread came out so great i was really excited to have made something good again.  i was just working with white flour, none of the healthy junk like i usually do, and everyone agreed that was the best :)  even me, miss weight watchers weird ingredients ancient grains only scarfed down a few white scraps when the opportunity presented itself.

questing right now to find the best white loaves.  if you google amish white bread there's a great recipe that comes up on allrecipe; that's where i subbed in the starter+yeast and it rose faster than anything i'd ever worked with before.  also used a tangzhong because i love the way the cooked gluten gets the bread so cottony.  but the perfecentages weren't quite right...trying again with another set of loaves with the same recipe but carefully noting my changes.  i reduced the oil (and subbed out half for coconut oil), upped the salt, made a smaller tangzhong so the recipe wouldn't be as wet and also mixed in 2 TB of chia seed gel (gives it a nice speckled look, plus the chia seed gel should hold in the moisture of the loaves similar to the tangzhong and give it a nice earthier flavor).  possibly it may taste to healthy.  if the dough still smells "healthy" when i go to bake it i'll coat it in melted butter, hopefully no one will notice.

i'm trying to really walk the line between good gluten development and dough that's too sticky.  too sticky/wet dough can have enough gluten development, but it's moot if you can't work with it.  the white loaves earlier couldn't really be handled, but with the reduced oil and my careful measuring and noting of the water, lessening of the tangzhong and fully incorporating the oil this time around the development was really really nice.  sticky but stretched with the consistency of a weak rubber band.

i baked up another set of loaves with a whole wheat, spelt and rye mixture.  haven't tasted it all yet -- had a really nice crusting (but not ideal, i wonder if it's possible to get such a typical artisan crust with whole wheat flour?  maybe that's another thing special to white).  this was 100% starter, and i left it out for a little less than 24 hours to proof (i haven't been able to revive a starter loaf that's gone into the fridge, and when i leave it out that long the sourdough gets SO SOUR.  it tastes like there's vinegar in the bread, but even better is that when you add a little bit of butter it tastes like cheesebread.  also my 12 hours plus work day prevents me from having too much control on rise times). 

i was happier with the crusting than the first time i almost burned the house down trying to work out the steam situation (and shocked i didn't burn myself), but the loaves were definitely too wet.  looking forward into cutting into one of them last night.  i did a tangzhong with a third of the spelt flour to see what would happen.  spelt has low gluten development so i thought super-hydrating it might be an interesting experiment.  i'm really fascinated by that particular method, especially since there's so little information available on it in english on the web.  i think it will end up with a wetter loaf/denser crumb, which with the vinegar taste is fine by me.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler


 Having recently finished a six month long baguette quest, I wanted to reflect a bit on what I've learned.  The pictures above tell the story--from my initial hamhanded attempts, through my disasterous return to using Stone-Buhr flour, through the last few weeks when everything started to come together.  Here's a few thoughts about home baguette making--perhaps they can guide anyone else foolish enough to tilt at that most challenging of home baking windmills:

  • Practice Matters: My baguette shaping and scoring skills improved mostly with time--over six months I made 81 demi-baguettes (27 batches of 3), with something like 270 slashes, making up more than 44 pounds of dough.  Mind you, this is less dough and slashes than our good TFL member Larry does in a day at his bakery job (though maybe a few more discrete baguettes, since they're smaller).  
  • Consistency Matters: All those things that you read in baking books and on this forum about getting "the feel" of the dough?  It really takes sticking with one dough for a while to get it.  Knowing that the dough remains the same takes the guesswork out of the inevitable variations in dough consistency.  I think I learned more about "feel" in the last 6 months than I did in the 2 years previous.  By the last few weeks, when the dough was unusually slack, or tight, I knew something was amiss and needed to be compensated for.  
  • Flour Matters: This one surprised me.  Certain flours seem to do better for different fermentation methods.  My old standby, Stone Buhr bread flour, performs beautifully with delayed fermentation formulas, like pain a l'ancienne.  Really, if you can find some, try it for a pain a l'ancienne or similar recipe; the flavor is amazing.  But my old standby performed terribly in a poolish.  Who knew?
  • Equipment Matters: While home bakers are limitted in their choices for the most important piece of equipment--the oven--there are a lot of small bits of equipment which are cheap and quite helpful.  I found the lame, flipping board, and linen couche that I ordered from SFBI/TMB to be invaluable in transfering and scoring my baguettes without degassing them too much.  The total cost was something like $40 for those three.
  • Everything Matters: This sounds more glib than it is.  When it comes to baguettes, all the little pieces have to fall into place.  I'd read about this before, but making them every week really brought this home.  Part of it is that the shape itself is hard to do, part of it is that the traditional scoring is even harder, but part of it is just that baguettes are less forgiving.  A slightly dense batard with slightly chewy crumb is still quite tasty, wheras a baguette, with the higher crust-to-crumb ratio, will be downright unpleasant.  Getting a baguette to have crisp crust and an open crumb requires a good bake with steam, and proper scores.  But if you don't shape it with a tight enough gluten sheath, it won't rise well, and will impossible to score.  And if you don't pre-shape properly, shaping is difficult.  And preshaping correctly requires the dough have been mixed and folded sufficiently. get the idea.  All of this is true of other shapes, of course, but the finicky baguette magnifies all flaws.

That's all I've got.  Finally, for anyone who's interested, a review of my final baguette method:


  • 150 g. bread flour
  • 150 g. water
  • .18 g. yeast

    Final Dough
  • 300 g. bread flour
  • 150 g. water
  • 1.9 g yeast
  • 9 g. salt



  1. Mix Poolish night before, let sit ~12 hours 
  2. Mix all ingredients with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes
  3. Knead on counter ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 
  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula (I actually do this on the bench with my hand, so I can oil the bowl). 
  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold
  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into ~250 g. pieces, pre-shape oblong (I do a modified version of Hamelman's pre-shaping technique for boules--fold in half, then tuck the dough into itself with the fingers. For an oblong, on the last tuck I twist my wrists inward such that it turns into a stubby torpedo shape) 
  7. Rest 10-20 minutes
  8. Shape as baguettes--I settled on the "fold over the thumb and press" technique, twice in one direction and then once in the other, sealing the last against the work surface. 
  9. Place on couche, cover with the folds
  10. Proof 1 hour, then start checking for full proof
  11. Pre-heat oven and stone to 525 degrees  (note, my oven runs at least 25 degrees colder than it says) at least 45 minutes before baking. Place two metal loaf pans in the oven on a rack below the stone.
  12. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan.  
  13. Pull the loaf pans out of the oven. Soak two towels in a bowl of very hot water (my tap water gets plenty hot), transfer to the loaf pans and put them back in the oven.
  14. Score the baguettes.  Using oven mitts, slide parchment onto stone, throw 1 cup hot water onto the oven floor lower temp to 485.  
  15. Bake 26 minutes, removing the steam pans and turning the baguettes around after 13.
  16. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door and wait 8 minutes before removing the baguettes.

 Happy baking everyone


txfarmer's picture


I have posted about how to make very soft, very fluffy, yet still bouncy sandwich breads with lots of flavor(see here). The key isn't any gimmick or special ingredient, it's intensive kneading, a full long bulk rise, and proper shaping. I have posted the windowpane picture in the earlier post, but still got some questions about it. Here I will try to describle how the dough would progress during intensive kneading:

1. Dough starts to come together, but if you pull a piece, the dough would easily tear, won't form windowpane.

2. Keep kneading, the windowpane gradually starts to form, but it's thick, and won't extend very far. If you poke and get a hole, the edge is rough.

3. keep kneading, the windowpane becomes very extensible. The windowpane is thin but very very tough to break. If you poke a hole (I actually have to use my nail), the edge is smooth.

4. Keep kneading, the windowpane becomes even thinner, more transparent, but it becomes more delicate, easier to poke holes. The edge of the hole is still smooth.

5. Keep kneading, the dough starts to break down into a puddle of mud.


Stage 3 is the "golden point" for creating sandwiches with the best texture, and highest volume. 4 is a little over, your bread will still be high and nice, bu the texture would be a bit rough.  Of course it will take a few trail and error to get to that point reliably. In addition, if you are making a sourdough version like I do here, the bulk rise would take a lot longer than the dry yeast version. During this time, the dough is still getting stronger, which means, we need to knead the dough a tiny bit less than stage 3. This time I stopped kneading probably 30secs before it reaches stage 3, and the bread I got is the softest, most shreddable, bounciest I have ever gotten.


Sourdough Incredibly soft white bread

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.

- 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, 25g

butter, 25g, softened

egg whites, 60g

salt, 3g

milk, 102g


1. mix until stage 3 of windowpane (-30sec:P)

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.

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. bake at 350F for 45min. brush with butter when warm.


Crumb shots from different parts of the bread, all very velvety soft, with no pores.


So soft that it's hard to cut, much easier to tear off pieces


Amazingly soft and flavorful


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

salma's picture

I made Essential's Columbia from my recent purchase Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America.  I liked the way it turned out and tasted with A/P, W/W, Rye, Wheat Germ. 

Still working on posting!

mse1152's picture

Greetings, bakers,

Tonight for dinner we had salad and the 'Rosettes of Venice' rolls from Carol Field's The Italian Baker.  I don't know why I never tried them before, but they were fabulous!  The recipe wants 500g of biga, and I had 486g of biga in the freezer, so I declared that was enough biga to attempt these.  They take about 5-ish hours from start to finish.  They look like hole-less bagels or kaiser rolls, but are much softer than either of those...maybe the 1/2 cup of olive oil had something to do with it.  The recipe said you should get 12 to 14 rolls, but I made only 8.  At that size, they'd make wonderful sandwich rolls, which I intend to verify tomorrow.



Soft and tasty, with just enough sugar to notice.  They're glazed with egg white, and I decided they also would benefit from a sprinkle of sesame or poppy seeds, and just enough kosher salt to give them a little bite.



To make the biga:

Mix by hand, mixer, or food processor:

1/4 tsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup plus 1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. room temp. water (weird measurement, I agree)

330g unbleached all-purpose flour

Let the yeast stand in the warm water about 10 minutes.  Add remaining water, then the flour, a cup at a time.  Rise the biga in a covered bowl at room temp. for 6 to 24 hours.  Then you can refigerate or freeze it till you need it, or you could use it immediately after it's risen, I suppose.


To make the rosettes:

1 tsp. active dry yeast

2 Tb. warm water

1/2 cup olive oil (the recipe wants 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup olive oil)

3 Tb. sugar

500g biga

300g unbleached all-purpose flour

5g salt

1 beaten egg white for glazing

Combine yeast and 2 Tb. water in a large bowl.  Let stand about 10 minutes.  Add oil, sugar, and biga.  Mix by hand or in a mixer till biga and liquids are fairly well blended.  Add flour and salt and mix or knead until dough comes together.  Knead by hand (8-10 minutes) or mixer (3-4 minutes on low speed) until dough is moist and elastic.  I used a Bosch mixer, and on low speed, the dough really didn't come together well.  After a couple of minutes, I finished kneading it by hand.

Put the dough in a bowl rise, covered with plastic or whatever.  Let rise about 2 hours, at approx. 75 degrees F.



Dump the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick (mine were thinner, maybe 1/2 inch).  Use whatever you have to cut out a circle of dough, about 3-5 inches in diameter, depending on whether you want small rolls or sandwich buns.  Here's the tricky part, so read it a few times:

Assuming you're right handed, place your left thumb at the 9 o'clock position of the dough circle, with the end of the thumb in the middle of the circle.  Use the other hand to roll the dough from the 12 o'clock position down to the thumb.  Rotate the dough clockwise until the left 'point' of the roll that you just made is at the 12 o'clock position.  Place your left thumb again at 9 o'clock and roll that section of the dough down again toward your thumb.  Rotate and repeat the rolling until you have a sort of kaiser-type of roll shape, with leaves or petals of dough on top of the roll, or whatever you can describe them as.  Press down the middle of the roll to ensure the 'leaves' stay put.  I decided that as long as the rolls weren't flat, I was in the ballpark.  I didn't take photos of this step, since, not knowing how yummy they'd be, I had no idea I'd be posting anything!

Place the rolls on a lightly oiled or parchment covered baking sheet.  Cover with plastic or a towel, and let rise till doubled, approx. 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.  In the last 15-20 minutes of the rise, turn the oven on to 400F.  When the oven is ready, brush the rolls with beaten egg white.  Add any toppings you desire.  Bake about 20 minutes.  I rotated the pan halfway through baking.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!




Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

My wife's christmas present was a baking course at the Lighthouse Bakery, a small bakery focussing on teaching and some wholesale.

We were 4 participants and made some wonderful breads out of 5 different doughs using biga, rye sourdough, sponge, poolish and pate fermentee.

The most surprising and spectacular of the breads we made was the pugliese, which is also the "signature" loaf of the Lighthouse Bakery.

Liz and Rachel, who run the bakery, are happy for the formula to be shared, so here it is:

finished loaf

This bread is made with strong flour, water, salt and yeast, and yet has a sweetish, creamy crumb. It keeps well and is still excellent as toast 4 days after baking (given it survives that long).

Here is the formula:


The biga can be stored in the fridge and keeps for a week.

Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 350 70
Fresh yeast 4 0.8

Mix and ferment at room temperature for at least 1 hour (until the yeast gets going), then put it into the fridge overnight. It will expand further, so choose an appropriate bowl.

Here a picture of the biga after 1 night in the fridge (the surface scraped off):




The given amounts make 1 loaf.

Ingredient Weight(g) Percent
Strong White Flour 500 100
Water 340 68
Biga 100 20
Salt 10 2
Fresh yeast 4.5 0.9

Mix and work the dough.

Our teachers recommend to use a mixer: 5min on medium speed and 5min on high speed.

I have no mixer; but I got great results with Bertinet's slap and fold technique.

Bulk ferment for about 3 hours (until trebled in size).

Preheat oven to 220C.

Shape into boule, be careful not to handle the dough too hard, it's quite sloppy at this stage.

Avoid using flour on the worktop.

Put the dough onto a baking parchament for the final proof (about 1 hour, check with the finger test).

Here a picture of the boule after final proof, it spreads a bit, which is not a bad thing:


Then dust it with flour and dimple it with your fingertips - a bit like captain Nemo playing the organ in his submarine.

Here is the result, ready to go into the oven:


Rather flat.

But the oven spring is quite amazing, and on the course when the oven door opened there was an astonished Ooooh in unison.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 220C without steam.

The result is the first picture in this post, here a shot of the crumb:


It needs to rest a couple of hours after baking, the taste improves a lot and you are rewarded for your patience.

I hope you enjoy making this bread as much as I do,



Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Or so it would appear.  Just look at these innocent, unbaked rolls.  See how happy they are:

And then see them after being baked:

Ahh! Demon rolls!

Just wanted to share. :)


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