The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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gcook17's picture

This just came out of the oven a few minutes ago and I thought it looked too good not to take a picture.  It's Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters.  It has two levains: a wheat and a rye.  It's not cool yet so no crumbshot.  It didn't feel over-proofed but after slashing and sliding it into the oven it seemed to get awfully flat.  It certainly sprang back though.  I made a loaf of volkornbrot that came out about 15 minutes earlier and because of the strong, sweet rye smell I didn't expect the smell of this bread to be very noticeable but its smell filled the kitchen.






breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Haven't posted in a bit and wanted to share with you something I baked for the Yelp 2nd Annual Bake-Off on Saturday, 5/15/10 in NYC.  I was up against some stiff competion with a dizzying array of sweets and savory baked goods...  I figured that I wouldn't win against those, but I took comfort that everybody went back for 2nd and 3rd helpings of my bread...

Here's what was left the Cranberry Apple Cider Bread with Walnuts that I baked:

Sorry I don't have a shot of the whole loaf...  It had this cool leaf pattern slashing...  Anyways, here's the formula below:

90% AP

10% WW

37% Water

37% Hard Apple Cider (alcoholic)

2% Kosher Salt

30% Stiff levain (60% hydration)

15% Dried Granny Smith Apples

15% Dried Cranberries

15% Toasted Walnuts

1/4 tsp instant or active dry yeast per 500g of flour


12:00pm - Peel and cut apples into 3/8" cubes, mix with a little lemon juice to prevent browning, place on parchment lined pan, dry in 250F oven for 1 hour.

3:45pm - Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl with wooden spoon, hands, cover let rest for 30 minutes.

4:30pm - Knead in fruits and nuts (no more than 1 minute), cover let rest.

5:00pm - Turn dough, cover, let rest.

5:30pm - Turn dough, cover, let rest.

6:00pm - Turn dough, cover, let rest.

6:30pm - Turn dough, cover, let rest.

7:00pm - Turn dough, cover, let rest.

8:00pm - Divide, shape, proof.  Arrange stones in oven along with steam pan.  Preheat to 500F.

9:00pm - Turn loaves out onto lightly floured peel, slash as desired, place directly onto stone, add 1 cup water to steam pan, bake for 15 minutes at 450F, rotate and bake for 50 minutes at 420F, or until internal temp reaches 205F.  Cool completely before cutting.

**Notes:  I used 1270g flour for this recipe which gave me a dough yield of about 3250g.  I divided this into 2 equal pieces and formed boules.  Your baking time may be different if you make a smaller quantity.



nicodvb's picture

Recently I received a lot of cracked rye (actually I hoped it would be a batch of rye chops, but unfortunately it's not the case...).

I put it immediately to work to prepare my preferred rye bread, something in between frisian rye and this one done from my friend Gi.


The night before I prepared a soaker with:

-320 gr of cracked rye (there are a lot of barely broken berries and some very coarse flour)

-80 gr of old bread broken dried in the fridge  and broken in the mixer

-340 gr of boiling water

mixed very well, but quickly, and left to rest in a closed plastic container enveloped in a pile.

At the same time I would have generally prepared prepared a poolish with

-200 gr of dark rye flour

-170 gr of warm water (40°C)

-10 gr of rye sourdough

but this time around I prepared (1 day in advance) a three-stage leaven as in my post of Detmolder rye. For this kind of bread a three-stage is not necessary, but I tought I should mention it for the chronicle. Total hydratation is the usual and magical 85%.


After 12 hours I mixed the two compounds and added 12 grams of salt, kneaded well and put the dough in a 12 inches plum-cake form, left to ferment for threee hours at ~28°C. This kind of douh doesn't rise a lot, generally never more than 1/3 in height, but the acidity developed will improve the flavour of the bread and protect it from molds.


I cooked the bread totally enveloped in aluminum foil (3 rounds) at 120°C for 10 hours, then I put the bread in a linen sheet and waited 2 days before cutting it.

The taste is fantastic, sweet and sour with a remarkable caramel intensity; moreover -and contrary to my previous long bakes- there's something remembering a faint taste of liquor that I never tasted before, it's totally new to me.

The crust is absent and the crumb is moist as it should be. Contrary to most my other breads it dosn't even crumble when sliced thinly.


I also noticed that when sliced in advance the taste seems to improve sooner and seems to get sweeter in shorter time. Does it make any sense?



Candango's picture

I have just finished making a loaf of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Levy's real Jewish Rye Bread", from "The Bread Bible."  I had made variations of her formula noted in other blogs and only recently obtained a copy of the book which has her original recipe.  With all the waiting (autolyses) and rising times, this bread was almost a 24 hour project.  I started the sponge at about 3 pm yesterday and took the finished loaf out of the oven at 3 pm today.  It has now cooled and I sliced it in order to give half to friends.  As I don't have a cloche, I shaped the dough into a batard and gave it "spiral" slashes.  It worked.  I know I should have weighed the ingredients but last night and this morning I used measuring cups for the flour and liquid.  I will have to try this again using the scale, as Rose says that the finished dough should weigh about 965 grams and mine weighed in at 860, about 3 oz. lighter.  Because of this, I shortened the baking time just a bit.  The crust came out a nice golden brown, and the crumb is "rye bread dense" without being pasty.  (I cut off the heel on one side and tried it with butter.  Yum.)  I will do this one again.


I just tried to insert two photos of the crust and the crumb and seemed to run into a problem.  The site replied that the max size is 600 x 800 and that my files were too large.  Can anyone help?  Thanks in advance.  Candango

jsk's picture

A few nights ago I made the rye with sunflower seeds from Hamelman's "Bread". Its is a 33% rye with 80% hydration (the rye includes a cracked rye soaker). The day I made the dough I immediately saw it was very very wet but I let it work in the mixer so I let it work in the mixer for 10-12 minutes instead of the 5 that Hamelman says. A huge mistake! The dough was over kneaded and like over kneaded rye dough, it went from wet and sticky to extremly wet and sticky! Anyway' I adedd a bit more flour and let it ferment for about 30 minutes then I folded the dough (another mistake) and let it ferment for half an hour more.

Eventually I manage to shape it int two nice batards and proofed and baked as written in the book.

The results were good after all. The crumb was not as open as I hoped so but it was very light and had a great bite to it due to the seeds and the cracked rye. The bread had a wonderful taste to it with a slight tang and some sweetness as well. Here are some photos:

And the crumb:


I have some experience with rye but still, I have much to learn. If I learned something from this baking is not to over knead rye doughs, not to fold them and to be gentle when handling them. Does anyone from you rye experts have other tips about handling rye? I'm sure a lot of members here would be glad to learn from your experience.

Happy baking to all of you!


Mebake's picture

This is a late 50% Wholewheat loaf i made:


Happy Healthy Baking!


earth3rd's picture

This is my first attempt at the bread recipe in Lesson #3 on this site:

I was running out of time however and cheated a little, by raising the final dough in the oven to speed things up a little. I managed to reduce the time from 90 minutes to 60 minutes on the first and final rise. I didn't use any type of wash on this loaf as I wanted the crust as crunchy as possible. I did put a pan in the oven and set the oven up to 500F. I placed one cup of ice cubes into the tray just at the same time I put the bread in the oven. I reduced the heat from 500F to 400F after 4 minutes and the loaf went 40 minutes with one rotation in the middle. I did have one minor problem however, I put clingrap over the shaped loaf for the final rise and it stuck on there pretty good. I everso gently worked it off the loaf trying so hard not to push any of the air out of it. It worked out pretty good in the end though. Not a lot of oven rise but none the less my best loaf to date. One last thing to say... my slash was a little wrecked but it didn't look to bad.

The bread came out fantastic. I'm in heaven, thank you all... as this is where I learned how to do it. I've made simular recipes in the past but not as good as this one with the pre-ferment. The crust was a little crunchy and chewy and the flavour was perfect. I'm so happy.

Here are a couple of pictures.


Lesson #3 - crumb shot

suzanne pepin's picture
suzanne pepin

Ok, this is my first entry into my personal blog and hopefully not my last one (excuse my syntaxe as French is my first language...).

It has been a long journey into trials and errors, but I kept my passion for making the perfect sourdough bread and today, I believe I have achieved the beginning of the perfect sourdough loaf, for myself anyway.

So here it is... I follow these instructions from Susan from San diego, up to the 'T' without changing a thing.  Et voilà, my perfect sourdough bread is borned.

It was made with my homemade starter 'Bécacine', borned May 05 2010.  The smell of sourdough is very present and I am so pleased with the easiness of this method.  For baking, I used the method 'Roasting lid' because this method seems to work the best for my condition at the moment : living 6,000 feet above the sea level in high altitude, in central Mexico, and I have to make breads with what I have around me and not always run to the store, which is pratically, non-existant here. 

For the colander, I replaced it with a straw bowl for tortilla, well floured, and cover with a coton dish towel, it worked like a charm. I don't have a pizza stone so I used the back of my cast iron pot to deposit the bread to be on it.  It did the job also.

Now, my big problem was to understand the process because here, everything with yeast in it will raise very quickly but also go down very fast because of the altitude, some days are better than others...  So the manipulation of the dough had to be restricted to a minimum and had to be studied closely to know the right time to move it.

It has been a long journey since May 05.  This bread is my 13th bread.  All the others ended up in the field for the birds, the snakes, black widow, scorpions, fire ants, etc... around me.  I could have kept them for building a wall of brick actually.

So it shows that it is not only a recipe that makes the perfect dish, it is the 'knowing how to cook, bake' that makes the difference, the location we live also and the passion for it.

DonD's picture


In my last post, I wrote about the classic Pane Casareccio di Genzano that I had made for the first time using the formulation in Daniel Leader's 'Local Breads' book. I was pleased with the result so this past weekend I decided to try the Whole Wheat version of the same bread.

For the Biga Naturale, I used my white flour liquid levain with KA Bread Flour. For the dough, I used 50% KA Bread Flour, 44% BRM White Whole Wheat Flour and 6% BRM Dark Rye Flour. This is a high hydration dough and by my calculation, the final dough was a whopping 80% although I was surprised at how malleable it was. I did not follow the intensive mix recommended by Leader but instead used a 30 minutes Autolyse followed by gentle kneading with a dough hook and room temperature fermentation with 4 sets of stretch and fold in the bowl and one final full stretch and fold on the bench.

I shaped and proofed in a lined banneton for 1 hour before baking at 450 degrees F with steam for 15 minutes and 20 minutes at 400 degrees F without steam on convection.

The loaf had good oven spring but not as spectacular as the white flour version. Because of the elevated hydration, the scoring cuts were not very pronounced.

The crust was a rich amber color and the top was coated with browned shavings of wheat bran. It was medium thick and had nice crunchiness.

The crumb was cream color with translucent gelatinization and irregular air holes and was tender with just a touch of chewiness. The taste was bolder and more rustic than the white wheat version with a slight bitterness from the toasted bran. The crumb had less sweetness but more whole grain taste and just a slight hint of tanginess from the levain. All in all a very satisfying and comforting bread but not as elegant as its more refined version.

Happy Baking!


hansjoakim's picture

Last week I've been enjoying a variation of the pain au levain I blogged about in my previous post - I'm really loving the bite the breads get by the rye sourdough. For the loaf pictured below, I raised the whole-grain amount slightly and added a healthy dose of walnuts. I'm such a sucker for walnuts; only bad thing about them is that they're not a "local food" around these parts. The ones I find in the stores are pricey and have travelled all the way from California... Still my favourite nuts, though. Here's a link to the recipe, and here's the loaf:

Walnut levain

...and here's the crumb:

Walnut levain crumb

A delicious bread!


I also baked a batch of croissants this weekend. I'm not sure exactly what beats the smell of croissants baking...

I split the dough in two after rolling it out, and used one half to make large-ish croissants and the other half to make smaller, regular sized croissants. Photo below:


And here's the crumb shot:

Croissant crumb

I was really happy to see how they turned out - probably my best batch so far! One of these with a cup of freshly brewed coffee makes the morning routine bearable :)


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