The Fresh Loaf

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Floydm's picture

I made a potato bread today, using Dan Lepard's recipe from The Art of Handmade Bread (AKA The Handmade Loaf) as the basis and tweaking it a bit.  If memory serves me right, I used:

300 grams water

200 grams mashed potatoes

500 grams bread flour

1 tablespoon sourdough starter (cold from the fridge)

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

I gave it quite a while, 10 minutes or so, in the mixer, then let it rise slowly most of the day, folding it a couple of times when I noticed it cresting over the edge of the bowl..  I shaped it an hour or so before I wanted to bake it, then baked it with steam at 465 for 15 minutes then 400 or so for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Potato Bread

Potato Bread

It has a relatively tight crumb but is really nice and soft.  I'm thinking I may make this as rolls for my Thanksgiving day feast this year.

My kids and I also made fresh butter in Mason jars as discussed here

Bread and butter

The kids had a blast dancing around the living room shaking the jars (we put some music on) and the butter was truly delicious.  It is well worth the effort!

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

After many months of studying other's attempts, I finally baked this bread. I apologize for not including a picture. I followed the formula to the letter, had a bit extra to put in a loaf pan, which I froze for my next batch. Overall, I'm very pleased with my first attempt. It came out beautifully dark, nearly black. The crumb is dense but chewy, very complex in flavor despite the absence of spices. I love the whole rye berries. I think the crust is a little too tough, perhaps I overcooked? At 12 hours, there was still some steam and moisture so I continued until 14 hours at 225, perhaps next time I will stop at 12. This is a keeper recipe. I don't see the need to bake this as a pudding, I think covered at 225 for 12 hours with plenty of hydration that it does just fine. I do need to keep practicing to perfect it though, for now I prefer Mini's Favorite Rye over this formula.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, this week was a little disappointing one in baguette land.

I only made two seemingly minor (intentional) changes from last week:  First, I endeavored to proof until the baguettes "felt ready" (about 65 minutes this week), rather than waiting for a 75 minute proof.  That I think went well.  Second, I switched from KA Bread Flour to Stone Buhr White Bread Flour.  I generally prefer the Stone-Buhr, but my local grocery stores stopped stocking it.  Last week,  all of a sudden Save-Mart had a small supply with a "Close-Out" price-tag, and I snapped up 3 bags while I had the chance.  In the past, I've gotten much more sweet, nutty wheat flavor out of the Stone-Buhr in breads that rely heavily on the flour for flavor, such as baguettes. In particular, Stone-Buhr gave better results than the KA, Gold Medal, or the Sunny-Select store brand with Peter Reinhart's formula for pain a l'ancienne, which I used to make pretty frequently.  For several editions of my weekly baguette quest, when I've liked the shape and scoring, but not the flavor, I've wondered if a little Stone-Buhr would fix everything.

Anyway, the big problem this week is that the poolish over-proofed after only 10 hours on my counter--I could smell the booziness of it but forged ahead, and ended up with somewhat pale, chewy bread. Ah well. The big question is this: why did it overproof so fast?  I have a few potential theories:

  1. The flour is to blame: Perhaps Stone Buhr has more free sugars, which explains my experience of great flavor, and a fast proof.

  2. The yeast is to blame: I may have over-yeasted the poolish.  I've been trying to approximate 1/16 teaspoon of yeast by half-filling a 1/8 teaspoon measure, and it isn't easy.

  3. My apartment is to blame: The apartment was a bit warmer than usual Saturday morning when I took temperatures in order to figure out the right water temp.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, here are the results.  Only two baguettes are pictured because I sent one home with my parents (who had stopped by to see their grand-daughter) prior to taking a picture.  Take my word for it that baguette #3 looked much like #1 and #2.




Crust was pale, and very tough and chewy.  Scoring placement was pretty good, although I'm thinking part of the problem is that I'm not scoring deep enough.  Crumb was moderately open, but oddly dry.  Flavor wasn't too bad despite all that.

At least I had more luck with my Sunday bake, a rendition of dmsnyder's lovely San Joaquin Sourdough.  Haven't sampled the inside, but the outsides look nice and they smell phenomenal.  Still, for a picture I decided they needed a cute-ness enhancer.


hmcinorganic's picture

Made the old standby again.  I really love this bread.  I have a question though.  First, the recipe:

9 oz starter (100% hydration)

9 oz whole wheat flour

9 oz white flour

9 oz bread flour

18 oz water

1 T salt

I mixed it all in my KA for about 5 minutes, then did 2 stretch and folds over an hour.  The dough was VERY wet so I folded in about 1/8 cup flour.  It retarded overnight in the fridge, then one more stretch and fold, divide, preshape.  Rest and rise for about an hour.  Then shaped and pulled taut.

Cooked with steam in a 450 °F oven for 35-40 minutes.  It had good oven spring, and looks GREAT.

Here is my question:

my bread is pretty flat before I put it in the oven.  It doesn't hold its shape while rising.  Maybe I shouldn't worry about it, but would slightly drier dough help here?  my dough is very wet, but it usually tastes great.  Any thoughts?  I supposed I could rise it upside down in a towel-lined-flour-covered bowl or wicker basket.  But I don't have 2...

dmsnyder's picture

The recent discussions regarding baking breads in hot versus cold Dutch ovens - those from "Tartine Bread" in particular - prompted today's experiment.

I made two boules of the Country Rye from "Tartine Bread." One I baked starting in a room temperature enameled cast iron Dutch oven. The other I baked in the same Dutch oven, pre-heated. The breads were identical in weight. They were cold retarded overnight in bannetons and then proofed at room temperature for 2 hours before the first bake. The loaf baked in the pre-heated dutch oven proofed for 45 minutes longer, while the other loaf was baking. The second loaf was baked for 7 minutes longer than the first loaf, to get a darker crust.

Boule baked in cool Dutch oven on the left. Boule baked in pre-heated Dutch oven on the right.

In spite of the fact that the loaf baked first was relatively under-proofed, the loaf baked second, in a pre-heated Dutch oven, got slightly better bloom and oven spring. I won't be slicing these until next week. They are for my Thanksgiving guests. So, I don't know if there is any difference in the crumb structure.

Overall, I'm happy with both loaves. The differences are very small - arguably of no significance. While pre-heating the Dutch oven does appear to result in slightly better oven spring, the convenience of not having to pre-heat the Dutch oven may be more advantageous for many bakers.

Addendum: Okay. So, I'm weak. I had to try the bread, since it was the firs time I'd baked it.

The crust is crunchy-chewy. The crumb is less open than the "Basic Country Bread," as expected. The 17% (by Robertson's way of doing baker's math) whole rye does make a difference. The crumb is very cool and tender. The aroma is rather sour, but the flavor is less so. The surprise was the prominent whole wheat flavor tone, even though all the WW is in the levain, and it only amounts to 50 g out of a total of 1100 g (my way of doing baker's math). I expect the flavors to meld by breakfast time tomorrow. I think this will make great toast with Almond butter and apricot preserves.

Country Rye, cut loaf

Country rye, crumb


Submitted to YeastSpotting

manicbovine's picture

This bread is a variation of a recipe for Dinkelvollkornbrot by Nils' from Ye Olde Bread Blogge. The original recipe, found in his excellent book, calls entirely for spelt. I've made quite a few recipes from this book and each has been extraordinary. Nils' formula produces a moist bread with mildly sour undertones. I enjoyed it with cucumber sandwiches and also with a thin smear of plum butter. The formula needs no modification, and I wouldn't have bothered if I hadn't run out of spelt meal.

My goal was to make a more assertive bread without compromising all of the original's pleasant qualities. My variation is to omit yeast, use blackstrap molasses, use extra water, and use rye meal. I actually made this bread twice. The extra water necessitated a longer baking time, but I underestimated the first time and ended up with a rather gummy center. In addition to giving it a longer bake at a lower temperature, I let it rest for an additional 12 hours before slicing. These simple steps cured the gummy center.

Formula - Sunflower Seed Spelt 


Spelt Sour

  • 75g whole-spelt flour

  • 45g water

  • 1 tsp mature 100% rye sourdough


  • 75g sunflower seeds

  • 25g flaxseeds

  • 150g rye meal

  • 340g water


Final Dough

  • 170g whole-spelt flour

  • 130g water

  • 15g Blackstrap molasses

  • 10g salt



  • Prepare the soaker and spelt sour, let sit for 15-20 hours. 

  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and knead lightly in bowl for around 5 minutes, or until gluten from spelt develops.

  • Bulk rise for around 2 hours, pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment, and proof for an addition 1-2 hours.

  • Bake under normal steam at 450F for 5 minutes, reduce to 400F for 20 minutes, and finish off at 375F for 55 minutes. Wrap tightly in cloth towels and let cool for 36 hours before slicing.

Nils' recipe calls for yeast, which I omitted. My rye starter is not as happy to feed on spelt, so my rising times were probably a little longer than what I've indicated above.

This bread was excellent with Turkey, cream cheese, sprouts, and cranberry sauce. (Vegan versions for me, but I'm sure it's just as good with the regular stuff).


This is a poor picture due to sloppy slicing and a bum exposure. The crumb is actually denser than the photo would indicate.

Sunflower Spelt


overnight baker's picture
overnight baker

When I was working part time looking for a job I found bread baking to be a fulfilling enjoyable part of my day to look forward to. Since starting work full time as a teacher however my bread baking has dropped to zero as lesson planning has taken up more and more time. Then a couple of weeks ago I found out I would be teaching microbes to year 8's (~12 years of age), so I couldn't resist the chance to combine something I love with what should hopefully be a good way to teach some of the topic.

For just over a weeks time I have booked out a food technology lab for 1:40 minutes and I'm looking for a good bread recipe to go from separate ingredients to finished loaf/rolls in this time (ideally one and a half hours but I know I'm pushing it). Has anyone ever done this before or can anyone point me in the right direction for an appropriate recipe?

N.B. My students will have access to fairly good ovens, parchment covered trays and mixing bowls. I'm looking for a fairly simple wheatflour and dried yeast style recipe but one that can be individualised so the small groups they are working in can choose to either make individual rolls or club together to make a big loaf. However any suggestions that people have will be greatfully received.

louie brown's picture
louie brown

Having been through a series of bakes with the basic Tartine loaf, I thought the right balance would be to go over to Hamelman for something. I chose the Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain because it seemed like a nice alternative to the white flour/open crumb quest of my recent Tartine baking.


Hamelman is a very good teacher and there are multiple useful lessons in this bread, as throughout his book. While I think of Tartine as a storybook, I view Hamelman as a textbook. He points out that the greater percentage of prefermented flour, and the whole grain, in this case dark rye, will contribute to a tightening of the gluten, as well as a somewhat tangier (and richer) taste. He advises the baker not to expect an open crumb, nor the kind of volume that would result from using white flour alone and less prefermented flour. He is right on both counts, although I have no problem with the profile of this loaf.


I made the first loaf pictured straight through, fermenting and proofing on the bench. It was baked under a bowl, and with a roasting pan beneath, into which a preheated brick and two towels had been placed, and boiling water poured over. The second was retarded overnight in the fridge and baked with the same steam setup, but without the bowl. The brick-plus-towels idea gives good steam throughout the first 15 minutes, even without microwaving. The excellent oven spring from this method is apparent in a couple of the pictures.


Since I changed more than one variable, I can't be sure if the superior crumb in the second loaf is from the scoring pattern, or the absence of the bowl or the retarding. The loaf from the fridge is just slightly more tangy. Both have a nice contrast of the crunch of the crust with the smooth, rich mouthfeel of the crumb. This is a god bread with good lessons from a good teacher.


Anyway, here they are. This is a delicious variation on his straight Vermont Sourdough, which is high on my list after having seen Wally's unbeiievable crumb.








longhorn's picture

In my initial efforts at the Tartine Country loaf I mostly followed Robertson's process except that I used a cloche instead of the cast iron cooker. In my first attempt I found the 77 percent hydration dough a bit and troublesome. Ditto my second effort at 75 percent. For this third effort I decided to blend the Tartine method with my own and to drop the hydration to 70 percent. I am sharing my observations in hope that some of you on the site will find them useful.

My first comment has to involve the hand mixing. After years of avoiding hand mixing as messy, the Tartine book pushed my over the edge and I know prefer hand mixing. There is magic in feeling the dough change character as you add the final water and salt. And, while the initial mix remains messy it is amazing how well the dough behaves after the first few turns and how well developed the dough becomes using the multiple stretch and fold processes endorsed by Robertson.

My SD starter is not very sour so I feel no need to use the high expansion ratio used at Tartine. I began with 100 grams of 100% starter and added 100 grams of WW and 100 grams of KA AP and 200 grams of water and let it sit on the counter overnight. Next morning I added 150 grams of WW, 1070 of KA AP, and 780 of water. From there I did S&F every half hour for two hours. I formed the boules at 2 1/2 hours and gave them a half hour rest. Then final forming and into bannetons. At 70% the dough at forming was very well behaved and only minimally sticky. I began baking them in cloches three hours after placing them in the bannetons in two batches so two loaves are more underproofed.

Due to sticking issues with alder in previous Tartine batches I had decided to try both alder and plastic bannetons. With the drier dough, neither presented any sticking problems. They did, however yield somewhat different looking results as shown in the photographs. I heated the cloches to 500 degrees F and measured the temperture of the cloches at 485 to 495 with my infrared thermometer. Baking time was 20 minutes with the lid on and 25 minutes uncovered at 450 degrees. The lids were held in a second oven at 500 during the uncovered baking and the bases were recharged at 500 before baking the second set of loaves.

The four loaves. The two on the left were done in alder bannetons, the ones on the right in plastic. The loaves on the left received about one hour less proofing than the ones on the right. The underproofing is visible in the oven spring.


The plastic bannetons require (and hold) less flour so the loaves are darker. 


The alder bannetons hold more flour and yield a more dramatic effect. The impact of underproofing on oven spring is clearly evident.

Three of the loaves were used at a party. I hope to get a crumb shot of the fourth to share in a later email. The crumb was significantly less open than the 77 and 75 percent hydration loaves. However, the crumb was certainly not "dense". All in all a very pleasing result.

Here is the belated crumb shot!



GSnyde's picture

I seem to be developing a pattern for my weekend bakes: one lean bread and one hearty rich something-or-other. Today it was Polish Country Bread with Rye Soaker and Chicken Pot Pie. Both were excellent (yes, I do say so myself) and both owe much to my TFL mentors.

The big excitement this weekend was stopping at Keith Giusto’s Bakery Supply in Petaluma and scoring some wicked flour (


Then, of course, I had to try it.

Polish Country Bread with Rye Soaker


I have baked several breads with a portion of whole Rye flour. In fact most of my favorite sourdoughs have some rye, including Brother David’s much heralded San Joaquin Sourdough and my San Francisco Country Sourdough. I do plan to try a “real” Rye bread at some point soon. Meanwhile, I was intrigued by Wally’s blog post about Polish Country Bread with a Rye soaker ( I mostly followed Larry’s formula, but I increased the Rye to 20% by increasing the soaker to 110 grams of Rye flour and 220 grams of water; accordingly, I reduced the water in the final mix. Also, in place of the Sir Galahad, I had to use the Central Milling Co.’s Artisan Bakers’ Craft flour (with a touch of malted Barley flour in it) that I got yesterday at Keith Giusto’s Bakery Supply. This bread gave me a chance to experience some of the characteristics of Rye flour while baking something in my comfort zone.

The night-before prep of soaker and two levains went fine, but I found the dough very hard to mix by hand this morning. It started out lumpish and stiff. I added a small amount of additional water. Then after 10 minutes of bare hands mixing it became as sticky as anything I’ve worked. Finally, with several minutes of kneading on a floured board, it started to get silky and workable, though still pretty dense. It didn’t really windowpane, but I decided it was ready because I had had enough mixing and needed my cappuccino. The dough became much more cooperative as it got stretched and folded during the bulk ferment. It was still not easily malleable, but it felt like bread dough. This experience helped persuade me that I might need to get a mixer for firm doughs and big batches. I look forward to seeing David’s BUP in action next weekend.

The two loaves, one boule and one batard, rose nicely in their bannetons, and I could tell when I slashed them that they were just ready for some baking. Indeed, they sproinged like crazy in an oven steamed with a combo of Sylvia’s Magic Towels and a cast iron skillet with lava rocks. The crust was crispy and fairly thick, with strong caramelization (not as dark as the photos indicate). And I don’t believe I’ve had such big grignes before. And since I pre-heated the stone for over an hour on convection setting, the bottoms were nice and brown.



The crumb was not as moist as the Pain de Campagne I’ve baked recently, but it was a nice combination of airy and chewy.



Chicken Pot Pie

When I was a boy in the Old Country, we had a unique dining establishment called The Chicken Pie Shop. Its décor featured 1950s old growth naugahyde booths (in a variety of green tones) with pastel sheet metal chicken sculptures on the walls. It served chicken pies and little else. I describe it in the past tense (though the place is still there) because the memories are more real than the present. For much of my short adult life, I have been trying to replicate those pies—flaky crust with big chunks of chicken and a simple thick Chickeny gravy.

A couple years ago, I found a recipe that is pretty dang close ( I have made it several times, using Pillsbury pie crust dough. Having drooled over trailrunner’s Apple Crostada recipe (, I decided I needed to bite the bullet and make pie crust for the first time (I know, I have big gaps in my culinary experience…but at least I’m trying to fill them). My wife knows a lot more about pie making than I do, having lived for part of her youth with her expert-baker granny. So she (wife, not her granny) helped me with the crust. It seemed to be going well, though I think we added too much buttermilk, and overhandled it a bit. It was good tasting but not flaky. Not bad for a first try. It made for a delicious dinner, and a valuable pie crust lesson.

The chicken pie has about one-third of a pound of butter in it, between the crust and the gravy. But, as my spouse says, it has some vegetables, so it's good for us.


Another bunch of lessons learned, and the homework was good enough to eat.



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