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Shiao-Ping's picture

With this basket of assorted pure rye breads I wish to tantalize your taste buds and tease you with these pure sourdough rye: 



                                                                      Assorted pure rye breads

Centre bottom: Sour Rye, year 1939 (recipe from Mariana-aga's most informative and beautiful post on Russian rye here)

Right: Jan Hedh's Sour 100% Rye Bread (recipe from Dan Lepard's The handmade loaf, page 31) 

Top: Detmolder Three-Stage 90% Sourdough Rye (recipe from Hamelman's Bread, page 201)


Like most Asians, I have not grown up with rye, an acquired taste, many would admit.  I am from an area of the Chinese world where "fish and rice, and other luscious colors of food exist," as the saying goes.  My parents would think very little of rye.  You may have already been a convert but it took me a lot of efforts.  As Dan Lepard says of rye bread, "What was once the bread of the poor has become the staple of the rich man's table" (The handmande loaf, page 66), I am excited that finally I have had a glimpse into what some bakers are passionate about.  I hope that, with the following photos taken from my kitchen table, you will share my enthusiasm.



                             A close-up shot of Sour Rye, year 1939, a lot of soul....  I must be imagining.


(1) Sour Rye, year 1939, from Mariana-aga's blog post here.

  • 350 g ripe 100%-hydration rye levain

  • 420 g medium rye flour

  • 308 warm water

  • 14 g salt

  1. Rye starter: 83% baker's percentage

  2. Prefermented flour: 29% of total flour

  3. Overall hydration: 81%

  4. Fermentation: 2 hours bulk + 35 - 50 minutes proof

  5. Total dough weight: 1,090 grams

Refer to Mariana-aga's link above for method.   I used Google to translate Russian to English.  The translation does not always make sense, but does the job alright.  Where you find gaps, you can fill them in with your own imaginations. 


The instruction says you smooth out the surface of the dough with wet fingers "frequently."  Whenever I saw "cracks" developing on the crust, I smoothed them out with wet fingers and/or my plastic scraper dipped in water.  I ended up doing this every 20 minutes or so throughout the fermentation.  I covered the dough with a big roasting pan.




The style of this bread is unlike anything I've made before.  I asked my son how he liked the bread in the picture.  Instead of saying he finds it unattractive, he politely asked where I got this strange looking basket.  I said from a garden and plants nursery.  I used to do a lot of flower arrangements and I have my fair share of strange looking vessels. 





A mate of my husbands, who comes regularly for morning coffee, was here the day before yesterday when I was slicing this bread after it had rested for 24 hours.  The first thing he said after having a piece was, "This sourdough rye is sour and tangy!"  AND, he liked it very much.   I had a couple of thin slices myself with butter.  Very tasty and moist.  I surprised myself.  It is medium strength sourness, very pleasant.   I think that the flavourfulness comes through in the crumb shots above and below quite well.   



I like this bread the most out of the three pure rye breads pictured in the basket above.  The reason why this is so is because this bread was the last one out of more than half a dozen pure rye breads that I made over the last two weeks - my rye starter up to that point was full of vigour and had developed a lot of flavors when I used it to make the bread.


(2) Jan Hedh's Sour 100% Rye Bread, from Dan Lepard's The handmade loaf, page 31. 

  1. Rye starter: 67% baker's percentage

  2. Prefermented flour: 35% of total flour

  3. Overall hydration: 85%

  4. Fermentation: no bulk + 5 hours proof

  5. Total dough weight: 850 grams

According to Dan Lepard, Jan Hedh has inspired the new generation of artisan bakers in Sweden.  Dan's book has lots of wonderful formulas and stories, but the book's unassuming appearance and colorful pictures are perhaps too easy going for the serious home bakers.  I don't seem to see a lot of his recipes being used here.  I find his book a seriously good book. 




This formula is interesting in that it uses a gelatinized rye mix (4 parts boiling water to 1 part rye flour).  Not just it gives elasticity to the crumb, it also makes the bread very moist and as a result, the bread has even a better keeping quality than the other two breads.  Chinese use a similar gelatinized flour mix called "65 degree C dough" with similar flour to hot water ratio and for similar purposes.




(Note: the above two shots were taken at night time.  The reddish tone is due to the yellow spot light in my kitchen and is not reflective of the real color.) 


(3) Detmolder Three-Stage 90% Sourdough Rye, from Hamelman's Bread, page 201.

  1. Rye starter: 119% baker's percentage

  2. Prefermented flour: 38% of total flour

  3. Overall hydration: 79%

  4. Fermentation: 20 minutes bulk + 1 hour proof

  5. Total dough weight: 1,640 grams






This was my second try on the Detmolder formula. 






My Detmolder sour rye was made before the first two breads in this post above and is not as tasty as those two breads.  One possible explanation is that my rye starter used in this bread was not as robust to start with. 

Two days after I made this Detmolder bread, I made it again - my third try in five days.  Talk about a keen baker!  I did it again not because I wanted to see how I could improve on this bread, but more because I wanted to keep feeding my rye levain and I didn't want to throw the excess out.  You wouldn't believe what happened - as I tried to turn the proved dough onto my peel, half of the dough fell out while the other half stuck to the banneton.  A disaster!  I told myself, Calm Down.  I gathered the dough fragments together, reshaped it, and put it back to the banneton.  An hour later, when I tried to turn it out again, the exact same thing happened!  At that point I was in two minds about whether I chuck it or bake it.  In the end I decided that either way it is a goner, and so why not do an experiment with it and watch the show.  I recalculated my ratios and added some more water to change the dough to a 100%-hydration dough.  I put it into a loaf tin this time.  I wanted to see what would happen to the dough with this much hydration and supported by a loaf tin.  Well, I had the most spectacular oven spring ever with pure rye dough (well, 90%, almost pure)!    



      Detmolder 90% Rye @100% hydration and 6 hr fermentation (not pictured in the bread basket above)  


By the time the dough was in the oven, what was supposed to be fermented for only one hour and 20 minutes had gone through a six-hour fermentation.  I was amazed at the amount of oven spring.  I am sure this has to do with the 100% hydration.  It had risen about 30% before it went into the oven, then in the oven it rose another 70 - 80%.  The crumb was quite open - you cannot not have an open cell structure with this much oven spring.  The gumminess on the top and bottom edges of the slice pictured below is the "starch attack" due to excessive amylase activity that caused the break down of the dough structure during the bake, I guess.



The dark, almost chocolate, color in the crumb is natural.  It is achieved through the long fermentation.  I haven't seen a natural dark rye color like this before!    

And the taste?  Well, unpleasant, to say the least!  It has a pungent pickled sour taste, almost like when the pickle is off.  Neverthelss, this experiment has got me excited about an idea for my next pure rye bread experiment along these lines: 

  1. 30% prefermented flour

  2. Rye starter 80% bakers percentage

  3. 100% overall dough hydration

  4. 3 hours (or shorter) fermentation, assisted with, say, 05% IDY


To recap: the 1939 Sour Rye is the most flavorful because the rye starter was at its best condition when the dough was mixed and also because I took more care with the dough.   Jan Hedh's Sour Rye is the most moist because of the gelatinized rye mix that is incorporated in the dough.  Overall, I like all three breads pictured in the basket above.  

I have but one complaint:  that their crusts are too tough to cut; you need a chain sword to slice the bread.  The tough crusts are a result of the long bake which I am told that you need for this particular type of flour.  The average baking time for a 1 kg dough according to both Mariana-aga and Hamelman is one hour at initial high heat of 250 - 260 C for 10 - 15 minutes, then gradually lowering the heat to 200 - 210C.  My Thiezac pure rye bread, on the other hand, was 1.8 kg and I baked it for only one hour and it was perfectly cooked.  So I don't know.  The Thiezac bread was far easier to slice. 

I am ending this post with another bread basket but this time with the breads all wrapped up in thick tea towels:




I am going to enjoy these three breads over the next week or two and observe the changes in tastes and flavors.  Rye enthusiasts would be familiar with Hamelman's story where, as a young man in the 1970s, hiking the Long Trail through Vermont, he picked up the last of his food provision from a post office, a five-week old Detmolder Three-Stage 90% Sourdough Rye where the bread still "had a crisp tang, a moist crumb, delicious flavor, and not a hint of mold."  How extraordinary is that!  I am not sure mine would stay like that after one week, or, rather, are like that to begin with, let alone after five weeks! 



Yippee's picture

Like a child, I was eagerly waiting for my Christmas gifts last year.  Instead of Santa, it was my hubby who delivered them.  The first gift was a homemade proofer based on SteveB's brilliant design with some enhancements. The few modifications my husband made were using three storage bins, instead of one, to enhance insulation and using digital thermometer(s) for easier reading and monitoring.

I had been longing to own such an awesome tool.  However, I'd been very reluctant to enter the workshop in the garage because it's really not my department and things there are so unfamiliar to me. Therefore, when my husband volunteered to build it for me, I accepted the offer with great delight.  As part of the Christmas package, he also extended the stones in the oven to the full length of the racks. His thoughts were surely heartwarming and these gifts were the highlights of my holiday season.

I first revisited my sourdough pain de mie to test my new proofer.  I monitored the dough temperature during mixing so that results could be more predictable.  With the proofer set at 86F and 96F respectively, it took 3 hours for bulk fermentation and 2.5 hours for final proof. I felt very comfortable that I had complete control of all the procedures from mixing to final proof, and without the hassle of folding dough and checking temperatures back and forth.  In addition to the 1-hour-autolyse and brief mixing combination I learned previously, this device has brought me more peace in bread making.  

I was quite satisfied with the crumb texture, which I'll share a few shots today.  However, a third trial is probably needed to fine tune the weight of ingredients and oven temperature before this formula can be finalized.  

Next, I used this new tool to make homemade yogurt, which I gave up in the past because the results were less than satisfactory and the procedures required to maintain an optimum temperature for the culture were giving me headaches.  With my new toy, all of these have become history. I've accomplished the best results ever with the least effort this time. 

This tool is another indispensable addition to my gear. I'm sure I'll put it to good use in the future.  Thank you, SteveB, for sharing your design with us and thank you, honey, for supporting my new hobby. 

Here are some pictures:

Homemade proofer

Sourdough pain de mie crumb shots

Homemade yogurt by new proofer


Floydm's picture

Thank you to the many TFL community members who have shown support for Mercy Corps' response to the disaster in Haiti.  Your support means a great deal to me. 

Overall we've had tremendous support from donors on this one.  It you hit today you'll see they are listing us as the preferred charity.

On another note: remember how I was saying TFL was exactly 5 years old yesterday?  Some members contacted me about having a hard time reaching the site this morning.  Guess how long I registered the domain "" for?  5 years.  Can you figure out who forgot to renew their domain?  Geez, what a dumb thing to do.  Happily no one snatched it up and the domain has been renewed, so should be safe for another five years.

ElbaLiz's picture

I am interested in baking and selling bread from my home.  I still have to work at a job that pays the bills, so this will "ease" me into retirement!  Bread baking is my passion.  I have given away more loaves than Jesus at the wedding!  I am thinking of operating similar to the Amish near me, they bake on Fri. & Sat.  I know how to bake everything from Jim Lahey's no-knead to grinding my own grains for breads.  I think I would have to limit my customers and the different kinds of bread I bake.  What area the pitfalls?  Any thoughts on this would be really cool!  Thanks so much...

wakeandbake's picture

Well, I'm just about to pull my first loaves of Marble Rye out of the oven! :) I can't wait to taste it.  Recipe to follow.


Wake and Bake Bread Co.

Wake and Bake Bread Company

Loaves in the couche after a 3 hour fermentation.


Wake and Bake Bread Company

The final product.


Wake and Bake Bread Company


Wake and Bake Bread CompanyThe best part, the spiraled crumb! :)


I will post the recipe soon!

Floydm's picture

This evening I was planning on doing a longer post about how I set up and made the first post on TFL 5 years ago today and how I couldn't have imagined that it'd blossom into what it has become.  I was also going to share photos of a cute little bakery in my hometown that my mother sent me, but as you've likely heard a terrible earthquake hit Haiti this afternoon and my employer, Mercy Corps, is scrambling to organize a response to the earthquake.  We of the fundraising team are doing all we can to raise funds promptly and get the word out that we and partner agencies are responding immediately.  So I'll keep it short and just note the anniversary, offer my sincerest prayers for the people in Port-au-Prince, and take it as another reminder to count my blessings at every opportunity.


gonzalezbrazil's picture

I´m here back now in this my first post of 2010.


I´m an artisan bread baker from Petrópolis, Brazil, where i started baking breads to survive. I have had a pet-shop at my city for 23 long years , but i´d losted my business on a riverflood at 2003, January. The waters invaded my pet-shop and destroyed all. Then, with lots of bills to pay, lots of unsolved payments i declared me on bankrupt. The next years were so hard times and for many following days i had no money to buy breads on bakery. Then i decided to study recipes of breads and study how to bake my own bread at home. I found a new recipe of that famous Jim Lahey´s no-knead method and started to bake that breads first to my own, but then i decided to sell them to neighbors, parents, and friends. Parallel i´d started to reasearch lots of new breads from all the world´s corners. Now, after one and 8 months after that challenge, i have my own small bakery where i produce a variety of 170 breads, cakes and buttered biscuits. I had my history narrated at one of best reportage Tv show in Brazil from local Globo Network Tv. My history you could view in this video but the language is our local portuguese:,,MUL1052006-16619,00-COMERCIANTE+REVELA+RECEITA+PARA+SUSTENTAR+A+FAMILIA.html

And here you could view my flaxseed bread step-by-step recipe of that Jim Lahey´s bread version, but still in portuguese language:,,MUL1052070-16619,00-VEJA+COMO+PREPARAR+O+PAO+INTEGRAL+DE+TRIGO+COM+LINHACA.html

  I hope you enjoy it.

After those months of many reasearchers i baked lots of ethnic breads and Challah Bread is one of my favorites.

In my city, of Germanic colonization, i´ve been contacted on last June to bake breads at a local Germanic Festival called Bauernfest. And i created an original bread for that event, that folks loved a lot. With the Challah dough, i baked a bread filled with honey brushed on top, sliced rippened bananas, walnuts and golden raisins, sprinkled with grounded cinamon. When i finished, i´d folded that bread similar like Germanic Strudel. It turns AMAZING. The people at festival looked to that loaves and asked me imediatly: Is it a Strudel??? Then i decided name that bread as Jewish Strudel.

Then it was a ´must` after that occasion. Always baking Jewish Strudel i become famous among locals and i decided to begin the 2010´s post productions here sharing with you this bread i think you´ll love a lot!


Here the recipe:

You could begin making the dough of KAF blog´s recipe for Challah you get here:

Then, do the following path:

Rest the  original dough of Challah to double size for one hour, then deflate it and rolling it in a great rectangle shaped dough. Brush the surface of dough with honey, sprinkle clover and cinnamon all over the dough, then sliced sliced rippened bananas or apples, golden or sultan raisins and a lot of chopped walnuts. Then fold the dough in a third then another folding in last third, just like an envelope sealed. Sprinkle an amount of wheat all purpose flour and cinnamon clove mixture at top and bake exactly like you done with Challah.


This bread turns excellent, with astonishing aromas and softly sweetened dough. You could variate the fruits you choose for filling it with a diferent assortment like figs, black prunes, apricots, combining them with those correspondent jams to brush on surface. It´s amazing when sliced the bread with fresh heavy cream on top.


For your mouthwatering P.J.Hamel promised me to publish a recipe and picture of this marvellous Strudel...a Jewish Strude for next posts at KAF blog!

Susan's picture


130g starter (100% hyd.), 305g water, ~1/4 cup sesame seeds, 9g salt, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 400g All Trumps high-gluten flour, 50g coarse whole wheat flour.

The dough was kept close to 76F throughout mixing and fermentation.

Mix starter and water.  Add seeds and oil, mix.  Add flours and salt, mix just until flour is wet, rest 1 hour, fold 3x at 30 min intervals.  Let rise until near doubled (about 2 hours).  Shape, put in triangle brotform, and deposit in fridge for overnight.  Bake at 500->460F (after a half-hour out of fridge) under cover for first 20 minutes.  Let rest in oven for 10 minutes after bake.

DownStateBaker's picture

Sorry for the delay. I thought I would have a chance to post day two right away. I am now in day three of the creation of the starter. So let's catch up!

Day 2

This is how my starter looked at 30 hours from the initial mix of 300g flour 300g water. I stirred it 5 times over the 30 hours. In the first 12 hours i had left the bowl, covered, on my pellet stove. It got up to 90 F, this was initially thought of as a mistake by me. So I moved the bowl to somewhere at room temp. Then over the next 28 hours it was alive with activity so awesome. So hopefully over the 30 hours you've seen activity similar to what is shown above. If it takes more time than 30 its ok, this is what you want it to look similar too before going on to the next step.


You should have 600g of starter mix. Take 300g of this mix, add 150g of flour, and 150g water. I had just poured a glass of a nice weizen-bock and mixed the water with the yeast sediment in the bottle. I figured the more the merrier, yeast wise. Then mixed it up until well combined (No chunks of dry flour). To look like this.

Day 3

Here is how it looked at around 12pm today before I mixed it up again (not adding anything). Updates to come

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I've found that the new year means I'm still going up the learning curve on my sourdough loaves. The continued low temperatures here in Kansas combined with above average barometric pressures gave me an opportunity to observe first hand some of the effects of weather on my starter and in the behavior of flours.

My starter exhibited the behavior that I should have expected with cooler room temperatures between 68-70F. Loaves rose more slowly, especially the loaf that had been retarded overnight. After refreshing my starter to a 1:2:2 ratio, activity was diminished, taking about 6 hours to double rather than the expected 3 1/2-4 hours.

I haven't lost my taste for loaves with whole wheat flour. I was surprised when my standby wheatMontana Bronze Chief turned my hydration estimates upside down. I usually aim for around 65-67%  in loaves that have 500g total flour but the loaves turned out to appear much drier than 65% after kneading.


The crumb on this first enriched loaf wasn't as open as I'd like but the flavor was more than acceptable

My most recent loaf is a boule of Bauernbrot based on Salome's excellent formula where I used up the last 60g or so of rye from a bag, added more of the Bronze Chief, some AP and finished off with some bread flour. The dough was again on the dry side when kneading. Either my estimate of hydration was low or the rye and WW absorbed more than usual amounts of water. The outside temp was around 1F, barometric pressure was a very high 30.56. I did an overnight retarding after shaping and the loaf needed almost 4 hours to warm up for baking.

The crumb doesn't show up well in this picture either. The flavor is fine enough that my wife wants to take what's left up to Omaha for her parents to sample. Now I have a reason to look back through my recipes for a formula for a bread I haven't tried before.

I've got a plan for the next four weeks. First off, I'm going to build up my starters in two steps rather than one or just taking out 100g from the container I keep refrigerated and letting it warm up. Instead of 100g, I can use 150g because I have the time to experiment with the process. Hydration level is something to work on because this is the first winter I've used a starter. Dough hydration will be moving up to the high 60s or low 70s. I know I'll have to learn new techniques because plain kneading won't be enough to get the results I'm aiming for. It's back to the bench for me, there's work to be done in the flour patch.


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