The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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wdlolies's picture

Hi Everyone,

I'm happy to have joined this site. For many years I have been a hobby cook and have been a member (still am) of the German site  About five years ago, I became a fan of sourdough and was very successful with my own starter and creations.  I have posted about that on  However, my live has changed a lot over the years.  My kids have grown up, my wife and I have split after nearly 25 years and my interests have moved to new territories.  I'm still as interested in sourdough, but my occupation as a National Tour Guide for the Island of Ireland doesn't presently allow me to start a new starter, as I wouldn't be here at this time of year to look after it during its early days.  I've therefore switched to bread baking with yeast.  Even here i love baking with yeast ferment, which is very close to sourdough.  

I've joined this community to share my baking experiences and I'm looking forward to "meeting" people here who share their experiences with the wider community.  The Tour Guiding Season is about to start and I won't be baking as much as I would like to until September/October, but I'm still interested and I will still visit and peak :-).  However, there will always be some time to bake in between tours and these experiences I will share with you.

All the best.  I'm looking forward to "meeting" you guys.

Wolfgang (presently in County Wicklow, Ireland)

kdwnnc's picture

Today I finally got Bread by Jeffery Hamelman from the library!  I have only read a few pages, but I can already tell that it is going to be a fantastic book.  I already own two bread books, one of them being The Bread Bible by RLB, but I can't wait to bake from this one (isn't it cruel that the library deadline for returning is two weeks?).  But I suppose I could always renew it.  The big chalenge is going to be deciding what to bake from it first!  I want to make something unlike anything I have ever made before (such as focaccia, which I make a lot of), but please, please, please give me suggestions!  Is the cibatta recipe good?  I have only tried making ciabatta once, and it definately could have come out better.  I have never made baguettes either; should I try a recipe for them from this book? 

Now I am anxious for when I get a scale in a few weeks!


SydneyGirl's picture

Yesterday was the big premiere: first wholemeal loaf made with home-milled flour, and also the first try at baking a loaf from Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: the Rye Sandwich Meteil. Of course, I can't help but tinker, thus replaced about a quarter of the rye meal with a multigrain mix. 

So I started this a day ahead, did the whole mother starter thing (why he can't just call it sourdough, I don't know), I soaked, and mixed, I rested overnight, and after work yesterday I mixed, I rested etc etc. 

It rose very nicely, I put it in the oven just before midnight (thanks to all the resting), in a loaf pan and dutifully turned it after 20 minutes. Then, while I was browsing through bread books, I must have closed my eyes, just for a minute. Unfortunately, when I opened them again it was 2:30 am and the flat smelled decidedly toasty. 

The bread was a black brick. I took it out, and cooled it. Then I spent half an hour trying to get to sleep while berating myself for my stupidity.

This morning I cut into it to assess the damage: a 1 inch crust, mostly inedible. However, the inside, once you cut off all of the coal, is still really delicious. It looks pretty much like his picture in the book: crumb nice dense but not too dense, no pastiness.  It has a nice sweet flavour (though next time I would slightly reduce the amount of cane syrup in his recipe) and has no hint of that wholemeal aftertaste of most commercial wholemeal breads. It's delicious but cutting off all the charred crust breaks my heart, just a little. 

Lesson learned: get more sleep the day before you bake & set the bloody alarm.

wally's picture

I love baguettes. I love them for the challenge but even more for the complexity of flavor that can be developed. My two favorites are Hamelman's poolish baguette and Sam Fromartz's Parisian baguette that gains so much from the addition of just a small amount of whole wheat flour and sourdough.

So having drooled over first DonD's blog on his attempt to marry his two personal favorites, and then having to tie a bib around my neck after reading (and seeing!) David's attempt at Don's baguettes, there was no drool left in me and nothing to do but try these to see what they would deliver in taste.

I ended up doing two bakes over the course of a week. I wasn't quite satisfied with the results of the first (I'll get to that), so I tweaked things a bit and ... well, we'll get to that also.

The formula:

AP Flour 450g
Medium rye 50g
Water 375g
Yeast 3.5g instant dry
Salt 9g

On my first bake, during the final dough mix I went for a slightly longer mixing period - 4 minutes on speed 1 and another 5 minutes on speed 2 (my little Hamilton Beach would have to work a very long time to overmix dough). I also opted to do 3 folds at 45 minute intervals during the 3 hour bulk fermentation, having read David's account of the amount of rise he got during the overnight retardation.

The results were ok, I think the crumb was relatively open and my cuts opened enough to allow additional rise.

But for my taste I thought the flavor showed a little too much of the rye. In any event, two baguettes can be consumed quickly, so I had sufficient reason to repeat the experiment with a few changes.

In bake #2 I made two changes to the formula - one intentionally and one, well, not, along with one procedural change. I reduced the percentage of rye to 6%, so in my case that meant adding only 30g of rye instead of the 50g called for. However, in my enthusiasm, I neglected to increase my AP (Sir Galahad) by 20g. This I realized, of course, after I had mixed the dough and autolysed it in the refrigerator.

Ok, so now I'm working with a 78% hydrated dough which would normally cause me to break out in a cold sweat; however, one of the beautiful aspects of this bread is that because the dough is shaped after an overnight retardation, it is much, much easier to handle and score than a 78% hydration dough mixed, proofed and shaped at room temperature. (Frankly, I'm not sure I'd even attempt to score such a highly hydrated dough under normal circumstances).

Procedurally, I decided to do my initial mix in the morning. I then autolysed the dough for 6 hours in the refrigerator instead of overnight. (Hey, one person's overnight might be only 6 hours, who's to say?). This allowed me to do the final dough mix in late afternoon, and to put the finished dough to bed for the night just ahead of me.

Next morning I divided the dough, bench rested for an hour, shaped and did final proofing for 45 minutes, and the finished product was out of the oven by 10:30am - a little more than 24 hours from the initial dough mix.

Anyhow, here are the results of bake #2. 


         I'm more pleased with the second bake, both in terms of appearance and flavor. The rye still comes through, but it is not quite as pronounced. Interestingly, the second bake tasted sweeter to me than the first, although both bakes came out well caramelized. So, bottom line, good taste, good crunch, good crumb!

And I now have three favorite baguettes thanks to dmsnyder à la DonD.


Edit: (Tip o' the hat to Andy) - I forgot to mention that I withheld 50g of water from the autolyse which I then incorporated along with the salt and yeast during the final dough mix the next day.  DonD and ananda had a long discussion about this technique which can be found here.  The cold dough (which has developed some gluten structure) does not easily accept additional water, but in the 4 minutes I mixed on speed 1 it pretty well incorporated it).

FuriousYellow's picture

Hi all!

I am excitied to say that although I have lurked around here and posted on occasion, this is my first blog entry, and my first picture post!

Last night I decided to give the poolish baguettes from BREAD another try, and I am fairly happy with the way they turned out. They arent quite as nice as some of the ones I see on here, but I am fairly new to the bread baking at home thing, and I feel I am progressing pretty fast. Anyways, here goes:

The crust is nice and chewy, and the crumb is very light but not quite as open as last time I made these. I think it is becasue I ran out of my high protein organic flour from Oak Manor Farms and had to use my No Name all purpose unbleached I had sitting in the cupboard. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting a more open crumb with a weaker flour?

I can't believe how much a difference a half hour of proofing can make on the results. I baked the 2 on the right in the top pic after an hour of final proofing, and the 2 on the left half an hour later when the first 2 came out. I could tell right away they were taking on a lot more color and were more fragrant while baking, plus they turned a bit puffier and lighter feeling than the first 2.

I'm always open to constructive criticism...

SylviaH's picture

I was so inspired by Beth Hensperger's recipe for making a 'Shallot and Poppy Seed Braid' it's in her book 'Baking Bread Old and New Traditions'.

I love the sourdough challah by M.G. and the recipe is posted on dmsnyder's blog Here.  It's a wonderful recipe and I'am thankful to David for posting it as I have not yet purchased M.G. book. I have made a sweet version with golden raisins that is posted on my blog Here and now wanted to try it with a savory touch.  With summer approaching I thought this bread perfect and it's described under 'Picnic Breads' in B.H. bread book.  I used the recipe she posted for the filling.  The recipe for the bread in B.Hensperger's book is a one day enriched bread that sounds and looks delicious.  I haven't made it yet but I can tell just by looking it has be fantastic.  I have been wanting rustic, savory and summery breads.  This is a great tasting combination!


My first go at this combination and will definately be making it again.


  The filling of Shallot and Poppy Seed

1.   4 TBsp. unsalted butter

2.   2 TBsp. olive oil

3.   2/3 cup (about 6 medium to large) chopped shallots -  I thinly sliced mine

4.   2/3 cup (4 small) chopped white onions -  I used all Shallot's - they were plenty sweet after the saute with butter and oil

5.   3 TBsp. grated Parmesan cheese 

6.   5 Tbsp. poppy seeds

I highly recommend to increase these measurements a little so you can eat some and there's enough left for the two loaves!

Egg Glaze -  I used one egg with 2 TBsp. water - dash of salt would be nice though I didn't add it.

1 TBsp. poppy seeds for sprinkling

While your dough is rising prepare your filling -

In a medium skillet or saute pan, melt the butter and oil.  Add the shallots and white onions.  Saute until just limp and translucent but not browned, or the filling will be bitter.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheese and poppy seeds. Set aside to let cool to room temperature.

Try not to eat to's addicting!   



I used a 3 rope braid.  To fill two braided loaves -  roll each section into 3 to 4 inch wide strips and carefully spread the filling down the center leaving about a one inch margin of dough all the way around.  Fold over the edges and pinch them together, encasing the filling.


                              Savory and very delicious with all kinds of good flavors going on and even a little added crunch. 



            Beth Hensperger has a 'Picnic Menu' to go with her would be fabulous with this sourdough version.

                  Beet, apple, and endive salad

                  Cold roast Cornish hens stuffed with grapes and garlic

                  Pecan tartlets

                  Chilled sparkling wine 

                                                                  Submitted to Yeastspotting  


daysi's picture


I baked white bread and WW bread last week, and both doughs lacked elasticity, one I kneaded in the same bowl I mixed the ingredients in, and the second on the counter. For more stretching of the dough I did and kneading for the recommended time (10 min) they still seemed to be very tough. Both of them during the first rise double in size, after shaping and panning them they stop rising. Here are a few pictures I hope you can get an idea of what I am talking about and could perhaps give me some advice. By the way both tasted very good, the white bread had a crusty crust and a soft crumb, and the WW bread had a bit of a hard crust mmmm not that hard, probably "dry" is a best description, the crumb is very soft a bit dense though.

this is the white dough, I forgot to picture the WW but it was pretty much the same.

The breakage is what happened when I pulled the dough... windowpane test? hum....


gol's picture

I am after a good european bread book with good european recipes. I have been baking bread for a few years now and have a number of good american bread books. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should get and why?


Bee18's picture

Hi everybody

That it's! now that I know how to pin my photos I can try and write my own blog !  after one year on TFL it was about time. My thanks to Ananda who helped me to sort the problem photo uploading.

Until now I was baking rye bread using the method of no knead/dutch oven bake. My recipe was based on approx. 200 gr. Rye SD, 400gr water and 600gr bread flour, and salt. Sometime I would subsitute 50 or 100gr of bread flour for Rye flour to make the Rye flavour stronger. Once I mixed 75gr. of Zäthar (mix of thyme, olive oil, sesame seeds and other herbs imported from Jordan or Lebanon) the bread turned green and I didn't really enjoy the flavour result..Although I like Zäthar very much with pitas or sour white cheese named Labané in arabic, humus etc...

I'm limited with the bread I can bake as my oven is not working properly and burn every thing on the back side, which mean that I gave up trying to bake baguettes, bâtards or any bread on the open. No white bread allowed as my partner has diabete. Our diet is very strict about what is good for him ( which after all is also good for me..) and the bad stuff is out. Not that we lost weight with all the bread we are eating!

Lately we began to buy Pumpernickel made after a Dutch recipe, it's almost black and sliced very thin, it's wet and pretty sweet... A piece or two without anything on it and you feel full enough to go from breakfast to lunch. This pumpernickel reminded me that in my younger years we were buying Jewish Pumpernickel bread in Paris and it was not at all the same. I looked at TFL under pumpernickel and found the recipe by Greenstein reviewed by Dsnyder. After I resolved the problem to find cracked rye which was not very easy since the last 2 years the crops of rye had been very small in Australia, but I got Rye in grains or berries and I crushed the quantity I needed in the coffe grinder : the only one of my grinders that doing it.I ground it very shortly just to crack it and some grains stayed uncrushed. I then put this in water and leaved it for the night. The next day I took the extra water off and after about 15 minutes of draining I weighted the rye to know how much water it had taken in (thanks again Ananda for the tips)and could adjust the water I needed to add.

This is a second try, with the quantities indicated by Dsnyder, but instead of caramel powder I put 3 tablespoons of molasses which made the bread dark, but a bit too sweet for my liking. The bread is moist and very good. Next time I will reduce the molasses to 2 tablespoons or use barley malted extract which is not so sweet. I didn't spread any cornflour on the top to make tha glaze David did on his bread.Not feeling well I baked it in a bread machine, but next time I will bake it in the oven, in a tin, or in my closed cast iron pot.

The photos have been taken with flash and no flash : it's why the color of the bread is different, the real one is the dark. I even took one outside on the veranda trying the natural light..

The big difference in tast is that a normal rye is much more acidic than the pumpernickel and I liked this acidity, but the pumpernickel is really tasty..



with a bit of early sun on it...                                               no sun no flash = the real color


the crumb from short distance - you can feel the cracked rye when you eat the bread but it's soft and nice. you don't brake a tooth on it !


A rye bread baked few weeks ago                                  and its crumb, the color is not too bad even with the flash on.

Wow, the editing of this first blog  was a long journey for me! Bea

Sedlmaierin's picture

I apologise already..I don't really seem to be able to create such nice and well thought out entries as some of the fellow bakers here. They always end up having to be wedged into my life and suffer from such rough treatment.

So, here are pictures from my second try at the baguettes. I feel they were slightly more succesful than the first ones but still just so far from GOOD....they tasted nice, but they also just haven't tasted the way I remember baguettes tasting in Paris.

I shaped and retarded them overnight......I let them rise a bit more in the morning and then onto a pre-heated baking stone they went, for just a bit longer than Hamelman calls for.It is weird but I feel like I seem more comfortable with higher hydration doughs......the baguette dough and the rustic bread dough feel more unfamiliar in my hands that for example the miche doughs I have tried. I don't know why that may be...rye doughs are pretty moist but otherwise nothing like wheat.

Anyways, pictures here......if anybody has any constructive criticism please share!


Then the Rustic Bread! The taste is amazing-it is so deep and juicy from that little bit of whole wheat and rye flour. This bread I retarded in bulk and then folded, shaped and let proof for about another 1.5 hours. The shaping seemed to me to be very tight-scoring was a disatser for some reason. I just don't seem to be able to get an even, deep cut.......that led to a blowout on the top or possibly I did not let it proof enough once it came out of the fridge.

There are two crumb shots-one from the very side of the bread and one from the middle of the can see the difference. I obviously have tons of room for improvement on this one,too, but I do have to reiterate that the taste was surprising in its nuttiness and epth. Very enjoyable!


Any comments greatly appreciated!

Am now working on the Horst Bandel Pumpernickel and very excited about it!



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