The Fresh Loaf

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louie brown's picture
louie brown

I've been making this bread since the book was published. It's a straight sourdough, made with a 100% starter at about 65% hydration, with a pretty thorough mechanical mix, a four hour bulk fermentation at about 78 degrees, and proofed overnight in the fridge. This results in a loaf with a fairly even, but discernible, crumb, which I like because it holds the olives in place. I use twice as many olives as called for, and I still don't think that's enough. I use Kalamata, oil cured and large Sicilian green olives. The oil cured olives stain the crumb around themselves purple. There is also some wheat germ. 

These were combo cooked (550 degrees for 15 minutes, then about 25 minutes uncovered at 460 convection) with some interesting results. First, I seem to get most of my spring after uncovering, unlike, for example, baking under a stainless bowl, or baking with the towel setup. Still, the spring was considerable. Second, the crust is quite thin and crispy, which is not a bad thing, but it is worth knowing to expect this result. 

The scoring, my own contribution, is meant to evoke olive leaves.

This bread has a moist crumb because of the olives. I was in a rush to see the interior and taste it, so the crumb is a little raggy on the first slices. The 2 pound loaves are almost exactly 4 inches high.

moldyclint's picture

So, as I started proofing today's batch of 50% whole wheat sourdough, the wife asked whether I was going to bake in the solar cooker that the boys and I made up a couple weeks ago.  Hmmm... So, had to go with it.  Maximum temperatures I have seen with it so far are 150C, and as it starts out at ambient temperature and takes about 1/2 hour or so to get up to cooking temperature, did some quite guesstimating as to how long I should allow the dough to proof.  Decided that about 1/2 hour was probably plenty, as my primary ferment was a few hours longer than initially planned, and taking into account the increased final rates of fermentation before the dough temperature was high enough to kill the yeast.  Dough was my 'standard' ~70% or so hydration, flour, ~2% salt and ~25% starter, all approximate.

solar cooker

This is the setup I used.  About 44% more surface area than that described at: I used two pyrex bowls with a seal for my greenhouse, and a simple enameled black pot as my heater.

Today's max cooking temperature.  I had temperatures ranging between 120C and 150C, and baked for almost 3 hours, with final bread internal temperature of about 85C.

I was initially going to make 2 loaves, and ended up putting them together to fit into my solar cooker pot. Forgot to slash them before baking.

And my crumb shot.  This loaf has been my sourest yet, since moving to Taiwan, probably due to the longer primary ferment, as well as not needing to keep the dough in the fridge during said ferment, seeing as it finally has cooled down a bit for the 'winter'.  The long, slow bake has made quite a soft loaf, which my kids like, though my younger son has complained that it is still not sour enough for his tastes.  Oh well, at least the intra-family variation in preferred bread flavours ensures that someone will like the bread no matter how it turns out!  The flavour is quite unique, but my vocabulary is limited enough in this regards that I am not sure how to describe it.  Am also trying out some new organic whole  wheat flour which works differently from anything I've tried before, so too many variables have changed with this for me to know what is causing what effects in the flavour.  Definitely will try this again, though probably a batch of buns that will cook faster! 

If anyone out there has experimented with slower, cooler bakes such as this, please let me know!



jowilchek's picture

What is the dirrerence between Focaccia and Ciabatta? I am not French or Italian so please forgive my lack of knowledge, but I was not raised in a big city with a lot of ethnic or artisian bakeries.  I just baked my first Focaccia (onion) and it was a big hit. Then today I see a Ciabatta formula and wonder whats the difference they both seem to be a yeast flat bread. Thanks in advance for any help and information.

ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

Christmas Stollen

 Before I'd come to TFL or read PR's BBA, I'd never heard of Stollen, but it looked appealing to me and something different to go with fresh coffee on Christmas morning.  I probably didn't get the blanketing fold absolutely correct, but it tasted beautiful and was a big success in my household.  I'm not sure if I'll make it again next year, but seeing as there are more seasonal breads to try, it might feature sometime in the future.

varda's picture


Over the last year I have been trying to make a Rye bread called Tzitzel, which I remember from a bakery in my home town - University City, Missouri.  The bakery is still there and still makes Tzitzel, but as I don't have much (any) reason to go back to U. City, I figured I'd better learn how to make it myself.  After many attempts, I finally felt that I managed to make a respectable Jewish Rye with a nice crust and flavor but it still didn't taste anything like the Tzitzel I remembered.   Recently I took advantage of the brief free shipping period at King Arthur, and ordered White Rye and Sir Lancelot flour, neither of which I'd baked with before.   I tried making Jewish Rye with these two flours instead of Hodgson's Mill Stone Ground Rye and King Arthur Bread Flour.   I started to feel I was onto something despite the fact that the white rye flavor was much too mild, and the loaves puffed up like a white flour wheat loaf, which is very un-Tzitzel-like.   Today I tried again with a rye sour made with 2/3 white rye and 1/3 Arrowhead Mills organic rye, which is a whole rye flour, but much less gritty than Hodgson's Mills.   This time, the shape (broad and squat) flavor and texture were much more on target.   So now I have one more thing to add to my long list of baking lessons that I've learned this year - the flour matters.   If I want to get any closer to the original Pratzel's tzitzel, I am going to have to find out what kind of flour they use, and that's that.


ananda's picture


I have made this bread before, and posted on it here:

The original formula can be found in:

Hamelman, J. [2004] "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes" New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons   pp. 213 - 214

Changes I introduced this time round:

  • The rye sour is made in the proportions of flour and water most familiar to me. An 18 hour ferment of the second elaboration of the sour followed a 6 hour fermentation time of the first elaboration.
  • The formula includes both Caraway Seeds and Organic Blackstrap Molasses.
  • As with my earlier version, no fresh yeast is used in this formula.
  • The overall hydration is 85%, increased to satisfy the very thirsty coarsely ground Bacheldre Stone ground Organic Dark Rye Flour. In future, I would keep this level of hydration, but would add water at 25 to the soaker, rather than 20; this means no water would be needed in the final dough.
  • The loaf is topped with Blue Poppy Seeds, but still baked with the lid on the pan.

Makes One Large Loaf in a Pullman Pan


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sour Dough



Dark Rye Flour









2. Soaker



Dark Rye Flour



Boiling Water






3. Final Dough



Rye Sour Dough [from above]



Soaker [from above]



Dark Rye Flour



Strong White Flour






Caraway Seeds



Organic Blackstrap Molasses









% Pre-fermented Flour



Overall Hydration




  • Build the sourdough using the elaborations described above, and make the soaker at the same time as the final elaboration. Cover both and leave overnight.
  • Add the water, salt, caraway seeds and molasses to the sourdough. Break up the soaker into pieces and add this using a mixer with beater attachment to break up the soaker properly. Add the flours and mix either with a machine using a beater attachment, or use wet hands to mix the paste until it is "clear".
  • Ferment in bulk for half an hour. Meanwhile prepare the Pullman Pan, lining it with silicone paper.
  • Shape using wet hands, and drop the mixture into the pan, and smooth the paste neatly. Brush the top with a little water and cover with Blue Poppy Seeds. Prove for 3 to 4 hours at 28°C, with the tin covered with plastic sheet, or, cling film. The paste should be just short of the top of the pan.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, with a pan of water in the base for steam. Cut the top of the loaf with 4 diamonds*, then put the lid on and bake the loaf for 2½ hours, turning the tin halfway through and topping up the water pot if necessary.
  • De-pan the loaf, and check for an internal temperature of at least 96°C.
  • Cool on wires

* You can see Hamelman uses this method for one of his rye loaves in the lovely photo between pages 224 and 225.   I needed to cut deeper, but am not sure this was possible.   My loaf being baked with the lid on meant the crown of the loaf had not passed the top of the tin.   Clearly, the seed-topped loaf in the photo in the book is made in a pan without a lid.

Photographs are shown here.DSCF1554DSCF1555DSCF1558DSCF1557DSCF1560

 Alison and I just sneaked a wee taste, although the bread is still somewhat "young".   There is a definite sour taste, and the bittersweetness from the molasses is also evident.   That unique flavour from Caraway brings greater complexity still.   It is so very moist, perhaps just a little too moist, but that will settle very quickly.   The flavour lingers long in the mouth...yum!


All good wishes


allisoninsf's picture

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone here on TFL for helping me through my first two big bread baking adventures!

After being mesmerized by the promotional video for Tartine Bread ( I became obsessed with the idea of baking my own crusty yummy bread at home.  At about the same time I snagged the book, this cautionary column in SF Weekly was published (  A little bummed but still enthusiastic, I took to the web to search for pointers from those who had already tried the Tartine recipe.

After sifting through the wonderful posts from all of you, I finally felt prepared to take on the country loaf.  While my loaves were a little overproofed during the final rise, and I had some trouble scoring, they still came out pretty well:


Then, because I'd read so many comparisons to/recommendations for the No Knead Bread, I thought I'd try my hand at that too!

So, thanks again TFL members!  You helped me through my first two real bread baking experiences, and for that I'm very grateful :)

occidental's picture


I needed something to accompany Christmas dinner.  I went with something that doesn't take a ton of effort and produces a fairly reliable tasty loaf.  I found one of David's recent postings on his masterpiece formula: San Joaquin Sourdough Updated (thanks David) and went forth.  I followed the formula fairly close except that being away from home I'm lacking a few standard tools and supplies.  I substituted the rye flour with whole wheat.  I also did not have a stone to bake on so I went with my fall back method - no preheat.  The ready to bake loaf is placed in a cold oven with a pan of water on the lower rack.  The oven is turned on and the prolonged time the burner is on creates plenty of steam and enough intense heat to cause some good oven spring.  And boy did I get oven spring.  This is one of the most impressive looking loaves I have produced.  You can carry this loaf by the ear.  The taste was great, as usual, and I even got some cracking of the crust.  I hope you all had a great Christmas.  On to the pics....

The loaf


Happy Holidays TFL'rs!!

Happy Holidays TFL'rs!

Mebake's picture

This is my first golden raisin bread. I used Bread flour for both Whole wheat and White. I handeled the dough more than i should, and thus deflated it considerably. The house smelled of Raisins! Really nice bread, and i bet it would taste better toasted.

All in all, i like it! But i think it should taste better if yeast is left out.


ricardo Gonzalez's picture
ricardo Gonzalez

Hi i now use a Kitchenaid Pro series 6 quart mixer for my monthly bread making. It works but it really strains especially when i use wheat flour and i can smell the motor. I make about 6 loafs at a time. I use the whole 5lb bag of flour. Is there a mixer that i can use. Maybe the next level up. Any recommendations would be great.




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