The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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BobS's picture

I've been baking bread (like sandwich loaves) for a long time, but in the past few years have gotten interested in making 'really good' bread. TFL has helped a lot. Here's a bit of what I've learned.

This is a Rustic Italian Bread from Cook's Illustrated.


I fiddled for a while with jonkertb's multigrain bread recipe, and eventually got it the way I wanted:


Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Bread Crumb

Here's a direct-method white bread from Bertinet's Dough, using his kneading technique:

Bertinet White Bread


Lately I've been mostly working with 'Fred', my sourdough starter. Some success, but no pictures yet.


xaipete's picture

These baguettes turned out surprisingly well in spite of a number of recipe mishaps--I improperly jury-rigged some ripe firm levain into an instant liquid levain, made two large loaves instead of three smaller, and left the oven at 500º. The crumb was somewhat open and had a nice buttery flavor, but the loaves lacked a crispy crust owing to their too high and brief bake. I really owe this one another try before deciding on its merits!

dimuzio french baguette


dimuzio french baguette

450 g KA AP flour

290 g water

10 g salt

3.5 g instant yeast

100 g liquid levain

Put together in the usual fashion.



AnnieT's picture

The good news is that I have baked a couple of Susan's sourdough using Wheat Montana Natural White All Purpose flour and find that it is much like KAF Bread Flour. In fact I get the same oven spring and the flavor is wonderful. I bought a 10lb bag because it was slightly cheaper that way - the price here on the island is about the same as KA. Because I have limited storage space I asked at the "bakery" in my grocery store for icing buckets and they called to say they had saved a couple for me, one 5 gallon and one 1 1/2 gallon. The bad news is that the 5 gallon bucket had held dill pickles and I don't think I will ever get rid of the smell! The smaller one held fruit salad and is pretty much odor free after scrubbing and airing. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I will use the smelly one for weeds or recycling. I suppose I should have been more explicit when I asked for buckets for storing flour. Hope other members have better luck with bakery buckets, A.

xaipete's picture

Happy Memorial Day, Everybody!

I made Dan's SF SD bread yesterday, baked it last night (it got a lot of oven spring), and let it cool on the counter overnight. When I sliced into it this morning, I was very pleased with its structure and open crumb. I would have liked a bit more tang but think that could be achieved by retarding the proof overnight in the fridge. I'm not sure if that would required reducing the amount of starter, but perhaps Dan will supply an opinion. Dan's formula for SFSD was both easy and rapid. Another benefit to Dan's formula (indeed all of the formulas in Bread Baking) is that you can use KA AP, which can be purchased is 25 pound sacks, instead of KA Bread flour. I was amazed that I could turn such a professional looking loaf in a mere day, not counting the time required for getting the starter ready. Dan's formula also incorporated a lot more starter in it than I'm used to! I think this was a very successful bake and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to reproduce an authentic San Francisco Sourdough!

dimuzio san francisco sourdough

Formula for two loaves:

700 g bread flour (because KA bread flour is so strong, I used KA AP)

500 g water

20 g salt

480 g firm ripe levain (67% hydration)

My method: mix the water and ripe levain together to combine, add the remaining ingredients and mix with the paddle on speed 1 for 1 minute. Turn off mixer and let rest 5 minutes. Mix with dough hook on speed 2 for 4 minutes. Let dough rest covered in mixer bowl for 20 minutes. Dump dough on lightly floured counter and do a stretch and fold. Put dough into an oiled dough bucket and let rest another 20 minutes. Do another stretch and fold. Let rise until double in the covered dough bucket. Form into two loaves and proof onto a well-floured linen-lined banneton until nearly double. Bake at 450º on a hot stone with steam until done, about 27 minutes. Let rest in a turned off oven for about 10 minutes to darken and harden the crust.

dimuzio san francisco sourdough


AnnieT's picture

Today was the first attempt at waffles in the vintage iron, and the results were pretty good. The iron smoked a lot while it was heating so I planned on tossing the first waffle anyway. Never having made waffles I wasn't sure how the batter should be - I made the KAF sourdough recipe and I thought maybe it was too thick. They puffed up beautifully and my food critics voted them excellent. One went with syrup, the other opted for agave. Any input on the batter consistency would be appreciated, A.

jj1109's picture

Necessity is the mother of invention, it is said. And last night, it was necessary in my kitchen. We were having Honey Chicken, a delicious deep fryed dish of loveliness, and my regular (read - the last time I made it) batter recipe called for beer. After all, everyone knows that beer batter is just the best.

Not any more! I couldn't be bothered going out to get the beer. I was just going to make a very boring yeasted batter, but then remembered Peter Reinhart saying "Beer is liquid bread, bread is solid beer"... I ran to the refrigerator and pulled out the sourdough starter.

50g mature starter (100% hydration)

308g water

35g rye flour

107g bread flour

I whisked all that together and left that to sit in a warm place for about 2-3 hours, and it went very well. Delicious odour to it...

toss the chicken in some cornflour, coat in the batter and deepfry until done. This sourdough batter was the best I have made in 6 years making this dish (ok, so I usually only make it 3 or 4 times a year ;)) It was crunchy crisp and had an amazing flavour, and when I tossed the fried chicken in the honey mixture (stirfry a finely chopped chunk of ginger, add 1/3 cup honey, add chicken when honey is bubbly, once honey is coated mix together 1 tbs soy sauce and 1 tbs cornflour then stir that through) the batter stayed crisp!

A great meal. Now I'm on the lookout for more things I can deepfry in this batter! Unfortunately no pictures as we ate it too quickly!

xaipete's picture

This was a delicious bread! It was everything I hoped for (thank you David!). This massive loaf had a delightful sourness with a nice rye flavor, a well-developed structure without any hint of heaviness, and a wonderful aroma. I would definitely make it again.

This was a three-build bread: I made the German rye sourdough Thursday night and the rye sourdough Friday night. I used KA bread flour and home-ground unsifted rye (the formula called for white rye so this was a substitution). Everything ticked along exactly as expected. I put the final dough mixture together Saturday morning and mixed it in my Kitchen Aid on speed 4 for 14 minutes (again, thanks for your help on this David!), scraping the sides down twice. After I literally poured the mixture into a dough bucket, I let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 1/4 hours. Meanwhile I scoured the house for an appropriately sized proofing basket for my 2 1/2 pounds of dough finally turning up a basket from a closet.

After rubbing a considerable amount of rye flour into a flour-sack couche, I emptied--again almost poured--the dough into its center. The dough was too slack to shape, so I just lifted the whole thing into the basket, covered it with plastic wrap, and let it proof for another 1 3/4 hours during which time it nearly doubled. I then placed a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, sprayed it with PAM, placed it over the basket, flipped it over and watched the dough come tumbling out.

After three quick scores about 1/2-inch deep, I slid the spreading mass onto a preheated oven stone on the middle rack, plopped 3/4 cup of ice cubes in a skillet beneath the stone for steaming, shut the door, and hoped for the best. As I watched through the oven window I was delighted to see a lot of oven spring. The dough expanded both upwards and sideways increasing in volume nearly 50%. I was very pleased and hopeful. I threw a piece of foil over the loaf after 20 minutes because I worried that it was getting brown to quickly and then checked it to see if it was done at 40 minutes. It registered 96º C. so I removed it to a cooling rack. I was very happy to feel that the loaf was wonderfully light. I knew I had a winner.

Notes: I used the rye sour from Leader's book. It had sat in the refrigerator un-refreshed for a month but seemed to perform just fine after only one feeding and 12 hours on the counter (actually, I let it sit on the counter for 24 hours before using it); no doubt, this is a testimonial to the rehabilitation properties of rye flour.

You can see the hole in the top of the loaf where I injected the helium.
polish cottage rye

I took some more pictures but didn't have the CF card in the camera so I'll post more tomorrow.

Here are some more pictures. Vodka is the traditional accompaniment.

polish cottage rye

polish cottage rye crumb

This is a picture of about one-third of the loaf in its proofing basket; I'm including it so you can see how really large this massive loaf was.

After our dinner of sausages, grilled red peppers, and sautéed onion relish, we enjoyed a fre$h cherry pie. The pie's crust was perfectly flakey and delicious owing to the incorporation of a small amount of solid Crisco with the butter (as usual, I promised myself that this was absolutely the last time I would use the white stuff!).

fresh cherry pie


hullaf's picture

In past writing I've mentioned that I've been looking for a bread bowl. I own an antique kneading bowl that didn't clean up well and was too cracked to use so I have been on the prowl. Well, in the woods here in TN we have a variety of trees and my hubbie and I found a very big burl on a white oak tree on our property. We had the tree taken down (too big for us), got the burl off, and have set about making a bowl. It's an undertaking I tell you. We think the original whole burl and associated bark, etc. was over 120 pounds and about 3x2x2 feet big. My hubbie is doing all this work, he has experience with wood as he has been an amateur carpenter of sorts for the last 30 years. Here is the burl with most of the original excess wood removed, mostly by chainsaw.  

   white oak burl  

Then he removed the bark and more excess wood. It went down to 70 pounds, weighed on the bathroom scale! Still quite cumbersome.  

   burl without bark  

No bark-no bite to this burl! The wood is very hard and there are nice swirls inside the hollowed area. He's had to chisel and chainsaw, practically had bend over backwards to move it around. Then he started sanding and carving and measuring and balancing and deciding where the wood was good and what the best shape would be. Leftovers - there has been more than three wheelbarrows full of sawdust and wood chips. 

   starting to decide the shape of the burl bowl 

The weight has decreased to 40 pounds now, roughly about 20 inches in diameter, 8 inches deep and 1 1/2 inch walls -- (which eventually will be carved down to 1/2 inch thick.) More than that and it would be too heavy to lift and carry effectively for making bread! 

So, now it needs to dry out. And that might take a year or so. Hubbie has sanded out irregularities, made it sort of smooth, already noticed a few teeny cracks thus he put on a sealer made for wood so that it can dry out slower and more evenly all around. And since we live in a humid area it'll help to prevent any mold spores from seeping in too. Humidity can really creep into everything. 

Well, I'll let you all know how it turns out . . . in a year or so? We'll weigh it every now and then and when it starts to be stable we'll start carving some more. Or Hubbie will. I'm the recipient, the bread maker.  



trailrunner's picture

I had an abundance of discard yesterday so got creative and made some delicious treats. My discard is made up of "alto" and "sax" a white and a rye wild yeast starter. I add to it on a weekly basis. I regularly make the banana nut bread that I have posted before. I wanted to try a bread solely made from the discard. I used the 1-2-3 formula and 2% salt also added 2 scant tsp inst. yeast for good measure. The final dough was 500g starter discard- 1000g tap water-1500g GM bread flour- 30g Kosher salt. I dissolved the starter in the water and added the inst yeast. Mixed and autolysed for 30 min. Added the salt and did folds every 20 min x 4 times. Retarded overnight. where it quadrupled in the buckets. Removed this AM and shaped and let proof for about 1 1/2 hrs. While it was proofing I made the waffles that I had started yesterday evening from the discard. Recipe is on the KA site . It is a fantastic recipe and a great way to use discard. Photobucket Oven preheat to 500 and loaves were slashed and very heavily sprayed with water. I don't do any other steaming and have found the crust and oven spring are perfect. Bake 10 min and lower to 460 and bake an additional 25 min to 210 degrees. The loaves "sang" for 10 min on removal from the oven. The crust is very crisp and the crumb very tender and quite flavorful. Pleasantly sour and lots of grain flavor came through. I am well pleased with my experiment.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

hullaf's picture

I went to a local grist mill, called Fall's Mill in TN, and found some fresh cracked wheat. This is the bread recipe on the side of the bag: 

In a large mixing bowl pour 1 1/2 cups of boiling water over: 

2 cups cracked wheat

1 stick butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup wheat germ 

Let cool. Meanwhile dissolve 1 package yeast in 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside to cool. 

Add 1 egg and 1 1/2 cups warm water to cooled wheat mixture. Add yeast and beat in 4 cups of bread flour. Work in additional 4 cups of bread flour by hand to make a fairly firm dough. Knead 5-10 minutes and turn into a greased bowl. Let rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. Punch down and divide into thirds. Form 3 loaves and let rise an additional 1-1 1/2 hours. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or more. Check often for even browning. Pull out pan, put back in oven for 1-2 minutes to crisp the crust. 

Now, my changes to the above were (don't we all tweak a bit?) -- I only made half the recipe as 3 loaves is way too much for just me and hubbie. I used half bread and half AP flours. I made a poolish with 6 ounces warm water + 6 ounces flour + 1/8 tsp of ADY and let it sit at room temp for 3 hours. I only kneaded 5 minutes by machine and 5 by hand. The final dough was shaped into one large loaf (9x5 pan) and a smaller (7x3x2). Total baking time was 45 min. and 25 minutes respectively. 

    cracked wheat    

The taste was very nice with the cracked wheat kernels soft and detectable. Next time I think I would put in a portion of whole wheat flour.   

Now I was so enamored with the cracked wheat that when I found a recipe in "Breadtime" by S.J. Cheney with sourdough I thought I'd try that too. The recipe is similar to the above, called Yeasted Sourdough Cracked Wheat Bread and the ingredients are: 

3 cups spring water 

1 cup cracked wheat or rye 

1 cup sourdough starter 

7 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour 

1/4 tsp active dry yeast 

2 teaspoons sea salt 

2 tablespoons corn or other vegetable oil 

This time I made the whole amount, a lot of dough it is! I had been grooming my whole wheat starter a couple days before so that was used and I did soak the cracked wheat overnight with a pinch of salt. I didn't want a totally wheat bread so I used 1/3 whole wheat flour and the rest AP. I shaped the final amounts into one large boule which I baked in a preheated covered cast iron pot and the remaining into a 9x5 loaf (which turned out to be too big - next time I'll use an 8x4). Baked at 400F for 20 minutes, then uncovered with heat decreased to 350F for 28 more minutes. They both were removed from pans and set in oven with door slightly cracked for an additional 5 minutes to crisp the crust. 


This taste of cracked wheat with the sourdough was more tasty with a light sourdough flavor, but the cracked wheat was less pronounced. I think I should have not soaked it so long.  But, I liked this as well if not better than the non-sourdough one. 

I'm so pleased with my whole wheat sourdough starter. I know more and more every week how it reacts to temperature and technique, when it is ready and at it's best. It's nicely active -- which means every week I feed it, and each time I want to bake bread I "groom" it by refreshing/feeding it for 2 or 3 times every 12 hours beforehand. I do use the ratio of 1 part starter/3 parts water/4 parts wheat flour. Works for me. 

I also used my starter for Hamelman's Light Rye bread. It turned out so nice. I do think it is because of my sourdough starter and some newly bought whole rye flour from KA. But Hamelman's recipes always seem to work for me, too. 

   Hamelman's light rye 

So, my freezer is full of saved bread and I'm still eager to try some more recipes before the heat of summer makes me wish I had a southern outdoor kitchen out back. 





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