The Fresh Loaf

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pmccool's picture

Saturday's game plan was to do a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for some of our South African friends.  The aim was partly to broaden their cultural sensibilities (not to mention waistlines) but more importantly to thank them for how pleasant they have made this past year for a couple of Americans who are a long way from home.  Alas, it was not to be.  My wife came down with some sort of abdominal unpleasantness that had her down for the count on Friday and left her feeling very weak on Saturday and Sunday.  Fortunately, she's back to her usual self but the planned activities for the day were pretty much shot to tatters.

With only a few errands to run and not wanting to leave her home by herself, I made up a Plan B which, wait for it, also involved food!  It started small enough and then morphed into something bigger.  It wasn't too long after starting that I thought "I have the whole day.  I could make some bread to give away as well as some for ourselves."

I started with Leader's Polish Cottage Rye, since that is naturally leavened and would therefore take the longest to go from ingredients to finished bread.  I've not made this before but I will be making it again.  It contains just over 25% rye flour (I used whole rye instead of the recommended white rye), all of which is in the rye sour.  It makes a beautiful big miche-sized loaf, just over 1200g in weight.  I missed that note.  I had the oven all set up to bake on the stone, with steam.  When I looked at how the dough was doming over the top of the bannetons, I realized that wasn't going to work.  Then I pulled the stone and steam pan out of the oven and put each loaf on parchment in its own half-sheet pan.  The oven in this house has only two shelves and the coil is exposed in the bottom of the oven, so that left no room for the steam pan.  Consequently, I baked them with convection.  When first transferred from banneton to pan, each loaf spread quite a bit.  Each one had good oven-spring but I wonder whether they might have been even higher if there had been a way to get steam in the oven at the same time.  Note that I'm not complaining about result.  The crumb is smooth, moist, cool and creamy; sorry, no pics of that.  The outside looks like this:

Leader's Polish Cottage Rye

It's the time of year that I usually make Bernard Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits.  I've blogged about this previously, so won't repeat myself here except to say this is a wonderful bread!  It is rather messy and tedious, which is why I usually only make it once a year. Shaping is always a challenge with that much fruit and nuts in the dough.  The fragrance and the flavors are so exquisite, though, that I can't just not make it.  Here it is, all baked, bagged, and ready to go:

Clayton's Pain Allemande aux Fruits

And, just because I knew some friends wouldn't be all that jazzed by rye bread or fruity bread, I decided to make Sweet Vanilla Challah from Beth Hensperger's The Bread Bible.  This has been blogged about, too.  The shaping is extremely simple, especially compared to a braid, but the result is stunningly elegant:

Hensperger's Sweet Vanilla Challah

So, instead of saying thank you to a few friends, we were able to thank several more.  While my wife would have preferred to skip the whole sickness thing, the end result was much appreciated by others.


hanseata's picture

This weekend was devoted to experimenting with fruit yeast, and a second go at an old favorite. While I was waiting for my apples to ferment, I was also nurturing a levain for David's famous San Joaquin Sourdough. My first trial at the San Joaquin had been okay, but fell short of David (dmsnyder)'s example, leaving room for improvement.

The Apple Yeast Bread was something entirely new, I had never heard of such a possibility before I read RonRay's Blog. Curiosity won over scepticism, and I watched my apples slowly disintegrating in their warm water bath, while producing little bubbles. I also had never tried baking in a Dutch oven, a method for single, "private", breads whereas most of my (professional) baking requires full oven capacity in order to accomodate several loaves at once.

With the results of both endeavours I was quite satisfied. Ron's Apple Yeast Bread proved the possibility of home grown, "sweet" non sourdough yeast, and developed a nice oven spring in its oven within the oven. David's San Joaquin Sourdough had a more open crumb than last time, and both had thin but crackling crust.

I would have loved to keep some - but no bread lasts longer than a couple of days in this undisciplined family. One of the sourdoughs served as the "flowers" at a dinner invitation, much to the delight of our friends. The other two breads, toasted and untoasted, we had for lunch.

Another starter and a soaker are waiting in the fridge for being joined together to "Feinbrot", and my stepdaughter's birthday requires some serious torte baking tomorrow..


Apple Yeast Bread

Apple Yeast Bread Crumb

San Joaquin Sourdough (with 60% hydration starter)

San Joaquin Sourdough Crumb

dosidough's picture

Butter didn't smoosh in my bag on the way to work. Quite handy I think!

Mebake's picture

Recently, i've been suffering from BDS between bakes, or when my bread reserve dwindles.

Should i feel OK with that? I don't know.. am i not getting a Life? Possibly, yet, I may just be another Home Baker. I can live with that ;)

What's itching me further is that i, like many, was diagnosed with a mild Lumbar disc hernisis, and therefore with no Bread on plan for the week end.

I'll be baking, nonetheless.


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler


Alternate titles for this post: "Saturday, Sunday and Monday Baguettes", or "Why my wife thinks I'm crazy, but fortunately isn't sick of baguettes yet".


So following my recent attempts to master the Poolish baguette and the frequent failures which could be attributed to the poolish, I went off and bought myself this scale, which is graduated to 0.01 gram or 0.001 oz. increments (and was selling for an appealing $12.50 last week), more than accurate enough to measure the perishingly small quantities of yeast needs for my 10 oz of poolish, and surely more accurate than trying to eyeball a half-full 1/8 teaspoon.

This is where the madness began.  I was so sure that things would work out beautifully if I could just get the poolish fermented correctly.  When they didn't, I just had to figure out why not.  My long, sad story follows, but if you want to cut to the chase, I think the pictures probably tell most of the story.

Friday night I mixed poolish #1 at 10:30pm with 5.3 oz flour, 5.3 oz water, and 0.3 grams instant yeast, weighed on my shiny new scale.  5.3 oz ~= 150g, and Hamelman specifies 0.2% yeast in the poolish, so 0.3g was the right amount. This was, in fact, wrong, but I hadn't figured that out yet.  Read on.

By 6:30am the poolish was super-active (and maybe already a goner), and when I gave in and mixed the dough at 7:30, it was over-ripe.  I did not realize this until the dough was already mixed, and so I forged ahead.

Saturday Batch: Exterior (They were much paler than they look here)


Saturday Batch: Crumb


Chewy, tough, pale crust, tight, pale crumb, lousy flavor much like last week, although slightly better in each respect.

I was certain I could do better.  After all, I had a scale!  So I gave over my "free" Sunday bake to another batch of Hamelman's baguettes.  Poolish #2 was mixed at 10pm, with 0.25 g of instant yeast.  This was still wrong, but I still hadn't figured it out yet.  This time I took some pictures of the poolish as it fermented--one at 10pm, another at 1am (up with the baby), and a third at 8am, just before I mixed.

10pm: Just mixed


1am: 3 hours in


8am: 10 hours



I screwed up when mixing this time (did I mention I was up with the baby at 1am?) and added too much salt.  As I'd sprinkled it over the flour, I tried to fix it by scooping up and discarding the top layer of flour, then replacing the flour and starting over with the salt.  I should have just discarded all the flour.  Did I mention I was up with the baby at 1am?

The dough behaved rather strangely--it rose slowly, and was very loose when I was shaping.  Still, it worked, mostly.  I tried experimenting with different shaping methods (two "over the thumb folds, three folds, and the Back Home Bakery "Roll and tuck" method), but promptly lost track of which baguette was which.  I don't think it made much of a difference.  They went into the oven...and came out very pale.  But with nice looking slashes, save for perhaps being under-proofed.  I was, to say the least, puzzled.

Sunday Batch: Exterior


Sunday Batch: Crumb


Again with lousy, pale crust. But there was hope.  The crumb wasn't amazing, but wasn't bad (chasms non-withstanding).  Flavor was actually quite good, although they tasted a little salty. 

There was such potential here.  I wasn't sure if the poolish was over-proofed, but it may have done a little, and it certainly was ripening too fast.  I had certainly screwed up the salt, and that was fixable.  I had to make another batch.  Immediately.

I probably would have worked from home Monday anyway (as a doctoral student, I can do that most days if need be), but now it was for sure.  Poolish #3 was mixed at 10:45pm with 0.16 g yeast.  This was still wrong.  I still hadn't realized it.   I took a picture of the poolish at 7:45, but mixed it at 8:45.

Poolish #3


As I was setting up my tablecloth couche after pre-shaping, I realized that part of the paleness of my recent batches of baguettes was an over-thick layer of flour, imparted by my couche.  Tip: if you can scrape flour off your couche with a bench knife, it is over-floured.  I shook the silly thing out over my balcony before shaping the baguettes.  You almost wouldn't have recognized it afterward, with only the lightest coat of flour left over.

I shaped this last batch of baguettes oh-so gently, and let them sit en couche for 65 minutes. They felt...different when I transfered them to parchment for slashing.  Rounded and light, but strong.  A little too light, truth be told--they didn't want to slash easily.  I think over-proofed, in fact--I let time get away from me and didn't for done-ness at 60 minutes.

And the final results:

Monday Batch: Exterior

Monday Batch: Crumb


Nice, richly colored crust that was nicely crisp to the tooth.  Crumb wasn't as open as I'd like, but the flavor was decent.

After this batch was out of the oven, as I was perusing Hamelman's Bread for insight, I finally, finally realized what was going wrong with my poolish, even with my scale.  0.2% yeast is for fresh yeast.  For active dry, you'd need to use 1/3 as much-- 0.1g.  D'oh!.  Suddenly it all made sense.  Poolish #1, with 3 times too much yeast, was done in 8 hours and a goner at 9.  #2 did a bit better, but may have been  little too ripe at 10 hours.  #3 actually may not have actually been fully ripe at 10 hours, but would have been over-ripe by 12, no doubt.

Next week: The correct amount of yeast in my poolish, a lower preheat temp (my bottoms keep charring a bit), and a more watchful proof.  Victory will be mine!

Happy baking everyone,


ananda's picture


My Foundation Degree students were making their own breads using pre-ferments a couple of weeks ago.   Both a "Biga" and a "Poolish" were available for their use.   They made some very fine pizzas, and an assortment of flavoured breads.

Once they had weighed all their pre-ferments, I noticed there were some "leftovers".

So, I made the following as demonstrations.   The baguettes, shown below, were actually to help a late arriving student on his way, to enable product completion in the practical time.   The tinned loaves were an experiment to demonstrate how, even at a very high proportion in the final dough, a biga can contribute fantastic improving qualities, resulting in super high crown bread.

It was also a joy to be able to use local organic flour in the final doughs as well.

•1.    Baguettes with a Poolish


Formula [% of flour]

1. Poolish


Special CC Flour




Fresh Yeast




2. Final Dough


Poolish [from above]


Gilchesters Pizza/Ciabatta Flour




Fresh Yeast







  • Mix on first speed in an upright machine for 10 minutes with the hook attachment. DDT 26°C
  • Ferment in bulk for 1 hour, covered at 26°C
  • Scale and divide for baguettes at 340g; pre-shape and rest 20 minutes, covered
  • Shape and prove, en coûche, 50 minutes. Use coarse semolina as needed.
  • Use a loader and baguette peel to set the baguettes, and use a grignette to slash the surface beforehand.
  • Bake in a deck oven, with steam at 240°C, top heat 7, bottom heat 5 for 15 minutes. Open the damper and bake out a further 5 minutes.
  • Cool on wires
  • baguettebaguette_crumbPicture1

•2.    High Crown Tinned Breads with a large proportion of Biga in the final dough


Formula [% of flour]

1. Biga


Special CC Flour




Fresh Yeast




2. Final Dough


Biga [from above]


Gilchesters Organic Farmhouse Flour






Fresh Yeast







  • Mix the dough on slow speed only in a spiral mixer for 15 minutes. DDT 27°C
  • Ferment covered, in bulk for 50 minutes at 27°C
  • Scale and divide at 960g for large tins. Pre-shape by moulding round. Rest covered for 10 minutes.
  • Shape and place in prepared tins.
  • Prove at 35°C, 85% rH for 1 hour.
  • Bake in a deck oven with steam at 235°C, top heat6, bottom heat8, for 15 minutes. Drop the temperature to 220°C for 10 minutes. Open the damper and bake out a further 5 -8 minutes.
  • Cool on wires
  • Sponge_TinCut-face2Cut_face1



•3.    A Rye Reversal

I was meant to be accompanying Faye to the Warburton's Young Baker of the Year; the National Final in Bolton, tomorrow.   Faye was scheduled to make her Nettle Bread in College this afternoon.   Let's say the weather has played havoc with our plans.   The bread uses a portion of white leaven in the final dough.   Building this leaven was problem number one.   Faye used up what flour she had at home, and I did the same here in Ananda.   But Alison and I have been snowbound for a few days now.   It took me 3 hours to dig the car out this morning.   A helpful neighbour made sure I could move by employing a digger to clear the route out of the Square.   I had 350g Leaven, and hoped Faye had the rest of what she needed.

But it was all to no avail.   I took a phone call just 10 miles down the road.   The Competition had been postponed.   The road conditions were poor and most of the morning had already passed.   I turned back and went home.   Once safely nestled back in our warm abode, I wondered what to do with the leaven I had.   "Good to go", but only Dark Rye flour in stock!   This is what I came up with.   I've used this title as I love the Pain Siègle formula with a Rye Sour used to raise a primarily wheat bread.   This is a wheat leaven used to raise a mainly rye loaf.   Here is the formula and recipe:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Wheat Leaven



Special CC Flour









2. Final Paste



Leaven [from above]



Bacheldre Dark Rye Flour






Blackstrap Molasses










  • Break up the leaven in water with temperature 35°C.
  • Add and dissolve both the molasses and salt. Then fold in the flour to form a smooth paste; DDT 28°C.
  • Drop the paste into a Pullman Pan lined with silicone paper.
  • Prove for 4 hours at 32°C, lid fitted loosely.
  • Bake from cold in an oven with a water bowl for steam. Heat to 175°C and bake for 1½ hours. Take the lid off the pan, drop the heat to 160°C and bake a further half hour. Probe the core to record a temperature of at least 96°C.
  • Cool on wires
  • DSCF1513DSCF1510DSCF1511DSCF1512DSCF1514DSCF1515DSCF1516DSCF1517DSCF1518


Happy Baking!



trailrunner's picture

Alto and sax , my white and rye starters, were outgrowing their containers since I have been feeding and not discarding . I did this on purpose as I need the discard for lots of other goodies. Here is the best yet. I have made this particular banana bread several times but this time I did a couple different things and it paid off.

First I fed both starters 2 x to get them really going...I store them in the fridge so they needed perking up. I also coated the 8" x 4" bread pans with PAM and then a heavy coating of raw sugar, also dusted the tops before baking. Wow...the loaves are so light and tasty and the coating just simply makes them melt in your mouth.  I also converted the recipe to grams so that consistency could be achieved for those of you that are not used to cup measures. I am recording the doubled amounts that I can halve it if you need to. This makes 3 loaves of 8x4 bread pans. 

2/3 c. butter softened ( 150 g)

2 c white sugar ( 400 g)

2 lrg eggs ( approx 100g)

4 c unsifted AP flour ( 500 g) 

2 tsp baking powder ( 10 g ) 

1 tsp baking soda ( 5 g)

2 tsp salt ( 10 g)

2 c mashed very ripe bananas ( 450 g) I keep them in the freezer till I have enough

2 c sourdough starter freshly fed ( 450 g) I have mine at 75%-100 % hydration and I used 1 cup each rye and white starters . 

1 1 /2  c chopped pecans or your favorite nut ( 200g) 

1 tsp vanilla ( 5 g)

finely zested peel from one orange 

Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy, I use my KA on 1 and then up to 3 to get it very light. Add eggs and cont. till well mixed and light. Add vanilla and orange zest and mix lightly. 

Combine the bananas and starter(s) and beat lightly. Add to above on "1" just till mixed. Combine all dry ingredients and fold into above batter by hand. Fold in chopped nuts. Have your oven set at 350. Coat pans as described above and divide batter in 3 pans. Press extra sugar on top of loaves. Place in center of oven and bake for 55 min. till knife comes clean when inserted in center of loaf. 

Let loaves cool in pans for 10 min and then finish cooling on racks...that is if you can wait...we couldn't ! The bread is so tender and light and flavorful. The riper the bananas are the better. Also store them in the freezer in their skins for full flavor and then thaw and squeeze them into the measuring cup. 

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Zeb's picture

Inspired by Franko and many others, here I am joining in finally with the baking in a pot theme. This dough went straight into  a hot enamel lined cast iron pot, no parchment, no oil and came out clean as a whistle....  plus I must mention Dr Fugawe's awesome home grown Oregon starter (Grapplestein) which has emigrated safely to the UK and raised this one for me! I still don't know how to get those pointy slash ends, maybe I should start the slashes higher up or not cut so deep?  Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

Grappy 2


Pic below is a crumb shot of my first attempt at using a pot the day before  (which was a smaller loaf and higher hydration) The dough is a straight sourdough with a mix of strong white flour, spelt, rye and swiss dark flour, a little yoghurt, a spoonful of organic barley malt and seasalt

Grappy 1

txfarmer's picture

Went to Seattle to visit my parents for Thanksgiving, made cookies, muffins, 3 different kinds of breads, with no evidence since I forgot to bring my camera. Oh well, they tasted good though! Came home on Sunday and need some bread for this week's lunch, but my starters are sound asleep in the fridge. Made this quick 40% rye from Dan Lepard's "A handmade loaf" using dry yeast. The liquid in the formula is dill pickle juice, boosted by some extra fresh dill, the loaf was very flavorful.


Cucumber Pickle Juice Rye (adapted from "A handmade loaf")

bread flour, 300g

rye flour, 200g (toasted at 400F for 15min)

fresh dill, 10g

instant yeast, 3g

salt, 8g

dill pickle juice 350g (I used 390g)

1. mix flour, dill and juice, autolyse for 40min

2. add yeast and salt, knead briefly

3. bulk rise for 2 hours, s&F at 30, 60, 90min.

4. divide into 2, shape each into batard, proof for 1 hour, didn't double, probably grew 50% at most

5. bake at 430F for 10min, 410F for 35min


It's a compact loaf, some discussion on Dan's forum seems to show the same result, but the oven spring was good, as shown by the scoring marks and nice "ears"

Tight crumb, which I expected with a quick 40% rye loaf, the flavor was nice and intense though

The book has a mistake in the amount of fresh yeast used - it should be 1.5%, rather than 1%, which means 7.5g fresh yeast, about 3g of instant yeast. However I wonder whether even more should be used, since the rise was slow and the breads are pretty small.

Following the book's advice, I made a rye flour glaze (2.5tbsp of rye mixed with 150g of water, heat until boiled while mixing continuously, brush the loaf with this paste 15 mins before the end of bake), It does make the loaf extra smooth and shiny, but the crust became a bit too chewy for my taste.

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

dosidough's picture

Boy am I happy with this method!  Can’t wait to retry all the wonderfully tasty breads I’ve tried from here and books that I’ve liked but just couldn’t get that spring going.  This is a heavy cast iron DO and I’m small; but no problem at all getting this together.  I did a trial set up to see how it would go and everything balanced so perfectly.  When it was all pre-heated I think I lost less heat from the oven because it loaded (although a little crookedly) quicker than using the pot right side up.  All worked like a charm.

Lid on bottom of springform pan, Dutch oven inverted on top

Dough loaded onto DO lid (a bit off center though)

Final loaf and crumb shot, just shy of 3" tall.

Gonna use this method again. Oven’s thermometer isn’t fixed yet so I could only get 450°.  Wish I could devote to a constant stream of baking time right now, but I’ve got wallpaper to get up and tons of stuff to unpack yet. No more fretting on the steam methods in this old electric oven, for boules this is the trick in my equipment. Hurrah!

All is very good and... I’m baking on!



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