The Fresh Loaf

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amolitor's picture

This is a variation on Joe Ortiz' recipe in The Village Baker (as indeed so many of my breads are).

Basically I've sourdoughed it up, and subbed in hot cereal for rye meal.

Evening of Day 0

Mix 1 cup rye flour with 3/4 cup warm water, and a tablespoon or so of active liquid starter ("sufficient" starter).

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup Bob's Red Mill 7-Grain Cereal with 1 cup boiling water. This cereal is a multi-grain cracked-grain cereal (like steel cut oats or Irish oats, NOT rolled), and I think any such cereal would behave very similarly.

Let these stand overnight. By morning the rye sponge should be very active. I'm not too fussy about "ripeness" but you may want to wait until it starts to fall (indicating ripeness).

Morning of Day 1

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raisins (to taste)

  • 1-2 teaspoons caraway seed (to taste)

  • 3 tablespoons quite warm water

Joe suggests that you combine these with a mortar and pestle into a paste. I don't have this tool, so I chop the raisins and caraway together on a cutting board (the raisins, properly used to surround and cover the caraway, prevent the chopped seeds from flying all over the place) as fine as I have the patience for. Either way, let soak for a little while. A few minutes is fine. An hour is fine.

Combine the two bowls from the previous night, the raisin-caraway mixture, and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Mix in about 2 cups bread flour (you'll have to work some in kneading, probably). You're looking for a firm dough here. 55% hydration, maybe? Joe says 'a medium dough'. I think of it as an American style dough.

Knead 5-10 minutes. The cereal and the rye flour seem to make the dough completely un-windowpane-able, so knead until feels right, or for 10 minutes if you don't feel like you have a sense of what "feels right" is!

Bulk rise for a couple of hours, it may not double, but eventually it will have inflated substantially, and a poke test will indicate "done" (use a wetted finger to poke a hole 1/3 of an inch deep, if the hole fills back in VERY SLOWLY or not at all, you're probably there). Oil up a loaf pan sufficient to hold all the dough. Mine is a standard loaf pan, but "largish" rather than "smallish". It might be 9-10 inches long, and 4 inches wide?

Divide dough in two, flatten each piece. For each piece:

  • Fold the far 1/3 toward you, flatten with heel of hand.

  • Fold the bottom 1/3 away from you, so it overlap the previous fold, flatten.

  • Fold the right 1/3 in just as you did the top, flatten.

  • Left 1/3 to overlap the previous fold, flatten.

You can repeat this a few times -- you're giving the dough more strength, if it's not "fighting" you a bit, give it a couple more turns. You should have a neat rectangular packet at this point. Make your last two folds:

  • More gentle, more of a "rolling up" than a flattening out.

  • So that the length of the final packet is about 1/2 the length of your loaf pan -- the fold will go ALONG the length of the pan, not across. Imagine two jelly-rolls end-to-end in the pan.

Repeat for the other half of the dough. You SHOULD have, assuming my instructions are clear enough, two sort of rolled up lumps which when you place them end to end will pretty much fit neatly in your oiled loaf pan.

Oil the ends of each roll of dough, the ends that will press against one another in the pan, in the middle, and plop them into the pan. This will form an easily pulled-apart seam in the middle.

Let rise in the pan, again it may not double but will inflate and start "poke" testing right. DO NOT PREHEAT THE OVEN.

When it's risen, brush a little oil on the top of each half of the loaf, and slash each half lengthwise down the middle. Place in cold oven, and turn the temperature to 450. Bake for 25 minutes, turn down to 400 and bake another 40-45 minutes. The loaves will be very dark brown.

One of the reasons I love this recipe so is that I don't have to preheat the oven, which is great because I am absent-minded, AND I save energy!

The bread is mild-rye-ish, a little sweet from raisins (depending on how many you used) and a little caraway flavored (again, depending on how much you put in) and has a mild sour tang. The crumb is moist and dense, and has little crunchy bits in it from the hot cereal, which we like for texture.

This shows the "middle" end of one of the two mini-loaves, where the two press together, and get peeled apart:

And this shows the other end, the end up against the end of the metal loaf pan:


Finally, crumb:


Lisa Mary's picture
Lisa Mary

Does the type of oven have an effect on the taste of the bread?


foodslut's picture


I know I've been concentrating on going low (on yeast) and slow (on the ferment) with my breads to improve the quality/flavour.  Sometimes, though, life intervenes.  I managed to use some of what I've learned here and elsewhere to get a reasonable quality bread ready very quickly.

I found out a friend of the family was in the hospital, waiting to fly out of town for surgery, and I wanted to do something.  My sweetie dropped by, and she got to talking with my friend's partner about my bread.  My friend's partner said he'd heard of my olive-cheese bread, and my sweetie committed.  Problem:  plane's leaving day after next!  Had to have a batch ready from a standing start after work by the end of the same evening for next-morning drop-off.

While I know it will be considered sacrilege to the "low and slow" doctrine, I had to speed up fermentation, so I cranked up the instant yeast from my usual 0.5% for a slow overnight ferment in the fridge to a wild-and-crazy 2.5%.  To counteract at least some of the flavour effects of the quick ferment, I threw in some old dough I keep in the fridge (70% hydration).  Here's the final formula I used (PDF) in both grams and ounces.

I mixed, autolysed, kneaded and fermented for about 75-90 minutes at about 70 F/21 C.  I then divided the dough into 2 x 750g/24 ounce loaves, rested, shaped and proofed for about 60 minutes at about about 70 F/21 C.

Into a steamed oven at 510F for 8 minutes, followed by 400F for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is about 205F.

Here's the result:

Crust was outstanding and crumb (batteries ran out before I could get the crumb shot) was great.  I couldn't detect any yeasty taste in spite of the extra yeast I added.  I think that's because of the old dough and the strongish flavour of the add-ins (I used green spicy olives and smoked Gouda).

I'm told my friend's partner enjoyed the bread - mission accomplished, especially if it distracts him a bit from his sweetie's suffering and waiting.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to meet the needs of real life,  If you know the rules reasonably well, though, you can find ways to make the best of a less-than-perfect situation.

JCaye5's picture

Why does my bread have a yeast taste to it after I bake it. The texture is good and the crust is good. Is this normal or does it make a difference when you start making it over night and then finishing up with the second process the next day I combined everything together when I made a tuscan bread in one process.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

My wife told me this morning that we were having Italian Sausage on pasta for dinner. I said "But I don't have any bread!" I decided to make Italian Feather Bread (which I have made quite a few times, but not lately) and try the steaming technique SylviaH described since I felt my previous steaming attempts were pretty weak. I am also using Better for Bread flour for the first time. (It is Buy One Get One Free at Albertson's this week.)

Beard on Bread - Italian Feather Bread original recipe here.

SylviaH steaming technique is described here.

Here they are in the oven, almost done.

Almost Done!

Here are the ingredients I used.

  • Better for Bread Flour  700 grams

  • Water (room temp) 414 grams (about 60%)

  • Sugar 15 grams (about 1 Tbs)

  • Instant Yeast 13 grams (about 3.5 tsp)

  • Salt 14 grams (about 2 tsp)

  • Olive Oil (EVOO) 66 grams (about 1/3 cup)


  • Combine flour, water, sugar, yeast, autolyze 20 min

  • Add salt and EVOO, then knead (I did about 6 min in Bread Machine dough cycle)

  • Rise in oil coated bowl with 3 stretch and folds on the counter every 30 min.

  • Divide in half, pre-shape, rest 10 min, shape into something (see pics).

  • Place in couche, seam down. (Couche is Chicago Metalic Italian Bread Pan lined with flour coated microfiber kitchen towels.)

  • Proof for about 45 mins, preheat oven to 425 with quarry tiles in place.

  • Heat wet towels in baking dish in microwave.

  • Put dish with hot towels in oven 10 mins before bread. Add 1 cup hot water.

  • Roll loaves, one at a time onto peel, slash, mist with water and put on quarry tiles.

  • Bake at 425 for 10 mins, remove pan with towels, rotate bread, bake for another 20 min.

  • Turn off oven, leave bread in another 5-8 min.

  • Let cool on racks.

At least that is what I intended. The 2nd loaf to go in the oven stuck a little to the peel (rimless sheet pan) and was half on/half off of the tiles. I got a couple of metal spatulas and got it back on, but not very straight. Decided to leave well enough alone. Good call.

I was very happy to see the nice oven spring and opening of the slashes when I removed the towels. I am also very pleased with the look of the crust. Much better on all counts than previous attempts.

The main change I made to Sylvia's steaming method was to put all four towels in the baking dish in the microwave at once, and then tranfer the entire dish and towels into the bottom of the oven just before taking the loaves out of the couche. I added the 1 cup of steaming water when I put the bread in. I never saw much steam, but that may because it was warm and humid today in Florida.

Towels ready to go in oven

Ear and the required crumb close up, I would guess this is typical for 60% hydration?



Sylvia, thanks for this technique, I will do it again for sure.


Submitted to YeastSpotting.

turosdolci's picture

I added  cranberries to a biscotti recipe of my grandmothers making it part of our Thanksgiving dessert selection. We always add a little of our Italian heritage to each course of our dinner. Being in the middle of all the cranberry bogs on Cape Cod made it even more special this year.



txfarmer's picture

I'm still tackling that big bag of Costco carrots. This formula is inspired from this blog post, which in turn is adapted from 《Brot backen: Mit Rezepten & Ernährungstipps vom Bio-Bäcker》(No, I have no idea what it means, until Google Translate came to help). It is supposed to be "vitalbrot", a bread that's often seen in Austria. The trouble is that I know little about Austrain bread, even less about this particular kind. After making some "slight" modifications to the original formula, I really have no idea how authentic this is comparing to the original version. However, I do know that it's fragrant, moist, delicious with layers of deep flavors. My adaption involves: 

- halved the recipe

- used sourdough only, no commerical yeast

- retarded overnight after shaping

- no oil in the dough


Even without the oil, the dough is plenty wet at 79% hydration. I think shredded carrots released water, while seeds absorbed extra, they kinda balanced out. Two significant things I noticed about this dough:

1. It's needs a lot of S&F to develope enough strength. I mixed with my hands after autolyse for a while, then S&F every half an hour during teh 3 hour fermentation. Wet carrots, seeds, and rye all may have contributed to the lack of gluten of the dough, but at the end of bulk rise, all is well, the dough expanded for about 50%, and gained enough strength. Still a wet and sticky glob, but a strong glob.

2. It fermentate so very fast. It might just be my rye stater, which has a history of rising dough with lightening speed. The bulk rise took barely 3 hours, and the house was on the cool side (70F, cool for Texas, or at least this Texas girl!). After retarding, the dough was ready to be baked straight from the fridge! Doughs with similar hydration usually would require some further proofing at room temp, but not this one. After sending them into the oven, I was second guessing myself and worried about underproofing, but in the end, the breads showed that I caught it at the right time. Any more proofing, they will be flat.


Nice open crumb studded with carrots and seeds, deliciously fragrant, and very moist

Made two loaves, each about 1 lb. I think with such wet and relatively weak dough, it's better to bake smaller loaves, that way they don't spread as much on the stone. Happy with their volume this time around.

Baked them long enough to ensure a crisp singing crust

My formula (adapted from 《Brot backen: Mit Rezepten & Ernährungstipps vom Bio-Bäcker》)

Note: makes 2 loaves, each 1 lb

- Soaker

Flaxseeds, 40g

pumpkin seeds, 40g

hot water, 75g

1. Mix and put aside for overnight


- Final Dough

Bread Flour, 325g

water, 165g

salt, 8g

carrots, 100g, shredded

rye starter (100%), 150g

all of the soaker

2. Mix everything but salt, autolyse for 30min, mix with hand until dough comes together, a few minuts.

3. Bulk rise at 70F for 3 hours, S&F every 30min.

4. Divide into 2 parts, preshape, rest, shape into loaves.Put in brotforms smooth side down, cover wiht pastic, and put in fridge (40F) overnight.

5. If needed proof more at room temp the 2nd morning (I didn't need that), bake on stone at 450F for 35min, the first 12min with steam.


Delicious flavor, great texture for both crumb and crust. Yes, it's also healthy, but even if it's not, I would devour it in a heartbeat. Now, only if someone can tell me whether it's anywhere close to the real Austrian Vitalbrot?


Sending this to Yeastspotting.

MadAboutB8's picture

I haven't made the fruit loaves for a while. Not that I don't like them, I do love fruit toast (a lot actually), but I've been obsessed about making grains, seeds, whole wheat breads recently and kind of overlooking my old-time favourite, sourdough fruit toast. 

Sometimes, one needs a reminder or a nag. My boyfriend just mentioned the other day what a great fruit toast from the Dench Baker (artisan bakery and café in Fitzroy, Melbourne) he had. It sorted of giving me a signal that maybe I should be baking other breads apart from grain and seed breads. 

I picked Golden Raisin Sourdough recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread cookbook. It's one of my favourite recipes from the book. The bread has 20% whole wheat flour, 10% rolled oats and 25% golden raisins.


Hamelman's recipe is 69% hydration which I found the dough to be very stiff. I adjusted the hydration to 72% (the dough still feel stiff with 72%). I guess that the hydration can even go higher to 75% as the oats, raisins and whole wheat flour absorb more water.


The bread is very moist and sweet due to substantial amount of raisins in it. The oats seems totally blend-in with the dough and disappear altogether. The bread is great toasted with butter. It makes a fantastic breakfast.


More details, photos and recipes can be found here :> 



Yippee's picture


I haven't really been taking full advantage of Mr. Hamelman's book. The 90% rye made at the beginning of this year was the one and only formula from his book I've attempted.  For the most part of the year, I've been taking my time to upgrade my equipment, getting to know their properties, and playing with a simple formula.  Now it seems that I've gotten a hang of the very basic aspects of bread baking, I'm ready for more 'adventures'.

This time I picked the five-grain sourdough with rye starter.  This is a pretty straight-forward formula.  Despite the high % of whole grains in the dough, the high gluten flour used has made up for decent gluten development.  Due to the relatively high hydration, the dough was very loose in my mixer at the beginning. I briefly mixed all the ingredients and let them sit for a while and ran the mixer again. I considered this the 'S&F' by my mixer. By repeating this a few times, the gluten had developed to the extent I preferred and the dough had formed within the first hour.  The handling of dough was not a problem at all.

To prepare for this and other future bakes of Mr. Hamelman's formulae, I stocked up with 50 lbs of cracked rye. Considering how frequently I bake, it should probably last through next decade! Just kidding!  I've found other uses of cracked rye, thanks to the delay of my bake.  Each morning in the week following the original bake that was cancelled, I ate some of the refrigerated soaker with my oatmeal. At the end of that week, all the old soaker was consumed.  I prepared a new batch of soaker for this bake. 

I was hoping this bake would serve as a test for temperature and timing required for fermentation of dough leavened by an active, systematically refreshed starter.  Inevitably, the original bake was put off and I was, again, working with a weeks-old, unrefreshed starter. When I prepared this starter for the original bake, I did not follow the instruction in the book.  Instead, I used up most of my 100% rye starter on hand and built it into an 83% levain. 

When my dough is in final proof, I usually check on its progress before I go to work in the morning and adjust the thermostat accordingly, so that it would be ready for baking when I return.  There was an episode this time which almost gave me a heart attack.   Instead of seeing the 54F I had set for the overnight proof, the bright red, heart-stopping 64F on the digital display made my eyes pop!  I had forgotten to turn on the refrigerator!  I said to myself:  'I'm dead, it's over!' (今次死梗, 衰硬!)  Thank goodness, the dough was a little shy of ready; my sluggish starter had saved the day!  I froze the dough immediately for an hour and moved it to a 33F refrigerator.  When I got home that night, it had reached the perfect stage for baking.  Whew! ( 險過剃頭!)

The following is a summary of my interpretation of the formula:



This is one of the loaves I'm going to bring home to my parents during Thanksgiving.  In order to come up with a variety of breads, I have to complete a few more bakes within the next few days. Time is running out. Yikes!  The pressure is on!     

Here are some pictures:

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I've been slowly brewing away with some thoughts over the years....  Starters and their differences.  Why is it that sometimes a weak rising sourdough starter culture will bounce back quickly (too quickly) and suddenly "stabilize" after chilling or a near death experience?

I have a timing theory thinking the yeasts might have syncronized their life cycles through temperature control and also the idea that perhaps getting the desired yeasts to spore (hibernate) and then wake up the correct yeast using the same selected bacteria group to do the job.  I have always (still do hopefully) kept my ears and eyes open for explanations. 

I was pointed to a podcast on research extending life spans recently and the mention that yeasts were also affected perked up my ears.  Why not?  I began to think about it more and more and it made sense.  Maybe this was one explanation for what I was observing.  Longevity of yeast perhaps.  That the yeast were living longer budding more and producing more gas in their life spans before dying letting the next generations take over.  The peaks that stay peaked for longer periods of time after feeding the neglected starter.   Hmmm.  Puts the expression "never starve a starter" into question.

There is also lots of other information in the interview like a quick mention that 2% sugar intake shortened life span by 20% which also could be applied to yeasts.  I wonder what the details are there?  The BBC Podcast features Prof. Cynthia Kenyon, director for the Hillblom Center for Aging, Univ of Calif. San Fran.   Topic: Latent capability to extend lifespan.

Toward the end of the interview, I was struck by our own TFL member diversity and how contributions from so many have enriched the site.   Listen and enjoy!

"Lay back and bake at TFL!"


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