The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

  • Pin It
erg720's picture

After so many searches for a good chocolate bread i took Hamelman's formula for french bread.

Replace 15 gms of flour with cocoa powder. Add 15 gms brown sugar (the best u can get) and finally, 120 gms 53% dark chocolate.

Didn't change the instruction. So far it's the best one i ever ate.

The second bread is another one from hamelman's book, Golden Raisin and Walnut Bread, which i love and did more then once.

But that unic combination is something i ate in east europe. So instead of the Walnut and the Raisin i put 5 gms dry basil and 50 gms Sunflower seed.


















koloatree's picture

just posting some pics from last nights bake with my new oven. my new oven is off the chain. oven temps can reach set temperatures sooooo much faster compared to my older oven. in a addition to, i now get to play with the convection. im excited!

below is a underproofed 100% sourdough. it was getting late so i decided to bake early...







dough was autolysed for 40 mins + 2 stretch and folds every 30mins, refridgerated over night..

alabubba's picture

This is my first blog entry here on TFL so here goes:

It started out like most weeks. I knocked out a couple loves of basic white bread on Monday.

My scale arrived from on Tuesday along with my new solder sucker and I was anxious to try it out but didn't want to get too much bread on the counter so I decided to wait. Wed completely got away from me and I didn't even cook dinner (McDonalds to the rescue) so along came Thursday and I decided to convert my usual recipe from cups to weight.


I also made a large batch of Portuguese sweet bread using a recipe from this thread (holds99)

On the upper left is the basic white loaf, all the rest is from the sweet bread recipe. (Note, I did not double the recipe. It makes a bunch of dough.


I baked a loaf of basic white again on Friday, using some Seal of Minnesota Flour that one of the grocery stores in my neck of the woods decided to carry in #50 bags (for $16.00) and it was FAB.

I usually use walmart brand cheep AP. I would post pics but we ate the evidence. Will post pics of the next loaf. I had about 20 percent more rise and the crust and crumb rival Wonder Bread! It didn't make it past breakfast the next morning.

So Saturday rolls around and my daughter (20yo) decided she wanted my wife's French Onion Soup. And she wants it in a bread bowl. (I love a challenge)

So I have been wanting to try a version of Ruchbrot (from this thread)


What I came up with was this:

650g Whole Wheat Flour

150g Rye flour

200g AP flour

650 ml water (100° f)

2-1/2 tsp yeast

2-1/2 tsp salt

--1 egg for wash--



Mix everything together in a large bowl. knead everything together into a smooth dough. Let rise until doubled. Form the dough into small boules. Preheat oven to 450 ° f-475 ° f. Wash with the egg to help seal the crust. Let rise until almost doubled and bake for about 25 minutes until done. Internal temp of 195° f


I let them cool and sliced the tops off, pulled the guts out and filled. They held up beautifully, No leaks at all. even after 6 hours, no leaks.

Oh, and did I mention the bread was YUM, Earthy, Hearty, and robust.



SylviaH's picture

From Rose Levy Beranbaum's book 'the bread bible'.  This was my first attempt at making this boule.  I loved the idea of a bread full of sliced almonds and figs and wanted to make this little boule after seeing the photo in RLB book.  I thought it would make a lovely bread to serve with cheese and wine.  The crumb is dense and studded with sliced almonds/on top slivered and dried figs.  I did all my mixing by hand and chose the 'Ultimate full flavor variation'.

It tasted very nice except it was a little on the salty side for me.  Also I think the photo in the book does not give a good shot of the crust under the slivered almonds which I think keep the crust light....which I do not care for such a light crust!  The almond slivers start becoming very dark during the bake so you have to cover it with some foil as instructed.  My almond slivers are much darker than they appear in the photos.  This boule would make a pretty plater centerpiece and go well with cheese and wine.  It has a whole fig in the center and when cut is supposed to resemble a heart!  I just picked a large fig!     






dmsnyder's picture


The “Miche, Pointe-à-Callière” from Jeffrey Hamelman's “Bread” is one of my favorite breads. I've made it a great many times. But I have a confession to make: I've never made it with the proper hydration level.

It started out by my finding one of the very rare errors in this marvelous book. Hamelman's ingredient list in the “Home” version of the Final Dough calls for “1 lb., 6.4 oz (2 ¼ cups)” of water. Now, 2 ¼ cups of water weighs less than this. I initially assumed the volume measurement was correct, and I used 1 lb., 2 oz. of water. You know, this made an outstanding bread. It did have more oven spring and a higher profile than expected, but the crumb was nice and open with large holes, and it tasted great, so I kept using my “corrected” formula.

Now, “Bread” has been such a reliable book, I always doubted my solution. Finally, I compared the ingredient quantities in the 3 listings Hamelman gives with the baker's percentages he gives. It turns out that the error was really in the volume measurement, not the weight. The home recipe should call for 2 ¾ cups of water, which is 1 lb., 6.4 oz.

So, today, for the first time, I made the Miche at the 82% hydration called for in Hamelman's formula.

At the higher hydration level, this dough is not just slack. It is truly gloppy. Hamelman says to mix it 2 to 2 ½ minutes (in a professional spiral mixer) to get “moderate gluten development.” I mixed it in a Bosch Universal Plus for 17 minutes to get something less than “moderate” gluten development. Hamelman then calls for 2 or 3 folds during a 2 ½ hour bulk fermentation. I implemented the “stretch and fold in the bowl” approach and did 30 folds at 30 minute intervals over 2 hours, then I let the dough proof for another 45 minutes. (This is much like the method McGuire uses in his “Pain de Tradition,” as Shiao-Ping has shared with us. Since the Miche, Pointe-à-Callière is also a McGuire bread, according to Hamelman, using this method seemed entirely reasonable.)

I “shaped” the miche by dumping the dough onto a heavily floured board and folding the edges to the center. I made 6-8 folds. The loaf was then transferred to a linen-lined, floured banneton and proofed for 2 hours and baked with steam.


I am cooling the miche overnight before slicing. 

Miche profile

This miche still has a higher profile than those pictured in Hamelman.

Miche crumb

The crumb is about right, but, interestingly, I've gotten more open crumbs on previous bakes using somewhat lower hydration. My hunch is that the difference is related to how I did the bulk fermentation.



Shiao-Ping's picture

It was Tony Bennett who first sang "I left my heart in San Francisco" at the Venetian Room of Fairmont Hotel in 1962.  He is now in his 80s.   Many people in Asia who have not been to San Francisco or do not know much about San Francisco (like me) know it through this song (and the post card fog covered Golden Gate Bridge). 


People may laugh if I say I went to Fairmont Hotel to experience the sense of history when that song was first sung.  Or if I say that I stood in Portsmouth Square in the heart of China Town and tried to picture what it was like when Captain Montgomery first raised an American flag there back in 1846.  In fact it didn't feel like that long ago.  I saw old Chinese men gathered in small groups, squatting, happily playing their Chinese checkers, gambling with small amounts of money - just like the old days in any back streets in China.  Certain things just don't change.  As my husband sometimes says, "you can take the man out of the boy, but you cannot take the boy out of the man." 

The 1848 gold rush saw 12,000 Chinese men joining the foray from across the Pacific and resulted in the oldest, and possibly the largest, China Town in America today.  I often wondered why San Francisco is called "Jiou-gin-shan" in Mandarin (meaning "old gold mountain"); so that's why.  That was a part of overseas Chinese history that is very foreign to me.    

And I can't believe I came to downtown Berkeley.  I heard there were a lot of Chinese in California even back in those days when I was studying in Boston, so I avoided the west coast as much as I could.  UC Berkeley was founded in 1868, a very old school indeed, only 20 odd years after Captain Montgomery came to California.  I walked into a bookstore in the campus called Ten Thousand Minds on Fire, and what did I find?  A poster announcing a concert by the young Chinese pianist Lang Lang ("the hottest artist on the classical music planet" according to The New York Times) on 8th September in UC Berkeley; student ticket $10.  See, if you are a student you get great deals (and your teachers love you).

One great luxury about being in a baking course is that you get to "waste" as much flour as you possibly can (everything in the end goes conveniently to a recycling bin which goes to happy pigs somewhere).  We learnt sourdough made with white starter, made with whole wheat starter, made with rye starter, and with starter which was on a cycle of one feeding a day and two feedings a day, and with starter 40% of final flour, 70% of final flour; and with dough that was bulk fermented or fermented at proofing stage.  We had worked with different types of flours - spelt, rye, semolina, whole wheat, and high extraction flour as well as seeds and nuts.  We had worked with different types of pre-ferments - poolish, sponge and pate fermente (old dough left over from last bake) as opposed to starter to see the difference in bread flavor profile.  We also learnt retarding in bulk and in proofing stage and the resulting variations in dough strength required.  Behind all of these are two key concepts - fermentation and strength, in an effort to achieve a balance for the characteristics that we want in bread.

With this post I am doing a plain sourdough with just white starter; for me this is something like after a long, marathon like, but enjoyable, dinner, before you go home, you want something simple to cleanse, maybe not your palate, but your mind; that is, to lighten up your mind, before you take on the long journey home.  So, not too heavy, please. 


Formula for (white) Sourdough 

Levain Build - Day 4 @ 6:30 am

  • 75 g bread flour

  • 5 g rye flour

  • 47 g water

  • 63 g stiff starter @50% hydration

Mix all ingredients until well incorporated and allow to ferment for 6 hours at room temp of 65 - 70F.

(Note: the fermentation at this initial stage is relatively short as the final dough is to be retarded overnight and will have enough fermentation then for the flavor profile for this sourdough.  Because the fermentation is only 6 hours, the starter as a % of flours is higher than normal at around 80%.  If you wish for a more sour sourdough, you could either do a longer than 6 hour ferment or push starter % of flours even higher so the wild yeasts reach anaerobic condition sooner.)

Final Dough - Day 4 @ 12:30 noon

  • 470 g bread flour

  • 330 g water @ around 50 F in order to achieve a dough temp of around 74 - 76F

  • 12 g salt

  • 190 g levain (all from above)

  • extra rye flour for dusting

Total dough weight 1kg and total dough hydration 67%

  1. Mix all ingredients in first speed of your mixer until well incorporated about 4 - 5 minutes.

  2. Switch to second speed (approx. the 4th gear on home Kitchen Aid mixer) for 4 - 5 minutes to achieve a medium strength of gluten development.  (Note: as the dough is going to be shaped and proof overnight, the gluten needs to be quite well developed at this stage.  Conversely, if the dough is to be retarded in bulk overnight and some strength will be picked up in that process, the gluten does not need to be as well developed at mixing.)

  3. Scrape dough out into a lightly oiled container, give it a fold, and cover.  

  4. First fermentation 1 + 1/2 hours with one fold in the container after 45 minutes.

  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work bench.  

  6. Divide dough to 2 x 500 g and pre-shape to cylinder. 

  7. Rest for 20 minutes and in the mean time dust linen with rye flour.

  8. Shape dough into thin batards with pointed ends.  

  9. Place shaped dough on linen seam side up and cover the dough with plastic bag.

  10. Place the whole thing into your fridge to retard overnight.

Bake - Day 5 @ 9 am

  1. Remove the shaped dough out of the fridge and turn on your oven to pre-heat to 450F

  2. An hour later, steam the oven, score the batards three times down the center line, then load the dough onto your baking stone, steam again.  Bake for 35 minutes.

  3. Bake for another 5 minutes with oven door ajar to let the crust dry out more.

  4. Cool on rack before slicing.







For relatively low hydration (67%), this sourdough has quite an open crumb.  This dough will make for a great sourdough baguette too.  The flavour is very much to my taste, mildly sour but complex with a long lasting after-taste.

With this post, I am going into the air, flying home tomorrow, and I don't know when I will return next; it was like 25 years ago in Boston, I thought I'd never come to America again in my life (flying was such a big deal then), so I did as much travelling as I could within the States, the furthermost west I'd gone to was Columbus, Ohio, to listen to New Orleans jazz.  And for some reason I forgot I didn't have a return ticket to go home!  If not because towards the end of my semester a big multinational corporation offered me a job and to fly home (I was not a seeker of a job then), I might still be like a dog gone astray in the streets of America!  


                                                The light dancing on the tree trunk, UC Berkeley



davidg618's picture

Four afternoons of hands-on baking--that's Hands-on with a capital H. We started with first steps for making croissants, and sourdough levain, went on to bake lavash, classic baguettes (poolish),  sunflower sourdough bread, rye fougasse (w/preferment), miche, and pizza. The latter two were baked in a wood fired oven; all our other dough were baked in the KA Bakery oven.

The class uses a simple format: one of the teaching bakers demonstrates what's to be done; immediately following the students do what they observed, with guidance and critique by the roving teachers. Short lectures, followed by Q's and A's round out the teaching. The ratio of doing to demonstration and talking was roughly 7 to 1.

Two, sometimes three doughs were in various degrees of completion at any moment. For example, on day one we were given a small portion of sourdough seed starter, which we fed and set aside to be fed again the next day. We had just finished making the croissant's dough and butter block, which were chilling overnight.
We also made the poolish for the baguettes, and finished the day making whole wheat lavash--a spicy, whole-wheat version, peppered with mixed whole seeds, and salt. We got our first exposure to the commercial oven baking the lavash.

Day two was devoted to baguettes, but first we completed "le beurrage" rolling out the croissant dough, encasing the butter block in the dough, shaping the first tri-fold, and returning our efforts to chill overnight again. Following, we made our baguette dough, hand kneaded and stretched-and-folded once. While our baguette doughs proofed, Sharon O'Leary, the baker responsible for KA Bakery's daily output of baguettes demonstrated the preshaping and final shaping of baguettes. The school bakers had prepared a large batch of baguette dough for our practice. Consequently, we each got to form three baguettes--the first one or two directly under Sharon's guidance, and and the balance on our own--before shaping our own doughs.  Our baguettes proofed, while we listened to a short lecture on scoring, then off to the oven where we scored and baked both the practice and our own baguettes.

On day three we completed our croissants, tri-folding twice more, and book-folding once; fifty-four laminations resulted. Micheal, the youngest student, a teen attending the class with his mother did the math. After chilling we each rolled out a sheet adequate to create eight shapes of either croissants, bear claws, or pinwheels. Chocolate batons and almond cream were provided. We also did some freeform shapes with the scrapes, and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Properly baked croissants finish with a much darker color than the many insipid faux croissants offered in supermarket bakeries. We finished the day making the fougasse preferment.

Each day, we aslo fed our sourdough starters, discarding half each time. The Vermont weather was unusuallly hot and humid, so our teachers kindly fed our starters during the hours we were absent.

Day four we finished our sourdoughs: pain au levain-like with sunflower seeds. The teachers demonstrated forming boules and batards, tightening the dough's outer surface relying on the friction between the dough and the unfloured butcherblock table. Susan Miller, our sourdough instructor, beginning the day before making a stiff levain, made a large batch of miche dough--enough that each student shaped and scored a 3.5 pound loaf, later baked in the bakery's oven. We finshed the day hand-tending our fougasse, and then pizzas (the teachers made the pizza dough) in the school's large, wood-fired oven. I shared a bottle of my home vinted 2007 Pinot Noir with my classmates.

Although, some of us were disappointed Jeffrey Hamelman, King Arthur's Bakery and Education Center Director, neither taught nor made an appearance, the bakers, Jessica Meyers, Michelle Kupiec, and the previously mentioned Sharon and Susan were superb. Collectively, they share over sixty years of experience baking artisanal breads. The atmoshphere was informal, and relaxed.

I bake alone like, I presume, many other TFL members. There is no one, neither home baker or professional near at hand I can learn with, share ideas with, nor smell, taste, poke or squeeze their doughs and breads. This class, a birthday gift from my wife, helped fill that void.

smasty's picture

My first attempt at SD was a disaster.  Thanks to the great input I received, I embarked on a 2nd attempt yesterday/today.  This is Hamelman's Vermont SD recipe.  My liquid levain culture (Norman) was 11 days old yesterday.  I created the levain build early yesterday morning, too early, and it overripened.  Since I knew it had fermented for about 22 hours, instead of the 16 max recommended, I decided to only do a 1/2 recipe (until I get it right).  I mixed everything early this morning.  The bulk ferment took about 6.5 hours to result in just less than a doubling.  Then I shaped the loaf and let it set for about 2.5 hours.  My result is about 80% quality (way way better than last time...but much room to improve).  As you can see, my cuts did not open well, there wasn't enough oven spring--the loaf should have set for another hour, at least.  The crust is magnificent, and the flavor is really is sour!  The crumb is too dense.  The crumb color is a little off too...more gray instead of white or cream (I can't remember what causes this).  At least this loaf is edible (DH loves it).  This has been an awesome learning experience, and I greatly appreciate the suggestions I received the first time.  I realize the talent that resides on this board, and appreciate the help given to us newbies!


Jw's picture

as mentioned, I got a basket from the sfbs. It took a few weeks before I could try it out, TFL is a good resource for tips. The first attempt is actually a slow bread, it looked promising. The pattern is not that good. The other breads are all SF sourdough.

Here (below) I tried scoring the bread, but I guess it was not deep enough (or too late in the rise).

Here the scoring has improved, slowly getting there. I should have noted the rising times... too much flower as well.

Getting closer where I want to be. The wooden shoe (size US12/EU46) is there to get an impression of the size of the breads. I am happy with the crumb! I will go back to new recipes, when I 'perfected' this form.

Expectations about the taste have even been higher, when my 'customers' (friends and family) see the new form. I can definitely recommend getting a basket like this (and I will get the oval shape at a later point in time).

Happy baking!


Mebake's picture

I delayed this bread long enough, i thought to myself. It was, afterall, the inspiration behind baking craziness. The bread is 1/3 Barley and 2/3 Wholewheat.

Taste? mmm.. it was sourdough, though some 1.6 tsp of yeast was used in the final dough. The bread tastes: Wholesome- Soury- Fibery- damp- chewy - Crusty. Thats is the way i felt when i took a bite. Regrets? Would skip the  Wholewheat starter and go for a yeast poolish to somewhat reduce sourness, though the bread was mildly sour.


150 g Whole Barley flour

300 g Whole Wheat Flour

80 g Ripe Stiff Wholewheat starter

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp Active dry inst. yeast

1 tsp molasses

265 g water


As instructed by Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain breads, i made a biga and a soaker.

Soaker: 150g WholeWheat flour + 75g Whole Barley Flour + all Salt + 130g water

Biga: 150g Wholewheat Flour + 75g Wholebarley flour + all starter + 130 g water

I let them sit for 1 hour, then i refrigerate them for 24 hours.

Next day, i removed the two doughs, biga and soker from the fridge and let them sit for 2 hours to warm. Next, i mixed the two doughs thoroughly , added all the yeast and 5 grams water, and knead  until both incorporated evenly (the final dough.)

I oiled a bowl and put the final dough in for bulk fermentation. This took 1.5 hours. I carefully scraped the dough into a floured workspace, and began shaping the dough into a Boule. Initial shaping was followed by final shaping, and into the proofing basket upside down it went. I preheated the oven to 450 F or 240 C with an empty load paf for steaming and a cast-iron skillet as a baking stone.

1 hour later I removed the Hot cast iron skillet, and inverted the dough from the basket to a parchment and unto the skillet. Into the oven it went and i poured hot water into the hot loaf pan to creat steam and closed the oven.

1 hour later, i turned the oven off, i opened the oven door for 10 minutes with the bread in for extra crust, and then removed it unto a cooling rack.

The Boule in the oven after 8 minutes

Sourdough Barley Bread


A crumb Shot

Another Crumb shot



Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries