The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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trailrunner's picture

This is winging its way to NYC for my best friend to use at her celebration Friday evening. I have been making Challah for well over 35 years now but only learned how to do this braid last year. Thanks to TFL for that info . Hope you enjoy and have a blessed holiday.

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Shiao-Ping's picture

Have you ever used shop-bought bread pre-mixes to make sourdoughs?  I have several unfinished bread mixes at home from those days when I used bread machine to make pan breads; they are all reaching their use-by dates and I really don't want to waste them. 

The Multigrain Bread Mix I have is soy (10%) and linseed (5%), whole rye, maize polenta, in addition to unbleached wheat flour.  It has many "dough conditioners" added in: ascorbic acid, enzyme, emulsifier, etc., to assure of its performance.  And the salt (2.4%) has also been added in.  The box says its protein is 12.6%.  All that you need to add is water and yeast, and way you to.  For a home sourdough there is nothing wrong with using it (I am not concerned with my label!).

This is how my multigrain bread-mix sourdough has turned out:






My formula 

  • 700 g mature white starter @75% hydration (ie, 300 water + 400 g flour)

  • 700 g Australia's Laucke Multigrain Bread Mix

  • 8 g salt (for the flour portion of the starter)

  • 492 g water

Total dough weight 1900 g and total dough hydration 72% 


  1. Mix by hand

  2. Autolyse 30 minutes

  3. Bulk fermentation 3 hours with 5 folds every 30 minutes

  4. Proof for one hour

  5. Retard in refrigerator for 14 hours

  6. Bake with steam as usual






Using bread pre-mixes to make sourdough is quite a fool-proof way to make a nice tasting bread. 


mcs's picture

Callie (calliekoch) came from Fort Collins, Colorado to the Back Home Bakery last week (Sept 5-13) for her one week internship.  Although new to sourdoughs, Callie's been baking and cooking for a while, and it showed in her meticulous work and attention to detail.

striking a pose while sheeting puff-pastry dough


Apfelstrudel, shaping Buckwheat Flax boule, croissants, finished Buckwheat Flax loaves

I'm sure you'll agree everything looks absolutely perfect!

Thanks for all of the help Callie, hope to see you again up here.



maixner's picture

This is my very first post!  I received a note that the 2009 Food Blog Awards are open.  I love The Fresh Loaf and think it would win best community blog but I don't know anything about the Food Blog Awards.

mariacuellar's picture

Hello Fresh Loaf!

I'm writing to invite everyone here to read my blog! I am a beginner artisan home baker, and I've been learning by myself through books, youtube videos, and experience. I have been doing some research with several famous baking books and I'll be posting my reviews for them. Check it out! I'll soon write more substantial posts here as well.

I love this community!

loafgirl's picture

So I started baking about a year ago.  Everything I did turned out surprisingly wonderful.  From my sourdough to my soft pretzels, I hardly ever had issues with any step of the baking process.  Then we remodeled our kitchen.  Since then, I have had no luck with anything.  It's like my dough never firms up.  I find myself adding more flour, and yet it's always falling apart and worthless. I couldn't even produce pizza dough the other night for our guests.  My specialty (mostly for my husband and family) has always been my soft pretzels, and I couldn't even make those tonight.  After letting the dough rise it was like a hot sticky mess that I couldn't even work with.  I am tired of spending hours on crap.  I wasted 3 days on 4 sourdough loaves over this weekend and it kills me.   HELP!!!!!  What gives?  I am so frustrated I am seriously thinking of giving up the only hobby that I have and love.  Please help me.  Is it the water?  We now have a RO (reverse osmosis) system since we have well water (although I always used bottled before).  I have been using a lot more Organic flour because some of my goods (if I can ever get them right) will be for a local Organic restaurant in town.  Is it that?  If so, I will reconsider my chance to sell my bread.  I don't get it!  I have done nothing different than what I used to do and I cannot make anything. 

Loafgirl is ready to retire after 11 months.

koloatree's picture

just some pics from yesterdays bake. next time, i will do the second proof longer, increase hydration slightly, and reread scoring tutorial. not sure why the other side didnt get spring. maybe i didnt score deep enough? 


higher hydration


Kuret's picture

Seeing as rye breads are all over this place nowdays I decided to share some loaves I have baked the last weeks. First up is the 80% rye with soaker from Bread. This bread is really great! I made two of these 850g breads and they lasted a week each, with some saved in the freezer for the next time I make the Horst bandel black pumpernickel.

This is how one of the loaves looked when ready for cutting. A little overfoured I have to admit..


I am really fond of the cracks that appear when you make properly proofed rye breads. When I cut the loaves open I found a much more open crumb than what I am used to when handling this kind of high percentage rye, to me the crumb looks more like a 60% rye than an 80%. This combined with a robust rye flavor made for great open face sandwiches with cream cheese and chives. Who whould say no to that?

           80% rye crumb

I also baked some "american pumpernickel", I do not really know what classifies a bread as pumpernickel though. This loaf is a 40%rye made with finely ground rye flour with some ground up caraway and fennel added, the color is homemade caramel coloring. The tomato is a tomato..



dmsnyder's picture


Today's sourdough bread is a continuation of the experiment from last week with my modified steaming method of pouring hot water over pre-heated lava rocks in a cast iron skillet both before and after loading the loaves in the oven.

I had two new goals: In addition to trying to replicate last weeks good results, I wanted to increase the sourness of the bread and I wanted to see if I could get a “crackly” crust.

In the interest of increased sourness, I elaborated a firmer levain than what I customarily use. I fed the levain two days before mixing the dough, fermented it overnight and then refrigerated it for 18 hours. I also doubled the percentage of the levain in the formula.

I have read that lower protein flour will produce a more crackly crust, while higher protein flour produces a more crunchy, harder crust. Therefore, I used AP flour (11.7% protein) rather than the high-gluten flour (14.2% protein) I had used last week.

Since I was using a lower protein flour, I reduced the hydration of the dough to 70%. Note that the effective hydration is even a bit lower, since the levain was less hydrated also. I used the same procedures as last week except I baked the loaves slightly longer, since they were slightly larger (because of the additional levain).




Baker's percentage

Giusto's Baker's Choice flour

450 gms


Whole rye flour

50 gms



350 gms



10 gms


Levain (50% hydration)

200 gms



972 gms



  1. Mix the flours and water to a shaggy mass. Cover and let rest for 20-60 minutes.

  2. Add the salt and levain and mix to moderate gluten development.

  3. Transfer to the bench and do a couple of folds, then transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover it. Note the volume the dough will achieve when doubled.

  4. After 45 minutes, do another stretch and fold, then allow the dough to double in volume.

  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape into rounds. Let the pieces rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes.

  6. Shape each piece into a boule and transfer to well-floured bannetons, seam side up. Place each in a food-grade plastic bag, seal the openings.

  7. Allow to proof for 30-60 minutes (less in a warmer environment), then refrigerate for 8-14 hours.

  8. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator 2-4 hours before baking (depending on how risen they are and how warm the room is). Allow to warm up and expand to 1.5 times the loaves original volume.

  9. 45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500F with a baking stone on the middle shelf and a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks on the bottom shelf. (I suggest moving the stone ove to within one inch of the oven wall on your non-dominant side. Place the skillet next to the wall on your dominant side.)

  10. When the loaves are ready to bake, pour 1/3 cup of boiling water over the lava rocks and close the oven door fast. (Strongly suggest holding the kettle wearing an oven mitt!)

  11. Transfer the loaves to a peel or to parchment paper on a peel, and load them onto your baking stone.

  12. Immediately pour ½ cup of boiling water over the lava stones and quickly close the oven door.

  13. Turn the oven temperature down to 460F and set a timer for 12 minutes.

  14. After 12 minutes, remove the skillet. Reset the timer for 20 minutes.

  15. The loaves are done when nicely colored, thumping their bottoms gives a “hollow” sound and their internal temperature is at least 205F.

  16. When the loaves are done, turn off the oven but leave the loaves in the oven with the door ajar for 7-10 minutes to dry the crust.

  17. Cool thoroughly (2 hours) before slicing and serving.


I autolysed the flours and water for about 30 minutes. I then added the levain and salt and mixed with the paddle in my KitchenAid for about 2 minutes. As I was switching to the dough hook, I was surprised how much gluten development had already occurred. I mixed with dough with the dough hook at Speed 2 for just a couple minutes more and already had moderate gluten development.

To what could I attribute this? The only possibilities were the increased percentage of levain and the different flour. My hypothesis is it was mostly the flour. We hear that higher-gluten flours require more mixing to develop the gluten. I was using a lower gluten flour than usual for this type of bread.

The dough consistency (Thank you, MC for this useful distinction from the SFBI!) was almost identical to that of last week's dough, so my guesstimated hydration adjustment seemed spot on.

These boules were proofed for a bit over an hour before they were refrigerated. The next morning, they sat at room temperature for about 2 hours before baking. When I transferred them to the peel, they spread some. This could be because of the lower gluten flour effects, slight over-proofing or a combination of factors.

The loaves had reasonable but not great oven spring, and they had less bloom than the previous bake. This suggests they were probably over-proofed a bit. I baked them for 22 minutes at 460F. They then sat in the turned off oven for 7 minutes to dry the crust.

The crust was not as shiny as the last ones, but by no means “dull.” They were singing already when I took them out of the oven. It seemed to me, that the “tune” was higher pitched than the song my boules generally sing. Could this be because of the lower gluten flour? Thinner crust? And … Woohoo! Cracks began to appear in the crust as the bread cooled!

The crust has a crunchy bite. As can be seen from the crumb shot, below, it is relatively thick. I think that, to get a thin  crackly crust like a classic baguette, one must have a shorter bake at a lower temperature.

The crumb appearance was typical for my sourdoughs of this type. However, it was chewier than I expected. Very nice. The flavor was indeed more sour than last week's sourdough, as expected. I would still categorize it as mild to moderate sourness. It is not as sour as the "San Francisco Sourdough" in Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb," which uses an extremely firm levain in even higher proportions.



  • Increased sour flavor with firmer levain and increased levain percentage: As expected, this loaf was more sour but not dramatically so. To get a super-sour flavor, the techniques used must be pushed further.
  • Crackled crust with lower protein flour: Today's bake seems to support this hypothesis. Is this effect desirable? That's a matter of taste, but, for me, it's at least nice to know how to get the effect when I want it.
  • The benefits of the double steaming technique: Today's results were certainly satisfactory, but they also demonstrate that steaming is just one among several variables that contribute to oven spring and bloom.



Submitted to Yeast Spotting



Muffin Man's picture
Muffin Man

   A of years ago, I was browsing in Barnes and Noble, looking for nothing in particular, when I came upon Daniel Leader's "Bread alone".  It looked interesting as it was more than just a collection of recipes.  I bought it and was hooked by bread.  I read and consumed the book and, since there sere as yet no other books by him, I expanded my horizons to include, again in no particular order, Maggie Glezer, Peter Reinhart (I'm eagerly awaiting his newest), Nancy silverton, Jeffrey Hammelman, Carol Field, Beth Hensperger, Joe Ortiz, Laurel Robertson, Ruth Levy Barenbaum, and the good folks at King Arthur.  I have learned from each and enjoyed their different perspectives and approaches.  To thhink that simple wheat, yeast, and water could produce so many different and delightful flavors - it bogglesd the mind.  I have learned to make a variety of tasty breads and have a side business going at work supplying muffins to my coworkers.  Since their support aids and abets y hobby, I charge, basically, only my costs.  A very gracious friend, a retired graphic artist made me the caricature which I use on all of my recipes and as a part of my signature block  I felt I had arrived when my wife ceded the pantry to me and got me a small freezer in which I may keep flours not yet used and various berries for my muffins.  On a recent visit from our daughter, i realized how focused (my wife says obsessed) I have become when she took our grandkids into the kitchen and rearranged grandpa's pantry.  i love them anyway and rearranged things back the way they should be.  I feel that I could come into the kitchen and make biscuits without turning on a light - yeah, I'm that organized.  But only with my baking... the rest of my life is as disorganized as anyone else.  Thank you for reading.  In the immortal words fo the Governor of California: I'll be back.


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