The Fresh Loaf

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ronnie g's picture
ronnie g

A couple of weeks ago I started on my journey to make sourdough bread.  Having been a home bread maker for nearly twenty years on and off, I thought (wrongly)... easy!   I AM such a funny girl!  The first lot of starter got thrown out after three days (it was probably fine, but any bubbles it might have had completely disappeared after I added tap water instead of filtered.)  Anyway, a new lot was started.  Just 50 grams white unbleached bread flour and 50 grams filtered water.  Long story short.... after five days I achieved a starter that doubled in size after the feeding routine.  I took it to seven days to make sure I had it going properly and also to develop the sour taste more fully.  It seems pretty sour to me, but fresh smelling like green apples.  Early on it had smelled like ripe bananas!

I did the sponge thing, (just for one loaf), proved it the first time and it rose nicely in a cosy covered bath of warm water in the laundry sink.  BUT!!!  When I left it to rise the second time before baking, it barely rose and baked like a little brick.  I DID mention that I have baked bread for 20 years, so I DO know how to bake regular bread.  (All by hand too I must say until recently when my KA took over the first initial mixing stage - I know I've gotten lazy!  Hey!  I'm a granny now, leave off!

So I tried a different recipe, this time trying to adapt my usual bread recipe that is a 70/30 mix of white and wholegrain.  Again the rise was not substantial even during the first proof.  I used two cups of starter and added as much flour as it would take.  Not as much as my usual.  Maybe I have to play this thing by ear...  During the second rise, (in tins) it seemed to take hours... I know it is supposed to be much longer than commercial yeast, but it rose about 1 1/2 times and then didn't move.  I decided to bake.  It actually sank during baking.  I was doing some spraying with water to get that nice crispy shiny crust.  The bread is tasty, but built like a brick!!!  I want bread like is pictured on this site!!!

So, I've done the sponge overnight.  I used 2 cups starter, 1 cup water, 1 cup white unbleached flour.  That doesn't seem right straight away.  It was a little frothy and bubbly in the morning,,,, spongey. : )




Challah Back's picture
Challah Back

Well . . . I'm new here.  Started baking about two years ago when I shaped some leftover pizza dough into a breadstick-sized baguette and never looked back.  Got into sourdough this past summer when a friend gave me a starter that had been given to her father, a dentist in Bend, Oregon, in lieu of payment for dental work, back in 1963.  Here are some English muffins the little guy helped raise.  Adapted from this formula at Wild Yeast, using white whole wheat flour.  I guess that doesn't really make it "adapted," huh?  Anyway, I'd been using a whole wheat starter and adjusting the formula to a 50-50 mix of bread and AP flour.  I like it better than the original, but the white whole wheat flour substitution is pretty sexy, too.

SylviaH's picture

Oh the freezer was empty of bread.. I baked up some good old basic sourdough @100.  The recipe from the  site.  Where Teresa now has her free download book available!

 They turned out nicely, though these loaves tended to get what I considered a little man-handled in the shaping, a dull razor slashing, and some sticking to my woven baskets, the linen ones work fine, no sticking.  I will just have to use more flour/whiterice in by baskets, until I get the midas touch, Txfarmer has it for dusting her baskets....maybe she'll loan me her magic dusting wand ;) Just having a little fun Txfarmer...thank you so much for your helpful advice!

I don't want to carry on about the steaming method I've been using with wet nuked towels in the 2 loaf pans...But Oh Man, I'm so very pleased/happy with the fantastic results and especially how all around much easier this is for me from previous methods I've tried.

Mike said, he loved the flavor and this was his favorite bread...I replied....your just a country sourdough man at heart, many lovely recipes on my to do list for country sourdoughs.






                             4 - 1 lb. Loaves - one holding up the Oval loaf - 




                                                            Crust and Crumb with a little bolder bake- IMHO a noticably thinner bold baked crust, crunchy, crispy and a cracks                                                                                                                                


bakeuhappy's picture

i recently started baking wheat bread and having problem.the surface of the bread does not turn out right.its either wrinkled or cracks.can anyone help?

AnnieT's picture

Ever since txfarmer posted her recipe these have been on my "to bake' list, and once my grandgirls saw the cute "bone" cutters there was no excuse. Lily and I mixed the dough on Saturday afternoon but for various reasons we wrapped it well and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. It sat on the counter while I made the requisite Sunday morning sourdough pancakes which were voted the best ever, maybe because I used my cookie scoop and the pancakes were smaller than usual. Then Lily and I started rolling and cutting, and yes, it makes a lot of biscuits! Margaret had a good book but did stop by now and again to admire our efforts. Glad to say they are dog approved by their two dogs who inhaled them and by my elderly mostly toothless Pug who takes more time to eat one. So thank you, txfarmer, and good wishes to Ruby from the Whidbey Island dogs, A.

Floydm's picture

So, yes, this evening we had a user get upset and try to expunge himself from the site.  For now, I have shut down the account.

Sadly, there isn't a simple way for a user to erase his or her own account and all associated content or for me to do that.  They've added that feature to the next version of Drupal, the software this site runs on.  It is the oldest feature request in the system (look at the URL... it is node number 8).  For almost 10 years people have been asking for this feature. I do want to respect individual's ability to manage their own information and remove it if/when they decide to leave, but until Drupal 7 comes out and I upgrade the site (early 2011?) there isn't a reliable way to do that. My apologies.

I don't think it is appropriate to get into the specifics about what led up to this, but at a high level:

  • member A left a rather specious comment on a three year old thread that, frankly, I should just delete.
  • member B made a moderately nasty reply insulting member A.
  • member A flagged member B's comment as offensive, as did a few other folks here.
  • I removed the offending comment and asked member B to please be more courteous, even if privately I agreed with his opinion.  
  • Member B did not respond well to this and, after first asserting that it is my responsibility to verify that all posts are factual, began the self-immolation.
  • I closed member B's account and cleaned up what I could.

In the five years I've run this site, I think I've been pretty consistent about the policy here.  If I could boil it down to four words, it'd be "Don't be a jerk" (though I tend to use a stronger word than that).  There are thousands and thousands of unmoderated listservs and bulletin boards online where the loudest and the snarkiest rule.  I'm not going to let the happen here.

It is also true that I don't believe that being right or a being a better baker gives one the right to treat others disrespectfully: there are plenty of things that I am convinced I am right about that I probably disagree with many site members about. I'm sure they are equally convinced their views are correct and that I am the foolish one.  So it goes.  If we can find a civil way to exchange opinion, correct facts, and help each other see things from the other's perspective that is wonderful, but if it is going to slide into mudslinging and name calling I will ask folks to move along and discuss something else (like an NYC cop: "Alright people: shows over.").  

Similar incidents have happened a few times before and I'm sure will happen again.  I don't hold any ill will against the parties who've been asked to leave or who've chosen to leave on their own and I hope they will respect -- even if they disagree with -- my approach and what I've tried to accomplish here.  Many folks enjoy this environment and are willing to check some of their opinions at the door, but I understand that this doesn't work for everyone.  Thankfully the internet is a big place and there is room for all of us.

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I've posted a brief review of the Tartine Bread book here at I've really enjoyed baking with it, and wanted to show off my results of his whole wheat loaf, which is actually 70% whole wheat. Here's a picture. (I also didn't post the entire piece because I've had problems posting on the Fresh Loaf blog). 

Tartine whole wheat

Caramel's picture


I'm trying to buy a new mixer for bread and laminated dough. I already have a kitchen aid for everyday use, and wanted to buy a good and strong spiral mixers with a reasonable price. I only bake for my family and friends, so looking into 8, 10 or 12 quarts size for 1-2 KG dough. Not sure what kind of brands is good out there, so I need everyone's help. I was looking to Eurodib, Anvil, Univex, globe or Centaur mixers. Does anyone familiar with those brands?

Thank you..

turosdolci's picture

It has been an exciting few weeks since the Foodista Best Of Food Blogs Cookbook has been published. I have met many new friends via email from around the world who have won this contest. My entry was Cartellate Cookies from Puglia a family recipe made during Thanksgiving and Christmas. The recipe can be found in the book and in my blog.

txfarmer's picture

When I buy new cloths/shoes, I tend to always wear them in the begining. Same thing with baking books, I am still on the Tartine Bread Book wagon, so here's another one: olive oil brioche. I always thought brioche is all about showcasing the flavor of butter, but apparently it can be made with olive oil (no butter) and it's a traditional bread from south of France.

I broke out my best olive oil for this one - A TON OF it too, looking that the half empty bottle, i was hoping the result would be worthwile, and it was! Very frangrant, flavorful, and soft, different from the butter ones I made before, but has its own unique charm.

The mixing process was a tad scary. Oil was added after most of the gluten was developed (just like butter broiche recipes), but the dough was literally swimming in a huge puddle of oil at first, didn't seem possible for it to completely absorb the oil. Just be patient, it took quite a few minutes, but all of a suddent, the dough absorbed it all and became silky smooth. Yes, it's still wet and sticky, just like a brioche dough should be, but very smooth. Other than that, the process is straightforward: levain and poolish were added to the final dough for flavor; extra dry yeast was also added so it's a fairly quick bread to make; the dough can also be frozen for up to a week (defrose in fridge overnight before shaping) which also makes it flexible.


I combined this formula with another brioche formula in the same book - removed a pound of the dough aftter mixing and added toasted hazelnut, prosciutto, thyme, and pepper, utterly delicious!

I kneaded the dough very well, hence the airy soft rich crumb for both variations.

The full recipe makes a lot of dough, I halved it, still got 1500g of dough. Other than the small brioche tete, also made a big one (500g) using my brand new ceramic mold. Went a little overboard with the egg wash (3 layers!), so it's kinda dark on top, but it's not burned. Just super fragrant and flavorful.

The formula can be found in the book, or the preview link at

Sending this to Yeastspotting.


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