The Fresh Loaf

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Mebake's picture

This is from Hamelman's Bread, under (Yested Preferments). I used a Pate fermentee of my baguette dough. I also added no yeast to the final dough. Mixing was very brief with turning the dough in a bowl every 30 minutes for 3 hours, developed the dough well. This is my first time to underdevelop my dough, and using my hand to fold the dough intermittently.

What i ended up with is developed yet soft feeble dough that jumped to life in the oven. The loaves were quite lighter in mass, and the crumb was soft and holey.

I, however, forgot to add the salt to the final dough, so the flavor was quite lacking.

mcs's picture

Hey TFLers,
This is a short no-frills video re-visiting some of the parts of shaping that I feel are important.  In the beginning I demonstrate slowly using a damp dishcloth, then I use the same technique with a few different doughs.  Lastly, I use a slight modification on the technique to form a couple of boules.  Enjoy. 




em120392's picture

Hey guys! I'm taking a high school internship course called W.I.S.E. which allows a student to study about and to work in their desired trade. For my W.I.S.E. project, I chose Artisan Bread Baking as my topic.

I have been baking bread since I was thirteen, and I wanted to take this course to further my knowlege and gain work experience in a bakery. Next year for college, I plan to attend Johnson and Wales University, which specializes in the Culinary Arts. I thought that this project will prepare me for my future career, for I am going to be working in an Artisan Bread Bakery.  Also, I found that during this project, I can challenge myself to comlete the BBA Challenge. Starting in January, and ending in May, I hope to bake my way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

My brother, Evan, who's 24, and I decided that we would begin a blog to chronical both of our experiences through BBA. Evan lives in California, and I live in New Jersey, and we thought it would be interesting to note the different challenges and sucesses of the recipes.

Anyway, I hope that our blog will interest some fellow bakers, or fellow BBA challenge participants! We'd love to have your commentary, suggestions, or recommendations for new recipes to try!

Thank you for taking the time to read!

-Emily (18)


ps. Here is my post for French Bread.

(It might make more sense if you read my W.I.S.E. Project Proposal, as well as previous entries.)


This is my blog entry for Reinhart's French Bread:

I skipped ahead on the BBA challenge. I wanted to go through the book in order, but I didn't have time to bake bagels this weekend. They take two days to make, and I wasn't home enough to bake them. This is a difficulty in bread baking at home-although bread is easy to make, one must tend to the dough according to the starter, risings, and baking, which can be time consuming and inconvenient.

My mentor, Mr. Esteban, enjoys savory breads rather than enriched, sweet breads. I could have moved on to brioche, but I thought he would have appreciated a crusty, slightly sour French loaf more, and I have been itching to try French bread. Also, I felt like I was teasing him about my bread baking- telling him about it, but not making anything for him. I hope he enjoys the baguettes!

Reinhart begins with a pate fermente, an overnight starter which lends the final dough more flavor. It is simple- it combines flour, water, salt, and yeast into a rather stiff dough. I let the dough rise for about an hour, and then refrigerated overnight.

The next morning, I let the pate fermete warm up, and cut it into smaller pieces so I could incorporate it into the final dough. Like the pate fermente, the bread contained the same proportions of ingredients. After mixing with flour, salt, yeast, water and pate fermente into a ball, I kneaded it for about 6 minutes, or until I could easily use the windowpane test. Out of pure laziness, I kneaded the dough in the machine, rather than by hand. I feel more connected to the dough when I knead by hand, but, I was tired and didn't want to dirty the counters.

After the dough is kneaded, it rests for about two hours, to rise for the first time. Then I shaped the baguettes like I thought I should. I spread the dough out, and folded it into thirds like letters. I proceeded to elongate them into their proper shape. However, after making them I went on Youtube (great idea, huh?) and watched the proper way. After folding in thirds, you're supposed to create tension on the outside of the bread by rolling it up in two separate "folding/rollings." Afterwards, you gently seal the bread with the heel of your palm and then proceed elongating. Next time, I guess.

I let the dough rise for the last time for two hours. I do not have a lame yet, so I cut the slits with a pairing knife. On two of the loaves, I cut rather perpendicular, leaving the slashes not very attractive. However, on the third, the slashes were much more pronounced because I used a 45 degree angle.

After I took them out of the oven, I could hear the crusts crackling. I was so excited-they looked promising. After they had cooled, I sliced a piece. The crumb was rather dense, not holey and airy like I imagine a true baguette. I was rather disappointed, but the flavor made up for it-it had true bread flavor.

So, I don't know- maybe I'll make these again. I really like the use of the pate fermente and it was very cool to shape baguettes. However, the crumb was really disappointing, and for taking two days and substantial hands on time, I felt cheapened.


Jo_Jo_'s picture

From GreekCelebrationBread


It was a challenge, but I figured out the baker’s percentages for the poolish used in this bread.  I really only wanted enough poolish for this recipe, not enough to make 2 or 3 more recipes!  We just don't eat that much bread!  Thank you to whoever made that wonderful spreadsheet I used!  It really helped a lot. I found it on this website, but am not quite sure where the link to it is!


I have decided to participate as much as I can in BBA Challenge 2011, barring some of the breads that simply don't make sense to make.  I get sick when I eat walnuts, so most of those types are out if they rely on walnuts.  Maybe I will ask for suggestions on alternative ingredients that might work just as well in those breads.  I also might have to substitute other preferments for sourdough for any of the whole wheat breads, since my husband seems to have problems with wild yeasts. I on the other hand do better with white, lean, sourdough breads.

I started this challenge as a personal journey after reading the first section of Peter Reinhart's book.  His book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, inspired me because it gave me the science behind bread making.  It spent the time to give me the greatest gift of all, understanding of what exactly is happening in each step of bread making.  I have baked for many years, or maybe I should call it banging my head against a wall wondering why some breads turned out so much better than others.  If I am going to thank Peter Reinhart I must also remember to thank The Fresh Loaf, which has many very experienced bread bakers who spend a lot of time helping people make extraordinary bread.  Anyone can make ordinary bread, some loafs will be ok and some will be a failure and you just won’t know why.  But with a little bit of knowledge and help from people who have gone through it themselves you can make bread in your own kitchen that rivals the local grocery stores if not the local bakers!  The best part is that you will start to understand why it works and doesn't work. 

On to the actual bread, I chose Christopsomos which to me almost looks like an alien.  You know, creatures from outer space!  I decided that since this is a bread that reflects the special occasion it is made for, that is must be a very Blueberry weekend coming up.  Yes, my fruit of choice is dried blueberries which are totally awesome.  I also chose to use almonds instead of walnuts, simply because walnuts make me sick and almonds don’t! 

I started by measuring and weighing and gathering all my ingredients and equipment, “mise en place” which means everything in it’s place.  Makes a bigger mess, but sure helps you not forget things.  Rather like the scout motto, “Be Prepared”.


From GreekCelebrationBread

I mixed the ingredients, with the only variation being that I used the milk to prepare my Active Dry Yeast by soaking for 10 minutes.

I followed this with adding the poolish to the milk and yeast, using the paddle to mix them. Then I added the other liquid ingredients and used the paddle on setting 2 to mix them.

After I finished mixing them together to make a smooth liquid, I added the dry ingredients and used the paddle to form them into a sticky gooey mess. At first I held back some of the flour, but when I saw how moist it was I went ahead and added it and used the paddle to mix. I took the paddle off at this point and put the dough hook on. The recipe did not call for an autolyse, but I gave it 20 minutes because it was so shaggy looking. This seemed to help the dough a lot.  I then used my dough hook on setting 2 for about 10 minutes, what a mess it looks like.

I measured the blueberries and almonds and added them to the mixer, then used the dough hook on setting 2 to mix them in. Still looks pretty wet and messy, but when I touch it the dough feels tacky not sticky.

It is now formed into two balls and put into separate bowls to rise for 90 minutes. They shaped nicely, and didn't stick to my hands nearly as much as I thought they might. This has been a fun bread to make so far.

The second picture is at 82 minutes, I think this will need a little bit longer to rise. My house is definitely not as warm as other peoples.

This dough is really awesome, so supple and easy to handle. I loved it. The boule is made and the long strips are ready to go on top.

Next comes placing the strips and cutting, then making the little curly things at the ends.

The decoration on top looks a little bit out of shape, but hopefully it will look better before it's done! Who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good!  Will edit this tomorrow with a picture of the crumb, that is if I can wait!




Jo_Jo_'s picture

This is the bread that I make for my husband, who likes a softer crust and whole wheat.  I like it too, but my favor my sourdough baguettes.  I have spent weeks tweeking this recipe and really like the flavor and texture of the Kaiser shaped rolls I made this time.  They were allowed to rise an extra 45 minutes while the loaf in my clay baker baked.  I'm getting better at braiding the buns without ruining the crumb inside.  The ultimate critic will be my husband though, so we shall see.  First here's my newest version of my recipe:

Whole Wheat Honey Potato Bread


14 oz (397 grams) whole wheat flour

14 oz (397 grams) water

3 pinches yeast


Mix till all is moistened, then cover and let sit for 8 to 24 hours, best if it is actively bubbling when you use it.  Can be refrigerated after about 6 hours for up to 3 days.


All of poolish

21 oz (596 grams) bread flour

4 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

1.5 oz (2 Tablespoons) Honey

.6 oz (18 grams) shortening

1 oz dry milk

.7 oz potato flakes

11 oz water


I set the ingredients out before starting, measuring them with my scale.  I used my kitchenaid to mix for about 2 minutes, then allowed the dough to rest for 30.  I then kneaded the dough for about 6 minutes, shaped it into a ball, and put it into a bowl to rise for a couple hours.  It took closer to four hours from what I remember.  I pulled it from the bowl ad shaped it, then allowed it to rest for 10 minutes.  I cut it into two pieces, and used 1 lb 12 oz in my clay baker and the rest were made into kaiser rolls.  I have been trying to figure out how much dough to use in my clay baker, if 2 lb 4 oz was to much and 1 lb 12 oz was not enough, then maybe next time I should try 2 lbs of dough. I put the clay baker into the oven and turned it on to 425* baked for 30 minutes and then removed the cover and baked at 380* for another 15 minutes.  I think the crust color is just about right.

The loaf of bread was a little disappointing, when I pulled it from the oven.  Thought I had misread my dent in the dough test, but while it might have been a little better with a slightly longer rise time I think the crumb is actually ok.  It is just a short loaf that took the shape of the pan, probably because I like my dough more hydrated.  I will definitely put more dough in, and might try a little bit less water next time and a little more shortening, plus I might try 50% whole wheat and 50% bread flour.  Not real sure why I had cracks in the crust, another reason I thought this was going to be a brick.  The flavor is outstanding in this bread, probably because I left the poolish in the fridge a couple extra days.


Happy this turned out so much better than I thought it had, now on to making my Greek Celebration bread from BBA.  This should be fun!



Jo_Jo_'s picture

How is it that you start the day thinking you have plenty of time to bake your bread before leaving for a class tonight, but end up with a brick because your bread takes 4 times as long to rise?  I knew I should have put the dough into the fridge and done all my baking tomorrow, came so close to doing it too.  The first rise took 4 hours, and the second after shaping took 2 hours and I finally decided it was done because I knew it needed to cook before I left.  I wsa forced to put the loaf in my clay baker into the oven first because it is supposed to be started in a cold oven.  My kaiser rolls turned out a lot better, due to having a warm kitchen from baking and having an extra hour to rise.  I am so glad that there will always be another loaf next week, but meanwhile I will cut into the loaf tomorrow and find out just how dense it is.  Looked so promising too..... if I had just put it into the fridge!


txfarmer's picture

A while ago, I posted about how to make "shreddably soft" sourdough sandwich bread (see here). I got some questions regarding whether the same thing can be achieved with whole grain breads. Well, yes and no. The more whole grain flour there is in the dough, the lower the gluten is, so 100% whole grain breads won't be exactly AS SOFT AS the white flour one. However, with the right formula, and proper handling, 100% whole grain breads like this one CAN be very moist and soft - even shreddably so.This one is made using just sourdough starter, extra delicious when the rich flavor of ww is combined with the slight tang of sourdough.

First of all, there needs to be enough ingredients in the formula to enrich and moist the crumb. This bread is adapted from my all time favorite whole grain bread book "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" , in addition to oil, honey, and sourdough levain, oatmeal is soaked in boiling water the night before to add moisture to the final dough, which contributes to the soft crumb. My adaption to the formula is to chagne the dry yeast to sourdough, and increased hydration a tiny bit.

Secondly, ww doughs have lower gluten level, which means while you still have to knead it really well (to full developement), the windowpane you achieve won't be as strong as the white flour one. This also leads to a denser bread, which means for the same tin, you will need to add more dough to get the same volume. Since ww flour absorb more water, but absorb it slower, so it really helps to autolyse, and autolyse longer (40-60min) than for white doughs. It's easier to overknead a ww dough (in a mixer) too, so be very careful - for that reason, I usually finish kneading by hand.

Thirdly, it's also easy to over fermentate ww doughs. I kept the levain ratio in this dough pretty low, and made sure when it's taken out of fridge for proofing, the temperature is relatively warm(~72F). I found if it takes too long for the dough to finish proofing (once I left it by the window, where it's only 68F, it took 10hours instead of 6 hours to finish proofing), the crumb gets rough, and the taste gets unpleansantly sour.

Finally, the ww flour I used here is King Arthure WW, I have used other ww flour before, but KAF gives me the most consistent result.


Sourdough 100% Whole Wheat Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (Adapted from "Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book")

Note: 15% of the flour is in levain

Note: total hydration is 89%, higher than usual because of the oatmeal soaker

Note: total flour is 375g, fit a 8X4 loaf pan. For my Chinese small-ish pullman pan, I used 330g total flour. For KAF 13X4X4 pullman pan, I have not tried it myself, but I would suggest using about 600g of total flour. Obviously for pullman pans, you can bake with or without lid.

- levain

ww starter (100%), 16g

water, 26g

ww bread flour, 48g

1. Mix and let fermentation at room temp (73F) for 12 hours.

- soaker

rolled oats (I used old fashioned), 53g

boiling water, 240g

salt, 8g

2. Mix and cover for 12 hours.

- final dough

ww flour, 319g (I used KAF)

water, 60g

oil, 30g

honey, 38g

all soaker

all levain

3. Mix together everything, autolyse for 40-60min.Knead until the gluten is very developed. This intensive kneading s the key to a soft crumb, and proper volume. The windowpane will be thin, but NOT as strong as one would get form a white flour dough. For more info on intensive kneading, see here.


4. Bulk rise at room temp (73F) for 2 hours, the dough would have expanded noticably, but not too much. Fold, and put in fridge overnight.

5. Divid and Rest for one hour.

6. Shape into sandwich loaves, the goal here is to get rid of all air bubles in the dough, and shape them very tightly and uniformly, this way the crumb of final breads would be even and velvety, with no unsightly holes. For different ways to shape (rolling once or twice, i.e. 3 piecing etc) see here.

7. Proof until the dough reaches one inch higher than the tin (for 8X4 inch tin), or 80% full (for pullman pan). About 6 hours at 72F.

8. Bake at 375F for 40-45min. Brush with butter when it's warm.

Nice and soft crumb from both the 8X4inch tin (rolling once) ...

Baked another one in a small pullman tin (rolling twice, 3 piecing, baked without lid)


Excellent ww flavor enhanced by sourdough, without any hint of bitterness. Stays soft and moist for days.


So, yes, 100% whole wheat breads can be soft, like THIS

Sending this to Yeastspotting.

Earlybirdsf's picture

Just made a trip out to Central Milling, which is actaully called "Keith Giusto Bakery Supply". They have moved into a new location. 755 Southpoint Blvd, Petaluma, CA. 866-979-2253

They have a very large selection of organic bulk flours. Now, you can call ahead, and they will pack 5lb bags. They ask that you please call ahead though, otherwise, you will wait for some time. If you are buying in 25 or 50lb bags, no problem.

Under construction, is a Bakery School, on site, that will be open soon.

Please email me your contact, if you are intersted in bulk flour. We were told that if enough of us order, they will deliver to SF, as they deliver to the Ferry Bldg twice a week.




meetmike's picture

Thanks to all who helped out after Christmas with thoughts and experience using the Lodge Dutch oven to bake loaves per Jim Lahey's no knead method. Ended up pretty much following the instructions in "My Bread." The step-by-step photos are very clear. Instead of using a springform insert to support the proofing loaf, just covered a 8" cardboard round with tinfoil--local pro baker's suggestion. Dusted the tinfoil and cotton towel with bran. The round made it pretty easy to get the loaf to the Dutch oven, preheated to 475, and ease the loaf into the pot. Baked for 30 minutes, then removed lid and baked 15 more minutes to golden brown. Big oven spring! Dusting of medium coarse cornmeal in bottom of Dutch oven resulted in no sticking whatsoever and no burning. Made 3 loaves, one after the other, each with thick crust and chewy, open crumb. Love that cracking sound right out of the oven! I am happy baker! Mike in Maine

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I am heading to Berlin for 10 days, during which I'll spend part of the time in a bakery trying to learn about rye and whole grain breads. This is for the book I'm working on. If anyone out there has any suggestions for must-see, must-eat, must-do things in Berlin during this frigid month let me know.

Thanks, Sam


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