The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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kb's picture

Inspiration, for some, comes very easy. I am one of those people. Every time I walk into one of my local bakeries I cannot help but desire to create the same smell, warmth, and crackling texture of a beautiful artisinal bread. I look down in awe at the masterpiece that I am holding and wonder who lost sleep, tended to, and perfected the art of making such a bread. Don't get me wrong, not every bakery in my state is of this calbor but we are fortunate to have a multitude of bakeries to choose from, some of which provide a bread from a particular nation, others that have the markings from the master artisan baker.

My desire to make bread has been around for some years, but my love of bread runs deeper. Growing up in a Portuguese familly, I watched as my grandfather broke bread over every Sunday meal. Originially from Lisbon, my grandfather was always very particular about where his bread came from. As a teenager he jumped a ship in the Bristol port and made his home in Massachusetts. Using the skills he learned from his mother, he became an apprentice in a bakery. As the years past, he eventually owned two of his own. In his early 50's he sold and went to work as a professional chef on an oil tanker. For six months of every year he was out at sea, but his presence when home left a lasting impression. He had his favorite bakeries and would make frequent visits throughout the week buying two, three, and sometimes four loaves of bread. On Sundays, two loaves were always broken. One bread for the family and one for himself. Yes, he could take down an entire loaf of Portuguese bread. Throughout my childhood years I remember my family teasing but as time went by, I began to pay attention to the very bread my grandfather loved. The crust was hard and gave a satisfying crunch yeilding to a soft but chewy crumb. Who knew that I would have an incredible appetite for the same bread and in my teenage years could rival my grandfathers ablitiy to consume the same quanity of bread. Of course the teasing moved unto me, but isn't that what family is for?

Years ago I decided to make bread. First I wanted a bread machine because aren't we promised delicious bread from such a convinient device? Then I began making quick breads for my husband every autumn. You know the kind: pumpkin, cranberry, apple swirl, etc. I knew this isn't what I really wanted though. I wanted to feel the warmth of my oven as a glorious aroma filled my home but years went by and my intention pushed aside to make way for other life adventures. Maybe it is because almost every book I have picked up lately, I love to read, just so happens to be about bread. Maybe it is because my grandfather recently had a stroke and has entered a nursing home. Maybe it is because I am tired of being awestruck of such great breads in my area and need to get my hands dirty to make my own. One of these reasons, if not all, is inspiration enough for me to try this year to take on the challenge of making a great bread. May my grandfathers' baking genes run through my veins!



Przytulanka's picture


I am finally proud of my bread...It looks gorgeous. My special thanks for the web

 tutoring go to Australian Baker WARWICK QUINTON.






600 h whole-wheat flour

260 g whole-rye flour

100 g buckwheat flakes

850 ml cold water

Mix and flours and water and place in  a box with lid and leave them in the fridge overnight. This method softens the whole grain flours.




10 g whole-wheat starter (100% hydration -from the fridge)

100 g  whole-wheat flour

60 g water

Let to ferment for12-14 hours.


Remove the box from the fridge and add:

240g altus ( 60 % rye, 40% wheat)

160 g stiff sordough

Mix it through with your hand for a few minutes.

Allow to rest for 30 minutes.


Add the salt (24 g ) and work it through the dough. Let to rest for 30 minutes.

Give it turn and allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Continue the process allowing about half an hour between turns until  your  achive silk consistency.


Let to ferment for 4-6 hours 

Shape your bread into cylinder, using the flats of your hands.  Brush with water, and dust with buckwheat flakes. Put into the  proofing basket.

Proof the bread for 3 hours . Slash diagonally 4 times.

Set your oven to 500F and bake:


  •  15 minutes with steam in 480F.
  •  20 minutes in 450F
  • 15 minutes in 400F.


Recipe adapted from:


evth's picture

Finally the first blog entry:

I made these empanadas for a potluck over the weekend and they are well worth the effort. Easy to follow directions and the recipe was flexible enough to be modified. Substituted sweet potatoes, regular 'ol button mushrooms and poblano peppers for the filling and left out the broth. Added some Latin spices too, e.g. oregano, cumin and cinnamon. I made extra filling to use up all the dough. Speaking of, I reduced the butter amount down to 3 sticks which still produced an unbelievably flaky, buttery and tender crust. This dough is fantastic--one of the most stress-free times I've ever endured while rolling out pie dough. Love this dough because it will definitely love being rolled out!!! Makes a great fruit pie too--just tried this, blog entry to come. Lightly brush the dough before baking with a beaten egg wash for a nice golden hue.

As they say in Spanish, Delicioso!

Here's the web address for the recipe:

Bake well TFLers,



bnom's picture

Have an excess of zucchini blossoms in your garden?  Here's what I did with a little leftover dough (Hamelman's French bread) thin sliced mortadella, fresh mozzerella. I tossed the zucchini blossoms with a little olive oil and S&P and tossed them on the pizza for the last minute or so in the oven.  Shaved some parmegiano reggiano on at the end and bellisima!  


I love this tart.  The fresh prunes are simply tossed with a little sugar (1/3 cup) and then baked in a tart shell for about 50 minutes.  

breadsong's picture

Hello everyone,

This bread is Whole Wheat Bread, from Eric Kastel's Artisan Baking at Home with the CIA.

This is a straight dough which includes whole wheat and honey. After shaping the boule, it was sprayed with water, gently picked up, turned over & rolled around in a bowl full of sesame seeds; then gently placed seam side-up in a cloth-lined banneton for final proofing.

After proofing & turning out onto a parchment-lined peel, the boule is misted & left to sit for a few minutes, scored, then misted once more before loading into the oven. (When misting, be careful not to get the parchment wet - I learned tonight that damp parchment doesn't slide well when trying to load the stone!).

I think the sesame seed crust is kind of pretty - and the loaf smells sweet and wheaty. We're going to slice it tomorrow for breakfast so I'll try to take a crumb shot then.

Regards, breadsong

smarkley's picture

Heh heh... had a baking weekend, every morning. Friends are wondering if I am OCD now!


Started out with a fun Multi Grain Bread... Using Stone Buhr AP and WW flour, toasted sesame, toasted steel cut oats, toasted sunflower seeds, then a menagerie of rolled grains, oats, barley, rye, and wheat! This bread is very good, nutty and with lots of good grain flavors.

and the crumb shot....


Then I did some Pain de campagne... 

Finally finished up with 8 baguettes... 4 of them here, the rest were still proofing! Hat tip to SteveB. I used his recipe and method, which is wonderful by the way! Can be seen here at his Breadcetera site:



Very productive weekend... pass the butter please, and hold the electric bill! 


hmcinorganic's picture

Tonight I needed a quick loaf for sandwiches and I had a bit of free time, so I made this loaf from Bernard Clayton's new complete book of breads.  After making so much sourdough lately, it was nice to get a completely different smell in the kitchen.  This is a standby recipe;  when I opened the book, this was bookmarked already.  

I forgot all about it while making it;  its supposed to be a single rise bread but I left it in the mixer while helping the kids with piano lessons.  After about an hour, it had risen in the mixer nicely.  (I had meant to mix for 5 min, let rest 20 min, then finish kneading for 3-5 more).  Instead, I loafed it (it was very sticky for some reason) and let it rise.  And proceeded to completely forget about it AGAIN.  At one point, I looked up and saw the loaves, so quickly preheated the oven (425 for 35 min, no steam).  The crust is nice and dark.  They smell great.  Toast for breakfast.  Mmmmmm.

Nothing rustic about it.  Just some good quality bread.  Very yeasty aroma when I opened it up.  Nice even soft crumb with a hard crust.  Lovely.

GSnyde's picture

The Quest for Great Buns

Friday morning I mixed the Biga for Italian Sourdough, per David’s recipe ( The goal: perfect buns.

Friday afternoon, once the Biga had doubled, I massaged it with a dough scraper and decided it was too stiff and gummy/sticky to mix into the dough by hand.   I have no stand mixer, but I staved off panic.  I talked my little KA hand mixer into giving it a go.  Following David’s instructions, I cut the Biga into the dry ingredients.  This  took several comical minutes with a kitchen shears and spatula (think Lucille Ball trying to divide a one pound wad of bubble gum).  It might have worked better with a mini-chain saw (except for the Biga splotches on the ceiling).  Once the Biga was cut up, the hand mixer worked pretty well, and after about 10 minutes with the mixer and 20 or so S&Fs, I had something fairly uniform.

After the primary fermentation with periodic S&Fs, the dough doubled on schedule, and I had a nice silky mound of bread-to-be, the nicest dough I’ve worked in all my (10) days of baking.


Making a split batch of rolls and a batard gave me a chance to try (and maybe even improve) my shaping skills.  Of the 5 rolls, 3 are pretty much the shape I was going for.  I should have re-shaped the other two, but I was tired and didn’t want to break every last bubble.


The loaves proofed faster than expected and they had to go into the oven before the stone had preheated enough.  So I didn’t get great oven spring (see  Though they were fully baked, the bottoms are blond.  I also forgot to rotate the loaves and my oven heat is apparently pretty uneven.  That said, they looked pretty good on top, and the crumb is nice.




The texture of both crust and crumb is pretty close to what I remember (and like) from David’s previous bakes of this bread, though not quite as airy.  I am happy with the outcome, and happy to have learned the lessons—start pre-heating the oven before you think you need to, and don’t forget to rotate the loaves.

Because the Italian Sourdough got done start-to-finish on Friday, we were able to get to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market Saturday morning.  Made quite a haul of stone fruit, strawberries, corn and very photogenic vegetables.


For dinner Saturday, the buns were excellent brushed with garlic-rosemary-infused EVOO and grilled for sandwiches of Teriyaki-marinated local King Salmon, heirloom tomatoes and lemon mayonnaise.  I guess, with the Teriyaki and the Italian bread, we should call these “Orientalian Salmon Sandwiches”.


And the Batard made great toast Sunday morning, accompanying “Spanish” omelet.


The main Sunday event, of course, was the lamburgers that started my quest for great buns (hold the snickers).  (See  Using an ancient Greek lamburger recipe I made up—ground lamb leg mixed a day ahead with minced onion, flat leaf parsley and garlic, and oregano, salt and pepper—I charcoal grilled the burgers and the buns (brushed with the same rosemary and garlic-infused EVOO) and layered with feta, heirloom tomatos and lettuce, with a dab of the lemon mayonnaise.   They were even more delicious than they look.



The quest was worthwhile and the buns were excellent, but I think these are a bit dense for burger buns.  Good thing lots of bun recipes came to light.

Other Weekend Bakes

In addition to the Italian Sourdough, on Saturday I mixed the dough for, and Sunday I baked, Susan’s Ultimate Sourdough for the third time…and with the best results yet.  Even with less proofing and a very well pre-heated oven, I still didn’t get great oven spring. 



The Bread Professor (DMS) thinks maybe my oven vents too much, or I don’t have enough thermal mass to keep the steam going.   He suggests lava rocks, but didn’t say what I should do with them [smileyface].

But I’m happy with the progress.  The texture and flavor are delightful.  My chief bread enthusiast loves the chewiness and the flavor.

And Saturday night I mixed up the liquid levain for Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough; and I mixed the dough Sunday morning and baked two batards Sunday night.  I made sure they were proofed right, and in addition to the usual cast iron skillet for steam, I spritzed them with water after about 10 minutes. 

My shaping skills have improved some (I keep watching Floyd’s great batard-shaping video).  And I got better, if not really good, oven spring.


Still, not a real open crumb.  But mighty tasty.


To top the weekend, this morning we had the famous Salmon Hash with a toast medley.


Since the learning experience for a novice baker is enjoyable in itself, the (mostly) good bread is just a bonus.  I had the chance in one weekend to try three different sourdoughs, one with a Biga and one with a liquid levain, and different formulas, and different flavors.   I got better at shaping batards, and at reading the dough’s signals.  I do need to figure out how to get better oven spring; I’d love to get a more open crumb.

Some time this week, I’ll have to make Sourdough Pizza dough, for a Greek Pizza with the leftover lamburger and Feta.

Thanks to TFL (especially David) for all the great tips, and the fun.



dmsnyder's picture

Today, I baked Hamelman's "5-grain Levain" from "Bread."

Various TFL blogs have featured this bread. They can be found by searching the site. The recipe was posted by fleur-de-liz here: Eric: Hamelman's Five-Grain Levain. She was a very active contributor to TFL at the time I joined and an inspiration to me. She encouraged me to bake this bread for the first time way back when. It is, indeed, among the most delicious breads I've ever made or tasted.


varda's picture

It seems to me that if you are trying to gain proficiency in baking bread that it helps to pick a formula and make it over and over again until it starts to seem natural and easy.   I'm not there yet with Hamelman's pain au levain but it ain't for lack of trying.  My biggest difficulty with it so far has been something that should be simple - following the instructions.   When I first started making it I viewed the rise times as something like suggestions.   2 hours seemed like a ridiculously long time to do the final rise, and I would do 1 hour and then wonder why the bottom split.   Last week I did an experiment.   I split the dough into three 1 lb loaves and tried doing a final ferment of 1.5 hours, 2 hours, and 2.5 hours respectively.   The 2.5 hour rise won the looks test, but the 2 hour tasted the best.   And surprise, surprise, the 1.5 hour loaf was a mess.   Today, I followed all of Hamelman's times with 2 hours for the final ferment (the book says 2 to 2.5 hours.)   I still can't get as pretty a loaf as my model in all this (and the post that set me off on this particular quest)   But that doesn't mean I can't keep trying.   And the great thing about practicing on a bread like this is you get to eat it. 


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