The Fresh Loaf

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Dragonbones's picture

I've decided to blog my baking and look forward to sharing recipes and getting advice from y'all.

For the past 15 years here in Taiwan, I had made far too many doorstops and hockey pucks instead of edible bread, until a couple months ago I decided to invest in a few good books on baking (I got PR's BBA (Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice), RLB's BB (Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible), and NS's BLB (Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Tarpits), and also found this wonderful forum. It's helped immensely -- thank you all!

I've learned not to work so much flour into the dough (wetter is better!), and have also learned to weigh, not scoop and pack (!) flour. Equally importantly, I've learned to let it rise and proof by volume and not by the clock. I've started doing lots of pre-ferments, using sourdoughs as well as commercial yeast, and using pâte fermentée. Finally, I've gotten a hotter oven and started using steam.

My first big success was my Fifteen-grain Torpedo, based on the Tyrolean Ten-Grain Torpedo in RLB's BB p. 394. I changed the flour to 日清特高筋麵粉 extra-high gluten flour (sorry, but the brands here aren't generally in Roman script -- I'll sometimes post the original Mandarin because there's at least one other forum member here in Taiwan who might want to know the brand name or the product name in Mandarin; you can just ignore it if you don't read Chinese). I also added vital wheat gluten (小麥蛋白). The very high gluten content gave this loaf incredible shape-retention during its rise.


Dragonbones Fifteen-Grain Bread

This was baked in my old oven, which I got rid of a couple weeks ago. It didn't get hot enough (only 400F max, sometimes 365F), especially the lower element, so the bottom crust in the above pic could obviously be improved upon.


Make sponge.   

  • ¼ tsp instant yeast

  • ½ TBSP malt syrup

  • ¾ cup + optional 1-2 TBSP water, RT

Should be DRY, to make up for the very wet mixture of grains and seeds to be added later. Let hydrate an hour, then add 100g (about 2/3 c) extra-high-gluten flour (日清特高筋麵粉 brand).  Original recipe called for bread flour (throughout). 

Make flour mixture (dry mix). In a separate bowl, mix these:

  • 200 g (about 1.25c plus ½ TBSP) extra-high-gluten flour

  • ¾ tsp instant yeast

  • 4 tsp (12 g) vital wheat gluten (小麥蛋白))

Whisk these 3 items together, dry. Spoon onto the sponge to cover it completely. Cover this with plastic, ferment 4 hours at RT, then overnight in the fridge.  This will form the 'dough' on day two.

Soak grains and seeds: Mix the following (or your own creative mixture of seeds and grains) in a small bowl, then add ½ c minus 1 TBSP HOT water, stirring well. Cover tightly, soak overnight at RT.

RLB's Original: ten-grain cereal mix, ½ c plus 2 TBSP, or 100 g

My version - equal amounts of the following, mixed into a larger bag (then measured out ½ cup of the mix, saving the rest for a subsequent batch):

  1. buckwheat flour, fine

  2. pumpkin seeds, toasted

  3. sunflower seeds, toasted

  4. cornmeal

  5. whole oats (chopped in my spice grinder) then toasted

  6. pearl barley; briefly chopped in spice grinder then toasted

  7. barley tea (=roasted unhulled barley), cracked (in my spice grinder)

  8. whole millet, toasted

  9. sesame, white

  10. sesame, black

  11. rye crumbs

  12. caraway

  13. spelt flour

  14. wheat germ and wheat bran

  15. zaliang 雜糧 (multi-grain) powder


Mix the dough on low (KA2) 1 min., then medium (#4) SEVEN mins; will be dryish. Rest 20 mins (do not skip). Add salt (1.25 tsp) and presoaked seed mixture including liquid.

Knead another 3-5 mins until well incorporated; should be slightly sticky. Adjust with flour or water; will weigh 680 g (24 oz). Taste to check whether salt was added.  Due to errors on my first attempt (failure to realize sponge should be so dry, leading to adding too much water), I kneaded longer, working in flour, for about 15 minutes before dough was smooth; it was a very firm dough, resilient, slightly tacky.

Put in greased, flat-bottomed bowl; turn once. Push down to make top level, and mark this and the double level. Cover tightly. Let rise RT til double. Dough becomes more slack, workable.

Oil spatula. Scrape onto floured counter, press into rectangle.  Letterfold, turn, repeat; return to oiled bowl, turn, cover, let rise until doubled again, 45-60 mins.  

Shape and final rise:  Turn onto lightly floured counter, press into a rectangle. Shape into a torpedo-shaped loaf or bâtard. Spray parchment with oil then dust heavily with cornmeal. Set parchment on a peel or the back of a cookie pan;  set torpedo atop this, and cover with a large container, proofing box, or loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled. Meanwhile preheat oven to its maximum, with stone on lowest shelf, and cast iron pan on oven floor.

Dust with light or medium rye flour and score.  Prepare a cup of boiling water. Open the oven, slide the dough with its parchment sheet onto oven stone directly, and pour water onto cast iron pan underneath. Shut door quickly. After 30 seconds, spray water and shut door. Repeat once more.  I didn't lower the oven temp because my old oven maxed out at a wimpy temperature. A hotter oven might need to be turned down at this point, especially the top element.  Bake 20-30 mins, turning once, or until golden brown; internal temp should be about 208°F.  Cool completely on rack before cutting.   

RESULT: Excellent! Chewy, full of grain, nice crust, nice flavor. Maintained shape, rose more than expected during final rise (had to orient diagonally on parchment to fit in oven!). Cuts opened well, looked great!  Cornmeal on bottom contributed nice texture too.   

My first real bread success! (This was about 6 weeks ago, I guess).  I'll be trying it again with a hotter stone this time for a better bottom crust, now that I have a new oven.




TeaIV's picture

I call this bread the Super-Soaker because I soaked every type of flour I had for a long time (a day and a half, with about a day in the fridge). the taste was superb, as was the crumb.

By the way, how's my new granite ;)?


I added about a tsp. of sugar to the soaker. at first, it tasted like cream of wheat. after the day and a half that it was soaking for, there was some apparent hooch on top, and it had a very good, distinguished taste. I also did a cold proof.


the second picture isn't much of a looker, but oh well.


comments and suggestions would be welcome,


jleung's picture

Goodness, it's been a while. I've finally raised a sourdough starter, Bud (sorry, I couldn't resist heh heh), and baked my very first loaf of sourdough!

I followed SusanFNP's Norwich Sourdough as closely as possible.

Norwich Sourdough

For the blister-inclined:


Crumb shot:


Now I can finally start making my way through all of the sourdough loaves that I've bookmarked from TFL! It's so exciting to be able to explore a whole new field of bread baking. I had been slowly settling into a pattern of baking several of my favourite breads, but I love how every once in a while, you try something new and it really makes you stop and think, "Wow!"

Got to love baking bread. ^_^

Full post here; I had posted it last week but still wanted to share it here, seeing as The Fresh Loaf is where I've been able to learn so much from everyone. Thank you!

xaipete's picture

When I was cleaning out my pantries a couple of weekends ago, I discovered a number of bags of various specialty flours. One of the bags was Bob's Red Mill Durum Wheat Semolina Flour. I was looking around today for a way to use this flour and found a recipe on the King Arthur site for 100% semolina bread. I adapted my bread from the recipe found in Judith and Evan Jones' "The Book of Bread".

It is a moist bread with a nice even crumb and a mild taste of semolina. Very easy to make, I'm sure it would be well accepted by children because of its slight cake-like texture. It's kind of like corn bread with out tasting like corn (sounds strange, I know, but that's the way it strikes me). I think this bread would make great stuffing for turkeys and pork chops (see my comments below).

It did make great toast and go well with bacon, lettuce & tomato.

9 g instant yeast

340 g water

28 g soft butter (olive oil would work fine too)
28 g nonfat dry milk
8 g salt
600 g Durum wheat semolina flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Durum Wheat Semolina Flour)

Place all ingredients in bowl of mixer and mix with the paddle for a minute to incorporate all ingredients. Switch to dough hook. Knead on speed 2 for 4 minutes--dough should clean to bowl and pass the window pane test.

Place dough in an oiled 2 qt. container, cover and let rise until nearly triple, about 1 1/2 hours.

Deflate dough and divide into two 18 ounce pieces, for 8 1/2 x 4 inch loaf pans, or four 9 ounce pieces for mini loaf pans. Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle and then roll up tightly, cigar-style.

Place loaves in oiled bread pans, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly double, about 1 hour.

Bake in center of preheated 350º oven until bread is a light golden brown and internal temperature reaches 190ºF, about 30 minutes. Turn loaves out onto a rack and let cool.

Would I make it again? Probably not. It is a little boring for my tastes, but I'm sure it will make great toast for breakfast. But it serves a two-fold purpose: I needed to use up this sack of semolina and I'm out of bread (my SD starter won't be ready to go until tomorrow.)


Nomadcruiser53's picture

I started my firm starter last night. This morning I prepared the dough. I did my first autolyse ( I didn't have a clue what that was before TFL). The boules shaped up ok this afternoon. I think they over proofed a little because I had some deflation when I scored the loaves. Using steam was something I wanted to do so I preheated the oven with my cast iron skillet inside along with my stone. In went the boule onto the stone followed  by a cup of boiling water into the skillet. I made use of the parchment tip this time (see, I'm not that slow of a learner). I pulled the parchment out after the first 10 minutes. Here's the results of the day.

It's just a simple all white SD, but I'm happy with the outcome.

The crust is thin and a little chewy with some crackle to it. The crumb is soft and slighly chewy with a very nice SD tang on the palette. Not much oven spring or gringe, so I still have lot's to strive for. Dave

SylviaH's picture

I wanted to have another go at this delicious loaf 'my new love Scali', this time I used a natural biga, mixed the dough, put it into a lightly oiled container and fermented it overnight.  I removed it from the refrigerator and let it warm for about an hour and then shaped one braided loaf...brushed it with one egg white mixed with one cup of water and spread on the sesame seeds heavily and baked it under my enameled turkey pan the lid and oven a few spritz of water just before covering the loaf.  I don't know if I'm going to slice this loaf or freeze it..but I have a feeling the crumb is very nice and the flavor with be too and the crust is great on this bread, browning to a lovely mahogany!

This Scali Braided Loaf is a fairly simple and fun bread to make..use your favorite way of mixing.  The recipe is on

We couldn't wait to cut into it!




DonD's picture

This past weekend, I made a batch of Baguettes au Levain based on the recipe that Janedo had adapted from the Anis Bouabsa formula. This is my third try at this recipe and each time I tweaked it a little bit to correct some aspects that did not turned out to my liking. This time the loaves turned out pretty good with nice oven spring and airy crumb. The crust had nice golden color with small blisters, thin and crackly and deep caramel flavor. The taste was not sour but is rich and sweet with a slight tang.

The formula I used consists of:

- 125 g of stiff white flour levain at 67% hydration

- 300 g KAF AP Flour

- 150 g KAF Bread Flour

- 50 g Arrowhead Mills Organic Stoneground WW Flour

- 350 g water

- 1/4 tsp Instant Yeast

- 10 g Atlantic Sea Salt

I autolyse the flour mixture with the water without the yeast or salt for 30 mins prior to mixing in the levain, then added the yeast and the salt during the stretch and fold. I followed the 20 movements 3 times at 20 mins interval using the stretch and fold from Richard Bertinet (I like slapping the dough!). I let the dough ferment for 1 hr then refrigerate for 24 hours before dividing, shaping and baking.

I reduced the hydration to 70% to make the shaping and scoring of the baguettes easier. I also found that that little extra yeast really helps with the oven spring.

I proofed the shaped baguettes and scored them on a perforated pan lined with parchment paper which helps keep the shape, especially when working with a high hydration dough. To help me comtrol the scoring, I made a full size cardboard template as a guide while scoring.

I tranferred the loaves by sliding the parchment onto a jerry-rigged wooden peel made from a top cover of a Bordeaux wine case and from there onto the baking stone.

I baked 10 mins at 460 degrees F with steam from a cast iron pan filled with lava stones (thanks David!), reduce to 430 degrees and baked without steam for 13 mins, turned off oven and kept them in the oven with door ajar for another 5 mins ( thanks again David!) before removing them to cool on a rack.


I hope these little tidbits will be of help. Happy baking!


GabrielLeung1's picture

I really just wanted to put the dough into a bread pan and see what happened. This is pretty much the same thing as my CaP 2. The difference here was that I introduced two folds during the fermentation and I baked the loaf at 400 F, brushed with egg wash. This is in comparison to baking at 500 F with steam.

Overall, I thought that the flavor was lackluster, while the texture was good, like high quality store bought sandwich loaves, even. The crumb was fluffy, if not full of large bubbles, I believe this is the "cottony" texture described by DiMuzio. But it may also be that this is how bread springs in a bread pan, and that all sandwich loaves result in this texture.

For the next round of baking, I will cut the yeast to a quarter of what I used here. It should take much 4 times longer to rise, resulting in a 3 hour bulk fermentation rather then a 45 minute one. Perhaps this extended period of bulk fermentation will give me the flavor I am looking for.

hansjoakim's picture

It's been a while since I last tried one of Hamelman's rye loaves, so I pulled his book from the shelf and started browsing chapter 6. I have baked quite a few of his rye loaves before, but for some reason, his 70% rye with whole wheat and a rye chops soaker has escaped me up until now. The last couple of rye loaves I've baked, have been from doughs that I've composed on my own, and there's always some winging going on with regards to proper hydration and fermentation times. With Hamelman, it's safe to let one's guard down and simply roll along with his detailed directions.

This dough was remarkable to work with. It's 35% medium rye (all taken from a ripe sourdough), 35% rye chops (soaked overnight) and 30% whole wheat:

 70% rye

So that's the partial mise en place! I'll leave it to you to guess what the different bits are ;-)  Add water, yeast and salt and you're on your way.

As I said, I think this dough was great to work with, and it came together very quickly. After a couple of minutes in the mixer, I was ready to go:

 70% rye

For such a high proportion of rye, and where all the medium rye flour comes from a ripe, fragrant sourdough, a meager 30 minutes is enough for bulk fermentation.

After a short bench rest, the shaped dough is put into a well floured brotform:

 70% rye

... and proofed for 55 minutes:

 70% rye

The fully proofed dough did not look at all as fragile as I would expect. As a matter of fact, it was pretty robust and kept its shape well all the way onto the scorching hot baking stone:

 70% rye

Although Hamelman suggests baking this dough in Pullman pans, he states in the sidebar that giant boules weighing up to 11 pounds are frequently baked in Germany. That's why I hoped that a free standing loaf could be pulled off, although there's not a speck of ordinary bread flour in the dough. All delicious chops, rye and whole wheat.

I guess scoring a heavy loaf like this would do more harm than good, so I left the razorblade alone for this one. After baking it just short of the hour mark, I pulled it from the oven:

 70% rye

And another:

 70% rye

I was really happy with this formula, and taken by how quickly the dough came together and how straight forward it was to work with. Expecting sloppy wetness, I found a firm, relaxed dough. I'm thrilled by how it came out!

Crumb shot


Crumb shot


Now for something different:

Vincent Vega: "And you know what they call a ... a ... a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?"
Jules: "They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?"
Vincent Vega: "No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is."
Jules: "Then what do they call it?"
Vincent Vega: "They call it a "Royale" with cheese."
Jules: "A "Royale" with cheese! What do they call a Big Mac?"
Vincent Vega: "A Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "le Big-Mac"."
Jules: ""Le Big-Mac"! Ha ha ha ha! What do they call a Whopper?"
Vincent Vega: "I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King."

Some months back, macarons, those tender, finnicky almond flavoured meringue shells sandwiched around a buttercream or ganache filling, seemed to be all the rage in the food blogging hemisphere. Magazine articles, websites, tutorials, heated discussions over which meringue method yields the toughest shell and the highest feet... and so on... I was taken by gorgeous food designer photos of these petit fours, and, with some practice, one can probably make sexy macarons with a shell as smooth as silk... I've just made my first batch of macarons, and I think I've learned a lot about their particular nature as I went along. First, I'm not going to get the ideal, smooth top shell since I'm not using finely ground almond flour - the item was nowhere to be found in any grocery store, so I settled on grinding blanched almonds as fine as my food processor would allow. I used a French meringue for the batter, and below is a photo of piped macarons resting for half an hour in order to get a surface crust:

Drying macarons

As you can see, they're a bit irregularly shaped (in a large part due to small chunks of almonds), and they've retained a little "beak", so I should've done a few more folds to get the "magma" consistency of the piped batter. While they were awaiting the oven, I could prepare the filling - a white chocolate ganache with raspberry preserves:

White chocolate ganache with raspberry preserves

And here they are: They got feet, they didn't crack, and they were incredibly sweet... **not in one sitting** ;-)


Shiao-Ping's picture

This is not the easiest sourdough starter to culture.  It took many days for the Golden Semolina starter to be ready and even then it did not look very robust.  It would not surprised me if this type of flour is extremely low in sugar content.   I was going to abandon the starter or even add instant yeast to the final dough, but I thought if it didn't work out, no harm - it's an experiment.   

Bulk fermentation was 18 hours in the refrigerator.  The dough needed extra long time for second fermentation - 14 hours - in cool room temp (16C/61F).   This is the batard that came out of my oven this morning:  

Minced Corn Sourdough with Golden Semolina Starter    


                                The crumb  

My formula:  

285 g Golden Semolina starter at 55% hydration

300 g white flour

167 g water

75 g corn (pan-fried with 1 stalk of green shallots in 2 tbsp of olive oil, then minced)

9 g salt

polenta for dusting


final dough weight 860 g and approx. dough hydration 68 - 69%




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