The Fresh Loaf

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ackkkright's picture

I have been baking regularly for a year and a half. The fresh loaf has been my primary education. Thank you all.

This represents this week's levain bake. The formula evolved from Hammelman's Vermont sourdough, and continues to drift weekly. The weather changed recently and the kitchen is cooler; the formula will be different next week.

I like to mix an 1800g batch at 78% hydration, as the numbers are friendly. 1000g flour (here: 75% Gold Medal unbleached AP, 20% White whole wheat, 5% rye), 780g water, and 20g salt; 20% flour prefermented.

The mix began with 400g 100% hydration levain. Levain flour is 50% white whole wheat, 25% rye and 25%AP. The levain was not at peak.

Mixed levain, flour and water and allowed a 30 minute autolyse; added salt and kneaded in bowl for 3 minutes; Bulk fermented at 70* for 3.5 hours with stretch and folds (in bowl) at roughly 30, 60, 90 minutes.

Divided, shaped and allowed to ferment en couche. These shaped loaves were immediately refrigerated for 3 hours, then removed to room temperature for 2 hours before baking with steam (10 minutes) at 450* for 40 minutes. The formula yields 2 large loaves, or two 11oz pizza crusts and two 20oz loaves.


1st mix (no salt) - autolyse:

1st mix-autolyse


after 1st stretch/fold:


after 2nd folding:


after 3rd folding:


shaped (2 batards, 2 11oz pieces reserved for pizza):


2 baked loaves:




Before baking, I thought these loaves had been overproofed. But they boinged up ok during the bake. Fine-tuning the length of fermentation remains my challenge, particularly when retarding.

I appreciate this site and the discussion here very much. Thanks to all contributers, your contributions are very helpful.



espinocm's picture

Over the past few years I have tried countless pizza dough recipes on my quest for what I consider the perfect pizza crust. Two weeks ago I tried yet another recipe and although it was the closest one so far, it still was not "the one.” Being that close only encouraged me more to continue my search which led me to The Fresh Loaf and more specifically to SylviaH, where I found a picture of exactly what I had in mind, her “Thin Crispy Crust on pizza.” Interestingly enough, that particular pizza was made using the same recipe I used that got me the closest but the way I got to Sylvia's pizza was by googling, "bubbly thin crisp pizza crust" so I decided it was the meant to be recipe; however, I needed to perfect it. Since some of the ingredients in the recipe have different options (table salt or kosher salt; bread, all-purpose or high-gluten flour; sugar or honey; etc.), I wrote Sylvia to ask her which ingredients she used to make this particular crust. She promptly wrote me back and provided me with the information I wanted and so this past weekend I made pizzas and I finally got exactly what I have wanted!

These two pizza crusts were made using Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough recipe from PR American Pie book with the following ingredients: KAAP, clover honey, fine sea salt, IADY, olive oil and spring water. I mixed the dough by hand; however, during the second mix, I had to mix a little longer than 2 to 3 minutes as stated in the recipe directions. I mixed the dough until it passed the windowpane test. I immediately divided the dough into four balls, let them rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and then put two in the refrigerator and two in the freezer. The next day, I removed the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before I planned on using it, heated oven to 550F and heated stone on the bottom rack for 1 hour. Rubbed the pizza peel with flour, shaped the dough as Sylvia stated in one of her posts, “…shaped between my two palms and flipped back and forth over my wrists and gently stretched in my hands…,” placed dough on peel, topped, baked for 6 minutes, as suggested by Sylvia, placed them on cardboard when they were done and I also brushed the crowns with a little olive oil.

Pizza 1: brushed dough with garlic infused olive oil and topped with Italian blend cheese, provolone, parmesan, feta and pesto sauce. The Italian blend had provolone and parmesan but I had some extra so I put it on the pizza.

Four Cheese Pesto Pizza

Pizza 2: a little tomato sauce and topped with sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, black olives and Italian blend cheese.

Supreme Pizza

Thank you TFL and Sylvia for helping me achieve my goal of finding the perfect pizza dough recipe! And just in time! Now I can make and store dough in the freezer and concentrate my efforts on other things I usually make around this time of year such as tamales which can take most of a weekend and on some other breads I want to try.

Christi - Oklahoma City, Ok

Floydm's picture

I am still trying to develop a recipe for cream buns something like the scones from Murchies in Victoria, BC (see my previous posts on the topic here and here).  What I baked yesterday turned out awfully good and, if memory serves me right, is along the same lines of what they serve at Murchies.

Cream Buns

Cream Buns

Cream Buns

It is worth mentioning that I've been using my Lesson 1 recipe as the basis for this, with substitutions (milk and cream for the water, add some sugar, etc).  Though by itself that recipe is nothing special and one I've abandoned baking as it is written there, it still is frequently my starting point for experimentation.

My recipes was roughly:

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup warm milk

3/4 cups warm heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 heaping teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 cup dried currents

I started with less liquid than that  (1/2 cup of each) but the dough got pretty tight, so I poured in more cream and worked the dough with wet hands until it got to a state I was comfortable with. 

I mixed it in my standmixer for quite a decent time, 8-10 minutes I'd guess.  I gave 90 minutes for the bulk fermentation, cut and shaped the dough, and then another 60 minute final rise.  I baked them around 25 minutes at 375.

Looking back at my photo of the Murchies scone, they were a bit yellower.  perhaps I'll add an egg or some butter the next time I try to make these so they come out more brioche-y.  These were very good though, both hot out of the oven and for breakfast the next day.

*      *      *

While making these I remembered that one of my favorite baked items in France this summer, the little Briochette they sold in the grocery stores there, are fairly similar to these.  There is the assumption here that the way to appeal to Americans is to make things sickly sweet.  I could be wrong, but it seems like there is a missed opportunity here: were I a purveyor of baked items I'd try putting out something soft, less sweet, and with a good shelf life, something that a parent wouldn't feel guilty feeding their child.  The closest thing I can find in grocery stores around here are the King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, which our kids devour every time we buy them.   Sprinkle in little bits of chocolate, currents, raisins, or dried cranberries, maybe come out with a whole grain version -- Moore's Flour Mill in Ukiah, CA used to make these whole wheat raisin buns that were to die for -- and I think you'd have a real winner.

txfarmer's picture


This baguette has many inspirations: the long cold autolyse from Anis, long cold bulkrise from Gosselin, SD instead of instant yeast from David's San Joaqin SD... With 12 hr autolyse, 24 hr cold rise, the process last at least 40 hours from start to finish, however, very little time is spent on real work, most of the time, I just have to wait and let time do its magic.


"Little hands-on work" does NOT equal to "easy to make", in fact, with the extra long process, there could be a lot of variations on how much to S&F, when to start and stop fermentation, etc, not to mention shaping and scoring continue to be a challenge at 75%+ hydration. With plenty of tweeking and adjusting, tthe end result is DELICIOUS: thin and crackling crust dark from all the caramalized sugar, airy and moist crumb, sweet and layered flavor - in the past 2 months, this is our weekend dinner of choice. I have made it at least once a week, sometimes twice a week.


Right now, this is my favorite bagette to eat - and to make.


36hr+ SD baguette

100% hydration starter: 150g

flour: 425g (I usually use KA AP)

ice water: 300g (sometimes a tad more when I feel extra daring)

salt: 10g

1. mix flour and water into a lump of mass, cover and put in fridge for 12 hours. (let's say Thurs morning, takes <5 min)

2. add starter and salt to the dough, use hand to mix until roughly evenly distributed. Note that the 100% starter here has two purpose: it's levaining power to raise the bread, AND it's extra water acts as the "2nd hydration" step in the original Anis formula. To make it even better, the consistency of the starter is much closer to the dough than pure water, so it's easier to mix.

3. bulk rise at room temp (70 to 75F) for 2-3 hours until it grows about 1/3 in volume, S&F every half hour until enough strength has been developed. Put in fridge. (Thurs evening, 3 hours, with 15 min of hands-on work.)

4. 24 hours later, take out dough, if it has not doubled or nearly doubled, give it more time to rise at room temp. I usually have to give it about 1 to 2 hours, depending on temperature, which means the dough can probably be stored in the fridge for even longer than 24 hours.Do make sure it has a sufficient bulk rise, so the dough is strong enough; but don't let it go too long, the dough will be so bubbly that the shaping would be difficult - this is where you need to experiment with timing a lot.

5. divide and rest for 40min.

6. shape and proof for 30 to 50min, score, bake with steam at 460F for 25min. (about 2 to 4hours on Friday night)


There is a lot of room here in term of how to arrange the bulk rise timing - more time before fridge, less during/after; OR more in the fridge; OR now that it's cooler at night, put the dough outside instead and skip fridge all together... The goal is to give the dough a long sufficient bulk rise, regardless how it's done. The key for me is to learn how the dough "feels" and "looks" when it's properly fermentated, so I know I've gotten to the finish line, using whatever fermentation schedule. Before I thought the most difficult part of making baguettes is the shaping, now I thihk it's in managing fermentation - even though I am really not doing anything in that step.


Since we love to eat it, I will conitnue to make this bread a lot, hopefully I will get better with scoring this wet dough! Right now, I am not even trying to get ears, just aim to have the cuts expand properly in the bake.



Sending this bread to Wild Yeast's YeastSpotting event.

wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

After having drooled over Floyd's Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid for a long time, I finally made it yesterday. I made half a batch and am glad I did. I would recommend at least 3 braids if you make a whole batch. The half batch was so big it was hanging of both ends of my 15" sheet pan. That being said, after breakfast this morning there is a big piece missing! It was great.

Changes and observations.

  1. The dough was too wet using my 120 gr/cup flour measuring, so I had to add quite a bit of flour (and I am no longer afraid of sticky dough, but this was thick batter).
  2. I mixed it in the bread machine using the dough cycle but didn't let it finish because the dough felt done.
  3. I used 1/2 of a 21 oz can of blueberry pile filling.
  4. Didn't do the overnight so I let the sponge ferment for a couple of hours and then mixed/kneaded the dough, let it more than double, then filled and shaped, rise again for about 45 min, then baked.
  5. Toppled with confectioners sugar (1 cup plus 1/4 t vanilla, 1 T milk) glaze after cooled.

This makes a beatiful presentation and has so many options for fillings. I cannot wait to try some others. This is so much better than anything I ever bought in a store.

Here is the braid after filling and shaping, ready to apply egg glaze.

Filled and Shaped

With egg glaze.

Egg Glaze

And here it is ready to bake.

Risen and ready to bake

Just out of the oven.

Just baked

Confectioners glaze.

Confectioners glazed

Crumb shot (makes me start drooling again.

Crumb shot

Crumb close up.

close up

Thank you Floyd and everyone that commented on that thread. I think I'll go have another piece. :-)

Submitted to YeastSpotting

10-01-10 update to add YeastSpotting link

evth's picture




Tried my hand at baking gluten-free bread, and it was indeed a learning experience for me. Having met a number of folks who are celiacs or who have given up wheat, I was compelled to start baking gluten-free goods. For background to my endeavor, an acquaintance of mine highly recommended that I try a gluten-free bread baked by a small Denver company called Udi's Handcrafted Foods. And I will say that this stuff is fantastic, despite the fact that it came out of the freezer aisle of a health food store. No disappointment here - just more inspiration for me to bake wheat-free.  After the summer months whizzed by, I noticed that my pantry boasted a gluten-free cache of sorghum, millet, chestnut, almond, sweet rice, quinoa, flax, corn, tapioca, arrowroot, potato and oat flours/starches (can't forget the xanthan gum or guar gum!!!).  That's all in addition to my usual glut of flours: unbleached or bleached all-purpose, cake, pastry, semolina, and the almighty bread. (Technically, it is not considered hoarding if you keep everything organized and eventually use it all.)


Continuing with this gluten-free bread story, I finally met up online with what I thought was an impressive recipe. I have only a simple understanding of why gluten-free breads are so dense and do not rise: without the gluten a "real" rise cannot occur. Well, in my bleary-eyed efforts the bread did not turn out like how I had hoped. Not that my hopes were completely dashed. It certainly was a special kind of bread - dense beyond recognition. No open crumb here. A cross between Irish brown bread and hard tack. Crude, I'll say. On the other hand, think captivating desert topography with its striking crackle of a crust and rich nut-brown color. As for another redeeming quality, it had an unusually wholesome and pleasantly nutty flavor. 


While the taste of this bread grows on you, unfortunately, it can weigh you down. Density was the culprit and may have gotten the better of this loaf. My friend, Eileen, calls this bread "gluten-free lead." I have to agree!


I still have my gluten-free stockpile and welcome any suggestions or recipes.





dmsnyder's picture



I based the formula and procedure for these ficelles on Pat Roth's (Proth5) baguette formula, which I have made several times. These are entirely levain raised and use a 65% hydration dough. The dough is entirely hand mixed. It employs a long bulk fermentation. The bread develops a delicious, sweet baguette flavor with no noticeable sourness when made following Pat's procedure. See Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough

I wanted to make baguettes this weekend, but didn't have a block of time long enough. Also, I had a 125% hydration levain but not time to convert it to Pat's 100% hydration levain. So, I improvised.




Baker's %

AP flour

11.25 oz


Water (80ºF)

6.25 oz



0.25 oz


125% hydration levain

3.0 oz



20.5 oz


Note: Taking into account the flour and water in the levain, the Total Dough hydration is 63%.


  1. Prepare the liquid levain and let it ripen at room temperature until the surface is all bubbly (8-16 hours, depending on how active your seed starter is and the room temperature).

  2. Refrigerate the levain for a day.

  3. In a large bowl, dissolve the levain in the warm water. Add the other ingredients and mix to a shaggy mass.

  4. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Stretch and fold in the bowl for 20-30 strokes. Re-cover the bowl. Repeat every 30 minutes 3 more times.

  6. Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl.

  7. Bulk ferment 1.5 hours. Do a stretch and fold on the board.

  8. Bulk ferment for another 2 hours.

  9. Refrigerate overnight (8-12 hours).

  10. Take the dough from the fridge and immediately divide it into 3 equal pieces.

  11. Pre-shape each piece loosely into a log and cover them.

  12. Let the pieces rest for 1 to 1.25 hours. The should feel a bit puffy but should not have expanded much.

  13. Shape into ficelles and place en couche, seam side down.

  14. Pre-heat the oven to 500ºF with baking stone an steaming apparatus in place.

  15. Proof the loaves until they spring back slowly when pressed with a finger tip.

  16. Pre-steam the oven.

  17. Transfer the loaves to a peel (making sure that they are seam side down on the pel) and score them.

  18. Load the loaves onto the stone. Steam the oven and turn it down to 460ºF.

  19. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the loaves are nicely browned and the bottom sounds hollow when thumped.

  20. Transfer the baguettes to a rack.

  21. Cool completely before eating.

The ficelles had a crunchy crust. The crumb was sweet and tender with a very slight sourdough tang.

There is frequent discussion on The Fresh Loaf about how to fit baking into a busy schedule. I share this experience as an example of adaptation of a known recipe, usually made in one day, to a two-day procedure. I think it was reasonably successful, and I may very well do this again when I don't have an 8 hour block to babysit dough.


Submitted to YeastSpotting


proth5's picture

 Yes, yes, I know that now that my life has resumed its "normal" rhythm, I should get back to baking.  (And I did do a pretty good first bake in the new oven - which was eaten before pictures could be taken - but which showed me just how many adjustments I was making for my old oven and what kind of better results I might get with one that actually works.) But believe it or not I had never been to Las Vegas and in one of those jet lagged induced flights of fantasy that I sometimes get, I had booked the tickets and registered for some lectures, and well, here I am at the IBIE (International Baking Industry Exposition.)

Sadly, in my quick turnaround at home, I packed my bags with the standard "four day domestic commute" accoutrements - which does not include a camera.  I'm sure that official photos will soon be available and they will be much better than those I could have taken (not that it's hard to take better pictures than I do...)  We all have lost opportunities to deplore.

My primary mission today was to cheer on the USA Baking Team at the Louis LeSaffre Cup.  For those of you who don't follow this closely (Mark!) this is the preliminary competition that decides which two countries from the Americas region will compete at La Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie at Europain in 2012.  As you recall, the US placed out of the top three last Coupe (you are all keeping track of this, right?) and instead of getting an automatic ticket to Paris, needs to compete its way back.

IBIE is first and foremost, though, a trade show and there are always ripping good things to see.  With all apologies and with due respect to those who see bread baking as a spiritual quest, I just love the big machines with the robotic arms that automatically mix, shape, and with the aid of tiny water jets even slash breads before conveying them to the oven.  I could watch those big machines all day.  While the artisan in me is suspicious of the bread that they produce, the engineer in me just thinks "Cool."

On my way back to the competition area, I passed the LeSaffre Yeast booth, where a very nice man gave me a one pound brick of LeSaffre's new "High Power" instant yeast.  That should be interesting to try.  The same very nice man also gave me a several lifetime's supply of plastic scrapers (and those who really know me know that I will travel vast distances and attend expensive classes just to get a free plastic dough scraper.)

I also scored a chocolate covered brownie - on a stick - from the Callebaut booth.

But, on to the competition.  Team USA is:

Michael Zakowski - Bread

Jeremy Gadouas - Viennese pastry

Harry Peemoeller - Artistic piece

Today team USA, Team Canada, and team Mexico were baking.  One of the advantages of attending these competitions is that one gets to see and taste the output from bakers who are at the top of their craft.

By applying my talent for infinite patience, I managed standing room within feet of the judging area and very near to that legend of baking Christian Vabret.  I will have to say that it was a bit unthinking of the event organizers not to provide M. Vabret with a translator.  Although I understood him, I could see him become visibly discouraged that so few people comprehended what he was saying.  He deserves better.  I was also puzzled that with Canada and Brazil in the competition that materials and signage were in English and Spanish only.  Oh, well.

I'd have to say as a completely unbiased spectator that Team USA rocked!!!

Team Canada's (and Mexico's) and Team USA's breads were very different in style.  Mr. Zakowski tends to bake his breads very boldly and includes a small amount of levain pre ferment even in his baguettes.  Tasting is believing.  I need to give some serious thought to bolder baking (now that I have an oven that works) and the hybrid baguette. 

Mr. Gadouas' pastries were excellent.

Mr. Peemoeller produced an artistic piece celebrating the role of immigrants in the diversity of America and its breads.  He included a highly abstracted version of the Statue of Liberty( with the flame made from a piece of croissant), a silk screen on dead dough version of the Declaration of Independence and a laminated live dough Constitution along with many examples of breads and allusions to the hard work building this country that was done by immigrants.  It was brilliant.  The two French gentlemen behind me remarked on the irony that the great symbol of America was really French.  But I think that's what Mr. Peemoeller (with an accent that makes one think he might have moved to the US from somewhere else) was really trying to say.  That America has the ability to take the best of the world and shake it up until it is all part of our identity.  (I spent a lot of time watching the Armed Forces Network - I break out in public service announcements sometimes.)  Which goes to show the power of his bread creation, that it actually could move one to deeper thought.  It rocked!

Canada is a strong contender also, with really delicious pastries.  M. Dumonceaux, who did the pastries made pain au chocolat where he laminated a cocoa butter and cocoa layer right into the dough (plus added the chocolate batons.)  That was just too much (and I mean that in a good way.)

Sorry, but your feckless correspondent could stand no longer and left before Mexico's breads were judged.

For the individual looking for deck ovens for the home, Team USA had a Miwe Condo deck oven.  It was extremely compact and had a mini loader integrated into the oven design (sooooooo cool...).  I have spoken to an individual who has a Miwe in his RV.  This seems interesting.  I will go to the Miwe booth tomorrow.

But hey, I'm in Las Vegas!  Enough of this blogging stuff - someone get me a martooni!

probably34's picture

I've just started experimenting with sourdough. I have an active rye starter and wheat starter. anyone have any really good formulas?

sourdoughboy's picture

I saw a recipe for Bath Buns--a traditional sweet, glazed bun from Bath, England--in Richard Bertinet's "Crust." The buns looked rather like the baked char siu bao of dim sum, so I thought I'd tart up the traditional dim sum dish with a higher-end bun. 

The result was eerily reminiscent of the dim sum dish--I'm now thinking that the dim sum dish is likely a descendant of the Bath Bun (by way of the British in Hong Kong). Any food historians out there? According to Google, I'm the first to advance this poorly supported theory. Anyhow, onto the baking...


The results:




Bath Bun recipe adapted from Bertinet's "Crust" (I only had soy milk on hand, and no fresh yeast, so I fiddled a bit)



125g bread flour

125g water

2 g active dry yeast



4g active dry yeast

375g bread flour

113g butter (1 stick0

75g sugar

150g unsweetened soy milk

2 eggs

7g salt



150 g soy milk

75 g sugar


Night before:

1. Mix preferment together. Let rest for 90 minutes.

2. Mix preferment + dough list. Knead until smooth (it's soft and sticky, I used this technique.) Fold/tuck dough, rest in greased bowl for 1 hour.

3. Make filling (below). 

4. Press out dough, tuck into ball. Place in greased bowl, Cover. Refrigerate


Morning of:

1. Divide dough into 12 parts (approx 75 g). 

2. Press out dough on lightly floured surface. Put 1 heaping teaspoon in center. 

3. Place in palm of hand. Pinch together into ball (4 pinches should do the trick: 1. Pinch top to bottom. 2. Pinch left to right. 3. Pinch top left to bottom right. 4. pinch top right to bottom left.)

4. Place seam-side down onto parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Cover, proof till doubled in size (2 hours).

6. Preheat oven to 375.

7. Make glaze: dissolve sugar in soy milk on stove top.

8. Glaze buns. Put in oven for around 20 minutes, till they look scrumptious.

9. Glaze buns again while warm. I'm generous with the glaze--the bun should be sticky.


The filling:

1/2 lb boneless pork country-style rib

3 tb hoisin sauce

1 tb ketchup

2 tb water

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon five spice powder


1. Slice pork into 1/2 inch strips.

2. Marinade in 1/2 of the marinade for an hour.

3. Roast for 15 minutes at 350, glaze with remaining marinade, and finish for 5 minutes under broiler.

4. Cool in fridge overnight.


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