The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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jennyloh's picture

I had some fun creating bread that was filled with chocolate.   Adapted from Reinhart's Soft Sandwich Bread in Artisan Breads Every Day.  It turned out a little dry,  but overall, I like the chocolaty taste.  


Chocolate Bread2


Read the detailed blog here.



knud's picture

I got myself into a bit off trouble trying to change my e-mail address, instead of changing, could not figure out how that is done, I opened up a new account tried to unsubscribe from my original account no luck am afraid I do not understand the English used, why not have a simple unsubscribe link

Take care


ananda's picture


These are 2 batches of bread made in College on Thursday of this week.   I have 6 students entered for a bread competition for Young Baker of the Year, with Warburtons.   Their entries are as follows:

  • Nettle Bread - has some elements in common with the formula posted by Karin a few months back. See: Includes cumin and coriander spices, plus a wheat levain as a pre-ferment
  • Raisin, Shallot and Hazelnut Bread - based on an idea from Richard Bertinet, this bread has a Biga Naturale, appropriate since the baker concerned is originally from Sicily. The shallots are reduced in oil, with a touch of balsamic vinegar and moscavado sugar and the hazelnuts are toasted and nibbed. Flour blend is 25% wholewheat and 75% strong white in total.
  • Pumpernickel - a determined effort to perfect a large Pumpernickel loaf [Black Bread] steamed for 16 hours in a Pullman Pan.
  • Seaweed and Lemon Bread - thanks Daisy_A, Jan Hedh and Richard Bertinet. The seaweed is wakame, which is soaked overnight. The dough has a pre-ferment with 75% hydration and white flour. The final dough has semolina and wholewheat flour added at 12.5% each, rest of flour total 75%, including the pre-ferment. Lemon zest to bring out the seaweed flavour. The wakame is cut into the mixed dough using a Scotch Cutter; quite a delicate operation. The loaf is shaped as a half lemon, and dusted with semolina to bring out an authentic colour
  • "Breakfast Bread" - using a wheat levain, the final dough contains fruit and nut museli, chopped dates and honey
  • Flaxseed Bread raised with a Barm - the barm is made from a dry stout from a local traditional brewer. The base for the recipe is Hamelman's flaxseed bread, and Dan Lepard's Barm bread praised by Shiao-Ping and Daisy_A.


I fervently hope all six students will go far.   The regional heat is on 15th October; prize being £250.   A National Bake-off is held in November, with a winning prize of £1000 plus an "apprenticeship" with Warburtons.

A rarity for me; 3 students in the bakery to practice; no other teaching commitments!   So I did some baking experiments of my own at the same time.   Here they are:



1.    Pain de Campagne [Wheat Levain]


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Wheat Leaven



Carrs Special CC White Flour












2. Final Dough



Leaven [from above]



Carrs Special CC White Flour



Shipton Dark Rye Flour














Overall Hydration: 65.4%.   Pre-fermented Flour 31.3%


  • The leaven has been built over 2 days from stock, as it was needed for student production as well.
  • The dough was mixed in a 10 quart Spiral Mixer for 15 minutes. The machine has single speed and bowl direction, and the mix is wonderfully gentle. I find it important to add the water first, then flour and salt, and finally the leaven. I was very happy with the mixed dough quality; dough temperature 26°C.
  • Bulk proof, covered, ambient for 1 hour
  • Scale 5 loaves at 1kg each, and mould round. Place upside down in prepared bannetons. At this point I will confess that my bannetons often seem to stick, and I have to learn to use a combination of coarse semolina and dark rye flour to prevent this from happening. In the past I've used different flours for dust to differentiate loaves produced. I've now seen too many loaves spoilt to continue this practice!
  • I proved these loaves for around 3 to 3½ hours in a prover with gentle humidity, at around 30°C.

After tipping onto the peel and cutting, they were baked in my lovely deck oven on the sole, using steam.   Top heat was set at 6.5 and the bottom at 5, with the temperature pre-heated to a solid 240°C.   After 15 minutes I turned the heat down to 220°C.   I opened the damper after a further 10 minutes and baked out a further 5 minutes before unloading and cooling on wires.

2.   Pain de Siègle [Rye Sourdough]


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

1. Rye Sourdough



Shipton Dark Rye Flour












2. Final Dough



Rye Sourdough [from above]



Carrs Special CC White Flour












Overall Hydration: 66.7%.   Pre-fermented Flour: 20%


  • Stock sourdough had been built over 2 days as for the first dough
  • The dough was mixed in a 10 quart upright mixer. Mixing times were 2 minutes on first speed and 6 minutes on third speed. Final dough temperature was 26°C.
  • Bulk proof as above, 1 hour.
  • Scale 3 loaves at 1kg and 4 at just over 500g. Mould round and place upside down in bannetons prepared with dark rye flour.
  • Proof as above for just under 3 hours.
  • Bake to the same profile given above.



  • The rye sourdough ferments quicker, even though the amount of pre-fermented flour is lower. The stiff levain is so much mellower than the rye. All down to ash content and water levels, methinks!
  • These are unashamedly commercial recipes. I am so pleased with the end resulting breads. Great feedback from all the staff too; not always forthcoming from those with such expertise over various areas of food and hospitality!

Photos below: 






All good wishes


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I've been trying to bake artisan bread for about three years now, since I picked up a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice as an exchange for a Christmas present.  In that time, I've never been particularly good about focusing on one particular bread and practicing it until I get it down, as so many of the wise bakers on this site recommend.  There are a couple of breads that I've mastered anyway, simply because I love them and bake them often enough to do blindfolded--the BBA Italian Bread in particular.  Starting this week, however I'm going to try to amend that, in a way sure to put me deep in over my head.  My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error.  I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know.  But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.

So, every Saturday from now until I get it right (or get sick of it), I will be baking three baguettes using the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelmans Bread.  I have made this formula before with varying success, and on the first occasion just about nailed it by pure luck and accident--nice ears, open crumb, the works.  I know it can be done, if not precisely how.

This is the formula:


  • 5.3 oz. bread flour
  • 5.3 oz. water
  • 1/8 tsp yeast

Final Dough

  • 10.7 oz. bread flour
  • 5.3 oz. water
  • 5/8 tsp yeast
  • 0.3 oz. salt

Note: I halve the quantities that Hamelman calls for--we can only eat so many baguettes!


  1. Mix Poolish night before
  2. Mix all ingrediants with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes  
  3. Mix in mixer ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 
  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula  
  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold  
  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into 9 oz. pieces, pre-shape as cylinders  
  7. Rest 10-20 minutes
  8. Shape as baguettes, place on couche, spray with oil.  
  9. Proof 1 hour  
  10. Pre-heat oven to 515 and stone 45 minutes before baking
  11. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan, score.
  12. Cover oven vent, slide parchment onto stone, pour steam, lower temp to 460.  
  13. Bake 24-26 minutes, uncovering the vent, and turning the baguettes around after 10.

Pictures from week 1:


The dough was reluctant to slash, and so the scoring is all irregular. Still, it formed a nice ear along the slashes.  I'm thinking for next time I will make two changes: first, I will cover the baguettes while proofing, but not spray them; I think the surface was too wet to score easily.  Second, I'm going to increase the oven temperature--I kept the baguettes in for almost 30 minutes, and you can see how much color they got.  I'm aware that my oven doesn't get as hot as it says it does; I just have to calibrate what temp actually bakes a nice baguette in 25 minutes.

I'll update with crumb pictures later.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions; but for certain I'll be back next week to try again!

Update: Typical crumb shot below.  Surprisingly nice given the irregular scoring.  Crust wasn't as crisp as it might be; if changing the oven temp doesn't fix that I'll think about applying the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" method, but one thing at a time.  Texture of the crumb was more fluffy than creamy, and the flavor just okay; I've done better with this formula.  But, again, one thing at a time.

BerniePiel's picture

I have really become enamored of late with Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread, particularly his basic country loaf which is a combination of APF or BF and WWF.  I had to experiment with some raisins and pistachios that I had on hand.  The methodology was identical to Robertson's given in the text, same proportions, same times and so forth.  My only variation is that I use spring water, I mill local Oklahoma winter hard red wheatberries, and perhaps my method of folding the bread and the number of times that I fold versus the text.  I fold 4 or more times depending on what kind of structure I see developing; Chad states he folds three times every 25 minutes during the bulk rise.  I add one of two extra folds.  Also, I do not use all of the 50 g of water that he calls for when addiing the 20 g of salt after the inital 20 minute autolyse.  I usually just end up adding 25 g rather than the entire 50 because I feel it makes my dough to wet.

I have also discovered that his temps of water and air environment called for at various locations in the recipe should be adhered to.  He states using water at 80 degrees and he's right.  I tried using my ambient temp water at between 65 and 72 and the dough behaved differently.  The bulk rise and final rise temps should also be between 78 and 82 which is conducive to good yeast activity and providing a proper amount of time for the flavors to be created in the dough.

In this bread I added 1 1/2 cups of currants (a smaller dark raisin) and 1 1/2 cups of unsalted pistachio nuts, added at the first folding following  the 20 minutes autolyse or rrest.  It took several minutes to incorporate these two items evenly throughout the dough.  If you skimp here, the raisnins and nuts will be along the inside of the crust edge rather than scattered throughout the loaf.

Also, as the recipe states, it will make two loaves.  During this bake, I cooked the first loaf immediately ater the final rise.  The second loaf I allowed to ferment in the fridge for 12 hours just to see if  there was a difference in taste.  There is and its quite good.  But, even without that fermentation period, the bread was also very good.  But, the time in the fridge did improve the flavor.

Finally, I baked these two loaves in a round clay couche that I soaked before puttiing into the oven and I added  them as tthe oven was heating.  The oven was up to 360 degrees when I added the couche (normally I put my cooking vessel in when I fire up the oven, but I forgot this time.)  The clay vessel had been soaking in water for 15 minutes just prior to going in the oven to preheat befoe i added the boules.

I put the loaves in when my temp reached 515, put the top on and after 10 minutes, turned the oven down to 450.  After a total of 20 minutes had elapsed from the time I first put the dough in the clay pot, I took the lid off and baked for another 20 minutes at 450.  The crust becomes harder, good carmelization, and the interior crumb is chewy and flavorful.  I really, really like this bread.

Here are the pix:


from the oven couche


GSnyde's picture

My first attempts at baking bread-like objects involved pizza.  About a year ago, Brother David made pizza.  It was good. I mean, it... was... GOOD!!!  I figured I could do that.  So I asked a few (too few, I now realize) questions, and he pointed me to the Pizza Primer on TFL, where I found the Reinhart Neo-Napolitano recipe.  I followed it (I thought) a few times, and the results were passable (I thought).  The crust was thin (I like that) but not crispy and it didn't really get a big holey crumb around the edge.  I sorta gave up on homemade pizza for several months.

Now as (both of) you who've been following my novice baker adventures know, I have recently come to realize that I had a defective baking stone.  It was advertised as a baking stone.  It looked and felt like a baking stone.  Only problem was it didn't seem to get really hot.  So, after many blond-bottomed breads with little or no oven spring, I've replaced it with one from NYBakers, and I'm making San Joaquin Sourdough this weekend for said Brother David to sample, critique, and hopefully enjoy.

But I couldn't wait for tomorrow to try the new stone in the old oven.  And I happen to have Mozzarella, Parmagiana, Sweet Italian Sausage, Pesto, fresh tomatoes and Mushrooms in the house.  So I set out on a preliminary test of the stone.  I went back to look at the Reinhart recipe, and started to mix it up.  It says "1 tsp instant yeast".  I slapped by forehead with the heel of my hand (a gesture so common among us d'Oh Boys that we usually have very flat foreheads).  Back before I started baking bread, how was I to know that the little yeast packet my wife had in the fridge was not instant yeast?  Now I know better.  I'd been making the dough with dry active yeast.  

So tonight, armed with real instant yeast and my New York baking stone, I made magnificent pizza!  Nice air pockets in the crust, big wholey crumb within the crispy rim.  So was it the yeast?  Was it the stone?  Was it my much improved dough handling?  I'm not sure I care.  It was GOOD! The dough had so much pop, I think it's still expanding <urp!>



Tasha really wants some.


Anyway, it's always a comfort to know I'm not as stupid as I was before (at least in one respect).


wassisname's picture

 I want my weekends back.  Some of them , anyway.  I would like to have the option of not being tethered to my kitchen, with the ticking clock in the back of my mind, for most of a day off.

The trouble is, I am hopelessly addicted to whole wheat, sourdough, hearth bread.  Not a good place to start.  Staying up half the night during the week is not the answer either, not for me.  I need my sleep.

I realize I am being a little silly here.  There are lots of breads I could, and do, make during the week, but this is the one that I can't get out of my head.

Tinkering with conventional scheduling strategies got me pretty close to my goal.  Build a starter one night, mix a final dough the next, cold ferment, then warm/shape/bake the third night.  The third night has been the problem.  My reliable window of opportunity is generally 4 hours.  The lump of cold dough just wasn't coming around quickly enough.

After a while I was just thinking in circles and getting nowhere.  A new tack was called for.  Why not start from the other end of the spectrum and work back toward the middle?  Goodbye tried and true, hello bizarre and unusual. 

Night 1

Build a large amount of starter.  288g WW bread flour / 216g water / 95g seed starter.  Refrigerate immediately! 

Build a small soaker.  100g WW bread flour / 75g water / 2g salt.  Leave at room temp.

Next Morning

Take starter out of refrigerator.

Night 2

Combine starter and soaker.  Add 50g Whole Rye flour / 7g salt / 40g water (added while kneading).

Knead 7-8 min.  Rest 10 min. Shape.  Rise 2 hrs.  Bake w/ steam 10 min @ 475F, then 425F for 40 min.


If you're still reading this I'm sorry.  This is more for me than for you - like therapy.

If you're following the logic I'm impressed, because even I'm having a hard time keeping track of what I was trying to do.  At this point, I'm having a hard time just keeping track of what tense I'm in.

Here's the thinking:  Skip the bulk ferment - put nearly all the flour in the starter and soaker to develop flavor and gluten ahead of time.  Huge starter percentage- Nearly 70% of the weight of the finished dough to strengthen the dough, speed the final rise and further compensate for lack of bulk ferment.  Refrigerate starter first- then bring it out to ferment so there is nothing cold going into the final dough.  Add Rye to final dough- to jumpstart fermentation.

I was expecting disaster, but I have certainly made worse loaves.  The gluten seemed pretty worn out during kneading and it shows in the final result.  The crumb is fairly tight, but soft and moist.  It didn't go gummy, which surprised me.  I see a few obvious improvements I could make to the method so I'll probably give it one more go, but I'm not sure the result is worth all the strangeness.

Final note - it occurred to me just before I started this post that I could simply split my conventionally prepared dough into two smaller loaves and save at least 20 min on baking time right there... huh... waddayaknow... but where's the fun in that!



txfarmer's picture

Another winning recipe from Nancy's Silverton's "Breads from the LA Brea Bakery", I adapted it slightly to use my 100% starter, and changed the fermentation schedule a little too. The best part about this walnut bread is ... the walnuts, A LOT OF walnuts. The original recipe asked for 14oz, which is a lot to start with, I tend to go overboard with nuts and dried fruits in breads,  ended up dumping in all the walnuts in the jar, a little less than a pound. I don't regret one bit. So fragrant, rich, and crunchy, walnuts are a great match for the ww and rye flour in the dough.


Walnut Levain

*makes 2 big loaves, each a little over 2lbs

- sourdough sponge

mature starter (100%),139g
barley malt syrup,21g
ww flour,227g
rye flour,99g

1. Mix, cover, leave at room temp for 5 hours until there are visible bubbles on the surface, put in fridge for 8 to 12 hours.

- main dough

water,170g (I added a bit more to make the dough softer, didn't measure how much more though, I tend to like softer/wetter dough)

sugar, 1tsp

bread flour,624g


walnut oil,2tbsp


walnut halves, 14oz (I used almost 450g)

2. Mix water, sugar, flour, sponge, autolyse for 20min. The books says: add salt, mix until medium strength, mixer at medium speed for about 5min. Add oil, mix until well absorbed, another 2 min. Knead in walnuts. I mixed for much less time since my dough is softer and I intend to S&F.

3. Original recipe says to store the dough in the fridge right away for overnight bulk rise. I know from experience that it wouldn't be enough time, and I don't have a lot of time the next day to finish the bulk rise, so after mixing, I let the dough rise at room temp for 1 hour then put the dough in the fridge. Since my dough is softer than the original version, I did 2 S&F during that hour too.

4. The next day, take the dough let it continue to rise at room temp to double of original size if it hasn't so far. Mine needed another hour. Divide into two portions. Round, rest, shape into whatever shape you like. Rise upside down in brotform. Mine only needed 1.5 hrs, even though the book says 2 to 2.5.

5. Bake with steam for 45 min at 450F.


I really like this scoring pattern.

It bakes pretty dark, and that's the way I like it. The fully caramelized crackling crust matches perfectly with crunchy walnuts. And it sings!

There are so many walnuts, they are peaking out everywhere

This is a bread perfect for toasting. The recipe yields a lot of bread, I at first considered to only make half, luckily I didn't. It's so delicious and fragrant that we can't seem to stop eating it!

From all the breads I've made, and there have been a lot, this is definitely one of our top 10! And it's not hard to make at all.


Sending this bread to Wild Yeast's YeastSpotting event.

amolitor's picture

I'm working on this recipe.

My current state of the art is:

Evening of Day 0

  • 1/4 cup WW flour
  • 3 T water
  • 1 T WW starter

(this approximates 100% hydration starter mix). Let rise overnight.

Morning of Day 1

  • starter from last night
  • another 1/4 cup WW flour
  • another 3 T water

Let rise until about noon (6 hours). Should be Quite Active at this point.

Noonish of Day 1

Toast 1/4 cup + 1 T cracked wheat in dry skillet until Dark Golden Brown, mix with 1/4 cup + 1 T boiling water. Let rest/soak/cool.

  • starter
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 cup WW flour
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • toasted cracked wheat mixture
  • sufficient bread flour to hit a moderately high hydration dough

Knead dough until it starts to develop. The dough will be moist and sticky, if you form it into a blob and grab one end you can lift the blob up off the working surface. Holding it there, it will sag, eventually pouring slowly out of your hands over a minute or two. It's as thick as a Very Thick muffin batter, and somewhat springy due to gluten development. Mine was starting to windowpane, weakly -- I didn't want to overdevelop since the ferment goes on a while.

Bulk ferment for 5 hours, S&F every hour.

Into the fridge around 6pm.

6 am Day 2

Remove from fridge, place somewhere warm. S&F after an hour. Form up a loaf after 2 hours. Proof until done (2 hours in this case). Bake at 450 with steam for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 425 for another 25 minutes. Results:


I had good development going in to the fridge in the evening, but it seems to have started to vanish by morning. I feel like the dough was starting to fall apart. The next test will be to follow the same pattern, but aim for mixing dough about 3-4 hours later, so there's only 8-9 hours in the fridge instead of 12. This experiment went off rather better than the previous run (the dough was less sticky, and much more willing to stand up, but the surface gluten network wasn't quite what I want it to be). The flavor and texture are very very similar to the previous result, and the loaf is more staisfying to me, but I feel I have more work to do.

Previous experiment is here:

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

Here are some pictures of the winning breads at the Coupe Louis Lesaffre Competition at IBIE from Team USA. They now go to the Coupe du Monde in 2012 in Paris to compete against 11 other national teams. Background on the competition process is here

Bread Sculpture, Harry Peemoeller, Team USA

Bread sculpture by Harry Peemoeller, instructor Johnson and Wales, Charlotte, NC



Mike Zakowski, The Baker (Bekjr), Sonoma, CA, with his breads


Team USA breads

Pictures of Mike Zakowski's breads.

One of Mike's entries was a loaf with type-80 wheat mixed with white flour and cracked spelt soaked in agave nectar for 12 hours. It was the best bread I had at the entire convention -- I think (there were many great breads). I asked him where he got cracked spelt, since I had never seen it. He said he grinds it himself with a hand grinder. Although he works at Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, he sells his own bread at a farmers' market in Oakland.

I did take pictures of the beautiful viennoiserie made by Jeremey Gadouas, a baker from Bennison’s Bakery, Evanston, IL, but they were too blurry.

Here are a couple of pictures of rye breads made by Jeffrey Hamelman of King Arthur.

Hamelman's 40% rye

Hamelman's 40% rye, it had nuts and dates I think but I may be wrong. 

Jeffrey Hamelman

Jeffrey Hamelman in a light moment

Hamelman's 60% rye

Hamelman's 60% rye, one barely viewed on left has sesame seeds.

Hamelman noted that he scores some ryes before proofing, to get more bloom in the oven at the cut. The first one pictured above was scored before proofing. 

Images: by Samuel Fromartz


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