The Fresh Loaf

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robpetraitis's picture


saw a receipe for rustic rye but can, figure it out. What's a levain? and how is it made?

Paddyscake's picture

The majority of us have tried different steaming techniques..professional steamers, ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, ice cubes in cast iron pan, spraying the loaves, spraying the oven walls, drip pans, pouring water into hot pans, pans with water heated during the preheat and combos of these techniques.

I have found that heating 1/4" hot water in a metal pan during the preheat gives me an oven full of steam by baking time, so much so that I have to be careful and keep my face away from the oven door when I open it to avoid getting a steam burn. Even after loading the oven, a few minutes later I see steam coming out the vent.

I recently tried the suggested method of pouring 3/4 cup hot water into a sheet pan that had been preheated with the oven. I thought even better was to use boiling water. Quite frankly, it seemed that I hardly had any steam compared to the way I had been doing it.

Does the temperature of the water poured into the pan make any difference? If I had used just hot water vs boiling would there have been more steam? It looked like it evaporated almost as fast as I poured it.

I do remember (I think) that someone said what was being produced was vapor not steam by most of these methods. 


One caveat for all new bakers..If you have glass doors, be sure to cover with a dry towel when pouring water to avoid cracking the window.

hullaf's picture

I've been baking various breads with seeds. When Lindy tried Hamelman's "Sourdough Seed Bread" it sounded so good. It has 92% bread and 8% rye flours and uses a white flour starter. I have a whole wheat starter so used JMonkey's version from the new TFL Handbook, the 'Three-Seed Sourdough Bread' which uses  80% white and 20% whole wheat flours. Both recipes use sunflower, sesame, and flaxseeds. My bread came out tasting very good. See node 10286. 

But I wanted a bread with more whole wheat flour, so I tried R.L. Beranbaum's 'Sourdough Wheat Bread with Seeds' from "The Bread Bible". It has 50% each of white and whole wheat flours and a whole wheat starter. I followed the recipe fairly exactly with expanding/feeding the whole wheat stiff sourdough starter as described, used the five seeds she used (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, polenta -- I used medium coarse grind cornmeal -- and flaxseeds.) The fermentation and proofing times went along well, I shaped two batards, the oven rise was nice, the browning seemed good, and the aroma heavenly. 

sourdough wheat bread  sourdough wheat with seeds  lame scoring   sourdough wheat with lame scoring

sourdough wheat crumb  sourdough wheat crumb  

I've been trying new scoring after reading dmsynder's tutorial and have been better with my slashing. In the top photo, the left loaf was slashed with a bread knife and the right with a lame. I wish we got more times to slash per loaf. I want more practice - just means we get to bake more bread, right? 

Overall, I liked the taste of the three seeds alone rather than the five, but the whole wheat flavor of RLB's better.  


SylviaH's picture

This is my first attempt at a Ciabatta bread.  The motherdough was aged 3 days under refrigeration before using.  The recipe came from NWSD site  I followed recipe up to the shaping!  I changed it to one I thought simpler and just as effective!  It must have tasted ok as my husband ate nearly half the loaf before I could get some was still slightly warm when sliced : (   the crumb had a nice creamy taste

I added some extra hydration to the dough.

Sliced it into 4 pieces...I also had cut the original recipe in half!

The front two were dimpled before baking and the back two were not dimpled! 

Crumb and crust!




Rajee's picture

3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or grated fresh)
1/2 teaspoon salt
/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 sliced banana
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl peel the bananas and break them into small pieces. With a potato masher, mash the bananas. Set aside. In a separate bowl add oil, applesauce, white and brown sugar, mix together and whisk briefly to incorporate. Add in the mashed bananas and mix until well blended.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.Without over mixing combine the flour and banana mixtures together. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
Pour batter into a well greased 9x 5 loaf pan.Peel a banana and slice into pieces. Place the banana slices down the middle of the batter. Top the banana slices with chopped walnuts.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 - 60 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
Allow the banana bread to sit for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Stephanie Brim's picture
Stephanie Brim

I'm wanting to start working with whole grains more.  I'm going to be working up to the lovely 5 grain that gaaarp posted.

The bread I baked today was thrown together out of need for a sandwich bread for the week that would go well with ham, our choice of lunch meat.  It needed to be relatively soft with a soft crust, as that's my boyfriend's preference, and needed to be slightly sweet to complement the salty ham.  The other thing I wanted was some sort of higher fiber whole grain flour thrown in.

Last night I had to feed my hungry beasties at around 10:30.  I pulled out my discard, fed my 100% starter as normal, and added 1/8 cup water and a little under 1/2 cup flour to the starter.  This produced a very nice, very firm starter, which measured about 166 grams.  I let that sit overnight.  I also measured out 125 grams of my 7 grain flour blend and mixed it with 100 grams of water in the bowl that I was going to make the bread in the next day. I covered that and let it sit overnight as well.

The next morning I was greeted by the sight of a very active firm starter (it had almost grown out of the bowl) and a very nice soaker.  I had set the stages for a very good bread.

We eat a lot of sandwiches so I needed a larger amount of bread.  I added to the starter and the soaker 265g of milk, 355g of flour, 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of honey.  This made a total of slightly over 1000g total dough.  I kneaded it all together and let it sit for about 45 minutes, at which point I realized I forgot the salt and kneaded in about 2 1/4 teaspoons.  Then I stretched and folded once an hour for...3 hours or so?  The dough was pretty wet and sticky.

I proofed for an hour before putting it in the oven in a makeshift brotform: a wicker basket lined with a floured tea towel.  I put it on my stone in a slightly warm (but not fully preheated) oven for 45-50 minutes.  400 for the first 30, then down to 375 for about 10 minutes.  I left it in the oven after turning it off for about 10 minutes as well.

I pulled this out.

7 Grain Sourdough

7 Grain Sourdough Crumb

I'm very happy with how things went.  I'm really getting some good results with my sourdough.

Thanks again, gaaarp!

dmsnyder's picture

This weekend, I baked a couple sourdough baguettes and a bâtard using the mixing and fermentation methods described in the posts about Anis Bouabsa's baguettes. For these breads, I used 90% AP four, 5% WW and 5% rye. Interestingly enough, the flavor of the bâtard seemed much better to me.

These were nice, but the real star attraction was the Cherry Pecan Pain au Levain. I made it according to the formula and method recently posted by mountaindog. (

This is a spectacular bread. The flavors are wonderful and, at this point when the first batch is just cooled (well, almost just cooled), the bread dough, the cherries and the pecans each sings its own sweet tune.

This bread would be good with butter, cream cheese or a fresh chevre. In fact, it is pretty darn good just by iteself.

My wife's verdict is: "This is wonderful bread!" Now, she says such things fairly often, but this afternoon, she said it twice, separated by a minute or so. In Susan Speak, this indicates "I want to be certain my judgement has gotten through to you.  You will make this bread for me again!" To which I say, Amen!


Happy baking!


Kuret's picture

There is not that much talk here about enriched sourdough breads so I thought I should try a writeup on a loaf od bread that I have been baking for the last 6 or 8 months every couple of weeks. The loaf is a kind of "Bran Sandwich" bread, a soft whiteish bread all leavend with sourdough starter. I have been making this mostly for my grandma who likes to eat hommemade bread but is not that big a fan of ryes and other "heavier" breads, she also is very fond of toasting and I feel that this bread is great for toasting!

This bread cointains a preferment with milk wich I know some people might have som disagreement with . However you can leave the milk out and then use dry milk in the final dough if you remember that milk is about 85% water thus all fluids must be lowered 15% and that amount should be replaced with dry milk.

Bran Toast 1 loaf

Step One, Making the preferment:


  • 30g starter (100% hydration)

  • 30g coarse rye

  • 10g wheat bran

  • 60g AP flour

  • 100g milk.

This is what it looks like before mixing:

before mixing


I let this mixture sit out for about 10-12 hours, until you see the signs of your culture beeing mature for leavening. The aroma of this preferment is very interesting, sweet and sometimes a bit like cheese.

When mature:




  • All of the preferment

  • 275g AP flour

  • 170g milk

  • 30g hard fat (butter, lard, shortening..)

  • 8-9g salt

  • 15g sugar

before first ferment

I leave the butter out of the mix until I have gotten some gluten developed and then work it in, the percentage is roughly 7.5% so it isn´t necessary but I do so anyways. The dough should be easy to develop due to the acids in the preferment.

I let dough ferment for 2.5 hours, wich I think is sufficent as the prefermented flour amount is 29% and this makes for a short ferment and proof.

After fermentation shape the dough into desired shape, loaf pan or rolls or even free form. My pan measures 4 1/4" X 11" X 2.5".

ready for proofing

Then proof for another 2.5 hours. Before baking do a couple of snips with a pair of scissors down the middle of the loaf as seen here:

The bread is placed in a 400F oven and baked with steam until done, 40-45 minutes roughly. This is how my loaf came out, a little bit under proofed you can see from the overly enthusiatic oven spring but all in all a fine piece of bread!



I hope that someone will bake this, enjoy and all in all be as happy with this bread as I am. If there is any desire for it I can post pictures of the crumb but seeing as this is a sandwich loaf it should be fairly close textured without beeing dense. You can find larger versions of the pictures at this adress:



Jw's picture

Really just named after the windmill "De Vriendschap" where I buy the flour.

I started thursdaynight with the dough, finished sundaymorning. Great taste, good structure. It is gone before you know it.



goody1006's picture

After reading Stephanie's blog about using instant oatmeal this morning, I decided to post what my most recent attempt was.

I decided to do my 'own' recipe and as the only oatmeal I had on-hand was my son's 'quick cook' oats, I went ahead.

I didn't take photos of it rising--just the finished product, 2 days into eating the darned thing.

Prior to this, I'd been thinking my starter was pretty bland, taste-wise (I like a good SOUR-TASTING loaf)....but not anymore! HOLEY MOLEY--I have to steel myself before taking a bite! I'm not sure if it's caused I used alot more starter than I usually do, or the addition of the buttermilk--but holey cripes, makes me want-2-pucker-up!

the recipe:
2 c plain unbleached white flour
2 c freshly-fed (3 times) starter
4TBL buttermilk powder (yeah, I 'cheat')
1 c warm water
1 tea sea salt
1 tea suger
1 TBL olive oil
1/2 c quick-cook oats

Add dry ingredients,(all but oats) mix well, add wet, mix a bit, then add oats, continue to mix till all flour is moistened, let rest (about 5 min).

Do 3 fold & stretch over 1/2-2hrs rising time.

shape however you want (I used a large loaf pan)and let rise final time, till apx. double in size.

Bake @ 325o for 30 min. (I have an older double-oven/range & use the top oven for the bread--it's very small so that's why the low temp & baking times.)

It's more dense than my prior loaf--I think I'll cut back to about half the starter, and perhaps half the buttermilk, as well.

Tastes pretty good, though!

btrmlk oatmeal bread last bit: I know everyone here is big on using weight, etc...but I pretty-much learned to cook by people who'd been at it so long, they could 'eye-ball' just about everything and it would come out the same....every time. So, when it comes to baking, I just like to wing-it. With things I cook all the time, it's very rare I use an actual 'measuring' tool at all--I just eyeball the ingredients, so this is a big deal for me to actually write everything down......and to be truthful, all the talk of 'hydration rates', etc...just makes my brain want to seize-up...but I'm also an old soap & lotions-gal: if this were soap, or other toiletries....I'd be right there with ya-all, with my scale!


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