The Fresh Loaf

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ross's picture

last night i made use of some of a pumpernickel soaker/starter i had going last thursday that was intended for a large batch of what i call my light rye levain, among friends i call it a sourdough but it's not usually very sour, so it really is happier under the umbrella of i was saying, the intent was to turn the starter into about 20lbs of dough that would become six loaves of bread to be used for bartering with vendors at my local farmer's market, but that didn't happen and i was left with a lot of this pumpernickel stuff. so i turned most of it into a heavy rye, it's made from organic pumpernickel and organic whole rye with the inclusion of maybe 1/4 high-gluten flour for a little more structure/mellowness, i threw in some caraway too, just for kicks. the boule is below. the flavor is complex, the texture is chewy and moist, and the bread is dense the way it ought to be. oh, that crust is thick.


 heavier rye w/caraway 9/4/07

heavy round rye: heavier rye w/caraway 9/4/07


a few weeks ago i baked my light wheat levain, it's based on the same recipe as my light rye except i don't use pumpernickel and about 50% whole wheat flour, it's a much easier dough to work with, i'll trade gluten for pentosans anyday if i'm mixing by hand. these loaves had great spring and some of them produced great a grigné which is always welcome. the photo below is of the first two to come out of the oven (the loaves weigh at least 3lbs after cooled and about 18" long) and the two baguettes made from leftover dough (after scaling), i made six large loaves that night. i'd include a photo of the crumb but i don't know what it looked like...all the loaves went to the farmer's market uncut, sometime i'll post a crumby photo, but i know that it's fairly open and wonderfully moist and chewy. happy baking y'all!


wheat soldiers

wheat soldiers

sphealey's picture

==== "Remember always that a wise man walks with his head bowed; humble like the dust." -Master Kan==



Labor Day Bread MedleyLabor Day Bread Medley

I got a bit out of control during the Thursday evening through Monday period of the Labor Day weekend here in the States.

Front row:

  • Healey Modified Beranbaum-Hammelman Sourdough Rye (this is my weekly sandwich loaf)

Middle row (left to right):

  • Bread machine soft sandwich loaf based on Bob's Red Mill Potato Bread Mix with 75 g whole wheat and 75 g chopped sunflower seeds added; kneaded and baked in bread machine overnight using timer (nice way to wake up).
  • Hamburger buns (first 7 of 14) based on Bob's Red Mill Potato Bread Mix. Mixed, kneaded, and first rise in bread machine; turned and 2nd rise, scaled, shaped, proofed, and baked by hand.
  • Remnents of Somerset Cider Bread from _Dough: Simple Comtemporary Bread_ by Richard Bertinet. Ran out of rye flour and had to use some whole wheat. Very good toasted.

Back row (left to right):

  • Classic White Sourdough; recipe from King Arthur with their Vermont Sourdough starter package. No added yeast
  • Floydm Daily Bread. A little problem with the hydration factor here - the proofed loaf stuck to the peel like paste and was basically shoveled onto the stone. But the end result was tasty.

If you are seeking some quick positive feedback try the hamburger buns. They are very easy to make (by hand or with the machine) yet they never fail to generate oooohs of apprecation from barbeque guests. I use olive oil for a richer looking crust.

Table cloths from my wife's gigantic collection. My appreciation for the photographers who shoot bread cookbooks grows every time I try to capture images of my bread; getting the angles and perspective right is very difficult.


Dorothy's picture

Help!  I have had my starter in the refrigerator un-toughed for 2 weeks or less.  When I opened it up, it smelled just like lacquer thinner.  It also as some what solidified on top.  When I fed it last it was ovoer 80 in my kitchen.  Should I throw it out and start over?????  I don't want to kill anyone!   Thanks Dorothy

dolfs's picture

Today we're having a party and I figured (yesterday), I'd make some ciabatta. I never made it before and decided to make Reinhart's (BBA) recipe based on biga. I did scale it up a little to make slightly more. In the process of doing the calculations, I think I discovered some errors in the percentages and corrected them. I made the bread using the corrected recipe (I'll post on that seperately). For the final dough, I used buttermilk instead of water, and I did add about 70% of the optional olive oil.Reinhart's Ciabatta (Biga)

Reinhart's Ciabatta (Biga)

Ciabatta, excellent holes and crumb

Ciabatta, excellent holes and crumb

The dough came together as described, mixing in a KA, 4 minutes with paddle, and another 3 with the dough hook, adding just a little flour. While the rest of the baking proceeded as written, I noticed that my dough was actually rising a lot more than I expected. Now, I have to note that the weather is really warm right now (90F+) and my air-conditioning is set at 78F. I let it happen while I remembered some people had had issues with these recipes, so I looked up these old posts. Biggest problem people had was not a good open crumb, so I started to worry...

When I cut the dough in three pieces for placing in the couche it definitely collapsed some, but I decide to just let it rise again. It did. Then I baked, as described, and the result, as far as I am concerned, was just wonderful in shape, texture, crumb.

I will report in a separate post about some of the observations and my thoughts as to why this worked out so well. 

dolfs's picture

Received the book finally 2 days ago. I had pre-ordered from Amazon and they kept claiming it wouldn't ship to me until October. I complained with customer service as others were receiving it, and when I placed a new order, it said it would ship immediately (I cancelled that one of course). That caused them to send it right away.Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread 

So, I just had to try something and since I had not built a starter yet, and need basic sandwhich bread for my family's daily needs, went for the 100% WW sandwich bread. I followed the biga based recipe and it worked out beautifully. I needed none of the extra flour, although a little got used during hand kneading.

Result shown in the picture, and taste and crust were great.

AnnieT's picture

I have been merrily plodding along with my version of sourdough starters ( 2 at the moment) but took some time to re-read Bill's posting on maintaining a starter. To my horror it seems I have been doing everything wrong, so I decided to start yet another one from Bill's recipe. I have to admit I had been using what I consider to be inferior flour because our store was out of King Arthur, and my starter didn't look too happy. I measured out the required amount and added KA all purpose flour and spring water and stirred like mad. The mixture was thicker than I expected, but I put tape to mark the level and left it on the counter. It did develop bubbles but hardly rose at all even after sitting all day, so last night I tossed half and fed it again. It is now 12.30pm and there are bubbles but no sign of rising. Bill, if you are out there and not too busy, could you please tell me what you think I did wrong? I gave my unhappy looking old starter some Bob's Red Mill organic rye and it perked right up. Maybe ignorance was bliss and I should have muddled along? A

chamois's picture

   I am looking for a recipie for calaberese bread  .. Can you help?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Many many months ago, in Austria far away, a sourdough starter was supplied from a baker, good and qualified. The Austrian starter was dried and traveled to China where part of it mixed and grew nurtured in the presence of Chinese all purpose flour and later with Austrian Rye flour. Sometimes it sat out to grow, sometimes it sat in a refrigerator, one time even froze but it lived long and prospered and provided many a loaf of bread. Then it was dried. This happened at various times in the last few months.

It might be interesting to compare the starter 6 months ago and now, making two identical loaves and see if the SD has changed in flavor. Two very different environments. A change in starter flours and water not to mention treatment. Will they taste the same? Will they rise the same? Have I changed the characteristics of the starter from the original?

First part of experiment requires re-hydration of dried starters, then feed and stabilize, keeping them separate but treating them alike. Then to use in a recipe and do blind taste tests. Mad scientist has her baggies of dried starter ready and they are February dried starter, April, and August, a control has been made using no starter. 10g of each dried starter was placed into a jar and 40g water was added, after 10minutes 15g of rye flour was stirred in. Each is covered with butter paper and just sitting there waiting for action. One interesting observation...April dried starter smells like cream cheese. (it should be noted that this sample was stored in glass for a long time and the others in plastic baggies...hmmmm)

susanfnp's picture

I made this rye-fennel crackerbread from the new Leader book, Local Breads. Easy and good! The recipe is here.

Rye-fennel crackerbread


Jamila's picture



  • 250 grams Fine Semolina Flour
  • 250 grams KA All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbs Salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbs Dry Active Yeast
  • 1/2 liter Warm Milk
  • 1/2 liter Warm Water
  • 1 tbs Sugar

  • 1 cup Butter or Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Honey

Traditionally Baghrir is 100% Semolina, and it's eaten in Morocco and Algeria. I find it too heavy with just Semolina so I use half flour. You can easily just omit the flour and use only Semolina.

Today I used melted butter and honey for the filling but often I use softened whipped Cream Cheese and a few tablespoons of Honey. I recommend making the filling first and letting it sit as you make the crepes.

Activate the yeast with the milk, water and sugar. When it's frothy, five or so minutes add the flour and semolina or just semolina and mix very well, until all lumps are gone and you have a smooth, soupy batter. Then let the batter sit covered until its frothy and full of bubbles, about 30 to 45 minutes.


Using a heavy skillet melt a teaspoon a little more or less of olive oil or butter (I always use butter) and when it's browned add one soup ladle of the batter to the center of the hot skillet and rotate the pan until the pan has batter spread evenly over it. This crepe is not like French crepes, it should have many holes throughout which means the pan needs to be fairly hot. As soon as you add your batter you will see the holes forming, it's quite pretty. Flip over when the underside is brown a minute or two then leave on the other side for about 30 seconds or so.

Add the filling and roll up!



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