The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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firepit's picture


First, a very quick bio:

- I am a graduate student at Indiana University (in Bloomington, IN, home of The Bernard Clayton), studying cognitive psychology (on the research side of things, not the clinical/helpful side of things). More specifically I'm studying the evolution of learning and decision making processes. It has been noted several times on the site that folks with a technical bent tend to be drawn into baking. I am indeed one of those folks...My undergraduate education was in physics and computer science, and I spent 8 years as a software developer before the career change.

- One of the most rewarding aspects of being a graduate student, at least for me, is that I get to teach. I love teaching, and I have an immense respect for people that are excited and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge of any topic. It's one thing to be an expert. It's something totally different to be an expert that can convey your knowledge to others and get them excited about it in the process. That's one of the things that draws me to this site...there are lots of teachers here.

- My wife and I do enjoy lots of other culinary adventures, trying to eat and cook just about anything we can, as time and finances permit. I have always loved to cook, but lately baking is winning out. As a big Alton Brown fan, I was drawn in by his baking book, and I haven't looked I've got a 1/2 dozen baking books around and several more on the "need to pick that up soon" list. It's addicting.

browndog's picture

My cousin's well-tended garden boasts the company of a clump of chives descended from our great-uncle's plants of about a hundred years ago. My garden is simpler and consists of what grows by inclination in the fields and forests near my home. Much of what I find was not here when Europeans arrived- New England was arboreal then, and the man-made grasslands are eternally trying to revert. Of the flowers in my vases only the common fleabane and a bit of madder are native.vsd

My starter was not begged from the ether like so many of yours, but given to me by a friend who, now in the riper reaches of five decades, was given it by his mother when he left home for college. It's been sluggish, fretful company and I a reluctant keeper til I found tfl which is a little like finding bread religion..multidenominational of course..So anyway my starter woke up recently with a flower in its hair and a song in its heart, don't ask me why, I just thought I better use it and not ask any questions. The wind could and probably will change directions any day. These are a couple loaves of Vermont Sourdough, and an edition of Dan Lepard's White Leaven bread.

and with the fresh discard:

This is an adaptation of Hamelman's Golden Raisin bread, obviously unbound by particulars... Oatmeal bread is typically snugged up with sugar, fat and spices--this loaf is so warm and country without those things that it should have pigtails and a checkered shirt.

-brown dog, white horse.

bwraith's picture

Sourdough Bagels

Many thanks to Susanfnp for posting a great sourdough bagel recipe based on Nancy Silverton's bagel recipe. She also provided a number of key tips as I made these. I posted some photos process, as well as a spreadsheet with more details such as bakers percentages and preferment percentages.

Sourdough Bagel Recipe


  • 335 grams (12 oz) 100% hydration white flour starter
  • 17 grams (0.6 oz) sugar
  • 12 grams (0.4 oz) malt syrup
  • 17 grams (0.6 oz) salt
  • 2.8 grams (0.1 oz) instant yeast
  • 359 grams (12.5 oz) water
  • 186 grams (6.5 oz) first clear flour (I used KA First Clear Flour. Substitute a high ash or whole grain flour - maybe rye, whole wheat, Heartland Mills Golden Buffalo, or just use white flour)
  • 578 grams (20.5 oz) high gluten flour (I used KA Sir Lancelot High Gluten Flour. Substitute bread flour or other high protein white flour.

Mix Dough - Day Before Baking

I used a mixer. While reading the Nancy Silverton recipe, the idea seems to be to get a very stiff dough. I decided the mixer might save some effort. Nancy Silverton specifies 8 minutes at a medium speed.

Add starter to mixer bowl, then mix water, yeast, sugar, and malt syrup and add to the mixing bowl. Mix ingredients well with a spoon or whisk. Mix flours and salt so they are well integrated, then add them all to the mixing bowl and stir with a spoon or whisk to get most of the flour wet.

Mix at low speed until ingredients form a mass, then mix at medium. Total mix time should be about 8 minutes. The result should be a supple but not at all tacky dough. You should be able to work with this dough easily with dry hands on a dry counter. If it is at all sticky, you probably have too much water in it. The objective is to end up with no flour dust, since you want the bagels to come out smooth and have a sheen. That won't happen if you get flour dust on them.

Remove dough from mixer and knead on the counter a few times to verify the consistency of the dough is correct. It should become a satin, supple, somewhat stiff, not tacky dough that is easy to work with.


Divide the dough into about 18 3 ounce pieces. Since the dough is so dry, it may develop a dry skin fairly quickly, so proceed smartly to the shaping stage. Don't dilly dally at this point, as the dough pieces will become too puffy quickly if they are allowed to sit at room temperature for very long. However, the pieces need to rest a short time, maybe 5 to 10 minutes, so that the gluten will be relaxed enough to shape the bagels.

If you have a fine mist spray (I have an atomizer meant for olive oil that I use for water), you can make shaping easier and avoid the dry skin, particularly on the pieces you shape last, by spraying a tiny amount of water on the pieces before you shape them.

To form the bagels, roll out an 8 inch rope shape with your palms. If the dough is too stiff or you make a mistake and want to start over, let that piece rest a few more minutes, and move to the next piece. Take the 8 inch rope and hold it between your palm and your thumb. Wrap the rope around your hand and bring the other end together with the end you are holding between your palm and thumb. You now have a "rope bracelet" wrapped around your hand. Rub the seams together on the counter to seal them, then take off the bracelet, which should look a lot like a bagel, hopefully. Stretch it out so you have a large 2.5 inch hole. It looks big, but it will shrink or even disappear as the dough rises during boiling and baking. The hole needs to be big looking compared to a normal bagel.

Place the bagels on parchment dusted with semolina flour on a sheet. Cover with saran or foil or place the whole sheet in an extra large food storage bag (XL Ziploc is what I'm thinking here). The idea is to lock in moisture to avoid any dry skin forming yet allow room for some slight expansion as they puff up. Place the sheets in the refrigerator to retard overnight.


Bring 5 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a good sized stock pot to a boil.  Place a bagel in the pot and make sure it floats to the top. If so, you can do 4-6 bagels at one time. They should only be in the water for about 20 seconds. Push them under periodically with a wooden spoon, so the tops are submerged for a few seconds. In my case, I never managed to get the bagels out before about 30 seconds were up, but they came out fine. If the test bagel won't float, lift it out with a slotted spoon, and gently pat it dry and allow the bagels you have removed from the refrigerator (I did 6 of them at a time) to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and try again. In my case, they floated immediately out of the refrigerator, probably because I was a little slow getting the dough formed and shaped the previous night. I took the sheets out one at a time, so I could keep the bagels from getting too warm, since I was only doing 6 at a time.

Dip in Seeds

Make plates of seed beds. I made three seed beds. One was 2 parts caraway seed, 1 part anise seed, and a pinch of salt. Another was 2 parts dill seed, 1 part fennel seed, and a pinch of salt. The last was poppy seed and a pinch of salt. I also made salt bagels, but those were done by just sprinkling a little kosher salt on some of them with my fingers.

Right after the bagels are removed from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, place them on a rack to cool for a few seconds. After they have cooled of slightly and dried enough not to ruin the seed bed with too much wetness, pick one up and place it round side down (the tops down), and gently press them into the seed bed. Pick them up and place them right side up on a sheet lined with parchment paper and dusted lightly with semolina flour or coarse corn meal.


Preheat the oven to about 400F. No preheat may work, but I'm not sure. It seems easy, from my limited experience, for them to rise too much. The result will be an open bread-like crumb, instead of the very chewy, more dense crumb expected in a bagel. So, I didn't risk a no-preheat strategy in this case.

If you have a stone, you can transfer the parchment paper on a peel to the stone and bake directly on the stone. I baked them for about 20 minutes at 400F. You can also bake them on the sheet.


Allow the bagels to cool.


The bagels were chewy and delicious. The crumb was more open than I wanted. The reasons for the open crumb were probably two things: 1) I delayed too long in the mixing, shaping, and covering stage the night before. 2) I made a mental error during the mixing and left out about 78 grams of flour from the recipe. The higher hydration contributed to a slightly less dense crumb, I believe. The recipe amounts are adjusted to reflect what I think are the correct amounts for the flour choices above. The important thing is to get a very firm dough and not to let the dough or the bagels rise too much during the various stages leading up to baking.

zainaba22's picture

for dough:

1 cups warm water

1 cups warm milk

2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups white flour

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons olive oil

1)place all ingredients in the bowl of mixer ,beat 10 minutes to make a soft dough.

2)Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

after 30 minutes

3)Divide dough into 16 pieces.shape each piece into a ball.Cover and let rise for 20 minutes

after 20 minutes

4)Roll each ball into a 21cm round,brush the top with olive oil .

5)Top each with a tablespoon of lamb mixture.leaving a 1cm border.

6)Bake at 450 for 9 minutes.

7)Serve with yogurt .

*for Topping:

Lamb or Beef mixture:

500 g ground lamb or beef

4 medium onions

2 medium tomatoes

fresh cilantro(optional)if you want your topping red do not add it.

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

salt and ground pepper

combine ground lamb or beef,onions,tomatoes,and cilantro in food processor or food grinder than add tomato paste,pomegranate molasses,salt and ground pepper

*for vegetarian you can use portabello mushroom or cooked brown lentils instead of meat.

KipperCat's picture

No Knead Half WW

This is the bread I baked yesterday, using half and half whole wheat and white flour. It barely rose, though got a little oven spring. But it isn't a brick! The flavor is very good and the crumb is nice and soft. I think I overproofed by about 2 hours, but may have the other elements right.

Here's the dough just before going in the oven. The gluten strands on the dough surface didn't hold when I rounded the dough. You can see how torn up it looks. I stopped shaping because I was making it worse with each little stretch. Would the overproofing account for that? Quite a contrast to my last dough pic, isn't it! It's not well-risen, but it passed the finger-stick test, so in the oven it went. I didn't think it would take a free-form bake, so used my 4 quart saucepan for baking it.

Once the dough is losing it like this, is there any way to return it to a nice plump state that holds together? It actually has risen some in the colander since I shaped and placed the dough there, but the dough seemed rather torn up, and further rounding was just making it worse.

I should clarify that the overproofing seemed to be in the 18 hour stage.  The dough seemed a bit liquid in the center when I dumped it out on the board. 

Here are the exact ingredients used, with the standard NYT Jim Leahy method

215 grams KA white whole wheat flour

215 grams all purpose flour - GoldMedal

1.5 tsp. salt

.25 tsp. yeast

1.5 Tbsp. gluten

1/8 tsp. Vitamin C crystals

1 3/4 cup water

bwraith's picture

I would like to compare notes on starter maintenance routines. Hopefully others would find this interesting as well.

To best understand each starter, please include the following if you post your starter information.

  • Hydration (water as a percent of total flour in the starter)
  • Feeding ratios used, fermentation times, temperatures used (please specify how the feeding ratio is measured, e.g. by weight or volume)
    • When storing
    • When refreshing in anticipation of a baking session
  • Type of flour used
  • Refrigeration or other storage methods
  • Any other interesting aspects of the starter

It doesn't matter what kind of starter you have. I'm just interested in collecting as many examples as possible in as much detail as possible. Anyone who has done this for a little while discovers a routine that works, so please share it if you have a moment. I'm guessing that the range of hydrations, feeding ratios, flour types, temperatures, and other aspects of these routines vary over a huge range.

I'm doing this as a blog entry, so we don't clutter the front page with too much detailed starter discussion.


AnnieT's picture

Not a great success, which is frustrating as I did everything by the book - kept dashing back to check at each step. As I mentioned, the dough was great to work with and I had great hopes, but in the end there was practically no oven spring. The bread tasted good and the crust had the pretty "freckles", but there weren't many holes. My only thought is that I overproofed the loaves - I let them sit for 4 hours after coming out of the frig because that is what PR suggested. I had made batards and they rose nicely and didn't collapse when I slashed them. I would REALLY appreciate any comments from you more experienced bakers. By the way, I just checked out the Breadtopia site and Eric offers a spelt no knead recipe. Something else to try - no wonder my poor old brain is mithering, A

KipperCat's picture

Here's the dough ready for the oven. I like wheat bran for keeping the towel from sticking to the dough.

Here's the loaf just dumped out on the 13" stone. This picture is taken through the oven door.

Here's the finished loaf. You can just see my new dough scraper propped on the cooling rack behind the bread. It measures the bread at nearly 5" high! The crust is definitely browner than I would like.

And last of all, the inside.

What I've changed since first loaves -
- I weigh out 430 grams of flour instead of measuring 3 cups. Apparently I was measuring lighter cups than Jim Lahey, as this looks more like bread dough, and not like a think pancake batter!
- I learned how to stretch and fold, using the envelope fold
- I use very little flour for the fold and rounding process. Of course this is easier, now that I have the correct amount in there to start with!
- This is the first loaf I've raised in a colander, instead of on a flat surface. I'm not sure that really made a difference, as the dough was so different by the time I placed it in the colander.
- This was also the first loaf I've baked directly on a stone, instead of in a pot. It's a good thing I decided to do that, because by the time the loaf was ready to go in the oven, it was obvious it wouldn't fit in the 4 quart pot I'd been using.
- Since I didn't have time for an 18 hour rise, I started with 90'F water instead of the 70'F I usually use.
- It was baked for about 10 minutes less time. I think my oven isn't regulating very well. 10 minutes before time to check the bread, I could smell it burning and took it out of the oven.

How the Bread was Better -
- Nice crisp crust, (had been a bit tough). I even heard that nice crackling sound as the crust cracked when I removed it from the oven!
- Much larger loaf
- The flavor was very good, though I'm not sure how the it compared to the last few loaves. We took it to a friend's house for dinner. Between the other food and the conversation, I didn't pay enough attention. I did find out it's surprisingly good with guacamole! The flavor is better than my very first NYT loaves, but even they were incredibly good. This is just a very easy method that also produces a very good loaf of bread. It's also whet my appetite for doing other types of bread.

Floydm's picture

Sourdough pancakes with fresh local strawberries, Red Beans and Rice with corn bread muffins and honey butter, pita bread with hummus and tabouli, and cinnamon rolls and a pot of hot coffee on a cloudy afternoon. Yup, we ate well this weekend. Nothing new or experimental, just good ol' home cookin'.

mse1152's picture

Hi everyone,

I've been wanting to find a sandwich bread that my son will eat, other than white bread. This week, I made some Cornell bread straight from the Cornell University site. I like the idea of it because it has extra protein in the form of soy flour, dry milk, and wheat germ -- the three ingredients you have to have if you call it Cornell bread. I substituted whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the total amount; otherwise, I followed the recipe.
















The dough remained a bit sticky even after shaping, and it didn't rise to great heights. But it has a mildly sweet flavor from the honey, and a moist texture. My son still won't eat the crusts, though! I've never offered to cut crusts off his bread, so I don't know where he came up with that. I just tell him it's the handle of the bread.

The recipe wants a 400F degree oven, which, midway through, I lowered about 50 degrees. I think you shouldn't have to use a temp. higher than 375F for this bread. All in all, it's pretty nice, and I'll probably make it again...after I make the 172 other breads on my 'to bake' list!




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