The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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hmcinorganic's picture

I started the rye starter last weekend and it came together quickly and was fermenting away so I decided to try to make a batch this evening.  I also made two boules of french bread, but the dough was not behaving well;  too wet, and they spread sideways.  However, these turned out great!  (I followed the recipe from Bread Bakers Apprentice, basic sourdough):

Nice golden crust.  I like the way these look.  They are a little flat, but not bad.  I meant to do more stretch and folds (I only did one after an initial short round of kneading) but the day got away from me.  I haven't tried the little pointy cuts before; they're fun.

Daisy_A's picture



It was exciting to make this first sourdough after all the work that had gone into nurturing my starters. I thought I'd lost the loaf at several stages but I learned so much through making it. There are many things I need to work on but it tasted delicious!

I'd like to thank TFL members for their encouragement and also QJones at Madrid tiene miga [Madrid's Got Crumb] for the wonderful recipe for Hogaza integral (con masa madre de centeno 100%) [Whole grain loaf (with 100% rye starter)]. As you can see on the latter website, in the hands of an accomplished baker, this is a beautiful loaf . An English translation of the formula and method for this bread is included in the chart at the bottom of this blog, with notes on my own attempt.

Like others here I arrived at TFL via SourdoLady's instructions on how to cultivate a starter, found on Google. I would like to thank you all for your help at every stage - welcome, answers to queries, encouragement to start my first loaf and also specialist advice via live posts and messages and the archives. Many people have helped me but I would particularly like to thank Ananda (Andy) for his specialist guidance and feedback.

I've lurked on several bread boards now but what really made TFL stand out for me was its strong building of mutually supportive networks across baking levels, which is mentioned by so many new participants. Thanks Floyd and Dorota for building this place!

While waiting for my starters to develop I read TFL archives,  baked several yeasted breads, including Jason's ciabatta and Floyd's hot cross buns from TFL and bollos preñaos from Madrid tiene miga. I also added to my baking equipment. I started with the 'hogaza integral' because it just sang out to me as a sourdough but also because I could bake it with the small selection of equipment I had at the start, which did not allow me to proof batards or safely cover loaves during baking.

One of the key things of this first foray into sourdough baking was getting to know how my rye starter, Rosie, worked to raise a loaf. As it happened she whipped through a projected 4 hour second proof in 1.5 hours. This meant that when the dough and Rosie were ripe and ready to go the oven was stone cold. I'd not wanted to preheat it for 3 hours. Mercifully as advised by Ananda and Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters, as well as many members of TFL, I was watching the dough intently through the second proof. I put in back in the fridge briefly then removed it to heat up in preparation for baking. Time was of the essence at that point as I could see that the skin was growing tighter. It became important to transfer it to the oven quickly. Previous to this I had developed some good shaping and peeling skills working on rounded Swedish rye breads. However I lost them in the stress and excitement of the moment.

The banneton, which had been a focus of interest in our household, supported and released the dough well. It was looking good - a nice, tight boule. By the time I'd slashed it weakly, taken an photograph of it, mis-peeled for first time ever, got the dough back onto board for a random reshape and re-peeled it, it was a teardrop miche shape with no evident slashing...Now I know that 30 seconds to get the dough into the oven means just that.

Another key thing about this bake was getting to know my oven. I had assumed from a temperature reading taken near the bottom of oven that it was under heating. When I baked my second loaf I took the temperature higher up at my DH' s suggestion and it was off the scale. Unknowingly, I put this first loaf into a really hot zone. It cracked into Maillard caramelization early then darkened. It also cooked more quickly than predicted by the recipe. I didn't think to use a probe on this first loaf so I had no idea what was happening in its interior. At this point I fully expected to be paving the patio with it. I thought I had nurtured a starter and worked for 1.5 days in order to produce a brick. I tried to be philosophical but it would have been a big disappointment not to have gained a loaf after all the labour. At that point I was just hoping for something edible.

When the loaf emerged from the oven its exterior was crackled, with a sort of dappled look due to the yellow maize flour dusting. I thought at first that the crackling was a flaw and do think it arose in some part due to the tightening of the dough while waiting for the oven to heat. I didn't like to look at it at first, as I was hoping for even and golden. However I was comforted by reading in Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters that crackling can occur anyway on loaves and can be attractive; also by looking at the lovely loaves in Jan Hedh's Artisan Bread, many of which have a pronounced crackle.

By the next day, I'd decided to embrace my crackled loaf, as a lovely thing. To convince myself in the first photograph I paired it with the melon that had just arrived in the organic box - telling myself these were two good, round, crackled yellowish things together! 

We had a wonderful surprise when I cut into the loaf. The interior was not rock hard. It was dense with the rye and I know that I need to work on creating more open textures through kneading. but no way was it inedible. I've been finding with some of my loaves that the outsides tend to have a more open crumb than the middles. As I get to know my dough and oven better this is changing. However the shot above in front of the bread bin is through the middle of the loaf and my knife isn't brilliant so it tore it somewhat. I wanted to keep the shot of the bread bin, as it sets the loaf in the context of our kitchen. However, this shot of a more 'cake like' slice gives a much better idea of the crumb in the loaf as a whole. 

The crust was very crackly as you can probably see from the shot above. However, having been introduced to sourdoughs via Moro sourdough, this is how we like it! (Thankfully I'm blessed with a DH who loves crackly crusts. The idea that they would be softer the next day doesn't appeal to him).

And the taste? Well I've been frank about the flaws in my bread making, so let's be honest about the good points. The taste was delicious. I can attribute part of our reaction to tasting the bread to our general excitement at eating our own sourdough for the first time. Maybe all home baked sourdough tastes like this? Well, after baking two more sourdough loaves I can say that it doesn't. All the loaves have tasted good and some of the milder loaves would be more to other people's taste. But we really like strong flavours and the bread really delivered on this front. I think this is due to the recipe. QJones notes how it really foregrounds the rye. The nutty notes of the rye mixed with sour were delicious. After all that cultivation Rosie had done a really good job of delivering a satisfying tang. And the flavour was complex. Like a good wine it coated the inside of your mouth and continued to deliver complex tastes long after the first bite of the bread.

I asked my husband whether he wanted anything with his first slice and his response was that a bread that tasted so good didn't need anything with it. For the crackle and taste reminded him of Moro's bread at its best (Wow - though they also have phenomenal gluten development [no rye]) My DH is no unbiased taster, obviously. However I can tell when he's faking it. If unsure of something I've offered him he cautiously says it's 'tasty'. Not so this time. As many have noted on TFL, it's a joy to share a good bread with friends and family.

After the first slices we tried it with Beenleigh Blue cheese and a green virgin olive oil. These foods are so strong in flavour they will see milder ingredients off the plate. The rye went well with them. I can see why rye is traditionally paired with cured meats and fish.

And yes, I confess, we ate the bread warm. I know there are reasons to avoid this but how many poets have romanticized about bread cold from the oven? That and the fact that the other half was more bulbous is the reason that there is only half a loaf in the pictures!

Well a lot learned there and lots to work on in the future but it was a good end to the first adventure. Thanks again.

(More technical information follows. I tried hard with the maths but it's not my strongest point. Any corrections welcome).

Total Formula


Bakers %

White organic bread flour

400 grams

Rye organic flour

100 grams

Whole wheat organic flour

100 grams


370 grams


10 grams


980 grams



Rye Starter                   


Bakers %

Rye organic flour

100 grams


100 grams


200 grams



Final Dough


Bakers %

White organic bread flour

400 grams

Whole wheat organic flour

100 grams


270 grams


10 grams

Rye starter

200 grams


980 grams



62% Hydration dough with 100% Hydration Rye Starter

Flours: Dove’s Farm white organic bread flour, whole wheat and rye flour, Dove’s Farm rye flour in starter.





Mix 12 hours in advance. Leave at room temperature


Mix all ingredients of final dough, except salt, to a mass.

Leave 30 minutes before continuing mix.

Mix Dan Lepard technique, short bursts with rests.

Dan Lepard 10,10.20,30,

1 hr 3 hrs = 5 hrs. 

1 hr = at the one hour mark i.e.

leave 30 mins., not leave 1 hr.



Perhaps raise to C21?
First Proof

5-5.5 hours

Fold and Shape

Shape and place in banneton

First use of banneton went well
Retard Retard covered in fridge 4.5 hours

Note: this was to accommodate baker’s schedule.

Not normally so long, although retardation does take place.

I retarded for 2 hours



Second proof

3 hours in proofing bath/box

With my rye starter, second proof

was over in 1.5 hours.

Not expected so oven not heated


10 minutes at 240C on a preheated metal tray

in a preheated oven with initial steam,

35 minutes at 200C then

10 minutes with oven off and door ajar.

My own loaf cooked more quickly.

Oven had probably heated higher than 230C


General notes

Difficult to coordinate proof and oven: thanks to advice was monitoring second proof closely. Skin was tightening by time oven fully heated.  Could have been a brick but mercifully wasn’t!

See above in notes column.

Notes on loaf

Loaf emerged with crackly, stippled crust. Miche shaped with some but not high oven spring.

Given the circumstances the crumb came out well. Some compaction in middle, which I would like to get rid of. However more even holes in cross section – see ‘cake’ shot.

Loaf suffered from being cut with a poor knife – need to get better one!

Flavour exceptional - a complex mix of rye, nutty overtones and sour, which lingered on the palate.

Focus for next time: slashing and transfer to oven.

Pre-heating of oven and use of stone.

hanseata's picture

In Quebec the one thing I'm always really looking forward to is, of course, French cuisine. For our daughter's graduation in Montreal we put up in a fairly nice hotel near campus, and went down for breakfast with pleasant expectations.

Heading straight for the croissants I noticed their lack of crispness, cold and tired they were sitting in the display. Well, there was the toaster, and innocently pretending not to understand the warning: "Pas des croissants" ("Nix comprengg!") I revived my lackluster pastry (no smoke alarm).

Back at our table I garnished my croissant with some butter and jam and took my first bite. At once red lights started flashing as my taste buds yelled: "Beware of cardboard!!!" In utter disbelief I took a second bite, and there it was - a total blandness and the faint but unmistakable taste of shortening!

In two days we will be home in Maine, and next time we visit Portland we will go to our favorite breakfast place: "Mornings in Paris", where they have the most wonderful, buttery, crisp croissants...




jsk's picture

I really wanted to try once a 100% rye recipe- a dense, moist, delicious bread that I love eating in my trips to europe (not the sponge like clorored stuff they sell in the stores). I decided to give Hamelman Vollkornbrot a try.

I've tweaked the recipe just a bit as I changed the rye chops to cracked rye and I had only 7 oz of it (I've add the rest as rye flour).

The whole rye experience is quite ew to me as have not made more than a 40% rye until now. It was actually great fun' as you don't expect gluten development and you just mix "clay". I don;t have a pullman loaf pan either so I use two smaller pans. I shoud have proofed it for 30 minutes more as almost non cracks appeared at the floured surface of the loaf before going to the oven but still-the results were fantastic.

Hamelman's Vollkornbrot:

The crumb:

Sorry one of them are shorter- I forgot to take a picture before slicing into it.

We've waited about 60 hours before cutting it and boy, it was hard. After tasting it with just a little butter on it I knew it was worth it- one of the very best breads I've made and even tasted. It keeps easily int plastic in the fridge for a week and a half or so now and it tastes just as good.

Greatly reccomended- easy to follow recipe, wonderful bread!

Happy Baking!


ananda's picture


Whitsuntide Baking and Other Antics

Today has been a busy day making a range of breads.   I had refreshed both my rye sourdough and wheat levain, with no definite projects in mind.   Given store cupboard availability at the time, this is what I've ended up with:

•1.    Cheese Bread

Part of the "Hamelman Challenge", I made this Cheese Bread using the white levain, pretty much to the recipe.   I'm afraid I couldn't extend to Parmegiano Regiano, but I did have a half decent Farmhouse Mature Cheddar Cheese to use as substitute.   As with all the breads made at home, this is solely reliant on natural yeasts, so it took a considerably longer time to prove than Hamelman suggests in his book.   I made a small loaf in a banneton which was underproved.   So, I just allowed the loaf in the Pullman Pan to prove for about 3 hours before baking; this was after a 2 hour bulk proof, so I was really pleased with the end result.   It is to formula, found on pp.180-1 of the book, apart from these alterations.

•2.    Roasted Brazil Nut and Prune Bread

Well, it should be hazelnut, but I was quite happy to use brazils instead.   No added yeast, just the white levain.   To formula otherwise.   The loaf shown is just shy of 1.2kg.   I baked it at 180°C for 55 minutes.   It had stuck, ever so slightly in the "banneton", but I was really happy about the lovely moist crumb in the final baked loaf.   Prunes are a new household favourite, and we have sourced dried fruits which have been packed perfectly, and knock the socks off even fresh plums!    See pp. 185-6

•3.    Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel

Given I bought 3kg of Organic Rye Berries and 3kg of Organic Cracked Rye Grain, I want to keep on producing "Pumpernickel-style" breads.   8 hours steaming works so well; keeping qualities are unsurpassed.   We both love this bread...lots and lots!

•4.    Wholegrain Bread leavened with a Rye Sourdough

This one's my own recipe, shown below.   I made it as one BIG loaf in a banneton, using bran as a topping to the bread, which weighed in just short of 1.4kg prior to baking!   The flours are all organic; the formula is as straightforward as can be for this type of loaf.   Bulk ferment time was about 2 hours, with 2 S&F in that time.   Final proof was similarly 2 hours.   I do so love using rye sourdough to leaven any type of bread.   This loaf makes me think of Leader's Pane di Genzano, and yet the 2 formulae have little in common.   Can't wait to try it!   Bake profile utilised steam, loaded at full heat of 250°C, reduced to 220°C after 10 minutes, then 200°C for the last 20 minutes of a 50 minute bake.

Pre-fermented Flour: 13.8%  Overall Hydration: 67.2%


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

  • 1. Rye Sourdough



Organic Dark Rye Flour












  • 2. Final Dough



Rye Sourdough



Organic Strong White Flour



Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour













Photographs shown below:



Student Bread Competition

The end of the student academic year approaches.   Currently we are building 2 College Buildings out of Cake ready for the EAT Food Festival held in Newcastle later in June.

At the end of April we played host to Warburtons to celebrate National Bread Week; the first week of May.   A huge organisation, and massively successful baking company; this was a great opportunity for the students, and they all did the College and themselves proud.   They divided into 3 groups and designed their own loaves to produce and present to a Senior Manager at the local Warburtons Bakery in our city.   Hamelman's Roast Potato and Onion Bread was the inspiration for one group, and it was soo moist; probably my favourite on the day!   Another group was led by a baker from Sicily, and the recipe lent heavily on the Semolina Bread I posted on not long ago.   Both these breads were made using a Biga Naturale, prepared and fostered by the students themselves.   The winners went down the seed route in a big way, and adopted rye sourdough as a means to pack a punch with flavour.   Clearly this impressed the judge!   They actually made Pain Siègle, a Wholegrain Chollah with seed topping, and a "Couronne" of rolls using rye sour dough and topped with seeds.

Some photographs are attached.   Most of these are taken on a mobile phone, so, apologies for lack of quality.


I don't seem to have posted on the blog for a while; hope this keeps up the interest!

Best wishes to you all


breadinquito's picture

Hi all, friday a aunt will be visiting us from Italy and bring some rye's my very first experience with rye cause in Ecuador have not found so...what do you suggest: 100% rye or a mix with plain flour? How "strong" is rye bread compared with a "white bread"?

Thanks for any advice and happy baking from quito. Paolo

hmcinorganic's picture

I made the blueberry cheese braid ( today.  Wow, was that good.  here's a pic:


I also started the rye-starter ( and it is doing very well.  So much bread to make!


txfarmer's picture


I made this decadent bread last Thursday to take to my parents in Seattle for the long weekend. The dough has cocoa powder, melted bittersweet chocolate, coffee, bittersweet chocolate chunks in it, and of course being a brioche, lots of butter (~25%). As if it's not indulging enough, I put some homemade Dulche de leche in each bun. It was a last minute experiment, and OMG, it's perfect!!!! The bread itself is not sweet at all, fragrant with the mocha flavor from coffee and chocolate, which goes so well with the sweet and rich Dulce de leche. I knew it'd be delicious, but it went way beyond my expectations, you must try this mocha+Dulce de leche combo, pure heaven.


For those who are not familiar with Dulce de leche, see this intro: - basically it's a rich milk caramel. Even though you can buy it in cans, it's very simple to make at home. I use the slowcooker method: put cans of condensed milk (unopened, paper label peeled off) in slowcooker, add enough water to have the cans completely  submerged, cook on low for 8 hours, then you get perfectly brown and rich Dulce de leche. You can also boil the cans on stove top, but then you MUST take care to add enough water so the cans are completely submerged the whole time, otherwise you risk them exploding! If you don't like to cook it in the cans, you can use this method: - I tried it before as well, slightly more work than the slowcooker method, but still a breeze. Once made, you can use it in breads, cakes, cookies, spread like PB or jam, or eat it with a spoon!


Now back to the bread, the dough formula is adapted from the book "The secrets of Baking" by Sherry Yard.

Chocolate Brioche (makes 2lbs of dough)

-chocolate butter

bittersweet chocolate, 2oz, finely chopped

butter, 1 stick, 4oz, softened

cocoa powder, 1/4cup

1. melt the chocolate and keep warm

2. beat butter until smooth, add cocoa powder and chocolate, beat until well incorporated. keep aside at room temperature.


instant yeast, 2tsp

coffee, 1 cup (80F) (I used 1tbsp of espresso powder mixed with 1 cup of boiling water, cooled to 80F)

bread flour, 60g

sugar, 1/3cup

1. mix everything together into a very thin batter, cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minues until bubbles form

-main dough

bread flour, 390g

salt, 1.75tsp

egg yolk, 4, lightly beaten

bittersweet chocolate, 4oz, chopped

1. shift flour and salt into sponge, add yolks, mix with paddle attachment on low speed for 2 minutes, until yolks are absorbed. Increase to medium speed, knead for 5 minutes. The dough is not that wet, so it cleans the bowl and wrapped around the paddle attachment the whole time.

2. on medium low speed, add chocolate butter one tbsp at a time. switch to dough hook, knead until ver well developed, smooth and stretchy. Add chocolate, mix on low until incorporated. 

3. cover and bulk rise for 2 hours until double. punch down and rise again until double, about 45 to 60 minutes (or refrigerator for 4hours or overnight).

4. divide and shape. I divided into 50g dough balls and some 25g balls. the 8 inch cake mold wiht removable bottom took one 50g ball in the center, 6 50g balls in the middle layer, 6 50g balls and 6 25g balls in the outside layer. Still had 5X50g balls left for individual rolls. Of course I did put 1tsp of Dulce de leche in each ball. You can shape in other ways of course. The book says this amount of dough is enough for 2 9X5 loaf pans.

5. proof until double, 30min for me, if you refridgerator the dough, it will take 1.5 to 2 hours.

6. brush with egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp heavy cream), bake at 350 until center reaches 180F. Rolls took 20min, the large cake mold took 48min.

Sinfully delicious, bread doesn't get more decadent than this. I highly recommentd the dulce de leche filling, but if you don't use it, the bread is till delicious.

sharonk's picture

Part 1:

I thought I was ordering Teff Whole Grain but I obviously made a mistake somewhere along the line because when my order arrived I opened a 25 lb. bag of Teff Flour! I went back to my original order slip and saw that, indeed, I had ordered 25 lbs. of flour. I just looked at this massive amount of flour and wondered how long will it take to use this up. Ugh.

I usually buy whole grain teff and grind it up as I need it. Teff is a potent high protein seed grain and has been a blessing after learning I had to go off gluten. I also use whole grain teff for a power breakfast. I soak the teff grain the night before, 1 cup teff to 3 cups water, add a little water kefir to boost the enzyme activity, cover and let it sit overnight. The next morning I simmer it for about 15 minutes to cook. Mixed with chia gel, flax seed oil and soaked nuts, I'm off and running. I'll often pour the leftovers into a loaf pan where it becomes like polenta. I'll slice it and toast or saute it. Using spices and herbs it could be made sweet or savory.

Since I was missing my teff breakfasts I ordered some more whole grain, this time only 10 lbs. To my horror, I opened a box of 10 lbs. of teff flour, again! I really must slow down, I'm making way too many mistakes.

Anyway, what to do with my 35 lbs. of teff flour?
My book, The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking, is based on brown rice flour starters. I'd begun to experiment with buckwheat sorghum starters and have had some great results. I figured I better move on to Teff starters so I wouldn't have pounds and pounds of teff flour either stuffed into the freezer or sprouting critters with legs.

I began a new starter using only teff flour and water in a ratio of 1 to 1. I chose this because teff absorbs a lot of water. I usually use teff to thicken and give structure to some bread recipes. I was surprised that this starter was actually very soupy but I continued along with my 1 to 1 experiment, feeding it every 8 hours or so for a couple of days.

I used the bubbly starter to make Teff pancakes and was pleasantly surprised that they were as good as or even better than the rice pancakes! They were naturally slightly sweet with a great cake-like texture. The leftovers were great toasted the next day. Since I can't eat sweet stuff I used them as an accompaniment to a bean stew. I'm sure they would be great with maple syrup or fruit.

Starter Recipe:
Make a starter by mixing equal amounts of teff flour and water. Add a tablespoon of water kefir or other fermented liquid.
Feed every 8 hours or so with equal amounts of teff flour and water.
After 2 days it should be ready to use.

Pancake Recipe:
One cup of starter makes about 4 pancakes.
Add a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoons of any oil or fat and 1 tablespoons ground flax seeds.
Mix let it sit about 10 minutes and cook.
The pancakes will not show bubbles so flip it when it starts to dry out around the outer third.
Sometimes I cover it while it's cooking. It cooks faster and more thoroughly.

My next experiment will be making breads using this teff starter. I'll keep you posted.

Part 2:

After last week’s fabulous teff pancakes I continued building the starter even though I sorely needed a break from bread baking. I was busy and thought it would be a good opportunity to practice growing starter in the fridge as this would cut the feedings from 3 times a day to twice. 


The starter grew beautifully with a mild aroma. I would take it out for about an hour in the morning, feed it, let it sit another hour or so and put it back in the fridge for 12 hours. I’d repeat the sequence at night before bed. I noticed some thickening and some small bubbles but nothing dramatic.


I had been thinking about creating bread that was mildly sweet without any sweetener beyond 1 teaspoon of stevia powder. I used small amounts of carob and maca (a malty flavored root) and used buckwheat flour for one loaf and shredded coconut for the other. I also used coconut oil for the fat. The batters were rich looking, like cake batter. The aroma in the kitchen was heavenly and the resulting breads were fabulous. Sweet without any added sugars, no blood sugar spikes and no yeasty itching.


My daughter, who named Sourdough Bread #1 “Mommybread” said this Teff Carob bread was the best ever and I should make it exclusively. Forever.




Mebake's picture

This is a 50% Wholewheat Loaf, Which involves a BIGA (Preferment/sponge) around 30% of total Flour Weight.

I love the final taste of the bread, it was the best sandwich loaf i ever made so far! Soft, Airy, Light, Tastey, and Nutritious.

"Hey don't mind the background, my appartment is not bright enough"

My wife said: i could snack on toasted slices of this bread all day.




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