The Fresh Loaf

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breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

I had a friend Russ in town from LA that I haven't seen since his wedding about 5 years ago...  He finally made it out to NYC, 13 years after we had first met in college...  Funny thing is that last Christmas, I send a loaf of bread to another friend Greg in LA that we both know.  Greg was raving about it to Russ and his wife...  Anyway, many months pass, Russ finally makes it out to NYC, and his wife jokingly asks him to bug me for some bread...  Of course as an obsessive baker, I don't turn down many opportunities to bake for my friends...  I have been baking Poilane style pain au levains for the past fiew weeks trying different things with levain, flour combinations, hydrations...  I've been playing around with 68% hydrations levels which was inspired by Dominique Saibron of Le Boulanger de Monge:

He says on his website that they use 68 parts of water:

So here's recipe and process:


1576g Total flour (5% Rye/10% WW/ 85% AP)

1072g Water

38g Kosher Salt

316g Liquid Levain (100% hydration fed night before and refrigerated.  I keep mine an ever changing mix of rye, ww, AP)

3000g Approx total dough yield

Method To Madness:


4:45pm - Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl in the following order: water, levain, flour, salt.  Mix with large rubber spatula until a shaggy dough is formed.  Mix with wet hands to ensure all lumps and dry bits are gone.  Place bowl in large plastic bag and let rest.

5:00pm - Rest

5:30pm - Turn dough, divide into 2 equal pieces (1500g), transfer to lightly oiled plastic tubs, cover, let rest.

5:45pm - Turn dough, cover let rest.

8:30pm - Turn dough.

10:00pm - Turn dough.


12:40am - Shape into boule, place in well floured linen lined banneton, flour top of dough, place kitchen towel over each banneton, place bannetons into large plastic bag, proof for approx 4+ hours.  (Be sure to flour the bannetons very well as this is a very long proof with a wet-ish dough.  I had to be very careful when turning the boules out as they did stick a little and I had to be very patient for the dough to unstick itself and drop...)

5:00am - Place 2 baking stones on 2 levels along with steam pan with lava rocks.  Place a few cups of water in steam pan.  Preheat oven to 500F with convection.

6:10am - Turn off convection.  Turn boules out onto well floured peel, slash as desired, place in oven directly on stone.  When last loaf is in, place 1 1/2 cups water in steam pan, close oven door.  Turn oven down to 450F, bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove steam pan, rotate loaves between stones, turn oven down to 425F, bake for another 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes are done, turn off oven and leave loaves in for another 10 minutes...

7:10am - Take loaves out of oven, check internal temp and weight.  Should be around 210F and 15-20% lighter than the prebaked weight.  Cool completely before cutting and eating...

These are by far the most open crumb that I have ever achieved using levain only...  I have no complaints here other than I should have used more levain to speed up the dough...  This was about 14 hours from start to finish...



turosdolci's picture

This Baklava recipe isn’t overly sweet and for large group parties it is a winner.




amolitor's picture

This is my imitation of Acme Bakery's walnut levain. It's based on the Mixed Starter bread recipe in Baking With Julia. If you're not comfortable working with doughs by feel, if you really prefer to weigh ingredients, this recipe will not be helpful to you.

First starter:

  • 1 walnut sized piece of white-bread dough (this can be saved and frozen)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup bread flour

Thaw the old dough, if necessary, and cut/break it up into the water. Let soak 5 minutes or so, then mix in the flour. Knead to mix thoroughly (no need to develop gluten here). You're looking for quite a firm dough here. Let rise overnight.

At the same time:

  • 2 tablespoons liquid sourdough starter (whatever you have in a jar)
  • 1/4 cup rye flour
  • 1/4 cup WW flour
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup warm water

Mix all together. Set out overnight (you will have two covered bowls sitting out overnight, the first starter, and this sourdough mixture).

Second starter:

  • first starter, cut up into
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup bread flour

As before, let the previous dough soak in the water for a while, then add the flour and mix/knead. Again, you're looking for a moderately stiff dough. (feels like 50% hydration, perhaps?). Let this rise 4 hours or so.

The sourdough mixture should be well-active by this time, approaching "mature" (not growing any more, starting to deflate a little), and the second starter should be well-risen (doubled, soft, ideally with some visible bubbles under the surface). When the second starter and the sourdough mixture are as described, which should be at least 4 hours, but could be more. place them both in the fridge for at least an hour, but longer is fine. The sourdough mixture is used for flavor, not really leavening, so you don't need to be very fussy about how mature it is.

Final Dough:

  • 1/2 tsp yeast proofed in:
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • all of the second starter, cut up into the previous water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • all of the sourdough mixture
  • approximately 2 cups bread flour

Let things warm as appropriate to manage your final dough temperature (you're shooting for around 75F, of course), and begin adding sourdough mixture and flour to the water/yeast/starter mixture. Add the salt fairly early. When you have acheived a shaggy mass, begin to knead. You're looking for around a 65% hydration dough here, moist but not particularly hard to manage. Knead thoroughly, 8-10 minutes by hand.

Now add 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Knead them in gently, enough to ensure they're evenly mixed in.

  • proof for 2-3 hours, with a stretch and fold or similar every hour, until you have good development
  • shape as desired (I use a boule)
  • final rise approximately 1 hour
  • bake at 425 or so, with steam, 45-50 minutes.

Baking will take longer than you might guess due to the walnuts. The crust should be more brown than golden.



hanseata's picture

Fall is the time of the year when Alsatians and wine loving Germans think: "Zwiebelkuchen"! For this mellow sweet onion pastry is the perfect companion to new wine.

If you travel in fall through the wine growing areas left and right of the Rhine, you will find inns, restaurants and many vinyards offering sparkling new wine (Federweisser). They often serve it together with freshly baked Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tarte) or, an equally tasty variation, Porreekuchen (Leek Tarte).

But beware - Onion Tarte is an aider and abetter of that seemingly feathery light youngster, helping it go down so smoothly, that you are tempted to drink it like lemonade! When you wake up the next morning you realize why Federweisser is also called: "Sauser" (Buzzer) - there's something buzzing in your stomach and your head is spinning...

You find the recipe for Zwiebelkuchen or Leek Tarte here:

  Leek Tarte

OldWoodenSpoon's picture

Okay, after all the compliments and enthusiasm over my new WFO, it is time to tell the dirty details of something I only just touched on in my earlier blog post:  the little matter of too much fire too soon, and the problems with the doorway arch.

Saturday morning I got over enthusiastic throwing wood into my "small drying fire".  My wife admonished with "Isn't that a little big?", to which I replied in my best know-it-all tone "No honey, you should see a big fire!".   Then we noticed the cracks, and the top bricks of the arch sagging from thieir proper position.  After much running around for steel buckets, fireplace tools, water and my heavy elbow-length gauntlets (it was really hot in there) I shoveled the live fire out of the oven as fast as I could and doused it with water in the bucket.  It was too late though, and the damage was done:

The crack is not all that bad, but the brick problem is another story.  A couple of days earlier we had noticed these bricks had come loose.  When I investigated, the mortar and the bricks had all separated from each other and the mortar was just loose slabs between the bricks.  This next shot makes it easier to see both the loose mortar and the keystone brick dropping through the top of the arch as well as a head-on view of the crack.



I hoped the insulation layer would secure things together, but the heat expansion in the dome proved I was just wishful thinking.  Something had gone wrong somewhere and my arch was coming apart as I stood there.  You can see the tops of two bricks I wedged into the arch to hold things up while the oven cooled off and I figured out a plan.


Here you can see my solution, if you look carefully.  I hope we can get a better shot of this tomorrow when the light is better, and I will edit that shot in here if we are successful.  However, if you can see it, my solution was to break another rule about ovens:  I installed a metal arch support in the form of a hoop shaped to fit inside my arch.  I made the hoop loose fitting, and then loosely packed a wood stove door gasket made of a fireproof, non-volatile glass fiber between the hoop and the brick to take up the slack and provide compressible space between the hoop and the masonry.  These materials expand at different rates and to different extents, and I have no idea if this will work or not.  Since my alternative if it fails is to rebuild the arch, and my alternative if I don't try this is to rebuild the arch, this is a free chance to get lucky.  As you can see in this shot above, I pulled all the old loose mortar out of all the arch joints.  That's all it took too:  I just grabbed it bare-fingered and pulled each wedge out in one piece.

While working on all this and running around I noticed something I now call "probable cause".  Earlier, I blamed this whole incident on too much fire in a green oven, too soon.  The next shot proves I could be wrong about that.  It certainly was contributory, but I'm not sure it was the cause at all.  I think I made a bigger strategic error earlier in the building process, in how I joined the arch and the dome.  If you look carefully at this next shot, especially at the very top brick, you will see it is tilted up to the right.  This brick was dead-level when I built the arch.

Here's what I did and what I think happened:

- When I mortared the arch originally I only mortared the front 75% or so of the wedge-shaped gaps.  I left the rear 25% empty so I could tie in the oven dome itself.  This was, I believe, the fatal flaw.

- As planned, I built the dome and filled in the rear-most 25% of these mortar wedges in the same pass as building up the dome, effectively making those parts of the arch an integral part of the new dome.  I also added a layer of oven mud over the top of the back 25% of the arch as well, thoroughly integrating the arch and the dome.

- I sat back and watched it all slow-cure as I kept the dome and the dome-arch joint draped with moist towels for three or four days, and then under cover of dry towels for two or three more days, all to slow down the surface drying and let the inner clay keep up better.  During this time the new dome showed some stress cracks from drying, which I worked over with the back of a spoon as much as I could to try to iron them out.  Honestly, it did not help much, and my overzealous drying fire on Saturday morning brought them all back.

Now, look again at the tilt up-to-the-right of that top brick in the shot above.  I believe the oven dome shrank significantly in drying, and because the doorway arch was so throughly integrated into the dome, the dome squeezed the arch in on the sides and down on the top at the back edges of the arch bricks, popping all the mortar loose and opening up bigger gaps between bricks than were there when I built the arch originally.  When the arch alone was complete, the inner surface was continuous, with the inner edges of each brick neatly and firmly in contact with the edges of it's neighbors.  Now it looks like carved jack-o-lantern teeth.

The fact that I built too hot and too large a fire on Saturday only brought all this to the fore sooner.  I now believe I doomed this arch when I tied it so tightly to the dome of the oven.  Nothing I read told me I should do this, and it also did not tell me I should not.  I learned that part myself.

I installed the new metal arch support today, and also re-mortared the arch.  Now I will give the fresh mortar in the arch a couple days to dry out and go back to small (yes, really small!) drying fires to slowly cure the oven dome and all, and see how it goes.  When I am finally able to really heat things up I will find out if my metal arch is going to be a help or the final straw that destroys the doorway arch.  Then I will know what the next chapter will be.

Thanks for listening, and stop by again.  I'll continue to post my progress, positive and negative, right here.



dmsnyder's picture

In my continuing search for whole wheat breads to add to my list of favorites, today I baked the “Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread” from Michel Suas' “Advanced Bread and Pastry.” I had previously baked the Honey Whole Wheat from AB&P, but still prefer Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat from BBA to it.

Most of my bread baking is with sourdoughs, and I want to have a sourdough whole wheat bread that I really enjoy in my repertoire. The one I have made - I can't remember where I got the formula - was not to my taste. I just didn't like the combination of sourdough tang and whole wheat flavor. On the other hand, I have enjoyed other sourdough breads with a high percentage of whole grains, so the AB&P formula seemed worth trying.






Baker's %

Wt (oz)

Bread flour (KAF)


2 3/8 oz

Medium rye flour (KAF)


1/8 oz



2 oz

Starter (stiff)


2 oz



5 7/8 oz


Final dough




Baker's %


Bread flour


5 7/8 oz

Whole wheat flour


8 ¾ oz



11 1/8 oz

Yeast (instant)


1/8 tsp



3/8 oz



5 7/8 oz



2 lb

Yes. I know it's not “pure” sourdough, and it's not close to purely whole wheat, but if Chef Suas wants to call it “Sourdough Whole Wheat,” who am I to quibble?


  1. Mix levain ingredients and ferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

  2. Mix all ingredients to medium gluten development. The dough should be quite tacky.

  3. Bulk ferment for 2 hours.

  4. Divide into 2 equal pieces and preshape for boules or bâtards.

  5. Let the pieces rest, covered, for 20-30 minutes.

  6. Shape as desired.

  7. Proof en couche or in bannetons for 60 to 90 minutes.

  8. Bake at 450ºF for 35 minutes with steam for the first 12-15 minutes.

  9. Cool completely before slicing.

I mixed the dough in a KitchenAid stand mixer for 3 minutes on Speed 1 and about 7 minutes on Speed 2. After bulk fermentation, the dough was still tacky but very extensible. I rested the loaves seam side down after pre-shaping. This was a mistake. There was enough flour on the seam side to interfere slightly with final shaping. (See my boule tutorial.) I recommend proofing seam side up.

I think I slightly over-proofed (90 minutes) and got less oven spring than I thought I should get with this bread.

The crumb was quite chewy. The flavor was rather simple – A very slight sourdough tang and a straight ahead whole wheat flavor with no grassiness or bitterness. I look forward to tasting the bread as toast in the morning and as a sandwich for lunch tomorrow.



GSnyde's picture

Having carefully considered various names for this bread (, I have freely decided that it deserves to be called "San Joaquin Sourdough".  I used David's SJSD Version 10.23.09 with a 60% hydration all-AP starter (  Though there are many steps, including a lengthy cold bulk ferment, and two 3-or-so hour periods when one has to be continually close to the kitchen (one for mixing, autolysing, and stretching-folding, and the other for dividing, pre-shaping, shaping and baking), the process fit nicely into a weekend, starting with mixing the starter Friday night.  A person with a 9-to-5 job could do it in a Friday and Saturday or a Saturday and Sunday, by mixing the starter on the first morning, mixing dough and getting to the cold bulk ferment the first evening, and shaping and baking the second afternoon or evening.

The process gave me a good chance (as a novice baker) to observe by sight and feel how a lean sourdough behaves at various stages.  Here's the bulkly fermented dough at my "bread station", just adjacent to the all-important espresso station.


And here is the glorious dough ball just before it is cloven.


The pre-proofing after pre-shaping is the perfect time for an espresso.


Here are the ill-formed batards, once again looking like my typical batardettes, proofing.


After a 24 minute bake, the finished product looks pretty good, though not much grigne in my first attempt at scoring with my new lame.



I'm very happy with the crumb structure.



Except for my still-pitiful batard-shaping and the wimpy oven spring, this was a successful experiment.  And from the still-pitiful batard-shaping and wimpy oven spring, I learned some lessons that will improve my skills next time.  I should not shape the batard from such a stretched out starting point--a semi-flat football shaped oblong would be better.  And I need to score the loaves slightly more deeply and consistently.

The taste and texture are marvelous.  Slightly sour, very complex flavors.  Very moist, chewy but tender crumb and crispy crust.

The bread came out of the oven at 3, and some friends came over for an early dinner of all sorts of things that go with sourdough bread--smoky ham, Toscana salami, Jarlsberg cheese, egg salad, tomatos.  The SJSD and the re-heated Onion-Curry-Cheese Bread from Friday were both big hits.

This bread is a favorite.  

And making it is pretty fun!

Thanks, David, for the recipe and all the guidance.


ananda's picture


The lecturing schedule kicks off in earnest tomorrow, following Induction sessions this past 2 weeks to enable our students to find their way and settle in at the College.

I noted the freezer stock of bread at home, piled high before we went to Crete, was virtually empty, so set up to do some baking over this weekend.

I borrowed "Advanced Bread and Pastry" by Michel Suas from the College Library as essential reading for the Summer, in order to plan to run a Level 3 ["A" Level] course this year.   It seems to be a ready-made textbook, especially given that Cengage [publishers] offer excellent online support for both instructor and student.

The breads I made just before our holiday utilised the Mountain Bread recipe, moreorless straight from the book.   I really enjoy making a couronne shape; these were lovely, with a formula very similar to the Pain de Siègle recipe I use in class with students, but omitting the fresh yeast in the final dough.



I also made some of the "Wonderful White", which I posted on at the back end of last year, when I first happened upon TFL.   You can read about that here:

Yesterday [Saturday] I mixed 2kg of paste to make Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel in a Pullman Pan.   These are the links to the formulae: and

Except that I used strong white flour in the final paste this time, so the formula is as Hamelman recommends, with the additional controls on water I added as constant.   This was then baked very slowly overnight in my regular electric [fan] oven, at 100°C, with a small tray of water for a steady steam supply.   I did share this earlier with Nico to ascertain a bake profile.   I still like to steam these loaves, and intend to revert to this method in the ovens at College [Pumpernickel now on the student syllabus!].   The end result was very acceptable, with Alison asking for more at lunchtime, when I really should have been insisting on waiting a couple more days before slicing.   We just love rye in this house!   Photos:





And I made 3 x 1200+g loaves of Pain de Campagne.   The leaven had one feed from stock beforehand as refreshment and to re-invigorate activity.

New journey for me this time round: overnight retarding!   I've done this before commercially and whilst running bread courses, but not at home.   It worked well, I did 3 variations, and think the last loaf gave the best results.   Loaf 1 had only 1½ hours final proof [too tight in the baking]; loaf 2, radically, I did not re-mould [good, but a bit flat and rustic] and loaf 3 instructions given below, with photographs attached.

Great finished bread taste and texture too!

This is the formula:


Formula [% of flour]

Recipe [grams]

  • 1. Leaven




Flour: 12.4. Water: 7.5. TOTAL 19.9

Flour: 280. Water: 168. TOTAL 448

Strong White Flour












  • 2. Rye Sour [from stock]



Dark Rye Flour












  • 3. Final Dough



Leaven [from above]



Rye Sour [from above]



Strong White Flour



Dark Rye Flour












Total Pre-fermented flour



Total Hydration



Bake Profile: Steam, pre-heated oven [250°C], baking on hot bricks, drop heat to 200°C after 20 minutes.   Total Bake Time of 40 - 45 minutes


  • Autolyse flours, water and rye sour for 1 hour.
  • Add leaven to form a dough and mix by hand for 5 minutes.
  • Add salt and mix a further 5 minutes. Rest briefly
  • Complete mixing cycle, using "slapping" techniques.
  • Bulk ferment for 2½ hours; S&F every 45 minutes.
  • Scale and divide into 3 equal pieces, and mould each round.
  • Line plastic bowls with a little olive oil and use these to store dough pieces overnight, covered, in the fridge [mine was running <4°C].
  • Take each dough piece out as required and re-mould.
  • Drop upside down into a prepared banneton and set to prove for 2 hours, covered with heavy plastic
  • Turn out the dough piece onto a pre-heated metal sheet, cut as desired and bake to the profile shown above.






Best wishes to you all


SylviaH's picture

Seeing all the latest posts on seeded levain breads and there looking very tasty with fall approaching I thought I would give this fairly new recipe an attempt,  from  it is posted on Teresa's blog and called 'Northwest Mill Grain @100'.  

This is my version using KAFlours handy and lovely fresh all natural highfiber blend of, whole oat berries, millet, rye flakes, wheat flakes, flax, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, I also added more whole wheat flour and upped the hyration slightly.  I halfed the recipe and made one loaf. Perfect for fall, a hearty, delicious loaf,  with a nice crust and just the right amount of chew. 





                                                                                      Packed full of tender fresh seeds









jkandell's picture

There's been a lot of discussion here about Hamelman's seeded levains (5 Grain Sourdough and Seeded Levain).  Here is an alternative recipe which I find more to my taste-buds and I encourage fans of seeded bread to give it a try.

Although Della Fattoria uses a stiff 49% levain rather than Hamelman's 125%, I think the flavor differences lies more in the mix of ingredients than the method. The flour is half whole wheat (about four times more than Hamelman), with  the remaining flour  "reduced bran" (98% of the germ and 20% of the bran). In other words, this is mostly a wholemeal bread, rather than a white bread augmented with a touch of whole grain.

The following recipe is adapted from Rose Levi Beranbaum's "Sourdough Wheat Bread with Seeds" from her Bread Bible, which she got from Eve Weber of Della Fattoria.  Although you can purchase reduced bran flour from Guisto's, I followed Beranbaum in "recreating" it by adding 2.8% germ and 1.4% bran to 95.8% all purpose flour.  Be careful your whole wheat flour is fresh--not bitter to the taste, and smells fruity when mixed with water. And freeze your germ and bran so they don't go rancid.  With this much whole grain any bitterness will ruin the loaf.

The levain is 49% hydration; the final dough excluding the levain is 79% hydration, with overall hydration of about 76%.  The final dough is tacky.


One Loaf:


bread flour       40  
whole wheat       10
stiff chef
whole wheat

bread flour
germ (half T)


bran (2.5 t)

water       284  
salt       11
honey       14
seeds       73  
stiff levain       100  
SEEDS            grams  
sunflower seeds (toasted)       13  
pumpkin seeds (toasted)       13  
sesame seeds (toasted)       14  
flax seeds
polenta or cornmeal
TOTAL       73  



Starting with about 25g of storage chef, create a mature stiff levain of 100g. (About 12 hours.)

Toast the sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and cool.  Mix with the flax and cornmeal to add later.

Day of baking:

Add all ingredients except salt to bread machine bowl.  Run on dough cycle enough to mix.  Autolease 20 minutes.  Add salt, and run on dough cycle about 7 minutes.  (Because of the bran and seeds, you want to mix a tad less than usual, and do some extra folds to develop the gluten to compensate.)

Bulk Ferment: 3-4 hours @75-80F.  4 stretch and folds half way through, at about 1 1/2 hours.

Loosely Shape. Relax for 20m.  Shape into batard.

Proof 1- 2 1/2 hours.  It is a moist dough and will spread a bit.

Three diagonal slashes.  Bake at 450F for 10 minutes (with steam at 0 and 5 minutes), then reduce heat to 400F for 20 minutes, then finish at 350F for another 10 or 15 minutes until crust is dark orange.  Or bake it Hamelman style hotter and shorter.


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