The Fresh Loaf

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JMonkey's picture

Well, thanks to Mountaindog, Tomsbread, Jane and, I'm sure, many others. I finally succeeded in baking a Desem bread at 85% hydration. The key really was folding and gentle, but firm, shaping. I folded three times during the bulk fermentation, preshaped and then did a final shape. It paid off -- the only flatbread I baked this weekend was a pizza.

I was also very pleased with the flavor of this Desem. Slightly tangy with a rich wheaty flavor that seemed as if it'd been baked with butter, though there was nothing but flour, starter, water and salt. The crust was crisp; the crumb was moist and chewy. Truly, a magnificent bread -- thanks folks! This doubter has been converted.

I also baked bagels Saturday morning (recipe is here). Just like Breadnerd says, bagels are a perfect bread to bake in the morning -- so quick (well, relatively speaking) and so tasty.

redivyfarm's picture

My mission has been to get large, glossy holes in a bread like the wonderful examples I have been admiring. I achieved some degree of success with the NYT no knead recipe this weekend. I followed the recipe faithfully and even used the floured cotton towel technique. The soft dough stuck to the cotton, but not too badly. There was no problem with the bread sticking to the dutch oven. It pulled away from the sides as it baked.  I did leave it in the oven long enough to scorch the bottom a bit in an attempt to get a deeper brown top crust.

Dutch Oven loaf

Dutch Oven loaf

Dutch Oven crumb

Dutch Oven crumb

I used grocery store bread flour this baking as opposed to the high gluten flour and added vital gluten I have been baking with.

I tested my simple ciabatta recipe once again flavored with extra unrefreshed starter. I consider this a yeast recipe rather than a hybrid because the old starter I used had very little leavening potential but a super flavor. Again it yielded a tasty batch with a slightly more open crumb than last week's baking. Maybe my folding is improving!

Simple Ciabatta- 2

Simple Ciabatta- 2

The recipe is as follows-

Simple Ciabatta- INGREDIENTS-
  • For Sponge 
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3/8 cup of old starter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 scant cup bread flour
  •  For Bread
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. To Make Sponge: In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the 2T warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, 2T water, 3/8 cup starter and 1scant cup of the bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. To Make Bread: In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.) Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425-450 F (220 degrees C).
  5. Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.
PMcCool's picture

Since the breads I made most recently were both sourdough ryes, I was looking for something different this time around that would work well for sandwiches. My first inclination was to haul out an old favorite, a honey whole wheat bread. While flipping through Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, I happened across a buttermilk whole wheat recipe that I had not tried previously. Since I had all of the necessary materials on hand, I thought that I would give it a try. The recipe follows [with my notes]. I'll also include additional comments at the end

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Bread

from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

makes 1 9"x5" or 2 8.5"x4.5" loaves


2 packages dry yeast [I used 2 teaspoons instant yeast]

3/4 cup warm water (105-115F)

1-1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature (or 1-1/4 cups water and 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder)

1-1/2 cups bread flour, approximately

3 cups whole wheat flour, stone-ground preferred

1/4 cup shortening, room temperature

2 tablespoons brown sugar or molasses [I used molasses]

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

Step 1 - In a large mixing bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir briefly to dissolve. Set aside while allowing the buttermilk to reach room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Step 2 - When at room temperature, pour the buttermilk, bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, shortening, brown sugar or molasses, baking powder, and salt into the yeast mixture. Blend with 50 strong strokes of a wooden spoon, or at low speed in a mixer until the flour and the dry ingredients are absorbed. With a wooden spoon or mixer flat beater stir in the remaining whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and, when it becomes thick, work with the fingers. Allow 4 to 5 minutes for the whole wheat flour to fully absorb the liquid before adding more flour. The dough will be slightly sticky and soft. You may wish to add more bread flour to help control the stickiness.

Step 3 - Sprinkle flour on the work surface and turn out the soft dough. In the early stages of kneading, a metal spatula or dough blade will help turn and fold the dough. It will also scrape up the film of dough from the work surface. Knead with a strong push-turn-fold action, occasionally lifting the dough above the counter and banging it down hard. Knead for 8 minutes, buy hand or with a dough hook.

Step 4 - There is no "first" rising--the dough is put in the pans and set aside to rise. Divide the 2 pieces, if desired, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Shape into balls; press the balls into ovals the length of the pans. Fold in half lengthwise, pinch the seam, and place in the pans with the seam under. Push the dough into the corners of the pans. Cover the pans with with wax paper and leave at room temperature until the dough has risen 1" to 2" above the level of the pan, about 50 minutes. (Rising times will be reduced if using instant yeast.)

Step 5 - Preheat oven to 425F 20 minutes before baking.

Step 6 - Bake the loaf or loaves in the oven until they are golden brown and loose in the pans, about 30-35 minutes. Cover with foil if the crusts are browning to rapidly. The loaves are baked if the sound is hard and hollow when thumped on the bottom crust.

Step 7 - Remove loaves from the oven and place on wire racks to cool.

My variation went like this:

Step 1 - Mix the warm water, the buttermilk, the whole wheat flour, the brown sugar or molasses, and the baking powder. Autolyse 60 minutes. (I actually had to run some errands and it was closer to 90 minutes before I got back to the autolysed dough.)

Step 2 - Stir in the instant yeast.

Step 3 - Stir in the salt.

Step 4 - Stir in the shortening.

Step 5 - Stir in bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time. (I wound up stirring in 1 cup, total. The balance was used for flouring the counter during kneading.)

Step 6 - Since the gluten was so thoroughly developed during the autolyse, I stopped kneading after 5 minutes, which was enough to ensure that everything was completely blended and distributed.

Step 7 - Clean and grease the mixing bowl. Place kneaded dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to ferment at room temperature until doubled in volume.

Step 8 - Degas the dough slightly, shape into loaf or loaves, place in pan(s). Cover the pans loosely with with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until the dough has risen 1" to 2" above the level of the pan, about 50 minutes.

Step 9 - Preheat oven to 425F 20 minutes before baking.

Step 10 - Bake the loaf or loaves in the oven until they are golden brown and loose in the pans, about 30-35 minutes. Cover with foil if the crusts are browning to rapidly. The loaves are baked if the sound is hard and hollow when thumped on the bottom crust.

Step 11 - Remove loaves from the oven and place on wire racks to cool.

The effects of the autolyse were phenomenal. The dough texture looked as though it had been worked for 8-10 minutes, even though it had been stirred just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. After stirring in the bread flour, it was almost the the silky smooth texture that I usually associate with a well-kneaded white bread. The other thing that I should mention was that I was using Wheat Montana's Bronze Chief flour, a finely milled high-protein whole wheat containing 4 grams of protein in a 30-gram sample. For all practical purposes, it's bread flour that still has the bran in it. One of these days I'll have to try a 100% whole wheat bread with this flour.

Overall, I'm very happy with the results of this bread, using this approach and this flour. The loaves were some of the prettiest that I've ever pulled out of the oven, equalling the loftiness of a typical white bread. Here's a picture of the finished loaves:

Buttermilk whole wheat loaves

The crumb was close-textured and even; not at all crumbly or dry. No bricks this time:

Buttermilk whole wheat crumb

Oh, and it tastes really good, too!

And, while I was baking bread, my wife was attending a book signing by Giada De Laurentiis, as evidenced by the photo below:


bwraith's picture

Olive Bread - Sourdough Yeast Hybrid (1)Olive Bread - Sourdough Yeast Hybrid (1) 

Olive Bread - Sourdough Yeast Hybrid (2)Olive Bread - Sourdough Yeast Hybrid (2)

My wife said we were invited to dinner and could I make some bread to bring. This was in the morning of the same day, so I was unable to do a long rising, multiple step, sourdough bread, as I would have with more warning. So, I went for a fast approach. I had some left over starter that was intended for some bread I never got to. It was 5 days old sitting in the refrigerator. I decided to use it as a flavor ingredient, and add regular yeast to the dough in a "hybrid method". I also have had some kalamata olives in the pantry, thinking I might want to make some olive bread, which I had not done before. The result was a very mild sourdough flavor combined with olive fragrance and brine flavor. It seemed to go over fairly well. I took some photos and thought I would post this recipe. It's a way to get some sourdough flavor even if your starter is not fully revved up or if you are just in a hurry.

Olive Bread - Sourdough Yeast Hybrid

For the Dough:

  • 360 grams of 5 day old refrigerated 100% hydration sourdough culture (mine is BBA style, fed with KA bread flour)
  • 320 grams of AP (I used KA organic AP)
  • 100 grams sifted white wheat flour (this could just be more AP, some white whole wheat flour, or other "rustic" flour)
  • 50 grams KA rye blend (again any rye, whole wheat, or other "rustic" flour)
  • 285 grams water
  • 13 grams salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF instant)
  • 0.5 tsp diastatic malted barley flour (not critical - optional ingredient)
  • 200 grams kalamata olives, pitted, halved, stored in natural brine (that's what I had, but I'm sure lots of other types would be good, too)

There is a lot of flexibility in the age of the starter and the type of starter. I'm just using it as a flavor ingredient. You could easily make this a pure sourdough recipe by using fresh starter and leaving out the instant yeast. The bulk fermentation and final proof would just run longer, maybe 4 hours for the bulk fermentation and 2 hours for the final proof if done with pure sourdough.


Mix flours and water together, and use frisage, dough hook, or mixer to get it reasonably well mixed. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Mixing and Kneading

Work in the starter, yeast, then salt, and use frisage or mixer to get all the ingredients well mixed. Press in olives a dozen at a time and fold dough a few times to get them integrated into the dough. Knead for a few minutes until the dough is resilient. It will probably be quite sticky. The hydration is about 71%, so it is wetter than regular french bread dough. The ripe starter will make it have a wetter stickier consistency also. Place the dough in a covered container to rise. You can spray a little oil in the container beforehand and also on the exposed surface of the dough, but it's not that critical.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding - about 2.5 hours at 78F (or a little longer at room temperature)

Fold the dough at about 1 hour and then again at about 2 hours. At 1 hour it should have risen to about 1.5 the original dough volume. At 2 hours, it should have risen to about double the original dough volume. To fold, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Spread it out, pressing down gently without ripping the dough. Then, grab one corner of the dough, stretch it out gently and fold it over itself into the center of the dough. Do this for all four corners. If the dough is hard to stretch, just do two opposite corners, like a letter, rather than all four corners.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Split into two equal pieces and let rest 10 minutes. To shape, create a rectangle about twice as long as it is wide. Roll the rectangle up from the short side, tensioning the outer surface as you roll. Pinch the sides under tightly to create more tension. Then, pinch the ends under also. Let it rest ten minutes with the seams down. Place the shaped loaf seams up in a couche lined banneton floured with a very small amount of rice flour or use other rising form as you prefer and optionally spray a little oil over the exposed surface. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1.25 hours until puffy and probably a little less than doubled in volume (I did this at 78F, so adjust times if doing it at room temperature).


Preheat oven to 500F. Turn loaves onto a peel using your favorite method. I use parchment paper sprinkled with corn meal on a peel. Slash lengthwise a couple of times. Optionally mist the loaves with water very lightly using a fine mist spray bottle. Place loaves in oven, and generate steam using your preferred method. Just wetting the surface of the loaves is one simple appproach. Bake at 500F for about 10 minutes. Open the oven door and remove all the steam generating stuff you may have, and drop the oven temperature to 450F. Bake another 10 minutes or more until internal temperature is about 207F (at sea level).


Let them completely cool before you cut into them.

bwraith's picture

A Hamburger BunA Hamburger Bun

I just got a new barbecue grill, so hamburgers were in order. As a home bread baker, I've occasionally made homemade hamburger buns, and there is no question that a hamburger is just better with freshly baked buns.

If you've had the same thought, well here's a recipe for a hamburger bun. The recipe uses direct method instant yeast, so it only takes 3-4 hours. The hydration is a little higher than french bread, but still very easy to handle.

A Hamburger Bun

The Dough:

  • AP flour (I used KA AP) 650 grams
  • Water 290 grams
  • milk 200 grams
  • olive oil 30 grams
  • salt 13 grams
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • Mix flour, water, milk together using frisage and a few folds, and let sit for 20 minutes.


Work yeast into the dough, then work salt into the dough, then work olive oil into the dough. This can be done with a mixer or by hand using frisage and a few folds. Then knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes workable, stretchy, and seems like it bounces back when you punch it, or whatever magic you use to tell if the dough is right. Add flour or water if necessary to make the dough elastic and not too stiff, but it shouldn't spread out when placed on a table. Place the dough in a container to rise.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding (about 2.5 hours)

When the dough has risen by about half, which should happen in roughly an hour, turn it out on the counter, spread it out a little, pressing on it gently. Then, pull a side of the dough and gently stretch and then fold it into the center of the dough. Do this for four sides. You will now have approximately a ball of dough again. Turn it over and push the seams created by the folding under it. Place it seams down back in the container. Repeat this again in about another hour when it should be about double the volume of the original dough when you first mixed it. Then, let it rise for another 0.5 hours or so.


Split the dough into ten pieces. I use a scale and break pieces of dough off if necessary. Let the pieces rest for 5 minutes. Take each piece and do the same type of fold as above in the bulk fermentation. You press it down and spread it out gently, and then fold the four sides toward the middle. After folding, turn it over, and make it into a small boule by pushing the sides under and creating some tension on the top surface. Press down on it with your palm again, to seal the seams underneath. Shape all ten buns and place them on a peel or sheet, leaving some room. I had to bake these in two batches in order to have enough room in my oven. Spray them very lightly with oil. Cover them with a towel.

Final Proof

While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 450F.

Prepare to Bake

Paint the buns with milk and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Press them down gently with your palm to spread them out a little.


Bake for about 15 minutes at 450F. The internal temperature should be around 207F


Let them cool for a few minutes at least.

breadnerd's picture

I love getting up early on sundays with a good excuse to bake. Today we have family passing through town, and they'll be on the road a bit so I wanted to make them some portable snacks.


BBA Bagels, with oh about 50% wheat flour. I love this recipe because you can leave them in the fridge until you've got everything set up for baking, and because you can have hot bagels first thing in the morning without a lot of effort. I made a few toppings--poppyseed, salt, "everything" (with fresh onion and garlic tossed in olive oil, mixed with the previous toppings).


ready to go:





Out of the oven:


I also made a scones: Cranberry orange, and oatmeal date. It smells rather good in here!


redivyfarm's picture

Ah, there are so many things I want to try but the counter is covered with ciabatta requiring me to slow down on the baking. So sad. I cared for my starters and they are thriving.  My 4 day old rye and grapefruit starter was ready for its first feeding of AP flour and water and it really took off. At the same time, I refreshed my old potato water starter for the third time and it was interesting to note the comparative rise and fall of the two. Jes look!

 3 hours elapsed

New and Old Starters: 3 hours elapsed

 4 hours elapsed

New and Old Starters, 2: 4 hours elapsed

There is now another opinion to gauge my success on the three ciabatta recipes baked this week. RC prefers my tried-and-true recipe using yeast but fortified with the excess unrefreshed sourdough. The flavor is really developed in the old potato water starter, dubbed Lazarus this week! (It was uncovered and scented the kitchen with a peach fragrance). I'll try that recipe again using my notes from this week's baking to see if I get consistent results. If so I'll share the recipe as an idea for using excess starter. Tossing it still bugs me!

I get to bake my first no knead tomorrow in one of my heirloom dutch ovens. I wonder if the 90 year old cast iron will flavor the bread like gumbo or chicken and dumplings? RC promises to take bread to our project Monday and feed it to the crews if I will bake tomorrow.

Now I have a strategy!

mse1152's picture

Last night I baked this bread for the first time. I started the biga on Thursday after dinner and made the final dough Friday around 5 p.m., finishing the bake around 9:15. The biga spent the night in the fridge (in a bowl covered with plastic wrap), and developed a skin. The skin seemed to get incorporated into the final dough alright, but next time, I'll wrap the biga in oiled plastic and zip it into a bag as well before refrigerating.

It's a soft bread with tight crumb. Since I've never made it before, I don't know if that's what Italian bread is supposed to be or not. Tastes pretty good though. I think it would be a good bread to make into individual sandwich-sized rolls.

I'm not yet able to post a photo here, so I'll include a link to my Webshots album:



TinGull's picture

 After about 2 1/2 weeks of love and care, my starter is officially alive and kickin'! I made a couple olive sourdough loaves today, since this is my girlfriends favorite, and wanted to use my sourdough starter. It looks delish! It just came out of the oven (still crackling as I took this picture) so I haven't cut into it yet. One of the reasons I LOVE making bread is to fill the entire house up with that aroma of wild yeast and flour. Mmmmmmmmm.....



I'll put up some pics after I cut into it. I heard on one of those Julia Child PBS videos that it's illegal in Italy to even sell bread when it's intense!

And the crumb


redivyfarm's picture

I spent all day on a long fermentation trying to duplicate bwraith's beautiful sourdough ciabatta. What I produced was the best tasting thing I've baked. On the down side the crumb is unremarkable again, proving I'm starting pretty low on the learning curve. My sourdough starter which has been dormant for months is now hyperactive as evidenced by this proof-

Sourdough ProofSourdough Proof

I think I overproofed. The dough was very soft, very puffy, very sticky!  I had to fold it some more to get it workable for shaping. Onto a cloche for final proof went the dough until I lost my nerve and moved the four ciabattas to oiled paper on a baking sheet. Envision a sticky mess of dough and cloth instead of tasty bread! To get a crunchy crust, I spritzed the loaves with water and steamed with a cup of water in a skillet. This recipe baked 18 minutes at 450 and still came out only a golden brown. Bwraith, how do you do it?

Sourdough Ciabatta #1Sourdough Ciabatta #1

Even if unremarkable in appearance, this bread won't last long. Its delicious!

It is day three for my rye and grapefruit juice starter and as Grandma Gracie would say, it is really going to town!


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