The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Recent Blog Entries

Mebake's picture

This Whole Wheat and Whole Rye, was baked from Jeffrey Hamelman's BREAD under Soudough Rye section. It involves yeast in the final dough, with Rye sour as the flavour.

This bread has a mild rye flavor with a mild acidic tang. i liked it!


alabubba's picture

With all the work related to the NY Jewish Bakers book that seems to occupy my time I just wanted to drop a post on here and let y'all know that the oven is still running almost every day.

Along with the normal stuff I bake almost every week. 2 or 3 loaves of basic white bread, Rolls for dinner, Hamburger buns most weeks. Tortillas, corn and flour, a batch or 2 of cookies, maybe a cake. and usually a few baguettes (I Love Baguettes) I also tried a new recipe for Pumpernickel. They turned out great, but I feel like I want to add some caraway but wouldn't that just make it like dark rye bread? Not sure. Anyway, there were 6 baguettes but they tend to evaporate FAST.

Hmmm I wonder where all the baguettes went.

The obligatory crumb shots.

OK, so this one was kind of stubby on the end. Still tasted delish!

trailrunner's picture

David had posted a new improved version of his famous SJ. sourdough. I had told him I would give it a try and post the is amazing. That is the only word for it. I used my rye starter as a substitute for the levain build. It was so lively and I wanted to see how it would work. WOW is all I can say. I doubled the formula for 2 loaves. It filled the 5qt bucket overnight in the fridge. I then removed it and shaped in lined baskets for one hour. I preheated my cast iron for 30 min at 500. I then turned out the loaves and slashed and soaked them with my spray bottle...there were puddles in the slashes. In the oven covered at 460, lowered the temp, for 20 min. and then 18 min w/o lids. Here are the pics. Crumb to follow when it cools. 

formula: 150 gm levain--used my starter that was fed in the AM dough: 450g AP flour 50 g rye 360 g water 10 g salt 150g - all of levain mix- autolyse 60 min. 30 s and f's in the bowl x 3 and then 2 s and f's on the bench at 45 min intervals. retard 21 hr. Remove and shape and rise 1 hr. Preheat oven 500. Preheat pots for 30 min. Follow procedure listed above. 5qt bucket of dough after 21 hr retard: Photobucket 1hr rise: Photobucket slashed: Photobucket finished loaves: Photobucket another view: Photobucket

crumb shots: ( I love the texture ! ) Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

SylviaH's picture


                                       A nice recipe from Northwest Sourdough for a basic white sourdough, using 100% hydration starter, final dough in recipe is 65% hydration.                                               


                       I baked these loaves on my pre-heated oven stones and used the lava rock/iron pan steaming method and adjusted my oven

                       for baking temperatures and times better suited for my oven.  I made 3 loaves.  These will come in handy!















txfarmer's picture

Another recipe from "A Handmade Loaf", using the beer barm starter. Anyone who knows of traditional English barm cake, or have seen the picture of this bread in the book might object and say: hey, what's in this picture?! It's not a barm cake, it's two sandwich loaves! Well, trust me it's the same recipe, just done differently.


Here I have to digress and talk a bit about Asian syle breads - sometimes in the form of a loaf, more often in the form of a stuffed bun. Very soft crumb with small pores, "shred-able", easier to peel off pieces than cutting it. It's essentially a slightly enriched dough (often with egg, butter, sugar, milk powder, milk, cream in the dough, but in small amounts), and the key to the soft and slightly spongy texture is in the kneading and shaping. The dough is VERY WELL kneaded to complete gluten developement, so that the bread gets maximum volume and a very fine crumb, which translate to a soft texture. During shaping, the dough is roll out thin, then roll up like a jellyroll TWICE before loading into the pan, this is to ensure the finest possible crumb - with the smallest possible pores. While artisan bakers here obsess over big holes in baguette, Asian bakers invest in the same effort and techniques to achieve even crumb with absolutely NO holes. It's sort of like a Pan De Mie bread, but much lighter. For the same pullman pan I bought from KAF (4X4X13inch), KAF Pan De Mie formula asks for 40oz (1100g+) of flour, while my Asian recipe only needs 800g, you can imagine how the bread is much lighter.


This kind of soft breads are what most Chinese people like, and I started out liking and making them 2 years ago. Soon after that, I got into sourdough and other Eureopean style breads, my taste evolved. I still like Asian style breads, but want the flavor to be a bit more layered and complex. As the result I have been trying to make these Asian style soft breads with pure sourdough, which add a tangy aftertaste in addition to the soft and slightly rich flavor. I am still perfecting the process in terms of how long to fermentate, how long to proof etc, but so far so good, I really like how the breads are more flavorful, yet still soft, tall, and spongy, the best of both worlds. (I will post when I am settled on the "best" procedure.) Some may ask why these soft breads are better than supermarket wonder bread, answers are: more flavor, soft but still has body (not squishy), slightly chewy.


When I see this barm cake recipe in the book, I wanted to keep the ingredients the same, but change the techinque to make it into Asian style sandwich loaves - tall and soft, rather than dense and cake-like. Nothing wrong with the latter, just not what we wanted at the time. Only two concerns: 1)the barm stater has been in the fridge for 5 days at that point, was it still strong enough to raise a loaf to 4+ times of it's original size? 2)the butter (15%) and sugar (15%) ratioes are both slightly higher than my normal Asian sandwich formulas. I was especially worried about the sugar, at 15%, it's on the verge of being "too much" for a natural starter. However in the end, it all worked out, the dough rose just fine, and I got two very soft, very tall, very flavorful loaves. Nothing like an English barm cake, more like a light Asian chiffon cake.

fruited barm loaf (adapted from "A handmade loaf")

Note: the following formula is suitable for a standard US 8*4inch loaf pan, but I used a Chinese loaf pan that's narrower and taller. I also had more than 64g of barm starter, so I infact made more dough than specified below, that's why you see a large loaf and a small loaf in the top picture.


beer barm starter, 64g

water, 106g,

bread flour, 212g (I used KAF bread flour)

AP flour, 38g

egg, 47g

brown sugar, 38g

zest from one orange

salt, 5g

butter, 38g, softened

currants, 39g

golden raisin, 39g (I used half dried cherries and dried cranberries instead)


1. mix water, starter, flour, egg, sugar, zest, autolyse for 30min

2. add salt, knead until gluten is well developed, add butter in 3 batches, until you get a very thin and strong windowpane. The stronger the gluten network, the higher the bread, but be careful not to overknead, it's a fine line. this is a VERY wet dough, even before adding the butter. It never did completely cleared the bottom of the mixing bowl, even though it's kneaded until very elastic.

3. bulk rise for 4 hours until well expanded, almost double.

4. for my narrow and long loaf pan, I divide the dough into 3 portions, for a 8*4 loaf pan, divide into two. for each dough round and rest for 30min. then, pat/roll each one out into a long ovel/rectangle, roll up from the narrow end like a jelly roll, keep the surface tension tight, press out all bubbles.Now you have 3(or 2) cyclinder like below:

rest for 15min, rull out each cylinder along the long axis into a flat long oval, smooth side down, press out all air bubbles

roll up from the narrow end again, press the seam tight with each roll, keep surface tension tight, load them seam side down into loaf pan. As you can see they only fill the pan 1/4 to 1/3 full, seems impossible to fill the pan, but don't worry.

5. proof until it's 80 to 90% full, for me , it took 6 hours, pretty normal for this kind of doug. Note that the height of each roll is uneven, this is because the dough was very wet, and I didn't keep the tightness the same for each roll. Ideally they should be all at the same height. 

6. brush with egg wash and bake at 400f for 15min, 350 for 30min, tent with foil for the last 15 so the top doesn't get too dark. unmold immediately after bake, cool on rack. The loaves are so soft I was afraid to touch them, but no fear, they are infact baked through.


This kind of soft bread is great as a snack, or smeared with some PB and J, or just pulled off piece by piece and eaten plain like we did. We often think of sourdough breads as the crusty lean loaves (which I love too), but sourdough is just a method to raise the dough, it can make any type of bread, including enriched ones. This bread is like the sourdough pandoro and sourdough challah I made before, rich and tangy.

Mebake's picture

This time, i used 50% bread flour with (12.9%) protein, and 50% Wholewheat Pastry Flour(11%) Protein. I also included in my soaker (Flax seeds, Whole Rye Berries, Whole BuckWheat, and Whole Sunf. Seeds).

Encouraged by Larry's gas oven steaming, i created steam by pouring hot water into an Aluminum Skillet filled with lava and river rocks. Presteaming might have been crucial , especially in vented gas ovens. I presteamed, steamed, and then steamed again. I even sprayed the top of the loaves beofre loading them in.  Result: Not Bad, though no Artistic Grigne was created, but it is a trade off iam glad to accept, as opposed to the trouble of avoiding Roaster loading, and off-loading, with rack moving.

It came out very nice, held shape better, though as apparent from the crumb shot, the loaf was on the edge of overproofing.

The loaves smelled strongly of Flax seeds. The crust and crumb tasted very pleasant, with the chewy bite to the crumb due to all the soaked grain s and seeds.

Verdict: Improved crumb due to the usage of BREAD flour instead of AP.



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

The Leavenworth County Fair isn't a slick fair. The buildings aren't air conditioned yet (not a good thing in August in Kansas), the midway has lots of greasy, deep fried foods, and the rides have an authentic air of danger surrounding them. When you walk around the livestock sheds, you do have to look where you're walking. There's a certain amount of relief about genetic diversity when you see the different breeds that have been forgotten by industrial farms but are still loved by the farm families that show them every year. It's the real thing with duct tape construction contests, an oldest married couple in the county contest, and a Demolition Derby to close things out on Saturday night.

I wasn't really satisfied when I pulled my sourdough loaf out of the oven on Monday night. I thought it was too big at around 765 grams and my slashing wasn't symmetrical or dramatic enough to be of merit.

My French Country Farmhouse loaf had the same problems.

However, I figured that I had committed myself into entering and thought that I could always make it out as a learning experience. The established guidelines for the judges has been to award the prizes based on merit of taste as well as appearance so I felt I had a chance. I drove down to enter the loaves on time- a $0.25 entry fee per loaf- before 9AM and returned home to wait for the 1PM judging.

The judges weren't finished when I returned so I did the tour of the livestock displays. I admit to having grown up in a Massachusetts factory town but I can appreciate the care that the 4-H kids put into preparing their animals. However, after 45 minutes, I had to go and see the verdicts on my projects.

This first picture is my sourdough and the next is the French Farmhouse loaf.

The judges took out small slices from each loaf. One slice for tasting and another for display. I donated the loaves to the Fair for a sale to benefit the building's AC installation fund. I thought that extremely worthwhile. If you had been there yesterday, you might have chided me for being a cheapskate to not donate a little more to speed up the project.

As nice as it was to win the prizes, admittedly against few competitors, I started planning my entries for next year. Smaller loaves in the bannetons that arrived a day late, some glaze to add individuality to the presentation, and slashing to brag about. The best thing about my experience was the 10 or 11 year old girl that came up to me and told me that she had already bought my sourdough loaf. She said her family is Italian in background and having good bread is expected at her house. That's good enough for me.



trailrunner's picture

I had to get rid of starters and Larry's post the other day was the inspiration I KNOW he meant it to be :) I had enough bubbly weekold starter and I added that to his measurements. I added a couple more splashes of water as my KA mixed since it seemed dry and I wanted it to really slap the bowl. All went perfectly. I used my Grandmother's old blue granite roaster to bake. I have another really large one also. I have not tried this but saw the post by another TFL member and decided to give it a shot. Perfect. HUGE oven spring. I preheated my stone at 500 and then placed the covered pot on the hot stone  for a few minutes . It gets hot quickly. I sprayed the loaf heavily with water and placed it in the pot and covered. Baked at 460...lowered temp ...for 25 min and uncovered for 15. internal temp 208. 

Photobucket We should all have such great accidents. Pics of crumb tomorrow after it cools.c

Here is the "other side of the story" LOL. My scoring failed to take into consideration the huge oven spring I would get. Photobucket Lovely fine even crumb : Photobucket closer: Photobucket

ryebaker's picture

a brief introduction.  just completed a 3 by 4 wood fired oven, similar but unique from an Alan Scott type design.  cure is complete so we are busy experimenting. some charcoal, some great successes this past week and given the oven seems to stay warm for half a day or more, lots to come.  particularly interested in rye breads, but have Clayton's Breads of France, and working through all the breads in there.

dmsnyder's picture

We're back from 5 days in Fort Bragg with family. I took along 7 breads and, because of menu compatibility and dining out, I only baked once while there. I made a couple loaves of Sourdough Italian Bread which went well with baked coho salmon and grilled veggies.

We did breakfast one day at the Fort Bragg Bakery. They make very good bread and pastries, as well as pizza. They do the pizza's in a gas fired oven built with bricks salvaged from the bakery that was on the same site a couple generations ago and eventually torn down.

On the drive home, Susan and I stopped for lunch at the Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg. Along with our bill, the waiter left us a 2 lb sourdough epi to take with us. It was outstanding with a comfort food coming home dinner of scrambled eggs and tomatoes from our garden.

On a non-bread note I just have to share, I found myself taking all but a couple photos with my new iPhone 4. It's pretty amazing, especially the macro capability.

Begonia at the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens

Fly on Begonia petal

So, we're back home, doing laundry and re-packing for my week at SFBI.



Subscribe to Recent Blog Entries