The Fresh Loaf

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xaipete's picture

I baked two sourdough's today. The first, David's Pain de Campagne is rapidly becoming one of my favorite breads because it's so easy to make, is practically foolproof, and has such a wonderful flavor and crumb. I use Guisto's Baker's Choice instead of KA French style flour for this bread, and my own home-ground wholemeal rye. (I think Guisto's Bakers Choice has about 10.5% protein, so it is softer than KAAP.)

The second was kind of an experiment with Dan DiMuzio's SF Sourdough. I wanted to see if I could bake baquettes out of the dough instead of the more normal batards.

I mixed both doughs up by hand using a throw and slap method. (I had just finished watching a video by Richard Bertinet and thought I would give his technique a try.)

I put both doughs through four of the throw and slap sessions allowing about 20 minutes in between. It was kind of a fun procedure, and I really enjoyed getting down and dirty with the dough. I think this method help to incorporate air into the doughs and probably contributed to their open hole structure.

The hint of rye in this bread really gives it a spectacular flavor and crumb.

I couldn't get my scoring to open up very well on these baguettes. I'm not sure why except that the dough really got a lot of oven spring.

I cut the baguette horizontally for a sandwich. I was very happy with the large holes in the crumb.


I retarded half of Dan's formula overnight in a banneton and baked it this morning. It was a little overproofed which didn't surprise me considering the amount of starter. Still, it baked up pretty well this morning. A little bit flat, but the flavor is very nice and the crumb isn't bad either!


Nomadcruiser53's picture

Work has been brutally busy, so bread had to go on the back burner. I did manage to get out some sandwich bread and a couple no-knead SD. The sandwich bread is a little sweet since that's the way I like it and the SD has about 25% WW by weight. I did get a little flour rolled into the SD when I shaped it, but luckily it wasn't too much. The house smelled great today. Dave

gcook17's picture

 I was getting tired of covering my mixing bowl with plastic wrap to keep the dough from drying out while it fermented.  For me, unrolling, tearing, stretching plastic wrap has always been like wrestling an octopus.  Besides, I hate throwing it away after using it for a few hours.  I wanted to find a dough fermentation bin that had a top that would keep in the moisture but wasn't airtight.  I was buying half sheet pans at my local Smart-n-Final and noticed what looked like the perfect containers. They were plenty big enough for folding the dough in the container.  They had smooth bottoms that would allow the use of a plastic dough scraper and make cleaning easy.  They had tops with little vent thingies that could be opened or closed.  Most amazing of all they were cheap.  They came three in a package for about $20.  The only problem was that I had to get three of them which I didn't think I needed.  I decided to wait until I had scouted around to see if I could find something comparable that I could buy just one of.   Some bins had convoluted bottoms that would make it impossible to scrape out the dough.  They had fancy lids that sealed so well that no gas could escape and complicated seals that would make them hard to clean.  The better ones cost almost three times as much so I finally got the set of three.

Here are some pictures.  The familiar book is in the picture to give an idea of how big they are.  The brand is Reynolds.  The largest batch of dough I've used it for so far was 6 lbs. 

Here's a close-up of the vent.  The almost readable word on it is "Casuals."

Kathy D's picture
Kathy D

Help! I'm overwhelmed and overworked with trying to roll out my dog biscuit dough by hand. My new, home-based business is growing faster than I anticipated and I need to get ahead of the orders. It's incredibly time consuming and hard on the arms to roll it out by hand and need to make that next step and have a machine do it for me! But what machine? I've been looking at used equipment but unsure of the direction to go in. I have a rotary cookie cutter so  I was hoping it could be rolled out long instead of round. Any help is most appreciated and thanks!

Yippee's picture

There must be a more proper name for this loaf, but it looks like a brick and feels like a brick, so I named it 'brick bread'.  The idea came from a loaf I once tried out of curiosity.  There was a night-and-day difference between that loaf and the fluffy, buttery Hong Kong /Japanese style breads I grew up with, but its texture was certainly interesting.  I'd been contemplating making it but was not able to find a formula either here at the forum or online.  Therefore, I decided to make it up myself after researching the basic properties of rye flour and using the ingredients on the package as a guideline.

My loaf consists of 60% rye flour, 40% high gluten whole wheat flour.  The loaf I had was a yeasted formula and was made with far more variety of flours, seeds and grains but I decided to simplify the ingredients in my first trial.  It has only walnuts, raisins and topped with sesame seeds.

I activated my dormant rye starter and put it to use.  In order to test its vitality, no commercial yeast was used this time. 

I arbitrarily picked an 88% hydration (to Cantonese, 88 is also a lucky number), hoping that this will soak up the pentosans and they wouldn't interfere with the gluten development as much. Even so, the dough was still sticky and a bit messy to handle. I made a sponge overnight and mixed with the rest of the flours the following day.  A few attempts of stretch and folds didn't seem to lead to anything promising, so I gave up.  I folded in the nuts and raisins at the end.

The dough rose to about 65% of its original height after a few hours, I wasn't sure whether it was ready but I surely didn't want to overproof, so I put it in a 460F oven for 40 minutes.  Internal temperature measured 213F when it came out.

I waited 24 hours before slicing the bread and took pictures of the crumb at 48 hours as well.  The tangy taste continues to improve as time goes by.  It does not taste like brick and has not cracked my teeth.  The nuts have created a light texture similar to that of banana bread, but without the fatty ingredients.  It is a loaf I'll re-try, just to make it perfect. If you have a formula for something similar to this loaf, please kindly share it so that I won't be so clueless and have some directions to follow next time.

Here are the pictures:

davidg618's picture

I think one of the biggest differences between commercial artisan bakeries, that bake every day, and the amateur that bakes once or even twice a week is how each handles levain day-to-day. From my reading I've gleaned the commercial baker keeps his or her levain (starter) at room temperature, and feeds it on a periodic schedule every 8 or 12 hours. (I'm an amateur, so, experts, please correct me if I'm terribly wrong). on the other hand, most amateurs keep thier starters at refrigerator temperature (~40°F), and feed them once weekly, or less often.

I am less certain how commercial bakers maintain their starters' hydration, I assume, however, that perhaps as little as one day earlier they prepare a chosen amount of their maintained starter by feeding it an amount of flour and water that adjusts its hydration to the target for a days baking. Amateurs keep their maintained starters at a fixed hydration, and, although some amateurs maintain their starters very dry (50%-60%), or very wet (~200%), the usual maintenance hydration is ~100% to ~125%.

The challenge for us amteurs is, "How do I convert an alive, but nearly dormant, relatively cold starter to a formula ready starter, i.e., the correct formula specified starter weight and hydration?"; one might also add, in a reasonably short time.

Some recipes intruct a single feeding, without changing the starter's hydration, followed by a fermentation period--usually 12 hours--and adjusts the dough's flour and water weights to achieve the desired dough hydration. Some amateur bakers convert their maintained starter in one feeding to the target starter weight and hydration, and then feed it an additional one to nine times over a period of one or more days. Both these approaches work, and each have subtle secondary consequences, usually effecting the final bread's flavor. It's not my intent judge the merit of those consequences, merely note they occur.

What I want to do is describe the process I use, explain why I use it, and show some results.

First of all, I have two primary goals for creating formula-ready starters the way I do. One is related to the final dough. I want to achieve a very active starter, strong enough to produce two strong proofs, in moderately short time, i.e., 2-3 hours each; and with sufficient reserve to provide strong oven spring. And, I want to build this formula-ready starter in no more than 24 hours.

The second goal: I want to maintain only a barely necessary amount of starter, e.g., around 200g, 100% hyddration, and fed every two or three weeks.

I've succeeded in reaching both goals using a 3-build approach that triples the amount of starter with each build, and adjusts the hydration by one-third of the difference between the maintained starter's hydration and the formula specified starter hydration.

A couple of definitions, and a little math:

seed starter: the weight of maintained starter that when tripled 3 times yields the formula-specified starter weight.

Intermediate starter: the building starter, i.e. the starter at any time between the beginning of Build 1 and the end of Build 3.

formula-ready starter weight = seed starter weight x (3x3x3) = seed starter weight x 27; therefore:

seed starter weight = formula-ready starter weight/27. But, I always lose some--it sticks to the stirrer, and the its container's walls, so I add a little more, e.g. 20g.

intermediate starter hydration = seed starter hydration +(formula-ready starter hydration - seed starter ready hydration)/3 x # of last build.

An example:

Formula specified starter: 480g, 60% Hydration

Seed starter hydration: 100%

Added to make up loss: 20g


Seed starter weight = (480 + 20)/27 = 19g (rounded to nearest whole number)

Intermediate starter's hydration = 100 +(60 - 100)/3 x 1 or 2 or 3 = 100 + (-40)/3 therefore:

during Build 1 the Intermediate starters hydration = 86.7; during build 2 73.3%, and during build 3 60%.

Intermediate starter weights are: Build 1, 55g, Build 2, 167g, and Build 3, 500. (all are rounded to nearest whole gram.)

Now, I'm not going to do the Baker's math to calculate the flour and water weights added each build. I built a spreadsheet to do that for me, but it is possible by hand using Baker's math, and the intermediate starter weights and hydrations.

The results: Below are a series of five photographs that visually document the example above.

Why do it this way?

I reasoned that adding more than twice the weight of the seed starter (or the intermediate starter weights)  would dilute the density of the yeast critters beyond a "strong" density, i.e. each build should peak within eight hours or less, Yeast have little or no motility, so after a time, they are surrounded by their waste products: carbon dioxide and alcohol, not food, so production slows down or stops. Stirring , kneading dough, etc. all redistribute yeast, by-products, and food, but I don't want to be burdened with stirring. Furthermore, my goals focus on yeast production, not bacterial growth. (There are other things one can do to develop flavor contributing starters.)

1. Seed Starter: 19g of my refrigerator maintained starter.


2. Build 2. at its peak 16 hours after starting. I didn't photograph build 1, even at its peak it didn't cover the bottom of the container.


3. Build 3 at zero hour, I'd just added its flour and water additions and spread it out in its container.


4. Build three after only 3 hours (19 hours from the beginning); I consider its growth a good subjective indicator of its strength.


5. Build 3 after 7 hours (23 hours from beginning). You can see evidence it's peaked by the slight deflation around the edges. Immediately after taking this photo I made the dough...


...for this bread. This is D. DiMuzio's San Francisco Sourdough au Levain (firm starter) formula, but I used it for a Thyme-Feta Cheese-Toasted Chestnut vehicle, so it probably doesn't exhibit all the oven spring it might have in an uncluttered dough. Nonetheless, I think it stands a good example of my goal.


treelala's picture

I Was thinking about how to bring health to a community and I thought about scripture about breaking bread with others. I decided to reach out to Cincinnati my home town. I am going through the community centers and reaching out to the directors to be involved in a brick bread oven workshop. I believe this will be a great tool for healthier neighborhoods. I wan to share this workshop with the fresh loaf community hoping that you will npass this tool along to people you know who are go getters when it comes to lifting up urban life. Blessing to all!

Featured Site: Red River Gorgeous, Bread Oven Workshop
Weekend of July 24, 25 & 26 2009

Red River Gorgeous, Wilderness cabin retreat sponsoring a breadoven workshop hosted by Welsh timberframer, Don Weber. Interested parties please email cdourson(at) The workshop will be held the weekend of July 24, 25 & 26, 2009. Stay tuned for details and get ready for two days of hands on experienceop and enjoyment.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Yes I did it.  I found rye flour in Seoul, South Korea, in the Bangsan Market between wall paper shops and packaging tucked into the alleyways kept cool in the winding shadows from the burning sun.  I found two different ryes, that with my third, and my unending curiosity can only lead to one thing.... a comparison.  I have already gathered that there might be some flavor differences evidenced by the interesting additives in North American recipes...

So I decided to use Daniel Leader's Soulful German Farmhouse Rye in Local Breads combining all the ingredients except for added yeast (don't want it) and final 70% rye flour.  That way the only difference in flavor will be the flours.  All three doughs will be handled alike. 

The Rye:

  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Dark Rye flour @ 4000 won a kilo

  • German, Demeter Organic Rye type 1150 flour @ 7900 won a kilo

  • Austrian, Haberfellner Rye type 960 which is quickly running out


I mixed up the recipe and divided the liquid into thirds, added 117g rye flour to each bowl moistening the flour and covering for one hour.  I had already started noticing differences...

Bob's is a slightly coarser flour, has more speckles, is darker (but not by much) and not as sticky as the other two

German 1150 has two mosts: lighter color, and stickiness

Austrian 950 has dough color between the two but in the picture they look all look alike.

All mixed well, all sticky (typical rye) so I use a wet silicone spatula to fold the doughs twice.   After 3 hours the loaves were gently shaped with wet hands patted with oatmeal flakes and set over cutout bread letters to mark the bottoms.  (4 o'clock is Bob's, 12 o'clock is German)  They were rising nicely (not a whole lot) when they went into the oven.  (tip, it is very hard to judge rising in a flat round bowl shape)

As you can see, I'm having a little trouble lining everything up here...(someone please send me a note on how to do this!)    The picture below of the top shows Bob's Red Mill at 10 o'clock, Austrian 950 at 2  o'clock, German 1150 at 6 o'clock.


The doughs seem to rise in relationship to fineness of the flour.  Bob's is the heavier and coarser so it rose slightly lower than than the other two.  1150 and 950 were pretty close in height but the 950 rose just a tad more.  The darker color of Bob's is even darker after baking.  Now to squeeze in another picture, the crumbs.  Austrian is on left, German right, Bob's is the darker of the three, first on the bottom then on the top.

All have a moist heavy crumb (We like it that way) but the differences are slight but mostly in color and texture of crumb in the mouth. 

1150 feels smoother in chewing, 950 is more stick to your teeth smooth, Bob's tend to be more stick in between the teeth which gives it a longer taste in your mouth. 

After two days the sour is growing but I still can't tell one from the other as far as taste goes.  The Austrians at the office yesterday could also not tell any flavour differences.  They just wanted more.  So I've been baking and playing.  I keep in mind that Bob's won't rise as high as the 950 (or peaks sooner having more whole grain).  I made a loaf yesterday with Bob's and gave it a longer steam in the oven, 10 min instead of the 6 minutes in the above bread.  It came out lovely rose higher and being consumed as I write.   It also went into a banneton, tall and narrow.  I also use more spices than the recipe but far from overpowering the rye.

So.  I Guess I blew the top off that urban legend if there ever was one.  They all taste pretty much the same.  Thanks for waiting patiently for the results.

Mini Oven


Pablo's picture

Sourdough is going great right now.  Things have changed a lot.  I had been doing Xtreme low maintenance with my seed culture but ultimately I was disappointed.  Sure it bakes bread and sure it's very low maintenance, but I've been getting more and more suspicious that the oven spring has not be spectacular due to my culture maintenance technique. 

What I was doing:  Mix 200 grams or so of 60% hydration starter, let it sit at room temperature until there is definite movement within the container; the starter starts to grow, visibly.  Then chuck it into the 'fridge.  When I was going to bake I would take 10 grams of that starter, mix it with 20 grams of water and 20 grams of flour and let it double, then mix that with 100 grams of water and 100 grams of flour and let that double and I would have 250 grams of ripe starter to work with in my recipe.  The seed culture would stay, unrefreshed in the 'fridge for 6 - 10 weeks before I got to the bottom and refreshed the initial 200g.

Now: 5g starter, 20g water, 30g flour and leave it at room temperature.  Once it's peaked (3xs, 4xs...) then extract 5g and do it again. It FINALLY penetrated my conciousness that the flour ratio can be manipulated to help control the rate of fermentation.  I had been using temperature (in and out of the 'fridge) and water ratio (drier doesn't ferment as quickly as wetter).  But I can also manipulate the ratio of flour - I had been slavishly following a rule I read: double the weight of the starter as flour, i.e. the paragraph above this one.  But people do all sorts of wild ratios.  I decided on 1:4:6 and I'm happy with that now.  That's 66% hydration.  I may adjust the flour ratio even higher in the future.  I want to get comfortable with this technique for now.

The leftover from the refreshment procedure I dump on the counter and work in a bit of flour so the yeast has food, and the whole lump is then pretty dry, like 50% or so and put it in the 'fridge.  The next refreshment do the same thing.  When I baked today I had 8 or 10 refreshments worth of 50% leftovers that I treated as pate fermentee and mixed into the dough.  Seemed to work great.  The starter also seemed to create a much more active dough.  I haven't cut into them yet, so I don't know about the crumb.  I made boules today, but there's 900g of dough in the 'fridge to make 3 baguettes tomorrow.

The weather has been hot.  My baguette skins were drying out and being hard to slash nicely.  Also proofing has changed.  This new dough, plus the hot weather, has them proofing much quicker even without heating the proofing box.  I've been slashing the proofing time in half, from 90 minutes to 45 minutes.  Still playing with that.  Putting a dampened cloth over the dough while preshaping and while proofing seems to be a good thing.  Maybe I'll keep that up even when it's not so hot.  The dough skin was perfect for slashing.  I did pay attention to getting some good tension during shaping as well.  I'm really curious as to how the baguettes will come out tomorrow.


photojess's picture

and I have to say it was very, very good!  There was no specific bean taste, although it was wheat-y.   I don't mind that at all though.  My husband is all about putting peanut butter on whatever bread I make.  It honestly doesn't matter what kind it is....which I find rather funny.  His favorites I would have to say are the ryes though.

Liseling posted her Pinto bean bread in this thread:

and here is a pic of the bread and crumb.  Not sure where that little air bubble came from though.  I rubbed the top of the bread with butter while still warm, and I made sure I pretty much pulverized all of the beans in the food processor.  I started the beans first thing in the am, let them cool, and used the warm water as directed.  I have to say, that this was a really nice dough to work with too.

Please feel free to comment on anything you see I should change, like shaping, or whatever.  For being a whole wheat bread, I think it turned out just dandy!


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