The Fresh Loaf

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Floydm's picture

The kids are in bed, reading some stories before going to sleep so that they are ready for school tomorrow. For us summer is over.

We had a great summer. The kids are old enough now that I can do a lot with them, so I did. We went camping when the lupin were in bloom...

...rafting down the river while our Chinese exchange student was with us...

...hiking to hidden waterfallls...

...and just returned from the coast.

As you may have noticed, all of this activity greatly reduced my baking. Gone are the long quiet afternoons around the house while the babies nap, the perfect time for baking. Instead the time was filled with bike rides, hikes, trips to the playground, and dips in the lake. I'm not complaining, but obviously I've not been doing a great job contributing to the site.

Thank goodness other folks have. David and Eric, the two bakers I just featured on the front page, have been two of the most prodigious posters around here. Many others have extremely helpful as well. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who've continued to make this site a pleasure to read and participate in.

I hope now that the cool weather is returning and the kids are back in school I'll be able to get back on a better baking and posting schedule. I also hope to get back on top of the technical updates to the site. Thank you again for your patience and understanding when I fall behind here.

Time to go turn the kids' lights out and tuck them in.

Good night.

Susan's picture

I recently took a step back to 2006, and resurrected a starter I dried and tucked away in the pantry.

The starter I had been using put its feet up in the air and died. Every bit of flour I put in it was consumed almost immediately and it turned to glop. Doggedly, I kept feeding and using the starter, hoping for the miracle of a beautiful loaf again. Each time I was disgusted and embarrassed at what came out of the oven: bread that was almost flat, and totally lifeless.

So finally, I pulled out the 2006 starter and brought it back to life, and am happy to say that I'm back on track.

Here are the first loaves to come out of my oven since using the new/old starter. I feel happy and renewed. It's amazing how wonderful a little bread success can make me feel. Hurrah for sourdough!

Maybe next time I hit a starter bump I'll have enough sense to call a retreat instead of being so hardheaded.



holds99's picture

As some of you are aware, I have been experimenting for the past few weeks with various English muffin recipes in an attempt to determine what I think is the recipe that truly creates the closest thing to an authentic English muffin.  The exercise has been quite interesting and productive.  So, here's my opinion, for what it's worth.  Dan Lepard's recipe has no equal.  Mr. Lepards recipe is easy to prepare, produces terrific results and is far and away the closest to what I believe is an authentic English muffin.  I previously posted his recipe with some of my comments and measurement conversions.  The photo below is of my second batch from Mr. Lepard's recipe.  Here are some tips that I used during my second baking itereation of his recipe. 

I doubled the recipe and made something like a dozen slightly larger size muffins.

I cut the rounds for the muffins 4 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

Use lots (I mean LOTS) of flour on the towel they sit on in the baking tray to proof.  Don't skimp on the flour or they'll stick to the cloth and at that point they're fully risen and very fragile, so use lots of flour.

Slide your hand under the floured towel to flip them onto your (floured) hand and place them in the skillet or on the griddle.    DO NOT try to pick them up with your fingers, spatula, etc.  REPEAT: Flip them onto your floured hand.

I reduced the cider vinegar (50ml single batch or 100ml for doubled recipe) by half (25ml for single or 50ml for double recipe) making up the difference in liquid with water and it worked great.  Just a hint of vingar, which really works well to contrast with the butter, marmalade, jelly or jam.  Incidentally, Charlene checked the Thomas English muffins package in the supermarket and they also include vinegar as an ingredient.

When cooking them, set your electric skillet or griddle at 300 deg. F. Cook the muffins covered (if possible) to capture the steam and hold the heat as they cook.  "Dry fry" them (no oil in skillet) for 10 minutes on side 1 and 5-7 minutes on side 2, longer if necessary.  Take a temp. check with a thermometer.  They should read 200-210 deg. F. internal temp. You can cook them in a skillet on the stove just be extremely careful with the heat under your skillet.  Otherwise, you run the risk of scorching them.
Let them completely cool on a wire rack (or they'll be gummy in the center) before serving them and split them using a fork, don't cut them with a knife.  That way you get the nice holes and great texture, as you can see from the photo below.

If you like English muffins I sincerely hope you'll try Dan Lepard's recipe... and let us know how it goes.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL


  Dan Lepard's English Muffins - Second Baking

Dan Lepard's Cider Vinegar English Muffins Second Batch

dmsnyder's picture







The formula for this bâtard is derived from that for Anis Bouabsa's baguettes, as shared with TFL by Janedo. Jane prompted me to add some sourdough starter, and this resulted in a big improvement, to my taste. We had also discussed adding some rye flour to the dough. Jane said she and her family really liked the result. The addition of rye and sourdough makes this more like a pain de campagne, which is traditionally shaped as a boule or  bâtard. The result of my mental meandering follows:



Active starter ........................100 gms

KAF French Style Flour.......450 gms

Guisto's Rye Flour..................50 gms

Water......................................370 gms

Instant yeast............................1/4 tsp

Salt............................................10 gms



In a large bowl, mix the active starter with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the yeast over the dough and mix with a plastic scraper. Then sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix.

Using the plastic scraper, stretch and fold the dough 20 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 20 minutes later and, again, after another 20 minutes.



After the third series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.) Immediately place in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours. (In this time, my dough doubles in volume and is full of bubbles. YMMV.)


Dividing and Shaping

(I chose to make one very large bâtard, but you could divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces and make smaller bâtards, boules or baguettes. Or, you could just cut the dough and not shape it further to make pains rustiques.)

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. To pre-shape for  a bâtard, fold the near edge up just past the center of the dough and seal the edge by gently pressing the two layers together with the ulnar (little finger) edge of your hand or the heel of your hand, whichever works best for you. Then, bring the far edge of the dough gently just over the sealed edge and seal the new seam as described.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30-60 minutes, with the seams facing up. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)

To shape a bâtard, fold the near edge of the dough and seal the edge, as before. Now, take the far edge of the dough and bring it towards you all the way to the work surface and seal the seam with the heel of your hand. Rotate the loaf gently toward you 1/4 turn so the last seam you formed is against the work surface and roll the loaf back and forth, with minimal downward pressure, to further seal the seam. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .


Preheating the oven

Place a baking stone on the middle rack and both a cast iron skillet and a metal loaf pan (or equivalent receptacles of your choosing) on the bottom shelf.  Heat the oven to 500F. (I like to pre-heat the baking stone for an hour. I think I get better oven spring. Since I expected a 30 minute rest after pre-shaping and a 45 minute proofing, I turned on the oven 15 minutes after I had pre-shaped the loaf.) I put a kettle of water to boil 10 minutes before baking.



After shaping the loaf, transfer it to parchment paper liberally dusted with semolina. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel. Proof until the loaf has expanded to about 1-1/2 times it's original size. (This turned out to be 30 minutes for me.) Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!



Put about a cup full of ice cubes in the loaf pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and close the door.

Slip a peel or cookie sheet under the parchment paper holding the loaf. Uncover the loaf. Score it. (The bâtard was scored with a serrated tomato knife. The knife was held with its blade at about a 30 degree angle to the surface of the loaf. One swift end-to-end cut was made, about 1/2 inch deep.)

Transfer the loaf and parchment paper to the baking stone, pour one cup of boiling water into the skillet, and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 460F.

After 15 minutes, remove the loaf pan and the skillet from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is browning unevenly. Close the oven door.

Bake for another 15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.



Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.



I got very good oven spring and bloom. This loaf has an ear by which you could carry it around. It sang to me while cooling. The crust is nice and crunchy. The crumb is well aerated and almost "fluffy" in texture, but with tender chewiness. The taste is just plain good. It is minimally sour. Based on my half-vast experience, I'd say it is fairly representative of a French Pain de Campagne, the major difference being that it is less dense than the ones I recall. 

 This is, for me, not merely a good "novelty" bread. It could join San Francisco Sourdough and Jewish Sour Rye as an "everyday" bread I would enjoy having all the time.  The method is good for those of us who work outside the home. It can be mixed in the evening and baked in time for a late dinner the next night. 




ehanner's picture

Hamelman's 40% Rye with Caraway

I'm starting a string of rye breads using Jeff Hamelman's Bread. I just recently purchased this book and I can say "Bread" has had a huge impact on my baking. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is a contributor here. Forget the comments that it is written for the commercial baker and ignores the home baker. Hamelman is clear in his writing and shares detailed information to help understand the handling techniques needed to produce beautiful bread. This is a great resource on so many levels you will never be sorry for adding it to your library.

Here is the recipe I used pretty much straight from the book. The details provided in the side bars give you more depth of understanding but this will get you close.

40% Rye Bread with Caraway
From Jeff Hamelman's-Bread

Rye Sour

  • 360 g Medium Rye Flour
  • 360 g Water
  • 20 g Sourdough Starter

Final Dough

  • 545 g King Arthur All Purpose Flour
  • 260 g Water
  • 740 g (all of the above) Rye Sour
  • 1 Tsp. Instant Yeast
  • 15 g Salt
  • 15 g Caraway Seeds

The evening before the bake, prepare the rye sour by mixing together the rye flour, water and mature sourdough starter until homogeneous. Cover with a light dusting of Rye which will show you the progress of the sour. As it cracks open you will know fermentation is causing it to grow. Let stand overnight for 12-16 hours at 75-80°F.

The next day, combine the all purpose flour, water, instant yeast and rye sour, adding additional water if necessary to obtain a dough of medium consistency. Turn the dough out of the mixing bowl onto your work surface and begin hand kneading the somewhat sticky dough until it just starts to come together. Add the salt and continue hand mixing until the dough reaches medium development, about 10-15 minutes. Add the caraway seeds and hand mix just until evenly distributed within the dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover, and let ferment at 78-80°F for 1 hour. Divide the dough into 1 1/2 lb. pieces, lightly round and let rest under a plastic sheet for 10 minutes. Shape the pieces into batards, place the batards seam side down on a couche or in a banneton and let proof for an additional hour.

After an hour, turn the batards onto a peel or parchment, score and bake in a pre heated oven at 450F for the first 15 minutes of baking. After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 420F and bake for an additional 20 minutes. A robust bake is more flavorful. Under baked is gummy. I shoot for 205F internal temp.

This bread needs to be completely cool before slicing. Enjoy!

dmsnyder's picture

Pane di Genzano (the real thing)

Pane di Genzano (the real thing)

Pane di Genzano

Pane di Genzano 

Pane di Genzano Crumb

Pane di Genzano Crumb 

In "Local Breads," Daniel Leader has 3 breads from Genzano, a village just outside Rome. Well, 2 breads and a pizza. The 2 breads are an all-white bread (Pane casareccio di Genzano) and one that uses half bread flour and half whole wheat (Pane lariano). Zolablue had written about these breads some time ago. (  ) Hers were gorgeous and sounded delicious. But the recipe spooked me at the time. It is a huge loaf and a super-wet dough.  Since then, I had gained some experience with slack doughs and felt up to trying one of the pane di Genzanos.


I'm not quite sure what to call the bread I made because I "split the difference" between the breads in the book. I used 25% whole wheat. I also did not follow Leader's instructions for mixing. I wanted to try the Hamelman folding technique on this bread, since I was so happy with how it had worked with my baguettes. I also wanted to try the "double hydration" technique recommended by Suas in "Advanced Bread and Pastry" for improved gluten development in slack doughs. 


(I used my regular 75% hydration sourdough starter which is fed with 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Rye for the biga).

Biga Naturale         368 gms

Water                       405 gms

Bread Flour             375 gms

WW Flour                 125 gms

Instant yeast                7 gms

Sea salt                      14 gms

 Unprocessed bran for sprinkling


In the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer, I mixed 300 gms of water with the biga, then added the flours, yeast and salt and mixed with a rubber spatula until the ingredients were all incorporated in a shaggy mass.

 I then mixed with the dough hook at Speed 4, with occasional bursts to Speed 6, for about 12-14 minutes. At this point, I had some gluten development, and the dough was clearing the sides of the bowl at Speed 4. I began slowly adding the remaining 100 gms of water, probably about 10-15 gms at a time, waiting for each addition to get incorporated before adding the next. I continued to mix at the same speed for another 10 minutes or so.

 (Note: Leader's mixing instructions are to put all the ingredients in the bowl and stir together. Then mix at Speed 8 for 10 minutes or so, then at Speed 10 for another 10 minutes.)


I then transferred the dough to a 4 quart glass measuring pitcher.  I had planned on fermenting the dough for 3 hours, doing stretch and folds after 60 and 120 minutes. The dough was overflowing the pitcher after 60 minutes. I transferred it to a 6 quart bowl, did my stretch and folds and covered the bowl. After 120 minutes, the dough had re-doubled and was extremely soft and puffy. The gluten was better developed. I did another series of stretches and folds and fermented another hour. 

 The dough was still extremely sticky. I scraped it onto a large wooden cutting board and attempted to form it. I could fold the edges, but the dough was sticking a lot to the board, my bench knife. I kept my hands wet, which prevented it sticking to me very much.


I then transferred the dough to a large banneton, dusted with AP and rice flour, then with bran. This was not a pretty sight. The dough was dough but it was so slack, it could not be called a "ball." It was my own proprietary loaf shape. I called in a "glob." The surface was coated with more bran. The banneton was covered with plastic wrap.

 I pre-heated the oven to 450F with a cast iron skillit and a metal loaf pan on the bottom shelf and a large pizza stone on the middle shelf.

 I proofed the glob for 55 minutes. (Leader says to proof for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I was afraid I would get no oven spring if I proofed it that long.)



Just before loading the loaf, I put a handful of ice cubes in the heated loaf pan to humidify the oven.

 I transferred the glob from the banneton to a peel, covered with parchment paper dusted with more bran. The glob hit the parchment, spread, but did not overflow the (large pizza) peel.

 I transferred the glob, which had assumed a somewhat pleasing ovoid shape on hitting the peel, to the stone. I poured about a cup of boiling water into the skillet and closed the oven door.

 After 18 minutes, I removed the loaf pan and the skillet from the oven.

 After 30 minutes, I turned the oven down to 400 degrees and baked for 30 minutes more.


I transferred the bread to a cooling rack. Leader says to cool it for 2 hours before slicing.


Well, you win some and you loose some. This bread is delicious. The crust is crunchy. The crumb is tender. You might have noticed that the biga naturale is 74% of the flour weight. The taste is quite sour, especially for a bread with a short fermentation for a sourdough. The whole wheat flavor is there and pleasing. I expect the flavors to change by tomorrow, probably for the better. 

 On the other hand, I'm not sure my deviations from Leader's instructions worked well. The dough was probably gloppier than it is supposed to be. I don't think I got the gluten development it needs. I didn't get much oven spring, and the bread is rather flat. Zolablue got a wonderful boule. Note that she used high gluten flour, and that probably helped. I've got to keep trying, because this bread is really worth the effort.

 Note: It has been noted that this bread is messy to cut. That is an understatement. The bran flies everywhere! I think I ended up with more bran on the counter and cutting board than I had sprinkled on the loaf and in the banneton, and the bread seemed to still have as much as before. The normal laws of physics apparently do not apply to this bread. My advice: Slice it where clean up will be easiest.

 This bread is known in Italy for its keeping quality. It is good when first cooled and stays moist for many days. There are many references to this bread on Italian travel web sites. It is said to make wonderful brushcetta. I have a good supply of delicious tomatoes at the moment. I plan on testing that claim.



ehanner's picture


This is my favorite Italian bread formula so far. I have been making this for the last two years ago when ever I need a gift for a lunch or my in-laws who love it. When I started making this mix with the biga, I began to understand how much the 12-14 hour pre ferment time helps the depth of flavor.

The recipe is straight out of th BBA under yeasted breads with a Biga. I adjusted the amounts so I end up with 2 - 1-1/2 Lb loaves after baking. Mr. Reinhart's formula is for 2 - 1 Lb loaves in the book but we like the billowy sandwich size that I can bake on the stone or sheet pan. Two of these is all I can get in my oven. Yesterday I made a 7.4 Lb batch that was double the size of todays and produced 4 similar loaves. Todays mix was done by hand, no mixer needed.

I started at 9PM last evening by mixing the Biga. I have learned from reading BBA that I need to consider a few things before I start. First, do I have 14 hours before I can mix the final dough? Second, what is the ambient temperature where the Biga will ferment? Knowing those two things will tell me how much yeast to use to get the best flavor. In this case, it is a warm day, the air isn't on and I think the 14 hours will stay at around 74-76 F. I decide to use 1 teaspoon of IDY yeast in  478 grams of flour and 340 grams water at room temp. I mix and make sure the biga is well blended before covering with a plastic bag.

This morning at 11AM I mixed all the dry ingredients, biga and milk and oil in a large bowl with a plastic scraper. Once it was barely combined I covered and let it set for 30 minutes to let the liquid absorb. The dough was sticky and slack and I kneaded and folded for a few minutes and let it ferment for an additional 2 hours. During the ferment time I usually fold twice and gently reform as in Marks latest video. That's a great technique to use that helps the dough become a ball without kneading.

Anyway, It doubles in 1-1/2 to 2 hours at which time I divide and shape into a log, place in a banneton for 30-40 minutes. I turn the oven on for this bake when the dough is divided, pre heated to 450F. When the dough is poofy and looks ready, not over 45 minutes, I turn it out on a wood loading peel covered in cornmeal. Spray with water, top with sesame seeds (pat them lightly so they stick), slash and into the oven. Steam as usual and lower the heat to 400F for 25 minutes. I was starting at 500 and lowering to 440 or so as PR suggested but I like the color better at the lower temp. It takes a few minutes longer but for me it looks like Italian.

Here is the recipe sized for 2.5 Lbs of dough. There are many detailed instructions that you can find in the book but if you want to try it this will work. This is one of my favorite yeasted breads.

Sorry about the text formatting. Hope this looks OK.--Enjoy! 


Italian Bread-P. Reinhart

Makes 2.5 Pounds of dough   

Biga                             3-1/2 C            18 Oz               510g

318 g flour-226 g water 1/2 teaspoon Instant yeast.



AP Flour                       2-1/2 C           11.25 Oz      319g               

Salt                              1-2/3 t              .41            12g                 

Sugar                           1 T                   .5 Oz          14g                 

Instant Yeast               1 t                    .11Oz          3g                   

Diastatic Malt             1 t                      .17             5g                   

Olive Oil                      1 T                   .5 Oz         14g                 

Warm Milk                  ¾ C plus 2T      7-8 Oz        227g               

Cornmeal for dusting                          TOTAL       1138g  (2.5 Lb)


Mix dry ingredients together in bowl. Add biga in small pieces, olive oil and ¾ Cup warm milk, mix. Adjust water/flour as needed and rest 15 min.

Knead until starting to develop. Dough temp should be 77-81 F.  Transfer to oiled bowl, cover and ferment 2 hours or double. Fold every 45 minutes during ferment. Watch for double in volume.

Divide in 2. Shape into logs. Gentle handling. Light dusting of flour and rest 5 minutes. Finish shaping. Lightly spray oil and cover, proof for 1 hour or 1.5 increase in volume.

Preheat to 450 F. Score, Steam and lower oven temp to 400 after 2 steams. (400 and longer for crustier). 25 minutes for loaves, 15 minutes for rolls.



dailybread101's picture

Guys and Gals,

Just found interesting guides and newsletters (Baking Update Newsletter) from Lallemand, a well-known ingridients produser and researcher. Hope, this may be useful for our bread-baking community.

This is a table of content:

Baking Update

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

Baking Innovations
dmsnyder's picture









Thesee baguettes are based on the formula given to Janedo by Anis Bouabsa, with Jane's modification - adding 100 gms of sourdough starter to the dough. The formula and method have been described in some detail in my last blog entry:

 If these look substantially similar to those pictured in that entry, they are. My point is that this formula appears to be reliable and is yielding consistant and gratifying results for me.

 That said, this batch was superior to the last in a some respects: First, the crumb is even more open. Second, the flavor is much better. It is very mildly sour but also sweeter. Third, the crumb has a chewier texture. Fourth, the shape of the cross section is more round. Fifth, my scoring was more consistant.

I did make a few modifications in ingredients and method. While these may seem trivial, I believe those of us who have participated in "The Great Baguette Quest" have found that these sorts of small differences make the difference between "good" and "great" results.

So, my modifications from the previous baguette bake were:

1. My starter was more fully activated when I mixed the dough.

2. I included the starter in addition to the flour and water to the initial mix that autolysed.

3. I got distracted and forgot to add the yeast and salt until the last set of stretch and folds. In other words, shortly before putting the dough in the refrigerator. The gluten tightened up dramatically and quickly after the salt was added, but it was pretty fully developed already. (This is not recommended, and I'm not sure what if any difference it made in the final product.) Because I wanted to be sure the yeast and salt were well distributed, I ended up doing more folds - probably 15-20 more, and this probably resulted in fuller gluten development which may have contributed to the open crumb.

4. Following foolishpoolish's lead, I rested the dough only about 30 minutes after dividing and pre-shaping, and I proofed for only 30 minutes. (Bouabsa rests 45 minutes and proofs for 60 minutes.)

I am not much of a baguette fan, generally speaking, but this batch was good enough to motivate further baguette adventures.


dailybread101's picture

)  I'll re-do it to make it:-less salty- I'll give it about 30 minutes of proofing after shaping (not more!) - I'll try to add more sourness by fermenting my rye sour overnight- I'll try to make the crust softer.

Greenstein’s Corn (RYE) Bread. This is my first try. :) 

I'll re-do it tand make it:
- less salty
- I'll give it about 30 minutes of proofing after shaping (not more!) - maybe this will help me to avoid crust cracks
- I'll try to add more sourness by fermenting my rye sour overnight, cos I am ethnically Russian and we like sour rye breads
- I'll try to make the crust softer, cos my husband likes it softer. :)

Front view
Front view

At night :)

In the morning :)

Close view

Thanks in advance for your comments!


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