The Fresh Loaf

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Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I've found that the new year means I'm still going up the learning curve on my sourdough loaves. The continued low temperatures here in Kansas combined with above average barometric pressures gave me an opportunity to observe first hand some of the effects of weather on my starter and in the behavior of flours.

My starter exhibited the behavior that I should have expected with cooler room temperatures between 68-70F. Loaves rose more slowly, especially the loaf that had been retarded overnight. After refreshing my starter to a 1:2:2 ratio, activity was diminished, taking about 6 hours to double rather than the expected 3 1/2-4 hours.

I haven't lost my taste for loaves with whole wheat flour. I was surprised when my standby wheatMontana Bronze Chief turned my hydration estimates upside down. I usually aim for around 65-67%  in loaves that have 500g total flour but the loaves turned out to appear much drier than 65% after kneading.


The crumb on this first enriched loaf wasn't as open as I'd like but the flavor was more than acceptable

My most recent loaf is a boule of Bauernbrot based on Salome's excellent formula where I used up the last 60g or so of rye from a bag, added more of the Bronze Chief, some AP and finished off with some bread flour. The dough was again on the dry side when kneading. Either my estimate of hydration was low or the rye and WW absorbed more than usual amounts of water. The outside temp was around 1F, barometric pressure was a very high 30.56. I did an overnight retarding after shaping and the loaf needed almost 4 hours to warm up for baking.

The crumb doesn't show up well in this picture either. The flavor is fine enough that my wife wants to take what's left up to Omaha for her parents to sample. Now I have a reason to look back through my recipes for a formula for a bread I haven't tried before.

I've got a plan for the next four weeks. First off, I'm going to build up my starters in two steps rather than one or just taking out 100g from the container I keep refrigerated and letting it warm up. Instead of 100g, I can use 150g because I have the time to experiment with the process. Hydration level is something to work on because this is the first winter I've used a starter. Dough hydration will be moving up to the high 60s or low 70s. I know I'll have to learn new techniques because plain kneading won't be enough to get the results I'm aiming for. It's back to the bench for me, there's work to be done in the flour patch.

Shiao-Ping's picture

To continue on my last post, I experimented the gentle S&F technique on this classic recipe from Hamelman's Bread, page 164.  


                                                                      © Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread

There is nothing new about this technique - the slow and gentle (and at the same time, firm and assertive) stretch and folds on the dough over the entire length of time of the bulk fermentation to try to build up its strength, slowly but steadily.  Whether or not we have consciously applied this technique is another issue. 

My purpose was to develop dough strength slowly along side dough fermentation, so as to see how much volume I could get for my loaf and how open the crumb structure could be on this classic recipe.   Here is my Miche, Pointe-à-Callière:




I followed Hamelman's list of ingredients but I did not use his procedure.   My ingredients were:

  • 289 g just ripe 60%-hydration levain (40% baker's percentage)

  • 725 g high-extraction whole-wheat flour (as suggested by Hamelman, 86% whole wheat flour and 14% plain flour were substituted for the high-extraction flour, which is not available in my area)

  • 634 g water

  • 17 g salt

Total dough weight was 1,665 g and overall dough hydration was 84%.






My procedure:

Mix only the flour and water.  Autolyse for an hour.  Then, mix in the levain and the salt.  Up to this point, the procedure was as instructed by Hamelman; thereafter I broke away from Hamelman's instruction and started my experiment as follows: 

  1. 0:00  When all the ingredients are combined, do the first set of stretch and folds of 35 strokes.  Dab some oil on the edge and bottom of the dough all round where the dough meets the bowl (so that the dough doesn't stick to the bowl when you do the next set of S&F's).

  2. 0:30  2nd set of S&F of 25 strokes.  Again, dab some oil on the edge and bottom of the dough as above.

  3. 1:00  3rd set of S&F of 25 strokes.  (My dough already felt silky and smooth.)  Again, dab some oil on the edge and bottom of the dough as above).

  4. 1:30  4th set of S&F of 25 strokes.  (My dough felt very bouncy and left the side of the mixing bowl in a cohesive whole.  With each stroke, the dough felt stronger.)  Dab some oil on the edge and bottom of the dough as above.

  5. 2:00  5th set of S&F of 25 strokes.  (The gluten had developed very nicely.)  Dab some oil on the edge and bottom of the dough as above.  Sprinkle ample flour on the work bench.

  6. 2:30  6th set of S&F of 25 strokes and, at the end of the last stroke, grab the whole dough and lift it out of the bowl in one swift movement and drop the dough on the floured surface (what was at the bottom of the mixing bowl is now against the floured surface and it is the right side).  Cover the dough with the mixing bowl.

  7. 3:00  1st pre-shaping.  Gather the edges to the centre, turn it over (so the right side is now up), and tighten it.  Cover.

  8. 3:10  2nd pre-shaping.  (As my dough was a bit wobbly and extended out a lot as it rested, I decided to do a 2nd pre-shaping.  You don't have to if your dough doesn't need it ).  Turn the dough over so the right side is now down, gather the edges to the centre, turn it over to tighten it.  Cover.

  9. 3:20  shape it into a boule.  I placed the boule on a dusted kitchen towel.  Cover and place it in a plastic bag.

  10. 3:30  place the dough in the fridge for retarding.  (Total fermentation time was 3 1/2 hours for me at room temperature of 26 - 27C.  Adjust your fermentation time if your room temperature differs.)

  11. Retarding in the refrigerator for 12 hours.

  12. Bake as normal.




Verdict:  There appears to be more volume in my bread compared to Hamelman's bread (first picture above).  With a dough hydration of 84% (even allowing for the type of flour used for this formula), you would expect the bread profile to be somewhat flat, as seen in Hamelman's bread above.  However, the stretch and fold regime as outlined above in my procedure seems to have developed the gluten structure very nicely and, as a result, my bread seems to have more volume than Hamelman's bread.   

What this tells me is that for a high hydration dough, a slow and steady gluten development is better than a one-shot 2 1/2 minutes or 4 minutes (or whatever it is) kneading in the machine with just one or two sets of S&F's.  For a low hydration dough, you don't need to worry about the dough strength; it develops easily anyway.   Next time if I am doing a high hydration dough again, I will definitely give this method another try.



hansjoakim's picture

It's the time of the year where blistering cold winds sweep the city and the surrounding mountainside. Rest assured, no matter how many layers you put on, the cold will penetrate them and get to you eventually. I'm certain that the freezing temperatures are partly to blame for me baking a dense Schrotbrot this week... I had a careful look over my kitchen shelves, pencil in hand, and jotted down potential ingredients for a solid log. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but this turned out quite good I think.

This week's Schrotbrot:


I've snapped a screenshot of the spreadsheet I used to make up the formula; you'll find that at the bottom of the post!

The base formula is pretty simple, and you can put any kinds of grains and seeds in it - flavour it either way you like. I love toasted sunflower seeds in these rye breads, as they give a nutty chew that goes well with soaked rye berries. I used a tad malt syrup to bring out a subtle sweetness in the final loaf. It's not very pronounced, but rather lingers somewhere in the background. I bet either honey or another syrup would work equally well. You might want to alter the overall hydration if you exchange other seeds in the soaker(s), but keep in mind that you want to keep the final dough very wet. Wet your hands with water, give the dough a rough cylindrical shape, and carefully place in a tin. The recipe below is scaled to fill a 1 liter tin approx. 2/3 way up. After about 1 hour final proof, the dough should have risen noticeably, and the top should start to look a bit fragile.

Let cool at least 24 hours. Slice as thin as possible and enjoy at 5 AM with a cheese platter and a glass of cold milk. Then go run the New York marathon.


Recipe Schrotbrot

mikesomers's picture

I cannot find a good spelt recipe that is 100% sourdough. Does anybody have one?


wakeandbake's picture

Here are some of the breads that I bake regularly and offer to customers!

Recipies are surely to come.


Wake and Bake Bread Company.

Wake and Bake Bread Company

L to R; Back Row: Mixed-Grain Levain, Sourdough Rye, Pain Au Levain.
Middle Row: Pain Au Levain, Sourdough Rye, Mixed-Grain Levain.
Front Row: Pumpernickel Rye


Wake and Bake Bread Company

Pumpernickel Rye


Wake and Bake Bread Company

My favorite!  Mixed-Grain Levain!  Even better with rosemary!




wakeandbake's picture

This is my first post on here, with much more to come I hope!  :)

Just thought I'd start by posting a pic of some Stout Beer Sourdough Rye Baguettes I made with a homemade stout beer.

They turned out wonderfully!


Wake and Bake Bread Co.


Beer Stout Sourdough Rye

inlovewbread's picture

Inspired by Farine's beautiful Sweet Potato Bread, I made a few adjustments and am calling this bread, "Warm Comfort Bread."

I made this a couple weeks ago when it was 1 degree outside. Yes, 1. Super cold and snowy. Perfect weather for this bread with a hint of cumin and the taste of sweet potato. I'm normally not a huge fan of cumin, and so when I saw this as an ingredient I considered omitting it altogether. Instead, I decreased the amount to 1 gram. I was glad I included it because it gave the bread such a great taste- something you can't quite identify, but warm. Yeah, it sounds funny, but the bread actually "tasted" and felt warm- not temperature wise, but in the combination of flavors and I think the cumin contributes a lot to that. And it's surprising how just one gram can compliment the flavor of the sweet potato so nicely. 

My formula for this bread: (modified from Farine's original Sweet Potato Bread recipe)

230g 100% hydration starter 

*you could use your white starter here, I used a 50% white/rye starter and liked the little bit of rye flavor it added. If you don't have a rye starter you may want to add a little rye flour along with your white and whole wheat flours for added flavor.

510g unbleached ap flour

200g whole wheat flour (I used a combination of freshly-milled white and red wheats)

350g cold water (or use all or part cooled sweet potato water depending on how much you have left from boiling the potato)

280g sweet potato puree

35g wheat germ

1 to 1.5g ground cumin

16g sea salt* (original recipe is for 18g, but I chose to decrease the salt)

*be sure to decrease the % of salt if you are using salted sweet potatoes left over from dinner 


1. Bake or boil sweet potatoes, mash, cool and set aside. Save sweet potato water (if desired) for use as all or part of the water.

2. Mix everything but salt in the bowl of a mixer on first speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and rest 10 minutes. Add salt, then mix until medium gluten development- another 5 minutes or so.

3. Remove dough from bowl, knead it for a minute by hand and then place it in an oiled, covered container. 

4. Ferment at room temp for one hour, fold dough and put back in container.

5. Place container in the fridge and retard overnight.

The next day:

1. Turn out dough and divide into three pieces (or into 2 as I did). Preshape into boules or batards. Rest 15 minutes.

2. Shape into tight boules or batards, place int brotforms and retard in the refrigerator again for 6- 10 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 500f. Pull out loaves from the fridge and set on counter while oven preheats.

4. Load breads in the oven with steam (I left the steam pan in for 7 minutes then removed)

5. Reduce oven temp to 450 and bake for 35 minutes. I then left the loaves in the turned-off oven for 5 minutes with the door open.

6. Cool completely. 

I enjoyed this bread with a cup of coffee, looking out the window and watching it snow. In front of a fireplace would be good too :-)




milwaukeecooking's picture

Sun-dried parmesan bread

This was my kitchen sink recipe.  I accidentally made too much baguette dough so I decided to throw some of it in my banneton with a few added extras.  I had sun-dried tomatoes around and I had recently ground up some parmesan.  So, I thought, why not mix it into my extra dough.  Before putting it into the oven I spritzed it with water and gave it a sprinkling of cracked pepper.  Out of all the breads I have made this one actually made my mouth water when it was baking.  The smell was incredible.  Here is how I made it. 

Follow my poolish recipe for the dough.  I made 900 grams of dough for this recipe.

After the second rise lightly flatten out the dough into a square that is roughly 12"x12".  On one half of it sprinkle 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese and then, on top of that, gently press in 1 cup of chopped sun-dried tomtatoes.  Leave 1/2 inch of dough around the edges so that you can seal it back up again.  Fold the empty side over the top of the tomatoes and press down on the edges to seal.  Flatten the dough slightly and business fold it into thirds (like you are mailing a business letter).  Let your dough rest for 5 min and business fold again.  I folded mine three times. 

At this point you should have a few layers of tomato and you will want to shape your dough into a boule.  You don't need a banneton for this because all of the folding and shaping has made your dough fairly tough and it will stand on its own.  However, let your boule rise for an hour, until doubled, before baking. 

Pre-heat the oven to 500F while your dough is rising.

Right before baking spritz your boule with water and top with pepper.  You need the me. 

 Spray the walls of your oven with water and bake for 2 minutes.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Turn the heat down to 425

Bake again for 20 min at 425.

Rotate your bread 180 degress and turn the heat down to 400 and bake for 20 min.  

Check the temp of your bread.  If the internal temperature isn't over 195 it isn't done.  The optimal temp is between 195 and 205. 

I wanted to take pictures of the crumb so you could see the tomato goodness inside but it got eaten before I could remember.  Next time I will post a picture of the crumb.  This is a recipe that I would like to re-create again. 

sun-dried parmesan bread

txfarmer's picture

It all started with that chestnut pie I made, amazing pie really, how can it not be? It had chestnut cream, chestnut puree, candied chestnut, creme fraiche, mascarpone, heavy cream all loaded in one flaky all butter crust!

But then I had these yummy chestnut puree and whole roasted chestnuts left over, as delicious as that pie was, it was also very rich and had a lot of added flavors, this time I want to make the chestnuts themselves shine. Of course I COULD eat the puree straight out of the jar, but I digress. ;) Here's what I came up with: a chestnut sourdough with loads of chestnut puree kneaded in; whole chestnuts boiled then soaked in fruity white wine overnight, then mixed into the dough; also used the soaking wine as part of the liquid, the result is a bread full of chestnut flavor. The wine brought out the subtle sweetness of chestnut, but the flavor of alcohol was minimal (a good thing since my husband doesn't drink). Chunks of chestnuts studded the soft and spongy crumb. I am pretty happy with the result, with the slight nutty sweetness, and almost "custardy" mouth feel, it's like eating a giagantic chestnut!

One thing I didn't expect is how sticky the chestnut puree made the dough to be. I had to decrease the liqud amount that I had planned to add in, even then, I still had to do quite a few S&F to build up the dough strength. I later found out that chestnuts have a lot of starch, double of what potatoes have, comparable to wheat flour, minuse the gluten of course. Even though it made kneading and fermentation a bit challenging, the final crumb was similar to those breads with potatoe puree mixed in, soft and songy, very moist.

Here's my formula for the bread:


The night before:

mixing 170g of roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped chestnuts with 140g of white wine (I used a fruity cheap one), bring to boil, remove from stove, cover and let sit overnight.


2nd day:

starter, 180g (100% hydration)

salt, 7.5g

bread flour, 300g (I used KA)

wine soaking liquid from above + water, 175g

chestnuts above, drained

chestnut puree, 240g (unsweetened, just chestnut and water)

honey, 22g


1. Mix together everything but chestnuts, autolyse 30minutes, knead until gluten starting to develope.

2. Add in chestnuts, knead them in evenly.

3. Cover and bulk fermentation for 4 hours, at 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes, S&F.

4. Round and relax the dough for 15 minutes, shape into a boule, put into brotform, smooth side down, cover and put into fridge for overnight

5. About 15 hours later, take out the dough and leave in room temperature for 90 minutes, perhead the oven with stone to 550F

6. Slash and bake, steam as normal, reduce the oven temperature to 450F, bake for 45 minutes in total, at minute 15, take out the steam pan, and rotate bread for even baking.

The taste is pretty on target, the slashing effect was a bit lost due to all the chestnut pieces peaking out underneath

DownStateBaker's picture

Introduction to bread baking

Bread has been baked since 4000 BCE. Keep this in mind while reading this and other bread books or information. So really all you need is some simple tools, flour (in this intro flour quality won't be a huge issue), salt, water, an oven, and most importantly time.


Hands- These are your greatest tools. Their most important attribute is what they can tell you. They can tell you how strong, moist, warm, cool, and proofed your dough is. You will develop how to interperet these tactile sensations through practice.

The Bowl- While not entirely necessary, it was one of the earliest and best development in baking. When choosing one look for durability (I use a steel bowl) and size (big but not too big to hold under your arm while mixing, but big enough to have a lot of space for mixing).

A Mixing Implement- I use a wooden short handed flat spoon thing I found somewhere (pictured).My implement

Oven- In this introduction I use an electric oven.

Flour- We could go on and on about flour, but for the sake of brevity I'll keep it short. At home when I don't always have good bread flour I use King Arthur All-Purpose or Gold Medal All-Purpose flours. I am not above using store brand all-purpose if money and the availability of these flours are an issue.

Salt- A nice unrefined sea salt containing calcium and magnesium is best. If this isn't available then I would go with Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. In a pince non-iodized table salt will do fine (iodine is no good for yeast or other microbes that we might like in our bread).

Water- I am lucky enough to live in a house where I get really nice water from a well. I don't know the chemistry of my water but it works well. In general acidic water weakens gluten and alkali strengthens it. Hard water helps create stronger gluten networks because of the presence of calcium and magnesium. Less water makes denser easier to work with loaves and more water lighter more difficult to handle dough.

Yeast- In this introduction we're going to be catching some wild yeast. But store bought yeast will work if you want bread ASAP (this goes against my bread philosophy, but I understand when you want bread and you want it now). Dry yeast has a longer shelf life than cake yeast. So if you are unsure of the freshness of the yeast in your local store go for the packaged dry yeast. Check the expiration date.

Digital Scale- I am also lucky enough to have a scale in my home kitchen. I suggest anyone serious enough to be on a baking forum get one. Grams are what I use when writing my recipes. I like the exactness making rounding a rare occurence. If you don't have one on hand this website has good conversions

Time- The more the better.

Lets Begin

First get your bowl and mixing implement ready and clean.

Next get some flour and water (I use 80 F at this step). Weigh out 300g of flour and 300g of 80 F water. Now you can also get creative and add some ripe fruit or some bottle conditioned beer if you want a little help in cultivating the yeast. Water and Flour first added

Mix the water and flour until combined (Picture).

Keep the mixture covered in a clean warm spot in your house. Stir every few hours for the next 24 hours. Four or five times should do it. Don't worry if the mixings aren't equally spaced apart just so long as there is about 5-6 hours between mixings. We are mixing it this many times not so much to develop more strength in the dough but because we want to expose more of the mixture to the air containing ambient yeast as well as spreading out yeast that has begun colonizing the mixture.

Tommorow I will update.


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