The Fresh Loaf

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Rosalie's picture

I'm indexing the bread recipes in all my books (quite a task) and I'm getting a chance to see what all recipes I have.  In one book, "Making Bread at Home" by Tom Jaine, I found this 100% whole grain recipe: German Sourdough Rye Bread.

Your starter uses 60g wholegrain rye flour, 1/4 cup water at 110 degrees, and a pinch of caraway seeds.  You leave that at about 80 degrees for two days, stirring twice a day.  As always, I used my oven with the light on.

Then you make the leaven using 2 tablespoons fo the starter, 1 1/4 cups water at 110 degrees, and 300g more of the rye flour, leaving that for eight hours at about 85 degrees.  Again, I used the oven with the light on.  80 degrees, 85 degrees, I take what I can get.

Finally you take 500g wholewheat flour, 300g rye, 15g fresh yeast (I used 8g active dry), 1 3/4 cup water at 110 degrees, 2 teaspoons salt, and the ripe leaven.  You mix the dry ingredients and make a depression to add the wet.  I was surprised that there was no more mention of caraway seeds, so I just added 1 tablespoon - maybe it should have been 2 (I like caraway).  I also added 1/2 (I think) cup gluten for two reasons:  I really wanted this to succeed, and I have it in my arsenal so I may as well use it.  After you get it all mixed together, you let it rest for ten minutes in a warm spot, then you knead for at least ten minutes.

Next it rises at about 85 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until "nearly doubled".  I was so surprised at how well my concoction rose!

Finally you shape.  He has you dividing into two loaves and baking them either together in an 8.5x4.5x2.5 inch pan or separately in two 7.5x3.5x2.25 pans.  I divided them into eight mini-loaves.  The shaped loaves rise for 30-45 minutes, and the oven heats to 450 degrees.

You place them on an upper rack and bake for 20 minutes (15 for the two smaller pans) at each of 450, 400, 350, spraying three times in the first five minutes.  I just realized that I misread these instructions and didn't bake as long as the recipe called for, but they turned out fine (200+ internal temp) because they were mini loaves.

I simplified the directions, believing all you artisans can fill in between the lines.

Anyway, not bad.

 Nellie considers my German Sourdough Rye Bread by Tom JaineNellie and my German Sourdough Rye Bread: Nellie considers my German Sourdough Rye Bread by Tom Jaine

proth5's picture

“The sun did not shine,

It was too wet to play…”                         From “The Cat in the Hat” Dr Seuss

Yes, a day of rain and record cold in the Mile High City and we all go nuts.  We aren’t accustomed to anything but sunshine.


So I decided to finally write up my two levain experiment.


The question that was innocently asked:  Why does my levain, with my less than precise maintenance routine still live, thrive, and reliably raise bread?  In theory, it should be dead.  But it is not.


BWraith had put forth the theory (and I tended to think it reasonable) that I might be raising a bunch of l. pontis which is typically found in culture with a low feeding ratio.  We also theorized that if I changed the feeding ratio, the levain would struggle a bit, but a transition to a different lactobacillus would occur.


So for the past few months I have been maintaining two levains.  One, my beloved Thing One, fed as usual.  Once a day – Thursday through Sunday, “some” of it is removed and it is fed with 4 ounces each of all purpose flour and water.  No exact feed ratio – just me eyeballing “some” based on- well, whatever it is I base this on.  Sunday afternoon to Thursday evening it is kept in a special refrigerator at 50F.  Thursday through Sunday it lives either on the counter in my kitchen, or during particularly hot days in my cool basement. (Yes, I know, once a day isn’t enough.  And yet, it is…)


Thing Two – created from Thing One – was fed at a 1:5:5 ratio over that period of months.  It never left Thing One’s side – so it lived under the same conditions and schedules.  I was as careful as I could be about cross contamination.


Would they be different in any way?


During the summer I still baked something each week (You gotta eat…).  I alternated between Thing One and Thing Two.  To be honest, I was unable to tell the difference in any of my baking.  Thing Two did not struggle or fail to double at any time.


But if I did any analysis, would they be different?


.2 oz of a ripe sample of each in a container showed me (if it is not clear in the picture) that they were practically identical.  Thing Two was, however a bit stiffer, probably reflecting the fact that the gluten had not degraded as much as that for Thing One – which seems reasonable.

From the bucket


Mixed with .4 oz of distilled water (so that a pH strip could be used) they each showed a pH of 3.5.  It had been theorized that the pH of Thing One should be lower – but no – they were identical.

Thing One pH


Thing Two pH

Each sample was mixed with .4 oz of all purpose flour and allowed to ripen for four hours.  Both rose nicely and well, I’ll be horn swoggled if I can tell the difference.  If I hadn’t labeled them, I wouldn’t be able to tell.

The Builds


So what have I learned?   Uh, nothing?  That the inner life of levain is a deep mystery?  Just how determined those guys are to live?  That I need to get out more?


I have been unable to find anyone willing to determine just which variety of lactobacillus is living in my levain tubs, but would welcome input from anyone who could help.  Or any insight (Bill…) at all.


I really don’t know.  I do know that a practiced hand and eye counts for something in this bread making business and I’ve been tending Thing One for years.  It could be that we just “get” each other.


Happy Baking!

Janedo's picture

I made Anis's baguettes and they came out rather nicely. I was very happy o finally get a good result. But, see, I don't really like yeast bread. Other than sweet doughs, I don't really see the point. So, right away, I decided to take the basic recipe and the techniques and see how a sourdough version would come out. I tried pure sourdough and maintain my dislike. The crumb is just too chewy for my taste. So, the next step was to try it with a touch of yeast. The result was perfect to my liking!

Now, unfortunately I'm having computer trouble.  I can't open Gimp my program that I use to make my pictures small enough to post here. But I posted my results on my blog here:

They could have used a few more minutes baking and my pictures are light (they weren't that light in real life).

I used a firm starter because I really don't like the flavour of a white bread retarded all night in the fridge from a liquid starter. Too soury for my liking. The firm was great for my taste. 

Here's the recipe:

500g T65 flour organic

375g water 

125g firm starter (made the night before from around 30g starter, 90g flour and 40g water) 

10g natural grey sea salt (it really is tastier!) 

1/4 tsp yeast (could maybe have used less, but it worked)


A BIG thanks to Pat (Proth5) who introduced my to folding instead of kneading. I put all the ingredients in a bowl, mixed pretty well, then did 20 folds with the spatula turning 1/5th turn, so I went 3 times around the bowl (as Hamalman explains in his no-knead bread). Let the dough rest 30 min, 20 folds, 30 min 20 folds, 30 min., 20 folds, then after 1h30, in to the fridge for the night.

Next day, the dough is weighed and portioned while cold. Preformed, let to sit for one hour as it comes to room temps.

Oven turned on at 250°C. I wanted that stone HOT!!!! It makes a huge difference for baguettes.

Shaped the dough in  to short baguettes, let rest a few minutes and then stretched them into the desired length (like the Acme baguettes). I made five out of this recipe.

Placed on to the couche, seam side up, let to sit covered 45-60 min.

My husband found me a nice collection of boards in the basement that I rubbed with flour and then sprinkled with flour and semoule. With a thin one I flipped the baguettes and then placed them on a larger one as a peel. I could slide on two at a time.

Poured hot water into the pan in the bottom of the oven, slid in the baguettes, got the others, slid them in and then steamed again.

Baked 25min but could have used a touch more. Anis made his apprentice put some back in the oven that I thought were baked well. Now I understand the problem. They can look baked on top because of the nigh heat, but aren't necessarily.

I think that's about it. Steve if you're around, I put a link to you kneading video because I also use that for my wet dough. It's great!!

I have sleep baby on my lap, so I hope I haven't forgotten anything, but wanted to post because time is so limited these days. It took me AGES to do the blog post! It's long and lots of pics.

Cheers everyone!




sparks's picture

Hi to all of you who make Greensteins corn rye bread.

I have temporarlly stopped making this bread, because I could not find a way to stop the knife from gumming up while slicing it the next day. There is a way of stopping the knife from gumming up, but I have not found the way to do it. If any one accomplishes this, I sure would like to know how you did it. I tried everything imaginable with out getting the results that I wanted. I remember seeing corn rye breads in corner grocery stores many years ago in 5 to 8 pound round loaves,  which they sold by the pound, and they did not get the knife gummed up to slice it. Keep me posted if someone should ever solve this problem.


funtime365's picture

Please tell me where can i buy small quantity of Enzyme in US.Thanks.

holds99's picture

This is my first attempt at multigrain bread using an overnight "soaker" for the grain.  These loaves are made from Mark Sinclair's recipe for Multigrain Bread, taken from his wedsite Back Home Bakery (under recipes).  I followed his recipe except I used King Arthur's (KA) mixture of multigrain (total of 188 grams), which I recently purchased in one of my orders from KA.  This bread is delicious.  Thank you Mark for sharing this great recipe.  The recipe produces 4 1/2 pounds of dough.  I divided it into three 1 1/2 pound loaves and used 2 unlined brotforms and an unlined boule bannton for the loaves. I dusted the brotforms and banneton using a mixture of half KA AP flour and half rice flour.  Incidentally, as you can see from this photo, I use a large plastic bin to cover the loaves during final proofing, which works well for me.

 Multigrain No. 1

Brotforms after final proofing.  At 1 hour final proofing time (75 deg. F) the loaves were ready for the oven.

 Multigrain No. 2

The scoring needs practice but the loaves came out pretty well.

 Multigrain No. 3

The crust was excellent and I was very pleased with the crumb and this bread tastes delicious.  Again, thank you Mark for this terrific recipe.

 Multigrain No. 4

dmsnyder's picture



Anis-Boabsa-baguettes Crumb

Anis-Boabsa-baguettes Crumb


Last month, Janedo visited the bakery of Anis Bouabsa in Paris. This young baker had won the prize for the best baguettes in Paris this year. Jane was able to acutally meet M. Bouabsa, and he generously shared his formula and techiniques with her, which she then generously shared with us at TFL. See her blog topic: Eric (ehanner} and Howard (holds99} have successfully made baguettes from the recipe I extracted from Jane's notes. I attempted them once with poor results, but that was while on vacation, in a rented house on the Oregon coast. I was eager to try these baguettes again with my familiar home oven and equipment. I was happy with the results, although not completely. Formula for Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes Flour 500 gms (about 3.85 cups of AP flour) Water 375 gms (about 13.25 oz or about 1-2/3 cups) Yeast 1/4 tsp (for instant yeast) Salt 10 gms (about 2 tsp) Mix ingredients and knead. Ferment for 1 hour, folding every 20 minutes. Refrigerate for 21 hours. Divide right out of refrigerator and pre-shape. Rest for one hour. Shape. Proof for 45 minutes. Score and Bake at 250C (480F) for 20-25 (?) min. Notes: I used King Arthur French Style Flour, filtered tap water, Balene Sea Salt and SAF instant yeast. The dough was initially quite gloppy. I did a few french folds with minimal change in it. I then placed it in a covered glass bowl and folded every 20 minutes for an hour. Even before the first of these, after a 20 minute rest, the dough had come together nicely. It was still a bit sticky, but the gluten was forming surprisingly well. After the 3rd folding, I refrigerated the dough for 22.5 hours, then proceded per the recipe above. The dough actually almost doubled in the refrigerator. It continued to form bubbles after preforming and the formed baguettes rose to about 1.5 times during proofing. I baked with steam at 460F with convection for 10 minutes, then for another 10 minutes at 480F without convection. I let the loaves rest in the turned off and cracked open oven for another 5 minutes. I got nice oven spring and bloom. One of the loaves burst along the side. In hindsight, I probably didn't seal the seam well enough in forming it. The crust was more crunchy than crackly - a bit thicker than standard baguettes. The crumb was fairly open with a cool, tender/chewy mouth feel. The taste was not bad but not as sweet as classic baguettes. I wonder why. I'm going to have some tonight with chicken cacciatore (made yesterday), buttered broad beans and fedelini. Matter of fact, I better go get it all going! David

yves's picture

Ive been looking into various recipes and explanations of creating a starter, and i thought id put a summary here.


Pretty well all of the recipes include a replication step like "divide in two, disposing of one half, and adding back a particular ratio mixture as a replacement". A very few have slightly different steps in the first few days but end up with this process at the end.

Additionally almost all recipes have the same general description for success: a mixture that when replicated displays a leavening effect (rises to about double its size) and a sort of "large bubble" foam on a consistant basis over several days. Notably many authors mention that it is common to see a false leavening effect caused by undesirable bacteria in the early phase of the process that then disappears after several days only to be replaced by the real leavening effect a few days later.

By far the most common recipe comes down to: take a 1:1 by weight mixture of flour and water and replicate every 24 hours until stable. Some recipes suggest 12 hours, and some require specific types of flour, with many recommending wholemeal or rye flour until the mixture is stable and then switching to AP afterwards. Most suggest that the unit be a cup of water. Also a number suggest using a 1:2 mixture (1 cup flour to 1 cup water is about 1:2 flour to water by weight),

Occasionally a few additives are suggested:

Acidic additives: These usually include some kind of acidic juice, with pineapple or orangejuice in the initial steps. The idea is that the juice lowers the ph preventing undesirable bacteria from growing but providing a good environment for wild yeast while at the same time providing sugars for the wild yeast to feed on. Vinegar is also suggested occasionally for similar reasons.

There are a much lower number suggesting using milk products. In this case the intention seems to be to encourage lactobascili, and also possibly the same justification as for the acidic additives.

Diastatic malt is also sometimes recommended with a tiny amount being added in the initial steps, also people that use AP flour will be unknowingly including tiny amounts of this as it usually added by the miller. The intention of this seems to be to provide sugar to the wild yeast, but enzymatically from the starch from the flour. Sometimes sweetener is suggested for similar reasons.

A few sources seem to suggest that you can manufacture wild yeast from commerical yeast, or that commerical bakers yeast will revert to wild.

One or two seem to suggest using things like unmilled rye or barly, or using the skins of wild or field grown grapes.


When i decided to make a starter I had access to a commerical starter "Seitenbacher(c) Natur Saurteig" that is widely available in grocery stores where I live in Germany.

Since I thought that was kind of cheating I decided I would make two, one a replication starting from some left over dough from a batch i made with the starter, and one with raw material. Aside from the fact that one included a small part of the dough I did exactly the same thing with both: replicating of a blanced blend of rye and wholemeal flour mixed at 1:1 with water with the base weight being 200 grams. I was very careful not to contaminate the wild one with the commerical, always working with the wild one first. On the third day I added a tiny amount (0.1 of a gram or so) of diastatic malt after I replicated (i didnt have any to add on the first day), And by the 8th day i had stability. The two behave somewhat differently with the wild one being a little slower to rise, but rising further in the oven, and they make a nice loaf mixed together. :-)

My opinion of this is that Im not all that convinced by the additives, with the exception of the diastatic malt. For the juices the reason is that I think its hard to control how acidic the formulation goes, and that citrus frust have their own associated bacteria and yeasts, which are probably not as appropriate as the yeasts we see living naturally on grain. (I will say though that I have seen one particularly cogent argument, incidentally posted here, in favour of using juice.)

For the milk i think its just generally a bad idea, some of the bascili in milk can kill you and also most milk you can buy is pasteurized anyway, and i think that the bascili we want grow naturally on the grain and on our hands and other places. We dont need it from milk. Sweetener I think is a bad idea. In general they are preservatives,

My feeling is that one wants to encourage the wild stuff on the grain to replicate and that introducing things that are totally foreign wont help. Diastatic malt is an exception because it is a substance that does naturally occur in wheat and other grains and so adding a bit more doesnt drastically change things. Also its effect is slower, something that i think is important, providing a steady supply of sugar over time instead of a huge amount at the start which tapers off over time, something which doesnt seem to me to be inclined to make for a stable environment, and after all one thing we are looking for is a stable environment.

Anyway, Im no expert, form your own opinions. But most importantly try it, it isnt very hard. :-)



foolishpoolish's picture


funkdenomotron's picture

Greetings! Wanted to create a blog, and give a bit of history and aspirations. I have looked over this site a few times and finally decided to join. I am 31, I have been baking for almost 2 years. I was an army brat, and grew up in Frankfurt and Stutgartt. I first started with pretzels, and have come up with a realy good simple recipe that can be made with packaged yeast or starter. I live in south florida now though, and I'm not so sure the wild yeast here is quite up to snuff. Perhaps the heat and humidity play a role, the first batch and second batch yield a good bread, but the starter then tends to sour too much and turn into a grey lump of bla. I am also quite the avid ametuer chef, and take pride in measuring nothing. This is not a skill that is transferrring well to baking breads. I have been trying to bake a good baguette. Traditionally I have started with my yeast and warm water, then add slowly the flour, of course type depends on what I want, until I get a good dough. But there are books that say to measure and add all at once. There are books that say to knead vigorously for 8 min. There are books that say to knead lightly for 15 min. Some say to add the salt last, some immediatley. Some want a cold rise, some want a warm rise. Some want 3 rises, some want 1. To spray or not to spray? So I will be interested in some recipes and techniques, and I will try and figure out what i am doing when i make pretzels and post. Aufwiedersehen!      


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