The Fresh Loaf

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Floydm's picture

Though I haven't posted much in a while, I have been baking. I baked Hot Cross Buns for Easter.

Some sourdough loaves and Hamelman's pecan golden raisin whole wheat bread last weekend

Tonight I made calzone.

And my Honey Whole Wheat Bread.

I'm a bit off my game. The new job is taking quite a bit more of my attention than my previous job. And with spring here, the yard and garden beckon me constantly. To top it all off, my boy figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels last weekend, so every spare dry minute is spent at the high school track letting him practice riding laps. Good times, but less time for baking right now.

ehanner's picture

Yesterday morning I was busy feeding starters and I recalled some recent mentions on the forum about using the excess starter instead of discarding it. I decided to quickly put twice the amount I normally use (100g) into a bowl and start a soaker for later. My starter was very happy, bubbling away and smelled great! So I weighed out 200g and finished feeding the boys.

When I got around to finishing the soaker, I decided to make a SF style 50% whole grain combination using a "everything but the kitchen sink" blend. This is a highly random selection whatever I see in the flour pantry and never ever gets measured, except that the total weight equals the AP weight. A look at today's gumbo; WW, white WW, rye, seven grain mix, wheat germ and milled flax. This was a lean mix with no oil or malt or honey. I set the hydration at 85% based on the total flour weight and set it in an 80f spot for the day.

I managed to remember to stretch and fold once before I started my Saturday run around routine. Today was going to be a challenge to get everything accomplished and still do justice to the bread. Off to deliver 2 lap tops, repair a stubborn router, bank, take daughter bowling, Stretch and fold, drive to Milwaukee with son to move band equipment, another stretch and fold, groceries an pick up a pizza (no energy for home baked tonight).

A side note; My son is an aspiring musician. He teaches/plays the saxophone and most everything with a reed, flute and guitar. While Jazz is his passion, rock and roll funk style is the band focus. The drummer is a tall good looking boy who is a self described Vegan. My son tells me he is struggling trying to find tasty food that fits the vegan profile. Always looking for a justified excuse to bake something I decide to look into what this means. From initial research it looks like most of my breads would qualify since I don't add butter or milk as a general rule and honey is my sweetener of choice. Maybe I could just make most of my breads "OK for Vegans". The Tomsbread style 100% WW would be a hit for sure.

After dinner I declared the bulk ferment finished. One last fold and a decision about the final consistency of the dough. I added a little more flour at the last s&f so it's now about 80% hydrated. Formed into a boule and set on parchment for a free form proofing. My daughter had a friend over for the evening so they picked the movie. Had to be a thriller sci-fi flick for them. Movie's over and the oven is heating up again.  Checker board slash, hold my breath (no it didn't fall on slashing) and into the oven. Tonight I'm ignoring all the steaming gadgets/covers and unceremoniously toss a 1/2C of hot water onto the brick in the bottom of my oven. Quick cover the vent and set the timer for 10 minutes so I don't forget the towel covering the vent. Another 13 minutes and it looks done. The question now is will 2 teenage girls let it alone long enough to cool?. I better take the picture now, just in case!

It looks about right but I could of rotated it for a more even browning.

Look at that structure! I might try and remember how I did this! I do love the taste of whole grains caramelized on the outside and chewy in the inside.  


T4tigger's picture

Well, I'm not going to post any pictures because the starters aren't doing anything right now.   I'm hoping that it is just the typical down time in the early life of a starter.   I fed both of them again tonight with a 30/60/60 feeding.    Hopefully I will see bubbles tomorrow.

redivyfarm's picture

We're having fun now! The bread baking mentors of this community have been so generous with their advice and encouragement. It's starting to come together in my kitchen. I baked a sourdough no knead using notes by JMonkey and Susan this week and here is the result-

Dutch Oven Sourdough

Dutch Oven Sourdough

I was elated when I saw this crackley crust. Where you accomplished baker's would scowl and say "that D@^^%loaf (say, I accidently created a new domain name) tore all to #&!!" I say "that lower quadrant is looking good!" If Susan's beautiful boule is "the football", I think this is at least a foosball. And the crumb. Anticipation and dread. Do you ever feel that way?-

Sourdough Crumb

Sourdough Crumb

I like it. It pleases my sense of aesthetic beauty. Yes, it is toothsome. I know you think the holes could be placed more uniformly but I am giddy with my small success and may be beyond help from this day forward.

This loaf baked on a higher rack and at a slightly higher temperature in my really big oven. Bwraith and Mini Oven advised me on that. As a result I could follow the baking times exactly.

The sourdough starter was about 3 days at room temperature since the last feeding. We discussed this on the Sourdough starter thread and I've now learned that the starter really needs to be used at the peak of its yeasty goodness. In this case, the proof was in the proof; only about a 60% increase after 20 hours of fermentation. I used yet another tip and incorporated 1/8 tsp of instant yeast during the stretch and fold.

Susan wrote "Oh, I used all high gluten flour". I think this really made a difference. The dough was smooth, elastic and held tension in the forming. The texture is exactly what I'm looking for in carefully crafted bread. Although I had planned to refrigerate the formed dough overnight, we had guests so went to plan B, 3 hours proof at 85 degrees.

I really wanted to be faithful to the formula, but my lab technique is imprecise (read- a joke). There are plenty of other things to improve upon. Slashing could certainly head a list; a long, long list!

Thanks to all the sourdos (the ugh is silent), guy, lady and the rest. You rock! I also must thank the dogs, brown and mountain, for their cyber-enthusiasm. Bake-on, dogs!

mountaindog's picture

Seeing everyone make such beautiful whole grain breads lately inspired me last weekend to finally try Jane's lovely sourdough technique (Jane's results here), with tips by JMonkey and Tomsbread as well - thanks guys!

I converted some of my mixed white/WW starter into a 100% hydration WW starter, followed Jane's techniques and made a rather wet dough of about 80% hydration, kneading in my stand mixer for about 12-15 minutes on speed 2. I did not ferment the dough in the frig as Jane did though, I just left it in my cool room temp kitchen for maybe 3-4 hrs for the first ferment - it rose nicely. Then I divided the dough, rounded, rested for 10 minutes before placing in bannetons for final 80-85F proof near the woodstove (this was the day the big Nor'Easter started so we were getting 5 inches of wet snow, good reason to have a fire going and good weather to stay in and bake bread).

Since I had 2 loaves of rather wet dough, I decided to do a little experiment and bake one in my 5 qt cast iron Lodge dutch oven to hopefully keep it from spreading too much, while I baked the second one right on the hot baking stone after the first was done. I was surprised at some of the differences between the two. The loaf on the left in the photo below was baked on the preheated to 500F stone which was immediately turned down to 400F, and the one on the right was baked in the dutch oven at 450F entire time (lid removed after 25 min.):

I was surprised at how much darker the crust was on the dutch oven loaf. On the other hand, the dutch oven loaf did not rise much higher, probably because it sort of collapsed after an awkward flop into the oven from the banneton, hence the crumb was slightly more dense than the free-form loaf's crumb. I'll try the dutch oven again but try to be much more gentle in getting it into the oven, maybe using parchment like Susan did in her posts of her beautiful "football bread".

I am really happy with how the free-form loaf came out, the crumb was much hole-y-er than any 100% WW I've done so far, not as hole-y as Jane's, but next time I'll try an even higher hydration with a little more folding and see how that comes out. Seems like the key for me was wet wet dough and very very gentle handling - I didn't shape the boules as tight as I normally do, I kept them much looser.

This was also the best tasting WW sourdough I've made yet, it tasted better than the last desem I made. It had a nice tangy SD taste rather than a bitter wheat taste, probably from the long cool bulk ferment and also long warm final proof. In fact, the reason the second free-form loaf may be so much lighter is because it was slightly overproofed so the crust did not carmelize as much, but it still tasted very good and it lasted all week! We are still enjoying this loaf made last Sunday (5 days ago), it has stayed fresh-tasting and moist just sitting on the cutting board with a piece of foil covering the cut end. It did not get dried out and hard like other lean WW breads I've made before.

The same weekend, I also made a batch of Columbias and Leonard boules. I hadn't made the Columbias in awhile, and this time my batartd-shaping and slashing showed significant improvement over the last few times making this recipe, where the batards used to collapse at the slashes. Thats's thanks to Floyd's batard-shaping and slasher video! Giving the dough the extra folds also helped it get much better height and oven spring than my earlier attempts. These did not last the weekend and got eaten right away.

browndog's picture

Submitted by browndog5 on April 19, 2007 - 10:18am.

After being graciously guided through the process of starter CPR by BWraith, I found myself with a significant (and growing) stash of starter cast-off. Thought I would save it for the next batch of dog biscuits, but a remark of Mini Oven's that the discard can be pressed into service as poolish gave me paws. (I am SO sorry...) So instead of actually making sourdough bread with my born-again starter, I took the spare and made some yeasted oatmeal bread. (About 5 cups of flour, about a cup of rolled oats, about a third cup of maple syrup, a handful of raisins and some other stuff.) That's a pretty anemic spiral, I agree, but further in it blossomed a little . The other loaf is a spiral-free zone.

Oatmeal About Bread
T4tigger's picture

Well, 5:00 Wednesday evening was first feeding time for my starters.   The one on the refrigerator looked nice and bubbly after 48 hours.   The one that was outside, however, was relatively dried out from being out in the wind for 2 days.

Nevertheless, I took 20 grams of each and fed with 20 g. water and 20 g. flour, stuck them on the top of the fridge, and left them to do their thing.   After about 5 hours, the indoor starter (Starter A) was showing signs of activity, and the outdoor starter (Starter B) looked dead.    I went to bed figuring that this was going to be a very short experiment and blog!

Lo and behold, by 6:00 this morning, they had both risen to the same height!   I am going to give them a second feeding at 4:00 CST before heading to my son's track meet.  I will post feeding and post feeding photos later tonight or after school tomorrow.

TinGull's picture

Those were the words she said, and when the lady speaks, she gets :) HAHA! Made some honey whole wheat with flax in it. We got this awesome cranberry/vanila peanut butter last week and needed something hearty to slather it on. YUM!


Have some sourdough ciabatta cooling now. Gosh...I soooo love the smell of sourdough!

tigressbakes's picture

mill loafmill loaf crumb


This is the second bread that I've baked with my white sourdough starter and it is mmm-mmm good!

This is the Mill Loaf that is in Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf. Which I might add is a beautiful book!

I must say that I followed this recipe pretty much to the T - and it really worked! I have to work on my shaping and scoring but YUM! And I am very happy with the rise, much higher than my first sourdough attempt. I think that is due to my getting a bit better at shaping. 

It has 60% white, 30% wholewheat, and 10% rye, that is pretty much it, and water at 55% and 2% salt. I did not add the malted grains which were optional. Dan suggested that one could work with any grain flours to fullfill the 40% - as long as 60% was white flour. I did it as the recipe said the first time around. 

What was interesting was the technique of basically kneading the dough for only 10-15 seconds for 5 rounds - and than letting it set for 10 minutes to 1 hour depending on the round. This was actually the series for each round: 10 min, 10 min, 30 min, 1 hr, 1 hr. And then the final proofing for me lasted just bit over 5 hours. Scored and put the loaf in the oven on the preheated stone at 430 - sprayed the top and put a cup of hot water in a pan I had preheating in the oven. And then did 2 more rounds of spray to create steam. The recipe said 50 to 70 minutes. But after 40 it looke done - and interenal temp was 200. (I tried a new oven rack position and unfortunately the rise was so good the top got a little close to the heat source - I think the bottom could have gotten just a tad darker but I was afriad to ruin the beautful top crust).

I would recommend this loaf highly. I lived in Paris for almost 5 years and this bread reminds me of a country loaf that I used to buy at the local bakery.

It is a hearty loaf, quite substantial, but moist and lightly sour. It is VERY good! I am very pleased with myself I must say!

I am hooked more than ever! 


bwraith's picture

Sourdough Ciabatta - Second Try

Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (loaves)Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (loaves)

Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (crumb and loaf)Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (crumb and loaf)

Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (crumb)Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (crumb)

Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (slice)Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version (slice)

Sourdough Ciabatta - Firm Starter Version

One of the favorite family breads seems to be ciabatta, and this sourdough version is clearly preferred (wolfed down) by my kids for its flavor. I've achieved a little better crust and crumb with yeasted versions, particularly the one in Maggie Glezer's "Artisan Baking", but the sourdough flavor is hard to beat, especially with salty grilled left over meats in sandwiches. The recipe is loosely based on the BBA (Reinhart) "Poolish Ciabatta", as well as incorporating ideas from Maggie Glezer's version in "Artisan Baking".

This is a work in progress, but I like the way this one turned out - my second blog entry on this recipe. The flavor is a little mild, which may mean I need to lengthen and/or retard the fermentation, or maybe use somewhat more ripe starter, an exercise for future attempts.

Many thanks to various contributors to this site as always, and especially in this case to Zolablue, who encouraged me to pay more attention to ciabatta with some just great photos and discussions about how to achieve better holes in ciabatta through hydration, proper handling, and flour choice, all of which were used here, (again) after much feedback from my first blog entry on the topic.

This version has been changed to use a lower percentage - around 22% - of flour contributed by the starter, and the starter itself is a firm starter, instead of the usual 100% hydration starter I had been using. My theory here was to try the flavors from the firm starter, as well as lower the percentage of starter in the recipe. The higher percentage seems to cause problems with the texture of the dough before it gets a chance to rise. Zolablue and I have both had good success with a "hybrid" method where some yeast is added to the dough to compensate. However, I was curious to see if I could find a percentage that might work with a pure sourdough raise. The result was a higher rise, but I seem to have made the hydration a little high, as the holes are a little too extreme for my tastes. However that should be solved by simply lowering the hydration on my next try. Also, I ran out of KA AP flour, so I substituted some "sifted red whole wheat flour" from Heartland Mills, which is called "Golden Bufallo". They say it is a "high extraction" flour, i.e. the germ and endosperm is in the flour, but most of the bran has been sifted out. I have found it to be a very good flour for rustic breads. It gives the crumb a darker color and there is a nuttier flavor than with KA. Well, I wish I had just stuck with KA organic AP in this case, as the result was a little more rustic than I had in mind. I suppose there are those who would treasure this result and call it something on the way from white ciabatta to "ciabatta integrale".

Photos of process have been posted for this ciabatta using a firm "recipe starter". Don't worry, you can build this starter from any consistency starter you may have by just setting the hydration to 65%, letting it rise by double and refrigerating overnight. A spreadsheet is also posted showing weights in ounces or grams.

Recipe Starter:

  • 2 oz 100% hydration starter (Use whatever starter you like. The intention is a 65% hydration firm starter)
  • 4.5 oz bread flour (I used KA Bread Flour)
  • 2.5 oz water

The day before this bread was baked, I took my "BBA style barm", a 100% hydration starter fed with KA Bread Flour, out of the refrigerator. It had been fed within the last couple of days and was fresh and strong at the time it was refrigerated. I mixed the starter with KA Bread Flour and water in the amounts above and kneaded it for a couple of minutes to form a dough. I then put the dough in a container sprayed with a little oil and left it to rise by double - about 4 hours. Once it had risen by double, I refrigerated it to be used the next day in the dough. Note that it is not necessarily a good thing to let the dough rise by more than double or become overly ripe, as it may affect the consistency of the dough the next day.


  • 9 oz of recipe starter from above
  • 12.5 oz AP Flour (I used KA organic AP flour
  • 5 oz high extraction red wheat flour (like Golden Buffalo from Heartland Mills, use AP for a less rustic result)
  • 2 oz KA Rye Blend Flour
  • 16.5 oz water
  • 0.5 oz salt (14 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp diastatic malted barley flour


Mix all flours but 5 oz of AP flour, diastatic malted barley flour, and water together and mix on low speed just enough to get a well mixed batter. Let this sit 20 minutes. I'm trying to simplify the processing relative to the last version by using my mixer for a change.


Cut up the starter into small pieces and mix it in along with the salt. Run the mixer for a minute or so to get a good mix of ingredients in what should still be a thick batter consistency. Then, add in the remaining 5 oz of flour as you run the mixer on a low speed. It should turn into a very slack dough after another couple of minutes. I tried to show a picture of it hanging off the mixer dough hook, so check out the photos of the process linked up above.

Bulk Fermentation and Folding: (about 4 hours)

Make a fairly thick bed of flour on the counter about 12 inches square. Using a dough scraper, pour the dough out into the middle of the bed of flour. Allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then, fold the dough by flouring or wetting your hands, then grabbing one side of the dough and lifting and stretching it, folding it over itself like a letter. Do this for all 4 sides. Brush flour off the dough as you fold over the sides that were in contact with the bed of flour. You don't want to incorporate much flour into the dough as you fold. After folding, shape it gently back into a rectangle or square, turn it upside down and push the seams underneath. Place it in a rising bucket or other rising container of your choice. I spray mine with oil to make it easy to remove the dough. I also spray the top of the dough and then dust lightly with flour. Cover the container and allow to rise. Repeat the folds approximately every hour three more times. You just turn it back out on a light bed of flour - you need less flour once the dough is folded a couple of times. Always brush off flour as you fold it to avoid incorporating flour in the dough. If the dough seems very resistant to stretching, only fold it from two directions instead of four. You don't want the dough to get really stiff from too much folding. The amount of folding you will need will be more if you have more water and less if you have less water. Note that even an ounce can make a very big difference in the consistency of the dough. The dough should rise by double over a total of 4 hours. My dough was sitting at about 76F, so you may have to wait a little longer in a cooler room temperature environment. Stop folding if the dough gets too stiff. This means you didn't get as slack a dough as I had here, probably because of less water or maybe because of a different style of flour. No problem, just fold when it is stretchy, but let it rest and rise if not.

This is the first time I used Zolablue's suggestion to put the dough in a container as in Glezer's Artisan Baking, as opposed to doing it on the counter as in the BBA by Reinhart, and as done in my previous blog entry on sourdough ciabatta. I felt it worked well and had a few advantages. First, you can tell easily how much the dough has risen. That's a good thing because the poke test is hard to interpret with this very slack dough. Second, flour doesn't get stuck to the bottom because of the wet dough sitting on the counter in a bed of flour during the rise. I found that the crust was easier to control. Before I was having trouble with big chunks of wet flour paste getting stuck on the dough. I think that can actually look nice and be a characteristic of ciabatta crust, but it seemed to be a little too much that way with the wetter doughs I've been using to make these ciabattas. The last thing is that you can control the bulk fermentation temperature much more easily with the dough in a container that you can move to a good spot for rising.


Divide the dough into four pieces of equal size, roll them in the bed of flour to dust the cut ends, and let them rest a few minutes. To shape, take one of the four pieces, stretch it out and roll it or fold it over itself very gently. With ciabatta this amounts to a gently stretch and fold like a letter. You want to create some tension in the surface of the dough by folding it over itself that way. I sometimes have to roll it up a little more than just a letter fold to give it some tension. Then if you place the dough folds down on a couche, it will seal up the seams. Use the couche to create folds for the ciabatta and then nestle the folds between supports, such as bags of flour or whatever system you may have similar to what you might do for baguettes. I usually also roll the ends underneath a little to get some tension in the ends of the dough.

Final Proof:

Let them rise in the couche for about 1.5 hours, until they are puffy and have increased significantly in volume.

I baked two loaves at a time, so I proofed two loaves for 1.5 hours and two loaves for 2 hours. Da Crumb Bum - you may be right about these SD ciabatta recipes being on the edge of overproofing. I found that the first batch had darker, harder crust, whereas the second was a little bit on the pale side, even though I baked both for the same amount of time in an oven that I know was fully heated and at the same temperature. Also, the oven spring was much better on the first batch. I believe the steam conditions, temperature, and handling were very, very close to identical for both bakes.

Prepare to Bake:

Preheat oven to 500F (yes, you can probably do it without preheating, as mentioned elsewhere on the site, but it's not what I did this time). While that is going on, take each loaf out of the couche, gently stretch it in one direction by about double, lay it on a peel, maybe with parchment paper underneath, maybe sprinkled with corn meal or similar, and use your fingertips to flatten out and dimple the loaf. You can press down fairly firmly to feel the peel underneath. It sounds crazy, but the loaf will bounce back just fine in the oven if it is not overproofed. This step is important to avoid "separation of crust and crumb" or "one gigantic hole" instead of many holes. It also evens out the loaf so it has a nicer shape after baking.


Place loaves in the oven and lower temperature to 450F. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the internal temperature is around 209F (I'm near sea level), rotating them after about 9 minutes. You can bake them longer to get a darker, harder crust, or less to get a lighter softer crust. If you bake them in a dry oven for shorter times, you will get a softer crumb and a crispy, thin, lighter crust that is very good if you intend to use these for sandwiches. If you want a chewier, drier bread with a tastier, harder crust, then bake them more and use steam. Then it is a great bread to just dip in olive oil or use like french bread with dinner. The loaves should spring up from their "flattening" with your fingertips, such that not much evidence is left of the dimples you made with your fingers.

The oven spring on these was better than in my first version. The dough also seemed handle more easily. It seemed to stretch without tearing during the folds and didn't seem as sticky. I was happier with the lower percentage of starter in this dough. I wish I had the KA organic AP for the recipe, just for comparison, and also because I liked the soft white crumb, but this one is good for a more rustic effect. The size of these loaves was about 10in x 5in x 2.5in. This is a better oven spring than last time. They were about 3 inches high right after baking, but they shrunk back down to 2.5 inches after cooling off. That's still quite a bit better than the previous version, which was about 2 inches tall. It's probably true that the best of both worlds would be hybrid method, i.e. add about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of instant yeast to either this recipe or my previous version and get a little bit faster rise and a softer, lighter crumb, as well as getting the sourdough flavors in there.


Let bread completely cool, if you can stand to wait.

This bread is especially good for sandwiches, sliced in half and then sliced along the "flat" direction to open up like a hamburger bun. It is great for burgers, steak sandwiches, ham, or just with olive oil and pepper.


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