The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

HeiHei29er's blog

HeiHei29er's picture

I have been working on a new starter, and you can find details on that in my forum post.  Yesterday's bake was the second bake using it, and so far so good!

Vermont Sourdough with a Cracked Rye Soaker

The first bake was two loaves of Vermont Sourdough with a cracked rye soaker added to it.  The only variation is the levain.  I did not use an overnight levain build per Hamelman's method.  Instead, I used the same amount of prefermented flour but out of a starter refresh at 140% hydration.  Loaves turned out great!  Completed bulk in 4 hours (50-75% rise at 76 deg F) and final proof in 1 hour.  No crumb shot for these as they were both spoken for by friends.


Maple Spelt and Barley

This loaf was an experiment.  I picked up a 10" round banneton and haven't made a loaf with it yet.  This loaf was a porridge bread that used farro, hulled barley, maple sugar, and whole milk for the porridge.  The loaf also had spelt and barley flours.

The porridge was made by cooking the farro and hulled barley with water only and low heat until fully hydrated and soft (~2 hours).  The fully hydrated grain was pureed in a food processor before returning to the pot where the milk and maple sugar was added.  Cook on low heat and stirring regularly until the porridge is creamy.

Again, I used the new starter at 140% hydration after a 9 hour refresh.  I didn't know where to go with hydration as this used spelt, had a significant amount of low gluten flour with the barley, and had a creamy porridge.  It was on the wet side after final mix.  Thought about adding a little more flour, but I wanted to see if the flour would take it.  It was close, but the loaf spread a little more than I wanted.  This bread proceeded very similar to the VSD.  Bulk was nominally 50-75% rise and was done in just under 4 hours.  Final proof was also an hour for this dough.

The loaf spread more than I wanted, but I attribute that to the moist dough and the spelt.  I couldn't quite get the strength in the dough that I wanted.  However, the crumb was excellent with this bread!  I split it with my neighbor, so I had to cut it a little early (~ 5 hours after baking).  It was still curing, but very happy with it! 

All three of these loaves were baked at the same time using the new baking steel.

HeiHei29er's picture

Lots of firsts in this loaf, so not sure any conclusions can be drawn from any one part of it, but overall, the combination produced a really nice loaf (for me anyway).

- New recipe

- New shaping technique

- New DIY baking steel

- New starter (not really done yet, but I got impatient)



Something simple with toasted sesame seeds.  Developed gluten like I normally do, but this time I left the inclusions out until I had decent gluten development instead of adding to the initial mix.  Tried folding them in as part of my final sets of kneading.  It worked OK, but in hind sight I should have laminated them in.  I did two or three extra S&F in the first 90 minutes of bulk to try and further distribute the seeds.  In the end, I think lamination would have been faster and definitely would have produced a more even distribution.



I've had trouble recently with the seam opening on my boules.  For this one, I abandoned what I was doing and followed Danni's description on her technique.  Love the look of her natural scored loaves and decided to see if I could duplicate it.  I think it went well.  I only had one seam open, but I'm guessing each loaf will look a little different if I continue using this method.  Regardless, the shaping technique worked well, so will continue to use it whether I proof seam side up or down.


DIY Baking Steel

Picked up a piece of 1/4" plate from a local machine shop.  Had them cut it 15" x 20", which fills one of my oven trays with about a 1.5" air gap on either side.  I filed down any sharp/rough edges and sanded off any corrosion products.  Applied a thin film of canola oil and baked it at 400 deg F for 1 hour.  For my oven set up, I have a large cookie sheet to act as a heat shield/steam tray on the bottom shelf, the baking steel two spots above that, and another large cookie sheet as a heat shield on the top tray.  1 cup of boiling water goes into the steam tray at the start of the bake.



Working on a new starter that you can read about here.  Wanted to try out the new baking steel, so decided to use some of the new starter as it's developing.


Loaf turned out great!  I'm pretty sure it's the tallest hearth loaf I've ever made, and it is definitely the tallest round loaf.  First slice was right down the middle, and it looks like I trapped a big bubble either during final shaping or with one of the S&F.  The next slice into the loaf is the crumb I like to see, so overall happy with how the loaf turned out.  Too many firsts for me to say any one item had a certain effect, but hoping I can reproduce the overall result on the next bakes.  The low whole grain flour content  probably helped in the loaf height department too.  :-)



HeiHei29er's picture

My wife made pumpkin bars this weekend, and she told me to use up the rest of the puree.  So...  New bread experiment time!

I used the recipe from wassisname as a starting point:

I didn't have any pumpkin seeds handy, so I went with raisins instead and added a little cinnamon and nutmeg.  Recipe below is for two loaves.

My raisin YW using date syrup as part of the refresh has been working very well and didn't disappoint this time either.  I have been combining YW and SD in the levain prep quite a bit this summer with good results.  The YW and mother culture are straight from the refrigerator.  I am seeing a lot of carbon dioxide evolution when I mix the acidic starter with the YW.  The drop in pH causes the dissolved gas to come out of solution.  You can see the layer of carbon dioxide foam just after mixing.  The levain was allowed to ferment at 73-74 deg F for 11 hours.  It over doubled in volume.


Raisins were put in the puree and refrigerated overnight to re-hydrate.  Cinnamon and nutmeg added to that as well.  Combined puree with final mix water in the morning and then combined that with the levain before adding in flour.  Dough came together nicely and was not sticky.  5 sets of bowl kneading after autolyse to develop gluten (roughly 60 mins to complete from end of autolyse) and then into the proofing box at 76 deg F.

Dough increased roughly 75% in bulk and then divide and pre-shape.  Shaped in a boule after bench rest and then back into proofing box at 76 deg F.  Moved to Cold Retard after 75 mins because I had to make lunch.  In cold retard for approximately 3 hours.  Pre-heat oven to 450 deg F for 1 hour.  Misted both doughs with water and scored delicately to try and get that "pumpkin" look after oven spring (this is part of where I went wrong but more on that in a minute).  Doughs into my Granite Ware roaster and a few more squirts of water to help with moisture.  450 deg with lid on and 425 deg with if off.  Final internal temp at 205 deg and nothing sticking to probe when removed. 

Not frisbees but didn't really have any spring/bloom, which surprised me based on how well bulk and final proof went.


When I removed the doughs from cold retard, I noticed both had large openings in the seam at the center of the dough.  Neither were there when I put them in the banneton.  I checked because I've had a few boules do that too me lately when I tried to proof them seam side down for a natural bloom.  I wasn't too worried about it because both of these would be seam side down for the bake.  However, when I sliced the loaf, I think I see why that decision, combined with the light scoring, killed any oven spring.  It looks like all my gases went down instead of trying to go up through the scoring.  Lesson learned!  I do need to figure out what I'm doing wrong with my boule shaping though...  Didn't get pictures of the second loaf as I gave it to a friend, but it had the same hole in the center after final proof and the same profile and lack of spring after baking.


Flavor and texture on the bread were very nice.  Loaf was quite heavy, and it probably could have baked another 5-10 minutes.  Toasted it with some butter and raspberry jam.  Good stuff!



HeiHei29er's picture

It's been a busy summer and haven't had time to post much.  Have still been baking though.  Have tried a number of different breads, but I keep coming back to my stand-by.  Buckwheat and oat.  

I've done numerous variants, but this is one of my favorites.  I think the maple and toasted buckwheat make a nice combination.

This recipe uses only yeast water but could also be done with a poolish using ADY.  Each variant I make follows the same basic method.  Because this dough spreads so easily, I score it with long diagonals leaving a large strap intact to hold the sides together. 

Crumb shot tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a great summer and look forward to reading your posts as summer winds down and I get some time to post again!

EDIT: Crumb added…


HeiHei29er's picture

This is my stand-by bread.  One of these days, I need to finalize a recipe and stick with it.  For this one, I eliminated the oat flour and reduced the buckwheat flour.  The sorghum, buckwheat, and barley flours were used for a mash, and buckwheat and oat groats were used in a hot water soaker.

Loaf flattened a bit versus springing, but the crumb turned out nice and moist and fairly open.  I keep wanting to make this a hearth loaf, but it's tricky getting it right with the level of gluten free flours.  I may just start keeping this a pan loaf.

HeiHei29er's picture

The 4th is a big family gathering every year for my wife, and all of her siblings come back to town.  One of the first items on the list is getting nisu from one of the local bakeries.  Decided to try my hand at braiding and making my first one.

Followed the recipe in the comments of this thread, but adapted it to two loaves. 

Unfortunately, we got hit with a heat wave and humidity today/tonight, so I didn't want to heat up the house.  So...  I baked this one on my new grill with the infrared heat panels.  Used my digital temperature probe for smoking to monitor the temp in the grill.  Placed my pizza stone on the grill grates and then baked the nisu in my Granite Ware turkey roaster.

Overall, went very well for the first attempt.  The dough when first mixed is quite sticky.  Keep needing and using five minute rests.  It pulled together quite well and was easy to work with after the second rest.  Only issue was with the baking...  The grill wouldn't stay below 400 deg F with the burners on the lowest setting, and the bottoms of the loaves are borderline burned.  Next time, I'll have to cycle the burners on and off to hold the temp in the 390-400 deg range.  The steel infrared plates hold a lot of heat, so I don't think the temp will fluctuate too fast by turning it on and off.


Forgot the egg wash...

HeiHei29er's picture

TFL'er Wish List bake #6...  Followed this one pretty close with a couple small deviations and one addition.

I used a RYW and SD culture combination for the initial levain and then RYW instead of water in the 2nd levain build.  Other than that, the only change I made was adding some Vegemite.  Gave the bread kind of a French Onion soup smell while it was baking.

Like Danni3ll3, my final mix turned out really sticky and the dough was slack.  I had no free water in the rice in the morning, so I'm wondering if the high humidity we had this weekend has made my flours a little less thirsty.  I dropped the target hydration to 68% from 70% (excluding water in the rice), but that wasn't enough.  I ended up at 65% with the 25g of extra flour added.  Firm enough to work with, but I wasn't confident enough to make it a free standing loaf.  I think it would have puddled.  It turned out great as a pan loaf using my Pullman without a lid and baked in my large turkey roaster with steam for the first 18 minutes.

I rubbed the Vegemite into the flour similar to rubbing in butter.

Crumb turned out nice and moist.  Definitely on the custardy side, but not chewy.


HeiHei29er's picture

TFL'er Bake List Week #5...  Slowly but surely working on the list of bakes I saw on TFL and wanted to try.  This week's bake was based on Paul's Barley/Wheat Bread loaf.

I used a 2-stage levain build with blueberry yeast water and a small rye starter inoculation.  Instead of hard, red whole wheat, I tried a soft, white whole wheat, and I used most of the WW in the levain builds to make sure it was fully hydrated.  The second levain was over doubled in 5 hours, and had a yeasty/yogurty aroma.

This was the first time I used this soft white wheat, and it doesn't seem very thirsty so I dropped the hydration to 70%.

The bake went well and the dough was easy to handle.  It wasn't sticky at any point during the bake. The only thing that was unexpected was the small size of the loaf.  After the initial mix, I thought I had missed one of the flours.  I had to double check my notes to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I'm guessing it's from the high amount of whole grain???  The loaf did rise well and had a good oven spring, but I should have used Paul's 600g flour per loaf instead of dropping to my usual 475g.  It would have filled the pan out nicer.

Loaf smells great and looking forward to slicing it tomorrow morning for breakfast!



HeiHei29er's picture

TFL'er bake list #4 this week, and this weekend's bake was Danni's Oat Porridge Bread.

A fun bake, and I learned a new technique by making a porridge.  The bread came out really good and has great flavor!  The crumb is nice and soft without being sticky.  Will definitely keep this one on the list.


HeiHei29er's picture

With my daughter that's gluten sensitive back from college, I decided to see if I could come up with a sourdough GF loaf.

I started by creating a brown rice starter.  I cheated though and used scrapings from my AP/WW starter.  My first mix was the scrapings left over from a refresh of the AP/WW.  Best guess is there was less than 1 gram left in the jar.  To that, I added 25g of brown rice flour and 25g of water.  After 24 hours, it was quite bubbly and showing at least 50% expansion.  So far for me, the rice starter doesn't go much beyond that for expansion no matter how long I leave it.  Subsequent feedings were 1:5 (water:flour) at 90% hydration.  After the 4th feeding, the wheat flour in the starter was below the limit for a 1kg loaf to be determined GF.  On all subsequent refreshes, the mature starter has a wonderful aroma that's somewhere between fruity and buttery.  It is a sweet smell that doesn't remind me of sour at all.

This recipe uses two GF flour blends.  Why...  I had both brands in the pantry and wanted to use up one before opening the other the first time I tried it.  Had reasonable success and didn't want to mess with it.  :-)   The hardest part is getting the consistency right.  My guess is this will work just fine with other GF flour blend brands.  You'll just have to play with the hydration until you get that heavy cake/brownie batter consistency.

I'm not sure how long you can safely ferment a dough with egg whites in it, so I've been adding a bit of ADY to the final mix to make sure the final proof moves along.  I't been getting done in 2-3 hours.  Need to do some digging to see if the ADY can be dropped further and extend ferment/proofing out to 3-4 hours.



142.5g Domata 1-for-1 GF flour blend

178.1g Water

20g brown rice flour starter culture

Ferment 12-16 hours at 70-72 deg F


Final Dough:

285g KAF GF flour blend

47.5g Bob's Red Mill GF Oat Flour

239.9g Water

9.5g Pink Himalayan Salt

26.1g Salted Butter (room temp)

60-65g Egg Whites (2 large eggs) (room temp)

1.2g Active Dry Yeast

16.6g Honey



Combine final fours and salt then mix with a whisk

Rub room temperature butter into the fours using a fork until butter is evenly distributed.  (Flour will get something like a coarse sand look to it.)

Combine final water and honey.  Warm to 80-85 deg F and then activate the ADY in that mixture.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let ADY wake up.

Whip room temp egg whites slightly until they get a little aerated and bubbly on top.  I haven't been going all the way to fully whipped.

Create a well in the center of the flour/butter blend.

Add activated ADY/water/honey mixture to the levain and mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into well and add whipped egg whites.  Slowly stir mixture with a spoon and gradually incorporate flour to it.  Thoroughly mix and make sure any lumps are broken and batter is smooth  It should have the consistency of a very heavy cake or brownie batter.

Spoon batter into a buttered/GF floured loaf pan and smooth top with a wetted spatula.

Put loaf pan in a sealed bag (I use a large clear plastic bread bag I got from Amazon) and put in final proof at 81 deg F.  Let rise until center of the loaf is approximately 1" above the pan rim.

Approximately 30 mins prior to final proof finishing, pre-heat oven to 350 deg.

When dough has finished rising, GENTLY spread melted butter on top of loaf.  (I use a silicone bristle BBQ brush)

Oven set-up: Cookie sheet on very top rack shielding upper element.  Cookie sheet on very bottom rack shielding bottom element.  Pizza stone on rack one slot above bottom rack. 

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 deg F with steam (I put in GW roaster pan) and then 30 minutes without steam.  After the 60 minutes, I remove the loaf from the pan and place it directly on the baking stone for another 15 minutes.  Final internal temp is usually about 210 deg F.  

Turn off oven and leave loaf in the oven with the door cracked for another 10 minutes.  Let loaf fully cool on a wire rack at room temp before putting in a bag.


Egg whites


Levain/Water/Honey/ADY/Egg Whites combined in flour well before mixing


After removing lid.  Good oven spring!


Subscribe to RSS - HeiHei29er's blog