The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


_JC_'s picture

Making a tradition sourdough sometimes can be painful to our arms, So I made a video to show you how to make a Sourdough using a stand mixer. Link Below

Thank you and enjoy!



meb21's picture

Hi All, These are a few photos of my first attempt at semolina bread. I used 100% semolina with 20% levain for this bake. 

100% Caputo semolina rimacinata

20% levain

2.2% salt

80% water

Autolyzed flour and water for about 2 hours

A few slap and folds over 2 hours and then coil folds over the next 3 hours. 

total bulk about 5 to 6 hours - varied from 80 to low 70s..overnight final proof in fridge for 14 hours. 

Baked in graniteware for 20 min at 475 and then overcovered at 440 for 17 min or so. 



leslieruf's picture

I decided to just go with a 100% hydration dough  levain, more or less following the recipe but modified a little.  The brand of Semolina rimanciata is Caputo - it is hard to find this flour here so very happy to have some, even if it is expensive.

Bread flour 40%

Durum flour 60%

overall hydration 75%

Salt 2%

Toasted sesame seeds 5%

23/1/21 4 pm refresh starter 10+20+30

11 pm start of levain build 30+30+30

24/1/21 7 am build final levain (enough for 3 loaves) 70+150+150 

1:40 pm autolyse  Felt this was a bit dry so added another 10 gm water

2:15 pm Added toasted sesame seeds with the levain, Hand mixed minimally followed by 100 SLAFs, add salt then another 50 SLAFs. I felt there was enough dough development so stopped at this point.

3:15 pm first set of coil folds followed by 2 more sets at 45 minute intervals. Dough was lovely and smooth.

6:45 pm After 2 hour bulk ferment following the final coil fold, tipped dough out and preshaped. 

7:15 pm Final shape. Rolled in damp cloth then in sesame seeds. Dough was very easy to work with, soft but not excessively extensible.  Left dough on bench  for 45 minutes before retarding.  

25/1/21 Baked in DO at 235°C for 15 minutes lid on, 17 minutes lid off.

Happy so far, will post crumb once cut. This is a 600 gm loaf, the rest of the levain used for my next bake - kamut/durum bread. 


DanAyo's picture


 Table of Contents for my BLOG

The following are a compilation of my bakes for the Durum Wheat - Selmolina Rimacinata Community Bake.

Bake #1

I wanted to bake 100% Semolina Rimacinata following the Pane di Altamura. Both this bake and Bake #2 were shaped as batards, though. When it comes to anything Italian, my attention turns to Michael, aka ‘mwilson’. Mike’s formula and method was my guide.

Bake #1 

This one didn’t proceed as anticipated. The dry levain grew tremendously,  but the actual bulk fermentation of the dough failed to rise. I still have no idea why. In order to salvage the dough 0.5% CY was added after waiting hours for the dough to rise during the BF.

According the Michael’s instructions, the dough was well developed. This was more difficult with durum than it would have been with typical wheat. The gluten was super tough and elastic. But with adequate kneading it became supple and cohesive.

Considering the initial lack of rise during the BF, I was happy to have saved the loaf. After baking Bake #2, I believe that if the dough was allowed to BF long enough, it would have risen appropriately.

NOTE -this dough may have been over worked. The crumb color had a yellow hue, but not as much as expected. The image does a poor job of representing the actual color. I later learned that using the flash helped to render a much more accurate hue.


Bake #2

Like the previous bake the bulk ferment took quite a while to double, as Mike recommended. It took 2 hours @ +76F and 4 hours @ 80F. IMO, the dough over-fermented. It was bloated and fragile. I actually thought the bread was a huge flop, but decided to bake it anyway. To my surprise the oven spring was great! This flour seems quite different from typical wheat. There is much to learn. 

Flavor -
My wife loves it... For me, it was OK, but nothing to write home about. Patsy and I have been married 34 years, and I can say that our taste are completely opposite. The loaf was wrapped in a cloth overnight to keep it soft. And soft it was - a good thing.



Doc.Dough's picture

A few years ago, I was experimenting with various ways to increase the acidity of sourdough bread and found that I needed a way to produce levains that were similarly mature but at various hydration levels, including some as high as 250%. The “normal” method was to watch for the volume of the levain to rise and when it began to fall back it was declared to be “mature”.  But for high hydration mixes, there was not any rising and falling because it was simply too liquid to retain enough CO2 to allow it to increase in volume (other than producing some surface foam which did not seem to be very useful).

After thinking about this for a while, I wondered if there was enough escaping from the levain to measure the weight that was lost in the process.  To find out if there was enough being produced, I did a rough calculation based on the fermentation of glucose to ethyl alcohol and

C6H12O6 → 2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2

One mol of glucose weighs 180g and is converted into 2 mols of ethyl alcohol (46g/mol) and 2 mols of CO2 (44g/mol), so in the process 88g of CO2 is produced of which some escapes and the rest either remains dissolved in the liquid phase of the dough or is retained as gas in the bubbles of the dough.  When a levain is mixed, the amylase enzymes in the flour begin to break down some of the starch in the flour (which starts with a just a little maltose and some broken starch granules and after about 6 hours has as much as 6% maltose along with some other fermentable polysaccharides). [Saunders, Ng, and Kline]  And the enzymes are recycled so the process of starch degradation continues for as long as there is broken starch for it to work on and the rest of the required conditions are met.  So, if we take 10g of flour and after getting it wet and letting the enzymes do their thing for 6 hours, it contains about 600mg of maltose, and because maltose is made up of two glucose molecules, we have 600mg of glucose equivalent.  If the formula above held true, about 48% of the weight of the 600mg glucose should show up as CO2.  This would yield something like 293mg of CO2, and that should be measurable but would require a high resolution/high accuracy scale.

So, the initial estimate of how much CO2 might be lost was high enough to make it interesting to pursue measuring actual weight loss in a high hydration levain. My expectation was that the amylase enzymes would continue to produce sugars from the starch and the process would run until something (perhaps metabolic byproducts or pH sensitivity might poison the environment) slowed it down.

The next question was what else might be going on that could look like CO2 loss.  The first guess was that evaporation of water off the levain surface might be high enough to be a problem, and to address that I ran a simple experiment, measuring the weight of a container of water (about 36g of water in a 4g polypropylene food service cup with a snap-on but not gas-tight) lid in place) over a few days to see if it lost enough weight to get in the way of seeing the loss of CO2.

As you can see, the fluctuation in the weight of the water at refrigerator temperature (38°F) averages to be a very small number, with measured weight differences of less than 20mg over multiple hours when temperature variations may have affected scale accuracy.  Once the water was allowed to return to room temperature, evaporation became measurable, losing about 4% of the weight of the water over 15 days or ~0.25% per day. So, it is clear that evaporation is a measurable quantity but when it is refrigerated and the vapor pressure is low, the loss rate is effectively zero.

Now, how much weight does a levain lose over a refresh cycle?  And how does that compare with water evaporation?  To measure the weight loss on a consistent basis, I use the weight of the added flour to normalize the weight lost to CO2, so for a refresh cycle that starts with 6g of starter, adds 12g of water and 12g of flour, the weight loss is divided by the 12g of added flour to arrive at a percentage that grows with time.  If we use the 0.25% per day weight loss due to evaporation and assume (a conservative assumption) that the evaporation of water from the mix will be the same as from a container of pure water and that it will lose 0.25% of the weight of the water over 24 hrs, the weight loss looks like this:

The different starters each exhibits its own weight loss because each one is growing and giving off CO2 at a different rate and in this case, I have plotted a line at the bottom that models the evaporative loss. Thus, the weight loss of an actively growing starter is large enough and fast enough that we don’t have to worry about mistaking water evaporation for CO2 loss.  And we can differentiate between the growth rates of different starters (which doesn’t tell us much more than perhaps something about the numerical density of living yeast cells in the seed starter (which sets the initial growth rate).

If the growing starter is refrigerated at any point during the growth cycle, growth effectively stops (it does continue to grow but very slowly and we will see how fast it continues to grow a little later).

My observation has been that from the appearance of the rise and fall of the starter as it matures, the point at which it begins to fall is generally at the point where it has lost about 2% of the weight of the added flour, so I use this as a guide to judge when a starter is ready to use, even when I can’t tell whether it has begun to fall (perhaps because it rose up and contacted the cover of the container and I thus can’t tell if it fell because of that, or because it was of such high hydration that there is no bulk volume expansion of the growing starter, just some foam floating on the surface of the liquid.  When it has lost 2% of the weight of the added flour, it is (by definition) ready to use.  It works for me.  If you want to use a different number, feel free. “Trial and success” is the name of the game.

Now let’s look at how long you can leave a starter in the refrigerator before you need to feed it. For that experiment I didn’t let the starter get going before I refrigerated it, just mixed it, capped it, and stuck it in the refrigerator. And they were mixed stiff, using a refresh ratio of 5:10:15.

As you can see, in the refrigerator at 38°F, it takes about a week to lose 2% of the weight of the added flour, so if you don’t let your starter grow before you refrigerate it, it will take a week to mature but you can use it without feeding it again.

By day 14, there is some small divergence between the three starters in this test, but the growth rate is still fairly constant (linear growth) for all of them, and I have found that I can still use it to start a levain without an intermediate feeding.

By the end of the third week, there is additional divergence between the three samples shown here, and the weight loss curve is clearly beginning to flatten out, but there is still a significant amount of CO2 being produced.  I find that after three weeks I get better performance if I do a double refresh before making a levain.  I take this as strong evidence that the native amylase enzymes remain active and continue to convert broken starch into maltose, and the yeast continues to convert the maltose into CO2 and other metabolic products until something limits the process.

Now while all of these experiments demonstrate that weight loss is an adequate method for judging the maturity of starter, it is equally good for gaging the maturity of levain, and it has the advantage that you don’t need a milligram scale to use it.  For any levain where you are adding at least 100g of flour and assuming that you have a digital scale that is accurate to 1g, you just cover the bowl of levain with plastic wrap and weigh the bowl, levain, and plastic wrap, and make note of the total weight of the combination, calculate 2% of the weight of the added flour and subtract it from the total and that becomes your target weight for the bowl of starter when the levain is mature.  And from the extended cold propagation experiment we know that you can lose as much as 4% of the weight of the added flour and it doesn’t make much difference in terms of the health or proofing capacity of the levain.


For stiff starters, there is less water in which the CO2 can dissolve, and any dissolved CO2 will not escape, plus CO2 will be trapped in the alveoli of the expanding starter. In all cases, there is little or no CO2 released until the starter is saturated with CO2 at which point it cannot hold any more. So, when you plot weight loss, expect for there to be a lag between when you mix the starter and when it starts to lose weight. Part of that is due to not having a lot of yeast cells actively consuming sugar and making CO2 soon after being mixed, and part is due to the fact that the early CO2 is being absorbed by the liquid in the starter as well as being stored in internal alveoli (bubbles) within the starter.

While both mechanisms are operating, you need a way to get accurate measurements, and I found that if I would thump (burp) the container on a towel or my hand, it would deflate the bubbles in the starter releasing trapped CO2 and knocking it down to some common (low) level of porosity.  If/when I did not do this, the weight loss data was very noisy since the starter will deflate on its own after a period of time and you can’t control it and probably don’t even observe it (it looks like surface bubbles popping but it gives off CO2 which impacts what you weigh). It is also important to remove the lid of the container and blow out any accumulated CO2 that is trapped in the head space between the top of the starter and the top of the container.  While CO2 is a gas, it is a heavy gas, and it is measurable and it contributes to measurement noise if you don’t flush it out.  Note that larger containers trap more CO2 and the difference in buoyancy is the difference between the molecular weights (at sea level that is 44g per 22.4 liters for CO2, and 29g per 22.4 liters for air).

Fifteen grams per 22,400 ml is 15 mg per 22.4 ml, and half of a 5.5 oz polypropylene food service cup (78 ml) filled with CO2 instead of air adds about 53mg to the measured weight if you don’t replace it with air before measuring.  You can do the same calculation for large bowl filled with levain and covered with StretchTite; there is a substantial amount of trapped CO2 and you need to flush it out before you weigh the starter when determining if it is mature.



Benito's picture

You might know that this is one of my favourite flavour combinations that I’ve baked a few times now.  However, being me I keep tinkering to see if I can make it better than before, it doesn’t always work out that way.

I made some changes, I haven’t been happy with my lazy preparation of the sweet potatoes so instead of microwaving them, I used the instant pot this time, 18 mins at normal pressure.  This results in a nicer sweet potato that is easy to remove the peel and mash.  The resulting mash is more moist and much better than the drying effects of microwaving.  I did several and froze the mash in portions for future use.

I increased the hydration to 84.5% and pushed bulk quite far, for me in total 80% rise when the bench rest after shaping is included.  I wanted to see if I could achieve a more open crumb than I usually get.


Total flour 409 g

Levain 20% 

6 g starter 36 g water 36 g red fife overnight build


Saltolyse overnight

81% bread flour 331 g

19% red fife flour 41 g 

Salt 2% 8.18 g

Water 300 g

I added 8 g water during bassinage 84.5% hydration


160 g purple sweet potato


The dough was developed with initial Rubaud mixing when the levain was added to the saltolysed dough in the morning and 8 g of additional water added.  Further gluten development with 200 slap and folds were done.

30 mins later a bench letterfold was done

30 mins lamination was performed adding both the sweet potato and black sesame seeds.

three sets of coil folds were performed at approximately 30 mins intervals each time waiting until the dough fully relaxed.

Bulk was ended when the aliquot jar reached 60% rise.

Dough shaped into a batard and placed in a banneton and left on the counter for another 60 mins until the aliquot jar reached 80% rise.

Cold Retard until the next day.


Preheat oven to 500ºF with dutch oven inside.

Once at 500ºF remove dough from banneton and score.  Brush with water and transfer to the dutch oven, drop the temperature to 450ºF and bake for 20 mins with the lid on.  Drop the temperature to 420ºF and continue to bake lid on for 10 mins.

Remove the lid and continue to bake in dutch oven for 10 mins lid off.

Remove from dutch oven and place on oven rack to complete bake additional 15-20 mins.


Post bake analysis.  I think that the combination of higher hydration and moist sweet potatoes along with the bulk pushed to 80% caused the flatter profile of this bake.  That being said, I’m not disappointed with the crumb which is generally more open than what I usually achieve.  At least I know I can achieve this style of crumb if I want to.  Well, I don’t know that I can achieve it consistently yet, more bakes will need to be done to confirm that.


I do still enjoy the flavour of this bread.  Regarding the baking, the additional 10 mins of baking with the lid on does, I’m convinced, lead to a thinner crust.  Removing the bread from the dutch oven for the final 15-20 mins of baking also helps thin the bottom crust.  I do need to be careful to fully baking when using this method because this bread was borderline a bit too moist in places where there was a lot of the sweet potato so an additional 5 mins might be needed when there are a lot of wet inclusions and higher hydration dough.

I also think I prefer the sweet potato when it is added earlier in the process to the dough to more evening distribute it.  But it was worthwhile trying this method to compare.


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Ilya's durum bake #1

Baked a bread in the style of the Hamelman formula provided in the first post. Had to deviate slightly, due to flour availabilty: I had just under 100g of semola remacinata left, and half a bag of pasta flour that is 50% durum. So combining that I could make a ~60% durum 900g loaf, but had to use the 50% durum pasta flour in the levain instead of bread flour. I included 30 g toasted sesame seeds. Here is my formula:

I almost never use hydration <70%, so it was refreshing to have a non-sticky dough which lended itself perfectly to traditional kneading. I also did some stretch&folds in the beginning of bulk, but I'd say they were more short kneads, since the dough was not at all stretchy.

I tried using the aliquot jar, and this time it worked nicely. With such low hydration dough I think it wasn't very precise because it grew much more in the center forming a meniscus. So I ended bulk somewhere after 50% increase. Then shaped into a batard and coated with sesame seeds. It went directly into the fridge for ~24 hours due to my schedule constraints. Interestingly, it didn't seem to relax in the fridge at all and retained it's shape perfectly with a perhaps very slight increase in size.

Scored with an S-like pattern (for Sesame Semolina Sourdough), and in it went into an upturned preheated pyrex casserole dish that serves as a DO. Baked in it for 20-25 min, and then without the lid for another 15-20 min - until I liked the colour. No thermometer probing :)

I am very pleased with this bake, both the crust and the crumb. Tight, but well fermented throughout, very even. Just what Murph is looking for! There is also a clear but not strong tang - either from the wet levain, the long retard - or both? And a delicious nutty taste from the durum and sesame. Crust is super crispy, like durum tends to make it, with a good coating of sesame seeds. Very successful bake all around!


Ilya's bake #2. Semolina porridge pan loaves

Having used up my semola remacinata, I thought I'd try to use regular semolina in bread. But since it's so coarse, I had an idea to use it as a porridge, which is a delicious breakfast dish in its own right. And considering semolina is just coarsely ground wheat, it's essentially tangzhong. And I decided to use a lot of Kamut flour in the loaf to get that beautiful yellow colour. Since I was imagining it as a more of a slightly enriched "sandwich" bread, I used oat milk as the liquid, and added some honey and butter. Here is my formula:

For some reason my levain seemed a bit week, didn't quite double overnight - I tried to give it more time but nothing more happened. I proceeded with the bread anyway, hoping essentially refreshing it in the dough would help with the strength. Not sure that worked like I wanted to, the dough was barely moving after a few hours, judging by the aliquot jar. There was a bit off fermentation going on with some bubbles visible on the bottom of the dough through the bowl.

I felt it was starting to break down after 5-6 hours at warm temperature, so I decided to just shape it and hope for the best. In the final proof it actually appeared to grow a little, but nothing like what it normally should. Regardless, I just baked it, since I was afraid of gluten degradation. Surprisingly, there was noticeable oven spring, and the result is not bad: quite dense, but not gummy and fermented throughout the loaf.

Tastes nice: a little sweet, a little sour, a little buttery and nutty - both from the butter, and from Kamut and semolina porridge, I guess. Despite the fermentation issues, the bread is actually pretty good!


Ilya's bake #3. Pane cafone.

Followed the recipe suggested by Abe for pane cafone ( Used fine semolina instead of semola rimacinata due to availability.

Converted my 100% hydration rye starter to a stiff wheat starter overnight, then did three quick builds during the day (the second and third are part of the recipe). Added like a 5 min saltolyse before mixing in the starter to let the semolina hydrate a bit before kneading, to avoid grittiness. I don't think my starter was quite a vigorous as in the video, so extended the time between/after the fold to 30 min. After kneading the dough was so nice, very soft and just a little tacky, but not at all sticky. Shaped into a long loaf and proofed overnight on a couche in the fridge.

Baked 25 min with steam, and around 15-20 min more without, and left it in the cooling oven with the door ajar for a bit. Got very nice oven spring and good colour. Surprisingly, the crust is a bit soft, unlike my previous breads with durum, where the crust was super hard and crispy.

Will cut and see the crumb later today.


Ilya's bake #4. Pane cafone 2.0

After the previous underproofed bake of pane cafone, I was determined to figure it out and make it work. Well, I'm definitely much closer this time!

Basically, with Abe's guidance, I strengthened the stiff starter over a few feeds, so that it properly follows the timing in the recipe (doubling within 3-4 hours for first and second dough). On top of that, after kneading I left the dough to proof at 27C in my "proofer" for 1 hr, since it certainly felt cold - despite using warm water - must be heat loss from kneading on a colder surface.

And then it also spent much longer in the cold proof in the fridge this time, around 15 hrs. From outside it looks like a twin of the first loaf (just a little smaller, since I made a slightly smaller batch of dough). However it's not underproofed!

There are some slightly larger holes in the crumb, but these I would believe that I trapped during shaping. Hope I don't discover some caverns further inside the loaf!

The flavour is the same lovely non-sour, with a hint of durum sweetness and some nice underlying aroma - as Abe says, as if it was a biga bread.

_JC_'s picture

After about 1.5 years of sourdough baking I'm happy to share and announce that I had uploaded my 1st sourdough tutorial on Youtube.. Do check it out!!! Thank you and enjoy!! Link Below!



Credits to: Trevor Jay Wilson

yozzause's picture

I said i would do a second rendition CB following the Caputo Integrale /. Granoro Semola Rimacinata. (100% Italian Flours).Everything was done almost exactly the same except the use of 50% Wallaby Bakers Flour and the use of Toasted Black Sesame seeds, I was going to reduce the fresh yeast as discussed with Benny  but in the end used 2% again. a better eye was kept on this dough and i elected to use the Sassafras clay baker this time around. The dough was actually final  proofed in the Sassafras but i did line it with baking paper.I also shaped slightly differently as it is my intention to gift half to my cousin who has just come home from hospital following a knee replacement. Cut shot will have to follow later still to warm at time of writing!

Both this and the previous Integrale version were hand mixed on the bench!



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