The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Benito's picture

DMSnyder was kind enough to share Maggie Glezer’s Sourdough Challah recipe in his blog a few years back, so how could I not want to give it a go.  I love challah but have never eaten a sourdough one so this’ll be my first.  I followed his posted recipe except for a few minor changes and one mistake. I don’t keep a firm starter so just used my 100% hydration rye starter. I also made this as one larger loaf rather than his two smaller ones. I also accidentally use olive oil instead of a neutral oil for more than half of the oil component. We’ll see if that has a negative effect on the flavour.

The starterAmount (gms)
Active sourdough starter35
Warm water80
Bread flour135
The final dough 
Warm water60
Large Eggs3 eggs + 1 egg for glazing the loaves.
Vegetable oil55
Mild honey65
Or Granulated sugar60
Bread flour400
Sourdough levain200


  1. The night before baking, mix the starter and ferment it at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
  2. In the morning, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the starter in the water, then mix in the 3 eggs, salt, honey and oil until completely combined.
  3. Mix in all the bread flour until it forms a shaggy mass.
  4. Knead the dough on the bench or in a stand mixer until it is smooth and there is moderate gluten development. (Add small amounts of water or flour to achieve the desired consistency, better if you do not have to) The dough should be quite firm.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it tightly. Ferment for about 2 hours. It may not rise much.
  6. To make one loaf, divide the dough into two equal portions, and divide each portion into the number of pieces needed for the type of braiding you plan to do, so divid each by 3 to make 1 six strand braided loaf.
  7. Form each piece into a ball and allow them to rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes to relax the gluten.
  8. Form each piece into a strand about 14” long. (I like Glezer’s technique for this. On an un-floured board, flatten each piece with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to about ¼ inch thickness. Then roll up each piece into a tight tube. Using the palms of your hands, lengthen each piece by rolling each tube back and forth on the bench with light pressure. Start with your hands together in the middle of the tube and, as you roll it, move your hands gradually outward. Taper the ends of the tube by rotating your wrists slightly so that the thumb side of your hand is slightly elevated, as you near the ends of the tube.)
  9. Braid the loaves. Braiding somewhat loosely, not too tight. Photos below are braided a bit too tight.
  10. Place each loaf on parchment paper in half-sheet pans (I used a quarter-sheet pan for each loaf.) Cover well with plastic wrap or place the pans in a food grade plastic bag, and proof at room temperature until the loaves have tripled in volume. (Glezer says this will take “about 5 hours.” I proofed in the oven with the light on and it took about 4 hours.)
  11. If it’s almost tripled and when poked the dough only springs back a little, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Gauge the dough again. Stick a finger lightly in the dough. If it makes an indentation that doesn’t spring back, the dough is ready to be baked. If not, wait a bit more.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF with the rack in the upper third of the oven about 30 mins before final proof is complete.
  13. Brush each loaf with an egg lightly beaten with a pinch of salt.
  14. Optionally, sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.
  15. Bake until done – 25-40 minutes rotating half way. If baking as one large loaf may take a bit longer, bake until sounds hollow or reaches 190ºF in the middle.
  16. Cool completely before slicing.

Benito's picture

I’ve only made focaccia once before and that was using IDY.  So I decided it was time to use my now trusty starter to make one instead of IDY.  As often the case I went to and followed Maurizio’s recipe to make my first one.  I decided to try loading this up almost like a deep dish pizza.  So I topped with halved cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, stuff green olives, shallots, rosemary, black pepper and pecorino Romano cheese.

From his website I’ll post the formula here for your convenience.


Total Dough Weight

1,200 grams

Sourdough Starter





One 1200g focaccia

Total Formula

This table shows the entire quantity and baker’s percentages for each ingredient. If you’d like to make two large focaccia (or four smaller ones), double everything in the table below.


There’s no specific levain build for this focaccia, just use some of your sourdough starter when it’s ripe (when you’d normally give it a refreshment). See my post on the differences between a levain and sourdough starter for more information on the two preferments.

Target final dough temperature (FDT) is 76°F (24°C).



Baker’s Percentage


All-purpose flour (King Arthur All-Purpose Flour) 11-12% protein



High protein bread flour, malted (King Arthur Bread Flour) 13% protein



Extra virgin olive oil (Jovial Olio Nuovo Organic Olive Oil)









Sourdough starter (100% hydration)



Mix – 9:00 a.m.

This dough can be mixed by hand (I would use the slap and fold technique) or with a stand mixer like a KitchenAid.

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add both the flours, water, salt, and ripe sourdough starter (hold back the olive oil until later in mixing). 

Mix on speed 1 for 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated. Then, mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes until dough strengthens and clumps around the dough hook. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes.

Next, turn the mixer on to speed 1 and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while mixing. Once all of the olive oil is absorbed, turn the mixer up to speed 2 for 1 to 2 minutes until the dough comes back together.

Transfer your dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.

This highly hydrated and enriched dough is  wet and loose , it won’t strengthen to the same degree as a typical bread dough.

As you can see below on the left, immediately after mixing the dough is still very wet and chunky. However, it’s not falling apart or soupy. Resist the temptation to add more flour at this point, as you can see below in the image at the right, by the middle of bulk fermentation it’ll strengthen after several sets of stretch and folds.


Transfer the dough to a covered container for bulk fermentation.


Bulk Fermentation – 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Give the dough 4 sets of stretch and folds, starting 30 minutes after mixing, and a set every 30 minutes thereafter.

Every 30 minutes for the remaining 2 hours of bulk fermentation gently stretch the dough, with wet hands, toward the corners of the rectangular container. The dough will resist stretching and spring back (especially with the oil underneath), but don’t force it—each time you stretch it’ll relax a bit more and eventually fill the container.


Proof – 11:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Transfer the dough to a deep rectangular pan that’s been greased with olive oil. If you don’t have a pan with a silicone liner, make sure to heavily oil the pan’s interior so the focaccia doesn’t stick during baking.

At 76-78°F (24-25°C), the dough will proof for 4 hours. This time period is flexible and dependent on the temperature: if it’s cooler, let it proof longer, and conversely, if it’s warm, you might be able to bake sooner.

Every 30 minutes for the first hour, uncover the pan and gently stretch the dough with wet hands to the pan’s edges to encourage it to fill the pan. The dough will naturally spread out during this proofing period, so it’s unnecessary to spread the dough aggressively. Once the dough is mostly spread to the edges, cover the pan and proof for 4 hours.



Top & Bake – 3:15 p.m.


First, dimple the unadorned dough with wet fingers. Make sure the dimples are evenly spaced and go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Then, drizzle on 1-2 tablespoons of your extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and coarse sea salt. If using other toppings, add them now as well—I like to press them into the dough gently.

Bake the focaccia in the oven at 450°F (232°C) until deeply colored on top, about 30 minutes. Rotate the pan front-to-back halfway through this time. Keep an eye on it during the last 5 minutes and pull it out if it’s coloring too quickly, or leave it in longer if you’d like it a little darker.


Let the focaccia cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s fantastic warm from the oven, and best on the day of baking, but it’ll keep well for a couple days loosely wrapped in foil (reheat under the broiler before serving).


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Russian bread, not an old GOST recipe, but rus brot reverse engineered it from the ingredient list:

Original formula:

Here is the formula, using a mix of light and whole rye flour available to me, instead of medium rye:

I asked the miller about the extraction rate of the light rye, since they don't know the ash content I had to rely on that to mix whole and light rye to approximate the Russian medium rye standard. It was approximately 1 part light rye to 2 parts whole rye. And it seems that was a good ratio, I didn't need to adjust the hydration relative to the recipe, beyond just using wet hands when mixing, which is normal anyway.

It was my first attempt at free-standing mostly rye bread, so I was following the recipe as close as possible. My new heating system worked well, just set to constant heat, basically, and I had very similar rising times to what rus brot had.

So, for maximum power I refreshed the rye starter from the fridge according to rus brot's refreshment schedule for 70% hydration sour in the end over three feeds. Last feed was done yesterday morning, at the same time as the scald. Scald was kept in the oven, which was manually adjusted to approximately 65C by measuring the temperature.

Preferment contained the starter, scald and more water and flour, and was kept warm until it peaked, around 5 hours.

Final dough was mixed by adding flour to the preferment, together with salt, sugar, molasses (I used black treacle), and seeds. When the dough came together it was surprisingly not very sticky, and easy to handle with wet hands (although until it was mixed properly it was a mess). After kneading for a few minutes to distribute the seeds, the dough was fermented warm for 1.5 hrs. Then shaped using plenty of light rye flour to avoid sticking, and proofed in my bannetons, also generously dusted with rice flour. Proofed for 50 min on the heat pad.

When taken out of the bannetons, I remove excess flour as best I could with a brush, and then brushed with plenty of water. Already here I noticed the dough was cracking for some reason. I suspect the surface might have overdried with too much flour when proofing, but avoiding cracks in hearth rye bread is a challenge with a lot of factors involved.

Sprinkled with seeds (probably put too much), and baked in preheated oven on steel at 260C for 10 min, then reduced to 190C and baked for 50 min. For most of that time switched to bottom-only heat to avoid burning the top.

I am really pleased with the crumb for 80% rye bread, and didn't get too many cracks, so reasonable free-standing rye bread is possible quite easily! Seeds are of course delicious. For some reason the taste of black treacle comes through a bit more than I expected, and the bread is overall on the sweet side.

Danni3ll3's picture

I ran out of bread (taking a break over the holidays) and needed a loaf to go with soup so I was looking for something simple. I love Spelt with porridge so this was it. 





Makes 3 loaves



100 g large rolled oats

200 g water

45 g honey

40 g butter



700 g strong bakers unbleached flour

300 g freshly milled wholegrain Spelt flour 

50 g freshly ground flax seeds

700 g water

23 g salt

30 g yogurt

250 g levain (procedure in recipe)

Extra wholegrain and unbleached flour of your choice for feeding the levain


The day before:

1. Take 2 g of refrigerated starter and feed it 4 g of filtered water and 4 g of wholegrain flour. Place in a warm spot for about 8 hours. 


The night before:

1. Mill the grains if you are using spelt berries. Place the required amount of flour in a tub. Grind the flax seeds and add to the tub. Add the unbleached flour to the tub as well. Cover and set aside.

2. Feed the levain 20 g of water and 20 g of wholegrain flour. Let that rise for the night. 


Dough Making day:

1. Early in the morning, feed the levain 100 g of filtered water and 100 g of strong baker’s flour. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled (about 6 hours). 

2. About two hours before the levain is ready, put 700 g filtered water in a stand mixer’s bowl and add the flours from the tub.  Mix on the lowest speed until all the flour has been hydrated. This takes a couple of minutes. Autolyse for at least a couple of hours at room temperature. 

3. Make the porridge: Add the water to the rolled oats and cook on low until water is absorbed and porridge is creamy. Add the butter and the honey. Stir until well distributed. 

4. Once the autolyse is done, add the salt, the yogurt, and the levain to the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed for a minute to integrate everything, then mix on the next speed for 8 minutes. At the end of the 8 minutes, add the porridge and mix until incorporated.

5. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place in a lightly oiled covered tub. Let rest 30 minutes in a warm spot (oven with light on). 

6. Do 2 sets of coil folds at 30 minute intervals and then 2 more sets at 45 minute intervals, and then let the dough rise 40%. This took about another hour. It should have irregular bubbles visible through the sides of the container and  bubbles on top as well. 

7. Tip the dough out on a bare counter, sprinkle the top with flour and divide into portions of ~800 g. Round out the portions into rounds with a dough scraper and let rest 30 minutes on the counter. 

8. Do a final shape by flipping the rounds over on a lightly floured counter. Gently stretch the dough out into a circle. Pull and fold the third of the dough closest to you over the middle. Pull the right side and fold over the middle and do the same to the left. Fold the top end to the center patting out any cavities. Finally stretch the two top corners and cross over each other in the middle. Roll the bottom of the dough away from you until the seam is underneath the dough. Cup your hands around the dough and pull towards you, doing this on all sides of the dough to round it off. Finally spin the dough to make a nice tight boule.

9. Sprinkle a  mix of rice flour and all purpose flour in the bannetons. I sprinkled some rolled oats as well. Place the dough seam side down in the bannetons. Let rest for a few minutes on the counter and then put to bed in a cold (38F) fridge overnight. 

Baking Day

1. The next morning, about 11 hours later, heat the oven to 475F with the Dutch ovens inside for 45 minutes to an hour. Turn out the dough seam side up onto a cornmeal sprinkled counter. Place rounds of parchment paper in the bottom of the pots, and carefully but quickly place the dough seam side up inside. 

2. Cover the pots and bake the loaves at 450 F for 25 minutes, remove the lids, and bake for another 22 minutes at 425 F. Internal temperature should be 205 F or more.


The boules ended up with awesome oven spring. I think that having a bit narrower pots helped with that. I was glad to see that the new pots weren’t too small for the amount of dough I usually make. Having a curved lid also helped as the boules sprung well above the edge. I didn’t relish the idea of having to rescale all my recipes. 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Regarding Enzo's pepperoni versus Rosa Grande. Enzo's wins, way less greasy no need to microwave. Just the right amount of grease. Smile. Closing thought I need to get that bar stool guy to stop around my way. I will make him a pie to knock his Brooklyn accent back into last month!

Nice even playing field. If you want a nice result, you have to pay attention at this juncture.
Now that is a nice stretched skin
Oven ready

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Portus's picture

Having returned from holiday with a spare pre-mixed Ziploc bag of Abe’s VSSD loaf ingredients, I decided to use them with Anis Bouabsa’s baguette method to see what they produced.  Main changes were upping VSSD’s hydration to +78% and, as the baguette’s 24-hour retard method yielded no dough expansion, I added a further 12-hour, overnight ferment at room temperature (the norm for VSSD), which only offered a meagre ~10% increase in volume.  The VSSD stiff starter was about 3 weeks old.

This combination produced a pleasing baguette and loaf.  Both presented surprising oven spring, as is particularly evident in the loaf’s bloom.  For my palate, however, I am not sure about the hint of sour for the baguette that presumably came with the long retard and ferment cycles; for the loaf, the sour was more pronounced and better suited.  As the one picture shows, the loaf’s crumb was more baguette- than loaf-like, though some may prefer the irregular, larger holes.



Whatever, I was happy that 60% whole wheat delivered a delightfully crisp crust and an open and chewy crumb ahead of expectations. I am also rather amazed about what a mere 2% of a very mature, stiff starter can do without any intermediate levain-build.  I surmise that part of the answer may lie with the high % whole wheat, a touch of DMP (substituted 5g white flour), and gentle folding - aside from being fortunate with times and temperatures.


gavinc's picture

This is Hamelman’s Five-Grain Levain. I used the same grains as per the formula; cracked rye, flaxseeds (sold here as linseed), Sunflower seeds and oats. I made the cracked rye by milling the rye very coarsely, then sifting with a 40# mesh sieve.

I recalculated for a 750-gram dough (to suit my banneton) and have included the formula below.

I mixed the final build of the levain about 5 pm the day before and made the soaker at the same time. The levain and at its peak by 7 am the next morning.

The flours are bread flour (11.5% protein) and home-milled whole-wheat. The overall hydration is 98%! I mixed and kneaded by hand and tried not to add too much extra flour, but it was a struggle not to as I had to keep flouring my hands to keep them dry. The dough was very sticky but became less so after 15 minutes of stretch and folds.

I was not intending to retard the proof, so I chose to bulk ferment for 1 ½ hour with a fold at 45 mins. Shaped into an oblong and proofed for 1 hour at 25C/76F.

I scored the dough laterally with a serrated knife and baked. The dough held up reasonably well when moved from the couche to the peel and scored.

The bake went well with a good oven spring and the loaf took on a nice rich colour. I allowed the loaf to cool before slicing.

Tasting: Hamelman states “This is one of the most delectable breads I have ever eaten”. A big statement which is why I wanted to bake this. I was not disappointed, the flavour from the overnight levain added a lovely character and combined well with the choice of grains. The small amount of IDY did not detract and helped to create a medium-light crumb. The aroma when slicing was enticing.

Benito's picture

In order to bring out much more miso flavour I used my red miso and increased it to 10%.

Total Flour 494 g 


Bread Flour 88.5% 437 g


Whole Wheat 11.5% 57 g all in levain 


Total Water 387.5 g 78.5% hydration 


Levain 115 g


Miso 49 g 10% 


Salt 7.5 g 


Overnight Levain build 1:6:6 


In the morning dissolve ripe levain and miso in the water holding back 10 g of water.  Add flour and mix until no dry flour visible.  Rest for 20 mins.

Add salt and gradually add the hold back water 10 g.

Rubaud kneading x 5 mins.  Rest 30 mins.

Strong bench letter fold.  Set up aliquot jar.  Rest 30 mins.

Lamination sprinkling on furikake (I do no measure how much is added but I like to sprinkle on quite a bit)

Do coil folds at 30 mins intervals until good window pane achieved.

Bulk ends when aliquot jar shows 60% rise.  Bulk was done at 80ºF and was completed in 4.25 hours.

Shape into batard.

Left on bench until aliquot jar shows 70% rise then place in 3ºC fridge for cold retard overnight.


Next morning 

Preheated oven at 500ºF

Bake 450ºF lid on for 30 mins


Dropped to 420ºF lid off 20 mins


Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

The holidays are playing all kinds of tricks with my baking schedule and thinking, so here is another salvaged near-flop.

My girlfriend's brother has been staying with us over the holidays, and when he was leaving yesterday I wanted to gift him a loaf of bread to take with him. But of course I didn't manage to plan it properly, and only could set up the very simple sourdough dough the night before, and spend minimal amount of hands-on time on it yesterday during the day.

I mixed a dough with 25% spelt, 10% extra strong whole wheat and 5% rye (rest BF), and 73% hydration, plus probably a few more percent from wetting hands during kneading (slap&folds): So I developed the gluten to a good degree, and left to ferment overnight (11 hours). Potentially important point is that I used 100% hydration rye starter from the fridge, not a stiff starter as in the recipe (since that's what I had). And more importantly, I used my "proofer", and I think I still need to play with the setup, since it appears the heating pad was on all night - and the dough overfermented! Especially at the bottom of the mixing bowl, where the heat is coming from, it was much more sticky than usual, and a lot of it was stuck to the bowl when I inverted it to remove the dough. And I got a very big rise, and I even had a feeling maybe it had peaked and started falling by morning. I'd never had dough overproof significantly in bulk like this, so it was a goo learning experience.

I tried shaping it, and while it was not a complete disaster at first, the gluten membrane on the outside was tearing very easily, and I couldn't make a tight boule or batard. So I decided to follow the common advice, to just dump the dough into loaf pans. I managed to shape one of them into batard-y roll, but the other one was impossible to work with, and just went into the pan as an unshaped mass of dough. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top, even if the bread is not great they are guaranteed to come out delicious. I then tried to proof it for a bit, but didn't see a significant rise. But by then it was time to go out for a walk to meet a friend, so I couldn't bake it and put them in the fridge, where they stayed a few hours, and I don't think it rose more than half a centimeter overall. I then scored it and baked it from cold (again, pressed for time I didn't even preheat the oven fully), and was pleasantly surprised by pretty good oven spring.

I lost track which one was shaped relatively well, and which was a complete mess when went into the pan, but they looked very similar in the end (I thought having a "skin" on the surface was beneficial for the crust, but it doesn't appear so!). I kept one of the loafs, and tasted it this morning.

Probably unsurprisingly, this is the most sour bread I've ever made! I still like it, but would prefer less acidity.

ifs201's picture

I decided to make one of my favorite Community Bake recipes again and made two of the Hamelman Five Grain loaves using cracked rye, oats, sesame seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I used a mix of bread flour, hard red winter wheat, and rye. I also upped the hydration a bit. I tried to develop the gluten before adding the soaker, but then the large volume of soaker made it hard to I corporate.




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