The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Kistida's picture

Followed Helen Rennie’s focaccia recipe on YouTube but mine lost its rectangle shape during the final proof. 

Any tips on how to prevent this? Many thanks in advance. 

- Christi

albacore's picture

Somehow or other I landed on an Italian web page with a recipe for Colomba di Pasqua. Being nearly Easter, it did seem like a good time to make an Easter dove. Besides, I wanted to send my sister a birthday present, having not seen her for a long, long time - like so many people.

This is the recipe, found on the giallozafferano website. I figured that this must be a well tested recipe, since it has well over a thousand comments! It's a yeasted recipe (I used SAF Gold), but nevertheless, fairly complex.

First problem - no mould and no time to order paper ones. Answer: make one! I liked the look of a single winged metal one that I saw a picture of, so with a piece of scrap thin aluminium sheet, a pair of tin snips and a pop-riveter, the dove was born. All done free-form and the head is a little small, but I was happy enough with it.

And here is the dove at the end of final proof:

And after baking:

Out of the tin after cooling for a few minutes:

No crumb shot, as this was going off as a present, but I did make a small sister loaf with excess dough:



Kistida's picture

This was an easy one and wonderful with chowder earlier today. 1 hour’s proof after mixing, divide and shape then, baked at 230°C/450°F for 10-12 minutes.
Recipe appears in the books Dough and Crumb by Richard Bertinet

  • 500g strong bread flour (I used Canadian AP)
  • 350g water
  • 3g instant yeast (10g fresh yeast)
  • 10g salt
  • Olive oil for brushing 
  • Optional add-ins: olives, roasted peppers, garlic powder,  rosemary, thyme 



yozzause's picture

 I recently had another birthday tick over,  this one  3 Score and 10 which i enjoyed with a friend who also celebrated his 78th birthday 2 days after mine . We were away fishing on the south coast of Western Australia and did very well catching the daily bag limit of Black Bream each day!

Now that i have returned i turned my attention to the fact that the exercise group that i belong to will help celebrate the achievement of my birth with the subject providing some goodies for the post exercise coffee time. i decide to make Cinnamon buns but different from the usual scrolls so i did a test run in readiness for tomorrow mornings early 4.00 am bake. i was very pleased with the result and confident in the mix size and bun size and very confident they taste great and the group will love them! Might even get marriage proposals like last year with the scrolls! 

 the dough as mixed

placed into the bowl for BF

nicely proven

shaped and placed in muffin tray

Double size baked free standing on a sheet

The complete ensemble

 Sliced in readiness for a good Wodge of Butter



1 Dozen Black Bream on the old ironing board  filleting bench

The clean up crew removing all the offal 

kapawlak's picture

Finally just going to try it and see what happens. Updates + pictures as I go.


Soaker: Combine and occasionally stirred for 3 hours, or until dough is fully cohesive. 



  • (100 ± 2) g 50% Pasta Madre fed with KAF AP night before.
  • Mix with (50 ± 10) g very warm water right before incorporating with Soaker


Final Dough:

  • 100% WWF
  • 20% Stiff Leaven
  • 2.2% Salt
  • 90% Hydration

Note: Calculating from raw ingredients, this is a 84% Hydration dough! The water added to the stiff leaven throws things off ;)


Fresh Milled flour and just-mixed soaker.




Soaker after 3 hours + 3 stirs: Pinching and pulling on a small bit can lift the entire dough out of the bowl cleanly without ripping. I consider this hydrated enough to add my salt and begin bulk






Mix in the Leaven well. Final dough temp is 75F, which is about what I want since WW fermentation can get a bit crazy 


Dough goes in the proofing container, and is folded up to one side. As the gluten relaxes, it stretches itself via gravity. I do a coil-fold when it nearly covers the floor of the container, about every 30 minutes.

Coil 1: 1:45 PM
Coil 2: 2:15 PM
**Work Meeting :( **
Coil 3: 3:15 PM
Coil 4: 3:40PM


At 3:50PM I give the dough one last coil foil because I notice that it is puffy enough to start taking up its own slack as it ferments. I will watch the dough and divide it when it jiggles.





Divided dough at 4:50 into two 500g Boules. Let them rest until 5:15, and proceed to final shaping (1 batard, 1 boule because I only have one of each banneton lol)

The batard is proofed in a box at 78F until ready to bake.

The boule is proofed in a box at 78F until 5:55 ( 40 minutes) and the n placed in the fridge for baking tomorrow.



5:55 S.O. has commandeered the oven to roast a chicken for dinner 😂😭
Will try reducing temp of the batard proof to 70 so it can last a little longer before baking


Finally got the Loaf in at around 7:25. Baked in an oven preheated to 500F with icecubes at 450F until 7:38, after which I vented the steam and lowered the temp to 400F for about 25 minutes. I shut the oven off and let the loaf and oven cool together with the door cracked


Loaf 1 Analysis:

This loaf had only very slight oven spring, which led me to worry it would be a brick upon cutting. When I removed the loaf from the oven, I felt how light it was and became less worried :). Without further ado:

The crumb is not the best. It doesn't have the irregular holes granted by extreme oven rise. But the loaf is certainly not "dense"!


 It easily squishes, and the interior is VERY soft and aerated. (Note the loss of crust, in support of hypothesis 1 below)



But let's slow down, I'm not taking a victory lap yet! Quite the opposite! This bread is a mystery that needs to be solved 🤨


Why is the crumb soft and yet "closed"? I don't believe it's under proofed -- this bread proofed for longer than my 80%WW and it doesn't have the characteristic intra-hole density and gummy quality. In fact, the crumb seems uniformly aerated, almost like a soft sandwich loaf.



This brings me to consider that, in this 100%WW bread, the interior is not fully expanding for one reason or another. Here are my top hypothesis:

  1. Water Content: WW Flour is notoriously thirsty, hiding 10% or more water in the germ and bran than white flour. Let's look at some physical facts about water:
    • It has an incredibly high specific heat (relative to most organic compounds and oils) due to the extreme polar nature of the molecule. Translated into baking, this means it takes a lot of heat to produce an increase in temperature of water. In terms of our bread, all things held constant, this means that the average temperature within the very hydrated WW loaf is going to be significantly lower than the white loaf during the first 10-20 minutes of baking. This appears consistent with searchable baking experiments that show the crumb after baking at various temperatures. When the first 10 minutes of baking occur at temperatures of less than 400 for a white loaf, you essentially lose the big irregular holes. The hydration of the WW seems to suggest that the minimum baking temp for big open crumb is probably a lot higher. If this is a contributing factor, the solution is to bump up the oven temp to the max it will go for the preheat, and bake at 500+ for the first 8-10 minutes.
    • It is dense, as anyone who has handled WW dough knows. The extra weight in the large starch is clearly going to have a detrimental effect on the overall rise. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that there is a way to circumvent this without materially changing the bread, e.g. adding enzymes to break the porous, hydrophilic complex starches down into simple sugars with no tertiary structure to hold water. One possible hack may be to do as much proofing in as low a temperature as possible, so that the starches and gluten are slightly more rigid, and can hold vertical growth better.
  2. Crust formation: The crust in WW bread may form faster/harder than its white counter part due to the bran and starch that interpenetrates the exterior gluten network. This would act like a Pullman pan and force the kind of crumb uniformity we are seeing. The solution to this would be to amp up the steam. 

I still have the other loaf in the fridge. I'll bake him the same way so we can try to learn something! 



I lied, I'm bumping the temperature!

Boule loaf loaded from fridge at 10:25 into oven preheated to 550.

Added ice and lowered temp to 515. 

Lowered to 475 after 8 minutes

Lowered again to 400 after 10 more minutes. Opened oven door to vent steam for a bit.

Shut off oven after 15 more minutes, letting bread cool with oven door open




Loaf 2 Analysis:

HOLEY LOAF! I consider this hard evidence for the water-content & specific heat argument!! Reminder that I baked this at 515F in an oven preheated to 550. Look at how the crumb is open at the edges but closed deep in the bulk where the temperature rises much more slowly!!



I think the next step on the 100%WW journey is clearly pushing the limits on baking temperature and shape.


EDIT: I started eating it and cut into a different part of the bread and wow! Surprise crumb shot anyone? Even better than the center cut!

JonJ's picture

So, I was inspired by Dan's post to try a new drug, errr... ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in my baking. And I also did a little bit of reading up on this site and saw that Doc. Dough recommended a much lower amount than was used in Dan's original post - 20-30 ppm of ascorbic acid.

The flours that I bake with typically have a low protein percentage of around 11.4g/100g or so, and in the past when I've tried to push the hydration too far I've ended up with flat breads, so my thinking is that the effect ascorbic acid has through  strengthening the gluten by oxidative bonds is something that could help my particular breads at the higher hydration.

By adding some vital wheat gluten, I've been successfully baking with these flours at high hydration, but the 'mouth feel of the bread' isn't the best. The bread becomes a little bit too springy for my taste, and some of that soft feel in your mouth can get lost.

As you can see from the photo above, the ascorbic acid appears to have allowed me to continue making soft bread, even at the higher hydrations, and without adding VWG. Got a great crumb at 80% hydration, even an ear.

Why I say 'appears' though is that I didn't really bake a control bread without the ascorbic acid, so this is still unconfirmed. And to be fair, my baking method pushed the dough to develop gluten quickly. This may have allowed for my flours to cope with the higher hydration. The baking method used on this bread had a lot of dough manipulation up front: after the 1 hour autolyse the Kenwood mixer was used at speed 2 for 5 minutes to incorporate the levain; then for the next 10 minutes hand bassinage was used to slowly increase the hydration from 70% to 80%; thereafter the salt was mixed in by hand, and finally after that it still needed another 5 minutes in the mixer again on speed 2 before the bowl was running clean again. So a fair amount of dough strengthening immediately after adding the levain. Never mind that a lamination was done after that to incorporate the olives into the bread. It is still an outstanding question for me then if the dough strengthening manipulations on their own were what made this bread better; or even if the vitamin C allowed them to work effectively.

Adding such a small amount of ascorbic acid in the home kitchen isn't simple. By mass, and by my math, 25 ppm of ascorbic acid means the 400g of flour used in this loaf works requires 0.01g of ascorbic acid. A 500mg vitamin C tablet was dissolved in 500g of water in a jar (see photo below). I just let it sit for two hours swirling occasionally. There were still sediments in the solution once the pill was fully dissolved, for which I made the optimistic assumption that that would be insoluble parts of the binder as I think ascorbic acid itself, even in crystalline form should dissolve into the water in a couple of hours. Only 10g of that solution was then used as part of the water added to my bread during the autolyse. The remaining 490g was not used in the bread, but I did drink half of it and boy you can certainly taste that it had ascorbic acid in the solution!

I'm enjoying the soft feel of this bread, and keep going back for more and more slices. Hopefully I'll manage to work out where this bread went right, either it isn't a fluke and the ascorbic acid trick is the reason or it may simply be that hitting it hard and working the gluten strongly from an early stage is what made all the difference.

Swirl of sediments as the tablet dissolves.

 Bread in profile.

Benito's picture

Time to get the rust out of my baguette baking.  It has been more than two months since I last made baguettes and since I’d only started to bake them this past summer, I kind of feel that I need to bake them often enough to not forget how to make them.  The shaping is always the big challenge to do well.  The other challenge is trying a new recipe using some flour I’ve never used before for baguettes.  It is hard to know what to expect for dough handling, in this case the dough was more elastic than I am used to and one baguette in particular didn’t want to elongate, that despite the fact that it had the longest rest time after pre-shaping.

This recipe was posted by Martin Philips of King Arthur baking, Dan Ayo of TFL fame posted about it.  I was interested in trying it.  Having use semolina for baguettes in the past the use of whole Kamut caught my eye.  Having made this once now, I would increase the hydration and also perhaps reduce the slap and folds I did at the onset.  One of the reasons I did slap and folds where I don’t usually for baguettes (not wanting to build too strong gluten) is that I made an error with mixing the fermentolyse.  Instead of starting with water and levain and dissolving the levain in the water.  I started with flour, then levain then water etc and I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the levain mixed thoroughly enough for a consistent fermentation.

I also added diastatic malt 1% as is my usual to help with crust browning.  It also speeds up fermentation giving the microbes more sugars more quickly.


No IDY was used in this bake, IDY is optional.


Fermentolyse - mix 286 g water with all the levain to dissolve the levain then add both flours and diastatic malt.  to combine rest for 40-60 mins


Add salt and hold back water 10 g  slap and fold x 200  - set up aliquot jar


Bulk Fermentation 75*F

3 hours 15 mins of total bulk 

Do folds every 30 mins doing 3 folds

Could do cold retard at this point for next day baking. (Aliquot jar 20% rise)


Divide and pre-shape rest for 15 mins

Use Kamut flour for couche

Shape en couche with final proof of 60-75 minutes   Cold retard shaped baguettes en couche when aliquot jar shows 30% rise for at least 15 minutes for easier scoring. 

Pre-heat oven 500*F after 30 mins add Silvia towel

Transfer to peel on parchment

Score each baguette and transfer to oven bake on steel

Bake with steam pouring 1 cup of boiling water to cast iron skillet dropping temperature to 480*F 


The baguettes are baked with steam for 13 mins.  The steam equipment is removed venting the oven of steam.  The oven is left at 480ºF but convection is turned on and the baguettes bake for 10 mins rotating them halfway.  The oven temperature is then dropped to 450ºF and the baguettes rotated again if needed and baked for another 3 mins to achieve a rich colour crust.

alfanso's picture

The Community Bake posting can be found here

Perhaps to stimulate some thoughts about what you wish to try, here are five breads I’ve recently baked and which ventured into my own no comfort zone.  Keep in mind that this is my personal version of this CB, and merely here to give examples of what took me out of my own personal comfort zone.   If it provides some ideas for you, all the better.

For each of these I provide a  "Why this is out of my Comfort Zone  to explain what makes this bake out of the ordinary for me.  Please provide your own for whatever you decide to post.

All of the “rules” and general instructions can be found in the CB.

Turkish Simits.  Found on YouTube, this bagel-like bread is seemingly perfect for accompanying a cup of coffee or tea.  My friend, who grew up in Athens wrote this to me about the simit.  
In my part of the world it is called koulouri (bread ring).  Years back when I was a kid there were salesmen of this walking the streets in Greece selling them.  They typically stack hundreds of them on a wooden platform which they will carry on their shoulder.  Amazingly skilled I had never seen or heard of one of them dropping the platform and spilling them.  Back then each cost one drahma which was the equivalent of maybe 5 - 10 cents. You handed the drahma to the guy and picked one from the stack and went your way.  Those times are gone now and only exist in memory.  They are sold now in bakeries and pastry shops each of them now a few euros.

Why this is out of my Comfort Zone: I’ve yet to bake a bagel.  This version of a simit “requires” a single strand to be doubled over and braided onto itself before sealing closed, and there is a molasses water dip for the ring before applying the sesame seeds.  

These are “fun” and easy to make, and a nice companion to place on a dessert table.  And with some practice I might even be able to get these to be rounder!


Pain Au Levain with Polenta.  Kingdom Bakery, Tampa.  As a lover of semolina and sesame seeds, this bread looked so appealing to me.  I had some trouble adjusting the formula from the video to my BBGA spreadsheet and decided to adjust the hydration down a few percent to accommodate for the moisture provided by the polenta.

Why this is out of my Comfort Zone: My experience with porridge as an ingredient is quite limited, perhaps only to include some oatmeal once or twice a few years ago.  I love polenta, be it creamy or in cake form, and so I thought I’d give this keeper of a bread a go.  And I’m so glad I did.   A search for ensuring a creamy polenta as the ingredient provided me with a simple and surefire way to cook a creamy polenta in 5 minutes rather 30.  Place a 3:1 ratio of water:coarse grain corn meal in a pot and allow it to soak for ~ 1 hour.  Bring to a boil and then back down to lively simmer, gently stirring once the pot starts to boil.  In 5 minutes the polenta will reach a creamy texture.



Potato/Semolina Levain. Niko Romito, Reale Ristorante, Italy.  Posted by another TFLer, it is another in my arsenal of semolina breads.  This is a very wet dough thanks to the addition of boiled potatoes and all the moisture they bring in.  Due to the high overall moisture, I lowered the water hydration from 72% to 64%, and it is still a difficult bread to wrangle.  The video has this bake at 400dF, but I ignored that and bumped the oven temp to 460dF.  And think that I made the right decision.

Why this is out of my Comfort Zone: As above, my experience with potato as an ingredient is also quite limited.  Potato seems to create a soft bread.  And this bread went halfway!  The crumb was amazingly soft and due to my pushing the oven temp, the outside gave me the dark and crispy snap that I much prefer to the more typical soft crust of a potato bread. I can see coming back to this again.  
Seeded Rye/Rice Flour Levain.  Iraide Lopez from the El Amasadero website, the official name for this loaf pan bread is Pan multicereales con azahar (Multi Grain Bread with Orange Blossom Water).  
Why this is out of my Comfort Zone: My first usage of rice flour, and along with the five grains there is the addition of “Orange Blossom Water” which is foreign to me but I added a few drops of orange extract and orange zest to the dough. And topped it off with a roll in bran flakes.  Including the soaker the water tops out at ~109%.
Another pan loaf that I might not visit again, and my wife was not enjoying the orange notes that the extract and zest provided.  The Hamelman 5-grain is a superior choice to my liking.    


Spiced Honey Bread.  Martin Philip, from his book Breaking Bread: A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes.  I own just about no bread baking books, able to count them on the fingers of one hand.  But I like him and this book was temporarily discounted to under US $10, and so I bought myself a Christmas present.
Why this is out of my Comfort Zone: The leavening agent in this bread is baking soda, which I’ve never used before for my breads.  There is no water, but rather a combination of milk, honey and molasses to provide most of the 242% hydration.  This bread uses 5 spices and orange zest, and has no Bulk Ferment.  Mix, pour, bake! The bread is designed for baby loaf pans 3.5" x 5.5”.
Enough to pique my interest, and certainly a tasty "dessert" loaf, it is a more complicated pan loaf mix than the flavor warrants.  Not sure if I’ll travel this route again, but it was a fun adventure at least this one time.   Certainly more of a quick bread rather than an "artisan" bread.      
The Community Bake posting can be found here
Kistida's picture

but I made this in a 8” square pan. 

slight adjustments to Maurizio’s recipe

  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 40g whole wheat flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g chopped walnuts (and/or pecans)
  • 113g (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 60g brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g sourdough discard
  • about 300g mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla or plain yogurt 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • zest of 1 orange/lemon (optional)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp rum (optional) - why not? :)
  • Topping: 2 tsp sugar plus 50g chopped walnuts 
alfanso's picture

Posted my first experience with the Kingdom Bakery Ciabatta the other day, and was pleased with the results, but tinker I must.

Changes this time employed a trifecta of pro baker's techniques, starting with the Kingdom mixing and BF, followed by the Ciril Hitz method of divide, and then the Scott MeGee method of shaping. 

The final three folds were performed on a watered bench-top with no flour. And I ensured that after each fold I returned the dough to the vessel seam side down.  

The dough was incredibly active at the three hour BF mark, yielding a very jiggly and unstable mass for divide and shaping, more so than with the Scott MeGee formula.  This made the dough difficult to shape in the Scott MeGee style, something that I've grown to greatly prefer.  The loaves were well floured (read as too much flour for my tastes) and therefore no issue to remove from the couche, basically merely rolling the loaf over on the couche and handling it from the ends.  The first was the shortest and most difficult to shape.

These baked several minutes less time than the last batch, and the lighter coloration and denser, heavier loaf testifies to this.  Still quite tasty.

After the last bake I was asked whether my BF had tripled.  Here is the today BF with the black dot indicating where it began. 3 hrs @78dF.

Overall I feel as though there was some technique improvements, and a better loft on the loaves, but I was expecting more from the shaping, which is usually not much of an issue with me.

1500g = 3 ciabatta loaves.



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