The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Bread1965's picture

After bringing my starter in from the cold he's had a few very active days on the counter-top. Inspired by the Poilane Masterclass I baked her signature Poilane style wheat loaf. It's a very low hydration, very high levain hearty loaf. The wheat really shines in this loaf and the crumb is firm and hearty. The crust is thick and crunchy. Grandma and Mom would have been happy.. as am I! She talks about keeping the bread wrapped in linen so I'm going to try that this week and see how it dries out.



mdw's picture

I've long kept a personal diary online of my bakes to help track progression and variables and thought it might be nice to begin sharing them here. Over the years I've learned an astonishing amount from contributors on this site, I've fallen down rabbit hole after rabbit hole chasing theory on microbiology (you're amazing Debra! When will you offer classes again?? Years before I found this site I started my first starter with Artisan Breads Every Day!), dough strength, gluten formation, etc. It's not unusual for me to maintain several open tabs here for weeks on end. I also choose to bake with 100% whole grains from my local mill, originally for the nutrition and flavor (and challenge!) but increasingly because it supports a local economy and agricultural system that align with my beliefs. I'm not particularly patient, but I do tend to be rather methodical. As such the diary has been an enormous help in recognizing cause and effect for experiments that take a few days to complete, particularly because I'm often inspired midway through to try ten things differently next time. That said, I've settled into a basic routine that I'm happy with and am more comfortable isolating one or two variables at a time. I'm currently playing with dough strength in an attempt to push my whole grain as far as I can. I've recently been inspired by Mariana's comments in this thread, and for this last loaf I dusted off the KitchenAid to see what would happen. Spoiler alert, not much. We own the Artisan model unfortunately so the dough hook isn't particularly effective, but it was worth a shot. The rest of the process was as follows:

  • 100% Whole Grain Heirloom French Renan
  • 80% Hydration
  • 5% inoculation
  • 2% Salt

Autolyze for 5 hours followed by inoculation, a brief rest, and salt. My current theory is that building strength during the autolysis is beneficial, particularly when working with whole grains. So there was a lot of Rubaud and rolling around in the bowl during this time. After inoculation I laminated this dough twice, which is also a relatively new technique for me, but the effects were inconclusive. Although I prefer long cool fermentation I made a scheduling error and was forced to bulk at 80℉ to avoid 2am completion. I generally shoot for about 75% rise before shaping, followed by an hour or so at room temperature, then a retard in our very cold fridge of at last 5 hours. This loaf was baked after three nights in the fridge. 

This is not the best loaf from my most recent bakes, but they've become very consistent. As such I think I'm now better able to dial in on some of the more subtle effects from the process. As Trevor Wilson says, it's about 80% fermentation so as that remains consistent so too do the bakes. For the next bake I plan to incorporate some ideas I have based on watching what happens with Richard Bertinet's dough.

This site has become a respite of sorts from what feels like an increasingly toxic internet culture. The quality of contributions and dialogue is a real breath of fresh air and I thank you all.  

_JC_'s picture

This wonderful crumb was made last year 20th of August 2020(Winter), When I started to learn more about fermentation and type of flours.. This is I think the most successful Lacy Crumb that I made. From what I've learned, Flour plays a very important part in getting an open crumb.

380g - Flour Mix(310g Strong Bread Flour/70g Whole Wheat)

300g - Water - 80% Hydration

8g - Salt

80g - Starter



7:30 am Feed starter(Levain)

11:00 am Autolyse(27c deg - Water Temp)

1:30 pm Added Starter

2:00 pm Added Salt

2:30 pm 1 Strong stretch and fold

3:00 pm Laminate

4:00 pm to 6:30 pm with 4 coil folds(at 24c deg)

7:00 pm while still in Fermentation left in the fridge.

10:30 pm pull out from fridge left at room temp.

6:30 am Final shaped(almost 100% doubled!!)

Proofed in fridge for 3 hours then decided I want to bake it today, took it out and leave in 24c Deg temp for 3 hours.

Baked on baking steel

230c Deg for 15 minutes

170c Deg for 30 minutes

mdw's picture

Inspired by this comment from Trevor Wilson, I decided to take a run at bread made from dough doubled twice before turning out for preshape. I didn't feel confident that I'd be able to shape something that far along so I also decided to indulge my wife's request for sandwich bread simultaneously and dusted off the 9x4x4 Pullman (sans lid). After calculating how much water it holds, I divided the number by two to determine how much dough I needed (to fill the pan before it doubles), and added 10% to provide just enough to sit proud of the top. 

For context, I bake two or three sourdough loaves a week, whole grain exclusively. I have great success with moist and open crumb, deeply flavorful low temperature inoculations. But I've always been chasing more tang. As far as I know, the only real way to achieve this is by fermenting it beyond the point of being able to maintain significant structure, and I didn't want to sacrifice one for the other. My daily loaf is generally risen to a full(ish) 100% before a cold retard, typically 75% in bulk and another 25% proof (using bwraith's models for guidance and planning). I couldn't imagine taking my daily dough to 225% (structure wise), so that's where the Pullman pan comes in. I have to say, this loaf did not disappoint.

With all the other changes to my routine I figured I may as well make a white loaf as well, so I used 80% BF (Central Milling ABC+) along with 20% Heirloom French Renan from Grist & Toll (my wonderful local mill). At 70% hydration I was going for a "stiff" dough at Trevor's suggestion, but this felt very lax and overly extensible and I think it would have performed better at 65%. My NMNF starter and levain were used for a 5% inoculation of the dough that fermented nearly 20 hours total before the final shaping (69/70°F).  

I'm blown away by these results. So much so that I've been inspired to delurk here to record my notes. I've never tasted bread this sour. The aroma pops you in the nose and the tang is downright puckering. It's not for everyone, but I love sour profiles. And the texture is just as Trevor described, it's light and fluffy like a cloud. If you haven't before, I highly recommend running this experiment for yourself. 


agres's picture

I make bread almost every day. Being retired, I have  time to experiment, which I did not have when I was a chef in a commercial kitchen.  And, I do not have customers that expect consistency.  On the other hand, I have other things to do,  and seek to produce my bread expeditiously. 

There is always the yeast v. sourdough dilemma. The easy resolution is to use both! The easy path to using both is to use a bit of [yesterday's] bake as the sourdough starter for today's bake. This is a approach used by traditional European bakers. They knew what they were doing!  Reserved dough has salt it and it has lower hydration so it grows slower than most modern starters. It is good, but it is too much bother for many commercial bakers. Growing slower it will hold until tomorrow or the next day, this is a big advantage to the home baker - you do not have to bake - or feed your starter every day.  It has salt in it so you do not have to adjust the bread dough recipe for the weight of the starter.  

The old bread dough gives enough sourness to condition the dough, allow the bread the keep longer, and it makes the bread more moist without the addition of fats/oil.  it gives a rich flavor without a long bulk fermentation.  Usually, my dough save back is ~50 grams.  If I decide that my next bake will be larger, I add flour, 2% salt, and water to my reserved dough to make a dough starter of about 10% of my next bake, and I let it sit on the counter for a few hours.

I  have moved to putting 2% barley malt in my bread. It gives better crust color, faster rise,  and a nice sweetness.

These days, I add 20% strong white bread flour to some bakes.

I remain convinced that making less than 5 lb. of bread dough is faster and easier in a dough trough than with a stand mixer.

I weight the flour, yeast, and other dry ingredients into the trough, putting the salt in one corner. Yeast is usually 1% of flour weight.

I mix the old dough with most of the warm water that I think I will need.

I make a well in the flour in the trough, and slowly pour in the water mix with my left hand as I gently stir the water so it gradually pulls flour in to the pool of water in the well.  This process of stirring the water surrounded by flour seems to develop gluten easier and faster than any other method I know. The actually time is about the same as mixing in the stand mixer, but the product is better.  Ok, I know I have to stand over it, but I usually do this while breakfast is cooking.  Stirring the water into the flour is faster than breakfast,  so both can be done at the same time.

There will still be some dry flour and the salt in the corner of the dough trough. A rest allows the dough to autolyze. A few minutes later I add warm water by drips and work-in the last of the flour and the salt and knead the dough for 2 or 3 minutes.  Because the whole wheat flour has had a chance to absorb water,  I can adjust the hydration more precisely.

Then I do bulk fermentation at 90F, usually 1.5 hours; stretching / folding the dough as often as it needed or as often as I need to come to the kitchen for coffee.  Fermentation is done in the oven or in a Styrofoam "cooler" with a warm cast iron muffin pan in the bottom.

There is  pre-shape, bench rest, shape and  rise.  Bake temperature varies from 350F for loaf pans, to 375F for whole wheat French bread baked on aluminum sheet pans to  400F on a pizza stone for a 2 kilo miche of Pain de Campagne




justkeepswimming's picture

Feb 3, 2021 - Abe's VSSD, take 2

I decided to start this during the day this time, so I could watch it and better understand the bulk proof. That allowed taking photos of the whole process.  It was a little warmer here than usual yesterday, about 4-5 degrees F warmer than the overnight room temperature than the last time.

Dough info:

Freshly milled hard red winter wheat 150 gm

Freshly milled hard white spring wheat 150 gm

KAF bread flour 200 gm

Water 340 gm (freshly milled flour tends to be thirsty, I went by feel)

Salt 9 gm

Stiff starter 15 gm

After Abe's great advice, I fed the stiff starter and got it going well a couple of days before using it. This is definitely more vigorous than the last time. 

Dough after kneading. Dough temp 79F, room temp 69F:

After ~ 4 hours:

After ~ 8 hours:

At the 11 hour mark, there was no discernable change. We are early risers and bed time was approaching faster than bulk was moving, so I put it into my makeshift proofing box (microwave with the lights on keeps it between 82-86F). 

After ~ 13 hours total:

Shaped and into the banetton, then into the fridge as we headed to bed.

Banetton came out of the fridge early this morning, and went back into my "proofing box" for about 4 hours. I checked it often, and when the poke test showed it was nearly ready, I preheated the oven and DO.

Scored and ready to go.

I had floured the banetton well last night, then sprinkled in some bran (had been playing with a new sieve) for a little decoration. Most of it stayed in the banetton, will see if what made it onto the loaf even shows after baking.

Spritzed with a little water, then baked at 470F with the lid on 25 min, lid off at 450 another 15 min. Internal temp 209 F. 

Cooling. All my DO bakes at these higher temps ,(internal oven temp verified, not going by what the oven settings say) have overcooked the bottom. I have been trying various cookie sheets etc. on the shelf below, which helps some. Parchment paper and cornmeal too. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 


First impression - a little flatter than last time, will see what the crumb shows. It may be a tad overproofed. Crumb shot tomorrow. I'm predicting it may show some over proofing, guess time will tell..... 

idaveindy's picture

Feb. 3, 2021.  For the Durum Community Bake!

I've spent over a year touting durum flour (the finely ground flour, not just the gritty durum semolina) from Indian grocery stores... so I felt I had better walk-the-walk and join this Community Bake.

I haven't done actual durum flour since getting into sourdough --  but did use some durum semolina in recent bakes. One was 100% semolina, except for the bread flour in the starter,

Here's a photo from my kitchen/stove as evidence of which variety I got, Fiber Wala, from Sher Brar Mills of Canada:


Patel Brothers grocery was all out of their house brand whole grain durum, so I bought this at $12.99 for 20 pounds.

I stopped by a friend's house on the way back from the store and gave him about 4 pounds, since it will take a while to use this up.

The package calls this "whole wheat" but I'm not convinced it is 100% extraction.


  • 553 g Fiber Wala durum flour. 3 cups, not sifted, using "scoop and sweep".
  • 11.0 g salt
  • 1.0 g instant dry yeast. 1/4 tsp.
  • 470.5 g bottled spring water. 470.5 / 553 = 85% hydration.

That it easily took 85 % hydration, I take to indicate that it is high extraction, if not 100% extraction.   I had started at 69.6% hydration (385 g water) and it was too dry, so I kept adding water until it felt right.  Fortunately, I weighed the water at each addition.

Mixed, rested it a bit, kneaded it by hand for a few minutes.  There were some small lumps that disappeared during kneading. I take this to mean that the flour should have been sifted or otherwise fluffed up before mixing.

Drizzled a little regular olive oil on the dough ball, turned to coat, covered bowl with plastic wrap and put in oven to rise.

12:40 pm.  Start bulk ferment (when yeast was wetted, not at end of mix/knead). Dough ball weighed 1014 g, not counting what stuck to the bowl and my fingers.

1:32 pm - Stretch and fold. Dough is now nicely hydrated and supple. No tearing while stretching.

2:25 pm - stretch and fold.

[ 12:40 - 3:32 pm. 2 hours 52 minutes bulk ferment. ]

3:32 pm - stretch and fold. I realized this was progressing faster than I planned. So, remembering the CB talk about short or no bulk ferment, I decided to shape and start the final proof. I put it back in the oven, as opposed to the fridge, and left to do my errands.

6:04 pm - Returned and upon inspection, I realized it might have over-proofed. Took it out of oven and started pre-heat at *475 / 450 F.

[ 3:32 - 6:50 pm. 3 hours 18 minutes final proof.]

6:50 pm. Start bake. Covered, 450 / 425 F.  15 minutes.

7:05 pm. Covered, 425 / 400 F. 15 minutes.

7:20 pm. Uncovered, 425 / 400 F. 20 minutes.

7:40 pm. Interior temperature 208.5 F. Thumps well. 

(* first number is the oven's thermostat setting, second number is temp reading of a cheap oven thermometer.  The thermometer reads 25 degrees cooler in the 400+ range.



Next bake, my #2, in the Semolina/Durum Community Bake:

yozzause's picture

Yesterday  i spent at home under our 5 day corona  lockdown, We had a run of 10 months with no community transfer. But a security guard has caught the virus from returning travellers in supervised Hotel quarantine and been out and about in the community . this triggered  a lockdown and vigorous contact tracing and testing and so far no other cases have emerged fingers crossed. The other Emergency is a large bushfire to the North of the city and already 71 homes have been lost in high temperatures and strong winds.

I did my interpretation of Nero fiddling while Rome was burning, Stayed Home and baked bread.

i chose to make an Orange Poppy Seed Fruit loaf  using freshly squeezed oranges (2) and their zest 




This is the first time i have scored fruit doughs so did a variety of patterns. i originally intended  making a 800g dough but when i had squeezed the orange juice i had to recalculate the recipe to use it all. and ended up with 1773g dough instead and 4 loaves at 443g.


With the fire still raging and lockdown entering its 3rd day i am looking at making another fruit dough this time using Fresh Figs and Fennel seed. I am hoping the fire fighters  and the people in its path stay safe.   

Benito's picture

We love our sourdough pizza for dinner.  We always make one for each of us.  Today’s pizza was Italian tuna, sun dried tomato, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, stuffed green olives, taggiasca olives, peperoncini and mozzarella cheese.  I’ll post the sourdough recipe below, but I really haven’t changed much since using this during the pizza Community Bake a couple of years back, thanks again to Will the Pie King for sharing his recipe.


For 4 9” pizzas NY style thin crust 200 g each

Levain Build 100% hydration 35 g needed


433 g bread flour

43 g Whole grain flour (50:50 whole spelt:whole wheat)

4.76 g Diastatic malt 

252 g water and

41 g water hold out

2.34 g salt

8 g sugar

4.8 g olive oil


(1) In your mixer bowl(or by hand) dissolve the Starter in all of the Final Dough Water except the HOLD OUT Water.  (Add diastatic malt too)

(2) Mix in the flours until well hydrated 

(3) Allow to fermentolyse for 1hr 

(4) Mix in the remaining HOLD OUT Water, salt and sugar, mix until well-incorporated. 

(5) Slowly drizzle in the oil until well combined. 

(6) Beat or knead by hand until dough is moderately developed. The dough will be sticky and elastic. If kneading by hand, use slightly wet hands and avoid adding more flour. 

(7) Oil your hands and a suitable container. 

(8) Shape into a tight ball.  I divide the ball into four smaller ones each for one 9” pizza at this point.  Each goes into a small oiled bowl and allowed to bulk ferment at 80ºF for 1 hour.

(9) Cold ferment in the refrigerator for minimum 48 hours and up to 4 days.

(10) Remove to warm up to room temp 1hr or so before use, or you can ferment at room temp. for 6hrs. I have found about 2 hours at 80ºF in the proofing box to be ideal.

(11) Stretch the balls into your desired size skins (see video below), top and bake at 500F-550F (as high as your oven will go) Until the crust is browned and the cheese has melted. Spin the pie at least once to avoid burning due to oven hot

spots. I have included a link to a skin stretching tutorial. 

Yippee's picture

Preparing to make a traditional panettone can sometimes be daunting, especially when I don't have MANY ingredients!  A panettone recipe from Chef Alphonso Pepe calls for several citrus fruit paste. It is discouraging that I have to pause to prepare these ingredients every time before I can make his panettone.  I like spontaneous baking, and that's why I love CLAS.  Any extended prep work before a bake will most likely deter me from baking. But Chef PePe's panettone sounds so refreshing with all the citrus fruit ingredients, and I want to try it. So I came up with the idea of making various citrus fruit marmalades to expedite the prep work. This way, I will have these ingredients handy and I can make his panettone whenever I want. But the workflow of making marmalades that I can find is laborious; even those which claim to be "simple" are not simple enough for me. So, I decided to use my tools to turn it into an easy job.  Here's how I do it:



Weigh the citrus, then weigh an equal amount of sugar (1:1). You may adjust the sugar amount according to your preferred ratio. For every 2kg of sugar used, you need to add the juice of at least one lemon 🍋. 

                            Use an automatic citrus peeler to peel both citrus fruits.                              




                              Roughly cut the citrus strands with scissors, then pulse them in a food processor.                                


                             Use an electric juicer to juice the citrus.                               If you decide to also use the pith, process it at this stage to get rid of its bitterness. Then make sure to pulse the pith as well.                              Snip extra pulp and scoop the membranes out of the compost if you are not going to use the pith.                              All three ingredients to make marmalade:                              Dump them into the Instant Pot                             High-pressure cook for 5 minutes if you do not use the pith, and if you do, add a few minutes. Once depressurized, "saute" to boil the mixture until it reaches 220F.                                         Load the marmalade in canning jars and process them using your preferred canning method. I found that ~900g of citrus at a 1:1 ratio of sugar yield ~ 5x250ml jars, which fit perfectly in my Instant Pot basket.                              This is the orange marmalade that I made yesterday using the peel/zest part only. Without the pith, there were not enough peels to evenly distribute throughout the marmalade. It's also harder to gel.  I had to increase the sugar to a final ratio of 1:2 for it to set, which made it syrupy. To avoid this, next time I may have to increase the peels to compensate for the weight of the pith not used, or more completely scoop the membranes out of the compost.                                This is the 🍊 mandarin marmalade that I made with whole fruit. So far, I've found that mandarin is the perfect citrus that yields the least bitter marmalade without extra pith processing.                              Vibrant color with the perfect taste and texture.                         




 🥝



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