The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Baking Glossary

Bakers throw around a lot of terms and often don't define them. As I use jargon I'll try to start recording it here for the sake of building up a reference.

ABAA: Artisan Baking Across America, by Maggie Glezer. A book featuring profiles of artisan bakers and recipes for some of their breads.

AP: all purpose

autolyse: a technique for improving gluten development without heavy kneading. Combine the flour and water from your recipe in a bowl and mix until the flour is fully hydrated. Cover the bowl and let the flour hydrate for 20 minutes, then mix in remaining ingredients. The result is development comparable to a dough that has been kneaded for 5 or 10 minutes with less oxydation (which leads to a yellow crumb).

Baker’s percentage:a convention for listing the ingredients in a dough in which the quantity of each ingredient is expressed a percentage of the total amount of flour. Example: 1000g flour, 660g water, 20g salt, 10g yeast is expressed in baker’s percentage as 100% flour, 66% water, 2% salt, 1% yeast. Note that this always adds up to more than 100%.

BBA: The Bread Baker's Apprentice, a book by Peter Reinhart. One of the more popular book among amateur artisan bakers in the United States.

Banneton: a woven basket, sometimes lined with linen, used to hold a shaped loaf while it is proofing.

Batard: a loaf that has an oval or oblong shape.

Biga: a term used variously as a very stiff (~50% hydration preferment), or as a generic term for preferment.

Boule: a round loaf (French for "ball").

Brotform: a coiled cane basket used to hold a shaped loaf while it is proofing.

Couche: heavy linen fabric used to hold formed loaves for proofing. The fabric can be pleated around the loaves to help them hold their shape.

Crumb: When a baker talks about the crumb they are talking about the pattern of holes inside of a loaf.

Fermentation: (1) the process by which yeast metabolizes sugars to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol (2) (aka bulk fermentation, first fermentation) the period of time the dough rests after mixing and before dividing/shaping.

Folding: one of the best ways of encouraging gluten development in slack doughs. Folding the dough consists of taking a wet dough out of the bowl, spreading it out a little on a clean, well-floured surface, folding it in thirds like a letter, rotating it 90 degrees and folding it up again, picking it up and dusting the loose flour off of it, and then returning the dough to the bowl and covering it again. Like punching down, folding degases the dough some, but it also encourages gluten development.

FSWY: Flour Salt Water Yeast, a book by Ken Forkish

Gluten: "A tenacious elastic protein of wheat flour that gives cohesiveness to dough." Gluten is what allows bread dough to develop those long, beautiful strands and create large open pockets of air (think about the inside of a loaf of Ciabatta compared to the inside of a muffin). Bread flours tend to be made from hard wheats that are higher in protein than regular flour, providing more gluten.

Hamelman, Jeffrey: bakery director at King Arthur Flour and author of Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, a comprehensive book aimed at both professional and home bakers.

Hydration: the ratio of liquid ingredients (primarily water) to flour in the dough. A dough with 500g of flour and 340g of water has a hydration of 68% (340/500).

KA: Kitchen Aid or King Arthur.

KAF: King Arthur Four.

Lame: a thin blade on a handle, used to score (slash) loaves before baking.

Levain: usually used as a synonym for sourdough.

Leonard, Thom: A baker featured in ABAA whose Country French Bread is popular with many members of The Fresh Loaf.

Pâte fermentée (aka prefermented dough): a type of preferment in which the ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt) are mixed in the same proportion as (usually) a basic white bread dough at about 65% hydration.

Poolish: A type of sponge. Typically quite wet, an equal weight of water and flour with an extremely small amount of yeast. For my batch of two French Bread loaves, I typically use 8 ounces of water, 8 ounces of bread flour, and 1/8 teaspoon a instant yeast. Mix it, cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature overnight.

Proof: (1) the final rise of the shaped loaves before baking (2) the hydration of dry active yeast in water before it is added to the dough

RLB: Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Bread Bible, a book aimed at the home bread baker.

S & F: S & F can mean "stretch and fold" or "slap and fold." Slap and fold is usually done for about 20 minutes whereas stretch and fold is flipping the dough out and doing one round of folds every 30 minutes, then 30 minutes later at 60 minutes, then 30 minutes later at 90 minutes (after mixing the dough) and again, 30 minutes later at 120 minutes from mixing the dough. After folding the dough is flipped back over and corners tucked under. the dough covered and allowed to rest and rise until the next 30 minutes comes around.

Score (aka slash or dock): to cut the surface of the loaf prior to baking. This provides for controlled expansion of the loaves during baking so they do not “break” undesirably. Scoring is also used to enhance the appearance of the bread.

Sourdough: a preferment that is a culture of wild yeast and bacteria that is perpetuated by the periodic addition of flour and water, or a bread leavened in whole or part by this culture.

sponge: Also known as a "preferment," a sponge is a portion of the ingredients that is mixed ahead of time, typically overnight. Using a sponge extends the fermentation process longer and generally releases more complex flavors in your loaf. It can also be used to soften dry ingredients (such as whole grains) and release sugars from the grains.

WW: whole wheat.

Baking Glossary


KipperCat's picture

How about barm?  I've read a definition somewhere on this site, but I sure can't remember it now.

KipperCat's picture

"During the onset of the baking process, the flour starches absorb water, swell and become glossy (when bread dough is mixed, only the outer surface of the starch granules is moistened; later, under the influence of the heat in the oven, the water is able to penetrate into the granules). As temperatures increase from 140° to 158°F (60° to 70°c), swollen wheat starch granules begin to gelatinize and contribute to the formation of the crumb." -- page 24 "Bread" by Jeffrey Hamelman

Thanks to Mini Oven for posting this. 

cordel's picture

Is there a way to keep this easily accessible at all times? I am gradually learning the terminology, but still have to check on some terms as I read.

mennyaka1's picture

What is miche? Thanks!


copyu's picture

I can't say for sure, but(t) this might help...

If you google 'miche bread' you can read a discussion at the WildYeast blog


Hope this helps!



copyu's picture

AP(F) is the abbreviation for 'All-Purpose' Flour. You might buy it as 'Plain Flour' as well, depending on your location. 'Bread Flour' is usually 'stronger' or 'harder' and contains (up to) a few percent more 'protein' by mass/weight.

NB: Don't be fooled! The difference between 10% and 13% means the second is 30%, NOT 3% stronger. [3/10 x 100.] Even moving from 11% to 12% means the second has 9% more 'protein' available.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

David has posted a brief guide to feeding starters.  Very helpful!'s picture

Thank you for information

vtsteve's picture

From dabrownman:

Toadies are named after a Fresh Loafian (toad,de,b)  who invented them.  Take wheat and oat bran, mix in some wheat germ and sifted unused middlings from home milling and then dry toast them in a skillet until nicely browned then cool and grind them.  Another one of the great flavoring and coloring additives for bread.

knowbake's picture

What is chef as used by Wooden spoon.

pmccool's picture

And probably some other terms that I'm forgetting.  Note, too, that some of these terms get used in other ways. 

The main idea is that the chef is the starter you keep going all of the time so that you can draw from it when you need to bake.  The part you take from the chef and build or elaborate.into the amount required by the recipe is often called the levain.  There are multiple names for that, too.


Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

I have no idea what kind of loaf this is.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

namely a Dutch Oven or DO for short.  

Usually two parts that fit on top of each other to hold dough and escaping steam while baking.  It is one way to steam the loaf while baking but not steam up the oven.  Also a roasting pan or large saucepan with lid but with oven safe handles.

Truth Serum's picture
Truth Serum

If you can fit the DO in your oven I do not see where the problem ist, should all come out fine and the same.

I can fit my 2 DO next to each other , I think, if  you need to put 2 on the top shelf and 2 on the bottem shelf it would good to use the Fan option for baking. 

Tanya McCabe's picture
Tanya McCabe

I would like to make my dough, but them refrigerate until ready to use, realizing the time involved would be rather short, a day or two, if possible.   Can one refrigerate any dough?    Basically, I'm interested in the salt stick, onion roll, Kaiser roll dough.  Some general comments on refrigerating dough would be greatly appreciated

TonyCass's picture

Is it too much to ask that posters spell the words rather than use these acronyms. I've read posts and comments that should have taken one minute to scan and read but I wind up spending way too much time trying to figure out the meanings of the acronyms and abbreviations in order to make any sense of the context. English is a beautiful language. Use it.

David R's picture
David R not adequate for a glossary entry.

    It should be "S & F: see [ link ] and [ link ]", and those links should lead to two separate entries, "Slap & Fold" and "Stretch & Fold".
    The current explanation of Stretch & Fold requires that the reader already know what Stretch & Fold basically means, and simply explains when to do it. Please explain "Stretch & Fold" so that after reading, any reasonably bright nine-year-old would be able to show you what was meant. (Example: Currently, it says that you do "a round of folding" - but doesn't say what "a round of folding" even IS. Is "a round of folding" a circular motion? a set of 20 repetitions? Impossible to tell from reading.)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is basically taking one edge of the rising dough, pulling it away from the main clump of dough to about twice or three times the length of the dough clump and folding it over the clump of dough.  Often the clump of dough will be first inverted or flipped over before being folded  (if possible) and after folding is completed, flipped back to it's original position.  

A "round"can mean stretching the dough from two opposite sides or from all four sides (once the first side is folded it makes a flat edge, eventually making a square shape after the opposide side and adjacent sides are folded.)  One can also fold starting on one side (in the bowl) and fold edges going around the bowl to stretch the dough over and into the middle of the dough.  Whatever works for you. Sometimes a second round of folding will be done if the dough seems too relaxed to respond to the first set of folds.  There should be a discernible difference to the shape and feel of the dough caused by folding.

There are many discussions as to if folding should be done, when folding should be done and how often during the bulk rise.  Generally the wetter the dough, the more often the dough is folded.  

The purpose is to build strength in the dough by stretching relaxed gluten strands forming in the dough. Stretching and folding should compress large gas bubbles and gas tunnels and distribute dough ingredients and temperatures.

Richard Lemieux's picture
Richard Lemieux

Many posters use YW lenain and SD yeast and I am currently searching for the meaning of those two abreviations. It mest be straightforward but I did't find yet.

Richard Lemieux's picture
Richard Lemieux

Many posters use YW levain and SD yeast and I am currently searching for the meaning of those two abbreviations. It mest be straightforward but I did't find yet.

Benito's picture

Yeast Water, naturally occurring yeast on fruit such as grapes, apples etc can be harnessed to create a levain.

SourDough yeast, the naturally occurring yeast in our sourdough starters.

Richard Lemieux's picture
Richard Lemieux

Great! I have to try that.

Frances Galantine's picture
Frances Galantine

I just made my first loaves of Desem, after 2 weeks.  It is much heavier than I expected.  Now what/how do I cover my ball of starter, that is now in the crock of loose flour.  How is it covered when now going into the refrigerator?  Flour, plastic wrap, glass bowel covered?  I made 2 small loaves, and think some way I could make 1 large as it is only me eating.  My favorite flour /grain has been Einkorn.  Thanks