The Fresh Loaf

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garyhardy's picture
  1. Well after reading Benito’s blog with his glorious milk loaf it got me thinking. While I love traditional sourdough bread it’s still nice to have a slice of soft white bread every now and again. 

So in my normal keep it simple mantra I decided milk loaf for tea.


building my starter I started with

Morning 10g starter 10g plain flour 10g water

Evening add to starter 75g plain flour and 75g water 

Bring to boil 300g milk let it cool in fridge.


use 150g starter into stand mixer

add 300g of the cooled milk 

add 550g strong white bread flour.

30g olive oil

11g salt 

kneading till smooth.

Bulk prove in oiled glass bowl 

important don’t let it grow more than 30%

shape and put in proving basket for overnight proving in fridge.


Heat up cast iron casserole dish with lid 45 mins 235deg c

Tip dough out onto baking sheet, slash top.

place in casserole dish, drop a cup full of ice at the back of the baking sheet so it doesn’t come into contact with dough. lid on

Cook with lid on same temp for 20 mins

Remove lid drop temp to 220 deg c

cook for a further 20 mins remove from oven

if not dark enough crust return loaf on its own on the rack for another 5 mins at 200 deg c

The results were tremendous, the crumb was so soft exactly how I wanted it.


thanks for pointing me in the right direction Benito





fredsbread's picture

I was inspired a few weeks ago by Maurizio's Brown Rice and Sesame recipe to make a multi-grain sourdough using various cooked grains as a porridge addition. After thinking about it for a while, I finally got a hold of all the ingredients that I needed last week and threw together the dough yesterday morning and baked this morning.

To make the porridge, I boiled 50g each cracked hard white wheat, steel cut oats, brown rice, pearled barley, and polenta in 3 cups of water with a few grams of salt for 10 minutes, then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool. I made the porridge ahead of time and stored it in the fridge, then microwaved it up to approximately room temp before mixing up the dough.

I forgot to make a levain specifically for this dough the night before, so I just used my slightly overripe starter. I was also thinking about including whole wheat flour, but I didn't have time to grind in the morning (I was already losing workout time with my wife to mix up the dough).

Dough formula:

  • 700g bread flour (GM Harvest King)
  • 250g whole spelt flour (Arrowhead Mills)
  • 50g whole rye flour (Arrowhead Mills)
  • 600g water
  • 20g salt
  • 50g starter

60% hydration (60.2% if you count the starter) is lower than I typically use, but I didn't want the porridge to overwhelm the dough with all it's water. Total hydration with the porridge ended up being about 86%, and after shaping I definitely wouldn't have wanted it any higher than that.

I mixed all the dough ingredients together and let them rest for 1 hour before mixing the porridge. After mixing in the porridge, I did 3 stretch and folds 30 minutes apart, then left for work and let it bulk ferment at room temp.

After work, I split the dough into three balls and shaped them into batards. At 800g, these are a litttle smaller than my typical batards (900-950g), but I cared more about keeping the total flour at 1000g for this first test than getting a specific amount of dough in the end.

I'll post crumb after work when I can cut into one of them, but I'm very pleased with the oven spring and crust color on these. When we moved 3 months ago we got a gas oven after doing all my baking in electric. There has been a learning curve, but I've just about dialed in the settings I need to get my bread the way I want it in this oven.

Isand66's picture

    This is a nice 46% freshly milled Durum bread with some bread flour.  I added some egg yolks for some additional flavor and moisture and a little honey for sweetness.

All and all it came out very nice with the nutty durum flavor coming through.  It made excellent grilled bread with some brushed olive oil and melted fresh mozzarella on top.

I topped one of the loaves with black sesame seeds which is one of my favorites.


Levain Directions Build 1

Mix all the levain ingredients for build one (including the seed starter) together for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 6-7 hours or until the starter has almost doubled.  I used my proofer set at 78 degrees so it took around 4 hours for me.

Levain Directions Build 2

Add in the flour and water as indicated and mix until incorporated by hand.  Cover and let sit another 3-5 hours until doubled and you should see plenty of activity.

Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flour and water together in your mixer or by hand until it just starts to come together, maybe about 1 minute.  Let it rest in your work bowl covered for 20-30 minutes.  After 30 minutes or so  add the salt, starter (cut into about 7-8 pieces),  eggs, olive oil and honey and mix on low for 5 minutes.   Note: If you are using the Ankarsrum mixer like I do, add your water to the bowl first then add in the flour.  After your autolyse add in the starter, salt, honey  and olive oil and mix on low to medium low for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 1.5 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours or if using a proofer set at 80 degrees for one hour.  Remove the dough and shape as desired and cover with a moist tea towel or plastic wrap Sprayed with cooking spray and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.  (I use my proofer set at 80 F and it takes about 1 hour to 1.5 hours).

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

After 1 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for around 35 minutes or until the breads are nice and brown and have an internal temperature around 200-210 F.

Take the breads out of the oven when done and let them cool on a bakers rack for as long as you can resist.

garyhardy's picture

Well it’s been a very long break in my sourdough journey. Work pressures and family life always made it difficult to have another demanding baby that was my starter. Now after early retirement I decided to start again. 

There is an old saying that a lazy engineer is the best engineer, as they will always find the quickest, easiest and least wasteful way of doing anything.

so with the cost of everything going through the roof I decided to plan a way to bake a few times a week with no waste. No fancy stuff had to be simple as time is precious.

I don’t throw away starter I don’t do complex builds. I build the starter over a few days from a very small amount and use that for baking when it’s at the right size.

My recipe calls for 150g of starter. So I start the build with

Day 1

10g starter

10g plaid flour

10g water

Day 2 morning

30g starter

75g plain flour

75g water

Day 3 morning 

I pour 150g of starter into the mixer bowl

followed by 300g water. Swill this around.

550g of good quality flour I mix this up either full white, or part wholemeal.

11g salt.

mix in stand mixer for ten minutes till smooth.

slightly oil glass storage container mark level

with a pen. 


I let the dough rise approx 30% takes approx 3 hours, after this shape and put straight into bread proving basket with shower cap on then into fridge for overnight proving

Bake day 

I bake around 8am

cast iron casserole pot in the oven at 235 deg c for 45 mins

Dough out of fridge, tip onto a baking sheet score, drop into casserole dish, I add some ice under baking sheet. Lid on back in oven for 20 mins


After 20 mins remove lid and bake reduce temp

to 220 deg c cook for a further 25mins


Start over with 10g of starter and so on. 



Benito's picture

I unfortunately am sick, but running out of bread, so I decided I needed to bake a loaf of bread that wouldn’t require excessive hands on time and allow for some inattention.  This type of bread does require great gluten development since it is fully wholegrain, so I use the KA mixer to do that which takes some load off of me.  I don’t need to measure pH or rise really with this since I know what the dough should look like in the pullman pan when it is done final proof.  I think it turned out well considering my lack of attention to it yesterday during fermentation.



Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76-78ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and steel cut seven grain porridge mix until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.


If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flour and vital wheat gluten.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium. Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat. 


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 3 hours at 82ºF.  There should be some rise visible at this stage.


You can next place the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier to shape.  Remember, if you do so the final proof will take longer.  Alternatively, you can do a cold retard in the fridge overnight, however, you may find that this increases the tang in your bread.


Prepare your pans by greasing them with butter or line with parchment paper.  


Lightly flour the top of the dough. Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top and divide it into four. I like to weigh them to have equal sized lobes. Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins. Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold. Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”. Letterfold again from the sides so you have a long narrow dough. Then using a rolling pin, roll flatter but keeping the dough relatively narrow.  The reason to do this extra letterfold is that the shorter fatter rolls when placed in the pan will not touch the sides of the pan.  This allows the swirled ends to rise during final proof, this is only done for appearance sake and is not necessary.  Next roll each into a tight roll with some tension. Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls. This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.


Cover and let proof for 3.5-4 hours at a warm temperature.  I proof at 82°F.  You will need longer than 3.5-4 hours if you chilled your dough for shaping. I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.


Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.  Just prior to baking brush with the egg-milk wash again.


Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190ºF, rotating as needed to get even browning. Shield your loaf if it gets brown early in the baking process. After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 10 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack with the oven turned down to 325ºF. You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot to keep the top crust soft.

My Index of Bakes.

Teeny's picture

I have a 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven with lid and I am interested in baking some no-knead artesian bread.  Could anyone tell me the minimum and maximum amounts of flour that works with a 5 qt Dutch oven?  Most of the recipes I find just say to use a Dutch oven without indicating what is the best size for the amount of flour the recipe calls for.

HeiHei29er's picture

I originally tried this bread with the 90% biga version.  I struggled with lumpy dough like others did and couldn't get them all out.  Even with the lumps, my sister-in-law really liked the bread, and she asked for it again this week.

I decided to give it another go but approach it a little less extreme.  The flours and hydration are the same as the original, but I reduced the biga to 50% of the flour and increased the biga hydration from 47% to 55%.  In addition, this time instead of adding final dough water and starting to mix right away, I added the final dough water to the biga and let it soak for a 5-10 minutes to hydrate the flour a little more.  Then, I gently worked it to start loosening it up.  The Final Dough flour was added a bit at a time and worked into the loosened biga.

This method worked MUCH better.  No clumps and a nice smooth dough formed after a few rounds of bowl kneading with 10 minute rests.  My next attempt at this will be to keep the PFF at 50% but work the biga hydration back down towards 50%.  My understanding is that there's a unique aroma and fermentation that occurs when the biga is sub 50%.  But...  that was from reading other threads and I may have misinterpreted the statement.  Anyone with experience using low hydration bigas and if it's a noticeable difference from the 55% hydration version I used with this bread?  

My sister-in-law hadn't arrived before I left for my work trip, so this loaf hasn't been sliced yet either.  Will get some crumb shots when I get back home.

Biga after mixing

After Final Dough mix

After 4 sets of bowl kneading

HeiHei29er's picture

Let's get the obvious out of the way...  My first attempt at decorative scoring is, well, let's say rudimentary at best.  Still a lot to learn on that!  :-)

Just before Labor Day weekend, I had a bunch of windshield time and was thinking about random stuff.  Thought I remembered reading somewhere that the Gold Rush cooks would keep a ball of their starter in a bag of flour and break it out when they needed to bake.  Then, refresh it and put it back in the flour bag.  I tend to like the traditional and historic side of things, especially this hobby, so I decided to give it a whirl.

I have a blend of wheat varieties from Janie's Mill that I've been grinding as my whole wheat: Glenn, Red Fife, Turkey Red, and Warthog.  Before we left for a 3-day camping weekend, I mixed up 40g of flour (50% WW blend and 50% Bread flour) at 45% hydration and formed a dough ball.  That went into a jar, was covered with bread flour, and put in my proofing box at 76 deg F.  3 days later I came home and found a nice mound in the top of the flour and the dough ball had definitely grown.  It also had a hard shell with an active starter center.  I did multiple refreshes.  A few at 24 hours.  Then a few at 12 hours.  Since then, I have been refreshing it at 1: 0.9: 2 with about an 8 hour ferment.  After 8 hours, it goes into the fridge.  This is my first bake with it.

I've also been done a few bakes recently with a 2-stage build on the levain.  The first is at 100% hydration to promote yeast and the second down at 60% to promote acetic LABs.  This is based on comments from one of the recipes on The Rye Baker website.

This bread is a country loaf with 15% whole wheat at 68% hydration and 15% PFF.  The whole wheat uses the blend of grains mentioned above.  My first build was 11g of stiff starter, 20g of water, and 18g of bread flour (haven't done the math on the hydration but should be close to 100%).  This was fermented for 6.5 hours at 76 deg F.  It was more than doubled, but hadn't fully peaked yet.  A young levain...  The second build was all of the first build combined with 20g of water and 49.5g of bread flour.  This fermented for 10.5 hours at 70 deg F.  The levain was fully matured and maybe just starting to show signs of deflating.  Wish I would have grabbed photos at both stages...

The resulting loaf had great spring and was maybe the thinnest, crispiest crust I've ever achieved.  This isn't full of cracks like others have attained, but it's the first one I've ever had.  My baking setup, times, and temps were standard for me so no changes there.

The loaf hasn't been sliced yet and I had to travel for a day.  It smelled great though!  Will try to post a crumb shot when I get back home and slice it.

loaflove's picture

Hi all

When my starter peaks but I'm not ready to mix my dough yet, can I put the starter in the fridge for about 8-10 hrs then mix my dough? Will I have to bring it back to room temp before I mix? 



dmsnyder's picture

Hansjoakim was a regular contributor to thefreshloaf for a long time, He was a physics graduate student at the time, as I recall, and an amazingly adventurous and talented chef and baker. In September, 2009 he posted what he called his "favorite 70% rye." I asked him for the formula and baked it myself a week later. It was easy to see why it was a favorite. It was an easy dough to handle for a 70% rye, and it was delicious to eat.

Over the intervening years, I have made this bread a few times. Every time I make it, I wonder why I have let so much time pass since the last bake. This week, I baked it again, and it is as wonderful as ever. I baked it yesterday. Let it rest wrapped in baker's linen overnight and had some with butter and smoked salmon for breakfast. Seriously yummy stuff!

Looking at my write-up from 2009, I found it could stand re-formatting  and editing. So, here it is ...


Total Dough

Wt (g)

Baker’s %

Medium rye flour



AP flour












55% of flour is pre-fermented.


Rye sour final build

Wt (g)

Baker’s %

Medium rye flour






Ripe rye sour






Mix the rye sour final build the day before you plan to bake. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl and cover tightly. Ferment for 14-16 hours at room temperature. For example, if you plan on making the bread in the morning, you can mix the rye sour the night before.



Final dough

Wt (g)

Medium rye flour


AP flour






Rye sour (all of above)






  1. Dissolve the rye sour in the water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours and the salt.
  3. Add the flours and salt to the large bowl and mix thoroughly.  If mixing in a stand mixer, mix with the paddle at Speed 1 for 3 minutes. Switch to the dough hook, and mix at Speed 2 for 3-5 minutes. You may need to scrape down the bowl once or twice during mixing. The dough should form a loose ball but remain a thick paste with little dough strength.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover it tightly. Ferment for 1 hour at 78-80ºF. It won't expand much if at all.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured board and pre-shape into a round. Cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Shape into a round and place in a floured banneton/brotform. Note: If you want to dock the loaf (make lots of holes in the top to release steam), put it in the basket seam side up. If you want the folds to open chaotically, place it in the basket seam side down.
  7. Cover the loaf with a towel or place the banneton/brotform in a food-safe plastic bag and seal it.
  8. Proof for about 2 hours. (Mine usually proofs in about 1 hour, 45 minutes). The loaf will expand by 50% or so.
  9. One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus of choice in place.
  10. Dust the bottom of the loaf with corn meal or semolina. Transfer it to a peel. Steam the oven and transfer the loaf to the baking stone. Turn the oven down to 460ºF.
  11. Bake at 460ºF with steam for 15 minutes. Then, remove the steaming apparatus and turn the oven down to 440ºF.
  12. Bake at 440ºF for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400ºF. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Note: If the crust is getting too dark, you can turn the oven down further for the last 5-10 minutes.
  13. The loaf is fully baked when the crust is firm, the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when thumped and the internal temperature of the loaf is at least 205ºF.
  14. When the loaf is fully baked, remove it to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely (2-3 hours), then wrap it well in baker’s linen or a tea towel, and let it rest for 18-24 hours before slicing.

Happy baking!



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