The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


DanAyo's picture

The following are links to our Community Bakes

Below are tips & ideas that you may find useful. 
You can use THIS LINK to view all tips in a web browser.

For those in the US, the History of King Arthur Flour Company is very interesting and historic.

Although not listed as a tip, the links below may prove interesting for some.

Miscellaneous Blog Post

A compilation of my bakes during a Community Bake


I am trying to use a Table of Contents for my BLOG. Links to blogged bakes will be posted to this page. I plan to post a link to this page on all BLOG bakes, experiments, tips, Community Bakes, etc..

hellen's picture

Nigella seeds add so much savoury depth to bread and works really well with sourdough. For anyone in Toronto, Blackbird Baking has a seeded loaf which uses a mixture that includes nigella seeds. Their seeded loaf was a staple for me many years ago. The defining feature of the loaf, I think, is definitely the addition of nigella seeds! Recipe here.

I did not think to bake with nigella seeds until very recently. I have made these seeded buns 2 or 3 times prior but this is my first time adding nigella seeds. I was super pleased with the flavor it brought. If you've never tried nigella seeds, they taste savoury, vaguely allium, slightly oregano-ish. Hard to describe!

For this bake, I was a bit lazy with the stretch and folds. I usually do at least 3 and sometimes up to 5 stretch and folds for this type of dough, but this time I only did 2. As a result the buns were not as open crumbed as they could have been I think. 

I also typically bake the following morning after cold bulk fermentation in the fridge. For this bake however, I did not form and bake the buns until more than 41 hours later. The buns were flavorful but I think the crumb could have been better - in previous iterations of the same recipe, I have had a much airier open crumb structure. I think it was slightly over-fermented, but some additional strech and folds could probably have fixed this.

I have heard that pizza dough is optimally cold fermented for 3-5 days. I am wondering if this also holds true for doughs like ciabatta or if that amount is way too long. In both pizza dough and ciabatta the goal is similar - crispy crust, open crumb, big air bubbles. They are both also relatively high hydration doughs. Does anyone have experience cold-fermenting high hydration doughs for 3-5 days? I would be curious to know the results. 

If you would like to try these seeded buns, the recipe is here. I highly recommend trying nigella seeds!

Below is a previous bake using the same recipe, but without the addition of nigella seeds and only 14 hours in the fridge.


tpassin's picture

I was looking through the Community Bake on ciabatta, and I didn't see that anyone had tried using the original recipe of the inventor, Arnaldo Cavallari.  It's available on line as a photo of the recipe (in Italian) in his bakery, and there is a faithful translation available, too (I know because I transcribed the recipe from the photo by hand, and translated it with Google Translate). I'll post the links later.  The recipe is very different from what us home bakers typically do, and also from most ciabatta recipes I have seen.

Here's a brief summary: 10kg flour, 50g brewer's yeast, 5L water. Mix in spiral mixer 5 minutes. Ferment 16 - 22 hours at room temperature. Add 2L water, 100g sugar, 250g salt. Mix 5 minutes slow, 8 - 10 minutes medium, desired dough temperature 25 - 27 C (77 - 81 deg F). Bulk ferment 30 - 40 minutes. Scale into 300g pieces and shape onto floured boards.  Proof 1 hour uncovered. Turn loaves over onto baking sheets, bake with steam "at a high temperature" for 30 - 35 minutes, releasing steam halfway through.

Wow! 100% pre-fermented flour.  50% hydration biga. 70% final hydration (modern recipes are usually 80 - 85%). Proof uncovered. So different.

The hydration seems very low but we don't know much about his flour mix.  He said he worked it out with a selection of five local flours of different kinds, and came up with a milling method suitable for the bread - he owned his own production mill.  So we don't know anything about the ability of his flour mix to absorb water, nor what the effective extraction was.  I was not able to find a picture of an original loaf nor its crumb so we don't really know about that either.

We do know that he was trying to produce an Italian competitor to the baguette for sandwiches, and that the bread is said to have had a thin hard crust and soft open interior.

Well, I'm not about to make a batch with 10kg flour, and if I wanted to I couldn't handle nor bake it.  So it will have to be scaled down, in this case to 300g flour for experimenting.  We know that larger batches of dough can behave differently, often needing less yeast and maintaining a higher temperature better.  The oxygenation during fermentation will be different.  Also, I'm not going to try to mix a 100% hydration biga with my old KitchenAide mixer.  In fact, I planned to do the final mixing and kneading by hand too.

So this effort won't be 100% faithful to the original but I'll try to come as close as reasonably possible.  Here are my going-in decisions:

1. Sourdough instead of yeast, so I don't have to guess how much yeast will act the same.  Maybe yeast in a later bake. I used 7% of starter.  I thought this should give me a fairly long initial fermentation, maybe 12 hours.

2. Flour mix: 80% KA Bread flour, 10% sifted stone-ground whole wheat, 10% durum flour.  Maybe this will be something like the original, but who knows?  At least it should taste good.

3. After working in the last 20% (hydration) of water by hand, do several stretch-and-fold sessions to replace the machine mixing of the original.

4. Let the dough ferment long enough to double or nearly so, instead of using the one hour specified in the original.  There are just too many unknowns to justify setting a strict time limit.

Everything went pretty smoothly.  The first fermentation seemed to be done after 11 hours, a little quicker than I had in mind.  Mixing in all that extra water by hand was tedious, and I let the dough rest several times to help it absorb all the water. Then I kneaded it in the bowl until all the layers had merged together.  I did two sets of 20 coil folds 15 minutes apart. After that I thought the dough was in good shape and wouldn't need any more.  Overall the dough fermented for about 2 hours after the last S&F before it had doubled.

The dough was light and airy, and easier to handle compared with typical 80 - 85% doughs I've made in the past, but it felt rather wetter than I expected for a 70% hydration dough. The final proof took an hour.  The loaves baked with initial steam at 425 deg F for 27 minutes.

Overall I found the process fairly easy except for working in all the extra water.  Shaping and moving the loaves was easier than I expected.  The finished loaves look like respectable ciabatta bread.  The interior is soft but not as open as we have come to expect.  The crust was thin and on the hard side but not too hard to bite through in a sandwich.  The flavor is rich, with a little sourness as you would expect after the long ferment with sourdough.

As a sandwich loaf, I used it for a chicken salad sandwich for lunch today and I thought it was very nearly the perfect sandwich loaf. I was able to slice the loaf lengthwise and leave a bit of a hinge on one side.  The hinge had no tendency to break open.  This helps squishy fillings to stay in place. 

 What's next?  I want to try it again, using yeast for the biga.  I'll probably also repeat with sourdough, but less, maybe 4% instead of 7%.  I'd love to see what someone else comes up with, trying the original recipe.  This might be a very good place for a low-acid Levieto Madre starter, wouldn't you think?

Links :

The English translation:

The original recipe, in Italian -





albacore's picture

Following my recent post about posts (!), I thought I had better put my money where my mouth was and submit one of my recent bakes to the forum. 

This bake has a bit of a quirky origin: SueVT recently posted about several baking books in Italian and posted a photo of a random recipe showing the effectiveness of smartphone camera translation.

The recipe, which caught my interest, was for Italian baguettes made with a multicereal flour. I don't tend to bake baguettes as my oven isn't big enough, but I thought the recipe would probably work for small boule shapes or pagnotta as I think the Italians call them.

The flour used was Molino Grassi Linea QB Multicereali - not something most of us will have to hand. Looking at the W index compared to the W of the Manitoba flour used, I estimated there was about 15% of non-gluten grain in the mix, so I used 85% of a similar Manitoba flour (basically strong Canadian or American wheat flour) and 15% of a mix of wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice grain all freshly milled together.

And this is what came out the other end:






Unfortunately one of the pagnotta stuck to the banneton liner when I turned out, making a bit of a mangled shape. Other than that, I was pleased with the bread produced - quite a chewy crust, but soft, open crumb. Flavour was mild, with no sour notes.

I think this flour mix might also be good for ciabatta with a bit of extra flavour compared to all white flour.

Here is my bread log entry in case anyone wants to look at the process details (or even bake it!):


Benito's picture

I continue to tweak my bakes even if the formula largely stays the same.  In the case of my SD baguettes, I have gradually (very slowly since I don’t bake baguettes all that often) been working on the idea that with greater gluten development I can allow more fermentation.  When we did the baguette community bake ages ago we came to the conclusion that less gluten development and less overall fermentation gave us a great baguette with open crumb and good ears/grigne.  In fact, back then I believe it would try to get the baguettes baked once the overall rise from the time the levain was added to baking was only 30%.  Now I have been inching up the overall rise at time of bake.  I now more fully develop the gluten and for this bake targeted 60% rise in the dough.  This happened to correspond to a pH drop of 1.05.  Based on the good ears/grigne that this bake achieved I think I could still push further.

I also finally trimmed the excess metal off the razor blade I use to score.  I can’t believe I hadn’t done this before.  This greatly reduces the drag through the dough as you score giving you much cleaner scores.  Should have done this ages ago but better late than never.

Overnight Levain build ferment 75°F 10-12 hours

78°F 9 hours to peak


In the morning, to your mixing bowl add  water and diastatic malt  to dissolve, then add levain.  Use your spatula to cut the levain into small pieces.  Next add AP flour and mix to combine.  Allow to fermentolyse for 10 mins.  Slap and fold x 100 then add salt and hold back water gradually working in until fully absorbed by massaging and then Rubaud kneading the dough, then slap and fold x 200.  Can also use your stand mixer.


Bulk Fermentation 82*F until aliquot jar shows 20% rise.

Do folds every 20 mins doing 3 folds

Could do cold retard at this point for up to overnight. (Aliquot jar 20% rise)


Divide and pre-shape rest for 15 mins

Shape en couche with final proof until aliquot jar shows 60% rise then (optional) cold retard shaped baguettes en couche for at least 15 minutes for easier scoring.  I often do this for convenience as the oven is pre-heating.


Pre-heat oven 500*F after 30 mins add Silvia towel in pan with boiling water.

Transfer baguettes from couche 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.  Transfer the baguettes from the baking steel to next rack completing baking directly on a rack to minimize the browning and thickening of the bottom crust.  The oven is dropped to 450ºF but convection is turned on and the baguettes bake for 10 mins rotating them halfway.  The baguettes are rotated again if needed and baked for another 3 mins to achieve a rich colour crust.

My index of bakes.

Benito's picture

I had just enough potato flakes to use at 12% so decided to use it up for this bake.  Once again, I didn’t make a tangzhong by cooking the potato flakes with milk, but in theory, you do not need to do that when using these dehydrated flakes.  Although the potatoes are dehydrated, the starches in them are already gelatinized so once they hydrate should give you the benefits of a tangzhong without the extra step.  I did find this to be the case as this bread is very soft and keeps from getting stale quite a while.

One thing which is a negative I believe of this particular preparation is that the dough seems to be weaker than what I am used to for my milk breads.  You can see more tearing as the sides and at the top which I seldom get even when I add mashed potatoes and make a tangzhong, which in theory would be an even weaker dough.

For one 9x4x4” Pullman pan loaf.




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.



Because the starches are pre-gelatinized in the potato flakes despite them being dehydrated, you do not need to prepare a tangzhong.  Instead, add the dry potato flakes along with your flour.



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, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flour and the potato flakes.  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.  Again, knead until well incorporated.  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.  Add the seeds, then mix again until they are well distributed.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 4 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 oil 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 an oiled 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  4-6 hours at a warm temperature.  I proof at 82°F.  You will need longer than 4-6 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

SueVT's picture

Caramel apple panettone made with sweet lievito madre.

I have been developing my sweet LM for a while now, initially to help with making sourdough shokupan, but now also to use with SD brioche and panettone. I am still adding a small amount of regular LM "just in case", but as you can see, the sweet LM rises very well. The flavor of the panettone is outstanding.

Sugar is adjusted in the LM care, and some of the sugar content in the dough was moved to the first impasto, to maintain the desired sugar level. The pH of the first impasto after 12 hours fermentation at 23C was 4.87. The final rise was complete in 3.5 hours. 

I am primarily maintaining the sweet LM at room temperature (not cycling warm and cool), with the exception of when I want to store it for a few days. Then it is simply refrigerated. This LM can be easily revivied with about 10 hours at room temp after a bagnetto and feeding. Longer term storage is TBD, as I am using the LM for several baking projects, and haven't been binding it. 

I am getting better results by maintaining a sweet LM separately, vs making a one-time build of sweet LM (as is done in several popular recipes). The maintained sweet LM continues to have an elastic texture long after a regular LM would be showing gluten damage. 

The primo impasto maintained a relatively high pH, and the dough still had good gluten development after 12 hours of fermentation. Even though this is an apple panettone with a lot of additional moisture in the recipe, the resulting crumb is delicate, light and soft. 

The same LM makes excellent sourdough shokupan and brioche. I will be using it for croissants also, and hope to be able to reduce or eliminate the need to maintain a separate liquid starter.



Pizzafreak's picture


 Can I use 14% protein all purpose flour for my ciabatta?

I have 80% hydration and use an active sourdough starter. 

yozzause's picture

Some more Lupin and Linseed with a dash of home milled pre fermented red wheat Lupin content was 20% made up with soaked splits and some Lupin Flour Linseed was 10%, Red Wheat was from refrigerated s/d excess. This dough was bigger than the last one and it wasn't till i weighed up the soaked lupin splits that i realised i was short on for the Lupin component so i decided id add Lupin Flour and also add more water for that too. I was very pleased worked like clockwork 2 hour bulk fermentation using Fresh compressed yeast @ 2% loaves weighed off at 515g each and baked in round pans


SueVT's picture

For those of you who are interested in Italian baking, particularly the Italian brioches, these books from Italian Gourmet are worth noting:

Un Panettone Mondiale (with English text): "The stars and all the recipes of the first international national competition on the beloved Italian delicacy".

207 pages, with lovely photography and information on all the teams. Also recipes for each team's Classic, Chocolate, and "innovative savory" panettone entries. There are some interesting approaches, and some surprises in the regional savory panettoni: the Argentinian team's savory loaf has chorizo, purple maize, wine flour, chimichurri spices and Malbec, among other things! The Japanese team's savory entry has soy sauce, sesame oil, yuzu, kombu and cheddar cheese added to the mix. 

Many of the Chocolate Panettone recipes look fabulous. Here is the Japan team's version:

While the recipes are too large for most home bakers to handle, they will scale down easily. It's a fascinating and enjoyable read.

And yes, the Italians won. I'm not giving too much away here:

Next, Colombe e Dolci di Pasqua (in Italian). If you can read Italian recipes, which happens automatically if you do it enough, this is a wonderful book. All of the most well-known Italian bakers are here, with clear and well-illustrated versions of their Colomba.

Many of the chefs have multiple recipes, too. So little time, so many Colombas:


Finally, Ezio Marinato has put together an incredible 300-page collection of his creations, from hamburger buns and pizza to laminated pastries, biscotti, lievitati and of course numerous panettone recipes. Stunning photography throughout makes you want to bake every page.

Marinato is very influential in the Panettone world; 2023's coach of the winning Italian team in the Panettone World Championship, he is one of the true masters in the field. He is a teacher at various training venues and consultant to multinational companies. 

While coffee is notoriously difficult to work with in panettone recipes, it appears that Ezio Marinato has developed a recipe for it. 

Cheers, Sue





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