The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


qrkid's picture

Got a sourdough starter up and living about 3 weeks ago. That had some challenges. The biggest being when my wife didn't realize it was happy inside the oven and she turned the oven to 400 deg. Needless to say my new little starter and the plastic container it was living in did not fair well.

Tried baking my first loaf using a 85% hydration dough. That was a little too much to handle for a 1st try. Took a step back and went with a 72% hydration dough, Maurizio's beginner sourdough. I cooked this in a clay cloche. I think it turned out pretty well.

Another Girl's picture
Another Girl

I haven’t posted in a while because I haven’t been baking anything new or different. My goals have been more inward-looking: trying to be more creative and to bake by feel a little more, which is definitely outside my comfort zone. Usually the only time I get creative is when I goof something up and have to adjust on the fly. More recently, I’ve embarked on a more practically-oriented side project to devise an easy pan bread that still boasts some flavor complexity. I don’t care for the taste or smell of commercial yeast and my husband feels the same way about sourdough so, naturally, I decided to use both. I have to proceed cautiously with the sourdough because if my husband detects any sour notes, it will turn him off the bread forever. I’m totally winging it on this pan bread so that it will dovetail with my “bake-by-feel” exercises. 

I started with a sourdough bread formula that had a yeast kicker, so my initial efforts were, for all intents and purposes, sourdough breads. After greatly reducing the sourdough component and only slightly increasing the IDY, I was in the ballpark. After some further refinements, I can now mix a fairly effortless dough in the evening, refrigerate it overnight, and bake it up fresh in the morning. I can mix it by hand or mechanically. I’ve been tweaking as I go, and Friday night’s version was the best one so far. It doesn’t taste yeasty or sour, it showed a strong rise and had a moist, open crumb.


AP flour 350g (Ceresota, aka Hecker’s) – 70%

Fresh ground Turkey Red - 75g (milled on the coarser side, about 10 clicks off the finest setting in my Komo) – 15%

Whole Spelt - 75g (Arrowhead Mills) – 15%

Water (body temp) - 400g – 80%

Salt - 10g – 2%

Starter - Let’s call it 3 healthy tablespoonsful. I have not yet bothered to weigh it, only to count the spoonsful. It's a 100% hydration whole rye starter, 5 days since its last refresh. I didn’t stir it down before spooning it out, but it was cold and deflated, so fairly heavy. (I can't really calculate a baker's percentage for this because I didn't weigh it, so just consider this over and above the other ingredients) 

IDY - 2.5g  – 0.5%


  • 30-minute autolyse
  • I pressed each spoonful of starter thin between wet hands and laid them next to each other on top of the autolysed dough with the salt and yeast sprinkled between the layers. The layering is akin to Reinhard’s epoxy method, but I then folded it up and pincered it à la Forkish for the final mix. 
  • Two or three folds depending how it feels. This time I did two. They were regular stretch & folds because the container had high sides, but no reason why coil folds wouldn't work in a shallower dish. I have also mixed versions of this in the Ankarsrum, so I think any mixing method you prefer would work.
  • Bulked on the counter (71°F) till increased in volume about 75% or a little more, about 2 hours
  • Loosely shaped, panned (greased), covered with a shower cap, and tucked it into the fridge (37°F) for the night. 
  • In the morning, about 7 hours later, it had clearly risen but still had a ways to go, so I left it for another 2½ or 3 hours. It was well-risen at that point, but I was expecting it to have risen more. Nevertheless, I could see some of the bubbles were getting large, so I preheated the oven (about 15 minutes, another thing to love about pan breads) and baked. 


40 minutes at 420°F, I de-panned the bread and placed it on the oven rack for 10 minutes to brown the sides. Internal temp after 50 minutes was 210°F. 

I was happy to see that it had good oven spring but chagrined to find a blowout on one side. Upon slicing it, I thought the fermentation looked right, so I now believe it was probably not a blow-out but a misaligned seam. It was a wet, gassy dough shaped for a nine inch pan. I handle it with wet hands so it’s entirely possible the slippery devil rolled over on its way into the pan.


At this point, I’m pretty happy with the bread but wonder whether the starter is making any contribution at all. I suspect not, simply because it doesn't have enough time to do anything. I was hoping the starter would improve the rise and/or improve the flavor... without actually tasting like sourdough. Hmm, putting it like that, the whole notion seems questionable. I’ll press ahead with some test bakes anyway in case they turn out to be instructive, but in the end, I wouldn't be surprised if the starter just goes away.

trailrunner's picture

It’s been a while since I posted my successes with flaking grain. I got new oat groats from Breadtopia and wanted to do a very short tutorial. I have an older Marga Marcato hand crank with aluminum rollers. The steel rollers are not available and the price of this one has gone up. There are other flakers available and the Mock Mill folks have an electric one. 

Prepping of the grain is essential. I will link at the end the blog where I learned how to be successful. Two cups of grain and 3 tsp water shaken well to distribute the moisture and then left covered for 12-24 hrs. This ensures extremely flat even flakes with little to no effort. The flakes can then be toasted and then cooked to porridge or be added as flakes to any breads. All the grains I have tried have been successful with this method. I’ve done Emmer, Spelt, Oats, Wheat of several kinds Barley. They all work using this method. If you try a few grains at 12 hrs and they need more time just wait the full 24. Do not add more water , this really is plenty.

HeiHei29er's picture

This is my take on a Finnish bread.  I've changed it up quite a bit from the original, so I'm not sure I should even call it that anymore.  For the most part, the ingredients are true to the recipe.  However, this uses a 2-stage pre-ferment, a yeast water for leavening, and a mash.  The original is a straight dough yeasted recipe.

Levain 1
22.5g   Whole Rye Flour
22.5g   Barley Flour (I used fresh milled Hulled Barley)
56.3g   Yeast Water (recently refreshed and active)
1)   Combine ingredients and ferment at 78-80 deg F for approximately 12 hours or until flours are bubbly and doubled

Levain 2
90.0g    Bread Flour
25.2g    Water
1.6g      Sea Salt
1)   Combine ingredients with all of Levain 1 and lightly knead into a dough.  Ferment at 78-80 deg F until 2-3x in volume (6-8 hours)

22.5g    Cracked Rye or Rye Chops
22.5g    Barley Flour
22.5g    Toasted Sunflower Seeds
22.5g    Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
135.0g  Whole Milk
1)  Pre-heat Crockpot with 1-2" of water in it to 150 deg F using Inkbird Controller with probe in the water.  Cover the Crockpot with two large towels to insulate it.
2)  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl that has a tight cover
3)  Warm milk in the microwave to 165 deg F.  Keep it covered as much as possible to avoid evaporation.
4)  Pour hot milk over dry ingredients, stir until fully wetted, cover tightly and place in Crockpot.
5)  Allow ingredients to cook at 150 deg F for 3-8 hours (I went for about 6 hours overnight)
6)  Set the Inkbird temp to 180 deg F and let cook until mash temperature reaches 180 deg F (1.5-2 hours)
7)  Remove from Crockpot and let cool to room temperature
(Alternative:  Replace sunflower and pumpkin seeds with 1 tsp of crushed fennel seed)

Final Dough
135g   All Purpose Flour
135g   Bread Flour
56.3g  Yeast Water
109.8g Water
6.5g     Sea Salt
1)   Combine flours, yeast water, water, and Levain 2.  Mix until flours are wetted.  It will be on the dry side and stiff.  This is needed to accommodate the mash hydration.
2)   Fermentolyse 15-20 minutes
3)   Fold in salt and mash in 4-5 increments.  Thoroughly mix in the salt and mash using pinch and squeeze method.  Rest 10 minutes.
4)   Perform 4 sets of bowl kneading with 10 minute rests between sets.  Bassinage in additional water as needed to get a supple dough.
5)   Bulk ferment in an oiled bowl at 74-76 deg F.
6)   Fold every 45-60 minutes until dough is feeling puffy.  Allow the dough to bulk 80-100%.
7)   Pre-shape and rest for 20-30 minutes
8)   Gently shape and perform final proof at 78-80 deg F until jiggly and roughly doubled.
9)   Pre-heat to 465 deg F; Bake in steaming oven for 1 minute at 465 deg F; 19 minutes at 425 deg F; vent oven; 20-25 minutes at 425 deg F or until a hollow thump

I made both the fennel and seeded versions for this bake.  I wasn't able to get a crumb shot for either, but the fennel loaf was what you would expect for a loaf with 20% low gluten flour.  Reasonably airy with an evenly distributed crumb and no large open areas.

Benito's picture

After I posted my first sourdough Mazanec and Vanocka, I heard from many European bakers on IG who love these breads and they said that they eat them year round that’s how much they are loved.  We leave for Florida in a couple of days, unless we are delayed by the newly forming tropical storm, so I needed to bake another Christmas present, this time for the staff of our building.  With the feedback from the first bake, I decided to make some adjustments to Maurizio Leo’s recipe.  I wanted to use a stiff sweet lEvian with the idea of reducing the sour tang while also hopefully making a levain with more osmotolerant yeast selected for.  I increased the lemon zest to enhance the lemon flavour while also adding some candied mixed peel for a bit of variety to the inclusions.

This formula is for two loaves.


Make the levain and soak the raisins and cranberries the night before.

In the evening, when your sourdough starter is ripe (when you’d typically give it a refreshment), make the levain. In a large jar, combine bread flour, water, ripe sourdough starter, and sugar. Cover the jar loosely and let the levain ripen overnight at warm room temperature (I keep mine around 74°F to 76°F/23°C to 24°C). In a small bowl, combine the raisins/cranberries and brandy (use enough brandy so they’re just covered). Cover the bowl.


Mix the dough 

In the morning, about 12 hours later, your starter should be bubbly on top and at the sides, have risen in the jar, have a sour aroma, and have a loose consistency. If it was cold in your kitchen overnight or it isn’t displaying these signs, give it one more hour to rise and check again.  Drain the brandy soaked fruit. 

Cut butter into small pieces, place them on a plate, and set them inside the proofing box set to 82*F to become very soft. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), lemon zest, and the ripe levain. Set the mixer to low speed and mix until all the ingredients are combined and no dry bits of flour remain. Turn up the mixer to medium-low and mix for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough starts to clump around the dough hook. This is a moderately strong dough at this point, and should mostly pull away from the bottom of the mixing bowl. 

Let the dough rest 10 minutes in the mixing bowl, uncovered.

The butter should be at room temperature by this time (meaning a finger should easily push into a piece with little resistance). If you used the paddle to mix, switch back to the dough hook, and with the mixer turned on to low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time, waiting to add the next until the previous is incorporated, 4 to 6 minutes total. Once all of the butter is added, turn the mixer up to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough smooths and once again begins clinging to the dough hook, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be cohesive, smooth, and elastic at the end of mixing.  Add the drained fruit and mixed peel.  Mix until well incorporated. 

Transfer the dough to another large container (or leave it in the mixing bowl) for bulk fermentation.


Bulk ferment the dough

Cover the dough with a reusable airtight cover and let it rise at 82°F  for a total of 2-4 hours. During this time, you’ll give the dough one set of “stretches and folds” to give it additional strength.

Finally, let the dough rest, covered, for the remaining 3 hours of bulk fermentation.


Shape the dough

Check your dough; after 2-4 hours, it should have risen about 10-20%  in the bulk fermentation container, have a few scattered bubbles, be smoother with a slightly domed top, and be moderately light and fluffy to the touch. If the dough still looks sluggish or feels dense after 4 hours, give it another 30 minutes to rise.

For shaping Vanocka, divide dough into six equal portions.  Pre-shape as a boule.  To form each piece into a strand about 14” long. On an un-floured board, flatten each piece with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece to about ¼ inch thickness. Then roll up each piece into a tight tube. Using the palms of your hands, lengthen each piece by rolling each tube back and forth on the bench with light pressure. Start with your hands together in the middle of the tube and, as you roll it, move your hands gradually outward. Taper the ends of the tube by rotating your wrists slightly so that the thumb side of your hand is slightly elevated, as you near the ends of the tube.)

Braid the loaf.  Braiding somewhat loosely, not too tight. 

Econprof's picture

A few weeks ago I accidentally got into baguettes. I liked the sound of alfanso’s baguettes with durum flour, fennel, pine nuts, and golden raisins, so I attempted them. They came out ok but I wanted to see whether I could improve my technique. 

I read over some tips from the baguette community bake and made a couple batches. The appearance improved with practice and I thought they looked nice (by my not-too-exacting standards)…but I did not like eating them. I found them bland, perhaps because I was not using a fancy French flour and was too used to the tang of sourdough. 

So I tried Txfarmer’s favorite baguettes with 30% whole grain. There’s no commercial yeast to fall back on and the high hydration makes them difficult to shape and score. They’re not as pretty as my other baguettes. But I like them much more. I’m still not sure I’m a baguette person (hard to beat a hearty rye in my book), but I wouldn’t mind making these regularly.

Link to Txfarmer’s baguettes:

rgreenberg2000's picture

Ok, so I'm not an artist in any way, shape, or form!  Lovely images that I can see in my mind's eye always turn out as stick figures, and not very good ones at that! :)  So, it's a bit surprising, then, that I decided to try some decorative scoring on my weekly loaves this week.  Back story.......we hosted our annual Halloween party on Monday, and one of our guests brought a loaf of bread that had a "Jack Skellington" skeleton face scored on the top of it.  I thought to myself, "Hey, this would be a cool thing for me to make next year to go with my BBQ Skeleton.....

The "planner" in me decided that I should work up to something like that slowly (since I've seen my pumpkin carving, this really is a good idea!!!) So, I looked at a bunch of YouTube videos on scoring (most of which were WAY to intricate for me), and eventually decided to do a simple wheat stalk on my weekly loaf of bread to see what I could do with that simple pattern.  Well, it's not at all bad! 🤣 Much room to grow, but a halfway decent start.....

The bread is the same that I posted in my blog last week, and the fridge retard really makes the decorative scoring pretty easy (without needing to make a stiffer, lower hydration loaf.)

I'll post updates here, as I make progress. :)


Benito's picture

I ran out of bread, hard to believe since I’m semi retired with more time to bake, but it happened.  I found a bit of whole kamut in the back of the closet so that gave me the idea of combining it with some semola rimacinata (semolina) since they are related and both have a great yellow colour.  I decided to try doing a cold retard after shaping.  I’ve never done this with a milk bread that I can recall.  This is the reason for the blisters on the crust, which for this type of bread I’m not a huge fan of.  The bread ended up being super soft and fluffy with a gorgeous yellow crumb and buttery crisp crust.  Really perfect for sandwiches which is what we did with the first slices for dinner tonight.

For 1 9x4x4” Pullman pan




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 Whole Kamut flour 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 flours.  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.  


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 oil the countertop and your scraper. Scrape the dough out onto the oiled 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 lightly oiled rolling pin and hands, 4roll and 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. 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.


HeiHei29er's picture

TFL is such a great community.  We share ideas, advice, recipes, and help each other, in general, along the way.  In some cases, we get to know each other at an almost personal level.  At least as personal as you can get communicating virtually with someone you’ve never met. 😁 Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to put a voice with a virtual face and have lunch with Paul (pmccool).

We had lunch as I made my way to a pre-ride for a mountain bike race today.  We had the chance to discuss our shared alma mater and what’s changed there over the years, our career paths, and how each of us started and progressed on our bread baking journey.  A great conversation that I hope to continue some day.

As you would expect with TFL’ers, our meet-up included an exchange of bread, and I was fortunate enough to get two of Paul’s loaves (and some of his starter).  A pan loaf that smells wonderful (guarded family recipe) and a Swedish Limpa that I’m anxious to try!

It was great to make this connection, and I’m very thankful to Paul for taking the time to say hello in person.  I hope I can meet some other TFL’ers in my travels!

Sugarowl's picture

I made the Walter Sands white bread from King Arthur in October and tried doing a swirl. I rolled my dough a wee bit too thin in the middle, but it was offset by having a pocket of sugar peeking out at the end. It was gone in 3 days. The only problem I had was that the swirl kept separating from the bread. It was not fun to pull it out of the toaster.



And today I made a variation of the Better Banana Bread but with a few changes using a recipe from one of Mimi Fix's books. If came out really good. Lightly dense, but not fall apart-y or rubbery.

My Changes:

1. I forgot the butter, but #2 made up for it I guess

2. I used 8oz of sour cream (full fat) in place of the yogurt

3. I used 3 medium bananas at 320g total

4. Brown Sugar 120g which is about 2/3c packed

5. I did use the 1.5cups (180g) of all purpose flour, but I used 30g (1/4c) each of whole wheat and rye. Not enough rye flavor came through, maybe just 60g of Rye next time.

6. I upped the salt to 1tsp

7. I upped the baking soda to 1 tsp since I cut out the baking powder

8. I used 1 tsp of cinnamon. Not enough, maybe use 2tsp next time.

9. Finally I used 1/2c each of dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips (Reeses has PB chips in the baking aisle now!)


Here is the recipe with my changes:

2 eggs

3 medium bananas (320g)

1 cup (8oz) of sour cream, full fat

2/3 packed brown sugar (120g)

1.5 cups (180g) All purpose Flour

1/4 cup (30g) Whole Wheat Flour

1/4 cup (30g) Rye Flour

1 tsp of Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp of Cinnamon (not enough to taste it over the chocolate unfortunately)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

I used 3 dark, small loaf pans (5"x3"x1.5") so I baked it at 325F for about 40 minutes. It was still under cooked at 30 minutes. Use the same directions as the Better Banana Bread above.


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