The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


trailrunner's picture

So pleased!!! 36 hr cold fermentation and boy did the dough respond. Flavor is terrific as well. Really enjoying this flour… good thing since I have 22 kg! 

Benito's picture

Two of our close friends have birthdays this month. We decided to host a brunch for them, in part to give me an excuse to bake a challah loaf again. I thought I’d make a couple of changes to Maggie Glezer’s SD challah. Mostly I thought it needed more egg, so I increased the egg from 3 to four and reduced the water to compensate for the 72% of the egg which is water. I needed the challah to make a peach and blueberry strata. Basically this is a type of French toast that you bake in a pan using cubes of the challah. This makes for an easy meal that you prepare the night before and then bake the morning of the brunch.

I decided to coat only three of the strands of this six stranded challah for a different look.  It didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it might.  I started with the seeded vs unseeded strands in alternating positions.  I wonder if I’d started them three seeded on the left and then three unseeded on the right if it might have ended up looking more random.  I’ll have to try that next time and find out.




  1. The night before baking, mix the starter and ferment it at 76°F for 8-12 hours.
  2. In the morning, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the starter in the water, then mix in the 4 eggs, salt, honey and oil until completely combined.
  3. Mix in all the bread flour until it forms a shaggy mass.
  4. Knead the dough on the bench or in a stand mixer until it is smooth and there is moderate gluten development. (Add small amounts of water or flour to achieve the desired consistency, better if you do not have to) The dough should be quite firm.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover it tightly. Ferment for about 2 hours. It may not rise much.
  6. To make one loaf, divide the dough into two equal portions, and divide each portion into the number of pieces needed for the type of braiding you plan to do, so divide each by 3 to make 1 six strand braided loaf.
  7. Form each piece into a ball and allow them to rest, covered, for 10-20 minutes to relax the gluten.
  8. Form each piece into a strand about 14” long. (I like Glezer’s technique for this. 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.)
  9. Braid the loaves. Braiding somewhat loosely, not too tight.
  10. Place each loaf on parchment paper on cookie trays. Cover well with plastic wrap or place the pans in a food grade plastic bag, and proof at room temperature until the loaves have tripled in volume. In my oven with the light on and door cracked open, it takes 4-6 hours, be patient.
  11. If it’s almost tripled and when poked the dough only springs back a little, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Gauge the dough again. Stick a finger lightly in the dough. If it makes an indentation that doesn’t spring back, the dough is ready to be baked. If not, wait a bit more.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF with the rack in the lower third of the oven about 30 mins before final proof is complete.
  13. Brush each loaf with an egg and some milk, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt.
  14. Optionally, sprinkle the loaves with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds.
  15. Bake until done – 25-40 minutes rotating half way, shield from above to slow browning… If baking as one large loaf may take a bit longer, bake until sounds hollow or reaches 190ºF in the middle.
  16. Cool completely before slicing.

My index of bakes.

CrustyJohn's picture

I've been needing to re-stock on whole wheat flour for a while, but I haven't been able to a good a good whole wheat flour from a local or regional small farm/mill.  After a number of weeks getting by without, doing a lot of porridge loaves for something interesting, I caved and bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat to tide me over.  It seemed a good occasion to try another whole wheat heavy loaf.

I've heard that spelt ferments fast, so I though perhaps adding it in later might be a good idea.


300g (50%) Bob's Red Mill hard red whole wheat

150g (25%) Redtail Grains Sungold Spelt

150g (25%) bread flour

480g (80%) water

55g starter (9%)

4 tsp salt

1 tbsp fennel seeds

2 sprigs of tarragon


1. mix all of whole wheat flour with 280g water, autolyze 1.5 hr (room temp. high 60s/low70s)

2. mix starter with 100g water, mix in all of bread flour, pinch bread flour into whole wheat flour. "autolyse" 1 hr.

3. pinch in salt- stretch and fold every 30min, 1.5hr

4. mix all of spelt with 100g water.  stretch out whole wheat + bread flour dough, spread spelt dough over it, fold 

5. stretch out dough sprinkle fennel seed and tarragon over dough, fold.  continue stretch and folds over next 1.5 hr

6. continue bulk ferment overnight 9 hrs. (temp. low 60s) 

7. shape

8. retard in refrigerator 12 hrs.

9. Bake: 500 20min., uncovered 10 min., 450 40min., let cool in turned off oven


It's been quite a while since I've worked with a mass market whole wheat flour. I was surprised at how strong of a dough it formed just by itself, even before adding the bread flour.  I guess I've gotten used to lower gluten content stone milled flours that are a bit more finicky to work with.  I was pleased with how manageable this dough was.  

trailrunner's picture

Had to wait for the flour which was in a shipping container on its way from France. Worth the wait! Gorgeous flour with flecks of brown . Same formula as before. Absolutely lovely to work with and great flavor and crumb. These are 20% Semola . 

White Bean Marcella soup beans from Rancho Gordo, worth the price they are incredibly tasty with baggie


Benito's picture

That’s a mouthful to say and a delicious mouthful to eat.  I have just retired from my full time practice of medicine at the end of last week.  My colleagues long complained that I didn’t bring enough baking into the office.  As you know, it can be challenging to bake during the work week so you can bring it something that is freshly baked.  Well since I’m now retired (I’ll return to work part time next year doing locums) I have time to bake during the week.

I know my staff and colleagues have a sweet tooth so I wanted to try a different sweet roll that I haven’t made before.  My source of organic stoneground whole wheat flour was totally out so I couldn’t bake with very much whole wheat so adjusted my recipe for this entirely bread flour version.  Since it is fall now, I thought what better to fill the rolls with but spiced apple and browned butter.

9” square pan


For the Filling:

1 stick unsalted butter

3 pounds Granny Smith Apples —peeled, cored and chopped into ¼-inch pieces

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1-2 pinches of nutmeg 

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Make the filling: In a medium Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat and cook until it just begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining filling ingredients and cook, stirring often, until the apple are caramelized and the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup, 25 to 28 minutes. Let cool completely.




1. Pre-cook Flour (Yudane) – 8:00 a.m. or night before and cover tightly.

Be sure to make the yudane ahead of time to give it time to cool before mixing. The texture of the mixture seems to improve if left to rest for at least one hour.

 Do ahead:  Alternatively, you could make the yudane the night before, let it cool, then cover and place it in the fridge. The next morning, let it warm to room temperature before mixing it into your dough.


Boil the water and pour it over the flour in the Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Stir with spatula (not a whisk as the Yudane will get stuck in the tines) until the mixture tightens up and all dry bits are incorporated. Let the pre-gelatinized flour cool on the counter until you mix the main dough. 


2. Mix 

To the cooled yudane, add milk, eggs, sugar and salt.  Mix to breakdown the eggs.  Add levain using your spatula cut the levain into small pieces.  Add bread flour, mix with the spatula until no dry flour remains.  Fermentolyse for 20 mins.  Using your KA mixer knead the dough until you can almost get a windowpane.  Then add the butter gradually to the dough in the stand mixer waiting until the previous addition is fully absorbed. 

The dough should be strong and smooth at the end of mixing with a good windowpane.  

Transfer your dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.


3. Bulk Fermentation

At warm room temperature, around 82°F, bulk should take about 3 hours.

Give this dough three sets of coil folds at 30 minute intervals

After the third set, let the dough rest, covered, for the remainder of bulk fermentation.


4. Chill Dough

At this point, your dough should have risen in your bulk container, be puffy to the touch, and have smoothed out. If the dough still feels dense and tight, give it another 15 minutes and check again.

Place your covered bulk fermentation container in the refrigerator for at least one hour to fully chill the dough.


5. Roll and Shape

Before removing your dough from the refrigerator, make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, combine the following. It may seem like it's not enough filling to cover the entire surface of the dough—spread it thin.


The dough should be cold and firm to the touch; give it more time to chill if necessary.

Next, butter your baking pan (even if it’s nonstick) to ensure the rolls remove cleanly after baking or line with parchment paper.

This dough is very soft. Act quickly to roll, spread the filling, and cut before the dough warms and softens further. If it begins to soften, place it in the fridge to firm.

Remove your bulk fermentation container from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface in a large rectangle shape, and the top of the dough in the bowl. Then, gently scrape out the dough to the center of your floured rectangle. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 15″ x 15″ square.


Spread the apple cinnamon filling over the dough, leaving a one cm border on all sides.  Roll the dough into a tight log and pinch to seal the seam.  Using dental floss, cut the roll into 9 equal pieces.  Place them into the prepared pan, cut side up.  Cover the pan to prevent the dough from drying out.


6. Warm Proof

Place the pan back in the 82°F proofing box.  Allow the rolls to fully proof, they should fill the pan and the spaces between them fully.  The dough should be marshmallowy soft.  This may take 5-7 hours.


Be sure to start preheating your oven at 400°F about 30 minutes before you feel the rolls will be fully proofed.



Preheat your oven, with a rack in the middle, to 400°F (200°C). After the warm proof, uncover your dough and gently press the tops of a few rolls. The fully proofed rolls will look very soft. The texture of the dough will be almost like a whipped mousse. Be sure to give them extra time in warm proof if necessary. If the dough needs more time to proof, cover the pan and give the dough another 15 to 30 minutes at a warm temperature and check again.

Once your oven is preheated, remove your pan from its bag, slide it into the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.


The rolls are finished baking when the tops are well-colored and the internal temperature is around 195°F (90°C). Remove the rolls from the oven, remove them from the pan and place them on a rack. Let the rolls cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan, then serve.

These are best the day they're made, and certainly fresh from the oven, but can be reheated in a warm oven a day or two after.


Prepare the Glaze

For the Glaze:

½ cup confectioners' sugar

½ cup honey

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt


Once the rolls are fully cooled out of the oven and on a rack, drizzle the glaze on the rolls. 

So these were a hit with everyone who had one.  The apple cinnamon with a hint of nutmeg tasted like autumn and was complimented by the honey glaze and buttery bread.

 My index of bakes.

SusanMcKennaGrant's picture

I’ve spent almost half my life now trying to understand  this one recipe. I’m 64😱 so that’s a few years.  I’m probably going to my grave with this one but here are  a few new things I’ve learned recently. Click on the link for the video! 


Focaccia Genovese

View this post on Instagram   

A post shared by Susan McKenna Grant (@humanbeingfed)


Benito's picture

I have a small quantity of whole einkorn that I need to use up before it goes bad.  I decided I’d incorporate it into a milk bread with most of it being used in the tangzhong.  I decided to do it this way because einkorn doesn’t have the best gluten so won’t add much to the structure of the dough.  The rest of the einkorn goes into the stiff sweet levain along with all of the whole wheat.  The rest of the flour is bread flour comprising 73% of the total flour.  

To review, the idea of using a stiff sweet levain is that with sufficiently high sugar concentration, it will have a dehydrating effect on the microbes.  This effect is greater on the LAB compared with the yeast.  As a result, this levain is relatively deficient in LAB compared with a similar levain at the same hydration without the sugar.  A bread leavened with this style of levain will generally have less sour tang unless it over ferments.  I find that a Hokkaido milk bread is generally better without too much sour tang.

Unfortunately, this dough got away from me and over-fermented somewhat.  We can see this with the loss of definition between the four lobes.  Typically a well fermented bread with four lobes will have the appearance of four distinct “hills”.  If one under-ferments this bread there will be a lot of tearing between the hills and they might be quite exaggerated.  When over-fermented as this one was, you see a loss of definition of the hills.

Fortunately, this still baked up well and was extremely soft and fluffy.

For a 9”x4”x4” 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 Einkorn 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.  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 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.

CrustyJohn's picture

I've long wanted to try my hand at an imitation of this excellent loaf I had from one of the best bakeries I've tasted bread from: the, sadly, erstwhile Scratch Bakehouse of Syracuse, NY.  

I recently got an order of grains from Redtail Grains, a neat small-scale organic grain farm in NC that focuses a lot on heirloom varietals.  Among that order was some cateto orange polenta which is supposed to be particularly creamy and well-suited to polenta.  So here was my go:


bread flour: 360g (80%)

Sungold Spelt from Redtail Grains: 90g (20%)

leaven: 50g (~10%)

water: 335g (75%)


salt: 2tsp


Polenta made with Cateto Orange corn from Redtail Grains: 225g (50%)

Kalamata olives: a handful (maybe a 1/4 cup?), chopped

Process- Pretty much my standard process of late

mix starter + water, stir, add flours.  "Autolyse" 1 hr @ room temp. (probably around 65-70).  Add salt, pinch in.  Stretch and fold over the course of 3 hrs at room temperature (same as above more or less).  Add in the polenta and olives about halfway through stretch and fold period.  Continue bulk fermentation overnight (room temp probably in the mid 60s), about 8 hours in addition to the 3 hrs. of folding.  Shape.  Retard in refrigerator for around 8 hrs.  Bake @ 500 20 min, uncover, 10min, reduce to 450, 30min, let cool in turned-off oven.

Notes:  The dough came together nicely, and the polenta didn't cause it to get too unmanageable during the stretch and fold phase, but as with a few other porridge loaves, it was quite wet and sticky at the end of the BF when time to shape, thus my shaping job was rather loose.  Cornmeal/polenta, even when well cooked, seems to retain a grittiness that seems to hinder the gluten structure more than other cooked grains/porridges.  It also seemed to add a lot of water to the loaf; this was maybe one of the wettest feeling loaves I've baked, and even after the long bake, the crumb was still glistening (fortunately not gummy though).

    The crumb was super soft and the crust very robust, creating a nice contrast.  The polenta flavor added something, though perhaps not as distinct as other porridges.  I think I added too few olives and chopped them too small- their flavor didn't come through much.


  Made a grilled cheese with some slices- maybe one of the best grilled cheeses I've ever eaten thanks to that soft rich crumb getting griddled.  

The shape of the loaf was nothing to sing about, but just about all other aspects, especially a nice rich flavor, put this up there with some of my favorite of my creations.  I don't know that it equaled the Scratch Bakeshouse loaf though, but that's a pretty lofty standard to chase.  

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.


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