The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.


Martadella's picture

I have to stop eating gluten for a while, so why not to learn how to bake stuff without it.

My no recipe approach does not work anymore. I produced a hideous monster of a loaf ans it is going to enrich my compost pile today. I thought: it cannot be any more complicated than a rye bread. Well, it can.

Anyway, I found this beautiful recipe on YouTube and this bread is just lovely.  The dough was very pleasant to work with and the result actually exceeded my expectations.  Slices great, makes a lovely toast.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Hands on laboratory practice.

Day #1 begin the three step leivin build

Day #2 complete leivin fortification, main dough build/fermentation, and cold retard

Day #3 The end game (Bake).

After putting Slo-Mo through his paces he performed admirable. He had more than enough power of provide the lift requirements. It was a bit challenging working with the sticky 80% hydration dough. Working with Maurizio's almost as highly hydrated doughs was a good primer. The stepping stone method I call it. The deep rustic wood fire coloration is just what I was going for! The depth of flavor is amazing. Enjoy the photo montage. 




tpassin's picture

After some discussion in recent threads, I decided that it's high time I tried out shorter bulk ferments. My guiding principle has been that the longer the flour is hydrated, and the longer it's fermented, the better the flavor. So I usually let bulk ferment go on to more than double, sometimes triple, the original size.  This usually gives me a fine, fairly uniform crumb, which may have large pores or smaller ones depending on hydration, grains, all these sorts of things.

This practice has served me well, and I like that kind of crumb, but I've been interested to see how a shorter bulk ferment could change things.  Some people only let the dough rise by 1/2 or 1/3, for example.  This bake is my first experiment.  As a bonus, I measured the pH with my new Hanna meter.

Here's the crumb shot, then the details:

 You can see that there is a wide range of pore and cavity sizes, and in the larger ones you can see some nice gelatization. The crust is gorgeous, and the height and oven spring were excellent. The crumb is well open for a 72% hydration loaf.  I'm very happy overall.

This loaf uses mostly all-purpose flour along with some malted barley and Irish-style whole wheat flours.  This made for a soft crumb.  It might be a little too soft for the crust, which is thin, flakey, and a little crunchy.

Formula (flour and water are totals including starter's flour and water) *
10% - malted stone ground barley flour
10% - KA Irish-style whole wheat flour
80% - Gold Medal All Purpose Unbleached
72% - water
20% - starter (100% hydration, made with bread flour)
2.2% - salt

* Total flour was 400g.

 8:30 AM - Rough mix of all ingredients
 9:00 - knead and stretch
 9:55 - 1st S&F, between wet hands
10:45 - 2nd S&F, between wet hands
12:05 - 3rd S&F, on bench with a little flour
1:30 PM - 4th S&F, on bench
3:30 - shape loaf, proof freestanding covered with plastic wrap**
4:55 - bake 

** Dough had risen by roughly 50%, compared with my usual 2.5X - 3X.

After the 3rd S&F the dough felt wonderfully silky, and was very extensible.  I decided to do a final S&F to reduce this extensibility.

Bake Profile
- Preheat oven with baking steel to 450 °F
- Uncover loaf last 15 minutes
- Slash, insert into oven
- Throw 12 oz tap water on steam tray, block vent for 1 minute***
- Turn temp to 300 °F for 15 minutes
- Turn temp to 425 °F
- Total bake time: 40 minutes.

*** The oven leaks steam so fast that hardly any is visibly coming out of the vent after a minute.

Here is a graph of the pH vs time.  Don't pay any attention to the first point looking lower than the second.  I just didn't write down the second digit of the reading, which I did for all the others.  I'm sure the first point was the same as the second one.

Oh, yes, the taste is rich, mellow, a bit buttery.  All in all, a successful experiment, I'd say. 

ReneR's picture

Following on from some posts on the Big(a) controversy thread, here are a couple more recent wholegrain wheat loaves I baked with a 50% 'shaggy' SD biga.

The first was a very simple control bake with nothing else apart from 100% UK wholemeal wheat bread flour.

100% ww biga

50% (200g) of the flour was used in the biga which was made with 90g water and 10g 100% hydration SD starter. The biga was left to ferment at room temperature for 24h and then mixed in with the remaining 200g of flour and 4g salt, with extra water added to bring the final dough mix to 75% hydration.

The bulk ferment was, again, very accelerated compared to when I used to use a liquid SD levain, and for this reason, the BF again run away from me a little and I didn't have enough time to do the number of S&Fs and laminations I was intending to do.

For 100% wholegrain wheat, it was a very nice loaf, OK crumb and reasonably moist, but a little on the crumbly side after a day or so from the bake. 

Main points for improvement in my mind were to develop the gluten more with more laminations and to shape and bake earlier.

The second, I decided to increase hydration to around 80-85% and add some mashed potato for more softness and moisture.

Carob WW Biga

I also had some carob flour (its more like cocoa powder actually) which I though might go well with the wholegrain wheat taste and make the bread nice and dark too, so added about 10g into the final dough flour. The biga was made in exactly the same way as the first loaf. The final dough had 170g wholegrain wheat bread flour, 10g carob flour, and 100g potato (assumed to provide 80g of water to the loaf), so water added to bring the final hydration to 80%. When mixing, the final dough was very dry so added some more water, taking it to around 85% hydration in the end.

The final loaf was soft and moist, with very nice taste, but again, due to external factors, was not able to do as many S&Fs and laminations as I would have like to.

Final reflections on the second loaf are that the texture is very nice and more smooth and less crumbly than the 1st loaf, the taste of the carob is actually very nice, and there is more sourness than in the 1st bake. I think the carob taste would be complemented well by some sunflower seeds, so will be trying to add some of those to the next such loaf I make. 

Benito's picture

I’m enjoying making Fougasse for dinner parties.  I wanted to try different flavours in the Fougasse than I have already made to chose to try pecorino cheese, oregano and black pepper.  Overall I was really pleased with this bake, but I let the baking get away from me and it got even darker than I usually like.  Fortunately brushing EVOO on the crust right before serving really helped avoid the crust being too crispy.

Levain Overnight

12 hours warm room temperature 74-76°F. 


In large bowl add the water and the levain then dissolve.  Then add salt and olive oil, then whole wheat flour and mix, finally add bread flour. After 10 mins of autolyse, slap and fold to develop the dough moderately.  Towards the end of mixing add the grated Pecorino cheese, oregano and black pepper through stretch and folds in the bowl.  Finally give the dough a bench letterfold and place into the bowl.


At 30 min intervals give the dough coil folds.  After the third set give the dough 1 hour 30 mins rest.

Allow the dough to rise to about 40-50% then shape.


To remove the dough from the bowl drizzle olive oil onto and around the edges of the dough.  Then gently spread the olive oil over the surface and around the sides.  In the bowl flip the dough to oil the bottom of the dough.

Transfer the dough to a parchment lined tray, smooth side up and gently stretch the dough out into a rough triangle.  Rest for 10 mins then cut the dough.  Make 2 or 3 short vertical cuts from the base of the triangle to the top, leaving space between the cuts. While cutting, use your other hand to gently spread the dough with your fingers to encourage it to open and prevent it from sticking back together. After cutting, spread the sides of the triangle outward to widen the cuts even further. Next, make diagonal cuts from the center cuts outward toward the sides of the triangle, while spreading the sides outward so the cuts open wide.  Place into a large plastic bag and close.  Allow to proof for 1 and a half to 2 hours.  30 mins prior to the end of proof pre-heat the oven to 450°F.  (Changes for the second time - cutting soon after stretching)


The dough should pass the finger poke test when ready to bake.  Prior to baking brush the dough with more olive oil and top with more grated pecorino cheese to your liking. 


Bake at 450°F for 25-30 mins on the lowest rack rotating partway through.


After baking brush with olive oil and you can add herbs to your olive oil to add more flavour if you wish.


Cool on a rack.


Best eaten the day of bake. Reheat a minute or two under the broiler.

My index of bakes.

Benito's picture

We had another dinner party last night so I wanted to bake another pie for dessert and wanted something different from those I had bake before.  Pineapples aren’t that common a filling flavour for pies so decided to try this one.  I have to say it was delicious, I reduced the sugar from the original recipe especially the meringue which I also prepared as a Swiss meringue instead of the French meringue in the original recipe since I find them a bit more stable.


One 20-ounce can crushed pineapple (do not drain)

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup sugar (I reduced to a bit under ¾ cup)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 egg yolks



3 egg whites, at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (reduced to just under ¼ cup)


Ritz Cracker Crust

  • 5 ounces round buttery crackers (such as Ritz) (about 40 crackers), crushed.  (Original not enough increased to 175 g)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (reduce greatly to 1 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (reduce to ½ tsp)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the salt and sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 9-inch pie pan. Freeze for 30 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.   


To make the filling: In a large saucepan, combine the pineapple with its syrup, the sour cream, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Continue to whisk vigorously while adding a few splashes of the hot pineapple mixture into the bowl to temper the eggs. Dump everything back into the pan, and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and set aside.


Make the Swiss meringue.

With gently simmering water, the meringue should cook fairly fast. If you find the temperature climbing too slowly, simply crank up the heat.

Fill a 3-quart pot with 1½-inches of water and place over medium-low heat, with a ring of crumpled foil set in the middle to act as a booster seat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and rose water or vanilla bean (if using). Place over steamy water, stirring and scraping constantly with a flexible spatula until thin, foamy, and 175°F on a digital thermometer, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high until glossy, thick, and quadrupled in volume, about 5 minutes. Use immediately.

My index of bakes.

Isand66's picture


I am loving the newest grain from Barton Springs Mill called Stardust. It’s a hard white winter wheat variety grown in Oklahoma with a slightly malty and mild wheat flavor. I used some a few weeks ago in a bake and wanted to try upping the amount in the bake.

I ended up using 69% of the total flour with Stardust which I milled using my my Mockmill 200. I sifted and milled twice with a #30 sieve, and then sifted with a #40.

I also wanted to try making Polenta using fresh milled Oaxacan Green corn which is a Heirloom variety. There is nothing like fresh milled corn with its earthy and nutty flavor. My polenta ended up more like a corn flour scald since I didn’t adjust my mill course enough. It still smelled and tasted great after adding some butter and grated Vermont Extra Sharp cheddar. I used milk to make the polenta instead of water to give it some extra creaminess. I added 300 grams of milk to 150 grams of ground corn along with the butter and cheese. I ended up extra polenta as it didn’t absorb all of the liquid. This also along with the potatoes added a lot of extra hydration to the dough which made this one a lot higher than the 79% on the formula. If I were to repeat this I would probably cut back on the water 40-50 grams or more.

I wanted to honor my Max dog by using a cookie cooker and then making a doggie likeness with black sesame seeds since he’s like all 4 of my pups black as night. Unfortunately the black sesame idea didn’t really work as it looked like an inkblot experiment so I scraped most of the sesame seeds off :). Max had a mass removed from his mouth along with 2 teeth and a teeth cleaning and he’s doing great thankfully.

This came out amazing with a super moist crumb that is still fresh 6 days later. The flavor is perfect with mild wheat overtones and nuttiness from the polenta.


Levain Directions 

Mix all the levain ingredients 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 76 degrees so it took around 5 hours for me. Either use in the main dough immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.

 Main Dough Procedure

Note: I use an Ankarsrum Mixer so my order of mixing is slightly different than if using a Kitchenaid or other mixer. Add all your liquid to your mixing bowl except 50-80 grams. Add the levain in pieces and mix for a few seconds to break it up. Next, add all your flour to the bowl and mix on low for a minute until it forms a shaggy mass. Cover the mixing bowl and let it rest for an hour.   Next add the salt, honey, potatoes, cooled polenta and remaining water as needed and mix on medium low (about speed 3) for 12- 24 minutes.  If you are using a more traditional mixer you would only mix around 7-10 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 1.45 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours. I use my proofer set at 79-80 degrees. If you are leaving it at room temperature 72 degrees I would let it sit out for 2 -2.5 hours before refrigerating. Depending on how developed the dough is after the initial mix you may not need to do as many S&F’s.

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 1 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.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 540 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 bread(s) out of the oven when done and let them cool on a bakers rack for as long as you can resist. 

BenM's picture

can anyone offer advice on mixing a recipe written for hand mixing in a home spiral mixer?  An example would be the Basic Country Bread from the Tartine book. It’s a great bread and always comes out good. I would lIke to know how I could get similar results if the dough was mixed in a tabletop spiral mixer?

pmccool's picture

A few months ago, I was given a one-pound package of einkorn grain.  While I've been interested in einkorn and other primitive wheats, the high cost (relative to modern wheats) has put me off.  I don't have any compelling health issues that would militate against using modern wheats, so my curiosity hasn't been enough to override the high price point.

Since I was at the point of needing to make bread again, and since the einkorn was sitting on the shelf, I decided it was high time to mill the grain and use it in a bread.  I spent quite a bit of time noodling through the archives here on TFL, looking at einkorn posts.  The bulk of those were levain-based breads.  Since I wanted to get a sense of the einkorn's flavor without other influences, and since there was so much commentary about einkorn's weak gluten, I went in search of a yeasted version.  What I eventually settled on was a recipe from Jovial Foods for an Easy Einkorn Whole Grain Bread.

The recipe produces a fairly straightforward no-knead bread.  The one tweak that I made was to bump the salt content up from 3g to 8g.  After combining the water, honey, and yeast, I milled the flour straight into the bowl, added the salt, and stirred everything until all of the flour was absorbed and a rough dough formed.  The dough was left in the bowl, covered, and allowed to ferment for 30 minutes. 

At the end of the short bulk ferment, the dough looked puffy and was perhaps 50% larger.  At that point, the dough was scraped from the bowl into a well-greased 8x4 loaf pan.  I smoothed the top of the loaf off with wet fingers.  The loaf was covered and allowed to ferment for another 30 minutes.  The oven was preheated while the loaf fermented.

At the end of the final ferment, I ran into a snag.  The loaf had expanded nicely and was domed about half an inch above the rim of the pan.  The dough lived up to einkorn's reputation for stickiness and did not want to release the plastic wrap that had been draped over the pan.  I used a bowl scraper to gently coax the dough loose from the plastic but still wound up with a scalped loaf.  Once again, I wet my fingers and smoothed it out as much as I could without causing further injury.

Fortunately, baking went off without a hitch.  At the end of 40 minutes, the internal temperature was between 195F and 200F, and the bread was a lovely shade of brown.  The dough was allowed to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turned out to cool on a rack. Once cooled, the loaf was placed in a plastic bread bag.

I used the bread the next day to make a ham sandwich for lunch.  The bread is delicious, without any hint of the bitterness that some people have noted in einkorn.  Does it taste significantly better than whole wheat bread made with modern wheats?  Not that I can perceive.  And certainly not enough to justify paying multiples of the price for modern wheat if flavor is the primary selection criteria. 

If you look closely at the crumb, you'll notice that the bread was just slipping across the border between well-fermented and over-fermented.  The crumb in the upper part of a slice is rather coarse and open while the crumb at the bottom is showing signs of compression.  Overall, if I were to use this recipe again, I'd reduce the yeast content from 7g to 4-5g.  I'd also dial the hydration back to about 70%, since the bread is extremely moist at the recipe's 77%.

Here are a couple of pics that show the loaf:

Barring the tussle with the plastic wrap, it would have been quite pretty.


dmsnyder's picture

Sourdough Bread baked the same day as mixed versus baked after overnight cold retardation.

David Snyder

February, 2024

Last week I baked my Italian Sourdough bread for the first time without overnight retardation. It was delicious. This made me wonder about some of my other breads that I always have cold retarded on the theory that this developed better, more complex flavor. So, this week, I made my favorite multigrain sourdough and baked one loaf the same day as it was mixed and bulk retarded and baked another loaf from the same batch of dough after an overnight retardation.

 Both loaves were proofed for 50 minutes at room temperature. One was then baked after another 45 minutes of proofing. The other was refrigerated for about 18 hours, then warmed at room temperature for an hour before baking. Both loaves were baked in Lodge Combo Cooker cast iron Dutch ovens for 30 minutes covered at 475ºF. The loaf baked the without retardation was baked another 15 minutes uncovered at 460ºF. The retarded loaf which was a bit bigger was baked for 20 minutes more uncovered at 460ºF.

Loaf baked the same day as mixed

The crumb

Loaf cold retarded for 18 hours

The crumb

 The unretarded loaf had a slightly sweeter flavor and was a bit less sour. It had a significantly more open crumb. This is hard to explain. It was on the border of over-proofed before baking. Maybe that explains it. The retarded loaf was a bit more sour, and the whole wheat flavor seemed more forward. Both were delicious.

The bottom line for me is that either method could be followed according to my convenience. Both produced delicious breads that differed from each other in minor ways only.

I would love to hear about other bakers' experience with this.


 P.S. For those who like very open crumbs, here's a slice of the loaf baked without retardation:







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