Fred Bread

LeadDog's picture

Last year a very good friend of mine named Fred died suddenly.  One of the things we enjoyed doing was talking and eating bread.  I even got him started in sourdough bread making so when he died I felt it was only fitting to make a special bread and name it after him.  It tool me about a year and a half before I cooked up this bread but I think it is worthy of the name.  Here is a picture to get you started.

When I did the Whole Wheat Injera I stumbled on to an idea that I had never pursused before and that was the use of high hydration preferments.  The Injera has a hydration of 175% and it has flavors that are just wonderful.  This got me to thinking about how I could get those flavors into a loaf of bread.  I started by making bread with a preferment at 175% and 20% of the weight of the flour.  That made a normal bread so I wondered what would happen if all the water for the dough was in the preferment of 175%.  That is what is so different about this bread there is no water added to the dough like other breads I have made all the water comes with the preferment.  Check out the expansion in the slash from the dough expanding like I have never seen in any other bread I have made.

You can tell it continues to expand as it cooks by the middle being darker and the edges are light in color.  You can even see some of the bubbles right there in the slash.  I have never picked up a bread that has ever felt like this, my fingers press into the bread like it is soft yet the crust is explosively crisp.  I have been making the bread for a few weeks now so I believe it can be repeated.  Here is the formula.

The Dough

Ingredient Metric Imperial Baker's Percentage
Bread Flour 432 grams 15.25 oz 100.00%
Water 0 grams 0 oz 0.00%
Salt 13 grams 0.46 oz 3.01%
Preferment 175% Hydration 755 grams 26.65 oz 174.77%
Total Flour Weight:
432 grams

Percentages are relative to flour weight (flour equals 100%) and every other ingredient is a percentage of this. Flour from the starter is not counted. This recipe was originally in grams and has been automatically converted to other measures.


The preferment I made using home ground flour that had the big pieces sifted out.  That flour is added to two grams of my storage starter and the water.  I started by letting that ferment for 24 hours before using now I'm using it after 36 hours which is the flavor I like the best so far.  You can adjust the flavor of the bread by how long you let the preferment sit out before using it.  I think I'll try 48 hours some day but suspect it will be to long.  The water seperates in the preferment and I have noticed that after a while the flour floats to the top of the of the water.  I don't mix the preferemnt up as there are some glutten strands that have developed and I don't want to break them up. Next the Bread flour and preferment are mixed together into a shaggy mass and let sit for 30 mins to an hour then the salt is added.  I do one or two streatch folds depending on how I feel.  From here on out there is nothing different than what you would do for any other bread that you would bake.  Mine was shaped and fermented in an oval basket.  I bake it in the oven at 460° for 45 minutes and the first 30 minutes are under a roasting pan to help steam the bread.

The bread tastes great and I love the flavors it has.  I think this is going to be my new lunch bread. There are so many directions you can go with this idea this is only just the begining.  For those of you who are wondering what the overall hydration is, it is 68%.

514 users have voted.


alpinegroove 2012 February 17

I am trying this for the first time and just mixed the pre-ferment:

3 grams starter

479 grams water

274 grams flour


This resulted in a fairly thin batter; the wetness took me by surprise and so did the small amount of starter.

I am planning to give it 36 hours, then mix in the rest of the flour and salt, do some stretch and folds and then retard in the fridge overnight and bake in the morning...


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 17

 alpinegroove that is how I have been making my Fred Bread.  Last week I used different wheat to make my flour and the preferment didn't have the flour float to the top after 36 hours.  The preferment was bubbling so I figured it was ready.  I beginning to see there might be a few differences depending on things like temperature, water and flour.  I have been doing maybe only one or two stretch and folds as the dough seems to be developed at that point.

alpinegroove 2012 February 17

12 hours after the initial mixing, there is water on top.

I used store-bought organic white bread flour. I am thinking of mixing in some whole wheat bread flour or rye flour when I make the dough tomorrow night.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 18

 I haven't tried making Fred Bread with white bread flour for the preferment but I don't see why it wouldn't work.  Water on the top after 12 hours sounds normal to me.  Mixing in whole wheat bread flour or rye should be fine.  I have mixed in a little rye before.

alpinegroove 2012 February 18

You typically use 100% whole wheat for the pre-ferment?

For mixing the dough, does using 50% white bread flour and 50% whole wheat bread flour sound reasonable?

ps. I am not getting e-mail notifications when replies are posted here although I have subscribed to the thread and all the settings are correct.

Are other people here getting e-mail notifications?





LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 18

 alpinegroove I think there is great flexibility in the flours that you can use in Fred Bread.  The hydration for some flours will need to be more just like it is when you make bread in a normal manner.  It is very possible that a person could look at many of the formulas that we have here and just ask "how can I make this with all the water in the preferment?"  I will be trying some of those formulas later this year but right now I'm just trying different flours.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 20

 Ok I was exploring using barley flour to make Fred Bread and ran into something different.  Doing barley bread just like I did with wheat flour made a dense loaf but I discovered something about barley flour.  When I made the preferment it doubled in size instead of the flour just floating to the top of the water.  When I put the preferment into the mixer there was hardly any water at all.  The dough when I mixed it up was very dry feeling.  My conclusion from these observations is that a very nice raised 100% barley flour bread can be made but the hydration needs to be much higher than a wheat flour bread.  175% hydration was to much so at least know there upper limit of hydration is not going to be higher than that.  I going to think on this for a while and see if I can figure out a way to make a really good barley bread based on what I saw.

herbalista 2012 February 26

So, I was fascinated with Fred Bread, but I just don't have a lot of things, like a live starter, pizza/bread stone, roasting pan lid; I'm afraid I even resorted to tap water. So, this is the rough and ready, on-the-farm version, my first try.

I followed the proportions exactly, using 1/4 tsp. of dry yeast along with the flour and water. The flour was 50g of rye and the rest whole wheat. I mixed it in my kitchen-Aide mixer bowl, threw a towel over it and stuck it on top of the refrigerator. Thank you for an excellent suggestion in my cold kitchen. (doh!)

That was Tuesday evening. Then we had a family crisis and I completely forgot about the whole project. Now, it's Saturday afternoon. When I took the towel off a few minutes ago, it smelled amazing, sour, yeasty, sweet; the amber liquid had separated out and sunk to the bottom, but the top layer was well-fed, bubbly and healthy looking. I was absolutely stunned; apparehtly I managed to create a sour dough starter, albeit with a kick from the small amount of yeast.

I just added the final 432 g of unbleached all purpose flour. Because it's been three days and I'm in the desert, I did add about 2 tbsp. of water and it seemed to greatly improve the texture. Next time I'll just increase the water at the start. I finished by stretching and twisting and folding the dough a few times in order to make sure everything came unstuck from the bowl.


I'm going to save a piece of this dough and turn it into a starter. I should have done that before I added the final flour, but it didn't occur to me. I'll bet I'm not the first person in the world to do that.

I'm going to let this dough rest for a while, just to see what happens after an hour or two. When I bake it, I'll preheat the oven and a 9" cast iron skillet. I'll form the loaf from what, so far, is a sticky but slid-clean-off-the-hook, stretchy and sour, but very healthy smelling dough. I've baked a lot of bread, much of it by the seat of my pants, following some rules but sans recipe, odd ingredients, even sold a bit of it. I've never had a dough that felt this lovely in the hand, even given the stickiness. It's just silky and shaggy and beautiful, and no more sticky than I would expect a highly hydrated 50% whole grain/50% white flour dough to be.

Anyway, I'll form the loaf, then pop it into the hot skillet. I'll spray the skillet with vegetable oil spray before I stick it in the oven. I'll slash it after I put it in the skillet.

I don't have any way to take pics, so I'll have to tell it in words, as soon as the bread gets there. I'll even tell you if it's an unmitigated disaster, and why, if I can puzzle it out. Doesn't it strike you that this must be closer to the original bread recipes? Simple, uncomplicated, making full use of the few available resources, with delicious and beautiful results.

The breads all of you have posted are an intimidating target to aim for, but I'll do my best.

farinam's picture
farinam 2012 February 26

Hi herbalista,

As I have said before - there are more ways to kill a cat than choke it with butter.

Look forward to the result.  I know a picture is worth a thousand words but if all else fails a thousand words will do.

Keep on bakin'.


herbalista 2012 February 26

Well, I put it into the oven after about 90 minutes of rise time. The kitchen, luckily, is about 75F today, so perfect for this endeavor. I situated a bowl of hot water on the oven shelf next to the bread and took it out after about 12 minutes. I closed the oven quickly, but the pale loaf I got a glimpse of showed beautiful expansion in the slashes and just a pretty, pretty bread. No pretty basket surface, but I'm happy.

I did a bit of stretching into a loose, almost oval, boule. It was still quite loose and sticky. It occurred to me that this might also make a lovely crumpet dough. I used my Chinese cleaver to cut a cross in the top, about 1/4" deep. This whole thing feels a bit like guerilla breadmaking and I'm having a lot of fun with it. About 15 minutes and I'll have some idea how I've done.

 Now I'm wondering how it would be if I just grease the skillet well, then let the dough rise in the greased pan, slash it and put it in the oven. Next time. Also, I forgot to pull some dough out, so I didn't keep a starter. I'm going to duplicate the process. I'm debating about adding the yeast, since it was so sourish, healthy and preferment-looking after just three days. Still, it's mostly my own food snobbery that would insist on leaving out the yeast, and perhaps my OCD. I do know the yeast I used to start this biga and it never smells sour like that. And after three days I would expect it to show signs of imminent demise. But it was beautiful. Something wild had definitely found its way into the mix. I'll think about it. I really would like to capture those wild, high desert yeast beasts.

It's out and beautiful. I'm not using to making bread this pretty. Gotta get me a proofing basket. It smells caramely and wheaty, a definite hit of rye, deep and yeasty, sweet and sour and bitter at once. Caraway seeds would have been a great addition. I want to just rip it open, but I want it to have every chance to be all it can be. So, I'll let it cool. I made a cake (yellow/choc frosting), too, so let me eat cake.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 26

 Wow I never even thought of using yeast.  I was to cheap to buy yeast is the reason why started doing sourdough.  I think this just goes to show that there is a whole lot more ideas to explore with the Fred Bread formula.  Herbalista it would be fun to see your loaf.

herbalista 2012 February 26

Well, I cut it and it's yummy. It rose nicely, though the crumb is a bit finer/smaller than I would have liked. I think a longer rise next time before baking, maybe overnight in a cold garage. Still, the crust is brown and crunchy and tender, and the crumb has beautiful body and integrity, while still being super moist and tender. The texture really reminds me of the good sourdoughs I used to buy in northern Calif., although it needs more elasticity.

I really want to try doing the starter with 20% rye and 80% white. I think I may be able to use this recipe to make my own version of the gorgeous northern Calif souidough bread. I don't know what my local yeasts are like, but if three days could give a bit of sour, a couple of weeks of nurturing should produce something interesting. I'll still start with my 1/4 tsp. of dry yeast since it seemed to work well. I buy my yeast in bulk, and it's very cheap.

I'm really looking forward to this bread toasted, with peanut butter. And thank you for the support, you guys rock.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 February 27

 Herbalista I can send you a bit of my starter in the mail if you would like to make a starter without yeast.  I did look at the price of bulk yeast and I'm even cheaper than that.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 April 9


I'm still trying different ideas with Fred Bread.  This was made with a preferment that was at 300% hydration.  Last week I tried 200% hydration.  I don't see any need right now to use a higher hydration.  Last weeks loaf was a very good tasting loaf of bread and the preferment is clearly getting the job done.  The 300% hydration preferment is what I would call a liquid starter.

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2012 April 30

 Well ladies and gents, I've been sitting in my spa pool with a cup of tea, trying to get rid of a headache and I happened upon this story! I know, iPad in the spa is just asking for trouble!  This made very interesting reading from start to finish! So might have to ditch Mr Leader momentarily and make some Fred bread! I have no doubt your friend will be well impressed LD, he appears to have gone "viral".

I'll get back to you with an update.


Happiness is making bread!

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 May 1

 I make at least one loaf of this every week for my lunch bread.  It is one of the tastiest breads that I can consistantly bake.  I still can't get over the oven spring this bread has, any slash other than a long slash down the middle will cause the bread to burst in places.  I made a 100% Whole Wheat Fred Bread this week and I might have to write up a new recipe for that bread.  KC have fun making the bread.

Karniecoops's picture
Karniecoops 2012 June 2

. . . . sometime ago know, and have just found the photos on my camera so thought I'd chime in. I gave it 48hrs witht the preferment doing its thing, the liquid remained on the top and didn't "sink" to the bottom, so I decided I'd start the loaf.  I used a combo of AP, rye and WM flours, left it to bulk ferment outside overnight (temps about 10C) and then proofed and baked the following lunchtime.  So all up from feed to finish it was about 72 hours.  The bread had a really good sour flavour, relatively closed crumb, and stayed fresh for ages!


Happiness is making bread!!
LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 2

 I still make this bread twice a week.  To me it is very special.  There is something about the taste and texture of the crumb that I really like.

marlynn 2012 June 16

This is simply the best.. Fred bread is just brilliant and easy, can actually make it now without getting covered from head to foot if I so desire.  This is one we will be able to use on our next long trip in the caravan. What a winner. NO MORE BRICKS!!!

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 16

 Thanks Marlynn I'm glad you like it.  


It is now summer here in Calfornia and I put all the salt in with the preferemnt.  I don't think it slowed the fermentation of the preferment down any but the bread still turned out very good.

lmmohr 2012 June 18

What a wonderful find this site is!  Thanks to all for the great information.


I'm back to baking Sourdough after a 12 year hiatus.  Trying to refresh some 12 year old Barain and New Zealand strains that were in the back of an old frig.  Not much luck yet, but only on day 3 of washing.  Tomorrow should show some progress.


Anyway, I'm really looking forward to trying FredBread, and I'm kind of reeling after spending three hours reading the whole post.  I'm confused with all the numbers and percentages.  Could you please detail exactly the amounts/weights of the 300% hydration preferment?


Thanks so much.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 18

 Hydration is always based on the amout of flour vs the water, it is a ratio.  One way to look at a 300% hydration is that if I have 100 grams of flour then there will be 300 grams of water in the starter.  I think it is best just to try Fred Bread the way it was originally written with a 175% hydration starter.

lmmohr 2012 June 19

 Thanks, I (like often, duh!) found it after re-reading.  Got to pay attention as you get older!

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 19

 Yes we all get older and when trying something new it takes awhile to understand everthing that is happening.

lmmohr 2012 June 21



Well, I've obviously got something wrong here...


My resurrected starter was cooking nicely, so this morning I thought I'd get on to Fred Bread. (Basic 175% preferment as you suggested.


I carefully measured out the 432g of flour, took 20% of that (the book says "I started by making bread with a preferment at 175% and 20% of the weight of the flour"), added starter and enough water to bring that 86g of flour up to 755g per the recipe, and let it set for 36 hrs.  Water was on top but aroma was great, so didn't worry too much as I'd seen others with that too.


I was pretty evident upon adding the remaining 368g of flour that I'd figured something wrong.  Was only thin batter.


It took another 4c flour to make a dough that cleaned the sides of my Kitchen Aid mixer.


Still don't know what I did wrong with the preferment, but it's in the frig proofing now and I'll see what happens.


Comments invited.





LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 21

 Ok I'll go step by step as I think I can see what you did.


I have a storage starter and I take a small amount of it to start my preferment.  The storage starter is then fed and put away.


I make the preferment by taking 2 grams of the storage starter and adding it to 479 grams of water and break it up in the water so the water turns to a milky color.  Next I add 274 grams of whole wheat flour but bread flour will work too and add that to the water/starter mix.  I let this ferment in the winter time about 24 hours.  It is summer here now and it ferments faster.  The tell tail sign that it is ready is when the flour floats to the top.  The water that is in the preferment is the only water for the dough.


fred bread preferment

I pour all of this preferment into my mixer along with 432grams of bread flour and 13grams of salt.  I mix it all up until it forms a dough then put it in an oil covered bowl to ferment.  I normally do a couple of stretch and folds before I form the loaf.  I bake it at 460F for 45 mins with the first 30 mins under a roasting pan since I don't have steam.

lmmohr 2012 June 22



Thanks for the help.  I now see where my problem was.


One question:  Your starter, is it dry?  Only 2g seems small, but I've seen others query this, too.  Do you use the 50/50 ratio when feeding starter?



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 22

 My storage starter is a 50% hydration starter.  I feed it once a day.  The starter is only about 18 grams all total.  I take 2 grams from my storage starter and discard the rest or save it for pancakes.  I add 6 grams of water to this and 12 grams of flour.  This gets all mixed together and formed into a ball.  The ball gets put back into its container and then goes back up on top of the fridge.  This works very well for me.  You don't need a huge starter if you are just storing it so that you have something to make bread with.  You also can make a very large amount of preferment for making bread from this in about 24 hours.  This method should work very well for most home bakers as it has very little waste.

lmmohr 2012 June 22



In the previous post you said "I add 6 grams of water to this and 12 grams of water." 


Did you mean 6g flour?


Made first bread last night after a very long refrig proof (24 hr) and a full day rising from my wild earlier batch.  Isn't pretty, but tasted great with some cultured butter.  Starting another batch today.


Thanks so much for the hand holding.


Best regards,



LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2012 June 22

 I corrected it now.  It is 6 grams of water and 12 grams of flour.


I'm glad that you got some good tasting bread out of your efforts.  It took me a while before I got to be okay at making bread and still don't think I do that great of a job at shaping the dough.

Erna Rae 2015 December 5

I am intrigued by this method of storing a starter. I am having a go at it and have made one loaf of Fredbread, only just out of the oven and cooling. Looks good - a lot darker crust than I usually bake but I preheated a Le Creuset casserole for 45 mins at the top temp I can get my oven, then baked it as the recipe. Usually I turn the oven down a bit during the bake.

 "You also can make a very large amount of preferment for making bread from this in about 24 hours.  This method should work very well for most home bakers as it has very little waste." 

Could you explain this more for me?





farinam's picture
farinam 2015 December 8

Hello Ema Rae,

I think what LeadDog meant was that you really only need to keep a small amount of starter as a small amount can be used to inoculate a large quantity of flour and water very quickly if you need it.  In bakeries, they often just use the scrapings that are left in the starter container (whether it be a bucket or an industrial tank) to get the starter for the next day going.

Hope you enjoy your Fred bread.


Erna Rae's picture
Erna Rae 2015 December 13

The Fred bread looked good and was great to eat.

I'm making 6 or 7 loaves for sale, once a week. Could I mix up a large batch of preferment, then use it for 3 different breads - a mainly white loaf, a seeded mainly wholemeal loaf and a fruit loaf?



farinam's picture
farinam 2015 December 13

Hello Emma Rae,

I think you would just have to try it and see but I don't see why not.  You would have to do some maths to adjust your recipe based on the principal that all of the water in the recipe comes from the 'Fred'.  So amount of water in recipe * 1.57 gives the quantity of 'Fred' eg 410g water in recipe requires 644g of 'Fred'.  This amount of 'Fred' contains flour amounting to 'Fred' * 0.364 eg 644g of 'Fred' contains 234g flour.  You would then reduce the amount of flour for the recipe by the relevant amount.

It is likely that the dough will have some different characteristics to what you are used to and you might need to adjust your recipe and technique to suit.  So just get in there and experiment, maybe on a smaller (single loaf) scale at first until you work out what is required and then work up to your larger batches.

Good luck with your projects.


LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2015 December 13

You could do this but you need to be aware all the water for the dough is in the preferment.  The preferement tends to have the water seperate from the dough.  This would make it hard to make single loaves from one large batch of preferment.  You could mix the preferment up before you add it to your different breads so that the water isn't seperated.  There is something in the back of my mind that remembers that this causes the glutten to break down in the dough and you get a loaf that doesn't have good glutten structure.  The other problem would be if your breads are of different hydrations using a single preferment would have to take that into account.  Doing a single loaf of Fred Bread would be helpful for you to understand how it works.  You can do many loaves of Fred Bread in a single batch if they are all the same.  Just mix everything together for the dough then scale out the indvidual loaves.

Erna Rae's picture
Erna Rae 2015 December 15

Thank you both for your replies. It will take some thinking about. Perhaps I will start with the suggestion of making more than one Fred and see how that goes.

Astrid 2013 March 19

LOVING this recipe, its easy and by far my most "professional "

looking loaf yet. Looking forward to playing and adjusting this

formula, So far i am using home ground Spelt flour, the same

basic formula that Redich posted. My first effort didn't have as much

spring as most seem to be getting, but our temperatures have dropped here,

in Aus, so i have been using my proofing box.


I have also been using the fridge method for the dough stage and it works

perfectly, so much easier to handle a softer dough, this way.


Thanks to all for this post , loving this site its pushed my homebaking

to a whole new level


Thank you

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog 2013 March 19

I'm glad you like it.  I'm still making Fred Bread and taking it in my lunch everyday I like it so much.

Zhiem 2015 December 10

Can someone precis all this without the high science and so many parts per 100? You take some starter and mix it with water, wait until the flour floats to the top and mix it into the flour?

farinam's picture
farinam 2015 December 10

Hello Zhiem,

Basically you take a small amount of your 'stock' starter and mix that with 480g of water and 274g flour.  You then leave that to ferment for maybe 36 hours.  In this time you might get separation into layers (flour etc on the bottom and liquid on top).  It also might happen that at some stage the flour layer will accumulate sufficient gas to float to the top but this is not an essential requirement.  It is also possible that you will get no separation at all, just a uniform bubbly mixture.

After the 36 hours you add 430 g flour to make your dough and you can add salt immediately or after a period depnding on what takes your fancy.  Then develop, shape and prove your dough in the normal way.

The long 'starter' development time give both the yeasts and bacteria time to grow from the small starting population and also increases the proportion of acid going into the dough mix so that you are likely to get a more sour taste profile than you would from a loaf made with a shorter time frame.

Hope this helps to explain and good luck with your projects.


S Mathern 2016 February 7

Thank you for a lovely technique for sourdough bread - I just tried it. Sour flavour, yes, delicious. Chewy and crunchy crust, yes. Decent rise, yes. But for the life of me, I can't seem to get any of the big air holes in it. 



farinam's picture
farinam 2016 February 7

Hello S Mathern,

I have found that the stretch and fold technique for dough development seems to give a more open crumb that dough that is developed by more vigourous kneading or machine mixing.  I put this down to the more vigourous working creating more but much smaller cavities in the dough for the gas generated during fermentation to migrate into.

But, without knowing exactly which technique you used it is difficult to say whether this is your exact problem.  Have a look at this photo essay of mine and see if that helps you to resolve your 'problem'.

Good luck with your projects.



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