The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
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Jw's picture

Last week I was out of flour and was able to combine a trip for work to a nearby windmill: . This mill has better openinghours then the mill I normally go to, and I tested the flour with a simple slow rising bread (next time I will add more simple flour, not just the wheat type). A great mill, I will be back there. I will need a bit more time to look around at the mill. It will take a while before I find the right/best combination of wheat for our weekly bread.

I also made some zopf. Finally, sometimes there are (near) perfect ones as well. We had a to say thank-you to a few friends and neighbours, I always like to give them a zopf. The best shape is from broad to narrow, or thick to small. This is four strands only, I think challah is 6-strand and keeps the size the same. For this zopf I used 1 kilo (2.2 pound) of simplest kitchen flour. Recipe on request.

Last but not least: pretzels. I was a lunchwish from my 'boss at home'. It reminded her of her youth in Austria, where she grew up. Can one get a bigger compliment? These three kinds of bread can hardly be consumed at the same time, the tasts are too different. These pretzels are best with cheese and e.g. ham. The zopf is great with marmalade and chocolate. Bak ze! Cheers, Jw.

hansjoakim's picture

Howard's been baking his way through many of Suas' recipes at a furious pace. His posts have been equally inspiring and enlightening. With Howard way ahead of the curve, the last few weeks I've found myself sifting through the debris and studying the dough scraps left in his wake. Wanting a simple, clean and filling every day loaf, I had my first crack at the whole wheat sourdough (dough scrap #1).

I branched a stiff white starter off my rye starter on Saturday morning. By Sunday morning, the stiff white levain was good to go. The whole wheat flour I'm using has a very high content of bran, so I'm paying close attention when mixing the dough. As opposed to Howard, who did a shorter mix followed by a series of folds, I went with Suas' directions, and did an improved mix. Due to the many bran particles in the dough, it's difficult to get a perfect windowpane, but after a total of 8 - 10 mins. in the mixer, and a few folds in the bowl using a dough scraper, the dough was remarkably strong when I tugged at it. With the improved mix, there are usually no folds during bulk fermentation, so the dough was allowed to ferment for two hours uninterrupted.

Whole wheat sourdough

Just yesterday I received my first ever brotforms, and I was a bit nervous that the dough would stick during final proof. A liberal dusting prevented that... thank heavens. Instead, a nicely risen boule bumped down on the peel, and off into the oven it went.

 Whole wheat sourdough

As you can see, the crumb is a bit darker than Howard's (probably due to the coarse WW flour in my mix?), and the above crumb is also more uniform. I'm guessing that Howard's initial autolyse (increased extensibility) and his shorter mixing time are both contributing to a more irregular crumb structure in his version of the bread. Additionally, I shaped the dough into a quite tight boule, which also usually suggests a more uniform crumb. The desired loaf characteristics should dictate the choices made during the baking process.

This is a solid everyday bread that can be used to virtually everything. It's got a deliciously moist crumb, and a splendid aroma. Top it with cheese, meats, fish, jam or nothing - it's a terrific bread either way!

Dhaus's picture

I Need Help With a New Starter

February 8, 2009 - 1:38am -- Dhaus

Hi Everybody,

This is my very first SD starter. 

I purchased a San Francisco culture from Ed Wood's web site and last Thursday, I activated it according to the instructions.  I made a proofing box out of a styrofoam cooler, heating pad and a digital probe thermometer and kept the starter at 90 degrees for the first 8 hours, then around 84 degrees for the last 16 hours.  I am using a quart size mason jar also as per the instructions.

jbraas's picture

Hello from Tennessee

February 7, 2009 - 8:28pm -- jbraas

So I already posted a question in the Ingredients section and then found teh Intro section... sorry. I am just starting to discover bread making. I purchaed the Bread Bakers Apprentice and have done a few "formulas" out of there so far. Tomorrow is the Italian Bread (Biga going right now). I look forward to continuing to learn ad growing from here. I never would have thought a few years back, that I would get such satisfaction out of dough.........

ericb's picture

levain / baker's percentages

February 7, 2009 - 7:42pm -- ericb

From time to time, I just cannot figure out baker's percentages. Tonight is one of those times. I'm preparing a levain based on Dan Leader's instructions in Bread Alone. He doesn't list percentages, and he doesn't list the weight of the chef with each step. This is a multi-day process, and it's not as simple as what I do for sourdough (double the weight every 12 hours). Would someone be so kind as to check my math?


Day 1

Flour 4 oz 100%

Water 4 oz 100%

Pinch of yeast

TOTAL: 8 oz 200%


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