The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts
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fjm444's picture

Quick ciabatta question

February 19, 2015 - 11:46am -- fjm444

Seems like when I bake this bread free-form ,I can get the nice ,large hole. When I try to do it in a preheated  Corning ware dish with lid on to steam bake, then lid off to finish, it rises nicely, but no large holes. I like the idea of one high large loaf. About all I do to shape is carefully flip the dough into the preheated dish, put preheated lid back on and do it at 475f. No luck doing it this way so far for big holes. The dish is 31/2 quart. Could this be the problem? Too confined?

KMIAA's picture

The Big Green Egg

February 19, 2015 - 11:38am -- KMIAA

I think somewhere along the line someone posted about baking bread in the Egg.  If anyone has any tips please let me know.  I'm getting one on Monday and would like some info on the settings they use.  I don't use Sourdough, just Yeasted Breads, but don't think that makes a difference on use the Egg, unless I'm wrong.

Hoping for any input someone can give me.  Thanks in advance!

a_warming_trend's picture

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a coworker that I was interested in acquiring spent grains from local breweries. I'd read a few different sources on baking with spent grains, and a few were sort of intimidating (my apartment is tiny, so I don't know where I'd lay them out to dry!), but some just described dumping them in with the dough. Appealing to my experimental spirit.

A few days later, she appeared in my doorway with a plastic bag full of wet spent grains from Big Boss Brewing Company right here in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

As I pondered my bag of wet grains, it occurred to me: What if I used one of the brewery's beers as well as the brewery's spent a single bread?

Take One: For my first attempt, I mixed 475 g AP flour with 355 g (one bottle) Bad Penny Brown Ale, and 20 g water, and autolysed for 8 hours. I then kneaded in 50 grams of 100% hydration white starter, 11 g salt, 5 g diastatic malt, and 60 g spent grains. I stretched and folded every 30 minutes for 2 hours. The mixture fermented at room temperature for 12 more hours, and was about 80% risen at that stage. I then refrigerated the dough for about 12 hours. Then, I had the bright idea to try to do a cold proof on top of that cold bulk. I shaped the batard and let it proof in the fridge for 12 hours. 

Even with 1.5 hours at room temperature, I had a funny feeling about this one. I had to bake it off, though (475, 20 minutes with steam, 25 without), and get to work! Sure enough, the ovenspring wasn't great. Definitely underproofed. I broke one of the most important rules of bread-baking. I listened to my own internal clock, rather than the dough! 

It actually tasted better than I was expecting -- interesting and pleasant enough to keep me pressing forward with my experiment...

Take Two: Along with sticking to just ONE cold rising stage, I knew I wanted to also increase the amount of spent grains, and also work in some whole wheat. This one was the same as the previous loaf, except that I replaced 50 g of AP flour with whole wheat and upped the spent grains to 80 g. Same 14 hrs of room temperature bulk, then retarded for 24 hours in the fridge. Shaped and proofed for 1.5 hours. Baked at the same temp as the previous loaf, for the same amount of time. 

Better! Better flavor...more noticeable earthiness from the spent grains. But...still not there. 

Take Three: The one I'll settle on for awhile. 

Formula: The Big Boss

400 g AP fl

75 g WW fl

355 g (one bottle) brown ale

20 g water 

5 g diastatic malt

15 g packed dark brown sugar

100 g spent beer grains (no need to dessicate them!)

50 g 100% hydration rye starter 

(80% hydration)


1) Autolyse flour and beer for 8-10 hours. 

2) Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Some sources have suggested holding out on incorporating the spent grains due to the sharpness of the edges, but I don't mind making them one with the gluten network right after the long autolyse. 

3) Slap and fold for 4 minutes. 

4) Stretch and fold every 30 minutes for 3 hours, anywhere from 1-4 turns (4-16 folds). 

5) Allow to ferment for 10-13 hours more (until roughly doubled). 

6) Place dough in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours (Mine was in for 36). 

7) Divide and rest for 10 minutes. Shape into torpedo batards. 

8) Proof for 1 hour at room temp, and transfer to freezer for 20 minutes (freezer trick, freezer trick!). 

9) Score and bake at 475 for 14 minutes with steam, 16 minutes without. 

I really like this bread. The addition of whole wheat and brown sugar just brings out the maltiness of the brown ale. I didn't originally think that brown ale would be a great baking beer, because it's less intense than a porter or an IPA...but I ended up really liking the subtle nuttiness. I'm looking forward to having this bread with a range of winter soups. 

Bonus photo of one more heart-scored pain au levain from the weekend. 

Hope everyone is staying safe and warm! I find it helpful to stay near the oven whenever possible...




nirli's picture

I made these for my son's kindergarden based on Hamelman's oatmeal bread recipe

I calculated the weights in the formula based on 1kg bread flour
and ended up with 60 rolls of 46 grams each :)

The kids don't like any grains and "dirt" on their bread, so I gave up oatmeal decoration and
just brushed them with butter after the bake



jen lynch's picture

Any thoughts on my dense special needs loaf?

February 19, 2015 - 8:33am -- jen lynch

Hi I know there have been a lot of posts lately on dense sourdough loaves.  I am trying to make a loaf that uses gluten but does not use wheat/spelt/rye for my husband's special diet needs.  In my latest attempt, I used the KAF rustic sourdough bread recipe:

227 g fed starter

340 g lukewarm water

2 tsp instant yeast

14 g sugar

2 1/2 tsp salt

602 g KAF AP flour

Instructions:  Combine and knead, allow to double in size for 90 minutes; divde in half, shape, proof 1 hour, bake 25 to 30 minutes at 425F


Bisnilo's picture

Scoring for a Wood-Fired Oven

February 19, 2015 - 8:02am -- Bisnilo

I am relatively successful in obtaining a good-looking loaf with decent ears when baking in a conventional oven but since I have started baking in a wood-fired oven I have managed to make some delicious bread but, although I score in exactly the same way, I have not managed to get the loaves to develop ears at all.  Can anyone tell me how I should alter my technique for a wood-fired oven?  This happens with various recipes although I mostly follow Chad Robertson´s  Basic Country Loaf.

Dether's picture

Fresh/cake yeast in US recipes

February 19, 2015 - 6:40am -- Dether

Hi. I'm in the UK and do all my recipes in grams (as most people seem to do here anyway; bravi). I'm converting one for the US edition of a recipe book, and I'm trying to get my head around the best way to "translate" 20g of fresh/compressed/cake yeast.

Am I right in thinking that in the US fresh/compressed/cake yeast comes in packets of 2oz or 0.6oz? That is 57g and 17g. So 20g is 0.7oz, which would be around a third of a 2oz cake and about 1 1/5 0.6oz cakes?

AbeNW11's picture

Slowing down a preferment

February 19, 2015 - 12:14am -- AbeNW11

BUILD 2 [about 12 hours before final mix or salt flour to 1.8%]

80g bread flour

6g rye

51g water

16g mature stiff (65% hydration) culture (from build 1)



The above is the final build for a preferment which should be 12 hours. The advice is to salt the flour to 1.8% to slow it down if needed. I wish to do around 16hrs for this preferment. Will 1.8% give an extra 4 hours or longer?

How much salt do you suggest I add?


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