The Fresh Loaf

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


Friends paid a visit last week from the other side of the peninsula.  And I baked them some bread.  Jim is the extraordinarily talented chef of his own small restaurant and does indeed like my bread, so I was pleased to provide him and Donna with two favorites.  The remaining batards sent home with them.

 In conversation, Donna expressed her enjoyment for one particular item from Amy’s Bread – Amy’s being one of the better known bakeries in NYC, that little burg from whence we all started.  It was a 1992 creation of Amy’s – a semolina studded with raisins, fennel seeds and pine nuts.  Donna suggested that I try my hand at it.   She forwarded the above link to the formula to me.  It employs a ~79% biga. And with a little searching I found Susan’s, of Wild Yeast, version of a similar, quite similar, bread using a levain.  A semolina with fennel, currants and pine nuts. So it was time to investigate, and make one to send along with my wife to her Tuesday night taiko practice for all those hungry drummers who now well know my bread.

The levain is a two stage 100% white flour build. Mixed yesterday and baked this morning.  This bread also asks for olive oil and IDY, two items I tend not to use in my own baking of levain breads, but so be it.  And as usual, I had to, just had to, tinker with the formula to make it my own version of the Susan/Amy creations.

 Using Susan’s formula as my template, I abided by her 1100g total dough weight as well as most of the other ingredient percentages.  But went off the rails on a number of instances.  Some of her formula ingredients are not completely stated. And here are the differences:

  •  The Levain build doesn’t specify what kind of flour to use, so I made the assumption that it was an AP, but instead I used Bread Flour.  Also used for the Final Dough mix.  I decided on Bread Flour over AP as I like to bolster my durum with the stronger white flour. 
  • The formula calls for “semolina” and while taking that at face value, I decided to use semola rimaccinata instead. 
  • While abiding by the white flour and semola percentages, I upped the water content from 64% to 65% while lowering the Olive Oil from 4% to 2% - plenty if you ask me.  According to Mr. Hamelman, oils are considered to be part of the hydration, and therefore my take on this clocks in at 67% total hydration.
  • Being a cautious chap, as well as deciding on a long overnight retard, I opted to just about halve the IDY down to 0.35%.

 Now, as I mix just about everything with French Folds rather than by machine, I add the ingredients differently than the original, autolysing just the flour and water.  Then pinch and fold each of the following separately – IDY, levain and finally the salt.

The dough rests for 5 minutes halfway through the French folds, and it was at that post-rest point that I returned the dough to the mixing bowl and incorporated the oil, turning a somewhat stiff dough into something luxuriously silky by the time the 2nd half of the French Folds completed.

Being that this was a hand mix, I added the fruit, spice and nuts during the first of two letter folds.  The original calls for no folds during the bulk rise.

And then retarded the bulk dough in my usual way, removing it after x hours to divide, shape and then return to retard on a couche for the overnight nap.

Baked cold from retard and abided by Susan’s baking instructions.

Just for fun, I made two fat baguettes/long batards, each weighing in at ~550g.  And as you can see, I provided ample space between scores.  But that didn’t matter to the yeast.  Their growth in the oven during steaming was explosive, and the batards blew right through most of my scoring.

 And now with this behind me, I think that I’ll make one to bring to our gracious Thanksgiving hosts, along with a Vermont SD as companion.

This being the 10th anniversary of Susan posting the formula on her Wild Yeast website - happy birthday bread.  And thank you Donna and Susan!

Coming off the couche, and scored awaiting the oven.  You can see the ample spacing between scores.


Steam released and doughs rotated.

Fresh out of the oven. The oven spring was surprisingly BIG.

Sliced up and ready to ship off to taiko practice with the wife.

long batards, 2 x 550g


Semolina Bread with Fennel, Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts    
Susan, Wild-Yeast        
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1100 Prefermented18.00%   
 Total Formula   Levain  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%537.6 100.00%96.8 Final Flour440.9
 Bread Flour59.00%317.2 100%96.8 Bread Flour220.4
 Durum41.00%220.4 0%  Durum220.4
 Water65.00%349.5 100%96.8 Water252.7
 Salt2.05%11.0    Salt11.0
 IDY0.35%1.9    IDY1.9
 Olive Oil2.00%10.8    Olive Oil10.8
 Whole Fennel Seeds1.70%9.1    Fennel Seeds9.1
 Golden Raisins, Hydrated20.50%110.2    Golden Raisins110.2
 Pine Nuts, Toasted13.00%69.9    Pine Nuts69.9
 Starter3.60%19.4 20%19.4   
 Corn Meal Crust (opt.)        
 Totals204.60%1100.0 220%212.9  1100.0
     2 stage liquid levain build 
Yield: 1100 g (4 short baguettes)   Stage 1    
Mix: 15 minutes   Bread Flour48.4   
First fermentation: 1.5 hours   Water48.4   
Divide/rest/shape: 30 minutes   Starter19.4   
Proof: 1.25 hours   Stage 2    
Bake: 35 minutes   Bread Flour48.4   
jr07's picture

% sourdough starter for pizza dough

November 21, 2017 - 5:22pm -- jr07

wanted to get peoples opinion on what % of the dough the starter should be? For making pizza. Im currently using 20% by weight startet (100% hydration), but not sure if I should / could use more to get more rise in my pizzas? Im concerned the dough is not growing enough when resting in bulk and I also want a bit more thick corniccione. I’m already at 65% hydration and not sure I could / should go higher for a 1000 degree oven. 

BreadRover's picture

Bulk Fermentation Emergency

November 21, 2017 - 3:25pm -- BreadRover

I‘m presently 20 minutes away from the end of my bulk fermentation period and I’m not seeing as much gas as is usual. I have doubled the formula for a bigger bake.  

 My question is:  if you double or triple the formula, do you double or triple the amount of stretch and folds you’re supposed to do?

 In the past I have tended to overwork the dough, so this time I have only done one turn per half an hour, like I would for a single formula. But is that not enough? 

Lemonie's picture

Texture of dough has changed

November 21, 2017 - 12:58pm -- Lemonie

I've been using a recipe for rolls and bread which has been working every time.  Now the dough has become much wetter for some reason.  I have tried carrying on working it to see if it came together but it didn't and have also added some extra flour but that changed the texture a bit. 

Does anybody know why this would happen?  I haven't changed any ingredients but the dough seems harder to rise as well.  Could the temperature be a factor?

Any ideas?  Am not sure whether to reduce the water or add extra flour at the end.  Frustrating.


plevee's picture


November 21, 2017 - 12:47pm -- plevee

I joined the Dunn lab Sourdough Starter project and recently received the results on the bacteria present in my starter. It apparently has a vast preponderance of Pediococcus whereas most others have mainly straightforward Lactobacilli. Can anyone comment on how this might affect taste or rise?  Patsy

BreadBae's picture

To Proof or Not To Proof

November 21, 2017 - 8:00am -- BreadBae

Ive recently been trying to solve my oven spring woes, and I've stumbled across a video blog:

In it, Rick suggests a 5 hour bulk rise after autolyse. You stretch and fold during the first hour. Then its a 12 hour final rise in the fridge. I'm trying this method out for the first time and the bread has a nice bubble and air to it, but I'm afraid of overproofing.


rishi's picture

Visting Dallas - need starter

November 21, 2017 - 7:33am -- rishi

Hi.  I'm visiting my family in Dallas and had planned to make a few sourdough rounds for Thanksgiving.  I brought all my supplies but unfortunately left the starter in the fridge in Portland OR.

So I am wondering if there is anyone in the Dallas area that can share some of their sourdough starter to get me going.



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