The Fresh Loaf

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

Hello from New York

February 23, 2015 - 9:15am -- Stu_NY

Hello everyone,

I just started baking bread and am really hooked! I started making the sourdough recipes from the Breadtopia site, and then went and purchased Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book to get in more deeply. Well after making a couple 100% whole grain sourdough breads I am all in now! I had no idea how great tasting eating more healthy could be!

Sarah LuAnn's picture

I bake sourdough, whats your superpower?

February 23, 2015 - 8:30am -- Sarah LuAnn

I've been having so much fun baking. I've learned a lot from the people here, I'm so glad I found The Fresh Loaf! In just a couple months I've gone from bricks to beautiful delicious artisan loaves. Well, mostly. I still have a lot to learn--last nights loaf was overproofed, but still delicious.

Predictably, as a designer, I wanted to show off my new sourdough skills by designing a shirt for me to wear. I thought, I want to wear it, maybe other people do too. And... the project kind of expanded.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

This weekend I decided to make the Tartine Country rye bread again.  The formula in the book:

Leaven  200g

Water    800 g

Whole Rye 170 g

Bread Flour 810 g

Salt 20g.


My "modifications" to the formula:

Leaven                      200 g.

All Purpose Flour     500 g

Whole White Wheat 330 g

Whole Rye                170 g

Water                          800g

Salt                                20g

Yeast:                            1g

My leaven was not looking sufficiently potent, perhaps because the starter needed to be refreshed one more time before use.  So, rather than cross my fingers, I added 1/4 tsp of yeast.

Also, rather than disperse the leaven in water before mixing the dough, I mixed the flours and water, and after 30 minutes, pinched in the leaven, yeast and salt alla Forkish.

The loaves came out great. The crumb shot is from the smaller loaf, and the bread was absolutely divine.  I also through some sesame seeds in the basket to help with the release and to add to the flavor of the crust.

 The bread is delicious. The crumb is very soft. It was almost too soft to cut easily, but I suffered through it.

Lady Saiga's picture

100% whole grain sourdough-what am I missing?

February 23, 2015 - 7:42am -- Lady Saiga

My formula that makes beautiful, mild, high, open, chewy loaves at 80-someodd percent whole grain, makes moist but closed, low, somewhat crumbly 100% whole grain breads. They aren’t GOOD bread, they’re just BREAD. I need to know what to tinker with next, to make my formula work at 100% whole grain.

I use a wet starter that remains at room temp. I maintain using 10g starter, 10g whole grain rye flour and 16.5g warm water. I refresh once or twice a day with occasional 24+ hour lapses as my memory permits. It remains quite active and slightly frothy.

Rick D's picture

Help with converting recipes to use my starter

February 22, 2015 - 12:57pm -- Rick D

I've finally purchased Reinhart's BBA book and would like to adapt the recipes to use my own starter. I've been using a firm starter (50% hydration) for years and have been turning out some wonderful breads. I fall solidly in the weekend warrior category, but take baking seriously. 


I'm looking at the BBA recipe for ciabatta, biga version in which the biga percentage is 178%. Most recipes I've used employ about 30-40% of my dry starter, so I'm guessing that I can't just substitute with my starter using the same percentage? Or can I? 


PMcCool's picture

One of my Christmas presents last year was Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.  While I've wanted to get beyond just reading the book and starting to bake from it, life has kept me well supplied with other things to do.  There was the completion of the rye bread test bakes for Stan Ginsberg's upcoming book, a vacation to San Diego, a freezer well-stocked with bread that needed to be eaten before more was baked, test bakes of hot cross buns and Easter bread and salt sticks for some upcoming classes, and, well, you get the picture.

This weekend, stuffed head and hacking cough notwithstanding, I determined to try one of the breads.  The Field Blend #2 sounded most appealing, given its complement of whole grain flours.  Because of the aforementioned cold, my preference was for something closer to a straight dough approach, leading to the decision to ferment one loaf at room temperature (about 69F) and the other in my B&T proofer at 75F.  The rationale was that the loaf in the proofer would ferment faster, allowing me to bake the first loaf (I have a single Dutch Oven) while the second loaf proofed more slowly at room temperature.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, anyway.  

As is often the case, real life did not conform well to my theory about real life.  For reasons beyond my ken, the room temperature loaf was ready to bake at the point the proofer loaf was about 3/4 ready.  So, it went into the oven first.  It sprang beautifully, as I saw when removing the the lid 30 minutes later.  And it colored up nicely after being exposed to the direct heat of the oven, too.

The crust was thin and shatteringly crisp.  After being in a plastic bag overnight, that has changed to a rather chewy texture.  The crumb is very moist and rather more even in texture than I anticipated.  That is in no way a complaint, since much of this bread will be consumed in the form of sandwiches.

The one major disappointment is that the bottom of the loaf charred rather badly.  That was a complete surprise, since the DO was at the same level in the oven as I typically use for the baking stone, which has never produced any charring effect.  There may be enough head space to move the rack up one position in the oven but then I would be concerned about having adequate air movement around the DO after removing the lid.

After taking out the first loaf and assessing the results, I chose to drop the temperature from the recommended 475F to 460F for the second loaf.  That produced better results for the bottom of the loaf.

The bad news is that the second loaf was past its optimal proof.  While it regained much of the volume lost in its initial sag after being removed from the banneton, it didn't show any additional spring.  It's still a reasonably good looking loaf but it could definitely be better.

Baking foibles aside, this is a very good bread.  I enjoy the graininess that the whole wheat and whole rye flour flours bring to the table, along with the mild acidity.  The crumb is very moist even though thoroughly baked and feels cool and creamy in the mouth.  The unscorched crust provides a range of flavor notes from the caramelization and Maillard reactions.  It is good stuff, all around.  And, mind you, without whatever additional flavors would have developed during a longer, cold, retarded fermentation.

That cold fermentation would also have given me a wider window for baking the two loaves in series, had I used it.

At this stage, I'd have to say that I'm not a devotee of of DO baking.  The additional risks and challenges that it imposes are, in my personal estimation, not worth the rather ephemeral benefits (primarily the thinness and crispness of the crust) it provides.  It may be that if I had a gas oven and struggled to keep steam in it, my assessment would be different.  As it is, I know that I can get equally good, if not identical, results by baking on a stone while keeping steam in the oven.

The whole scorching thing has me scratching my head.  That has never been a problem for me with my usual setup in the same oven, even when baking at temperatures above 500F.  My next bake from the book will utilize my normal stone and steam approach, rather than a DO.  




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