The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

alfanso's blog

alfanso's picture

Last week I was trying to enjoy my trip to NY, and I met up with The Roadside Pie King for a couple of slices of pizza (imagine that!).  But then Abe sent a link to me from the ace bakers at The Weekend Bakery and encouraged me to give it a go.  Upon returning home the other evening, I decided to do just that yesterday and a bake this morning.

But, as fate often intercedes in moments like these, alfanso decided to go almost far afield from their posted formula and do some funny stuff in an effort to "make it his own".

***Edit: Mistakenly posted as T160, but it should have read T150 - which is similar to the US Whole Wheat/UK Whole Meal.  Spreadsheet corrected as well.  The toasted sesame seeds refer only to wha is mixed in and not what is rolled onto the crust.***

I have a fair amount of the tritordeum T150 left from my trip to Barcelona in April, so I decided this would be a fine time to incorporate some into this mix.  Changes from the WE Bakery posted formula:

  • Use the tritordeum T150 "whole grain" rather than semola rimacinata.
  • Not refresh my now last-refreshed two week old levain,  as I still had a lot of it in the refrigerator begging to be used as-is. Rather use it straight away.
  • Stick with my 75% hydration AP levain rather than their 130% hydration concoction.  Just abide by their pre-fermented flour percentage.
  • "autolyse " with the levain.
  • Eliminate the IDY from the final dough as I was heck-bent on following my standard routine of retarding the dough.
  • Retard the dough both before and after divide and shape.
  • Use toasted sesame seeds in the interior and coat the exterior with them as well.
  • And, oh yeah, make these into baguettes/long batards too.

4x400g baguettes/long batards

Perhaps a more open crumb at 72% hydration?  But I'm not hung up on that sort of thang.

The formula normalized to 1000g

Semolina and Sesame loaf        
The Weekend Bakery, mod by alfanso        
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Prefermented14.50%   
 Total Formula   Levain  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%567.5 100.00%82.3 Final Flour485.2
 AP Flour62.50%354.7 100%82.3 AP Flour272.4
 Tritordeum T15037.50%212.8 0%  Tritordeum T150212.8
 Water72.20%409.8 75%61.7 Water348.0
 Salt1.75%9.9    Salt9.9
 Toasted sesame seeds2.25%12.8    sesame seeds12.8
 Starter2.90%16.5 20%16.5   
 Totals176.20%1000.0 195%160.5  1000.0
hold back 10% water for post autolyse bassinage       
bake at 455         
alfanso's picture

An old west coast friend emailed me 2 days ago.  Her significant other was trying, without a lot of success, to make focaccia.  Did I have a recipe?  My last focaccia foray was probably in 2003 when I was a rank amateur home baker for a short time and  initially experimenting with Mr. Reinhart's BBA but years prior to the existence of TFL.

Feeling my oats, I replied sure, allow me a few days to give it a go.  My first successful baguette dough and to this day still both the easiest as well as one of the most reliable has been the Anis Bouabsa baguette, first baked by me in late 2013.  I figured that this dough would be just dandy for a focaccia base.  And I believe that it is.  

With a 30 minute autolyse, bassinage, 300 French Folds, and three Letter Folds at 20, 40 and 60 minutes before retarding the dough for most of a calendar day, it couldn't be simpler.  

The Bouabsa formula uses a minuscule amount of IDY 0.16%, as the leavening agent, yet after a mere 1 hour bulk rise, the dough had already grown significantly.  Here it is, having just been pulled from retard.

The dough is placed into a moderately well oiled pan stretched to conform to the pan, turned over to coat the other side with oil, and then dimpled.

My selection of toppings: fresh thyme, fresh oregano, grated, pecorino-romano cheese, kosher salt, chopped kalamata olives and chopped roasted red pepper.  A final light slathering of oil over this.

Baked at 450dF for 25 minutes, internal temp 210dF.  No need for a baking stone or steam.  A final drizzle of olive oil over the surface.

The crumb was just a little more open than this picture shows.  Soft with a good chew, but the overall flavor would have benefited from both more salt and more grated cheese.

All in all a successful venture considering the length of time since I last made this.  And now my friend has an email in her inbox with these pictures and my more detailed writeup for her beau.


alfanso's picture

Earlier this week Abe sent to me a link of the just published Cinnamon Raisin Sour Dough on Maurizio Leo’s The Perfect Loaf.  In a move of unusual rapidity for me, I built a BBGA spreadsheet entry for the bread and concurrently fed my levain in preparation.

As is often the case in the alfanso household, I went rebel and turned his posted tapered batards into baguettes.  How unusual for me!  But I wasn’t finished there and made some changes to the whole process.  As follows:

  • I turned to my 75% hydration mixed flour goop rather than using his 100% hydration Bread Flour/WW levain.
  • Prefermented flour @10% vs. his 5.4%.  I’d rather rush the bulk phase a bit.  As mentioned earlier, my DNA isn’t all that accepting of a bulk rise beyond about 3 hours.
  • Added the levain to the initial flour and water autolyse step - bad dog!  Since being enamored with the 125% levains of Mr. Hamelman, I got to liking the idea of adding the levain into the initial autolyse phase.  Plus, levains below 100 Liquid Levain levels are a bit goopier and nastier to hand mix after the autolyse.
  • Lowered the overall hydration to 78.5% from the posted 81%.  From prior experience I know that baguettes perform better in my hands when the hydration is below 80% for this type of dough
  • Gave the “autolyse” 45 min. vs. 60 min due to the addition of the levain.
  • Held back the recommended 15% bassinage water until after autolyse completion
  • 100 French Folds, 5 min. rest.  Bassinage and hand mix to incorporate the 15% water.  100 FFs.  5 min. rest.  Hand mix to incorporate the cinnamon.  Final 100 FFs.
  • Added the previously hydrated golden raisins during the first Letter Fold.
  • Letter folds at 30, 60 and 120 minutes. 

And then made the rookie mistake of retarding the mix at the 2 hr. mark, when I was intending for a 3 hour bulk rise.  Realizing this hours later, I pulled the dough from the refrigerator, gave it a final Letter Fold and let it rise for 2 hours on the counter figuring the warming up of the dough after two hours would compensate sufficiently.  And I suppose that in the end I was right.  Or lucky.

Then back to retard for a few hours more before divide and shape, couche and then return to retard once more for several more hours.  Not as much grigne as I would have liked to have seen, but based on the photos posted by Maurizio, I think that I did quite okay here.  The crumb also looks to be quite nicely opened.

Certainly a tasty bread, almost dessert-like, and sure to find it’s way into my selected Wheel of Fortune down the road.  The crust is not as crisp as I would have preferred but certainly has more snap to it than a soft crust bread, say, a potato bread.

And just as a reminder to those who haven’t yet ventured beyond precisely following the trail laid out by the original poster of a formula and gone rogue - It is okay and even recommended to do so.  Once you do it, it is no longer someone else’s bread it is yours!  And you will learn something along the way that you may not have known before.  I do.  All the time.  Try it, you’ll like it!


400g x 3 baguettes/long batards

alfanso's picture

Tritordeum flour experimentation and summary.

Recall that Tritordeum  is a recent grain developed in Spain these past few decades and is a hybrid of wild barley and semolina with the advantage of numerous health and sustainability benefits.  

I returned home from our recent trip to Barcelona with a few kilos of the flour to satisfy my curiosity.  And so it has.  I’ve now run four iterations using the flour with differing combinations.  Hardly a scientifically sustained approach, but enough to give me a notion as to how the flour performs.  The two versions of tritordeum that I have are T150 and T65.

I liken the T150 to our Whole Wheat flour and the T65 to our AP flour.  I found the T65 much more suitable for baguettes than the T150.

For the first two runs I used 20% pre-fermented flour and then switched to 15% for the final two runs.

For the final three runs I “autolysed" the levain as well.  So you can clearly see that I am breaking most rules of scientific research.  But that really wasn’t the point of this exercise.  Not at all.

In both mixes at 70% total hydration, the dough still maintained its extensible characteristic although nowhere near my first difficult excursion using this flour last Autumn.

In both mixes at 65% total hydration, the dough was more compliant and did not lead to a runaway shaping experience.  I’ll also posit that this dough could much more easily be applied to batard or boule without the minor shaping difficulties I experienced rolling them out as baguettes.


In all 4 runs I treated the dough similarly, except for the differing autolyse approaches.   
  • 100 French Folds, 5 min. rest, 100 French Folds.
  • 2 hour bulk rise with letter folds at 45, 90 and 120 minutes.
  • Retarded for about 6-10 hours before divide and shape.
  • Back to retard for a total of somewhere between 14-18 hours.
  • Preheated oven to 480dF, Bake at 460dF.
  • 13 minutes with steam, ~13 minutes more, 3 minutes oven venting

 Run #1.  Using T150

  • Total Dough: 80 / 20 flour mix @ T150 / (high protein) Bread Flour. @70% total hydration.  
  • Levain: 100% hydration with T150 tritordeum.  20% pre-fermented flour.


Run #2.  Using T150

  • Total Dough: 50 / 50 flour mix @ T150 / AP Flour. @70% total hydration. 
  • Levain: 100% hydration with T150 tritordeum.  20% pre-fermented flour.

Run #3.  Using T150

  • Total Dough: 50 / 50 flour mix @ T150 / AP Flour. @65% total hydration.
  • Levain: 75% hydration with T150 tritordeum.  15% pre-fermented flour.

Run #4.  Using T65

  • Total Dough: 50 / 50 flour mix @ T65 / AP Flour. @65% total hydration.
  • Levain: 75% hydration with T65 tritordeum.  15% pre-fermented flour.


In summary, I was much more comfortable and confident of the dough for the final run.  The conversion from 70% hydration to 65% made a significant difference in the handling of the dough, as well as the final product emerging from the oven.  The taste is quite good.  I don’t think that the change from 100% to 75% levain hydration made a whit of difference but I had made both in advance some weeks ago in anticipation of using both.

I can’t discount the value of repeated handling and familiarity using the flour.  If I were to incorporate this flour into a regular regimen, I would use the 4th and final run as my gold standard.  It just performed beautifully and I think that the 50/50 flour mix at 65% hydration makes this a top quality dough to work with.  Unfortunately the downside is that this flour apparently still has little distribution in Europe and is not approved for sale yet un the US.

And again, for those who think that one cannot achieve an open crumb at lower hydrations, here is more evidence that it can be done.

alfanso's picture

As baguettes (long batards),of course.  Covered by wheat bran.

Edit 5/18/2019 - And a second run with my adjusted formula to make sure that I understood the process, and because it's a darn tasty bread!  Changes applied:

  • Used the double boiler method to cook the oats.
  • Added the additional final basinage ("Held Back" on formula sheet) during incorporation of the oatmeal, which definitely made the dough a bit wetter and more difficult and extensible.
  • Due to extensibility, wend from divide directly to shaping - the dough almost shaped itself.
  • Baked to a richer tone darker than the previous bake.

590g x 2 gros baguettes/long batards 

End of edit.

I was out of state these past weeks when suddenly Dan sneakily posted his Community Bake behind my back.  I’m not big on “challenges” and typically don’t join in as much as I do join in. But there has long been chatter and postings of porridge breads by quite a few of the crew here on Isle TFL, both respected old timers like Ian as well as some of the fine young fillies and colts. Having never incorporated porridge, I though that this would be a fine time to give it a go.

I generally try to use what’s already in the cupboard, which in this case was my supermarket branded quick oats.   But for this venture I went with the recommended BRM (not thick).

As with Paul’s comments about the consistency of the 1g:2g ratio, “About 5 minutes in, the porridge starts to firm up, losing any resemblance to “creamy” or “loose”. “, and as with a good number of others in this exercise, the words creamy texture were a unknown inside of my sauce pan.

The ratio turns out to be a 1:1 volume, but the typical volume measurement for oatmeal is 1:2.  So I did that.  And in my first run, I used that 1:2 volume – which naturally made the entire affair tip toward the goopy side of what dough should be.  Here are the two side by side.  Left is called for in the formula, right is by the oatmeal package instruction.  And even these did not turn creamy.

What this reminded me of is the wonderful “magic grits” scene from the movie My Cousin Vinny, and I‘ll quote the relevant sentence here: “Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your (Maurizio’s) stove”.

Way overhydrated, I was still able to eke out a semblance of a bake, and the bread was delicious


On this second run, I made a few changes:

  • Changed the pre-fermented flour from 7% to 15%.  It just isn’t in my DNA to let a dough sit on the counter for a full three hours post bulk rise.  I already put in my time with this dough, so into retard it went after 45 minutes more.
  • One final Letter Fold just before the retard in the hopes of giving the dough just a bit more strength.
  • Lowered the base dough hydration down from my calculated 76.8% to 74%.  With a dough this hydrated, I felt that my shaping would benefit from dropping the base hydration down ~ 3%.
  • Used the recommended 1g:2g Maurizio ratio for the porridge.  Then ran the oatmeal through a potato ricer, which helped break down all the clumps.  Still a continent away from creamy,  but incorporating them into the dough using the French Fold method was successful.
  • 45 minute post-bulk rise on the counter due to the increase in pre-fermented flour, instead of 3 hours.
  • Rolled the shaped dough in wheat bran rather than dry rolled oats, as I don't really like to look of those flakes on my bread all that much. 

Left: just after releasing steam.  Right: about to pull from the oven 


They didn’t grigne as much as my typical baguettes, but I am not surprised at all given the unique characteristics of the dough.

2 x 450g baguettes / long batards

Here is my (BBGA) version of the formula, also normalized for 1000g

Oat Porridge Levain          
Maurizio Leo       Total Flour   
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Porridge  Prefermented15.00%  
 Total Formula      Levain Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams %GramsIngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%406.3 0.00%  100%60.9Final Flour345.4
 Bread Four68.50%278.3 0%  50%30.5Bread Four247.9
 Whole Wheat31.50%128.0 0%  50%30.5Whole Wheat97.5
 Water: Final Dough74.00%300.7 0.00%0.0 100%60.9Water239.7
 Inital Mix        Inital Mix222.9
 Post-Autolyse        Post-Autolyse8.4
 Held Back        Held Back8.4
 Salt2.34%9.5 0.00%    Salt9.5
 Rolled Oats23.25%94.5 100.00%94.5     
 Water46.50%188.9 200.00%188.9     
 Salt0.02%0.1 0.00%0.1     
 Starter0.00%0.0    12%14.6  
 Totals246.11%1000.0 300.00%283.5 212%136.5 1000.0
Tepid heat for soaker, 16 min., covered.  Run through potato ricer while hot.   Cool completely 2 stage liquid levain build 
Reserve extra warm water.      Stage 1   
Mix, Flours, inital warm water, levain.  Autolyse for 1 hr.    AP Flour15.2  
Incorporate Salt & Post-Autolyse (bassinage) water.  Pinch & fold   WW15.2  
300 FFs, 150, 5 min rest, 150.      Water30.5  
Bulk Rise 30 min.      Starter14.6  
 Fold in porridge, a little at a time,(add held back water as/if needed)  Stage 2   
Letter Fold immediately.      AP Flour15.2  
Bulk Rise ~2 1/2 hrs.  (five) LF every 30 min.     WW15.2  
Bench Rest 60 min.       Water30.5  
Retard, Divide, pre-shape and shape.      Total136.5  
Moisten dough if needed,  roll in wheat bran or dry rolled oats.  Seam side up on couche.     
Retard a total of ~15 hrs.           
Preheat oven to 500dF.          
Bake w/ Steam @470dF.          
Bake thoroughly due to water retention in bread.         
Let bread set for ~1-3 hrs. before slicing.         



alfanso's picture

A few months ago I posted my version of Abel Sierra’s Tritordeum baguettes, a result of which is posted in the lead photo.

Tritordeum, as stated earlier, is a new hybrid grain developed in Spain after decades of breeding and cultivation, and finally coming to market sometime around 2013 or so.  It is grown primarily in Spain, France and Italy and available across a few European countries.  After recalling the posting by Abel I came across a 500g bag in Trieste Italy and gave it a one time bake upon returning home.  My posting in Aug. 2018 is in the link above.

In Barcelona last week, I recalled that the worldwide headquarters of Agrasys, the company that promotes Tritordeum, is located there.  Unannounced, I rang the doorbell to their office on Tuesday afternoon, to see if I could register a “complaint" that I had searched a number of small and large supermarkets in the city in a vain attempt at finding the flour on a shelf.  Anton, who answered the ring, came down to discuss why, and we talked shop for a while.  A meeting was underway in their offices, and so Anton was apologetic for not inviting us up. When we returned an hour or so later, he greeted us at the downstairs front door again, this time with a bag of a few sample flours, two packs of Tritordeum crackers and a pair of IPA beers brewed with the grain.  And an offer for a return visit later in the week to come up and meet the staff.

Anton had glanced at my TFL blog and stated that he mentioned me to the others in the office.  We returned on Friday, meet the staff and discussed shop.  Still frustrated at not being able to locate the grain in any store, or the Forn Baltá bakery in the Sants neighborhood that once sold the flour over the counter, we were directed to a grain shop nearby where they had a bag of the flour in bulk.

Anton, Verónica and the entire staff, right up to the Company CEO, were warm and wonderful and interested in my personal experiment and own interest in the grain.  It was a great experience.  Verónica knew Abel from his baking days Barcelona, and so in a way, the circle was completed, with me having discovered the grain thanks to Abel.

All in all, I came home with about 4 kilos of T150 and a few smaller bags of a more refined grain, perhaps a T65.

In the interests of “science”, I’ve already converted a 100% hydration AP liquid levain into both 100% and 75% hydration Tritordeum levains.  The three stages of builds for each took place over the course of a calendar day, with the first consuming 10 hours to mature, the second 3 hours and the third a little under 3 hours to more than double.  I now feel that I have built up a strong enough pair of levains with most of the original AP flour winnowed out.  So I'll declare that it is almost a 100% pure Tritordeum levain at this point.

The dough was incredibly slack at my singular 70% hydration experience.  But with my planned 80% T150 grain as well as my decision to use 20% strong white flour, and after discussion with the staff, I feel as though I can still maintain a 70% hydration dough and get a less extensible result.  This should yield a dough that is more manageable than in my prior experience.  Time will tell and I’ll post some of my experimental results along the way.

A grateful thank you to all of the incredibly inviting people who we met at Agrasys.  

Verónica, alfanso and Anton:


 Anton's first "care package" to me:

And don't forget the Tritordeum grain IPA:

 The ~6K of grain now nestled in containers:

 Shelves at Forn Baltá bakery of "everything" but Tritordeum :-(  : 

 Barcelona is a wonderful city.  One of Antoni Gaudí's first creations:

 And "just" another doorway in a city graced with exquisite and fantastic architecture.

alfanso's picture

That's the saying.  But I was already home and wanted to go big anyway.

My wife was off to an early morning flight to Tobago for a Pan-Am Dragon Boating competition.  She asked if I'd bake a WW fig-raisin-pecan levain bread as some boarding gate breakfast for the troops traveling together.  Made two, sliced 'em, and packed them off with some butter and cream cheese.  These are designed to bake dark and craggy, the left with traditional baguette scoring, the right with a criss-cross design.

630g x 2

Getting itchy to bake up something.  This gargantuan specimen is a Rye with Caraway.  Instead of using a Rye Sour I opted for my 125% rye levain.

1000g x 1


Rye w/Caraway, 125% hydration rye levain       
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1000 Rye15%   
 Total Formula   Liquid Levain  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%569.8 100.00%85.5 Final Flour484.3
 AP Flour75.00%427.4 0%0.0 AP Flour427.4
 WW5.00%28.5 0%0.0 WW28.5
 Rye20.00%114.0 100%85.5 Rye28.5
 Water73.50%418.8 125%106.8 Water312.0
 Salt2.00%11.4    Salt11.4
 60% Starter3.00%17.1 20%17.1   
 Totals175.50%1000.0 245%209.4  1000.0
 Caraway Seeds2.30%13.1    Caraway Seeds13.1
"Autolyse" levain, water & flours, 30 min.  2 stage liquid levain build @125% hydration
Add salt. pinch and fold.   Stage 1    
150 French Folds, 5 min rest, 150 FFs   Rye42.7   
Dough remains sticky untl first Letter Fold  Water53.4   
Bulk for 80 min, 4 LFs at 20,40,60 80 min.  Starter17.1   
Add Caraway Seeds on first LF   Stage 2    
Retard overnight, divide and shape in morning  Rye42.7   
Can roll loaf in wet towel and add more Caraway Seeds to top      
Onto couche, will require very little flour  Water53.4   
Preheat 500dF.   Total209.4   
Bake 470dF, steam for 13 min, rotate and continue baking til done     

A short time ago I decided to Ziggy-up a 5-Grain Levain.

I can't recall, but he's probably about 750g.



alfanso's picture

In December 2018 I tried to duplicate the delicious breadsticks we had at one of the Arizmendi bakeries in S.F.  I think that I came close after a few tries, eventual swapping out the somewhat invisible-tasting sharp cheddar and jalapeño for pecorino cheese and serrano chilies.  Converted in this iteration from sponge to a 100% hydr. levain with 20% preferment AP flour, it is a 50/50 semolina/AP dough at 69% hydration.  I also removed the sugar and IDY which was used in the sponge. 

Friend Mike made a short notice visit and is staying here these past few days to take care of some East Coast business that had cropped up pronto.  So I baked these baguettes for him as well as some ciabatta.  

Using the similar but converted formula as I did for the breadsticks, the baguettes came out looking fine in every way.  But...I don't believe that this formula is really designed for anything other than a breadstick.  The crumb is quite dense, likely due to the very finely grated 25% pecorino cheese in the mix, and there is "too much" cheese flavor that was better left when the crust was much more the star than the crumb.  

Something was lost in the transition from breadstick to baguette.  Much better as toast than as fresh bread.  So noted, and in the future I'll stick to just using the formula for breadsticks.

And a little ciabatta "skin"

alfanso's picture

Last time I made the Scott MeGee Ciabatta, but with a biga.  Today, I converted it to a 125% hydration AP levain.  Whereas the biga had 40% of the flour pre-fermented, I dropped this down to 20%, and also dropped the IDY by at least 2/3.  The overall hydration stays at 76%.

I kept the large bread at 750g but decided to not stretch it so far this time so it has more girth, which I like.  The taste is sweet and delicate and this ciabatta makes great morning toast.

Steam released, & rotated.

~750g x 1 beast, ~370g x 2 ordinary sized.


Ciabatta w/ 125% Levain @76% Hydration       
Scott MeGee, alfanso        
500g  will yield 3" diameter loaves - small        
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1500 Prefermented20.00%   
 Total Formula   Levain  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%827.4 100.00%  Final Flour661.9
 AP Flour100.00%827.4 100%165.5 AP Flour661.9
 Water (cold in final dough)76.00%628.8 125%206.8 Water cold337.6
 Olive Oil3.00%24.8    Olive Oil24.8
 Salt2.10%17.4    Salt17.4
 IDY0.20%1.7 0.00%0.00 IDY1.7
        Levain COLD372.3
 Totals181.30%1500 225.00%372.31  1500
KA mixer: "1",  “2” & "6" to incorporate, 2nd hydration @ "4"to add, “6” to mix, “8” to finish. 
In mixer: IDY into COLD water, COLD Levain flour.  MIX ON "1" until water is taken up, then "2" until shaggy.  Pinch and fold.
Remove dough from mixer,  ~50 FFs, 5 min rest, 50 FFs.      
Back to mixer: bassinage of COLD water, salt and olive oil ADD VERY SLOWLY - MIXER ON"4" THEN  "6" & "8" to finish.
Mix done with slapping sound, pulling off bowl onto hook, then dropping back to bowl again.  
bulk proof - 2 hr., 3 folds - 0, 40, 80        
scale at 500g, no pre-shape, couche seam side up       
40 min final proof        
Roll and stretch dough as it goes to baking peel       
Preheat @480dF        
Bake w/ steam @460dF, ~13 min, another ~15 min, then vent      

Some additional notes:

  • Shaping and placing onto oven peel copied from Scott MeGee.
  • If the flour is scaled out separately from the water and levain, the IDY can be placed into the flour and then whisked in to incorporate.
  • My KA mixer has the "smaller" bowl.  I don't like the dough hook, but that's what there is.  a pretty constant need to stop and scape the hook and bowl sides down with regularity.
  • Shift the speed in the mixer back and forth to accommodate the activity needed, like the addition of the bassinage, but end with speed of "8".
  • Even starting out with cold water and cold levain/biga, mixing friction on my mixer brings the temperature up to ~81-82dF.  Flour can also be refrigerated or placed in freezer to further delay overheating the mixed dough.
  • As with everything else, I don't do a window pane.  Rather relying on the slapping of the dough on the bowl sides and the aforementioned lifting and dropping of the dough from the hook as my indicators.
  • First letter fold is right out of the mixer and is "aggressive".  Second and third are succedingly much more gentle.
  • For obvious reasons, the couche takes a fair amount of flour, the oven peel (with parchment paper) takes none.
  • Dough is quite sticky, so flour the bench well.
  • The less handling of the dough, the better.
  • Shaping into a "barrel" and apply light pressure when tightening the skin of the dough - don't overdo or overthink
  • There is a lot of moisture in the dough so it takes a longer bake than one may think.  That is one reason why the coloration is dark.


alfanso's picture

This is a 76% hydration ciabatta modeled on that of Scott McGee.    Unusual in the low hydration and that he shapes these.

Dinner the other evening with friends for “Sunday macaroni and gravy”, which may be an Americanism for pasta with tomato sauce.  Also includes sausages, meatballs and ribs, all cooked in the “gravy”.  I hadn’t made a ciabatta in a while, so it was off to the races as part of our contribution to dinner.  

Today I’m once again seeing our visiting-the-U.S. London TFL compatriot Abe (in olden days "Lechem" and even older "A BakEr").  So I thought that I’d bake him one too.  But I wanted to bake something bigger.  Bumped up from 500g to 750g each, they are pretty easy to make, The biga was made the evening before and then warehoused in the refrigerator until mix time.  I’ve tried the Jason Molina Cocodrillo ciabatta quite a while back, and although it is a cinch to make, the flavor is lacking, so I ditched the effort and formula after two consecutive trials.

These were stretched out long enough that I had to load the baking deck sideways instead of head in.  13 minutes with steam, 16 minutes after, and 3 minutes of venting.  These could have gone a few minutes more.  

If you are a fan of the super open ciabatta crumb that mice and small children can fall through, this isn’t the formula for you.  But it is a ciabatta in every way, with modest open crumb,  thin crisp crust, and a light as a feather crumb. And makes fabulous toast.

And as toast:

Ciabatta w/Biga @76% Hydration       
Scott MeGee, alfanso        
500g  will yield 3" diameter loaves - small        
     Total Flour    
 Total Dough Weight (g) 1500 Prefermented40.00%   
 Total Formula   Biga  Final Dough 
 Ingredients%Grams %Grams IngredientsGrams
 Total Flour100.00%825.5 100.00%  Final Flour495.3
 Bread Flour100.00%825.5 100%330.2 Bread Flour495.3
 Water (cold in final dough)76.00%627.4 66%217.9 Water cold327.6
 Olive Oil3.00%24.8    Olive Oil24.8
 Salt2.10%17.3    Salt17.3
 IDY0.60%5.0 0.14%0.46 IDY4.5
        Biga cold548.6
 Totals181.70%1500 166.14%548.62  1500
KA mixer: "1",  “2” & "6" to incorporate, 2nd hydration @ "4"to add, “6” to mix, “8” to finish. 
In mixer: IDY into COLD water, COLD biga, flour.  MIX ON "1" until water is taken up, then "2" until shaggy.  Pinch and fold.
Remove dough from mixer,  ~50 FFs, 5 min rest, 50 FFs.      
Back to mixer: bassinage of COLD water, salt and olive oil ADD VERY SLOWLY - MIXER ON"4" THEN  "6" & "8" to finish.
Mix done with slapping sound, pulling off bowl onto hook, then dropping back to bowl again.  
bulk proof - 2 hr., 3 folds - 0, 40, 80        
scale at 500g, no pre-shape, couche seam side up       
40 min final proof        
Roll and stretch dough as it goes to baking peel       
Preheat @480dF        
Bake w/ steam @460dF, ~13 min, another ~15 min, then vent      


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