The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Hamelman Golden Raisin Bread, alfanso style.  With no evidence posted of this being made as baguettes, well, that opened the door for me with a welcome mat.

At 69% hydration these are way too dry to French Fold.  The oatmeal flakes and WW work in tandem to ensure that.  By adding a few teaspoons of water over the course of kneading, the dough became (barely) more manageable and I probably raised the hydration to about 71%.  Rye was used instead of the designated white flour for the 125% levain, and I gave the mix a 10 minute hydrating rest period before adding salt and moving on to the hand mixing.

The IDY was cut from 0.37% to 0.27% as these were destined to be retarded overnight instead of the prescribed straight linear bulk rise-divide & shape-proof-bake cycle.  And I probably could have eliminated the IDY totally.

The bulk rise was cut down from 2 hours to 1.5 hours with two folds instead of the published one.  I added the fruit at the first letter fold.

These took just about no flour on the couche, shed a fair amount of water, but released from the couche with delightful ease.

Quite a dense crumb on the baguette despite the oven spring and modest grigne.  However, the taste was completely ordinary, and other than to boast that I made a bread with oatmeal, I really don't see returning to these again anytime soon.  In fairness, there is nothing wrong with them and they make a fine toast.  There just doesn't seem to be quite enough right with them.

My second opportunity to make a Ziggy style batard (Ziggy is our own Abel Sierra's designation for this scoring), and I find it so easy using a straight ceramic blade and a lot of fun seeing it open.  comparison of the first and second Ziggy...


425g x 2 baguettes / long batards

725g x 1 Ziggy.

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With my brother and sister-in-law in town I baked a few semolina-fennel seed-golden raisin-toasted pine nut baguettes (that's a mouthful - in more ways than one) and then followed that up with a batch of Vermont SDs.

On our way down to Miami for a fantastic dinner at Jamon Iberico Pata Negra restaurant, we stopped at the equally fantastic Laurenzo's Italian Supermarket, which I've mentioned here a few times.  Brother and wife had heard me talk Laurenzo's up and had to see it.  I packed up one of each of the baguettes to give to David, the owner.  I try to drop off a bread or 3 every time I stop in - this is the place where I get my buckets of semola rimacinata.

Against my sincere protestations, David insists on me not walking away with my hands empty.  He has recently been getting his bread wholesale from the < year old Miami outpost of the Sullivan Street Bakery.

The lineup here, parts of which have already been shorn off or disappeared completely are (from top to bottom):  Filone, Pugliese, Stirato, Ciabatta, and then my two (the semolina is already missing its right half).  The filone was gargantuan and the stirato was as long as a policeman's night stick before they were attacked in the name of peeling off some to add to what we gave to our dining out companions - my cousins.

This is a little over the top...


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Another in Abel's ongoing postings of embarrassingly wonderful bakes:  His Ziggy stoneground loaf from mid-January caught my fancy, and I was sure that when the time was appropriate, I'd try my hand at his scoring technique here.  Well, the time is appropriate.  With neighbors coming over for some wine, bread and cheese this afternoon, I figured, why not now?

This is my version of the Hamelman 125% liquid levain hydration semolina loaf.  I use a rye levain instead and apply a boatload of sesame seeds in the way that I learned from David Snyder's post from oh, so long ago.  Baguettes were scored with my curved razor lame.  Ziggy was scored with my ceramic knife - another new tool for my baking toolbox, and another new scoring technique for my baking pleasure.

25% Bread Flour, 60% Durum, and 15% Rye (all in the levain).  At an overall hydration of 67%, this bread is a little hard to French Fold after a 20 minute "autolyse" with the levain included, fighting me along the way.  

Once the bulk rise begins, it become very manageable and extensible.  Two hours with folds at 40, 80 & 100 minutes in my warmer than most kitchen.  Then the standard routine, overnight nap in the refrigerator, divide and shape in the morning, couched and then shoved back in to retard for a few hours more.  Probably in the vicinity of about 15 hours total retard. I dunno, didn't pay too much attention to that small detail.

460dF oven for 13 minutes with mega steam, and then rotate and 13 minutes more with 2 minutes of venting.

I likely scored Ziggy a little deep, but really can't complain about the eye-candy effect of it at all.

1x700g batard, 2x400g long batards/baguettes


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Earlier this month, Joze (joc1954) posted his Barley-Rye Bread, a lovely dense nutty boule.  Having a bag of barley on hand but never using it before, I decided to give it a go.  But, as with my usual linear uncircular bread self, as baguettes.

According to Joze's write-up the dough takes no autolyse, has a long bench rise for a warm kitchen (3 1/2 hours) and a long retard (20 hours).  At 75% hydration this dough is quite dense and was difficult to French Fold without the flours soaking in an autolyse for at least 30-60 minutes or more.  Letter Folds every 45 minutes.  The dough remained stiff and fought being stretched and eventually shaped at every moment of its existence.  Neither extensible nor elastic, it just was...

Halfway through the bulk retard I shaped and placed it on a couche, still dense and stiff, but workable and required only the slightest amount of flour on the bench and couche.  Back into retard and baked about 21 hours after it first entered he refrigerator.  Scoring was simple.  450dF, 13 minutes with steam, and another 13 minutes after rotating, with a final 2 minutes venting.

And like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, I didn't know what I'd get, how the bake would turn out, how much grigne or how open the crumb would be.  Oven spring was somewhat minimal but with a fine grigne and the crumb remained particularly dense.  I'll say that was due to having to be manipulated with heavy hands in order to pre-shape and shape the dough - a lot more so rather than to simply ball the dough up for a boule.  A lot denser than Joze's boule. 

A very "wheaty" taste, a bit addictive in fact.  40% bread flour, 30% rye, 30% barley.  75% hydration with 10% pre-fermented rye flour in 100% hydration levain.  I would have preferred a darker bake, but for a first foray in the barley-rye playpen, I remained on the cautious side of the playground.

4x300g baguettes/long batards

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Above: chocolate babka filling and cinnamon swirl

At the start of this month, Abel posted his version of a Pain Viennois, a bread I'd not ever heard of before, but it is a pretty darn good looking loaf.  At least the way he does it!  Much more appealing than the "traditional" version which looks more like a baguette in shape and adorned with as many as 20 or so scores diagonally down its length.  

So it bubbled up to the top of my to-do list.  I've now gone two iterations with this bread and have my report to turn in to teacher.  Some steps forward, but falling quite short of where Abel is.  For the first time through, I probably made too many cuts in the dough surface, corrected on the second try.

One major difference is the coloration and char on the 2nd bake vs. the brighter luster of the 1st.  Baked at the same temperature for the same amount of time, the only difference is that I used steam for the 1st bake.  I had this notion that enriched breads were less "needy" when it came to steam, but apparently that is not the case.

And then there is the significant difference between Abel's bread opening up from oven spring vs. mine.  So here are some of the gory details.  

  • These are the both the same dough, treated in a similar fashion, and following Abel's ingredient write-up.  The major difference is the internal filling of the 2nd bake.
  • Bulk rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in volume.
  • Shaped to fit 8"x4" tins.
  • Proof for 1 hour, until dough just peeked out from the top edge of the tin.
  • Brushed with melted butter just before and just after the bake.
  • Bake at 410dF for 22-25 minutes, until internal temp is ~190dF-195-dF.
  • Rotated at the 10 minute mark.  the second bake was already showing signs of scorching at the halfway point.

There was hardly any oven spring and the loaf came out being fairly square.  So, where am I missing the mark?  I want to keep this bread in rotation, but there are some significant gaps between where the bread is now and where it should be.  Looking for some guidance here.

***With feedback and help from a few of the TFL farmhands, I'll be applying some changes the next go-round.

This dough is quite stiff when being mixed, and my Kitchen Aid mixer's dough hook treats the dough as not much more than a horse-tail treats a fly.  It just spends its time swatting away the dough.  

  • Mixing by hand is the real option.  Too stiff for French Folds, but my pasta hand kneading technique sure comes in handy every so often.  My notes have me kneading the dough for 4-5 min. but I'll add an extra two minutes onto that to attempt o get a better gluten structure.  A problem is that the butter is part of the mix and it acts as a gluten inhibitor by coating the strands in its oily self.
  • I'll bump the hydration up a few percent in an attempt to soften the dough during mixing.  There will be a balance to be reckoned with on this one, as the dough is designed to be scored before placed into the tins.  The extra few grams of water may create a small problem if the dough slackens up enough on its way into the tin. 
  • I will give the final proofing more time to push the dough further than just past the "peeking out" above the rim I had followed.
  • Steam!  
  • Deeper scoring.  My curved lame is not appropriate for such a deep cut, but I have a few of those absurdly sharp ceramic knives that I'll rely on for this task.  


At the outset of the proof.

Out of the oven and not looking too swift.

Comparison to the crust from the 1st bake, but again, no oven spring.

As this is a "plain sandwich" bread,  beyond a mild "pleasant" taste, there really isn't much to it.  Makes a fine toast, and I'm sure that it would also make for some dandy French Toast too.   So for bake #2, I added the chocolate filling that I use for a babka on one and a cinnamon swirl (cinnamon and sugar mixed together).  Just for fun.  And really to try and bump up the flavor of this bread.

Abel describes his learning this bread from a fellow baker at Granier Bakery.  Located in Sunny Isles Beach,  just north of Miami Beach.  Sunny Isles has so many towering residential skyscrapers lining the beach side of the road that it has somewhere along the lines been dubbed "Shady Isles Beach".  We took a drive down there the other day...



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Abel Sierra posted another in his series of fascinating outside-of-the-box things that one can do with just Flour Water and Salt two weeks ago.  And I am indeed fascinated at the breadth of what one can do creatively with just these three ingredients.   And that also meant another that I would warehouse until the time came.  Which was now!

The character of the baked bread is really wonderful.  It has a thin and crisp snap to the crust while the crumb is tender and sweet.  A really nice bread in every measure.

This is a 100% hydration liquid levain, 75% overall hydration mix that uses a full 50% of the flour in the levain pre-ferment.  Which is somewhat off the charts considering the "normal" range is in the 5%-20% vicinity.  But that is what caught my eye.  Although this is an all white flour affair, a very small number of grams of WW and rye snuck in due to my base starter having these two rogue elements.

The dough is incredibly slack and stayed that way throughout the entire process.  Because of this I had a fair amount of trouble wrangling the dough to form baguettes, with them becoming somewhat inconsistent and misshapen, but managed to get a decent enough shape and subsequent bake.  The batard was a cinch to shape.  

Where I differed from Abel in the process was to shorten the bulk rise with two S&Fs to his one, and to retard until the next day rather than execute the entire process in a single calendar day as Abel stated he did.

My follow-up attempt will be to change two things and see whether that will yield some improvements in the shaping as well as to provide a more robust flavor - without sacrificing any of the clean AP taste.  The plan is to do an 85% AP / 15% Rye flour mix with all of the rye incorporated into the levain.  As for shaping, instead of my standard pre-shape logs, the next time will have me pre-shape as small boules, and I think that this will facilitate with the rolling of the baguettes.

Thanks Abel.


500g x 1 batard

350g x 2 baguettes/long batards

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A fabulous and incredibly informative set of email exchanges on Mariana’s part a few weeks ago had me:

  • Decide to run my own little test.
  • Buy the Kindle version of Michel Suas’ Advanced Bread and Pastry @ $45USD

I ran the wonderful and wonderfully reliable Hamelman Vermont SD formula 3 consecutive times over 2 weeks.  I’ve baked this enough times, now always using a rye levain vs. his white flour levain.  And I'm certain that I can reproduce it with consistency time and again.   All activities were the same across the 3 bakes with just one major exception each time.

  • 1st bake was hand mixed my standard way – 300 French Folds, generally traditional, until mechanized means were introduced.
  • 2nd bake was “mixed” in my 35 year old Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with dough hook.
  • 3rd bake was mixed in my 35 year old Cuisinart Food Processor with plastic dough blade.

Having counted RPMs of the stand mixer’s dough hook, the plan was to run on 4th speed at 124 RPM for 5 minutes. A total of 620 turns of the hook.  This should approximate a short mix, which was itself pretty much designed to approximate mixing by hand.  However, there was some sand in the Vaseline here.  The dough repeatedly and almost immediately decided to catch a free ride by climbing the hook, creating a fair amount of invalidity to this comparison.  The stopping and starting of the mixer to clear the hook made for a frustrating experience and certainly not worth repeating.

Cusinart  phone support stated my food processor model was rated at 1750-1800 RPM – based on “load”.  Of which they could not be more specific as to how those RPMs were affected by “load”.  I loaded approximately the maximum flour weight recommended.  With a relatively low hydration of 65%, I ran the machine for 50 seconds, attempting to get somewhere in the imagined neighborhood of 1000 total revolutions.  Or what would fall into the category of an improved mix.

**Late Edit** I neglected to mention that those 50 seconds in the food processor rose the temperature of the dough from ~78-80dF to an unreasonable 87dF.  Therefore, I reduced the timing of the bench rise from 120 minutes to 90 minutes with folds at 40 & 80 minutes instead of the standard 50 & 100 minutes.  If I were to mix in the food processor from scratch, I'd use iced water to keep the dough temp down.**End Edit**

Because I could not taste the three at the same time, there is no way of discerning whether there were any flavor differences.

1.    Hand Mix.  These had the most obvious oven spring of the three batches.

2.    Stand Mixer.  A pretty close match to the hand mixed batch, although I left this about two minutes too long in the oven.

3.    Food Processor. Still looked consistent with first two, but I have the notion that the crumb was not quite as open as the others.

Although I gave away the pick of each litter, I warehoused 1 from each of the first 2 bakes.  Here are the 3 results side by side.  The club-ended baguette was the pure hand mix, and the center baguette was the stand mixer batch. 

In summary, I didn’t see a lot of difference, other than mix time among the three mixes, although even with a good oven spring, the food processor batch had what seem to be a more regular crumb with smaller holes.

The stand mixer was a bust and the food processor was a nuisance to clean.  Additionally, it takes the sheer joy of hand mixing away from my grubby little mitts.  And I like doing that.  Cathartic, satisfying, hands in the dough at all times.  And easiest to clean up.  What’s not to like?  Plus, if it gets me a few millimeters closer to whatever the term artisan means this month, then I find that to my liking as well. 

Each batch was ~400g x 3 baguettes/long batards


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The first time I tried Maurizio's 50-50 I added figs and pecans and had an unusual experience with: shaping as baguettes / retarding / unretarding / reshaping the three as one batard / and finally retarding again.  All documented here.  

But one must (kinda) soldier on.  This time I made only baguettes.  Without the interruptive figs and pecans.  And also a second difference.  I cut the hydration down from ~87% to 82% - super high hydration and baguettes seem to have an anti-affinity for one another, so I chopped 5% off the top.  

My limited experience with baguettes at so high a percentage of WW (50% as the title implies), close to nil, seems to also create some problems with density and loft.  Perhaps typical, or perhaps my inexperience with this blend of flours.  But shape and bake I did.


And finally, slathered up with butter for my morning toast.

That was yesterday.  Today I was meeting our old building manager for lunch.  He was a regular recipient of my oven goods, and so I also baked up a batch of Vermont SD this morning and included 1 and 1 in the goody bag.  

As usual, the oven spring on the Vermont's is pretty explosive, quite a feat for a 65% hydration bread.  And for those who think that one needs high hydration for good oven spring, I'm here to testify that it just ain't so. 

All three came out shaped a little club-like.  Can't exactly explain it.

Side by side, there are some differences I wish to point out about the two, other than the overabundance of WW in Maurizio's.  

50-50 WW:

  • 50% WW and 50% Bread flour.
  • 100% hydration levain of equal parts BF and WW.
  • 6.5% total flour in preferment.
  • 82% overall hydration.
  • minimum of 2 hour autolyse with just water and flour
  • 5 Letter Folds every 30 minutes for 2 1/2 hours.  Additional ~45 min. bench rest before retard.
  • Dough remains very slack throughout shaping, but did start to tighten up on 3rd Letter Fold.
  • A lot of flour on couche.

 Vermont SD:

  • ~90% AP and ~10% WW/Rye blend.
  • 125% hydration levain of predominantly Rye then equal parts AP & WW (this was built from excess Maurizio 100% levain)
  • 15% total flour in preferment.
  • 65% overall hydration.
  • 30 min. "autolyse" with flour, water and levain.
  • 2 letter folds at 50 and 100 min. Additional 20 minute bench rest before retard. 
  • Dough remains extensible but firm through shaping, having tightened up at first Letter Fold.
  • Just about no flour on couche.

And as you can see, there is no comparison as to oven spring between the two, with each starting off at ~400g apiece, and the WW shedding considerably more weight in water during the bake.  

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At some point I started to occasionally snap a photo halfway through the baking cycle, after steam was released and the loaves rotated.  Ordered from oldest to most recent.

David-based (Son of) SJSD

Son of SJSD

PiPs 100% WW

WoodenSpoon's 33% Rye Levain

David-based SJSD based Italian Sesame Levain

PiPs WW Sesame Levain

Forkish Country Blonde




 David-based Sesame soSJSD

Hamelman Pain au Levain Batards

Hamelman Pain au Levain Baguettes


 (some other) Pain au Levain


 Hamelman Sesame Semolina Levain


 David's Pugliese Capriccioso


Pane di Altamura 100% Semolina 

Hamelman Semolina w/Rye Levain

Hamelman Pain au Levain w/Mixed Starters

Hamelman Pain au Levain w/125% hydration Rye starter

Hamelman Vermont SD w/125% hydration Rye starter


 Amy's Bread/Susan's Wild Yeast Semolina Levain w/fennel seeds, pine nuts and raisins

Forkish Field Blend #1

Abel's 90% Biga

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Last year I kicked off the year with two entries of 2016 in review.  The first was baguettes I baked, and the second was the batards.  This year I thought that I'd document a slew of selected baguettes from my favorite viewing angle.  Some are repeats from last year as this is not a 2017 review.  With few exceptions, all are different breads.


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