The Fresh Loaf

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This summer we had the occasion to pass by the King Arthur bakery and store in Norwich, VT several times. The cafe is quite good, and we tried to time our visits for lunch or dinner. Of course, we always pick up some bread to scope out too. One of these was a walnut ciabatta that had a remarkably nutty flavor. Couldn't figure out what was in there until I saw a 'walnut raisin ciabatta' in V2 of Hamelman: ah, toasted wheat germ.

I've made this a few times since, increasing the hydration a bit to open the crumb more.  It's good, and my homegrown food critics say its pretty close to what we brought home.

Here's where I ended up.


26.7%ripe white levain, 125% hydration
100%AP flour
6%wheat germ, toasted
21%walnuts, toasted
  1. Prepare the levain ahead of time.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the walnuts in a mixer until there is moderate gluten development. In my Kitchenaid this took maybe 10 minutes at moderately high speed. You need to crank it up at this hydration
  3. Fold in the walnuts.
  4. Bulk ferment 2 hours, folding once.
  5. Turn out, divide in half (don't shape, just divide) and proof on parchment for maybe 1.5 hours at 75F. This is pretty wet stuff; don't handle it much.
  6. Bake with steam (I use the dabrownman MegaSteam method) at 460 35-40 minutes.
  7. Enjoy.
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You find these muffins in places with an Azorean Portuguese population, like SE Massachusetts, where I've eaten plenty of them. Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Sort of a cross between Portuguese Sweet Bread and English Muffins. But better. Great at breakfast or tea-time, with or without butter. These are tarted up a bit with a biga and some lemon peel.


AP Flour      162 g    100%
Water          105 g      65%
Salt                  1 g     0.5%
IDY                0.2g     0.1% (pinch)

Final Dough

AP Flour            506 g        100%
Milk                    101 g          20%
Salt                      10 g            2%
IDY                        5 g            1%
Eggs                  167 g          33%   (3 large eggs)
Sugar                 157 g          31%
Butter, Melted      44 g        8.75%
Lemon Zest           1 g           0.5%
Biga                   268 g           53%    (all of the biga)


  1. Mix biga ingredients, ferment overnight.
  2. Combine all ingredients. Mix until good gluten development, then bulk ferment 1.5 hours, folding once or twice if necessary.
  3. Scale at about 105g, shape into balls, then flatten to maybe 1/2 inch thick. Proof about 45 minutes.
  4. Grill over low-medium heat until browned and cooked all the way through. Do not use too much heat or the middle will not cook properly. It takes me about 15 minutes to grill a batch.



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This is my second take on the SBFI Finnish Rye. Didn't get so much spring on the first take, but it was tasty and seemed pretty popular. I only got one slice out of two loaves.

This time I focused on a little more gluten development, mixing for about 8 minutes, then adding the soakers and mixing for another 3-4. Bulk ferment was 3 hours with three folds, final proof about an hour both at 78F. Also added a couple of Tbs of vital gluten to the mix. The dough is pretty sticky stuff; wet hands help.

Baked at 20 minutes @ 460 with steam, then another 20 @ 460 without. We'll see what it looks like inside tomorrow.


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The recent posts from wassisname and limmitedbaking got me hankering to try this bread.

I used the formula here, but, as happens in the Hippie Kitchen, modified the method:

  1. Mix flours, polenta and water, autolyse 30 min. I used KA Bread and WW flours.
  2. Add levain, salt and pepitas; slap-and-fold until there is some gluten development.
  3. Bulk ferment 3 hours, folding 3 times.
  4. Scale, rest, shape.
  5. Retard in fridge about 18 hours.

Then baked at 460F for 15 minutes with steam, then another 20 minutes at 460 F without steam, then 10 minutes at 410F convection.

It's really good. You wouldn't think such a little bit of polenta would make such a difference, but it does.

Pepita Polenta Sourdough

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Some days you're the hydrant.

This one was a dog day. Baguettes with poolish from Hamelman, but a little bit wetter. This baguette stuff is tricky.

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Not posting much lately, but still fiddling around. One of the things I've been doing is messing with a formula that typecase posted here: Not quite there yet, but here's what the latest spin on it looks like.

Film at 11

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I recently took the 'Artisan Baking at Home I' course at the King Arthur Baking Education Center in Norwich, VT. I pondered whether it would be worthwhile, as I'm a not-a-beginner home baker and (thought I) was familiar with a lot of the material in the course description. I finally decided to go as I was sure to pick up some tips from the pros, and taking the course would allow me to see and feel the various doughs. And I could mess around with dough and commercial equipment for four days in a row with other breadheads. I'm glad I went.

I won't say much about the course content, as it's been described in other posts here on TFL. I will say that it was useful, educational and good fun. The instructors, facility and materials were all top-notch, and our time was used very efficiently.

Some photos to give you an idea

There's a store, bakery and café in the same complex. The café is pretty good.


Foccacia SicilianoFoccacia Siciliano



Inspecting Ciabatta

Inspecting Ciabatta

Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and other pastries

Croissant, Pain au Chocolat and Savories

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It took a few days to recover from bread overload I got at the Boston TFL meetup (thanks so much for organizing, Varda). Time to try something new.  Pumpkin seed bread from the Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, RI as described by MC Farine has been on the list for a while.

I made a few changes. The original formula combines two levains to form the levain for the bread. I built a levain with the same percentages starting with Fred, my 100% hydration mostly white starter. The amount of pumpkin puree is pretty small: maybe 1/4 of a can. Instead of opening a can of pumpkin puree I pureed a bit of fresh acorn squash.  The squash seems mostly for color in this bread, and I suspect that some of those cans of pumpkin puree have squash in them anyway.

It seemed to work.


The rye makes a nice undertone under the nutty flavor of the roasted pumpkin seeds. There is more carmelization that I would have expected, perhaps due to the sugar in the puree. I like the orange hue.


  • 14 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 29 g whole-wheat flour
  • 18 g rye flour
  • 35 g water

Final Dough

  • 500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 75 g whole wheat flour
  • 30 g coarse cornmeal (polenta)
  • 475 g water
  • all of the levain
  • 120 g pumpkin puree  fresh or canned (squash also works)
  • 75 g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 120 g pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 12 g salt


Mix the starter with the water and flours; ferment 12-14 hours

Final Dough

  1. Mix the flours and the polenta and the water to a shaggy mass. Cover and let autolyse for about 30 minutes, at warm room temperature
  2. Add the levain, the pumpkin , and the salt.
  3. Adjust hydration if necessary
  4. Mix in the seeds until well distributed in the dough
  5. Proof @ 76° F, giving  it three folds 30 minutes apart and let it rise afterwards for about 3 hours.
  6. Shape, then retard overnight in fridge.


  1. 460° F with steam for 20 minutes, then without steam for an additional 20 minutes.
  2. Turn the oven off and let the loaves rest inside with oven door ajar for another 7 minutes

Yield: about 1500 g (two loaves)


Submitted to YeastSpotting

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We had a can of pumpkin puree kicking around. I'm tired of the usual pumpkin quick bread and wanted something lighter.  Some time ago our paper had a braided yeast-raised pumpkin bread, originally from King Arthur. I started there and somehow ended up here:

Sorry, no crumb shot; the good light was gone by the time I sliced it.

I'm going to try another spin, this time with a preferment to punch it up a bit; then I think this one will be done.

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There's lots of discussion and great information about starters on TFL. Everyone does things a little differently, and what works for you is best. Here's what works for me.

I typically make two sourdough loaves a week. Sometimes more, and sometimes I miss a week, sometimes two. Sometimes I make more than two loaves.

When I started baking sourdough I had a lot of questions and two constraints. First, I traveled a fair bit for work, often on short notice, so I needed a process that was not too fussy  - no twice-daily feedings, no big mason jar of goo on the kitchen counter.  Second, I hate waste; the idea of discarding half of anything bothers me. I addressed the first constraint by having Fred live in the fridge nearly all the time; and addressed the second by keeping him fairly small. Here's Fred:

That's a half-cup container, and it contains 2.5 ounces of Fred. He's a little guy. Fred is a 100% hydration starter, so he's 50/50 flour/water by weight.  Fred's hydration is not so important, but one reason 100% is nice because it makes the math simpler. Fred is too small to make bread by himself, I use him to innoculate a levain that typically ferments 12-14 hours.

I made the original Fred about 3-4 years ago using the great instructions on this site from Debra Wink. Pineapple juice rocks.

The evening before (or two evenings before if I am retarding the final proofing) I take Fred out of the fridge and build a levain. Sometimes, when I have presence of mind, I take him out an hour or two before I start to let him warm up a bit, but often I just take him right out of the fridge. This is what he looks like after being in the fridge for about 10 days:

Sometimes, after a week or so, Fred will blow his top in the fridge. Not a big deal, and if no one notices for a day or two Fred will create a dry crust on top to keep his innards moisty. Fred's a bit of a teetotaler: I very seldom see hooch, perhaps only after a couple of weeks in the fridge. If Fred looks all watery and hoochy, I might feed him once or twice, but usually I will let him warm up and he comes back to life.

I feed Fred in a 1:2:2 ratio: 1 part starter, 2 parts flour, 2 parts water. My experience  (YMMV) is that this ratio provides adequate food so that he will be in good shape to innoculate a levain in a week, and can tolerate cooling his heels for longer if necessary . I always (well, almost always) remove 2 oz (of the 2.5 total) to start the levain build:

There's just a little bit of Fred left (0.5 oz):

The 1:2:2 ratio means we need to add 1 oz of water and 1 oz of flour in order to make Fred the man he was.  So we add 1 oz  water (that's a chopstick, which works really well for mixing the remaining starter and water) and then 1 oz flour. I feed Fred with AP or Bread flour, but I always give him a little treat of rye:

The 2 oz of starter is built into the levain - in this case a stiffer levain for Pain au Levain. There's no waste; I haven't discarded any starter.

If the formula for the levain called for less than 2 oz of starter,  I decrease the amount of flour and water in the levain by the excess amount of starter. For example, if the formula called for 1 oz of starter, I would use 2 oz of Fred, but then reduce the amount of flour and water I add by 0.5 oz each (that's what I meant about the 100% making the math easier). (It could be that innoculating the levain with more than the amount of starter called for in the formula changes the flavor profile of the bread. That's okay; I'vehad no complaints yet, and I have other details of technique to work out before addressing that one. If I found that it did make a difference, I would simply scale Fred down.)

The levain I'm building often has a different hydration than Fred. Sometimes it uses a different type of flour, e.g. rye. No matter.

The chopstick doesn't work for a lot of stiff starter, so I switch to the handle of a wooden spoon.

The levain goes in the proofing box overnight. Fred goes in for an hour or so just to help get his juices flowing. (I'm writing this in New Hampshire in February - the proofing box is required equipment). Then Fred goes in the fridge and does not reappear for a week or so. It seems to take about 4-5 days for Fred to develop sufficient strength in the fridge. If I want to use him sooner I will take him out and place him on the counter or in the proofing box until he's bubbly.

The next morning the kitchen is at 63F, but the levain looks good:

Fred, flour, water, salt:


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