The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BurntMyFingers's blog

  • Pin It
BurntMyFingers's picture

This weekend I ended up with some of the best olive bread I've ever tasted, through a completely accidental process.

The first accident was that I needed to refresh a neglected rye starter. I made a whole lot of it then, rather than throwing out the excess, I mixed it with some all purpose flour. The proportions were 225 g rye starter at 100% hydration, 500 g all purpose flour, 350 g water and 1 1/2 t Kosher salt. After bulk proofing I tossed the dough in the refrigerator for a couple days because I like my bread really sour.

Then, my 3 1/2 year old grandson showed up and reminded me I was supposed to make olive bread with him. So we used the dough to do this, flattening it out and pressing in 1 c pitted olives (I used a combination of Greek green olives and Kalamatas) of which some where left whole and some cut in half at his direction, plus 3/4 t dried Herbes de Provence and 1 t chopped lemon zest. We stretched-and-folded to mix in the ingredients, proofed in bannetons for about 3 hours until doubled, then baked in dutch ovens at 475 degrees, covered the first 25 minutes then uncovered to brown.

The result was wonderful, really tart and zesty. I think, along with the long fermentation and the rye starter, mixing in the olives at the last minute was a key to our success. Who knows what would have happened to the dough if it spent 2 days in the presence of the salty olives?

The official recipe is on my blog, here:

BurntMyFingers's picture

The other day I made Rene's Rye from the recently released Tartine 3. The primary flour is spelt, combined with sprouted rye.  I have a sprouter I use for salad sprouts and was able to get nice shoots on my rye berries in less than 2 days. The recipe also requires buttermilk (the taste is pronounced, so use a good one), malt syrup and dark beer (I substituted maple syrup and a hoppy IPA) and a variety of seeds.

The ingredient list is complicated but the prep is pretty straightforward. After mixing it was close to pancake batter consistency, but it really set up through a series of folds and turns. Followed Chad Robertson's proofing and baking instructions fairly accurately and baked half the recipe in a pullman pan (result shown here) and the other half as a dozen mini loaves.

I'm really happy with the taste and texture of this complex, old world-stye loaf. Highly recommended.

BurntMyFingers's picture

Can you partially bake a sourdough baguette, then finish it at a later time of your choosing? That's what this experiment aims to find out. I made my standard dough which is based on Maggie Glezer’s Acme recipe, but substituting levain for yeast. Loaves went in the oven at 520 degrees, then steamed and lowered heat to 480 degrees. One loaf was removed at about 20 minutes, or as soon as it started to color (times are relative and will depend on your own oven); the second at about 30 minutes so it was brown but not dark; the third stayed in till 40 minutes for a full dark bake. The results are shown below.

 Next day, I returned the partially baked loaves (which had been cooled, wrapped in plastic, and stored at room temperature overnight) to the 480 degree oven to get the fairly uniform results shown in the second picture. The lighter loaf took 25 minutes to fully brown and the medium-dark 15 minutes; that makes sense since they had to heat up once they went into the oven.

The results? Taste, crust and crumb were pretty close among the three loaves. There certainly was not any significant fall-off in quality among the bake-n-serve loaves. Since I seem to always make too much bread, this is an experiment I’m going to repeat on a regular basis so family and friends always have a supply of fresh baguettes, crispy and warm from the oven.

BurntMyFingers's picture

I had a wonderful dinner at Bar Tartine in San Francisco last week. I knew they were doing things with koji and tried a steak tartare served on koji toast but there were so many flavors going on I couldn’t really focus on the koji.

Luckily there’s a recipe for koji bread in the new Tartine 3 cookebook which, says chef Cortney Burns, is the same recipe they use in the restaurant. This is one of Chad Robertson’s new “porridge breads” in which adds a porridge made with a grain at 50% of flour volume; that porridge is typically 2 parts water and 1 part grain, simmered about 15 minutes till the liquid is absorbed and the grain becomes tender. It's cooled, then folded in after the second stretch-and-fold.

Koji is rice that has been inoculated with aspergillus oryzae, a fermentation agent that turns the grains a snowy white. It is the base ingredient in making sake and amakazi as well as shio-koji, a salt marinade. Cold Mountain brand koji is readily available at Japanese markets for around $7 for 20 ounces. I followed the porridge prep in a prerelease recipe from Tartine 3 and cooked 125g koji with 250g of water for what would eventually be 2 1k loaves; there’s a bit of magical math as Chad wants you to accept that 250 g water + 125 g grain is going to produce 250 g porridge. I got more like 360 g (allowing for some evaporation) and adjusted the other components accordingly.

The rest of the prep is sort of like the famous Tartine country bread, which I’ve made many times. For this loaf Chad specified a blend of hi-x and “strong white flour”; I used KAF Sir Lancelot. It’s baked at a slightly lower temperature than a regular loaf because of the sugar contributed by the koji.

The results are shown here. The loaves didn’t rise as much as I wanted due to the high moisture content, but I was happy with the crumb. You can almost see some rice grains if you look closely. The bread has a slightly sweet umami taste that’s very subtle, but pleasing.

BurntMyFingers's picture

I have been having difficulty overproofing my baguettes, so today I tried an experiment. I shaped three similar, though not quite identical, baguettes then baked them one after another, 27 minutes apart. You can see the results here, with the last bake on the left and the first on the right.

The first baguette went in the oven at just at the point where it had nicely filled out in the couche (smoothing out the little wrinkles that occurred during shaping) and an indention made with a fingernail would fill in slowly. It has good oven spring but the slashes didn’t open as much as the next two. I worried about the second loaf because it had gone a little flat but it actually has the best oven spring and expanded slashes of the three. The third is still pretty good but it’s starting to sag just a little. So, my conclusion is that I’m going to start my oven at about that fingernail-test point from now on and when it is ready 20 minutes later, my dough will be ready too.

I did an accidental secondary experiment because the second baguette got less steam than the other two. I have a cast iron skillet with a few objects in it and I pour water in there just after I load the bread then quickly shut the oven door. If I do this right I will get clouds of steam leaking out through the oven door and the vents on top of the stove. That didn’t happen with the second baguette for whatever reason. It doesn’t have the same golden brown crust (I know it's hard to see this in the photo, but it's true) as the others though it’s still got the crunch and tiny blisters we crave.

A few details: My formula was 60 g of 60% starter made with bread flour; 500 g King Arthur APF; 360 g water; about 15 g salt. I autolyzed, did a few stretch and folds and allowed the dough to develop in a 60 degree room for about 5 hours then it went into a 39 degree refrigerator overnight. I preshaped right out of the refrigerator, rested and let it come to temperature for 75 minutes, shaped and proofed en couche for 75 minutes at 68 degrees. Starting oven temperature was 500 degrees; I turned it down to 480 degrees after loading the loaves. Bake time 27 minutes with a turn at 10 minutes; I don't remove the steaming apparatus because the water just evaporates away.

BurntMyFingers's picture

For my second miche taste test I wanted to do two things: compare King Arthur High-Extraction flour against Central Milling Type 85 Malted, and experiment with a smaller loaf after the comment from one of my tasters that the first loaf was "gummy" (though he ended up liking that loaf the best.) Above is a closeup of the result, with the Central Milling loaf on the left.

As you can see, the King Arthur flour has higher ash content which led to a difference in taste that I found distracting (it actually did taste like ash, or chalk, but to a very subtle degree) while others didn't mind it. The crumb turned out great and this 75% formula (producing a loaf that's a bit over 3 lbs vs the 2 Kg full-size miche) is an ideal size for a 5 qt dutch oven if you're using that method.

The complete results of the 2nd miche test are available here: . The first taste test is at and my TFL post about it is at . Thanks for reading... and commenting!


BurntMyFingers's picture

Last week I did a three-way miche taste test, with the same formula using three different flours: King Arthur High Extraction, King Arthur First Clear, and a blend of 60% KA Bread Flour/40% KA Whole Wheat Flour. Here are what the loaves looked like:

Clockwise from the top they are First Clear, Hi-X and the hybrid.

My judges were Michael London, a very well-known baker in upstate New York, and Cindy Corbett, an accomplished home baker with a wood fired oven in her back yard whom I'd met at a KAF workshop. The results of the taste test are detailed on my blog at . But to give you a preview, the High-X and First Clear finished neck and neck with the hybrid well behind but still a good choice for the baker who doesn't have access to these other flours.

One of the reasons I'd wanted to do this test was some discussion on TFL in which First Clear and High-X are discussed as equivalents. They're not, per Martin Philip, the staff baker at KAF who provided me with research and advice: "In terms of comparing Type 110 with an ~85% extraction rate to First Clear which lacks the patent portion would be to compare apples and oranges at least from a functional standpoint (the patent portion contains the highest quality protein in the endosperm). " Yet the finished loaves were very close in nose, texture and taste and after a few days I couldn't tell them apart.

I am now doing a follow-up test with the KAF Hi-X pitted against Type 85 Malted from Central Milling. Stay tuned.


BurntMyFingers's picture

A well-intention friend gifted me with 10 pounds of supermarket flour as a thank you for making them bread, and I'm wondering what to do with it. It's Baker's Corner brand APF from Aldi's, bleached, 10% protein. I'm interested in the challenge of making excellent bread or baked goods from processed flour. Any suggestions?

BurntMyFingers's picture

I've been cooking Chad Robertson's Basic Country Bread for awhile with great success. Last week I was in San Francisco and decided to get a loaf of the real thing for comparison. This is not an experience for the faint of heart: you have to order 72 hours in advance, and it is literally impossible to find parking in the neighborhood at 5 pm which is the appointed time to pick up your loaf.

But, I persisted. And was surprised to discover the loaf currently offered out of the bakery is quite different than the recipe in the book--with a darker and moister crumb, and distinctively more sour.

I brought the loaf back to New York with me and after a bit of fiddling think I'm pretty close--actually as close as I'm going to get considering the differences in flours between East and West Coast. (I used KAF)

Here are the two loaves with Chad's on the right (what remained of a huge miche):

And here's a close up of the crumb (again, mine is on the left, theirs on the right)

I like the variation better and will be making it from now on. Here are the differences:

800 grams bread flour and 200 grams whole wheat flour (vs 900/100 in the recipe)

80% hydration (vs 75% in the recipe)

retarded 14 hours in refrig at 39 degrees F to increase sourness (and match the sourness of the loaf I purchased at the bakery).

Subscribe to RSS - BurntMyFingers's blog