The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Why not just use the flour of six grains? I guess for the same reason one mills flour fresh, but also I think the mediocrity of my blender is working with me here by creating variation in the size of particles. I get some noticeable bits, along with some flour soup.

I accidentally made a very high hydration dough (80%? 85%?), because I forgot that whole grains don't puree the way that quick oats did. Possibly oats are just especially thirsty. I began with more water to compensate for what I thought would be a lot of absorption, and then added more flour when I saw how soupy everything was. I didn't want to overdo the flour, since I was going by feel, and ended up with a much wetter dough than I've worked with before. The stretch and folds were easier, and the shaping went fine, but scoring made it spread very quickly to a diameter slightly wider than the combo cooker. When I placed the loaded parchment paper into the combo cooker (which is much trickier when the dough is this loose), the edges wrinkled to the contours of the wrinkled parchment. The loaf looks wonky, but I'm really pleased with the flavor and crumb (airy, with a little bit of that soaker-like moisture).

Next time I'll use less levain and warmer fermentation, so that a higher proportion of pureed grains can be incorporated. Another option would be to add some starter to the grains as they soak, but I'd have to watch things pretty carefully because I'm not sure exactly how much further along in fermentation this would get the dough once mixed. Also I doubt it, but I wonder if the blender would somehow harm the sourdough culture?

8:00pm 18 g each rye, spelt, barley, oats, red wheat, and kamut; soak in 320 g water

8:00pm mix levain 100 g starter, 100 g bread flour, 100 g water

8:20am puree soaker

8:20am mix autolyze 305 g bread flour, pureed soaker

9:10am knead together autolyze, levain, and 10 g salt

9:30am - 12:15am six stretch and folds

2:45pm shape

7:00pm bake covered

7:20pm uncover

8:00pm done

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Having found that cider doesn't seem to add much flavor to bread, and worrying its alcohol may have hindered fermentation, I thought I'd try milk. I was curious if the milk would curdle from the acidity of the dough, and if that would matter. When mixed into dough, is curdling even something that milk does?

The fat may be the more significant part of milk in bread. The crumb turned out tighter and more tender, less chewy. There's a definite milky aftertaste, that mucusy feeling like after eating a bowl of cereal. This loaf is basically granola as bread.

Because they weren't whole oat grouts, but "quick steel cut", I felt like my blender wasn't going to have a hard time breaking them down. I treated the toasted oats, soaked in milk overnight and then blended, as part of the flour in the recipe. It seems like oats absorb quite a bit more liquid than wheat, because I ended up adding another 120 g of milk--about the same weight as the oats. Without the extra milk, the dough felt like 60% hydration or possibly lower (the intent was 75%).

8:00pm toast 110 g oats, soak in 340 g milk, refrigerate

8:30pm mix levain 51 g starter, 59 g bread flour, 59 g water


8:00am blend soaker -- measured 425 g, 25 g missing

8:00am mix autolyze 371 g bread flour, blended soaker -- added 13 g more milk, 17 g more bread flour

9:00am knead together autolyze, levain, and 10 g salt -- added another 80 g milk, dough was stiff

9:40am -- kneaded in another 40 g milk, dough was stiff

10:00am S&F

10:30am S&F

11:10am S&F

12:00am S&F

1:00 S&F

3:30pm shape, coat outside with oats

8:00pm bake covered

8:20pm uncover

9:05pm done

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8:30pm toast 68 g oats, soak in 133 g cider and 3 g salt, refrigerate

9:00pm mix levain: 28 g starter, 33 g bread flour, 33 g water

9:00pm mix autolyze: 85 g oat flour, 340 g bread flour, 282 g cider


7:30am remove oats from fridge

8:15am knead together autolyze, levain, oats, and 9 g salt

8:50am S&F

9:30am S&F

10:15am S&F

11:15am S&F

12:25pm S&F

1:25pm S&F

3:50pm shape, coat outside with quick oats

7:20pm bake covered

7:40pm uncover

8:20pm done


Bob's Red Mill steel cut quick oats for the soaker (they're still fairly coarse), regular quick oats for the crust.

The crumb is a bit tight, possibly because of the oat flour? The flavor of oats definitely comes through, but I couldn't taste apple or anything else from the cider, which was Portland Cider Company Apple.

I followed dabrownman's instructions and used parchment paper to get from banneton to combo cooker, which made scoring less stressful.

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5pm scald: 125 g bulgur, 210 g water, 3 g salt

6pm chill the scald

7pm autolyze: the scald, 270 g king arthur bread flour, 155 g water

9pm levain: 60 g 100% starter, 85 g bread flour, 85 g water

9pm refrigerate autolyze

7am take autolyze out of frige

8:30am knead levain and 8 g salt into autolyze

9am - 11:30am six sets of stretch and folds

3pm shape into banneton

6:30pm bake covered

6:50pm uncover

7:30pm done

Crumb was so gooey I worried. I tried flopping the dough from the banneton into the cast iron, instead of placing the cast iron on top of the banneton and flipping it over. The banneton has been getting burnt on the top from the latter. It flopped a little off-kilter. The serrated knife for scoring isn't great, I have to cut multiple times over the same place to get a deep score, and it stretches the dough around.


9pm scald 200 g freekeh with 600 g boiling water and 4 g salt (not all of it was used for bread)

9pm chill scald

9pm mix levain 50 g starter 60 g water 60 g bob's red mill whole wheat flour

9pm mix autolyze 350 g king arthur bread flour, 220 g water

8:30am knead together autolyze and levain, then knead in 9 g salt and 250 g freekeh scald

9:00am S&F

9:30am S&F

10:00am S&F

10:30am S&F

11:00am S&F

1:30pm S&F

3:00pm shape

6:45pm bake covered

7:05pm uncover

7:45pm done

There probably don't need to be that many stretch and folds, and they don't need to be so close together during a six and a half hour bulk ferment.

All the pictures of beautiful banneton patterns on here have been making me jealous, so I thought I must have been overdoing it with flour. I just did a handful of semolina this time, and the dough stuck, strangely not to the bottom but to two points halfway up the sides. Once out onto the peel, it spread in the direction of the sticking points, so I scored it with parallel cuts to expand it in the other direction. By that time it had already spread beyond the size of the cast iron. This was the first time I've used a peel as an intermediary between banneton and cast iron, and it will be the last. Slipping it off the peel caused the dough to bunch up against one side of the pan, where it burnt.

The green wheat taste of freekeh is interesting. It has a bit of astringency. Dry, it smelled like grain moths to me, but because it was a newly opened package, I thought I had probably been erroneously associating the smell of whole wheat with grain moths. Now I'm not so sure, though there aren't any moths or larvae in the freekeh.

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If I hadn't just read about Tangzhong, what would I have thought about the bulgur that I cooked and pureed? I had to keep adding more and more water, until I had 4x the weight of the bulgur in there, and the consistency of wallpaper paste. I kept adding more because I hadn't realized what I had been making. You probably already know this, but bulgur is already cooked, a.k.a. already gelatinized. I'm not sure why anyone would want an overly complicated way of creating a tangzhong with a wheaty taste.

I soaked some kamut berries. Something came up so that I didn't have time to blend them and mix into a dough, so I left them soaking for another 24 hours. They began bubbling, and somehow I thought either this was yeast water or this was going to kill me, because it smelled bad. I had gotten so far as doing the first stretch and folds before Abe pointed out it was likely to be more alien stowaway than yeast, because the soaker was essentially going through the first sometimes very bubbly stage of creating a sourdough culture, when all sorts of other organisms thrive. Abe prevented a novel literary genre from being born: the snuff forum thread.

The interesting part about the soaker-in-a-blender technique is that hydration has to be adjusted by feel. Some of the ground up grain end up fine enough to be flour, some not. I create the recipe by counting the dry grain as part of the flour weight, but this time (the second, non-gross-smelling attempt at a 25% kamut loaf) I had to add more water to get the dough to feel right. I'm sure some of the water is getting lost in the transfer to and from blender, but maybe the kamut also absorbs more water than regular flour.

The finished loaf has a very moist crumb. It's a bit more sour than I'd like, because I bulk fermented it slightly too long, having run off to see Crazy Rich Asians after the last stretch and fold.

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I bought a banneton because dough kept sticking to the floured cloth I was lining a bowl with. I've made two loaves with it and it hasn't stuck yet. The first was a 1 kg 30% whole wheat loaf, which I scored too shallowly to get the dramatic relief of my previous 1 kg loaf. It has the most even crumb of the sourdough loaves I've made. My loaves always have a dense area in the bottom middle. Probably that's where I'm pinching everything together when I'm shaping the boule, and popping all the bubbles from bulk fermentation.

After looking at so many graphs of growth vs temperature of sourdough yeast and lactobacteria I started to believe they were real, I've decided that room temperature fermentation is both easier and more delicious. I'm not really looking for much sourness. As an experiment I made enough dough for two loaves. One I bulk fermented in the fridge for three days, and proofed at room temperature, and the other I bulk fermented at room temperature and proofed in the fridge. The latter came out much better than the former, possibly because three days wasn't long enough in my cold fridge. Both turned out more sour than using room temperature for all stages. Cold proofing seems like a good way to manage your schedule to bake first thing in the morning, though. I'd rather bake at night and wake up to bread that has fully cooled.

I made two peach pies, one using this no-cutting-butter-into-flour recipe, and then because the crust had such short walls, I used the usual method. Except I forgot that all crust shrink, so both pies were quite shallow. The first filling was thickened with flour, and the second with roux. I couldn't really tell a difference in taste, to be honest. The roux pie had a better consistency, probably just because I used enough peaches to fill the crust. The green bits are basil, which I like in theory, but in practice I'd rather just have a little cinnamon in a peach pie.

The last experiment was using a blender to grind wheat berries that had been soaked in hot water, and using the resulting sludge in a loaf of bread. I had imagined the blender would create a fairly fine batter, but it made an uneven mixture of nearly cracked-wheat size chunks, and particles possibly fine enough to be flour. I think this was due to 1) too much water, 2) wheat berries being too tough even after soaking in boiling water for three hours, and 3) a not very effective blender. The resulting bread tasted great, though. Next time I'll try bulgur with less water in the blender.

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