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The Basic Country Bread from Tartine Bread is among my favorites, but I haven't baked it in a while. After my positive experience with Central Milling's "Organic Fine Whole Wheat" flour used to make the whole wheat bread from BBA, I wanted to try it in the Tartine BCB. In summary, it was wonderful.

I shaped the loaves as bâtards and proofed them in cotton-lined brotformen. They were baked on my baking stone with my usual steaming method, rather than in cast iron dutch ovens. My starter was very frisky this weekend, and the loaves got somewhat over-proofed. The bloom suffered, but I got great oven spring and the crumb structure was nice. The crust was crunchy, and the flavor was delicious as always. 

I have made Maggie Glezer's "own" challah in the sourdough version several times. (See Sourdough Challah from "A Blessing of Bread") I really like the mild sourdough tang on top of the honey sweetness and eggy richness of this bread. Today, for the first time, I baked the challah as pan loaves. I decided to do this both to save a little time - this recipe requires a good 9 hours all together on the day the bread is baked - and because my plan was to use the bread for toast and french toast.

I divided the dough into six equal parts and shaped each as a round. Each pan got three rounds. When I was a child, the local Jewish bakery made what they called "egg bread" in this shape. I don't know if they used the same dough they shaped as braided challot, but the recipe for egg bread in Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker is less enriched than his challah.

The 470 g of dough in each pan turned out to be too little to fill the pans after the dough had tripled in volume. Consequently, the profile of the loaves is less high than what I had intended, even with very good oven spring. Otherwise, I count this a success.

Happy Baking!



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Besides the Whole Wheat Breads, I also baked a SFBI Miche and Hamelman's "Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters" this weekend. 

As I have for the last few bakes, I used 50% Central Milling "Organic Type 85" and 50% Central Milling "ABC" flours for the "bread flour" in the final dough. I haven't tasted it yet, but when I sliced it 24 hours after baking it has a lovely wheaty and sour aroma with toasted nut notes from the boldly baked crumb.

When I last made Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters, Andy (ananda) suggested using a more firm wheat levain and a more liquid rye sour for this bread. For this bake, I did that. I just put the amount of water called for in the rye sour into the wheat levain and the amount of water called for in the wheat levain in the rye sour. (Both call for the same weight of flour.) I can't say this accounted for any difference in the final product, although this batch was denser than usual and had a more pronounced rye flavor. This is a delicious bread, in any case. I had it for breakfast, untoasted, with just a little butter and Santa Rosa plum jam (very tart) and for lunch with Toscano salami in a sandwich.

Happy baking!


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The 100% Whole Wheat Bread from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice has been one of my favorite breads for years. I love it for it's delicious honey-wheat flavor. However, it often comes out with a dense, cake-like crumb. In April, I tried making this bread using a more intensive mix, as demonstrated by txfarmer. (See Light and fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Bread) I did, indeed, achieve a less dense, more open crumb. But I felt there was some loss of flavor due to oxidation of carotenoids. 

It is difficult to make a 100% whole wheat bread with a light, airy crumb. The pieces of bran in the flour act like little knives, cutting the gluten strands that give bread crumb its “structure.” I had heard of flour mills that grind the bran to a finer consistency after it has been separated during the normal milling process and then add the fine-ground bran back in, along with the other wheat components that re-constitute “whole wheat” flour. The smaller bran particles do less damage to the developing gluten during mixing.

Central Milling makes such a flour, and brother Glenn recently got some for me at CM's Petaluma warehouse. Today, I used CM's “Organic Hi-Protein Fine” whole wheat flour to make the Whole Wheat Bread from BBA. I followed the formula and procedures in my April 2, 2011 blog entry with one exception: I only mixed the dough for 12 minutes at Speed 2.


The first difference in the bread was the wonderfulness of its aroma. I can't say it was different in quality, but it just filled the house as never before. When the bread was cool and sliced, the crumb structure was even more open than I got with intensive mixing. The bread is chewy like a good white loaf and not at all cakey or crumbly. The flavor is delicious. I can't really say it is better than the flavor I've gotten with either home-milled flour or KAF Organic Whole Wheat flour, but the combination of crumb structure, texture and flavor was remarkable.


I am now eager to try using this flour with other breads, for example the Tartine "Basic Country Bread." Stay tuned.


Submitted to YeastSpotting

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Pain au Levain from Hamelman's Bread (So what if I baked it umpteen weeks in a row? It's really good!)

Pain au Levain Crumb (the real reason I'm posting on this bread again) 

They say "Man cannot live by bread alone. You need side dishes."

A bit of petrale sole, a stuffed baked tomato and some Italian broad beans. Navarro Reisling, not pictured. (Tomato is stuffed with bread crumbs from Hamelman's Pain au Levain with Two Starters, garlic, etc.)

And, to clear the palate and fill any empty corners ...

Susan baked a plum cake.

Hmmmm .... I think I need another slice.


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We have my sister and brother-in-law and my younger son's two daughters staying with us this week. This morning, we had a traditional Sunday brunch with bagels, smoked salmon, farmers' chop suey and sourcream coffee cake. My neighborhood bread tasters joined us.

The bagels were made with the Krakow Bagel formula I tested last Summer for Inside the Jewish Bakery. The bagels are supposed to be twisted, but I shaped them in the more usual manner. They are very chewy with a crisp crust and delicious flavor. They received rave reviews. If you want the formula, you will have to buy Stan and Norm's book when it's released in the next few weeks.

I also baked a couple loaves of my San Joaquin Sourdough to have with our dinner of proscuito and melon and fettucine with ragu.

I loved five year old Naomi's comment on the bloom as I took the loaves out of the oven: "Ooooo .... They got so big, they broke!"

Hope you all are having as much fun this weekend as I am!


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This weekend, I made two of the pains au levain from Hamelman's Bread - The Pain au Levain, which Hamelman says is typically French, and the Pain Au Levain with Mixed Starters, which is made with both a white liquid starter and a rye starter. This bread also contains some whole wheat flour in the final dough.

Pain au Levain

Pain au Levain crumb

Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters

Pain au Levain with Mixed Starters crumb

Both of these are delicious breads. The Pain au Levain is mildly sour. The Pain au Levain is more sour, due to both the increased rye and an overnight cold retardation. It has a delicious, complex flavor.

Both these breads are highly recommended.


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Two months ago, after enjoying Phillipe Gosselin's “baguettes tradition” in Paris, I attempted to replicate this delicious bread in a sourdough version. (Baguette Tradition after Phillip Gosselin) My wife and I actually preferred my version to the original. In fact, I felt they were the best tasting sourdough baguettes I'd ever made.

 Yesterday, I made them again. This time, I omitted the little bit of instant yeast I had used with the first bake. Interestingly enough, my fermentation time was just about the same as with the added yeast.

The other difference was I used a new (to me) flour from Central Milling. According to brother Glenn, Nicky Giusto told him this is the flour Acme uses for their much-admired baguettes. I hesitate to generalize from a single bake with it, but it made a very chewy baguette crumb with good flavor. I'm looking forward to using it on some other breads with which I am more experienced.



Baker's %

Central Milling Organic “ABC” Flour

400 g


Ice Water

275 g



8.75 g


Liquid Levain

200 g


Instant yeast (optional)

¼ tsp



883.75 g


Note: Accounting for the flour and water in the levain, the total flour is 500 g and the total water is 375 g, making the actual dough hydration 75%. The actual salt percentage is 1.75%.


  1. The night before baking, mix the flour and levain with 225 g of ice water and immediately refrigerate.

  2. The next morning, add the salt and 50 g of ice water to the dough and mix thoroughly. (I did this by hand by squishing the dough between my fingers until the water was fully incorporated.)

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl with a tight cover.

  4. Ferment at room temperature until the dough has about doubled in volume. (3 hours for me) Do stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes for the first two hours.

  5. An hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF, with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  6. Divide the dough into 4 more or less equal pieces and stretch each into a 12-14 inch long “baguette.”

  7. Score and bake immediately at 460ºF, with steam for 10 minutes, and for about 20 minutes total.

  8. Cool on a rack before eating.


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Well, I'm back from a lovely week at the beach with family. I surely enjoyed the week, including Glenn's fabulous pastrami and corn beef with his and my rye breads. Glenn's Tartine BCB and my SFBI miche were also appreciated. 

Yesterday, I thawed dough made for pizzas 4 and 6 weeks ago and frozen. I made a couple of pies, one with each of the doughs made with Maggie Glezer's and Jeff Verasano's recipes.


Pizza using Maggie Glezer's dough

Pizza made with Jeff Verasano's dough

Glezer's pizza dough retained its distinctive crispness. Verasano's dough was still more elastic than Glezer's but not as chewy as it had been before freezing. I would say that neither was quite as good, but both were better than any you could get at the chains.

Today, I baked a couple bâtards of Pain au Levain from Hamelman's Bread. This has become a favorite. Today's tweak was to shape the loaves using the method portrayed on the KAF videos but proofing the loaves in cotton-lined oval brotformen rather than on a couche.


The loaves assumed a rounder/less elongated shape during baking. I wonder if, en couche, with lateral support but no support at the ends, the loaves spread longitudinally more. Hmmmm ….


I have dough for my version of Gosselin's Baguettes Tradition in the fridge to finish tomorrow. I'll update this entry accordingly.


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The pizza I made two weeks ago (Pizza Napoletana) elicited many helpful comments and suggestions. That pizza had a cracker-crisp crust and minimalist toppings. This week, I was shooting for a more robust, chewy crust that would stand up to tomato sauce and cheese. (Heavier toppings yet await a future pizza-making session.

Based on the advice of several more experienced pizza makers, I chose to make my dough using Jeff Verasano's well-known method. His long and passionate treatise on pizza-making at home can be found on his website. (Jeff Verasano Pizza) His formula for dough is as follows: 

Jeff Verasano's Dough for one 13” pie


Wt. (g)

Baker's %




Flour (12.7% protein)






Liquid levain



Instant yeast (optional)






 This formula is scalable. For two pies, double the ingredients, etc.

Because of a variety of considerations (including whims), the dough I made was modified from Verasano's as follows:

dmsnyder Dough for five 11” pies


Wt. (g)

Baker's %




Flour (12.7% protein)






Liquid levain



Instant yeast (optional)






As you can see, I quadrupled the formula for one pie, but divided it into 5 pieces. I decreased the salt and increased the levain. The effect of doubling the levain percentage was to raise the actual overall hydration of the dough to 68%.

Verasano's instructions for mixing and fermentation are very specific about some steps but leave out some other information which would be helpful. Here is my method, annotated:


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the water, salt, levain and 3/4 of the flour for 1-2 minutes at slow speed.

  2. Cover the bowl and let it rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

  3. Mix at low speed for 5 minutes. (Note: Verasano is using a DLX mixer. I have not altered his mix times for the KitchenAid.)

  4. Add remaining flour gradually (over 1-3 minutes).

  5. After 6-8 minutes, increase the mixer speed to medium (Speed 2-3 for a KitchenAid).

  6. Mix until the dough forms a ball, then for another minute. (Note: For me, the dough formed a ball very quickly and cleaned the sides of the bowl. However, it was extremely slack and left a large portion of the dough in the bottom. In hindsight, I had not compensated for the increase in water and dough hydration resulting from my doubling the percentage of 100% hydration levain. I mixed at medium speed for about 15 minutes, at which point I had a rough window pane.)

  7. Let the dough rest in the mixer bowl, covered, for 20 minutes.

  8. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board, dust the dough and your hands with flour, and divide the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. (Note: Verasano says that, after transferring the dough to the board, he kneads it for a few minutes before dividing it. I did two sets of stretch and folds, after which the dough had really good strength.)

  9. Place each ball into a lightly oiled container and either allow to ferment until increased in volume by 50% or refrigerate for 1-6 days to use during that time or freeze for future use. (Note: Verasano does not specifically say to divide the dough before bulk fermentation, but that is a common procedure, and I believe that is his intent. He also gives a huge range of estimates for fermentation time. He does not say whether these estimates are with or without the optional instant yeast. I suspect they are without the added yeast. I froze 3 balls and allowed 2 to ferment at room temperature. They were 50% expanded after about 2 hours, at which point I refrigerated them.)

  10. If the dough is expanded 50% before you are ready to use it, refrigerate it.

  11. If the dough was refrigerated, allow it to warm for 60-90 minutes while you pre-heat your oven for baking the pizzas. If the dough was frozen, I would thaw it in the refrigerator and then proceed.

I made two Pizza Margheritas. I made the crust quite thin. The sauce was that in Floyd's A Pizza Primer. I used a very soft fresh mozzarella. Fresh basel was added after the pizzas were baked.

Pizza, dressed for baking

Ready to slice

Slice crumb

This crust stood up to the sauce and cheese rather well. It was not soggy at all. It was very chewy under the toppings, but the corona was crisp. The flavor was good, but I bet it would have been better if the dough had been cold retarded for a day or two. That said, I covertly watched my wife eat her pizza slices. The truest test of pizza crust is whether she eats the rim. She generally doesn't eat the crust when we have pizza out. Tonight, she left not a crumb. I guess it was pretty good.

Personally, I'd like to split the difference between this crust and the one of two weeks ago. Maybe I'll try adding a little oil to soften this dough or use a lower gluten flour. I'm less tempted to try a much lower hydration dough, because I like the extensibility of this dough so much.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to my previous pizza blog. The quest continues! 



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Okay. I know this is a baking forum, but consider: Rye bread cries for pastrami, and pastrami sandwiches cry for pickles. In fact, the respondents to my recent blog on Jewish Sour Rye Bread  and Eric's blog on home-made pastrami have more or less demanded I share my mother's recipe for the best ever garlic pickles.

But, first,  you have to hear a story about them, you should be warned.

I don't make pickles often. Typically, several years go by between picklings, so there are things I forget.

A few years ago … about 25 years, actually … I put up a case of my mother's garlic pickles. (See the recipe, below.) My wife and I disagreed about the process, which is a normal step in the pickle-making procedure, but I am in charge of pickling in our household, so I did it as I remembered my mother doing it.

Well, after the pickles were in the jars and three days had passed, we took the jars out of the box to tighten the lids. The brine in the jars was fizzy with gas, and the contents were extremely cloudy. My wife, whose first career was as a clinical microbiologist, wanted me to throw them out; they clearly had bacterial contamination and were unsafe to eat. My memory was that my mother's pickle jars always got cloudy. This was normal. They hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were just fine.

We continued this “discussion” for several days. Then, in exasperation, I called the University of California, Davis Agricultural Extension Service, after getting my wife to agree they would be a reliable source of health safety information regarding home preserved vegetables.

I spoke with the nice young women to whom I was transferred who identified herself as a consultant on home canning. I described the condition of my pickles. She asked for my recipe, and I gave it to her. There was a long pause. She asked, “No vinegar?” I confirmed that the pickles were made without vinegar. She told me that vinegar was absolutely required. Acidification of the brine was essential to prevent growth of bacteria, including Clostridia botulinum. Another long pause. “Sir, I believe you have a very dangerous product there,” she announced, with considerable emotion.

My wife, of course, reminded me she had “told you so!” But, I was unconvinced. I told the nice Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant I was just positive my mother's pickles always turned cloudy and gave off gas, and they hadn't killed anyone yet. I was sure they were fine. She said she was still sure I had a lethal “product,” but she would talk to the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant when he returned from vacation in 2 weeks and get back to me.

Two weeks later, as good as her word, the Cooperative Extension Service Canning Consultant called me back. She had talked with the Cooperative Extension Service Pickle Consultant, and she had learned something new which she shared with me: “You have not made pickles,” she announced. “Pickles are made with vinegar. What you have made is fermented cucumbers.” The Pickle Consultant had told her to tell me the way to be sure they were safe to eat was to look for carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentative process and a cloudy precipitate in the brine, which was made of dead yeast bodies.

After waiting a week after I had eaten a few, to be sure the pickles didn't kill me or make me sick, my wife and children joined me in enjoying the delicious fermented cucumbers. 

Phyllis Snyder's Garlic Not-Pickles


  1. Pickling cucumbers

  2. Peeled garlic cloves

  3. Celery cut into 1/2 x 3 inch sticks

  4. Dried hot red peppers

  5. Fresh dill weed

  6. Pickling spice

  7. Brine made with 1 part un-iodized salt stirred until dissolved in 21 parts water.


  1. Glass canning jars and lids

  1. Large pot to sterilize jars and lids

  2. Tongs to handle hot jars and lids

  3. Clean kitchen towels to drain sterilized jars and lids

  4. Large colander


  1. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place jars and lids in the water and boil for 7 minutes.

  3. Remove jars and lids from water and drain on kitchen towels until they are room temperature.

  4. Scrub pickling cucumbers well. Drain in colander.

  5. Pack each jar tightly with a layer of cucumbers, upright.

  6. Over this layer, pour 1 tsp pickling spice, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, 2 dill sprigs (stems and flowers) and 1 pepper. (These quantities are for quart jars. If you are using pint jars, use half these quantities for each jar.)

  7. Pack the rest of the jar tightly with cucumbers.

  8. Insert 2 or more celery sticks in among the cucumbers. (These supposedly help the pickles stay crisp. Anyway, they are good to eat too.)

  9. Fill the jar with the brine to cover the jar contents completely.

  10. Screw the lids onto the jars loosely.

  11. Leave the jars in a cool place for at least 3 days. (If you want “half-pickles,” refrigerate the jars immediately at this point.) There will be significant carbon dioxide gas generate which will appear as tiny bubbles in the brine, and the brine will become cloudy with a white sediment which will eventually settle to the bottom of the jars.

  12. Tighten the jar lids and store them. The pickles can now be eaten, but will keep for a few years.





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