The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ilya Flyamer's blog

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I have finally managed bread with a significant content of spelt flour that didn't turn into a near-puddle before/during baking! I was really struggling with the elasticity it brings to the dough. But this time, while the bread is not super tall and did flatten out a little bit, it still has a decent shape. I was worried about scoring it too deeply which could cause more flattening, so I think I didn't score it deep enough... So the batard actually got some cracks on top.

I simply followed Maurizio's recipe:

But the main point is flavour! I added a sesame seed coating, and together with the spelt this produces fantastic taste. And the crumb is amazingly soft, a bit shiny and almost moist.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

This is my third time making it, the most successful yet (first one was great, but I didn't scale the dough correctly to my pans, breads were too small; second was without any malt flavouring, and a little underbaked). I simply followed the instructions in, but scaled ingredients to two small bread tins I have (rescaled recipe here The only real difference is that in absence of red rye malt I just used a little barley malt extract in the scalding. I also used a little more salt and ground coriander, and way less sugar. Borodinsky I am used to in Russia is not that sweet

Baked for 55 min (with grill on for the last 5 min for deeper colour on top)

image image

Dark, but glossy top from the wheat dough washing and then starch custard coating after baking. I also added some caraway seeds on top together with coriander seeds (didn't put any in the dough).


Dark and moist crumb.


My first try, with some Polish herring with onions. Delicious.

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Ilya Flyamer

I tried a couple of Maurizio's recipes with Kamut (baguettes and ciabatta), and while I had other issues with those breads, I loved the nutty/buttery taste of that grain!


I had some Kamut flour left from those bakes, and recently saw Benito posted his amazing looking 20% and 30% Kamut breads. So I decided to also just go for it! I used his 30% recipe, with some simplifications of the procedure (e.g. no lamination and shorter autolyse). Here is the compositions of the bread (I made two loaves):


The dough was nice to work with, a little sticky but completely manageable. I shaped one as a batard (below) and one as a boule, that I gave away to a friend (I always bake two breads, and give one to someone). And these were one of my most successful "regular" (i.e. normal shape/process) breads in the last couple of months!

I accidentally switched on the broiler for the steamless part of this bake, and I actually loved the colour it brought out in the crust!


And of course it's delicious! For a 30% whole grain flour it's surprisingly light in colour, as usual for Kamut, and the golden hue of the crumb is just so beautiful. Definitely going to come back to this bake!

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Continuing from a Russian "black" bread, so-called "baton" is another staple of Soviet and Russian shops. One of the most popular breads, it is delicious, with very slight sweet and buttery notes, and quite close, but very soft crumb. It sure was my favourite bread as a child.


Although not typically made with sourdough, after discovering a sourdough recipe I couldn't resist baking a couple of them. And my second attempt was rather successful! The recipe I followed is again from the Russian web site (literally - baking at home):


Here is the translation of the method. I made double portion for two batons, here the ingrediants are for just one.


30g mature wheat starter 100% hydration

30g warm water

40g flour (bread flour; if available, can replace 5g with rye flour for improved fermentation, which I did using whole rye)

Final dough

All preferment

245g bread flour

120g water (plus extra if needed, I used 15g extra for double portion)

4g salt

12g sugar

10g room temperature butter (or margerine)

1/8 teaspoon instant yeast (optional, I didn't use)


Make preferment by dissolving starter in warm water, adding flour and mixing. Leave to ferment for ~8 hours at room temperature (I just left overnight, for more like 12 hours I think).

Sift flour into a mixing bowl, add salt, sugar and instant yeast, if using, and mix. Make a well in the flour mixture. Dissolve the preferment in water (I used warm), pour into the well, and mix the dough. Add a splash extra water if needed to hydrate the flour. The dough should be soft, but not sticky and should generally hold its shape. Lightly knead in the bowl 3-4 minutes, and then mix the room temperature butter in the dough in small portions. When all butter is mixed in, knead on a work surface (no flour) until smooth. Round up the dough and place back in the bowl for around 1 hr 15 min (40 min is using instant yeast).

Very lightly dust the work surface with flour and perform a double letter fold. Place the dough back in the bowl for 1 hour (or 30 min if using instant yeast). At this point I started seeing some signs of fermentation, with a couple of bubbles appearing and seemingly slightly increased volume, however the dough is not wet, so it's no very obvious at this stage.

Then take the dough and roll it out with a rolling pin into a rectangle relatively thinly (~1/2 cm I'd say). Then tightly roll it, avoiding trapping air, into a sort of short/thick baguette-like shape. Seal the seem on the worktop and leave to proof covered, until doubled (or until at least clearly increased in size, I don't think I got doubling). Took me around 3 hours with no instant yeast, with them recipe says around 1.5 hrs.

Spray with water and score the dough with deep diagonal cuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C, first ~12 minutes with steam, around 30 minutes total. Optionally, cover with cold water or starchy gel immediately after takign out of the oven (I just used some water). Cool on a wire rack, for at least 40-50 min.

Mine don't have a typical look, for some reason the cuts didn't open up (perhaps should have cut deaper or given them a minute after scoring before baking, to avoid them sticking back?). A baton you can find in a shop in post-USSR countries looks like this (found on wikipedia): 

Nevertheless, the taste is authentic with very slight extra acidity from using sourdough (I imagine speeding everything up by adding a tiny amount of instant yeast would reduce that even further). Crust is much nicer than from a shop in Russia - thin, but crispy (as opposed to a very soft crust you get there). Delicious bread, that is also quite easy to make!


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Ilya Flyamer

My first post here!

I've been baking sourdough bread for the last few months (ever since yeast completely disappeared from the shops for a while here in the UK), having never baked any bread before. I have produced some frisbees a couple of times and a few times made gorgeous loafs.

But I only just now started trying rye. Coming from Russia, it's something I miss here (although I've never been a big fan of rye breads, I guess you don't know what you like until you can't have it!). So I decided to bake it myself.

I previously got some of my baking equipment from, and already back then I got their Bread Matters rye starter - it's originally from Russia, so I couldn't say no to that. Now I also got two small bread tins from them, which although pricey are of excellent quality and feel nice and heavy in your hand.

Interestingly, finding dark rye flour is a little challenging here, but I managed to get some. And made some bread!

(Well, I am skipping one failed attempt with, I suspect, very overproofed bread: huge hole on the top, dense mass on the bottom).


I followed a Russian recipe from

Translation of the recipe:


140 g rye starter 100% hydration

155 g water

45 g dark rye flour

For the dough:

All of preferment

385 g dark rye flour

150 g water (plus a little extra if needed)

8 g salt


I mixed the preferment in the evening and left overnight on the kitchen table, for around 10 hours. Surprisingly, it didn't look any different in the morning, so I assumed it was too cold during the night and left it another 2-3 hours in the morning, until it started bubbling and smelled nice and fermented.

Then simply mixed in all dough ingredients (I needed 35 g extra water to make the dough feel what I thought was right - having never done this before) and left in the bowl for ~2 hours for bulk fermentation, then divided in two and put the dough into the tins, tightly packing it in to avoid empty spaces. Left it to proof until around 50% increase, which took 4.5 hours.

Baked in a preheated to the max oven without steam. Just before baking, dissolved a little wheat flour in water to make a very liquid dough, and carefully covered the tops of the loafs. After 10-15 mins turned down the oven to ~200°C and baked for a total of 1 hour. While the bread was baking, I dissolved a little starch (I had corn starch) in water and heated it until it thickened. Immediately after taking bread out, covered the top with a little of starch gel for a nice shiny top.

Cooled down in the tins for 10-15 mins, then took bread out and cooled on a wire rack. When still warm, but not hot, wrapped in a tea towel and left overnight, to soften the crust and equilibrate water throughout the bread.


And lo and behold, next day it's a beautiful dark rye bread. It's a little moist, with a delicious rye flavour and a sour tang.


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