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Ilya Flyamer's blog

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Ilya Flyamer

Russian bread, not an old GOST recipe, but rus brot reverse engineered it from the ingredient list:

Original formula:

Here is the formula, using a mix of light and whole rye flour available to me, instead of medium rye:

I asked the miller about the extraction rate of the light rye, since they don't know the ash content I had to rely on that to mix whole and light rye to approximate the Russian medium rye standard. It was approximately 1 part light rye to 2 parts whole rye. And it seems that was a good ratio, I didn't need to adjust the hydration relative to the recipe, beyond just using wet hands when mixing, which is normal anyway.

It was my first attempt at free-standing mostly rye bread, so I was following the recipe as close as possible. My new heating system worked well, just set to constant heat, basically, and I had very similar rising times to what rus brot had.

So, for maximum power I refreshed the rye starter from the fridge according to rus brot's refreshment schedule for 70% hydration sour in the end over three feeds. Last feed was done yesterday morning, at the same time as the scald. Scald was kept in the oven, which was manually adjusted to approximately 65C by measuring the temperature.

Preferment contained the starter, scald and more water and flour, and was kept warm until it peaked, around 5 hours.

Final dough was mixed by adding flour to the preferment, together with salt, sugar, molasses (I used black treacle), and seeds. When the dough came together it was surprisingly not very sticky, and easy to handle with wet hands (although until it was mixed properly it was a mess). After kneading for a few minutes to distribute the seeds, the dough was fermented warm for 1.5 hrs. Then shaped using plenty of light rye flour to avoid sticking, and proofed in my bannetons, also generously dusted with rice flour. Proofed for 50 min on the heat pad.

When taken out of the bannetons, I remove excess flour as best I could with a brush, and then brushed with plenty of water. Already here I noticed the dough was cracking for some reason. I suspect the surface might have overdried with too much flour when proofing, but avoiding cracks in hearth rye bread is a challenge with a lot of factors involved.

Sprinkled with seeds (probably put too much), and baked in preheated oven on steel at 260C for 10 min, then reduced to 190C and baked for 50 min. For most of that time switched to bottom-only heat to avoid burning the top.

I am really pleased with the crumb for 80% rye bread, and didn't get too many cracks, so reasonable free-standing rye bread is possible quite easily! Seeds are of course delicious. For some reason the taste of black treacle comes through a bit more than I expected, and the bread is overall on the sweet side.

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Ilya Flyamer

The holidays are playing all kinds of tricks with my baking schedule and thinking, so here is another salvaged near-flop.

My girlfriend's brother has been staying with us over the holidays, and when he was leaving yesterday I wanted to gift him a loaf of bread to take with him. But of course I didn't manage to plan it properly, and only could set up the very simple sourdough dough the night before, and spend minimal amount of hands-on time on it yesterday during the day.

I mixed a dough with 25% spelt, 10% extra strong whole wheat and 5% rye (rest BF), and 73% hydration, plus probably a few more percent from wetting hands during kneading (slap&folds): So I developed the gluten to a good degree, and left to ferment overnight (11 hours). Potentially important point is that I used 100% hydration rye starter from the fridge, not a stiff starter as in the recipe (since that's what I had). And more importantly, I used my "proofer", and I think I still need to play with the setup, since it appears the heating pad was on all night - and the dough overfermented! Especially at the bottom of the mixing bowl, where the heat is coming from, it was much more sticky than usual, and a lot of it was stuck to the bowl when I inverted it to remove the dough. And I got a very big rise, and I even had a feeling maybe it had peaked and started falling by morning. I'd never had dough overproof significantly in bulk like this, so it was a goo learning experience.

I tried shaping it, and while it was not a complete disaster at first, the gluten membrane on the outside was tearing very easily, and I couldn't make a tight boule or batard. So I decided to follow the common advice, to just dump the dough into loaf pans. I managed to shape one of them into batard-y roll, but the other one was impossible to work with, and just went into the pan as an unshaped mass of dough. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top, even if the bread is not great they are guaranteed to come out delicious. I then tried to proof it for a bit, but didn't see a significant rise. But by then it was time to go out for a walk to meet a friend, so I couldn't bake it and put them in the fridge, where they stayed a few hours, and I don't think it rose more than half a centimeter overall. I then scored it and baked it from cold (again, pressed for time I didn't even preheat the oven fully), and was pleasantly surprised by pretty good oven spring.

I lost track which one was shaped relatively well, and which was a complete mess when went into the pan, but they looked very similar in the end (I thought having a "skin" on the surface was beneficial for the crust, but it doesn't appear so!). I kept one of the loafs, and tasted it this morning.

Probably unsurprisingly, this is the most sour bread I've ever made! I still like it, but would prefer less acidity.

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Ilya Flyamer

Merry Christmas and Happy upcoming New Year everyone!

I don't remember ever trying stollen, but in the end I decided to bake a couple of them for Christmas this year - since proper pannetone seemed too challenging! And for a special occasion I went the extra mileL candied the orange (and a bit of grapefruit) peel, and made marzipan (for the first time) myself. Both things are surprisingly easy (although this time I forgot to reduce the heat for the peel during 1 hr boil time in syrup, and some of it got burnt on the bottom a bit). And I simply followed foodgeek's recipe for the stollen:

My exact formula:

Made a sweet levain with milk and a bit of sugar overnight (reduced inoculation relative to his recipe), and soaked dried cranberries, raisins and currants overnight in spiced rum. Then followed the directions for mixing: mixed the dough except the butter and inclusions, let rest, then kneaded in softened butter, let rest, then added inclusions using lamination, and kneaded (tried to be gentle to minimize squashing of soaked fruit) to distribute fruit evenly.

Kneading in butter was surprisingly easy and produced a very pleasant dough, which was very nice to knead with the fruit too.

I then let it to ferment, hoping for it to nearly double, according to the recipe. For Sune it took 6 hrs at 21C. I used cold milk in the dough, so I tried to warm it up by keeping at 24C. And yet, after all day (10 hrs) it only grew around 50%, and I decided to call it quits on the bulk - it didn't seem like it had grown in the last couple of hours by then.

Then divided, shaped the marzipan into two tubes, and folded it into the dough. The dough was breaking very easily, and gluten wasn't holding - I guess such long fermentation with such high inoculation started degrading the gluten. But luckily stollen is supposed to be dense and not much oven spring is expected, so I hoped for the best. Proofed them for a little over an hour on parchment paper, and then baked at 170C for around 45 min, until golden brown. Then melted the rest of the block of butter, and brushed it onto the hot stollen, and then generously dusted with powdered sugar after the butter was soaked up.

Despite the apparent weak raising power of the levain and likely overfermentation, the result is surprisingly delicious! My girlfriend was apparently skeptical about the whole thing in the beginning, but said she loved the result. I like how the powdered sugar looks like snow, and it's really tasty and festive.

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Ilya Flyamer

After my previous 40% Beremeal (barley) sourdough (, I repeated it almost exactly - but with half amount of Beremeal, and I slightly reduced the hydration, in line with reduced amount of whole grain flour. Also doubled for two loaves. Formula:

Additionally, I bulked during the day, shorter but warmer (8.5 hrs at 24C). It grew A LOT, and became very wobbly. Felt like it fermented more than the previous time. Then shaped and proofed, around 2-2.5 hrs, at 24C. I think it was on the verge of overproofing, but I guess I caught it before - still got some some oven spring, although not huge.

The crumb is much more "normal". Taste is more delicate than with 40% Beremeal, but otherwise similar. Less acidic, the previous one had a clear tang, I guess shorter bulk reduced acidity this time.

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Ilya Flyamer

As I posted the other day, I had some beremeal, flour from an ancient variety of barley, I wanted to try using in a bread. And I also wanted to try Abe's very simple sourdough recipe ( And although combining two unknowns (new ingredient and new process) - what's the worst that could happen? So I just went ahead, but only made one loaf instead of my usual two, just in case it's a disaster, or if it doesn't behave during bulk I could treat is as a preferment and double the recipe with just bread flour. But none of that happened, everything went fine! Here is the formula: Adding water to what I thought was the right consistency took me to just over 78% hydration, but actually I think perhaps I could have gone higher, maybe to 80%.

I've never used barley before, it's interesting: very weak gluten, but not sticky, like rye. So the dough was not particularly strong, but not difficult to work with either. I developed the gluten as much as I could with some slap&folds, and traditional kneading, but it didn't give a windowpane, so I just hoped the overnight bulk would do its magic, but also wasn't sure with 40% bere it would be even possible to have a very strong gluten. Fermented overnight, for around 11 hours, at 21C. It grew a lot, definitely at least doubled (but hard to tell in a mixing bowl). Can't say it gained much additional strength overnight. Shaped into a batard and proofed for 2 hours in a "proofer" set to 27C, but in my woodpulp banneton the dough would warm up quite slowly. With weak gluten was tricky to tell when to end proof using the poke test, but it definitely grew over that time, and I decided it was ready.

Preheated the oven, scored and baked 15 min with steam and until nicely coloured without. Not the most beautiful bread in the world, slightly uneven, and got some cracks.

The crumb is very even though!

The flavour is great. Nutty and slightly sweet. Perfect with butter. Taste-wise definitely reminds me of that bread I had in a restaurant (, but theirs had a much softer, fluffier and lighter crumb. And not as strong taste, but somehow more rounded, if that makes sense. I am sure they had less beremeal in the dough, and probably higher hydration. Something to try next time!

And obviously the VSSDR process works, even with big changes to the dough composition!

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Ilya Flyamer

We had a combined leaving/welcome/Christmas celebration at work today, so I wanted to make a festive bake, something fruity, with a little spices. And Abe shared with me a yeasted recipe from a bread machine which seemed to tick all the boxes. Here is a rescaled version converted to sourdough with a stiff starter and a stiff preferment:

As fruit I used some homemade candied orange and grapefruit peel, dried cranberries, and walnuts, in approximately equal proportions. For the spices, used a Tbsp of cinnamon, around half Tbsp each of dried ginger and ground cardamom, and also ground up 4 or 5 cloves.

Build the preferment in the evening, in the morning is more than doubled. I mixed the dough (microwaved the butter and milk together until butter started melting) and left it by the window for around 3 hours, since I had to go out. By the end of that it barely rose, but then I warmed it up and doubled relatively quickly. I then shaped it and put into two of my tins, and also I was not sure how much it would rise, so just in case took a small part of the dough and shaped into three balls and put into buttered muffin molds. Not being used to enriched dough, it was very strange - not very strong, but also not particularly sticky, due to the butter I imagine.

Proofed for a couple hours until nicely risen (hard to say exactly, but definitely at least 50% growth), and baked at 180°C. Before baking, I brushed the tops with some orange&grapefruit syrup I had from candying the peel, and some milk, and topped with some flaked almonds. I wish I used an egg wash instead of milk, would have been darker colour on top I imagine. I then later thought, maybe some melted butter would work instead too? When done (darkened on top, and I checked the internal temperature too just in case, 95°C), brushed the top with that syrup again, and even repeated it again later when the bread cooled - it added a beautiful shine to the top, and a nice aroma of course.

The crumb is very unusual, it is indeed cake-like, a bit crumbly. And the deceiving look is very strange - it looks just like a cake would, both inside and out, but taste is much less sweet than you expect! Next time I would for sure use even more fruit (probably the full specified amount as fruit, and then any nuts or other inclusions in addition to that), but it's really good as it is too.

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Ilya Flyamer

Ilya's deli rye bake #1

Well, I finally found some time to try a deli rye bread for the CB this weekend. I like the rye flavour, so I went for dmsnyder's recipe, but without any CY:

Everyone is producing such perfect loaves, time for a bake with at least one issue :)

Mixed the preferment in the evening, and let it ferment for a long time, until next day afternoon. It didn't rise very much (but I was using a rather wide bowl, so hard to tell), but it had a lot of air in it. During the day I as keeping it really warm in the oven with a tray of hot water below.

I then decided to do what has been suggested earlier: developing gluten in the bread flour before combining with the rye sour. So I just autolysed the bread flour (Dove's farm 13% protein, 50% hydration for autolyse) and kneaded just a little bit - and it was producing a nice windowpane super quickly. I then mixed the salt and caraway seeds into the preferment, and incorporated it into the dough using "lamination". Then mixed to more or less homogeneity by hand, and continued using slap&folds - and indeed, to my surprise the dough  was strong enough for that! After it appeared as if the dough slackened a bit and then gained the strength again, I left it to ferment in the warm oven like before for 1 hr (due to life), then did stretch&folds, then repeated in 30 min. At that point I thought the dough was actually ready, but I was kind of surprised it would be so quick without any added yeast, so I left it for another 30 min just in case. The dough was a bit jiggly and definitely full of air, looking through the sides of the bowl.

I then shaped it with degassing into batards, and it was surprisingly pleasant to work with. I needed some dusting flour of course, but not too much. It wasn't a very strong dough comparing to wheat ones, but it was unexpectedly strong.

I then proofed it seam side down in parchment paper with support fro the sides. Calling the end of proof was tricky, but after just 1 hr it clearly significantly grew and I thought the poke test was good. When moving them on the paper it was clear the dough has changed a lot since shaping for sure. So I scored it in the traditional way across the long axis, brushed with a little water and baked on steel for 15 min with steam, and ~23 min without steam. Left in the oven after switching off for another 10 min with a door ajar. Then coated with a corn starch glaze.

I got a nice oven spring and a beautiful shiny crust with a red hue. The only issue is that both of them split along the long axis... I feel like if I scored them at least diagonally, or even along the length, that wouldn't have happened, I could have had like a proper ear on it probably, and a bigger oven spring. Why are these normally scored this way? Does this mean I underproofed it, and shouldn't have had a big oven spring with most rise happening before?

The crumb looks good to me, and taste is great, nice combo of some acidity, rye and caraway seeds.


Rye discard bread

I've neglected my rye starter in the fridge for a while, since I have been using the white stiff starter recently. But I decided to revive it, and it took a little longer than I expected, so I accumulated a lot of fresh, but not very active discard. And I remembered that I recently saw Bread Code post a video about bread mainly made using discard:

So in case others have rye discard, I thought this would be interesting to share here.

So I adapted it a little bit, for example using seeds instead of wheat berries, but the process is so simple that there is not much to discuss. Here is my formula:

400 g discard/not very active starter

255 g water

255 g whole rye flour

15 g soaked and roughly chopped crystal rye malt

100 g linseeds

100 g sunflower seeds

8 g salt


Of note, soaking malted rye makes it much softer, and even just my food processor could roughly chop it with some water. I think I could crush it very finely with a pestle and mortar, for the next time I am making a scalded rye bread (like Borodinsky).

Fermented for 5 hours. Seeds must have absorbed a lot of water, so in the end the dough was much stiffer than in the beginning, and than in the video. So I shaped it into short logs to fit into my small bread pans, and proofed for around 2 hours. I also added some oats to the oiled pan, and on top of the bread. It only rose a little. I baked it with steam for 40 minutes, and then finished without steam for a short time. Then left to cool, and cut just now after a day for it to mature.


I was worried it might be too sour, but it isn't, very pleasant taste in my opinion, and seeds add a lot of flavour.

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Ilya Flyamer

I was working a lot this week and didn't have time to bake since the "sweet" bread on Monday. So yesterday while getting ready for a rye bake I went looking for a bread recipe using discard - since I had quite a lot of that stuff stored in the fridge. And I wanted it to be really quick, so not really leavened with sourdough or yeast - hence, I started searching for flatbreads. And this is the recipe that caught my eye:

It was perfect in its simplicity. So I went ahead and gave it a try, following the formula, with the only change as addition of a little bit of baking soda - my discard had some really old stuff there which would be too acidic. And less importantly, substituted used sesame seeds instead of nigella seeds, since that's what I had. The dough was not very strong, but quite pleasant consistency.

We don't have a cast iron pan, so I decided to use the baking steel directly on the gas hob. And that worked beautifully, after a few minutes it gets super hot. I found it cooked more nicely if I added a drop of oil and spread it over the surface before adding the rolled out dough. I forgot to take any pictures yesterday, but we kept two dough balls in the fridge for today and I took a couple this time.

Here is one of them cooking on the first side and bubbling nicely:

And the other one even almost puffed up like a pita:

They were delicious, and perfect for scooping up something saucy - we had some Bulgarian aubergine preserve, that was great.

Frying on steel is quite cool, I also did a couple of eggs today. Produces a lot of smoke though! I wish we could do this outdoors.

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Ilya Flyamer

Today we had a first in-person lab meeting at work since the beginning of the pandemic, and I wanted to bring a loaf of bread to share with my colleagues. Usually we would have something sweet, like cake, at these meetings, so I wanted a flavourful bread on the sweeter side, that would also not require butter or any other topping, to enjoy. So I improvised with the ingredients (almost wrote "reagents") that I had: I selected dried cranberries, poppy seeds and grapefruit zest. I also added a little honey to the mix for a little additional sweetness.

For the whole grain component I used some Kamut flour, since it's not too wheaty in flavour, and a little nutty, and I thought that would go well with this mix. But I am sure other grains would work very well too. Maybe even a little whole rye would be great.

Here is the formula:

I used leftovers of the stiff starter I was using for the ciabatta CB, and while it had been in the fridge for a while, it doubled in the late morning after a generous overnight feed, so I decided it was fine (and I didn't have any other starter ready to use, anyway).

After a 30 min fermentolyse with most of the water, I mixed in the salt with honey and all inclusions, and kneaded for just a minute or two (slap&folds caused some cranberries to fly away, so I just did some traditional kneading). Then I decided to up the hydration from 70% to 75% after a 30 min rest, and so added the last 40 g of water in the formula above. I I bulked the dough for 5.5 hours with 3 sets of stretch&folds every 30 min in the beginning. The dough didn't seem too active with only mild signs of fermentation. Still, I went ahead and divided/preshaped and shape the dough, and let it proof by the window to slow it down a little - I needed the oven to cook dinner, and wanted to bake after that. And to my surprise after a 2-3 hour proof the future loafs expanded nicely, and were ready for baking. Baked on steel at 240C for 25 min with steam, and then around 15 min without. All the added sugar must have helped caramelization a lot, and the crust went dark much quicker than I am used to, but I love the final colour.

I brought the batard to work and didn't manage to take a good picture of the crumb, but I thought it looked even better than the boule:

And the flavour is great, very complex and tasty. No acidity that I can detect (although the starter from the fridge smelled mighty sour). Cranberries are delicious with the poppy seeds, and the grapefruit comes through surprisingly well. Crispy crust and slightly moist crumb.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I bought a bag of semola rimacinata a few weeks ago, and finally decided to try it. Found the recipe here, and basically followed it, except increased the hydration to 70% (and even that maybe was a bit low, I feel the flour could have taken more):

Here is my formula:

Mixed the levain overnight, it really quite cold here, so it didn't quite double until I placed it on the radiator in the morning, where it quickly jumped up.

Then used warm water, did some slap&folds to start gluten development from the beginning, and roughly followed the timings in the writeup above. Stopped bulk when the dough was jiggly and I could clearly see bubbles through the walls of the plastic bowl. I was originally going to retard shaped loaves overnight and bake in the morning, but had a change of plans that I was meeting friends fur brunch, and wanted to bring one of the breads to them, so had to proof in the evening and bake same day. And I of course coated them in sesame seeds!

The oven spring was, like in my last bake, OK, but not spectacular. Love the colour of the crust and crumb. I am not sure whether the oven spring would have been smaller if I fermented more, and it doesn't seem underproofed to me, but I think the taste could be more pronounced.


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