The Fresh Loaf

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This experiment turned out so well I thought I'd share the formula. The levain uses only yeasts from fermented fig water. There is just a hint of fennel and caraway, with a gentle sweetness from honey. Typical of fruit yeast, there is a noticeable lack of acidity.  Nice moist crumb. Keeps well. Delicious!  

I used fruit yeast rather than sourdough or commercial yeast because with a bread this "pure", I didn't want any sourness or extraneous flavors to take away from the subtle flavors.

And there's something about using figs to leaven a fig bread.

(One may substitute raisin yeast water, I suppose, but the fig flavor infuses the dough.)


For one 1000g loaf.  Times are for summer baking in a hot house in Tucson AZ about 86F, so adjust accordingly.

  • To make the fig yeast water: Coarsely chop a dried, asiatic fig (the variety with tan skin with white powder on skin) and soak for about five days on counter in about 160g (?) of water. (You want to end up with 142g or so of fermented water after evaporation for the levain.) Once a day shake the bowl to aerate. The yeast water is ready when it has some bubbles, tastes a little vinegary, and maybe has a little white mold. Strain and throw away fig remains. 
  • Levain: Build over two elaborations at the indicated times and amounts, using white flour and the fig yeast water as the liquid. Do not add any other sourdough or yeast. After the fermentations It will look like a regular poolish. If you have a little left over use in main dough as part of the water.
  • Dough: Mix levain, fennel (or anise) seeds, and final ingredients except salt and figs. Add salt after 20m autolyse, and knead by a couple minutes of french folds. Add enough extra water (beyond the 56% hydration) to fully hydrate dough, as high as you like but not so much dough doesn't hold it's shape free-form. Stretch and folds at 1h, 1:30 and 2 hrs. Add 172g coarsely chopped dried figs (not counting the fig used for the yeast water) with stems removed (mission or asiatic variety) at the first fold on the first hour. This dough will be firm and solid but sticky because of rye, and shiny and slippery because of fermented water. 
  • Bulk ferment 3-4h. Proof 1.5-2.5h free form (if hydration less than 70%, other wise in banneton). 
  • Bake: 425F for 10m with steam, then another 30-50m at 350-375 until crust is dark brown. Or like your usual levain. The crust will be darker than usual, but do be careful not to actually burn.  (Bake at about 25F less than usual due to the figs and honey.)

If one despises whole grain, white bread flour could substitute for the 25% whole wheat to make a lighter loaf; but do leave the whole rye portion.

Of course you could easily add 15% nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans if you wanted another texture/flavor.

Please do let me know how it turns out!  Jonathan

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A great bread from Hamelman lost in the shuffle, because it's not sourdough and doesn't have huge holes.

But a bread worth highlighting!  

I won't post the formula since it's in the book, but it's a straight-forward 80% hydration, 20% pre-fermented flour, 20% rye chops, 20% toasted sunflower seeds, 1.5% malt syrup.

The toasted sunflower seeds' odor and flavor permeate the loaf. It's chock full of them inside and out. You definitely want to toast the seeds on this one. The hot-soaked rye is a great texture-flavor contrast, The small amount of malt gives a subtle sweetness in the background. (This "trio" is a great combination I'm going to remember.)  Hamelman has a sourdough version of this bread too--but to be honest because of the dominance of the seeds and rye, you don't really need extra sour flavors here. The more mellow pâte fermentée is a better partner.

(The only change in my loaf: from the book I ground the rye in coffee grinder, with a hot soaker, so it's a mix of everything from chops down to pumpernickel texture.)




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After so much praise from breadsong and with my love of nordic ryes, I had to try this!  I stuck to Martin's original formula, which included barley and more seeds than breadsong's.  And more syrup! The web said you could substitute dark corn syrup for Swedish "bread syrup"; but to hedge my bets I split it 50% light corn syrup and the other 50% molasses and honey.

Here is the formula I used (which might be useful for anyone attempting to make Martin's original, which is in Swedish.)


The baking did not go well!  My bread immediately started burning on top, even with foil on. So I lowered the temperature to 350 after about 20 minutes and let it go more than an hour.  I think because of the high amount of sugar in the 100g of "syrup", I think this should never have seen 475F!  If I make this again I'll bake it more like a vollkornbrot or limpa.  Even after 1:15 the dough was still undercooked a bit in the middle as you can see from the photos.


Verdict? Tastes a lot like german vollkornbrot, i.e. a non-sour pumpernickel.  This has a lot of seeds, even by nordic standards.  Too many!  The flavors aren't quite balanced, but maybe it's because I underbaked it (you can see that from the photos.)  The 22% syrup is way too sweet.  I think I'll stick with other scandinavian rogbrod recipes. 

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With cracked rye soaker (ground in coffee grinder) instead of cracked wheat. This recipe is very similar to Glezer's, but with addition of some IDY and a shorter fermentation time. I think I prefer her's since the all-levain dough has a deeper flavor, which helps such a subtle loaf. A hint to anyone trying this recipe: do the folds with wet hands rather than dipping in flour. This is sticky dough and you don't want to make it dry.

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There's been a lot of discussion here about Hamelman's seeded levains (5 Grain Sourdough and Seeded Levain).  Here is an alternative recipe which I find more to my taste-buds and I encourage fans of seeded bread to give it a try.

Although Della Fattoria uses a stiff 49% levain rather than Hamelman's 125%, I think the flavor differences lies more in the mix of ingredients than the method. The flour is half whole wheat (about four times more than Hamelman), with  the remaining flour  "reduced bran" (98% of the germ and 20% of the bran). In other words, this is mostly a wholemeal bread, rather than a white bread augmented with a touch of whole grain.

The following recipe is adapted from Rose Levi Beranbaum's "Sourdough Wheat Bread with Seeds" from her Bread Bible, which she got from Eve Weber of Della Fattoria.  Although you can purchase reduced bran flour from Guisto's, I followed Beranbaum in "recreating" it by adding 2.8% germ and 1.4% bran to 95.8% all purpose flour.  Be careful your whole wheat flour is fresh--not bitter to the taste, and smells fruity when mixed with water. And freeze your germ and bran so they don't go rancid.  With this much whole grain any bitterness will ruin the loaf.

The levain is 49% hydration; the final dough excluding the levain is 79% hydration, with overall hydration of about 76%.  The final dough is tacky.


One Loaf:


bread flour       40  
whole wheat       10
stiff chef
whole wheat

bread flour
germ (half T)


bran (2.5 t)

water       284  
salt       11
honey       14
seeds       73  
stiff levain       100  
SEEDS            grams  
sunflower seeds (toasted)       13  
pumpkin seeds (toasted)       13  
sesame seeds (toasted)       14  
flax seeds
polenta or cornmeal
TOTAL       73  



Starting with about 25g of storage chef, create a mature stiff levain of 100g. (About 12 hours.)

Toast the sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and cool.  Mix with the flax and cornmeal to add later.

Day of baking:

Add all ingredients except salt to bread machine bowl.  Run on dough cycle enough to mix.  Autolease 20 minutes.  Add salt, and run on dough cycle about 7 minutes.  (Because of the bran and seeds, you want to mix a tad less than usual, and do some extra folds to develop the gluten to compensate.)

Bulk Ferment: 3-4 hours @75-80F.  4 stretch and folds half way through, at about 1 1/2 hours.

Loosely Shape. Relax for 20m.  Shape into batard.

Proof 1- 2 1/2 hours.  It is a moist dough and will spread a bit.

Three diagonal slashes.  Bake at 450F for 10 minutes (with steam at 0 and 5 minutes), then reduce heat to 400F for 20 minutes, then finish at 350F for another 10 or 15 minutes until crust is dark orange.  Or bake it Hamelman style hotter and shorter.

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Wholewheat Anise-infused Apple Sour bread


Started as the all-white flour Apple Sour bread from the Cordon Bleu Professionals Baker's guide.

Adapted by fellow Arizonan Stephanie Petersen for whole wheat.

Then tweaked by me.

The "sour" refers to week-old fermented shredded apples, not to the flavor.

The texture is moist, the smell and flavor are woodsy with a light background of anise. The apples are inperceptably in the background.

Ingredients: whole wheat, grated apple, organic apple sauce, anise, water, salt, sugar, honey, yeast.

Note that this bread contains only 1/16t of yeast, most of the rise is by fermented apples.



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