The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kiseger's blog

Kiseger's picture

A secret turning in us
makes the universe turn.
Head unaware of feet,
and feet head. Neither cares.
They keep turning.

Rumi - The Secret Turning

And so it came to pass that I ended up on "gardening leave" from my job, waiting for a release date so that I could start my new job.  It was, in fact, "baking leave" but only a handful of my colleagues understood this!!  On my first day home, as I tried to read through the overnight posts on TFL while recovering some sort of humanity via a cup of coffee, The Husband was wandering around the house in his sports kit, minus a sock, frantically looking for said sock, as one does.  I take comfort in the hope that I am not alone and that somewhere, out there, live many happy ladies whose beloveds run around looking in kitchen cabinets for a missing sock.  I have also wondered whether, perhaps, my parents pay The Husband a monthly stipend to do things like this.  Maybe he even has a blog somewhere called "Inexplicable Oddities and Bizarre Behaviours I have invented to drive my wife nuts".  Having duly ascertained that no stray socks lurked in our kitchen (cabinets or elsewhere), he stopped to ask me whether I really planned to spend my entire time off work making bread.   Hearing the answer, he nods briefly and says "OK.  Have you considered that you may need some form of counselling when you pick up your new job, I am worried about the withdrawal symptoms when you have to sit at your desk instead of baking…..".   It was too early for a glass of wine, so I gave him That Look and had another coffee.

I loved the SJSD so much, I wanted to try again.  Between the odd calls from "old work" and from "new work", mainly trying to find out what my news was, I pulled out my large mixing bowl and flour and set to it.  At this point, Mother calls.  After establishing that I am not at work, she offers up: "I hope you're not going to spend the whole time making bread!"  In lieu of an answer, I ask if she has been paying The Husband to do weird stuff around the house.  Silence.  More silence.  "Do you want to speak to your father?" she says.   And so, on with the SJSD.

A few small changes in the formula below, what with the Great Sock Palaver, I was distracted and added 50g each of rye and whole wheat, as opposed to 25g each.  As a result, I winged it a bit and added some more water to a total of 390g.  I also didn't have 100%n hydration levain to hand, so used the 80% hydration I had ready.

Bread Flour  450g
Rye  50g
Whole Wheat  50g
Water  390g
Salt 12g
Levain 150g (80% hydration, 50% bread flour, 50% whole wheat, 8hrs build)

1. Autolyse all flour and 350g water, 2hrs
2. Mix 40g water, 12g salt and 150g Levain
3. S&F 4 times at 30min. intervals, total time on counter is 3.5hrs
4. Cold Bulk Ferment - set in fridge for 22hrs
5. Preshape and bench rest for 20min
6. Shape and proof for a wee snippet over 1hr
7. Bake in DO, oven at 250C for 20min then reduce temp to 230C and remove lid at 25mins and continue to bake for another 15-20min


I got my courage together and decided to try for a swirly whirly scoring pattern, which led me to think of whirling and dervishes and therefore Rumi again, hence the turning poem.  This one was slightly more sour than my first attempt at SJSD, and again a delicious "universal" bread.  As expected, it passes The Husband test, and is declared to be tastier because it has a bit more tang.  He was terribly nice all evening, there was no mention of socks and he even offered to wash the dishes.   He got a little reward by way of a stray sock (discovered in the sock drawer, of all places), rolled up and tied with a big red ribbon, on his pillow.   

The lover's food is the love of the bread;
no bread need be at hand:
no one who is sincere in his love is a slave to existence.

Rumi - The Interest without The Capital

Kiseger's picture

"That's the sort of nonsense I loathe!" cried Irma, suddenly becoming passionate.  "Are we going to talk about the party, or are we going to listen to your silly souffles?  Answer me, Alfred.  Answer me at once!"
"I will talk like bread and water.  What shall I say?"
He descended from the chairback and sat on the seat.  Then he leant forward a little and, with his hands folded between his knees, he gazed expectantly at Irma through the magnifying lenses of his spectacles.

Gormenghast - Mervyn Peake

And so it came to pass that, having properly knackered his face in a spectacular fall, The Husband was due to have a quick operation to set it straight.  I also felt that it would be "right and proper" to have a bread ready and waiting for him when he got back.  I have to say, at the risk of making myself even more unpopular at home, that menfolk do look particularly silly in a hospital paper gown and compression stockings.  When I went to collect him, the doctor gratefully delivered him to me with a look of sheer relief - The Husband was commenting that he still didn't look like George Clooney.  "I'm afraid that kind of operation isn't available on the national health service yet," she says and smiles wanly at us.  And so, he returns home with a splint on his nose, looking rather like Tycho Brahe (only this one isn't silver, gold or brass - depending on who you believe as to Tycho's prosthetic nose) and, luckily, he also doesn't climb up on the roof to observe the night constellations.   "Let's watch something fun!" he says, as he whips a DVD into the machine.  This one is a Ukrainian film about a fallen Orthodox priest who is seeking redemption.  This is when I go and pour a glass of wine and sit down with TFL to contemplate what I might make next.  At this point, I notice that the add banners on TFL are inviting me to explore financially friendly funeral arrangements.  Hmmmm.  Someone is trying to tell me something? 

1.  Karin's Einkorn & Hazelnut (this time properly)

To fortify said schnozz'd up Husband, it was only fitting that I make him Karin's (Hanseata) Einkorn & Hazelnut bread, but this time with hazelnuts instead of my prior unfortunate attempt with macadamia.  Here is the link   I followed a slightly different timing by doing the BF on the counter for about 4hrs and then overnight retarding in the fridge, as this suited me better to allow me to bake first thing in the morning.  Otherwise, ingredients and method were entirely as instructed!!   Just do what she says, this was by far The Husband's favourite bread ever.  It really is outstanding.  I discovered something that passes for "cool" in our house (the bar is pretty low).  If you have a piece of this bread with some fresh butter and solid honey (eg. not the amber runny type, but the more set blonde honey), then the overall flavour you get is nutella!  I did a blind test with a friend who immediately identified nutella, then was surprised to find nothing of the sort on opening his eyes!  It is also fabulous with stinky runny cheeses and on its own with a glass of dry Rieussec.  I should warn you that this bread, however, does nothing to improve a film about redemption in which there is no daylight other than snowstorms, no smiling, lots of long silences, lots of dramatic cymbalum music which is accompanied by the sound of howling wind.  This is not a problem with the bread.  This is because not even a general anaesthetic could improve this film.  The bread, on the other hand, is glorious.

2. David's San Joaquin Sourdough

As The Husband was busy nixing his brain cells with said depressing film, I went off in search of my next bake.  This was to be my "starfish" bread.  I finally tried to make David Snyder's San Joaquin Sourdough (based on his 26 June 2011 version)!  No crumb shots as this was devoured before I could get to take a shot - suffice to say that it had a lovely open crumb, evenly distributed holes but not too big.  

Bread Flour   450g
Rye   25g
Whole Wheat  25g
Water 360g
Salt 10g
Levain  150g

Levain was 100% hydration with 95% bread flour and 5% whole wheat, fermented for 10hrs.

1. Autolyse with all flour, 320g water and all Levain for 45min.
2. Mix in salt and 40g water.  If you're watching a depressing film, just cry into a glass for the water & salt mix.
3. S&F 4 times every 30mins, then fold twice at 45 and 90 mins. Have a glass of wine.
4. Bulk ferment was a total of 3hrs.
5. Set in fridge for 20hrs.
6. Remove from fridge, preshape and bench rest for 20mins.
7. Shape and proof for 1hr15mins.
8. Bake in DO, oven at 250C.  Remove lid after 30min, reduce oven to 230C and finish bake for another 15-20mins.

This had amazing oven spring and was finally the first bread where I managed to score it (razor blade) almost successfully.  EVERYBODY loves this bread, it has a lovely mellow flavour and is a "universal" bread - scientific testing shows that this bread pairs perfectly with all accompaniments.  Please note that this scientific testing is a peer reviewed test with a number of highly trained bread testers (The Husband, the children, friends, the neighbour and me…..)!!  Ahem.  Anyway, thank you David, we love this and will make again and again……

The Husband has fully mended, the little nose bootie came off and he still doesn't look anything like George Clooney, but he looks more like himself and has gone back to his fandangled ironman training again.  More bread is being made as I write this.

Irma felt that for the moment she had a certain moral ascendancy over her brother.  The air of submission which he had about him gave her strength to divulge to him the real reason for her hankering for this party she had in mind…..for she needed his help.
Gorgmenhast - Mervyn Peake

Kiseger's picture

.............Am I a coward?

Who calls me “villain”? Breaks my pate across?

Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?

Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i' th' throat

As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?   Ha!

Shakespeare, Hamlet II,2.


Broken Nose Bread


And so it came to pass that I was having a quiet morning at the office when I got a call from The Husband.  "I've just come out of A&E" says he.  "That's nice," say I.  Possibly not the right answer.

"I fell running and broke my nose, have two stitches in my lip and generally look like I've been glassed in a bar fight," says he.

"Cool!!" I respond.  Possibly not the right answer.

He did look rather a mess when I got home.  For a treat, I took him for lunch the next day and got to the restaurant after he did - when they asked me if I had a reservation, I said I was having lunch with the man with the broken face.  "Ah yes," says the nice front of house man, "I'll take you straight to him."  Anyway, this little setback didn't deter him, and he was out training again the day after so I got to bake bread!!!

Lo and behold, in what I called a "moment of solidarity", I baked him a delicious bread which looked just like he does, managing to botch the transfer from the banneton in such a way that part of dough needed some "picking up and folding over" before making its way into the DO.  This is based on PiP's 50/50 Spelt bread, given how much I love spelt.

A few small changes, but overall in keeping with his formula:

Levain 200g (100%H Rye, used at 9hrs)

Bread flour  227

Spelt  227

Water 340

Salt 11

1. Autolyse for 45 mins,using 300g water.

2. Mix in 40g water with salt dissolved and the levain.

3. Bulk ferment - did S&F 4 times at 30min intervals. Total BF for 3hrs.

4. Preshape and bench rest for 20min.

5. Shape and proof for 1h30.

6. Bake.  Transfer from banneton to DO, make a mess, have a glass of wine, put in the oven at 250C for 20min, then lower to 230C and take lid off after 30min, leave another ca.15-20min for crust to brown.  Turn off and leave oven door ajar for 10min. Have another glass of wine.

This bread had an amazing spring given what happened.....but, I think I probably should have given it better development during the BF, which is why it wobbled everywhere when I transferred it to the parchment.  The flavour is a keeper, the spelt has such a subtle nutty taste and there is a warmth to the chew on this one.  It was, admittedly, a little hard for The Husband to eat the crust, but washing it down with some burgundy always helps!!  We did our usual testing, cheese, ham, pate, butter and a real wow made into a bruschetta with avocado and fresh tomatoes and olive oil.  Will be making this one again, although I wouldn't mind getting it right and having a pretty loaf to show for it.  Thanks PiPs, this was delicious!!

'Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be

But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall

To make oppression bitter, or ere this

I should have fatted all the region kites

With this slave’s offal.

Shakespeare, Hamlet II,2.

Kiseger's picture

A song of the good green grass!

A song no more of the city streets;

A song of farms - a song of the soil of fields.

A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers handle the pitch fork;

A song tasting of new wheat and of fresh husk'd maize.

A Carol of Harvest, for 1867.  Walt Whitman (1819-1898)

 And so it came to pass that I had an afternoon to prepare more bread and The Husband was nowhere to be seen.  Luxury.  Surveying my cupboard, I spotted some spelt and realised I hadn't used it in a while.  Called "triticum spelta", spelt is one of the ancient wheats - discovered in Neolithic sites which date as far back as 2500-1700 BC.  It is also known as dinkel and, this is nerdy bit, is a hexaploid wheat - eg. it has six chromosomes.  In France, it is known as "épeautre" or wheat of the Gauls!  Hildegard of Bingen couldn't get enough of spelt, particularly recommending a spelt gruel called "Habermus" for which she gave a recipe (spelt, water, apple, lemon juice, galangal, cinnamon, honey, psyllium and almonds….).  According to her, spelt cleans the blood and gives man a joyous spirit.  Worth trying!!  Spelt was also used by the Romans, and for a bit of fun, see the link below to the British Museum site which has a recipe for spelt and whole wheat bread, based on a bread found in Herculaneum.

Anyway, the boule below is based on the "Ode to Bourdon" Basic Country Loaf in Tartine, but I wanted to jazz it up so swapped some whole wheat for spelt.  

Whole Wheat & Spelt Boule

Bread Flour                  300                  60%

Whole Wheat               100                  20%

Spelt                            100                  20%

Salt                              10                    2%

Water                           400                  80%

Levain                         125                  25%

The levain was 50BF/50WW at 80% hydration, used at 6hrs.  Kitchen is about 22C/71.6F.

1. Autolyse - all flour and 380g water, left this to autolyse for 1hr.

2. Mix in salt, 20g water and 125g levain.

3. Bulk Ferment - did a total of 5 S&F every 30mins.  Total bulk was 5hrs.

4. Preshape and bench rest - 30min

5. Shape and proof - this went into a banneton and into the fridge for 12hrs.  Went straight from fridge to banneton, scored with scissors.

6. Bake straight out of the fridge at 250C for 25mins, try to turn down the ridiculous antiquity of an oven, give up, have a glass of wine, then take the lid off to bake for another 25mins, watch the oven at some point drop down to 240C (ish). 

I completely forgot to pre-heat my DO but found that the loaf rose quite well anyway.  Decent oven spring and evenly aerated crumb, I prefer it this way than with massive holes.  Taste was mildly tangy and more so this morning, with a warm, almost sweet nutty taste from the spelt.  The top is sprinkled with sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds which marry up well with the flavour of the bread.  Am tempted to try this with 25% spelt and 15% WW.  Excellent with spicy olive oil, even better with a thin slice of lardo di colonnata and a drop of balsamic. 

O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice!

O harvest of my lands!  O boundless summer growths!

O lavish, brown, parturient earth!  O infinite, teeming womb!

A verse to seek, to see, to narrate the.

A Carol of Harvest, for 1867. Walt Whitman (1819-1898)

Kiseger's picture

If he shows talent as an artist, give him pencils or modeling wax in his playroom, but do not let him bite his slice of bread into the silhouette of an animal, or model figures in soft bread at the table. And do not allow him to construct a tent out of two forks, or an automobile chassis out of tumblers and knives. Food and table implements are not playthings, nor is the dining-room a playground.

Table tricks that must be corrected from Etiquette (1922) by Emily Post.

And so it came to pass that for one reason and another, and then some more on top, one was deprived of the joys of baking for two whole weeks.  A grueling trial that was, but survived it we did and rebounded by pouncing on two clear days of baking to the exclusion of all else. 

We had spent a weekend in Copenhagen for The Husband's crazy race and I had nourished high hopes of a free moment to explore Meyer's Bageri.  This is Claus Meyer of Noma fame and of Grupe & Meyer flour fame, worth watching the Chad Robertson masterclass with Meyer video: ). 

Any hopes of a bakery visit were thunderously dashed by the decision to check out the race swim, bike and run courses.  This, of course, took all day as each course was deconstructed by the triathletes, and I tried to survive the experience by encouraging everyone to stop for a glass of wine here and there.  That didn't go down well, but The Husband had a hugely successful race and so a return trip to Copenhagen has been promised for the sole purposes of a bakery and flour pilgrimage.  We shall see.

On our return, The Husband duly noted the obvious calamity ... that there was no fresh bread in the house.  A hushed silence inhabited the room as neither of us dared utter the forbidden question - "should we buy some bread?"  It was rapidly agreed that dinner would be a breadless affair and the starter was promptly fetched and inspected.   It had been nestling happily in the fridge and - oh joy - got cracking on its first feed, so we pressed on. 

Einkorn & Macadamia Bread

Thanks to Karin (Hanseata) for the inspired recipe for einkorn and hazelnut bread (link below).  I followed this formula pretty much to the letter, making adjustments to bulk ferment and proof times as my kitchen is quite chilly.  I had run out of hazelnuts and so took a punt with macadamia nuts - cracked in half and very well toasted.  The photos show that I managed to squash the bread slightly when loading it in, but I think I got a good oven spring and the crumb was acceptable for a first go at this.

Verdict: stick with the hazelnuts.  The macadamia just doesn't have enough pazazz of its own to hold against the delicious einkorn bread.  The Husband, at this stage parading around the kitchen in his training kit trying to impress me with detailed post-mortem analysis about time splits and average speeds from his race, quickly realised that this was not the path to true love.  He put down his race statistics and tasted the bread - "Delicious!" he declared…"Shame about the macadamia nuts…..", which did not further assist his quest for the path to true love. 

But he had a fair point.  So I made this bread again, without any nuts or additions and it is absolutely delicious on its own.  Karin has created a delicious blend which allows the delicate einkorn flavour to shine through.  No photos of the non-nutted bread, it was promptly wolfed down.  Everything is good with this bread (I do mean everything - smeared about or not) …. so I'd suggest making it plain or adding the hazelnuts, just don't add macadamia.  I'll be making this one again with hazelnuts and certainly again just plain.  Here's the link and a thousand "Danke" to Karin.


Tartine 3 inspired 60% Kamut

Kamut                                      60%

Bread Flour                              20%

High Extr. Whole Wheat           20%

Water                                       85%

Salt                                           2.4%

Levain                                      16%

Levain made from 50WW/50BF at 80% hydration, used at 4hrs when peaked.

A few changes to Chad's recipe:

1. I did not add the wheat germ. 

2. I reduced the salt slightly from 2.5% to 2.4%, a marginal change I feel.

3. I upped the levain from 15% to 16% in part because that's how much went in and I couldn't be bothered to faff around trying to take 5g out to hit the perfect 15%. 

Otherwise, I followed Chad's instructions making adjustments for time/temp.  Autolyse was an hour, 6 S&F with a total bulk ferment of 4.5hrs and it was proofed for 14hrs in the fridge.  Baked in the DO at 250C then taking the lid off after 30mins, and left for another 20mins at around 230C. 

This is a winner, I just love the flavour.  At this point, The Husband was seriously looking for an improvement to his popularity ratings so I got no helpful or constructive criticism whatsoever.  Good spring but the crumb was a bit too dense - as the photo shows, some big holes but the rest is quite dense.  I am going to try this again soon and increase the bulk ferment as my kitchen was very cool and I might up the hydration slightly as well.  We smeared what appeared to be the entire contents of our fridge on this bread and were greatly satisfied: hard cheese, soft cheese, goat, ewe and cow cheese, salami, ham, paper thin slices of roast beef, butter, honey, tomatoes and pate.  Success and, despite what the clearly very un-fun Ms. Post has to say below, I highly recommend smearing food about this bread.

Bread must never be held flat on the palm of the hand and buttered in the air. If the regular steel knife is used, care must be taken not to smear food from the knife’s side on the butter. Any food that is smeared about is loathsome. 

The graduating tests in table manners from Etiquette (1922) by Emily Post.

Kiseger's picture

When on the breath of autumn breeze,

From pastures dry and brown,

Goes floating like an idle thought

The fair white thistle-down,

Oh then what joy to walk at will

Upon the golden harvest hill!


What joy in dreamy ease to lie

Amid a field new shorn,

And see all round on sun-lit slopes

The pil’d-up stacks of corn;

And send the fancy wandering o’er

All pleasant harvest-fields of yore.

Cornfields,  Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

'Tis the first day of Autumn, the glorious season of skies filled with golden and brown crisp leaves falling gently and then billowing up in the air with the first gusts of cold winter winds.  As Wordsworth said: "Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods".  It is my favourite season of the year, it is when maple trees are ablaze with unimaginable oranges and reds, it is the season of harvest and grape-picking and unexpected balmy days of sunshine as a wink to long gone summer.  It is the season of partridge and pheasant, wild duck and mushrooms, pumpkin and swede and celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke.  It is the season of the wine festival in Lower Austria, where you try out the "sturm" which is fresh "new" fermenting fizzy wine.  It is the start of the truffle season in Italy, together with chestnuts and mushrooms and figs.  It is the season to get excited about wearing cashmere again when winter comes!

And so it came to pass that I discovered a bag of poppy seeds in our larder and it behoved me to put them to good use.  The Husband was off on another uncivilised bike/run thing and so I had the house to myself.  I put Horowitz in Moscow on full blast on the sound system and sat down with TFL for inspiration and a glass of wine for....well, because I can.  I have been gearing up for seeds and the start of Autumn seemed like the perfect excuse, as poppies, sunflowers and pumpkin flowers are all harvested around now. 

Poppy, Sunflower, Pumpkin, Flax Seed Bread with some Spelt

Bread Flour                  150g                (30%)

High Extr. WW              160g                (32%)

Whole Wheat Flour      90g                  (18%)

Spelt                             100g                (20%)

Wheat Germ                 30g                  (6%)

Salt                               12g                  (2.4%)

Water                            375 + 50          (85%)

Levain                          75g                  (15%)



Poppy                           40g                  (8%)

Sunflower                     15g                  (3%)

Pumpkin                       15g                  (3%)

Flax                              20g                  (4%)

Total Seeds                  90g                  (18% of total)


1.  Toast all seeds with the exception of poppy.  Once toasted, throw all seeds including poppy into a soaker with 50g water and leave for 6-12hours.  Also toast the wheat germ.

2.  Autolyse flours and wheat germ and 375g water for 4hrs.

3.  Mix in levain, salt and extra 50g water.

4.  Bulk ferment - 5 series of S&F every 30 minutes, add in the seeds on 2nd S&F.  Total bulk ferment was just over 4 hours.

5.  Preshape and bench rest for 25 minutes.

6.  Shape and place in banetton, proof overnight in fridge.  In this case, 14hrs at 5C.

7.  Turn out of banneton into DO straight from fridge and bake.  Do not botch it up, the way we did with the last loaf, but have a glass of wine anyway to celebrate not messing it up!

8.  Bake in 260C oven, turn temp down to 240C after 15 minutes, leave lid on for first 25mins then off for rest of baking - ca. another 15 mins.

Oh my was this good!  I might have like a wee bit more oven spring, but it had a crisp crust and slightly more open crumb than I expected with all the seeds.  It is my new favourite bread, although anything with poppyseeds is a winner (especially mákos beigli, the Hungarian poppyseed roll that my grandmother made). 

Toasting the seeds was a good call before soaking, fabulous flavour comes through.  Delicious slathered with Jamon Patta Negra, chorizo, St. Marcellin, mature Cheddar, fennel saucisson sec, hummus, smoked ham, fresh tomatoes and olive oil, and lovely to mop up the prawn and white wine sauce which came with the seafood crepes.  The Husband was very apologetic about not making sourdough crepes, but as sourdough is apparently "my domain", he dared not stray outside the traditional French crepe method.  

We sat on the patio with a glass of Vina Tondonia and a slice of bread dipped in olive oil; wistfully considering the end of Summer and the joys of Autumn.

Oh, golden fields of bending corn,

How beautiful they seem!

The reaper-folk, the pil’d-up sheaves,

To me are like a dream.

The sunshine and the very air

Seem of old time, and take me there.


Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

Kiseger's picture

"I say, my friends," pursues Mr. Chadband, utterly rejecting and obliterating Mr. Snagsby's suggestion, "why can we not fly? Is it because we are calculated to walk? It is. Could we walk, my friends, without strength? We could not. What should we do without strength, my friends? Our legs would refuse to bear us, our knees would double up, our ankles would turn over, and we should come to the ground. Then from whence, my friends, in a human point of view, do we derive the strength that is necessary to our limbs? Is it," says Chadband, glancing over the table, "from bread in various forms, from butter which is churned from the milk which is yielded unto us by the cow, from the eggs which are laid by the fowl, from ham, from tongue, from sausage, and from such like? It is. Then let us partake of the good things which are set before us!"

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

And so it came to pass that I wandered off to the depths of Burgundy for a week of parents and T65.  The Husband had accompanied me for a few days but wisely fled the joys of family (as well as the glorious countryside fields of corn, sunflowers and golden haystacks) to return to the Big Smoke.  Dutifully, I had left behind a freshly baked loaf lest he otherwise perish from malnutrition (in a city where Pain Poilane and Austrian Speck are to be had within about 10minutes walking distance….).   Toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds truly sprang forth - a rich warm nutty flavour.  This one appears to be The Husband's favourite bread so far, disappearing well before my return and local reports have it that this was good with everything.  I was unable to establish the extent of the meaning of "everything" in this context, as I suspect he didn't want to go into the details of just how much "everything" he gobbled down while I was away.  Good for him, is what I say!!  

Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed Bread

Essentially based on the "Sunflower-Flaxseed" recipe in Tartine 3, but with a few changes.  I toasted the sunflower and pumpkin seeds and then set to them with a rolling pin to crack them into slightly smaller pieces, as I decided not to do a soaker but throw them in as they were.  Total amount used was 10% sunflower and 10% pumpkin.  I also toasted the wheat germ, I think it does add something to the flavour; and reduced the salt to 2%.  Total BF of about 3.5hrs and cold retard overnight in the fridge.  This had a great spring and good crumb, the crust was still incredibly crunchy on the morning after baking when I stole a slice to eat on the train to France.

Having maintained my sanity through a combination of surfing TFL and conference calls for work, the first thing I did on my return was to have a conversation with my starter which required some awakening and refreshing.  Promptly upon considering what bread to make, it began to pour cats and dogs - which was most fortunate as there was no need to make excuses for shunning a walk in the park.  This gave way to The Husband's kitchen lectures, this time on the winter campaign of 1942-3 on the Russian Front.  So while the battle of Stalingrad raged, I mixed, stretched and folded, pre-shaped and shaped and watched a new bread evolve.  All in, this bread is excellent albeit slightly bungled on one side (which particular aspect has been promptly eaten by said Husband). 

Spelt, Kamut and Hazelnut Bread

Bread flour - 150g                   30%

Whole wheat flour - 150g        30%

Kamut - 75g                             15%

Spelt - 125g                             25%

Water - 375g                            75%

Salt - 10g                                   2%

Hazelnuts - 100g                      20%

Levain - 120g                          24%

(nb. levain is 60/30/10 BF, WW and Rye at 80% hydration)

1. Autolyse all flours and 325g water - 6hrs.

2. Toast the hazelnuts - I cracked the whole nuts and then toasted them on a skillet on a gas hob and let them cool before adding them in.  I like them very toasted but not burnt.

3. Mix in Levain and salt and 50g remaining water.

4. S&F every 30mins for first 2.5hrs, or as needed.  Mine took 5 S&F.  Mix in the hazelnuts on the second S&F.

5. Total bulk ferment was about 3.5hrs.

6. Pre-shape and bench rest 20mins.

7. Shape and proof.  In this case, I didn't proof overnight as I wanted to get some bread for dinner so I set it in the oven which was about 26.5C with light on.   Total proof time was about 4 hours.  Turn out of banneton into DO, try not to make a botched job of it….fail miserably, so score it with scissors anyway and pour yourself a glass of wine.

8. Bake in DO with lid on, 250C for 20mins and then lid off for another 15 at 230C.

As mentioned above, I sorely misjudged my dexterity and in my wild enthusiasm, I slightly bungled this one: some of the dough got slightly caught on the lip of the DO on its migration from the banneton.  Ah well, slightly misshapen but really rather yummy this one.  It tastes warm - that's the simplest description I can provide.  Warm from the spelt and slight sweetness from the kamut, all rounded off with the warmth of toasted nuts.  I know the various hazelnut recipes suggest you "crack" the nuts, but frankly I have not discovered a delicate way to do this without generating a nice amount of nut "dust" - to my mind, this was a good thing as that got toasted as well and dispersed throughout the dough.  The flip side of this, however, is that the crumb is not as open as I would have liked.  Also, next time I will definitely let this rise overnight in the fridge and possibly would have let it BF for slightly longer, so I expect that my rush to keep the household happy resulted in a less open loaf - although the photo is from the cut on the bungled side, once we cut further into the loaf the wholes got bigger.  Surprisingly tangy the next day, given the "relatively" short proof.

Good with stinky runny St Marcellin, Wyfe of Bath cheese, fresh hummus, honey roasted ham, roast chicken and superlative with old fashioned butter and lavender honey.  Glass of Gevrey Chambertin was just the thing to go with this and cheese.

I don't have a sunset à la DAB, but this was the little corner of calm I enjoyed while away.  No photos of my T65 adventures, probably just as well.

The object of her attentions withdrawing for the purpose, Miss Smallweed takes that opportunity of jumbling the remainder of the bread and butter together and launching two or three dirty tea-cups into the ebb-tide of the basin of tea as a hint that she considers the eating and drinking terminated.


Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Kiseger's picture

On either side the river lie

Long fields of barley and of rye,            

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;

And thro' the field the road runs by

             To many-tower'd Camelot;


Only reapers, reaping early   

In among the bearded barley,

Hear a song that echoes cheerly          

From the river winding clearly,              

             Down to tower'd Camelot:

And by the moon the reaper weary,

Piling sheaves in uplands airy,

Listening, whispers ''Tis the fairy

           Lady of Shalott.'

Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

And so it came to pass that I was called to abandon my hearth, off to West Sussex to spend a weekend with a friend atop his hill looking across his newly planted vineyard over a valley and up to the Chanctonbury Ring.   Originally a hill fort probably built during the early Iron Age, this "ring" was later the site of a Roman fort and an even later 18th century copse of beech trees - the "ring" is actually a reference to the original Iron Age circle.  The whole area is dotted with ancient woods, with sessile oak, birch and beech here much before man arrived and now bearing enchanting names like "Sawyers Copse", "Normans Copse", "Trickles Wood", "Muttons Copse" and "Grinder's Wood".  Add the rolling hills and you have a postoral idyll, indeed the rustling of the trees seemed to carry the Lady of Shallott's song across the fields up to our little hill. 

As an offering to the elves and pixies and various wood sprites who dwell in these ancient woods, I made some bread!  This is based on Tartine 3 "Wheat-Rye with caraway and coriander".  The original has 45% medium strong flour, 25% high extraction flour, 20% whole wheat and 10% rye with 2% each caraway and coriander seeds.  I made my own HE flour which ended up being about 83% extraction.  I upped the rye slightly and reduced the whole wheat slightly, as I wanted a bit more of the rye to come through.

Medium Strong Flour             35%

High Extraction Flour              35%

Whole wheat                           18%

Rye                                         12%

Caraway                                  1.5%

Fennel                                     1%

Wheat Germ                            7%

Salt                                           2%

Water                                        85%

Leaven                                                    15%


A few notes:

1.  The battery on my digital scales decided to die just when I was weighing the leaven straight in the bowl of autolysed flour, so I estimate that I ended up with something around 20% leaven. 

2. I reduced the salt to 2%.

3. I had no coriander seeds, so used fennel and reduced his seed mix from 2% each to 1.5% caraway and 1% fennel.  I'm not convinced that toasting them made a huge difference and I might go to 1.5% each but I wonder if 2% each isn't too much.  Will need to try.

4. I didn't toast the wheat germ but added it to the autolyse.

5. I autolysed for about 1.5hrs, which is the time I had available! 

6. Total of 6x S&F and a total bulk time of 3hrs45.

7. Preshape and bench rest of 20 minutes, following by shape and proof of just over 3hrs. 

8. Overall, bulk and proof went quite quickly but the kitchen was hot and I suspect the additional (albeit small) quantity of leaven will have contributed to this as well.

9. Baked in DO for 25mins at 250C and then another 25mins with lid off at 230C.  

I finally, finally, finally feel like I have a loaf that looks and tastes as I would like.  The oven spring was good, given that it started spreading as soon as I had turned the banetton onto my pre-cut parchment sling, and the crumb is what I am after - not too holey so that runny stinky cheese still (mainly) stays on the bread!  The fennel is a good combination (IMO) with the caraway, although I think I would keep the caraway dominance with the fennel rather than have both in equal quantities. 

The local pixies and elves with whom we shared this loaf were very pleased, although I was told to stop inspecting the crumb and sniffing the bread - apparently, non-bread types find this quite boring after a while!!   The Husband, who had cycled some unconscionable distances to get down to Sussex, didn't appear to breathe between slices and our friend wondered, as he munched, how much grain he might grow in his field if the vines don't produce good wine!!  

And so as the Lady of Shallott floated towards Camelot singing her last dirge, the afternoon turned evening, with the oak and birch trees swaying in the wind carrying the melody from leaf to leaf, punctuated with the calls of the lesser spotted woodpecker, the nightingale and the owl.  A Vina Tondonia was ceremoneously opened and we sat savouring lashings of brie, speck and wild boar pâté on thick slices of bread.

Lying, robed in snowy white

That loosely flew to left and right—

The leaves upon her falling light—

Thro' the noises of the night

        She floated down to Camelot:

And as the boat-head wound along

The willowy hills and fields among,

They heard her singing her last song,

          The Lady of Shalott.

Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)


Kiseger's picture

The heart is like grain, we are the mill.

How does the mill know why it turns?

The body is the mill stone, the water its thoughts.

The stone says "The water knows its course."

The water says "Ask the miller, he is the one,

Who sends this water cascading down."

The miller says "If there is no turning,

O bread-eater, there will be no dough."

Turn and turn again.  Silence!

Let silence ask about the wheat, the river

the miller and the stone....

what this bread-making is about?

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207 Balkh -1273 Konya)


Khorasan can refer to many things, but there are two in particular that I wanted to consider for this post.

Khorasan was historically a Persian province, the name derives from the noun "khwar" meaning sun and the verb "asan" meaning to come - in other words, this was the "land of the rising sun".  Khorasan is first referred to in historical texts around the 3rd century AD as a geographical creation of the Sassanid rulers who had conquered Persia and established this administrative zone.  After the fall of the Sassanid empire in the 6th century, the area of Khorasan was maintained by the Umayyad dynasty, who had taken over control, and it continued to be so named.  At its peak, Greater Khorasan extended to parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  Its general boundaries were the cities of Balkh (east), Nishapur (west), and Merv (north) and the region known as Sistan (south) - at its heart was the "pearl of Khorasan", the city of Herat.  The importance of Khorasan as an administrative area as well as the centre of "cultural Persia" continued until the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. 

The great cultural flourishing of Khorasan which started in the 7th century brought us the "Khorasan poets" such as Asjadi, Attar, Rudaki and Ferdowsi.  Both their lyrical style and use of imagery inspired many later great Persian poets such as Rumi and Omar Khayyam, Anvari and Hafez.  Rumi was born in the province of Balkh around 1207, which was part of Greater Khorasan and while he did not belong to the Khorasan school of poetry, he certainly did read those poets, Attar in particular, and was influenced by the Khorasan lyricism.  He is one of the foremost mystic and Sufi poets, composing in Persian - most of his work was written down by one of his students as he recited.  Through his peregrinations, he became an ascetic (probably in Damascus) and ended up in Konya in Turkey where he spent the last twelve years of his life.  During these years in Konya, he is said to have turned round and round while reciting and this is thought to be the origin for the "whirling dervishes".  After his death in 1273, the Mevlevi Order (eg. the whirling dervishes) was established at the school in Konya.  I highly recommend going to see the Yesil Türbe in Konya (also known as the Mevlana Museum) which was his school and now holds his tomb.  His poetry is mystically beautiful and it seemed to me that there was a serendipitous link to be made between the "Khorasan" poetry and his origins and the wheat of the same name…….

The other great gift to us from Khorasan (at least in name) is…Triticum turgidum aka Triticum turanicum, Khorasan wheat.  This is one of the "ancient grains" and has a lovely nutty flavour.  We don't actually know where the Khorasan wheat grain originated or was first cultivated - possibly in the Fertile Crescent, or western Anatolia?  In any event, it holds the name Khorasan so we will go with that for now.  The story goes that samples of this grain arrived in North America after WWII, but didn't appear to have raised much interest at the time.  In 1997, the Quinn brothers in Montana decided to cultivate the grain and registered their cultivated variety QK-77 as Kamut ™.  While  most people use Kamut, in fact Khorasan wheat is also available and the Quinn family has established criteria for a Khorasan wheat variety to be classified as a Kamut variety.  The grain is larger than modern wheat and is highly nutritious.  It makes amazing bread, as to which……..

1.  Tartine 3 "Sprouted Quinoa and Kamut" Bread. 


I particularly liked the idea of using an ancient Andean pseudocereal and an ancient grain from (probably) Mesopotamia.  I used black quinoa which sprouted in no time, it being "hot" for London - it yields a fresh grassy smell.  The Husband declared that we had aliens growing in the kitchen and was promptly sent off to swim in the Serpentine with the swans and ducks, in the hopes that they might quack some sense into him, as I clearly could not.  I followed Chad "by the book", my bulk ferment took about 3.5hrs and I proofed it overnight in the fridge.  In the morning, straight into the DO, as you can see I am still having fun with my scissors scoring at the moment (I'll get over than soon enough, I dare say).  This bread is really something - the quinoa gives a slight crunch and the "grassy" flavour came through, as did the warmth and nuttiness of the Kamut.  We ate this with everything, but it was particularly excellent with some rather stinky runny St Felicien cheese, some smoked salmon, and surprisingly some French saucisson sec with fennel.  It was perhaps too "grassy" to complement the harder cheeses, but it did go with hummus, olive oil on its own and a glass of solid Rioja.

2.  Sow's ear turned into a (silk?) purse bread??


I think I might just have turned a sow's ear into a purse - perhaps not silk but at least some good basic cotton?   A few weeks ago, I made a rather shocking runt of a loaf - unashamedly pictured in an earlier post, it was a sesame seed loaf.  Not my favourite seed, but this was actually surprisingly good bread - I held some back with the idea of trying to use some of the flavour from this as altus for a new bread.  Credit due to the Wild Yeast blog which had a recipe for using Susan's old Norwich sourdough bread as breadcrumbs and replacing some of the flour with the breadcrumbs (thank you Susan!!).  I changed the amounts slightly, increased hydration to 70%, reduced the levain to 20%.  I had some levain which was very ready, 100% hydration, having been fed about 10hrs before it was looking like it was contemplating deflation, so I used less than Susan (she used around 30%) as an experiment.

White bread flour:  300g  (60%)

Whole wheat flour:  125g  (25%)

Breadcrumbs:  75g  (15%)

Total flour (incl. breadcrumbs):  500g (100%)

Water: 350ml  (70%)

Levain:  100g (20%)

Salt:  9g (1.8%)

1. Autolyse the BF, WW and breadcrumbs with 300ml of water for 3 hours, I wanted to get as much out of the breadcrumbs as possible, getting them as "dissolved" as possible.

2. Mix in the salt (I used slightly less than 2% because there is some salt in the breadcrumbs), levain and additional 50ml water.  Pincer it all together, a la Forkish.

3. S&F 6x every half hour for the first 3hrs.  Total bulk ferment for me was 5 hours at 25C/78F, until it rose about 30%.  The dough was initially tricky to handle, it didn't want to stay together - in part, I suspect because my breadcrumbs were not super finely ground and there were still some larger "bits" which may have slowed/hampered the gluten development. 

4. Pre-shape and bench rest for 30mins.

5. Shape and proof.  I shaped as a boule and popped into a banetton, proofed on counter at 25C/78F for a smidgen more than 2hrs until it passed the finger poke test. 

6. Baked in DO at 250C/480F, lid off and turned it down to 230C/450F after 20 minutes, but that was just an act of self-delusion as my oven really has a mind of its own - it did eventually get itself down to 230 after another 15mins…. when the bread was pretty much done.

It worked!!  The altus bread's flavour comes through but is quite subtle, the new bread has a slightly nutty smell and there is something of a "melting" mouth feel to it when eaten on its own.  This was good with everything, as far as we could tell.  In honour of David Esq., I made The Husband a PB&J sandwich on his return from yet another interminable cycling session to revive him as he started decomposing from pain and effort.  It disappeared and another was promptly demanded, made and hovered up.  He absolutely loved this loaf and proceeded to try everything with it - smoked sea bass (tick), Wyfe of Bath cheese (tick), butter (tick), jam (tick), saucisson sec (tick), tick, tick tick tick so I got a hug and finished the last drops of the Puligny Montrachet.  Good innings, for a sow's ear!!

The lover's food is the love of the bread;

no bread need be at hand: 

no one who is sincere in his love is a slave to existence.

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207 Balkh -1273 Konya)


Kiseger's picture

A Centaur has a man-stomach and a horse-stomach. And of course both want breakfast. So first of all he has porridge and pavenders and kidneys and bacon and omelette and cold ham and toast and marmalade and coffee and beer. And after that he tends to the horse part of himself by grazing for an hour or so and finishing up with a hot mash, some oats, and a bag of sugar. That's why it's such a serious thing to ask a Centaur to stay for the weekend. A very serious thing indeed.     C.S. Lewis.  The Silver Chair

A glorious week of fine warmth in London, all the pubs having duly disgorged their customers into the street and the parks teeming with picnickers and kite flyers.  When we finally get a proper summer here, it is rather marvelous.  My niece had come up to see me on Friday; after wandering around the museums, we came home for tea to try my bread - success!  The Husband disappeared early Saturday morning for his regular training so I had the kitchen to myself.  Having made the Tartine 3 Oat Porridge on Friday morning, I was allowed just one more bread for the weekend.  I am generally gearing up for the multi-sprout, soaker, nuts, seeds and dried fruit breads that DABrownman and CAPhyll have been regaling us with recently.  But just before I go there, I wanted to try Ken Forkish's Field Blend #2 - in part because David Snyder said I'd like it (and in truth, it was high time to do as one was told!!).  This worked well, although I am still not getting the oven spring and bloom I am aiming for, but for fun I opted for the scissor cut grigne.  Up on Sunday morning to bake, go riding and then off to Richmond Park for a picnic with The Husband's tri team.  After an hour of watching three very athletic men trying to put up a small gazebo, the ladies decided to take over and a fiesty duo got it up and standing in 15mins.  The magic of having put up this little haven of shade on a blistering day is that everyone proceeded to sit in the baking sun and put their bikes under the gazebo.  Lots of puce faces by the late afternoon!!  The training team descended on the bread like a pack of Centaurs, stamping their hooves in satisfaction and making odd braying noises.  Lovely bunch, they are.  Fascinating discussions (....!) about how to improve transition times, sports nutrition, how to take fast turns in the rain......argh!!!!   Luckily, I found a like minded "non-sport" type in the crowd of Centaurs and we talked about food instead!!  Time for home, to sit on the patio with another slice of bread with olive oil and parmesan and a glass of La Vougeraie (a magnificent Clos de Vougeot white).  Two breads I loved and will make again.

Forkish "Field Blend #2"

A few changes here:

1.  I am using a starter which is 80% hydration, 60:30:10 BF, WW, Rye.

2.  I added 30g toasted wheat germ, which I included in the autolyse.

3.  I autolysed for an hour.

Otherwise, I did this "by the book".  It was about 24C/75F in my kitchen, the BF took about 4hrs and the final proof was 11hrs in the fridge at ca.6C/43F.  It was definitely just ready the next morning, coated with bran and baked in the DO for 30min at 250C/480F and then lid off for the last 20min.  The crust looks a bit dusty because of the bran, added on a whim.  Judging from the crumb shot, I probably should have degassed slightly more when shaping but the potential flying crust seen here at the top of the loaf didn't show up in the rest of the loaf.

Adding the wheat germ was a good idea, it adds some depth to the flavour.  This had a very mild sour tang, with the rye really coming out - David Snyder was absolutely right (as always), this bread is a keeper.  This was tested with a variety of French cheeses, a Larzac ewe's cheese called L'Estaing, a fresh Italian Caprino goat cheese, a Beaufort from the Savoie region (made from raw cow's milk) which is more subtle than a classic Comte.  All suitably accompanied with a glass of solid burgundy.  This seems like a real "trencher" bread to me, so we're having an English classic of "devilled kidneys on toast" tonight!


Tartine 3 "Oat Porridge Bread"

1. I followed his "double" method by fermenting the porridge with some levain and water for 24hrs, then cooking it in its liquids before mixing.  I added the mix after the second fold. 

2. I did not add the almonds or almond oil, I wanted to try this out as a pure "porridge" bread first. 

3. I stupidly forget to add the wheat germ, although I cannot say that this was a real loss - while I'm sure it will have more depth with the WG, it was absolutely delicious without.

4. Because I decided to try a 3hr autolyse, I did not add the leaven until 2 1/2hrs were up, I then added the leaven and left it for a further 30 mins and then added the salt and extra water.  Not sure this made any difference.

5. One note on the porridge overnight soaker: I have read a lot about adding salt to soakers but for the purposes of this "first attempt" at this bread, I followed Heilige Chad's recipe.  I'd welcome thoughts about when it is right/better to add salt to soakers - in this case, it seemed to be just fine without but he adds levain to his soaker so it seems to be a different process from the usual straight scald, but I may be missing a trick here! 

I was expecting lots of porridge lumps in the final bread as it was a sticky mass that went into the dough, but it really does "melt" into the bread.  The BF was ready in about 3.5hrs, after the pre-shape and bench rest, it proofed in a 6C/43F fridge overnight.  Baked in the DO at 260C/500F for 20mins with the lid on, but struggled to get my oven to come down past 250C/480F after that.   It still came out well, a nice bold bake (you can't tell with the oats on the crust, but it is a proper dark brown).  The crumb shot shows that while there were lots of good holes, the rest of the crumb is actually quite dense - I think this may have to do with my technique rather than the recipe?

This is a definite keeper, I will add the WG next time and will probably toast it first.  My niece was over so she had this as her afternoon snack on its own and with butter and cherry jam and I had some with the remains of some St. Felicien cheese.  It came out mild with no sour tang which I think is better to allow the warm oaty taste to stand out, with a mellow mouth feel.  It's also fabulous toasted with sardines and parsley and a little glass of St Joseph white. 

Life isn't all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.  C.S. Lewis.  The Silver Chair




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