The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

lumos's blog

lumos's picture


Today’s blog is the report on the bread baking class I took last Wednesday at Lighthouse Bakery School in East Sussex, UK.

Ever since I read US-based TFLers’ blogs/posts about the wonderful courses they had at SFBI, I really wished one day I’d be able to attend a course like that. I spent hours and hours in front of PC, trying to find a short course or one-day class, and Lighthouse Bakery School’s courses were the ones that ticked most boxes for me.

 The school is owned and run by Rachel Duffield and Elizabeth Weisberg, the artisan bakers and ex-owners of a very famous artisan bakery of the same name in Battersea, south London.  After several years of successful retail business there,  picking up a few awards along the way,  they decided to close the shop (before I got there!!!) and moved to the beautiful countryside in the midst of East Sussex a few years ago,  starting the wholesale business with the bakery school on the same premises.

  From what I'd read and heard about their old shop  in London and their breads,  I knew Rachel and Elizabeth really  cared about how bread should be made and taste, but I wanted to know if they were the good teachers, too, before I jumped in.  Luckily, our fellow UK-TFLer, Juergen had attended one of their courses a while ago and he assured me he learned a lot from the experience, so I booked a place in French Baking class which took place last Wednesday.



Before the course started, we all sat around the big table, set in one corner of the workshop,  introducing each other and having a friendly chat over tea & coffee with lovely croissants, pain au chocolat and freshly picked local apples. (Still regreting I didn't pick one up and eat it or take home....)

(The bookshelf in the corner were full of bread and other baking books, many of them very familiar to TFlers and looked like they'd been used a LOT.......And the clock on the wall shows how too early I arrived.)

 The course started with Elizabeth’s short lecture about the history of French bread making and origin of some famous French breads,  basic terminology of breadmaking and the explanation about the breads we were going to learn to make during the course; Flutes (short baguettes) + epi, Pain de Campagne,  Brioche,  Croissants + Pain au Chocolat,  Pain de Meteil.  Yeah, quite a lot to be baked only in 6-7 hrs! :p   So,  after donning a new apron with the school’s logo and a brief tour of the workshop.....,

....... learning about the equipments we’re going to use and going through the obligatory ‘Health & Safety’ instructions, we eagerly got on with what we came for; making breads!


Each of us was also given our own personalized folder in which the timetable of the day, ‘Class Notes’ on ‘French Baking,’ ‘Equipments,’ and the list of basic infomarion/terminology for bread making were neatly held together along with the formulae of the breads we’re baking on the day.


This is a copy of the timetable.

09:30   Welcome tea and coffee

10:00   Introduction

10:30   Weigh Down and Mix Flutes

11:00   Weigh Down and Mix Pain de Campagne

             Weigh Down and Mix Brioche

11:30    Divide, Scale and mould Flutes

12:00   Laminate Croissants → rest

12:15   Weigh Down and Mix Pain de Meteil

12:30   Fold Croissants → Rest

             Bake Flutes

13:00  Fold Croissants → rest

            Take Pain de Campagne

13 :15  Take Pain de Meteil

            Make up Pissaladiere (for our lunch !)

13:45   LUNCH

14:15   Bake Pain de Campagne

            Make up Croissants

14:45   Bake Pain de Meteil

            Divide, Scale and Mould the Brioche

15:00   Bake the Croissants

15:15    Bake the Brioche

16:00   Finish Baking


 The whole day proceeded more or less as planned…..I think…...  I mean, there were so many things to do and all the schedule was in Elizabeth’s head (and on a white board behind us :p),  we were just following her instructions throughout the day as to what needed to be done, when to do and how to do it.


In spite of quite tight and full scheduling, the class was run in very convivial and relaxed atmosphere, thanks to very nice and friendly fellow students and very thoughtful and intelligent teaching and conducting skill of our fantastic instructor, Elizabeth, through the day, with equally enlightening Rachel taking over for the Croissants-making sessions. Each of us got to play with use a special rolling-machine professionals use to roll laminated dough, too!


Half the croissant dough was made into pain au chocolat, learning how to place two thin bars of chocolate on dough-rectangular and fold it to make it look just like the ones you buy in a shop.

(Shaped croissants getting egg-wash before going into the proofer. Mine’s are the centre and right ones in the third row from the top. Two top left ones are by Rachel.)


(Pain au chocolat being egg-washed by one of the students)



 (Flute shaping practice. Mine is the finished one in the foreground)


(A part of Flute dough was made into mini-epis. Mine’s the second from left)



(Pain de Meteil in proofing baskets)


(Dough proofing, with a reflection of me taking the picture. :p)


(Proofed Pain de Campagne being turned out to be scored and baked)


(A fellow student  snipping the top of brioche loaf before loading into the oven)


  All the breads were made with  Shipton’s flours and were fresh yeast based, including Pain de Campagne which used poolish (made with a mix of white and rye) instead of more commonly-used levain. (They have a separate course, “Advanced Baking,’ to teach about different kinds of pre-ferments and sourdough)  Flutes and Pain de Meteil were also poolish-based (former made with all white flour, latter 100% rye = the first time for me),  all the poolish already prepared in advance for the course.  Their formula for croissants used overnight-dough, so we ‘practiced’ how to weigh the ingredients and mix, but the actual dough we used for laminating+shaping+baking was prepared in advance to cold ferment overnight.

 The class was slightly overrun and it was almost 5:30 when we finally finished, all the breads, almost cooled, packed and ready to be taken home.

(Some of the finished breads cooling on the racks, each designated to each student)


 So, unlike the courses at SFBI,  Lighthouse's  courses  are more geared towards home bakers with some basic knowledge and experience in bread making.  But still,  I quite liked how it was run, especially how  very accommodating  both Elizabeth and Rachel were about everyone's need (including a certain bread-obsessive with geeky questions and requests. :p), no matter what degree of breadmaking experience or knowledge you had or had not under your belt.  The class size was small enough (7 of us on the day. I think maximum number is around 10) for them to keep a watchful eye on us, so that they would notice straightaway if anyone needed any help or advice.

 The things I enjoyed most were the hands-on experiences with real-time guidance from the pro-bakers ,  especially on window-pane tests and finger-poke tests, and also being able to experience how the dough should feel like when it's kneaded, bulk-fermented and proofed; the things you can’t really learn sufficiently just by  reading books or watching videos. These were the main reasons why I’d wanted to attend a breadmaking class for a long time,  and I’m really glad I was able to take home these valuable experiences with me.

   A  few of the down sides were  1) all the kneading was done in the machine and no teaching on how to hand-knead the dough, which would’ve been very useful for home bakers,  2) the deck ovens  didn’t have steam-injection system,  3) except for the overnight-dough used for croissants, all the breads were bulk-fermented/proofed in a proofer with the temperature set at 30 C, not allowing the dough to develop the flavour well enough.    I understand they use long-fermentation for the bread they make for wholesale , so the reasons for 1) and 3) were probably due to the scheduling issue more than anything,  and  some formulae in prints we were given  recommend cold retard to improve flavour as an option.   But with 5 different kinds of breads needed to be made in 6-7 hours, something had to give, I suppose. 

As if to prove the breads we made at the class were not of their usual standard for wholesale, pissaladiere we had for lunch (the dough had been already prepared in advance for us to add toppings before baking) and croissants and pain au chocolat (see above) were very, very good.

(Breads for a wholesale order cooling on a rack; rye breads on the top with Pain au Levain below)

 I can see it’d be very difficult to make up a class that can appeal and accommodate  both beginners and more experienced bakers.  Personally, I’d have preferred if the class were concentrated on a fewer kinds of breads, so that we could’ve had spent more time on each bread with more ‘hands-on’ experiences, especially kneading, shaping and learning how to check the gluten development and fermentation properly.  But  that sort of appoach might be too boring or tedious or even intimidating to more general (as opposed to geeky :p)  home bakers, while the present format may be a good starting point for many,  giving them a good glimpse of many aspects a certain  category of breads (in our case, French breads)  in a limited time and helping them to broaden the bready-horizon, making breadmaking inviting enough for them to start exploring deeper, gradually, if they wished.

Elizabeth told me they were thinking of starting a two-day course some time in a near future. Don’t know what level of students they have in mind for the new course, but, whether it’s one-day or two-day, hopefully they’ll have some courses that’d cater for intermediate – advanced home bakers one day with even more hands-on time and teaching about finer elements of breadmaking process.  But for them to be able to do that in a way it makes sense business-wise,  probably we need more bread-geeks in UK!  :p


The display of the bounty brought back home, half the brioche, half the Pain de Meteil, half the Pain de Campagne, croissants, pain au chocolat and a Flute (with single, long scoring). The other halves and one pain au chocolat had already been given away to our neighbour with three boys - didn’t know I’d bring back so many breads and our freezer was too full to store all of them - and epi already consumed by the time I took my camera out.   (Sorry for the weird colour.  Wrong setting on the camera.......)



lumos's picture

……just so that you know I do not live by baguettes alone. :p


Before I start...... Hope all you US-based TFLers are safe and unharmed in any way in the hurricane.  Please know that my prayer is with you.  (Let's forget just for now that I'm an atheist....)



Never been to New York (or USA, for that matter, unless you count the island of Guam as a part of American soil), so, very regrettably I’ve yet to experience the true glory of famous New York Bagels.  You can buy so-called ‘New York Bagels’ here in UK, which noisily claims its authenticity on their plastic bag that’s suffocating 5 bagel-like soft bread rings; sure sign that it is anything but authentic….

 Coincidentally, two of the largest Jewish communities in UK are both within 30-minutes driving distance from me, so I have had a few of their bagels from the bakeries there in the past, but most of them seem to pride themselves and compete each other for the ‘authentic fillings,’ like salt beef or lox, in their bagel sandwiches rather than the bagel itself. I have found a good review about a new bagel shop in another area about 20-25 minutes drive away from me, that is run by a baker who came from Israel quite recently and claims his ones are the authentic bagels, but I have yet to try his…..and his shop is quite near the area which was badly damaged in the recent riot.  I’m desparately hoping his shop was alright. If not, that’s another reason I want those ******* ***** ******* rioters to be properly punished for meddling with my potential foodie-heaven before I get my hands on. 

So in short, I really don’t know if I have ever tasted authentic bagels or whether my bagels are any good at all.   But I’ve been baking these for some friends for a while; one of them (and her husband) who used to live in New York for several years and quite happily buy my bagels very regularly, and the other friend who is an American-Jewish (his parents are immigrants from Russia after WWII) and told me they are the best homemade bagels he’d ever had. (Though I really doubt he’d ever had so many ‘homemade’ bagels before. I suspect he and his family have been buying their bagels from their local Jewish bakeries….)

 Anyway, they seem to like it, and I like it, too. So whether authentic or not (though I suspect any possible claim for ‘authenticity’ will be down the drain the instant I add WW flour in the mix…:p.), this is the one I’d like to share with you. Hope you like it, too.





Ingredients  (makes 12 bagels)

Sourdough (70% hydration)  200g ---  Fed twice during 8-12 hrs period before use with 120g High Gluten

White Flour* (see note below) + 80g water  (1st feed = 40g flour + 25g water,  2nd feed = 80g flour + 55g water)


High Gluten White Flour   450g * (see note below)

Strong Wholemeal flour  120g

Non-diastic malt powder  12g

Organic cane sugar  14g 

Skimmed Milk Powder (optional)   2-3 tbls

Instant Dry Yeast (Easy Blend Yeast)  2g (about 1/2 tsp)    optional (Note: Without added yeast,it needs longer fermentation and the crumb is slightly denser)

Good quality sea salt   12g

Filtered water or bottled spring water   300-310g


For boiling water …..Malt extract/syrup or light brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda


* Note :  High Gluten White Flour …. I use Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Flour (from Canadian Red Spring Wheat, protein 15%)



  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix sourdough and water in a separate bowl and stir to loosen the sourdough.
  3. Pour the sourdough/water into the dry ingredients and mix until no dry bits is left.  Rest for 15 minutes or so to let the flour absorb water.
  4. Knead for 15 – 20 minutes (it may take longer) until the gluten fully develops.
  5. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape them into nice, neat balls with smooth, tight skin.  Put a damp (but not wet) tea towel over them and rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Shape them into bagels.  (I use,  possibly,  Japanese-style 'rope-method which has one extra-step before you elongate the dough into a rope-shape, which is similar to this video, but whatever a method that works for you should be fine)
  7. You can either final-proof at room temperature (around 1-2 hr or so, depending upon the temperature) or cold retard in a fridge overnight -24 hrs.  Be careful NOT to over-proof, or you’ll end up with soft, fluffy bagels that doesn’t ‘bite back.’
  8. Boil in the water (with malt extract/sugar and 1-2 tsp bicarbonate of soda) for 1 minute each side. 
  9. Drain on a tea towel until you boil the rest. (Better not leave for more than 5-6 minutes or you may end up with bagels with wrinkly skin)
  10. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes at 200 C.




(For this batch, only had time to retard for 5-6 hrs. Longer retardation will give you more birds-eyes.)




Best wishes and  Shalom.......just to compensate for the lack of authenticity of my bagels. :p






lumos's picture

So, the third experiment with the T55, today....I’ll try to be short and quick this time…for a change. :p

 In the third experiment with T55 flour, I decided to find out if the very long fermentation time in the first trial was too much for low gluten of this T55 to bear, especially the potion (about 50%) I used for poolish (6-7 hr + 21 hr = 27-28 hrs).  So instead of using 100% T55 (save for small amount of Rye for poolish), I replaced about a half of poolish flour to my regular Waitrose Organic Strong flour  to bring up the hydration level back to my usual 70% to see how and how much difference it’d make to the character of the dough.  Because I’ve been using Waitrose Organic flours for a while and I’m quite familiar with its characteristics, I hoped hopefully it wouldn’t be to difficult to distinguish which characteristics in the dough were due to T55 and the others due to Waitrose’s one.

This is the combination of ingredients I used…..

Poolish - T55: 60g + Waitrose Organic Strong: 55g + Rye: 10g + Water: 125g

Main Dough – T55: 135g + salt: 5g + Water : 55g

Total hydration = a bit under 70%

All the procedures are left unchanged from the regular methods of my original (I mean, after borrowing and stealing the ideas from THE original formulae by Mr.Hamelman and M. Bertinett, mimicking and mutilating them as I wished) Hamelinet Poolisgh Baguette recipe. 


The dough felt noticeably firmer than that of the first trial after all the ingredients for the main dough were mixed, though it wasn’t as firm as my regular dough with improvised UK flour mix, of course. But I could feel a sort of ‘core strength’ when S & F-ed in a bowl, which I didn’t feel when I once attempted to make a baguettes by using very similar combination of flours to this, the only difference being plain flour there instead of T55 flour this time (Yup! Been there, done that, too. :p)  I found it very interesting because the protein level of the plain flour (Waitrose Leckford Estate Plain) I used then was much higher (11.8%) than this T55 (10.5%).  Obviously the protein level, gluten level and, also, gluten quality are all different beasts, as I’ve been told many times by various books and experts, confirming that you really can’t fathom from simply by looking at the protein content on the packet. 

After the 21 hrs cold retard, the dough looked much more promising than my first trial and it looked more ‘familiar’ than my second trial,  maybe because the hydration level was back to my usual and, possibly, because of the inclusion of 25% Waitrose Organic Strong, my regular flour for poolish.

The ‘feel’ of the dough at pre-shaping, shaping and scoring stages were not bad, quite similar to my regular dough, though it was slightly softer and stickier, naturally. The razor got caught a bit when scoring, just like when working on higher hydration dough (←discreetly preparing an excuse for the pics that are coming), but doable enough (just…). Nothing like the first ciabaguetta disaster.


And this is how it turned out….

It’s not much of a looker  at all, especially compared to the second trial’s (= 65% hydration, with accidentally shorter cold retard of 16 hrs).


However,  inside was….….

Not too bad. ….though it’d be utterly outrageous to call it ‘honeycomb’ crumb. Far from it.  Actually it's rather similar to my usual baguettes made with my regular, improvised flours.  (which confirmed, again, I'd need  more practices... a LOT of them.)

 And the all important taste and texture….Wasn’t too bad, either. It was light and soft but definitely not fluffy,  with a difinite light chew, almost just as I would like from a baguettes. When you pulled the crumb apart, it tore in a different way from my urual improvised UK flour mix baguettes; hard to describe how, but it was more properly ‘baguetty’ way; tore more easily with less resistance into narrower shreds than fatter chunks of torn crumb made from non-T55 flours, and, more significantly,  the torn crumb pieces were more (sort of) transparent and  with slightly more sheen. The crust is thinner and crispier than my usual; more properly baguette-like here, too. The taste was definitely better than the accidental-16 hr cold retard baguette I made last time, but not as deep or complex as the ciabagutta with 100% T55.  And here again, the first taste you notice as soon as you but a piece in your mouth is saltiness, in a very pleasant and appetizing way. It’s milder than the ciabaguetta, but it’s there. Actually when I made the ciabaguetta, I also made a loaf of our current-favourite sourdough, replacing all the white flours with T55 to see how much difference it’d make, and the result of the flavour profile was the same; you taste the pleasant saltiness first and then all other flavours follow and mingle.  Very interesting…..I first thought the lower protein level might be the cause of it, higher protein in UK flour masking the saltiness somehow, but then remembered my experience with all-plain flour didn’t show that ‘phenomena,’ so now I’m just intrigued and curious.

And the aroma was again, quite nutty, sweet and lovely, almost as good as the ciabaguetta, only slightly milder. I could also detect the familiar aroma of my regular Waitrose Organic White mingled with the French-y nutty aroma of the T55, and thought, “I actually quite like that, too” which was a bit comforting. ;)

 So, now I know this particular T55 does have better flavour but could be difficult flour to work on with 70% hydration combined with 21-hr cold retard......And now you know I’m totalyly incapable of writing a short, concise blog entry. Sorry…..


Building on these experiences, my next experiment will be……………….Watch this space! :p

best wishes,



Lumos the Long and Winding

lumos's picture

A bit of a breather to ease the tention created by my obsessive baguette journey. :p

I was browsing through internet leisurely yesterday, searching for some information about Eric Kayser for Andy (ananda), and totally by accident, I came across a blog entry which mentioned…..Pain aux Algues, SEAWEED BREAD, by Maison Kayser!!!!!  Apparently he got the inspiration when started his operation in Japan, travelling to and fro France/Japan and spending some time there,  and conjured up a formula of bread aimed at Japanese market, initially, with chopped up wakame (the most commonly used seawwed) mixed in the dough, which quickly joined the array of breads in his branches in France, too.

Pain aux Algues (海藻のパン) sold by MK’s Japanese branches


A blogger in Paris reporting her experience of Pain aux Algue by MK


So, maybe a hint of seaweedy aroma I detected in the pain au levain my daughter got it from Paris wasn't entirely an illusion my  aging brain created????? 

I hastily continued my search for more info on his seaweed bread, and, admittedly, and a bit disappointingly, I found Pain aux Algues they sold had light, white crumb with chopped-up pieces of  seaweed clearly visible.  So obviously the bread we had was not that.


Crumb of Pain aux Algues sold at MK Japan


French blogger’s attempt to re-create MK’s Pain aux Algues (Firefox translation)


But what IF M.Kayser was taken to the idea of using seaweed to add an extra dimension and depth to the flavour and aroma (seaweeds are known to have lots of ‘umami) and  has conjured up another new bread which included seaweed in more discreet way, like just as the extract of seaweed rather than as more obvious chopped-up form?

I don’t know……But maybe?.......or may be not?


I  close this blog entry by just reporting the other loaf my daughter bought for me had a similar flavour profile but  in a milder way and with more open and softer texture and lighter coloured crumb, and it did NOT  have any hint of  the seaweedy aroma the first one had.


Gros Pain au Levain by Maison Kayser

(Sorry, I couldn't resist...... the centre bit sliced off for quick tasting before taking the photo....)



MK's Gros Pain au Levain sitting with't remember what they were..... whatever....


best wishes,





lumos's picture

As I blogged a few days ago, the first trial with T55 didn’t turn out as I had planned.

So this time, to make sure the end-product was really going to be ‘baguette,’ definitely not another weird new hybrid like a ciabaguetta, I decided I’d try with lower hydration of 65%.  I could’ve employed double-hydration method as David (dmsnyder) kindly suggested to bring up the overall hydration to 70% in the end, but at this early stage of experiments, I just wanted to find out this flour's natural characteristic using my usual method (more or less) that I was familiar with. So, I decided to go with simple  65% hydration  to see how this flour behave with lower hydration. Besides, by the time I posted about the first trial, I’d already done this second trial the day before and, since I don’t’ have an easy access to a time-machine at the moment to go back and re-do it, that is what you’re going to see today. So there! :p

Apart from lowering of hydration, all the formula/procedure were exactly the same as the previous trial;  ie. 1) Replacing strong flour to T55 in poolish, 2) Replacing all the flours in main dough to T55…….

Well, that was my intention when I started making this batch.  Probably many of you have already noticed how careless and forgetful I could be, and this time it happened again…. I miscalculated the time I needed for cold retardation, and it was only when I put the mixed dough in the fridge, I realized I’d only have 16 hrs, instead of my usual 21 hrs, to retard to get my (hopefully-)baguette ready for the dinner next day.  Oh well…… So I comforted myself (with some difficulty) by convincing myself (with more difficulty) that a part of the reason why my first trial went so badly could be because low protein level of the flour couldn’t stand the long fermentation combined by 7-hr poolish, and decided I’d wait for the fate, with my fingers and everything else I could cross crossed.

 After 16 hrs (Grrrrrrrrr!!), the dough looked very much like my regular poolish baguette dough with improvised UK flour mix usually look like; sufficient growth in volume with a few large bubbles on top, wobbling very promisingly. ::GRIN::    So I proceeded with the rest of the procedure, as usual. Both shaping and scoring was just a piece of cake bread (the same old pun recycled) thanks to lower hydration = the moment I really understood the importance of an advice in many baguette books in Japan; Stick to 65% hydration until you get a hang of shaping and scoring. Must admit I’ve never followed that advice myself, though..….

Anyway….everything went blissfully without any hitch to entertain you push me into another trouble, the dough loaded into the oven safely, steamed and baked as planned…..or that’s what I thought……..

 This is the result.


Closer looks


Must admit I was rather chuffed with the result……….………..until………………………………………


The crumb is not even as open as my usual UK flour baguettes!!!!!

The crumb shot for the other one

(Excuse for the weird colour. It was taken under a recently-repaired conservatory glass roof which has a tint of…

 ::big sigh::


To be perfectly honest, I’d had a bit of trepidation even before I cut it open that I might find this kind of crumb inside, because the baguettes came out slimmer than my usual ones.  But I think I know why….  Excuse Reason 1)  Lower hydration than usual,  2) Additional strokes for each S&F to ensure sufficient gluten build....which was obviously too much,  3) Shorter cold retard,  4) Under-proofed due to other cooking schedule I had to fit in (= another dish was waiting to go in after the baguettes for dinner),  5) In the excitement of shaping+scoring went so well, I didn’t do the ALL IMPORTANT finger-poke test, only judging the ripeness by a quick look, WRONGLY-assuming nothing’s gonna go wrong with the perfect (Not!) dough like that! ….. How silly can I be, please somebody tell me…..

And the flavour and aroma?......I think they also suffered from the shorter retardation. It was good, but not as good or strong as the first trial. The paler crumb colour was more than likely caused by that, too, as well as the extra-strokes of S&Fs.  But that interesting phenomena of saltiness standing out was still there, though it wasn’t as strong or predominant as the last one.  It was never excessively salty, though. Just that the saltiness is the first taste you noticed when you bit into the crust and chewed the crumb, before other flavours joined in and make the lovely harmony. Very nice.  In that sense at least, it was still properly French...-ish.

The NEVER-accident-free journey of T55 trials still continues.....


lumos's picture

 So, this is the first report on my trial of T55 flour my daughter brought back from Paris.  I used to use Shipton’s T55 years ago for a while, but this is the first time I’ve ever used T55 actually made in France….though it’s just a supermarket’s own brand flour, so definitely not the highest quality one.  But to be fair, the supermarket my daughter bought it from was Monoprix, which, according to Wiki, is “considered an up-scale chain and its business model was the inspiration for Waitrose,” in spite of its very un-assuring name :p,  so hopefully it’s at least not the lowest of the lowly, bog-standard flour. ::fingers crossed::


 The first thing I noticed when I opened the bag was how yellowy the colour was and also it looked less smooth?/less fluid?/a bit more sticky? (sorry, can't find a good way to describe) than other white flour I use.

< (from left to right) Waitrose Organic Strong,  Monoprix T55, Waitrose Canadian Very Strong>


I ‘d always thought Waitrose Organic had creamier shade of colour than other flours I’d used (except for Waitrose's Leckford Estate flour which had even creamier shade), but compared to the T55, it looked more pinkish in comparison,  which was a surprise.

The biggest reason I wanted authentic French T55 was to find out how much difference it would make in my baguette, both taste and shape (both outside and inside) and to use the experience as my future bench mark when mixing UK flours to improvise.  So I proceeded with my regular poolish baguette recipe, of which formula I posted in my last blog.

The only change I made this time was replacing all the flours (Strong, Plain and WW) in the formula, except for small rye in the poolish, with T55 and also omitting wheatgerm completely, because I wanted to see how pure T55 tasted.

The instant I added water to the flour to make poolish, I noticed it’s very different. For a short while the flour didn’t ‘dissolve’ as easily as the strong flour (Waitrose Organic) and looked a bit like when I added water to Dove’s Pasta Flour I blogged about before which contained Durum flour. A bit grainy and more lumpy, similar to when you mix water into semolina......just for a short time initially.

After a few more stirring, the flour and water mixed well but it looked a bit more ‘fluid’ than my usual poolish, most likely because T55 (10.5%) is much lower in protein than my Strong (12.9%) .

When mixed well, I  left it to ripe at room temperature, as in the above mentioned formula.  After 7 hrs, I saw the poolish reached its peak, so I proceeded with the rest of the formula. Again, when I added all the ingredients and poolish,  I noticed immediately the dough was much softer than my usual mix. When I did S&F, again it was much softer to touch and more extensible. In utter desperation a few years ago for not being able to obtain T55 very easily here,  I had once attempted making a baguette only using UK plain flour which had a similar protein level as this T55, but it felt different from that. This time, it was extensible but there was a kind of strength in it, like a ‘core’ which 100% plain flour dough didn’t have. I thought, ‘Aha! This is how T55 make a difference in resultant baguettes!’ and put the dough in the fridge for long, cold retardation for 21 hrs, as usual.  

After 21 hrs……The dough hadn’t gained as much volume as my usual improvised-flour dough. Looked very flat and had hardly any large bubbles on the surface which I always see a few of them with my regular baguette dough after the cold retard.   And when I turned it out onto the worktop, it just spread just like a very high-hydration dough, almost like this video by Peter Reinhart.

So there was just NO WAY I could shape this into baguettes with the state of gloopy dough.  I contemplated for a while if I should do extra sets of S&F until the dough was strong enough, but I knew from my past experiences it would only give you the crumb with uniform texture without much big airy holes to speak of, unless you do another long, cold retardation after shaping,  which was not an option at the time.

So in the end, this is what it ended up as. A ciabatta with baguette-ish crumb….or a baguette who wanted to pretend it was a ciabatta, whichever you prefer to call. :p


(Hope nobody notices a half-bitten piece I discreetly put back among them....)



The crumb wasn't open nor did it have larger holes I would've liked, obviously because 1) I didn't slash the top because it was going to be like a ciabatta, 2) the hydration was not high enough to be a ciabatta with typically open crumb with lots of BIG holes because it was supposed to be a baguette......::sigh::

Sorry, it’s such an anti-climax.  But I must say the flavour was AMAZING! It had such a deep and more complex flavour than my usual UK flour baguettes, especially the crust. And the aroma which came out from the oven during baking was quite different, too: more wheaty and nutty.  Also the crumb had much darker colour, which I associate with really good baguettes. And the most interesting thing is its saltiness.  Even I added exactly the same amount of salt as usual, the saltiness was a little more predominant compared to my regular baguettes…or many other baguettes I’ve had  before. It’s not actually ‘saltier,’ in anyway,  the amount of ‘saltiness’ you taste is the same. But for some reason ‘the saltiness’ stood out.  It really brought back the memories of excellent baguettes I had in the long past and reminded me its lovely saltiness, Yeah….a gooooooood baguette was always salty, never sweet. I’d forgotten that……


lumos's picture

I know.....It's really reckless of me to blog about my miiiiiles-away-from-perfect-looking baguette soon after Jay (Longhorn)'s wonderful report on SFBI course with the picture of his great looking baguettes.  But I'd already finished writing this up last night and  didn't know he'd do such a thing while I was sleeping..... Oh well......:p



As many of you may think I’m turning into a broken record know, now I’ve got 6 bags of real, authentic French T55 and T65 flour in my hand which my daughter brought back from Paris for me,  this is going to be the last blog about my poolish baguette with improvised UK flours for a while, I think.  Just to show you what my regular baguette usually looks like.

 (Never mind the bent tip. It caught on the hot baking stone when loading….::sigh::)

The formula is loosely based upon Hamelman’s Pain Rustique with Poolish (uses 50% of flour for poolish) and Richard Bertinet’s Poolish baguette (adds small amount of rye to poolish), hence the name, ‘Hamelinet Poolish Baguette.’  With those combination of flours, I added small amount of WW and wheatgerm to emulate French flour which is higher in ash than typical flour in UK, and also introduced TFL’s Gold Stamp cold retardation in the fridge for extra improvement in flavour and texture.  So, basically it’s a mish-mash of ideas and tips I’ve picked up along my never-ending, long journey in search for MY ultimate baguette from home oven…in England.





Hamelinet Poolish Baguette with Cold Retardation


INGREDIENTS  (makes 2 x 40cm mini-baguettes)

Poolish –  Flour (total) 125g …. Strong 115g

                                                             Rye  10g

                      Instant dry yeast 0.2g

                      Water  125g


Main Dough - Flour (total) 135g …..  WW  10g

                                                                          Strong  85g

                                                                           Plain  40g

                                     Wheatgerm  1/2 tbls

                                     Instant dry yeast  0.6g

                                     Good quality sea salt  5g

                                      Water  60g




  1. Mix all the ingredients for poolish and ferment at room temperature until it peaks. (6-7 hrs @ 22C)
  2. When the poolish reaches its peak, add all the ingredients for the main dough and mix to a shaggy mess.
  3.  Autolyse for 30 minutes. (or 20 minutes if it’s a warm day)
  4.  After the autolyse, S & F in the bowl. (6-8 x S & F as you turn the bowl once). Rest for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Another S & F in the bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl and cold retard in a fridge for 21 hrs.
  7. After 21 hrs (you should see a few large air pockets just below the surface of the dough), take out from the fridge and leave for 30+ minutes. The dough does not need to return to room temperature.
  8. Turn out the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Pre-shape (just one letter folds)  and rest for 10-20 minutes, depending upon room temperature. Be careful the dough doesn’t’ ferment too much at this stage.
  9. Shape into baguette and proof between the cloche. Pre-heat the oven @ 240-250C with a baking stone and a tray filled with pebbles/lava rocks.
  10. Just before the dough is ready, put a heat-resistant deep dish with boiling water in the oven to ‘condition’ the oven. (Note : If necessary, uncover the couche to dry the surface of the dough in the last 10-15 minutes of proofing)
  11. When the dough IS ready (finger test!), score and spray the surface with water generously.
  12. Take the dish with hot water out from the oven, load the dough onto the baking stone, spray inside the oven generously and pour 1/2 – 3/4 cup of boiling water onto the hot pebbles/lava rocks. Shut the door immediately.
  13. After 5 minutes, spray inside the oven again, IF necessary.
  14. After another 5 minutes (= 10 min after loading the dough), take the tray of pebbles/lava rocks out, lower the oven temperature to 220C with fan and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  15. (If the crust is browning too quickly) Lower the temperature to 200-210C.
  16. Take the baked baguettes out of the oven and cool completely. (No extra-drying in the turned-off oven with a door ajar. It’d dry the crumb too much)




(This part suffered from the bent tip, ended up with one side with closed crumb......Excuse, excuse. :p)



(More evenly spread holes in unaffected part of the baguette......Yes, the crust looks too thick. Some ****** sales xxxxxxx person rang me just about when I was trying to take the baguettes out from the oven.....)





So…….the next report will be …..the experiment with T55 flour, at last. With proper, authentic flour, I will have NOTHING to make excuse for my dire result!  Watch this space.....with kinder heart, please!!

best wishes,


lumos's picture


The original formula of this bread was based, at first, on Pain de Lodeve, a French levain bread which became very popular in Japan some years ago among both professional bakers and amateur home bakers; so popular someone even held an one-day “Pain de Lodeve Appreciation Society” to which fans of this bread flocked to a famous bakery to admire the bread, watching pros baking loaves of it and devouring them together afterwards. (Have you ever heard of Japanese tendency for extremism?)  It is…or the Japanese interpretation of this bread is made with levain and mostly white flour with, often, small amount of rye flour and has very high hydration of at least 80-85%, occasionally even more. And because of this hydration, the crumb is very moist with lots of large holes……


Above two pictures are Pain de Lodeve a la Japone, made by the most reputed baker of this bread in Japan.…..which could be a bit different from its original version in the mother country…..

 The origin of Pain de Lodeve and how it looks like….in France

Google translation of the text : "In honor of St. Fulcran, Bishop of Lodève that this bread was created.
It was first called bread bench because he had been forgotten at the bottom of a bench!
is a bread Rustic enriched sourdough bread for a very convoluted. Note: the bench is a kind of rye straw basket used to set the bread in shape. benchtop Bread is a bread with white flour sourdough. The dough rises slowly mass in the ancient vaults in large baskets, called benches, hence its name. before cooking is cut with a large blade pieces of the dough in the mass, they are shaped to floured hands and put in the oven. The bread is a bread bench much honeycomb sandwich to creamy and crunchy crust. Lodève The bakers have developed a strong reputation for the manufacture of bread. It is said that this bread is special LODEVE due to water entering its composition."  (It’s not my fault this text is weird! Blame Google!! :p)


….oh well…..


Anyhoo…..I found a recipe for this bread in a book I bought a few years ago, baked it and quite like it. But I wanted to make an ‘alternative Lodeve,’ too, with more ‘normal’ hydration, so that 1) I could proof it in a bannetton (which is IMPOSSIBLE with that wet dough), 2) the crumb would be not as moist. So I’ve been tweaking the formula here and there and reached to this present formula quite recently.


As I mentioned in my earlier blog,  I’ve been trying to re-create a beautiful Pain de Campagne we had in Dijon many years ago on holiday. Interesting thing is, this multitude of tweaking on Pain de Lodeve formula over the years unexpectedly led me to a formula which produced rather acceptable imitation of Pain de Campagne of Dijon. It’s not completely there yet, but quite close….


Pain de .... “Suburb of Dijon” (=almost there!)


S/D 125g (75% hydration)  - Fed with 50% WW and 50% Strong flour

Strong flour  200g

Plain flour  60g

Rye flour  30g

Spelt flour  10g

Wheatgerm  1 1/2tbs

Water (filtered or bottled) 220~230g .....or 240-250g, if you dare.

Instant dry yeast (optional)  0.2g  optional (Note- Nov. 2012: Been making this without added yeast for a while now since my sourdough starter is much stronger and more realiable than when this entry was original posted. )

Good quality sea salt  6g



  1. Feed the starter twice during 8-10hr period before you use it. (total flour for feeding = WW 36g + White Strong 36g = 72g, water 54g. I usually use 22g mixed WW+White flour and 17g water for the first feed and the rest for the second feed.)
  2.  When S/D is peaked, mix it with the water in a small bowl and stir to loosen a little.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the flours and wheatgerm, add S/D+water. Mix to a shaggy mess and autolyse for 40 minutes.
  4. After autolyse, sprinkle dry yeast, if using, and S & F in the bowl for 8-10 strokes, turning the bowl. Rest for 40-45 minutes.
  5. Repeat two more S & F at 40-45 minutes interval.
  6. Cover the bowl and cold retard for 12-16 hrs in the fridge.
  7. When you see a few large bubbles on the surface of the dough, take the dough out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  8. Pre-shape → rest for 15-20 minutes → shape, and proof in a banetton for 3-4 hrs.
  9. Pre-heat the oven @ 240C with a lidded casserole/pyrex/cast iron pan in it.
  10. Check the dough with finger-poke test, and when it’s realdy, turn it out on a piece of baking parchment and score.
  11. Place the dough in the heated casserole, load it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  12. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and lower the temperature to 200-210C (or 220C, if you want bold-bake….like me at the moment)
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes.




best wishes,



lumos's picture

So, here’s the first report on the bread my daughter bought for me at Maison Kayser in Paris. As I wrote about the little episode here, she went to one of their branches to buy some bread for lunch, thought it was good, so bought Pain Rustique for me….and went back there later to get ‘Boule something something Rustique’ (French is not my daughter’s forte. Never…) after reading an article about the bread her friend found in her guide book…or on internet…or whatever. And today’s blog is about this second ‘something’ she bought. (Pain Rustique went into the freezer as soon as it got home…for this weekend’s lunch…after I sliced a thin piece for immediate tasting. The report will follow later.)

(Er......sorry.... I only realised I should've taken some photos after I ate a few slices for breakfast... Still trying to get used to a new blogging life...)

The first impression : It’s smaller than I thought.:p  But that’s OK because I did ask her not to buy a big one for my freezer didn’t have much spare space….but it’s only a size of very small side plate…...

 The crust has lost its crispness (assuming it was crisp at the beginning), unfortunately, because my daughter wrapped it in a paper bag from the boulangerie, twice, and wrapped it, twice again, in plastic carrier bags to ‘retain’ the aroma. Her intention commendable, but maybe not the method…..Oh, well….

Closer inspection : The first thing I noticed was the aroma. (Thank you, my dear daughter). I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s a different sort of aroma from any other bread I’d experienced before. It’s wheaty with naturally sweet aroma which was a bit like warmed caramel but much more delicate and gentler, and a whiff of rye-sour. Really difficult to convey how it smelled on a page, but it had quite strong (strong enough to make my daughter think she should wrap it up four folds to prevent whole Eurostar carriage start smelling like the bread) but  very rounded and warm aroma. Maybe a bit like a bale of hay which has been sitting in the warm sun for many days. Very warm, quite wheaty, but not in the ways that would stimulate the appetite of horses. You can tell it’s definitely for the human consumption. Thank God.  Actually, this was the first time I really felt the naming of ‘rustique’ was truly fitting. It wasn’t how it looked. This really made to be ‘rustique.’

(Kayser's 'something something'  Rustique sitting on a piece of my Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough)


Taste : Everything I felt from the aroma was in the crumb in a very concentrated form. Well, if you think of it, it’s the other way round. Because the crumb has those qualities, the bread smells like them. Silly me…  But anyway, it is very ‘rustique’ bread, in its true sense.

And when you bite into it, all the flavours you expected from the aroma really fill your mouth, but each element is more vivid than they were in the aroma, of course,  and also the distant whiff of rye sour (or may be just rye flour. Not sure…) in the crust was much more predominant here, but not as sharp as many other rye heavy bread. Just a gentle hint of acidity. And the most interesting thing was some sort of spicy-ness in the taste. It was a bit like you taste when you bite into seeds in a seeded bread. I first thought it contained some seeds in it, but couldn't see any. Not sure where it comes from....

I really don't know how it's made, what's in the bread (I mean, what flours and what sort/sorts of levain they used), especially since  this 'something something' part is mystery, but if I'm asked to describe about this bread in just one word, I'd immediately say 'the warmth.'  That's what I felt most both from the aroma and also from the flavour...and the whole balance of them.  It’s a quite gusty bread, but everything is so rounded and balanced and matured, what you feel when chewing its crumb and crust is its warmth. Not literally of course, but the whole concept of this bread.  Every element of flavours and aromas is  strong and distinctive, but in harmony. No sharp edges, anywhere. I think it's a sign of very carefully crafted loaf of bread.

It is exactly the sort of bread that would make me extremely happy if I can eat it with a large bowl of hearty soup with lots of vegetables and beans on a harvest day in autumn, preferably on a golden wheat  field (or golden rye field can be optional) , sitting on a large stack of freshly cut hay, of course…..not that I often go out to  country side to harvest wheat or rye…..and I've got hay fever......What am I talking about?


My daughter bought this at about a mid-day on Wednesday and today is Friday, so what I tasted was probably 2- 3 days old, at least, which is almost in the reach of ‘Best End’ date or just past it, even for the standard of levain-based bread. So what I was tasting wasn’t at its best. It was actually beginning to taste quite stale and the crumb was loosing its moisture  (Mental Note : Got to teach her to buy fresh food just before the departure) , and possibly some elements of flavour, especially acidity, has intensified over the days.   But, still, by trying to imagine how it could have been like when it was fresher, I can tell why so many people speak highly of M. Eric Kayser’s achievement in insisting the high standard in spite of increasing number of his branches and making it possible for many people to access good quality bread relatively easily.  I’m still a bit worried how long he (and Maison Kayser) will be able to maintain the standard with the present, quite alarming speed of expansion of his entity. But if he really can, it’ll surely be a wonderful example to other artisan bakeries who are on the mission of spreading high quality breads to wider public. ::fingers crossed::


(M. Kayser sourdough and my sourdough sitting together)





lumos's picture

In my second blog entry,  I wrote that I baked three varieties of bread for my friend;  WW bread (with right amount of salt!), cocoa-flavoured bread with cranberry & walnuts, and the other one. For the first two bread,  I’ve already shared the formulae in my earlier blogs.  So, today I’d like to share the recipe for the last one,  which is actually the favourite of this friend I baked those breads for. 

She’s my best and most trusted foodie friend for many years and my regular companion to Borough Market where we pay absurd price our  pilgrimage occasionally to enjoy getting ripped off their wonderful (no editing here. They are really wonderful….most of the times) produce, not only from the British Isles but also from Continental Europe and more exotic places far afield.  And every time we go there, we first bee-line to Neal’s Yard Dairy  first to buy our favourite cheeses (their Colston Basset Stilton  is to die for and this relatively new Scottish blue  is to kill for!) and a few loaves of bread from the selection which they sourced from several highly-regarded artisan bakeries in and around London.  One of the breads we ALWAYS used to buy was, of course, THE famous(ly-overpriced) Poilane……until one day I conjured up the recipe of this ‘the other bread' (...Starting to sound like Harry Potter's 6th book...).

 This formula came about quite accidentally during my still on-going project to re-creating a wonderful Pain de Campagne we had in Dijon, France, some years ago on holiday. The result was not quite what I was trying to achieve but nevertheless, it was quite good.

 So, one day I baked it and took it to her house to see how she’d like it. We didn’t eat it then (we went out for a lunch) but I received email from her later that night, which said (in the gist...-ish) ; “The flavour!  It’s so complex!  And the crumb!  Oh, the crumb!!  Every time you bite into it, the flavour and aroma explode in your mouth and it lingers on for such a long time...I think you exceeded Poilane!”    

  Well…..I think she’s a bit over-enthusiastic (and too kind).  I really don’t think I did exceed Poilane with that bread. Of course not.  Nor will I ever do, for that matter.  I don’t own their famous ‘a few hundred years old’ heritage levain to make my bread nor do I have absolutely ANY intention of living that long just to add extra value to my starter.  And to be entirely honest, I’d rather pay for their expertise and hard work and buy the real McCoy than labouring in my humble kitchen to emulate their highly-priced prized bread. The depth of flavour and that uniquely distinctive and complex acidity Poilane is famous for is, I think, something very difficult to re-create at home, which this new bread of mine certainly did not have those to their extent. 

 But still, it is true it was quite good and I was rather chaffed about the result and, also, was very happy she really liked it so much. And precisely because it’s not as ‘assertive’ nor does it have that strong acidity as Poilane’s, it is a gentler and more accommodating company to your meals, and also very good as breakfast bread, either as it is or toasted.

 So, since that day, she stopped buying Poilane’s or any bread from Borough Market entirely and started buying various breads from me whenever we get to meet each other. And we named this bread   ‘faux-Poilane,’ which is always included in her order of breads.  And since that day, it also joined my team of regular breads. 


And here’s the formula. Hope you’ll like it as much as we do, too.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

‘Faux’ Poilane : My Dear Friend ‘YM’ ‘s Favourite

     (To make a loaf = dough size about 650g)


  S/D (75% hydration)  125g 

  White 180g

  WW 60g

  Spelt 30g

  Rye 30g

  Wheatgerm 1 tbls

  Good quality sea salt 6g

  Non-diastic malt powder 1 tsp, if you have

  Water 220-230g

  A tiny amount of instant dry yeast, less than 1/8 tsp (optional)



1.   Feed S/D twice during 8-12 hr period before you start making the bread.

2.   Mix all the flours, wheatgerm and malt powder (plus instant dry yeast, if using) in a large bowl.

3.   In a separate small bowl, mix S/D and water to loosen S/D a little.

4.   Pour S/D+water to the bowl of flours and mix briefly into shaggy mess. Cover and leave for 40 minutes to autolyse.

5.    Sprinkle salt on the surface of the dough and S & F in the bowl for 20 times or so until salt is (probably) evenly distributed. Cover and Leave another 40-45 minutes.

6.   Two more sets of S & F in the bowl (just 8-10 S&F this time, enough to circulate the bowl once) every 40-45 minutes.

7.   Cover and cold retard for 12-18 hours.

8.   Make sure there’re a few large bubbles on the surface of the dough after cold retard. Take it out from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 1/2-1 hr.

9.   Pre-shape and shape. Put in a bannetton and proof (Either at room temperature, which produces milder flavour, or in a fridge again for increased acidity)….until your trusted finger-poking test assures you the dough is ready.

10.   Bake in a pre-heated covered pot (I use a lidded Pyrex casserole, upturned, which’s been very reliable…and you can enjoy watching the dough grows in volume!!) at 240 C for 20 minutes.

11.  After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 20-25 minutes.

  Note : As with many sourdough bread, it tastes good on the day it’s baked, but the flavour develops over next few days. My favourite is it’s on the third day.

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The pics above are of the loaf I bake for her, so obviously I don’t have the crumb shot. But I baked another one at the same time, and these are how it looked.







lumos @ no-camera-at-the-mo (My dauther took mine to Paris!!! Gahhhhh)




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