The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Mebake's blog

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This is an illustration of Shaping a batard i thought i would share with TFL memebers.

I Hope this helps new TFL members with shaping skills.

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This is another one of Hamelman's Pain Au Levain With whole wheat from His book "BREAD".

I'am testing out my new flour's performance with naturally leavened breads.

I mixed my dough ever so lightly, and did two stretched and folds (letter fold on the bench) @ 60 minutes intead of one at 50min. So, the fermentation time was 3 hours intead of 2.5.

I retarded the shaped loaves right after shaping for 8 hours, and left them to proof at room temp. for 1 hour while the oven was preheating to 510F.

I Also increased the prefermented flour by 7%.(as recommended by Andy - ananda) I found that this particular recipe works more predictably if i increased the amount of stiff levain. and it did!

Crackly Crust!

Cool, soft, and translucent crumb, with a faint sour flavor.

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In reference to the comment of TFL member : subfuscpersona, here, where SF thankfully shared his idea of Freezing a yeasted BIGA for future use; i have finally done the proposed method, with little deviations of my own.

The recipe was adapted from Peter Reinhart's (Transitional Multigrain Hearth bread).


Soaker:       223g    Bran + coarse whole Wheat middlings

          (sifted remains of milled Wholewheat flour)

                   4g (1/2 tsp)    Salt

                   173g              water


Total:          400 grams


Biga:      227g               Bread flour                                      50 % wholewheat

                  1g (1/4tsp)      Instant Dry Yeast                    50% Prefermented Flour

                   142g                     water                                             Total Hydration: 70%

------------------------------------------                                        Bulk Fermentation: 45 min.

Total:        370 grams                                                             Final Fermentation: 30-45 min @ 25c


Final Dough:

                 400g                     All Soaker

                 370g                     All Biga

                 9g  (2 ¼ tsp)          Instant Dry Yeast    

                8g  (1 tsp)              Salt


Total:       787 grams

Deviations where in mixing the White Biga , fermenting it at room temperature for 4 Hours until it doubled, then immediately freezing it. biga was frozen for three days, and thawed slowly in the refrigerator for another 24 hrs prior to baking day. Amusing, how convenient these Yeasted Bigas are!

Yesterday, 2 hours before mixing, i removed the thawed Biga from the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature. Mixing proceeded, and i did not notice any adverse effects of the freezing on the structure of the Biga. Mind you, it was a White Biga, I'am sure the same would apply for a wholewheat biga, too.

The Final dough developed very quickly, and was bulkfermented, preshped, shaped, and fermented in a banneton. I wanted to try Franko's recent scoring style: here, Nice!

Thanks to Subfuscpersona, for his Ideas...! my Freezer shall be packed with Bigas from now on... :)


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I have finally found a relatively affordable, reliable source for Bread flour in Dubai! I wanted to test run it by baking Poolish baguettes.  I have sourced the flour from a local mill. They had always stocked this product, though only sold it upon demand, which seems to be non-existant Market wise. I believe, that only high end western style Artisanal cafes spread around Dubai malls such as PAUL, LE Pain Quotidient, BREAD and Co... etc, would order such a premium Product. Now its Me, too  :P

Price wise, I paid Dirhams 144/= for a sack of 50 Kg. of flour, which equals $ 40/=. This is way cheaper than Outlets selling Organic only bread flours for 3 times the price.

The specifications are as follows:

Jenan's Super Premium Flour (50kg Polypropylene Bag)

Protein: 12.5%

Ash: 0.6%

Wet Gluten: 34%

Fortified with Folic Acid and Iron


As i mixed the poolish with the dough, i realized it was thirstier than my all purpose and Patent flour. Regrettably, i ended up increasing the hydration to around 80% trying to test its resilience, and so the final dough became wetter than i like.

The dough, too, has less carotinoids as apparent from its light cream color, as opposed the cream color of other flours i've tested. And No, i have not overmixed the dough, i only bearly mixed it.

The dough held a good deal of fermentation bubbles, and was smooth and baked very well with a round cross section, which was a very good result considering the wetness of the dough.

My scoring did not open up, as i needed more practice with such high hydration baguettes. 1 hour into cooling, i sliced my baguettes open, and found all those beautiful cavities. The crust splintered upon cutting, and the flavor was superb! i dipped a shred into olive oil, and i loved the flavor, and crispiness of the flour. Given the hudration, i could not judge on the chewyness, but i'am sure it was moderate.

All in all, i loved this flour. I have yet to test it with other wholegrain recipes.









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I have not made any bread blogs for a while now, as i was moving to a another apartment.

Yesterday, i saw a bag of sifted wholewheat flour (truns out to be a high extraction, as i was unable to get rid of tiny bran and germ particles through my sifter), and decided to bake PR's wholewheat sandwich loaf from it (Found in Whole grain breads book).

I prepared a BIGA, and a SOAKERin the morning 8:30 am, and headed for work. I used tiny amounts of yeast in the BIGA inorder for it to ferment slowly until i return home 8 hours later. The BIGA was fermenting faster than i had anticipated, and asked my wife to put it in the fridge, and take it out 2 hours before i return (Wives do come in Handy afterall! :P)

I have yet to try SF (subfuscpersona)'s suggestion on freezing the BIGA and then slowly defrosting it in the fridge 24 hours prior to the baking day. I'll try this method soon.

When i returned, i waited for the BIGA to Ripen, and Mixed all ingredients. I intensively mixed the dough by hand (ala bertinet) until i had a smooth silky elastic dough. moderate Window pane was possible with this dough. I devided the dough into 1.5Kg (for the Pullman look alike pan), and 1.3 Kg for the other pan (IKEA's) red pan.

I baked on a 40 minute 500F preaheated stone. For steaming, i used the wet towel method of Sylvia's. (My now reliable steaming method, thanks sylvia!).

The Pullman Loaf Crumb

The Regular Pan (IKEA's) loaf crumb

After having baked thrice with my two pans, I have come to a conclusion that The material used in my IKEA pan conducts and retains heat more than the silver deep pan (pullman lookalike).

The flavor is outstanding, thanks to the formulation of peter reinhart, and the freshly milled wheat flour. I also mixed in some extra bran wholewheat flour. The crumb is soft and rich, yet light. It toasts beautifully too. The aroma of the finished loaves is heavenly.






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I always wanted to know how Pakistani wheat kernels i have in stock would perform in a loaf pan. I mill my own wheat, so i made a wholewheat loaf from Peter Reinhart's (Wholegrain breads). The loaf is seen here. I happened to find a pullman pan-look-alike on sale, and i purchased it without hesitation. The difference in this loaf, is that i sifted most of the bran out of the milled flour. The dough had a distinct pale yellowish hue to it, due to the carotenoid pigments, as it is technically a green flour. The dough was lovely to work with, it was somewhat extensible, not thisty, and pliable. The flour made from it had few tiny brownish specks. I suspect that the flour is close to a medium extraction of about 80%.

I enriched the dough, as the recipe does, with butter, oil, and brown sugar. The biga and soaker were mixed to full gluten development by hand. The brown sugar, and the effect of the biga, caused a speedy fermentation.

(Notice the flour print. This was my floured finger poking the proofed dough)

The flavor of the bread is superb. creamy/smooth, rich, light in texture, fluffy crumb. It is especially flavorful when toasted.

can't replicate this experience often, as the whole process of wheat tempering, milling, sifting , and baking is time consuming, and tiring.

I wanted to proove to myself that my hard winter wheats are capable of creating good bread, and they did.

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I made this bread yesterday from Hamelman's yeasted prefermets section. I used 50% Strong white Hovis bread flour, and 50% Snowflake Nutty Wheat Flour. As the latter contains too much bran, i adjusted by adding some all purpose flour to the final dough.

I mounted two baking stones on two separate racks. The oven spring was better this way, i think. I used Sylvia's Steaming technique.. (very effective).

I cut some slices today morning, and the bread smelled strongly of buckwheat. I used buckwheat in lieu of millet called for in the recipe. The crust is crunchy, and the crumb is soft and satisfying. I love this bread!


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This is my second try at baguettes, my first was unworthy of a blog, it was overmixed, shaping was lousy, and crust and color were lacking. Now that iam getting the hang of it, i really love Poolish baguettes. The nutty fragrance of a poolish is indeed intoxicating.

I adhered to Hamelman's book instructions, including very moderate mixing times,  but my final proofing was 50 minutes instead of 1-1.5 hours (my kitchen was warm). I did bake boldly, and the baguettes came out crusty and cracked loudly out of the oven, but i admit.. i have left the baguettes for longer than called for 35 minutes without steam, and vented steam from the oven throughout the bake, which caused the crust to thicken, and the baguettes  crust to be extra thick and crumb to be drier than desired. This, however, was a good bake, a far cry from my first baguettes.

EDIT: I did infact stray from hamlman's folding regime. I folded once after 1 hour but found the dough truely undeveloped as the mixing was very brief. I folded the dough again after 20 minutes and then after 10 final minutes.



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I Have blogged about my first 66% Sourdough Rye before Here, but this time, its more like what it should be: close textured, more sour, More Rye-ish. This time i used Medium Rye (I mixed sifted Rye Flour with Whole Rye Flour in 50/50 ratio).

The fermentation happens faster when whole rye is added, and my bulk fermentation was 45 minutes only. As expected, the dough never came together as it would with lower Rye breads, but the falvor of sour rye was very pronounced.

I guess that this is how Hamelman's 66% sourdough Rye may really look like.


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Sometimes, one needs to bake bread without having to plan ahead. This is from "BREAD"'s straight dough bread

section that needs no planning ahead. 5 Grain bread is an enriched, wholewheat bread that contains rolled oats, eggs, oil, corn meal, and flax seeds It is 50% wholegrain, with 40% wholewheat flour, and 10% Rye flour. The rest is high Gluten Flour, and i used a good bread flour+Vital Wheat gluten.

Total time from mixing to baking is 3.5-4Hrs. it is a quick bread, a very very flavorful quick bread that hits its pinnacle when toasted, i guarantee.

However, being on a preferment-based bread diet for so long, i would say that this bread would never have appealed to me if not for the eggs, oil, and soaker that it had.

Overall, iam very satisfied with the outcome. Anything from one's oven is a blessing.



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