The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Hi everyone!

A few months ago I gave my colleague some rye starter, using which she's been successfully baking 100% rye breads at home. Now some more people have expressed interest in baking a "rustic" white bread. My job was to develop a simple formula that a someone new to bread baking could easily follow, while at the same time yielding a good-looking, crusty loaf with good flavor. I pondered whether to develop a simple formula using sourdough or commercial yeast and finally decided on the later.

After making that decision I knew that one of the most important factors will be for how the bread keeps, so using a simple preferment and having somewhat higher hydration was inevitable. After baking trials using each of three preferments: poolish, biga and pâte fermentée, the decision was made to go with pâte fermentée since it really made the bread keep much better than the other two, while the taste from all three was similar.

The next step was to see what is the optimal fermentation time for the old dough, meaning that you shouldn't have to wait too long, but the end result should also be good. Baked a few trials of that and chose a week long pâte fermentée, given a couple hour kickstart before refrigeration.

Now this formula is ready for more widespread use and I think it honestly makes a good crusty white bread with a nice flavor. The bread keeps very well for a non-sourdough, about three days: the first day unpackaged, later kept in a plastic bag (yes, the crust does soften, but between that and staling I think it's better with a soft crust).

I baked the bread using a stainless steel bowl as a cover. It could have baked up better, but the results in the pictures are, if not great, at least OK. I chose this way of baking because it is a reasonable approach for people new to the game. The scoring pattern consists of random shallow cut along the top of the loaf. No crumb shot -- gave the bread away uncut.

A final note: you can use sourdough pâte fermentée for this bread, but I don't recommend keeping it in the fridge more than 4 days, lest you risk significant overfermentation.

Link to worksheet with formula.

MisterTT's picture

It has been a long time since my first and so far only post, so I just thought to pop up and show how I bake my daily bread these days.

I've got a long rectangular-shaped dutch oven/baking dish, but I usually want to bake two smaller loaves rather than one huge batard, so, sacrificing shape, I put two smaller loaves separated by a small piece of parchment paper into the DO and bake them like that. To make all sides of the loaves brown evenly, you've got to take the separating parchment out when uncovering the DO, but I don't always do that, since the bread is fine either way.

Here's what it looks like out of the oven:

Loaves in DO

Ant the better loaf closer-up:

Better loaf

These are 70% hydration, 80% bread flour, 10% WW and 10% spelt sourdoughs with and added 10% cracked wheat scalded and soaked in an equal amount of water overnight. The levain was built up using three stages with feedings spaced close together, so you could call it a pretty "sweet" levain. The loaves were scaled at 630 g and scored using scissors like Chad Robertson seems to be fond of doing these days.

I know they're not perfect, but then at least there's always room for improvement! I saved another 630 g piece of dough to use as old dough later.

Here is the exact formula:


MisterTT's picture

This is my first blog post here on TFL. I've been baking for quite some time now, but there's always more to learn and work on and I'll admit to being tentative sharing my bakes, but anyways --

Today, I baked:

  • a Forkish-style Sesame Levain (75% hydration, 95% not-quite-white-but-not-high-extraction-either 812D wheat flour, 5% whole rye). Retarded for 16 hours and somewhat overproofed. Baked cold DO, cold oven. I find this is a nice way to warm up the oven.
  • Dan Dimuzzio's Sweet Challah. This bread is family favorite, I get asked to make it maybe 4-5 times a month. The loaf is 5-braided, with the seams between the braids split open a little bit - a look I like a lot.
  • Borodinsky using the Auerman process. Formula by Andy (ananda), though I tweaked it a little bit. 88% hydration, 85% whole rye, 15% 550D wheat flour. I used Lithuanian roasted rye malt, which to my mind really makes the bread nice, dark and tasty. This is my all time favorite bread, love to eat it with hard boiled eggs and a dab of good mayonnaise as an open-faced sandwich.

Crumb shots:

Sesame Levain:




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