The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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In recent times I have been baking exclusively with durum wheat and the results have got progressively better with each bake. I wanted to explore the typical traditional process whereby an old-dough technique is employed although in real terms I applied the method in my own way.

Continuous old-dough process:

Old-dough (sourdough) (60% hydration and 2% salt).
refreshed 1:1 (old-dough:flour) + enough water to make a firm dough.

Make bread using refreshed old dough at 20%, reserve a piece.

In all cases the reserved old-dough and its refreshed version were stored in water to help speed up fermentation and reduce acid development, this being a common approach with lievito madre storage.



The following durum loaf was made at 80% hydration. A two-hour autolyse at 60% hydration was employed and the final mix was worked to full development. 


Old dough in water:


The loaf made following this one, despite all quantities being the same was much softer, something I was aiming for as the process continued. However, adding the last of the water broke the dough - in split, like curdling, thankfully I managed to work it back together with slap and folds. The lesson being that over-hydration with durum wheat is perhaps more of an issue when the gluten is highly resistant.

Semola rimacinata can be difficult to work with because its gluten is overly tenacious (high P/L values) which means it requires much energy input to work it into a plastic and elastic dough. Using a starter that is on the reductive spectrum really helps to improve the properties whereas acidity makes the situation worse. Durum wheat works best where acid content is very low and the salt in the process positively helps to bring about that condition, improving dough properties.

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Super-massive oven spring!

Based on a formula by Iginio Massari.

I was able to add extra water to the dough because the strength was so good.

Marriage's flour is excellent!


1st dough (12hrs @ 26C)




lievito madre (50% hydration)






egg yolk





2nd dough (bulk 1hr, 7hrs @ 26C)




vanilla flavour








egg yolk







sultanas and candied orange




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The aroma is unbelievable!

Made with Stoates (Whole Spelt) and Marriage's (Superfines) Flour, tap water (pH 7.8) and sea salt. 

Refresh (aka levain) 4 hrs @ 30C
50g LM (from bath)
50g Stoates Whole SPelt
15g water
= very firm 45% est. hydration.

400g flour (50% Spelt, 50% white)
111g LM as above
280g water
9.5g salt
10g olive oil

Bulk 2hrs @ 28C

Shaped, not moulded/freestanding and proved until triple (proper triple!) 5hrs@ 27C.


A few more pictures including crumb.

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Massari Dissapore    
Natural Yeast20.0%1004260
Egg Yolks24.0%12050.472
Egg Yolks26.0%13054.678
Orange Zest0.5%
Lemon Zest0.5%
Candied Orange30.0%1506390
Candied Citron10.0%502130


Woke up Christmas day to find a very active primo impasto.

Illustrated recipe:

Merry Christmas everyone


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Starter Preparation

Starter dough which was conserved in water for 16 hours at a regulated 20 degrees C was removed from storage and cleaned to obtain the "heart". This involved the removal of a dry crust formed on top and a wet under-layer which were then discarded. The remaining dough was pressed gently before being sliced into strips which were then allowed to soak in a bath made from sweetened water (2g sugar per litre of water). After 20 minutes the dough pieces were removed from the bath and squeezed to remove excess water before being scaled to the required weight. An equal quantity of flour, 1 part starter to 1 part flour (1:1) and 35% water were added to form a dough. This was then left to rise for 2 hours at 28-30 degrees C.


An autolyse process was prepared at 50% hydration using Leckford Estate bread flour (100%) and 1 percent diastatic barley malt flour. The flours were initially mixed with only part of the water to first form a breadcrumb-like texture. The remaining water was then added to allow for the formation of a dough which was allowed to rest covered with cloth until the starter was ready.

Main Dough

The remaining ingredients; salt and water were scaled and mixed. The starter dough and autolyse dough were divided into 8 roughly equal pieces and mixed together individually by hand kneading before being combined into one dough. This was again re-cut into numerous pieces which were added one by one to the prepared salt water solution with the mixer operating at speed 1. A paddle attachment was used to mix the ingredients until a dough formed that cleaned the bowl. This took approximately 5 minutes. The attachment was then changed to a dough hook before being mixed at speed 2 for a further 5 minutes.


The completed dough was allowed to ferment for 90 minutes at 28-30 degrees Celsius before being shaped and allowed to proof for further 5 hours at room temperature (approximately 25C).


After the proof period the dough was scored three times and transferred to a pre-heated cast iron stone before being placed into an oven at 230C. Steam was used during the first ten minutes.


"The finished loaf rose well although it is a little wide for its height. This can be contributed to a number of factors. The original formulation is designed to produce baguettes which require little strength. The flour although marketed as bread flour isn't particularly strong. The method could have been adjusted to allow for a longer bulk fermentation which would have developed more strength before being shaped."

Visual assessment and organoleptic characteristics

Golden hue and many blisters cover the crust. Creamy-white crumb. Wheaty aroma. Slight sweetness on the palate. Soft and light textured with a very subtle hint of mild acetic acidity that finishes through the nose.



14% pre-fermented flour.
68% hydration.
2% salt


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Since my post regarding dough rheology and the difficulties with durum wheat I have been tinkering...

I purchased 10 kilos of semola rimacinata from Italy and created a new starter spawned from my regular white lievito madre.


DAY1. 2200 - Refreshed and fermented for 8 hours at 28C
DAY2. 0600 - Transferred the now slightly sticky dough, wrapped and tied in cloth and left to ferment for 27 hours at 12C
DAY3. 0900 - Removed dough needed to make a loaf and reserved a piece for refreshment.


2% sea salt
20% starter
70% water
100% flour

From mixed dough to bake was 5 hours. 

The crumb is very soft and fluffy as it should be, see video below. Crust cracked. The texture is there, I just need to work on the flavour.. 


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Piergiorgio Giorilli is a baker in a league of his own. His years of experience and effortless skills speak volumes. He is a true master! I have known of Giorilli for sometime now, yet I haven’t until now made a panettone in accordance with his methods and formula.

Processing of the mother dough is a skill that requires tuition and above all else, experience. Giorilli opts to maintain his madre in water during the standard 12 hour period. While as typical, before proceeding to the first dough three refreshments are made lasting 4 hours each time.

From I sourced his recipe. I adapted his formula to make two 500 gram panettoni, flavoured with the traditional sultanas, orange and citron.

Primo impasto

69g lievito madre mature
75g sugar
120g water
54g egg yolks
72g butter
240g flour

Secondo impasto

60g flour
66g sugar
4g salt
96g egg yolks
129g butter
2g malt
120g sultanas
60g candied orange peel
30g candied citron

aromatic mix x2

30g acacia honey
vanilla pod seeds
orange zest
lemon zest


For those wishing to make panettone this Christmas, this one should be your choice, it's a forgiving formula...

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Quick post showing this mornings croissants freshly baked.

My SD starter lievito madre responsible for raising these delights.

egg washed


Just a small batch as I'm still practicing my laminating skills. I successfully rolled these without tearing the dough, a first! Patience is key, with hour-long rests between each turn.


350__ 500 grams of flour 00 strong (I used a 380w)
105__ 150 grams of sourdough refreshed twice
10.5__ 15 grams of egg yolk
63____90 grams of sugar
10.5__ 15 grams of melted butter 
6.3____ 9 grams of salt
168__ 240 grams of water.
 flavours: vanilla, orange

Butter per sfogliata: 203, 290 grams

Procedure: Mix all ingredients until dough is smooth and homogeneous.
Chill for at least 4 hours.

Roll out the dough, collect the butter and make 3 of 3 folds as for the pastry, doing stand 1 hour each fold.
Spread, form the croissants and let rise for 16 hours at 22 °
Bake at 180 degrees until golden brown ( about 20 minutes)


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Here is my interpretation of ciabatta made with sourdough.

As a general rule wetter doughs require less madre. I used 20% instead of normal 25% as per doughs made at 70% hydration.

lievito preparation:

  • lievito madre in aqua: 12hrs @ 15C
  • bath: 15 minutes in sweetened water @ 38C


20% - lievito madre
90% - '00' flour
10% - whole emmer flour
85% - water (of flour added)
02% - salt (of total flour)

I mixed to the maximum extension of the gluten (full development)


4hrs @ 27C. Stretch and fold every 30 minutes for the first two hours, undisturbed for the remaining two.

Prove at room temp for 4hrs or until past double.

This is super soft as I have kept lactic acid to a minimum.

I have already made this again but with 30% emmer wheat and it had a wonderful aroma, definitely some diacetyl vapourising as it cooled fresh from the oven!



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This was an experiment to make a loaf ideal for toasting and to have a lightness of commercially "improved" bread leavened with just sourdough.

Lievito madre bound for 12hrs @ 18-20C.

autolyse: 80% canadian wheat, 10% white spelt, 10% light rye. 55% hydration. 12hrs @ ~20C.

Bath lievito for 20 minutes in sweetened water @ 20-22C.
1st refresh: [1]:[1.5] ([lievito]:[flour]) 28C for 4 hours.

133g lievito refreshed
620g autolyse
58.6g water
15g oil
10g honey
9.7g salt

Bulk ferment for 90 minutes @ 28C. Proof @30C for 3-4 hours or until generously tripled.


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