The Fresh Loaf

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Nate Delage's blog

Nate Delage's picture
Nate Delage

It's been a while since I mixed up my standard white bread flour formula. I decided to march to a different tune a few days ago and try something a bit different.

I started collecting things from the pantry and this is what I arrived at:

The formula:

  • 850g bread flour
  • 150g rye flour
  • 25g wheat germ
  • 25g sesame seeds
  • 460g water
  • 250g beer
  • 20g salt
  • 6g yeast

I decided not to count the wheat germ as 'flour' when calculating the amount of water to add. Not sure what the generally accepted approach is.

The mix (KitchenAid)

  • 6min: speed 2
  • 45 autolyse
  • 3min: speed 2


I used a primary fermentation of 3 hours at 72 degrees and overnight in the fridge (mostly to fit my schedule). The dough easily doubled, I think the sugar in the beer kept the yeast happy.

Shape, Proof & Score

The next day I (for no good reason) decided to shape all this dough as a single large boule. It proofed for about 3 hours at 70 degrees. I needed such a long proof because the dough was still chilled from the time in the fridge. I proofed on a couche and transferring wasn't an easy task. There was no way to flip this over like I do my baguettes. I eventually just did my best to scoop it up with my hands and transfer to some parchment. Doing this really made me nervous, but thankfully it more or less held it's shape. Next time I'll probably proof right on some parchment paper. Looking back I think the proof time was a bit too long (I was out of the house while it proofed and made it back later than I expected).

Scoring was a piece of cake because it had developed a bit of a skin, having proofed for so long. I used to think any skin was to be avoided, but just a little makes scoring so much easier. And I don't think it's the detriment of the final product.


This was unlike any bake I've done before! Into the oven at 500 degrees with 1 cup of water poured into a pan for steam (oh no! did I just use a volume measurement?!) 30 minutes into the bake the crust had developed a nice brown color. I decided to check the internal temperature, thinking it might need another 10min or so. Imagine my shock when the thermometer read 96 degrees!! I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even halfway to my usual 'done' temp of 208 degrees.

So I dropped the temperature to 425, realizing this was going to be a loooooong bake. I lost track of time, but it felt like an eternity. I was nervous I'd eventually burn the crust, but that wasn't an issue. Eventually the temperature crept up while the crust became darker and darker.

When I arrived to 208, I turned off the oven and left the boule in the oven with the door ajar, sitting on a cooling rack. This way it would cooled without the internal moisture 'steaming' the crust (something I've had happen more than once) Can't loose that crunch!


Delicious! I can't stop eating it ;) Because of the long bake time, I ended up with a super thick crust that isn't overly chewy. And while not burned, the dark crust has a flavor I really enjoy. The crumb isn't very open at all, which is fine with me and expected given the rye and wheat germ. I'm not really sure the sesame seeds provided at flavor. I'm making this loaf again without the seeds or the beer.

What about the beer? I used a darker Octoberfest beer I had laying around. I'm really not sure what if anything it contributed to the flavor of the loaf. It definitley doesn't smell like beer, nor can I pick out the taste of the beer. It will be interesting to compare this loaf with another made without the beer (currently in progress).

Nate Delage's picture
Nate Delage

I've been continuing practicing my baguettes and have progress to report. I've lowered my hydration yet again to 71% and the dough is even easier to shape and more importantly score. While there's still some room for improvement, I was able get some nice ears on the last few loaves.

I was a bit surprised to get such a nice shine and caramel color on these loaves. I suspect this is beacause of more aggressive steaming than I usually do. The past few bakes I've only sprayed the sides of the oven, this time I also poured a cup of water in a pan right before baking and wasn't afraid to spray the top of the loaves while they were cooking (just the first 10min). I'll continue to steam with both water in a pan and spraying the entire oven (being careful to not spray the oven light).

The taste, crumb and crust were excellent all around. I really enjoyed eating these! Again a lower hydration didn't seem to impact the crumb much at all. Granted I only reduced my hydration a few percent.

Tomorrow will be a busy baking day. I'll be making some more baguettes and a few boules and oval loaves with 15% whole wheat. I just received a beautiful couche and brotform from SFBI and a lame, which I can't wait to use.


Nate Delage's picture
Nate Delage

Hi to everyone on TFL! I've been lurking here for a while, trying to absorb as much information as I can. I finally feel like I have some success worth sharing.

I've been practicing baguettes for some time now and the past few weeks I've been more determined to make small tweaks and hopefully improve the results.

My most recent attempt used 50% KA AP and 50% KA bread flour. This gave me the best combination of chew and crisyness to the crust.  I've been reducing my hyrdration (I started at 78% originally) and I've more or less settled at 72%. I was worried the lower hyrdration wouldn't yield an open crumb, but that hasn't been an issue. The lower hyrdration has made the dough much easier to work with and my scoring results are improving. Though I'm waiting for a proper lame to arrive in the mail. I'm still waiting for the grigne that let's me hang the bread from my fingertip!

I start with a short bulk fermation, using cold water so the dough never really 'explodes' with gas. I just autolyse for 30 min they stretch and fold every 20min for about 2 hours.

Then it's into the fridge for ~20hs. Once I take it out of the fridge I let it warm up over 1 hours time, stretching and folding a few times. Then a pre-shaping, bench rest, final shaping and a 25min proof. I think I'll try a longer proof next time.

The baguettes are all 250 grams and just fit in the oven at 18", so they are quite thin. This time I let my oven (and stone) warm up for almost an hour, which made a huge impact on the bottom crust. It was nice and thick, but not burned.

I spray the oven with a water bottle ever few minutes during the first 10min of baking. Another trick I've been using (mentioned on TFL frequently) is to leave the bread in the oven for another 5min once they've finished baking. This helps ensure a crisp crust.

I've been lusting for a mixer, but the stretch and fold approach works so darn well I'm not sure if I can every justify the cost. The oven stone was worth it though!

Here are some pictures:

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