The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

pul's blog

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I came home to see that my levain was doing quite well in my Doraemon bowl! The CO2 got trapped by the cling wrap. Interesting.

I mixed some unusual cassava flour this time. Cassava flour is gluten free stuff and this one was not toasted. I would like to try the toasted one sometime later on. The cassava flour needs to be hydrated before mixing. Since it was the first time I used, I hydrated with boiling water, but I think tap water would work just as fine.

I did not keep a good track of all ingredients, but here it goes:

80 g levain at 100% hydration

25 g cassava flour at 200% hydration

170 g flour (12% protein)

30 g semolina

80 g WW

4.5 g salt

177 g water

Total flour: 350 g

Total water: 267 g


I have done the standard procedure that I have followed lately: (1) Dissolve levain in water as well the cassava blob. It was a little gummy after hydrating, so I had to dissolve it by hands. (2) Add all flour and mix into a shaggy mass. (3) Wait for 30 min and add salt, kneading for 30 sec to 1 min. (4) Apply 3 sets of stretches and folds every 20-30 min. (4) Bulk fermentation needs to be about 4 hours. (5) Shape and retard in the fridge for about 6 hours. (6) Bake straight from the fridge on a 230 C deg oven for 45 min with lid on + 10 min with lid off (I started baking on a cold pot). (6) Wait to cool and slice

Crust and crumb were quite good. Since the cassava flour is mild in taste I could not identify it in the final loaf. Note that cassava flour and tapioca starch are different things. The cassava flour is not fermented, so the flavor is mild. Since I scalded the cassava in boiling water, it felt as the tangzhong method. Being gluten free, cassava flour is becoming a good option for those with celeriac decease. You will find other names for the product including: cassava, manioc, mandioca, yuca, ...).




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Hello Everyone


Following some irregular posting, here is a bake where I am using a bit durum. You can't even see it in the final bake, but hey it is a good start.



20 g starter (10 g from each starter I have been keeping)

50 g white flour

50 g water


All levain

160 g white

20 g semolina

70 g whole wheat

157 g water

4 g salt


Dissolve the levain in water, add all flour and mix into a shaggy mass. Wait 30 min and add salt, knead a bit (<1 min). Wait for another 30 min and add another 10 g water and knead to incorporate. Apply 3 stretches and folds every 30 min, and bulk ferment for another hour. In total, the bulk fermentation was about 4 hours in the oven with lights on. Shape and retard in the fridge for 4.5 hours. Baked in a 230 C oven starting with a cold pot, 42 min with lid on + 10 min with lid off.

I have not scored, so I tried to get a more rustic look like Danni's. And success! Crumb is moist, meshed, and soft with a slight tang but nothing overwhelming. I have been baking bread that takes less than 10 hours from mix to bake and the results have been gratifying without sacrificing any flavor (at least to my tasting buds).

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The smell of fresh bread in the air is so good in the morning. This one was baked at 4:30 am for breakfast. The recipe is as follows:

65 g levain @ 100% hydration

288 g flour mix (175 g bread flour, 93 g whole wheat, 20 g rye)

20 g seeds (chia + quinoa) scalded with 25 g boiling water

183 g water for mixing

15 g water (for double hydration)

4.5 g salt

Splash of honey


The levain came from two starters, one made using 80% bread flour + 20% whole wheat, and the other made with 100% whole wheat. First dissolved levain in the mixing water, added all flours and shortly mixed manually. Waited 20 minutes and mixed salt, kneading it in for about 1 min. Waited another 20 min to mix the scalded seeds, kneading again for about 1 min to mix the seeds in. After 30 min added the water for the double hydration and kneaded another 1 min or so. Applied 2 sets of stretch and folds in the bow, bulk fermented for about 4 hours in the oven with lights on. Shaped and placed it in the fridge for about 4 hours until it was baked straight from the fridge for 35 min in 220 C dutch oven with lid on + 2 min with lid off. Nice taste, moist crumb and great crust consistence. It took less than 12 hours between mixing and baking. The flavor has not been compromised by a quick bake like this one.



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Fellow TFLers,

 I decided to have some fun this week creating a new stater based on 100% whole wheat and blending my own flour in a vitamix. This is the first bake using the new starter.

It is a small loaf containing, 280 gr total flour, 73% hydration, and 3.5 gr salt. The flour mix was 60% white flour (11% protein) and 40% home blended whole wheat. I did not blend the berries too  fine to avoid overheating, so there was a lot wheat bran visible particles. I prepared a stiff levain at 60% hydration, which had 15 g whole wheat starter at 100% hydration and 30 gr whole wheat flour. Bulk fermented for 4 hours and short retarded in the fridge after shaping for another 5 hours. I baked it straight out of the fridge in cold oven initially. Overall the result was quite positive including crispy crust, soft crumb and subtle flavors.

Even though I am not actively blogging or commenting, I have been following you all and checking out all nice pictures posted every day.

Happy Baking



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Had some fun making small pizzas (less than 10 inches). 65% hydration dough with tomato sauce, home grown basil, fresh mozzarella (+ anchovies for first one below), and a drizzle of EVOO.



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This is probably one of my best ever. It contains 50% wheat flour, and 50% mix of light rye and whole wheat, 9% fermented flour, and 68% overall hydration. No autolyse has been used, two hours bulk fermentation at room temperature (30 C), applying two stretches and folds before sending it to fridge for an extended 18-hour retarded bulk fermentation.

After the cold bulk fermentation, it was shaped and proofed for another 80 min on the counter before been baked in DO at 220 C for 30 min with lid on + 5 min with lid off to color.

The baked load had a soft tang flavor developed over 18 hours of cold fermentation. Crumb texture was velvet soft and the crust as crispy as it gets. In spite of the long fermentation I have not seen a lot of holes in the crumb. I have seen reports by fellow bakers here that long fermentation helps to open up the crumb. Well, I guess there are more variables at play for getting more open crumb structure, which I don't quite understand yet. For now, I am enjoying all the benefits and fun of sourdough baking.


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My starter has been living in the fridge since its creation, but last week it decided to die for some reason. Fortunately, I had some dry starter chips in the fridge, which I could revive and after two feeds the "new" starter was good to go, very active. 

I hydrated the dry chips for 4 hours, and then fed it twice over the next 20 hours. Notice that I used tap water directly and things worked out fine. I believe the tap water here does not have a lot of chlorine.

Baked a loaf made of 67% white + 33% mixed whole wheat and rye flour at 68% overall hydration and 9% fermented flour. I also added some 10% mixed seeds for texture (flax, quinoa, chia), which were soaked in cold water for about ten hours. Very pleased with the crumb and crust. The loaf had an explosive oven spring, tearing apart the scoring slit from side to side as never seen before in my loaves.



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 I have setup a granite slab to bake some baggies up to 12" long. Following Alfonso's setup, this one seems to work quite well. My oven has no bottom heating element, so I have to flip the baggies to color their bottoms. No big deal, and some initial poolish baggies yield seen below. Yep, they look more like batards, but tasted great.


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I have another experiment using minimal amount of starter. This time I have not built any levain, and mixed 1 g starter with other ingredients. I tried to adjust the process to my schedule, which is mix in the morning, bulk ferment during the day, shape in the evening, retard overnight and bake in the following morning.

The measurements were 1 g starter, 220 g flour, 165 g water, and 3 g salt. The flour was 55% bread flour and the rest a mix of dark rye, red fife and whole wheat. Mixed in the morning (dissolved starter in water first), applied two stretches and folds, and after one hour placed the dough in the fridge for bulk fermentation. Roughly 12 hours later, removed the dough from the fridge without much noticeable signs of fermentation. Let it rest on the counter at room temperature for another 5 hours with two extra stretches and folds. Finally some signs of bulk fermentation showed up, so I shaped as a boule and placed it in the fridge for another 5 hours retarding (it was time to go to bed). Baked in the morning straight from the fridge to the results below.

There has been few holes, even though not evenly distributed. Oven spring was reasonable but nothing spectacular. The crumb was quite soft and the crust baked light. Flavor showed some good nuttiness and a subtle tang, just the way sourdough should be. I have done this experiment by building a 5%-flour levain with superior results as compared to using only 1 g starter without any levain build.

Using 1 g starter without building a levain seems to work, but I need to tweak the method for my schedule and to improve the results.

The bulk fermentation is too slow in the fridge due to the small amount of starter. However, I have tried to ferment it in room temperature for the same time. The result was a failure because the temperature is being too high and the long fermentation at room temperature seems to be damaging the dough structure. The result was a pancake as shown below (with some signs of over proofing too). Additionally, the bread was too sour due to the long fermentation at high temperature. I did not like the dough structure after the long fermentation. It was almost too wet and soup-like, so the flat bread resulted.

I still want to do another final test at room temperature, which will be making a stiff dough with low hydration, fermenting at room temperature, and then provide a second hydration in the evening. I just want to slow down the fermentation in room temperature so the dough structure is not compromised to a great extension.

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This is an update on the small amount starter experiment. I followed Dab's suggestion to drop the starter amount to 1 g and reduce the amount of fermented flour in the levain. 

The levain was built using 1g starter, 10 g bread flour and 10 g water. Left to mature on the counter at 30C for about 8 hours. The final dough was comprised of 220 g total flour (including levain's flour) and 75% hydration. I used a similar flour mix as in the first experiment: 50% bread flour and the rest a mix of white spelt, rye and ruchmehl (half-half whole wheat). 

Basic steps were used to build the dough and the bulk fermentation occurred over 4 hours. About 3 stretches and folds have been applied and not much handling of the dough was done. Shaped and proofed in the fridge for about 5 hours, and baked straight our from the fridge. 

Even though the fermented flour in the levain was a mere 5%, it got the job done without any issues. Now I am even more concerned on how to spend my starter, since I have been using pretty much nothing to build up my levain, and I have not refreshed it for at least two weeks already.

This method has worked well twice, so I think I will keep it throughout summer.





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