The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Shiao-Ping's blog

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First of all, I have to say that I feel uncomfortable every time when I refer to MacGuire's set of procedure Pain de Tradition procedure.  As I indicated in my first post that, in the Winter 2006 issue of The Art of Eating magazine,  Nos 73+74 (note: a 20th Anniversary Double Issue) where I got this method, it is entitled "A Full-Flavoured, Minimum-Kneading, All-Included Recipe for a Round Loaf with Many of the Advantages of the Baguette."   I said that essentially this is an old-style straight-dough, super-hydrated formula which can also be used for baguette.  I call it Pain de Tradition because, from reading MacGuire's 10 page article entitled "The Baguette" about Prof. Calvel, I understand it to be a bread using the traditional method seen in Prof. Calvel's younger days, ie. slow & gentle mixing and long cool fermentation (but of course the actual steps that I relayed were developed by Mr. MacGuire).  The article is beautifully written and extremely informative.  I don't want to mislead anybody or misrepresent Mr. MacGuire and I would encourage anyone who is interested in more details to visit Edward Behr's The Art of Eating website and get a back issue.   

Another very important point which I did not mention in my first post is the choice of flour.  MacGuire is very careful of what flour he uses for his straight-dough baguette.  He does it only if the flour is "right."  He dedicates a big section in his article about the differences between French and North American flours, which is a familiar topic for TFL users here.  Suffice to say that, for want of a basic French flour (the type 55), MacGuire uses King Arthur's All-Purpose Flour instead.   (It may not be acceptable to him but nothing says we cannot experiment with any flours we like - this is the prerogative of home cooks.)   

That said, I had a load off my chest.  Phew!  Now I can get on with the important stuff of this post.   

I love fruits and nuts in my breads.  (How interesting - sorry to go back to my inspiration again - that MacGuire reveals that Calvel "retained his generation's disdain for whole-wheat flour, saying, 'Just as we peel oranges, wheat's outer layer is removed'" and that Calvel "insisted that the bread he ate in his youth was as white as today's."  Furthermore, he adds, "Except for walnuts or raisins, he (ie, Calvel) disdained such non-grain ingredients in bread." !!)  

Ever since I learned how to operate a bread machine some 6 or 7 years ago, I've been quick in trying to make my own walnut and raisin breads.  It is like someone who can barely walk properly, already tries to run.   I love to add all sorts of fun stuff into my breads, and I am very greedy too - I love to add a lot of it vis-a-vis the flour quantity.  For some reason I have never had great results with walnut and raisin breads though.    

Armoured with the new found procedure from master baker James MacGuire, I thought I'd give it another go. 

My formula follows:  

230 g starter @75% hydration (ie, 132 g white flour & 98 g water)

318 g KAF Sir Lancelot high-gluten flour (On hindsight, All-Purpose flour would have been better; the crumb may even be more open.)

257 g water

100 g walnuts (I was going to lightly toast them, but my bag of walnuts is new and the walnuts tastes crisp, so I didn't.)

125 g mixed fruits (Predominantly sultanas, there are also raisins, citrus peels and currants.  I did not soak them because they taste moist.)

5 g sesame oil (or one tsp)

1 tsp of cinnamon powder

9 g salt

sesame seeds and fine psyllium husks for dusting the banneton and the shaped loaf  


total flour = 450 g  and  total hydration (including oil) = 360 g; ie, dough hydration = 80%  

nuts and fruits = 50% of flour, which is higher than Hamelman's fruits & nuts based bread and/or sourdough recipes (ranging from 25 - 32%) but a lot less than Reinhart's Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread recipe (80%) which David rendered beautifully in his June 22 post here.  



      Sourdough Walnut & Sultana Bread - using James MacGuire's pain de tradition procedure  


                      the crumb  


                                   and the close-up  


the calculation of water temperature when sourdough starter is used  

When there is a sourdough starter, there is one more element to consider in the calculation of water temp for the final dough.  I did not mention this when I posted my San Francisco Sourdough Bread.  I use the mid-range temp of 71 - 75 F (22 - 24 C) for the ideal dough temperature, ie, 73 F (22 C), as a base to add to the figure we already have, that is 216 F, to arrive at the new starting figure for calculation.   

216 F + 73 F = 289 F

289 F - room temp - flour temp - starter temp - 5 =  water temp (bearing in mind this is for hand mixing)  

This may not be correct in the strictest sense, but I get a rough gauge as to what water temp I should be aiming for.   (Susan's Wild Yeast blog may have something more accurate, but I cannot remember.)  

mixing and fermentation  

With this bread, I didn't want to bother with the two-step mixing that most recipes would have you do, ie, mixing the flours with the water first, autolyse, then mixing in all the fruits & nuts.  I basically gave the flour a reluctant stir in the starter/water mixture for no more than 5 - 10 seconds, added the fruits and nuts straight away, then at this point I did a good stir for a minute or two.  Autolysed for 10 min as in MasGuire's instruction, then performed my first set of 8 - 10 folds.  

By the time I finished all 5 sets of  8 - 10 folds, it was half past 11 last night.  I shaped the dough, rolled it lightly in a mixture of sesame seeds and fine psyllium husks (a bit like very fine bread crumbs).  I dusted the benetton lightly again with this sesame seeds mixture, placed the shaped dough in there, covered the whole thing in a plastic bag, and chucked it into the refrigerator for retardation.  Brought it out to room temp this morning at 7 and baked it at 8:30 for 50 minutes.      

the result  

My husband is no expert in breads, or sourdough for that matter.  But, hey, we are here to please our family.  By no means are our family's standards those of professionals.  But, if our family is happy, we are happy.  

My husband said the bread is just brilliant!  He said the flavors are well balanced, you cannot discern any individual flavor, nothing is dominant that you can pick up.  He alone had 1/3 of the loaf with morning tea!  

Don't we love a biased family member.  



p.s.  My daughter, just home from school, was munching a piece of this bread.  I showed her my draft, she goes, "No, you are not there to please family members, you are there to please yourself!  Isn't that what you've always told us!"   Ahh, that is my girl.


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I wanted to see if James MacGuire's Pain de Tradition procedure would improve my San Francisco Sourdough.  My formula is as follows:

220 g San Francisco starter @75% hydration (ie, 126 g white bread flour and 94 g water)

374 g white bread flour

306 g water

10 g salt

2 g instant dry yeast

(ie, total flour is 500 g and total water is 400 g)



(left) SF starter with some water to loosen it up first   

(center) mix in all remaining recipe water 

(right) combine all ingredients 

After which I followed James MacGuire's pain de tradition procedure as in my earlier post.   And, here is what I've got:


    San Francisco Sourdough Bread using James MacGuire's pain de tradition procedure


                      The crumb

I went a bit heavy handed, dusting too much flour on the banneton before I put the shaped dough in.  James specifically advises against it because too much flour will hinder browning and crispness.   Other than that, I am very pleased with the result.  Essentially this is the same as the white Pain de Tradition with an extra depth in flavor - due to the San Francisco sourdough starter.  With the help of a little yeast, the crumb opens up so well.

Not sure if I can call this boule a genuine sourdough, but, the heavily floured crust notwithstanding, it is a great bread that my family enjoyed.   My husband said to me, "I don't think that I've ever had bread that good; it's the simplicity of the flavor ...."  He said, "I don't know if I'll mature into rye and other grains but ... the intensive flavor of this one is just bloody sensational!"   Sometimes I'm not sure if I would ever be accustomed to Aussie lingo.


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As I had such a lovely result from my last Pain de Tradition using white flour, I thought I'd give it a try with whole-wheat flour.   James said to make a miche de campagne, substitute 15% whole-wheat or up to 10% medium rye for part of the white flour, so my 100% whole-wheat version isn't conventional. 


   100% Whole-Wheat Miche de Campagne - James MacGuire's Pain de Tradition formula


                  The crumb



There is one major difference in the procedure from my previous one.  I retarded the shaped dough overnight, for 8 hours, and then let it come back to room temperature for an hour and a half before it's loaded to oven to bake.  The whole process seems to be long but is not at all cumbersome for a housewife - there are always a million things to be done in the kitchen and around the house any way.

The result is very pleasing for me.  I think the high hydration dough loves to sing, I could hear it crackling even 5 meters away.  It has a very strong nutty and wheaty aroma.  The crust is very crispy and the crumb is lovely.   So often wholemeal bread is dense and heavy, but this high hydration pain de tradition formula makes this 100% wholemeal bread light and delightful to have.  I will have no trouble at all getting my son to have a piece of this.  Done!


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Many TFL users would recognise Mr James J. MacGuire's name as he is the technical editor for Prof. Raymond Calvel's "The Taste of Bread."   In a 10 page article entitled, "The Baguette" in the Winter 2006 issue of Mr Edward Behr's quarterly magazine "The Art of Eating," ie. No 73+74 issue, Mr  MacGuire's message about a good French traditional bread is very clear: slow & gentle mixing with autolyse, long fermentation, and high hydration.  

A 4-page formula follows The Baguette article in the same issue and is entitled "A Full-Flavored, Minimum-Kneading, All-Included Recipe for a Round Loaf with Many of the Advantages of the Baguette."    This is an old-style straight-dough formula which is superhydrated and can also be used for baguette.   My understanding from reading the article is that the method in the formula is like that applied in Prof. Calvel's younger days.  I made my bread using Mr MacGuire's formula in the magazine and I called it "James J MacGuire's Pain de Tradition" which may not be entirely accurate but it is how I understood it to be.   I would strongly encourage any one who is interested in Mr MacGuire's detailed formula to have a look at his well-written article in the Art of Eating magazine.  As a home baker, I can finally say that I have found a method that I can rely upon with consistent result, and I thank Mr MacGuire for making the formula available to home bakers as well as Mr Behr's for publishing such a quality magazine. 

As Mr MacGuire says in Prof. Calvel's "The Taste of Bread" that bakers have always been known for their desire to form friendships and for their willingness to share, to me no sharing is as useful as pointing to the right direction.   I first learnt about the MacGuire's article through the Q & A with Daniel T. DiMuzio when Floyd and Eric interviewed Mr DiMuzio back in May this year.  If Mr DiMuzioh had not mentioned about it, I would not have known about Mr MacGuire's recipe. 

The following is the bread that I made based on Mr MacGuire's formula:      







When it came out of the oven, it sang for the best part of 6 to 7 minutes.   There was a very strong nutty aroma in the crust.  The crumb was a beautiful creamy color; it's light and delicate to taste.


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My son asked if I could make hot cross buns for Easter three months ago, so I Googled the recipe and a whole new world opened up to me.  Up until then, I had hardly used internet recipes, and guess what - the first hot cross bun recipe that I came across was Dan Lepard's recipe and it came with this excerpt from Dan's website:

"Good bread comes from an understanding of its nature... a good baker recognizes that the doughs he makes are living things with individual identities, that they ultimately create themselves. The baker's skill is to encourage natural developments ...."

These few words enlightened me and I have since moved away from pastries and have come to a completely new frontier - sourdough! I began researching sourdough day and night for a period of three months non-stop. Before Easter, I had never heard of the word "sourdough."  I had made pastries for years and yeasted breads using bread machine every now and then, but strangely I had never heard of "sourdough" up until that point. 

I was trying to explain to my sisters back in Taiwan about this curious dough.  I had to translate the word into Mandarin to make myself understood. I said it is a "suan-mientuan," meaning "sour-dough" in Mandarin but I was not happy with the translation. Soon after that, I started to use "tian-ren-fa-hsiao-mientuan," meaning "naturally-leavened dough" to describe it and I am much happier with this translation.

I had leftover molasses mixed in water from making the last Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel.  I love the rich taste and aroma of molasses and I wonder what it would be like to put it in sourdough.  Here I go the fanciful side of me is working.

This Molasses & Light Rye Crusty Sourdough is my tribute to Dan Lepard. I thank him for opening up a brave new world of sourdough to me.



               Molasses & Light Rye Crusty Sourdough



My formula

196 g molasses starter @ 100% hydration (note: I used one part molasses to 9 parts water and 10 parts flour)

160 g rye starter @ 100% hydration

278 g KAF Sir Lancelot high gluten flour

121 g molasses water (again, one part molasses to 9 parts water)

22 g olive oil

9 g salt

(final dough weight 786 g, dough hydration 70%) 


The dough was bulk fermented for 4 hours and during that time it received 3 folds. Shaped, then into the fridge for cold retardation for 10 hours. Proofed at room temp for 2 & 1/2 hours this morning before baking.

I have found something quite useful for new sourdough baker like myself and that is to NOT over-steam the oven. With too much steam, the scores would seal up quickly in the oven and would not give nice grigne.

We had this sourdough for brunch today and it was really lovely. My son said he could smell a pleasant sourness.  He had a slice with peanut paste (how typical for a growing boy). My daughter had it with grilled capsicum in an open sandwich; my husband had his with a thick layer of butter, and I had it as is.  AND, Polly our dog got a slice too!


                                                                               As the loaf is being sliced ...




















      Polly awaits anxiously ... to get her share.


Happy baking!


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My daughter will be away for her 17th birthday at the end of this month.  She and four other Year-12 students are representing Australia in an International Young Physicists Tournament in China and are leaving this Saturday.  My husband had asked if I wanted to go along and help with the language translation.  I said No because I think the kids can do with a bit of freedom (and excitement) in a foreign country.  And, sure enough, because the mummy doesn't want to go, the daddy had conveniently engineered a business trip to be up there at the same time - the daddy and the daughter are leaving together on the same flight.

The mummy is not unhappy with all that.  She made an Orange Infused Sponge Cake with Coconut & Orange Cream Icing for the daughter's 17th birthday in advance.  The cake was decorated with orange roses, the petals of which were lightly coated with egg white before icing sugar was dusted.  The birthday was celebrated two weeks ahead of time. 

Here is the birthday cake:



                Orange Infused Sponge Cake with Coconut & Orange Cream Icing





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I love pumpkin, but when my husband came home with three huge pumpkins, I worried.  What am going to do with all these pumpkins, I asked. I got no reply.   He had gone camping with our son and our son's friend at our farm, two hours north west of Brisbane.  The caretaker's wife keeps a small patch of vegetable garden and every now and then she gives me something from her vege garden.  My favorite are cherry tomatoes and silverbeets.   These pumpkins are from her garden too.     

It's school holiday and we were driving west, in-land, to somewhere.   I was bouncing off ideas with my daughter; I said how about Pumpkin Sourdough with Roasted Pumpkin Soup, or how about Grilled Pumpkin & Chinese deep-fried Onion Sourdough.  All of a sudden, my daughter said, how about Triple Pumpkin Sourdough with pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, and shredded raw pumpkin; she is catching on.  As we were talking, my husband is mumbling, give me a gun! and my son was unavailable for comment, totally absorbed in the video that he's watching in the back seat.      

My local organic shop which I visited the other day has got  "coconut flour" now, a very fine desiccated coconut.   I bought some without any clue how to use it because I love anything and everything to do with coconut ... hmmm ... Thai green curry with coconut cream ... yumm!   

The French bread books that Flo Makanai ordered for me had arrived last week, one of which is "Le Pain, l'envers du decor," or Bread, Behind the Scenes, by Frederic Lalos who is one of the youngest bakers to have been awarded Meilleur Ouvrier of France, at the age of 26.  (Sorry, my Google translator does not recognise "Meilleur Ouvrier.")  On page 168 is La couronne bordelaise (the Bordeaux Crown), one of the French regional breads that are featured in the book.    I find the shape really interesting, and finally a reason for my experiment on pumpkin! 

 Here we go.    



My formula  

246 g starter @75% hydration

202 g Sir Lancelot flour

60 g white flour

40 g coconut flour (or fine desiccated coconut)

77 g water

232 g cooked pumpkin puree

9 g salt

very fine zest from one medium orange

pumpkin seeds for decorating    

(final dough weight 866 g and approx. dough hydration 70 - 72%) 



    Pumpkin Sourdough with Coconut & Orange


                                                                                               The crust 


                                    The crumb    


The orange and coconut is a combination that I always love.  The fragrance is beautiful.   But I'll probably not do coconut "flour" next time; it seems to have a "punctuating" effect, like grains and seeds, on bread.  I am not sure if I am using that word right, but I suspect it is making gluten network harder to form, or something like that.  Instead, coconut milk (or diluted coconut cream) would be a better choice. 


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1983, I was in my mid-20's in Boston doing my final year of post graduate studies under Rotary scholarship.  A memorable year as it was the first time ever in my life that I went overseas.  My host family, Bob, is from Armenia and Maria, Germany; both came to America in their late teens.  One day they drove me to New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum.  We had lunch at a posh side walk cafe; the waiter brought us curious black color bread rolls.  As Maria was eating, she couldn't stop raving about these dense looking bread rolls which had (I subsequently learnt) a faint caraways fragrance.  To this day I still remember how she was telling me that breads are supposed to be dense and flavorful, not like those fluffy, light stuff from supermarkets.   

As I've been baking a lot of sourdough breads lately, I think of Bob and Maria a lot.   It was sort of a fluke that I started reading about the story of Horst Bandel, a local minister who bought breads from Jeffrey Hamelman's bakery in Vermont years and years ago (page 221 of Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Technique and Recipes).  Horst Bandel's family owned a bakery for 150 years in Germany; he was going to take over the bakery but had to flee to America because of the 2nd World War.   He became a minister and had not baked since.... until he and Hamelman got together to bake this black pumpernickel of his youth.  

Horst's family used a wood-fired oven for all their baking; this Black Pumpernickel would go into the oven last of all when they finished baking the day's bread, and baked (in covered pan) overnight in the lingering heat of the oven.  "Next morning, we would pull it from the oven, dark, dense, and fragrant," as he described it to Hamelman.  

Well, I made this Black Pumpernickel in memory of Bob & Maria, and my Boston days.  



    Horst Bandel's Black Pumpernickel, baked as a normal sourdough bread     



                            Horst Bandel's  Black Pumpernickel, baked in covered casserole pan, in medium low heat as per Halmelman's instruction    


Formula was based on page 221 - 224 of Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes.   Total dough weight was 1.8 kg which I separated into two pieces and baked differently as the pictures above show.    





                                       The crumb



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I have been having problems with my San Francisco starter.  This is the only starter that I have used so far that is not home grown.  It is not as vigorous as what I am used to.  This is the third time I've used it to make sourdough but I'm still not getting the open crumb that I want.  I am documenting it because my husband claims that it is the best sourdough I've made so far.  He absolutely loved the flavor and could not stop raving about it.  He said "it's long in the palate, like wine."   

Our kids' God parents came tonight and I made roast pork leg for dinner.   There was only a little bit leftover and my husband said he couldn't wait to have roast pork sourdough sandwich with apple sauce tomorrow.   Another reason why he likes this sourdough is because the crust is not too crusty (thick crust hurts his gum?!).

Well, if it makes my family happy, I am happy.  So I am going to be "thick-skinned" and show this somewhat dense crumb here.  



          San Francisco Sourdough  


                          The crumb  


For this sourdough, I tried to follow Leader's San Francisco Sourdough recipe (p. 212 - 215 of Bread Alone), but I had no patience.  A 29-hour procedure became 65 hours for me because I left it in the refrigerator for too long.   And maybe that is what contributed to the great flavor!  



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Goji is one of the most anti-oxidant berries in the world.  Tibet is a barren country; they don't have much produce but they have Goji in abundance.  In the health food stores in Brisbane, I sense a fab going on with these Tibetan Goji berries.  They sell for a lot of money but in China and Taiwan they are dirt cheap - you buy them from Chinese herbal medicine stores.  As kids, we were told to have plenty of them as they are very good for your eye sight (or so the Chinese herbal doctors have us believe).  A dish that my mother often made when we were little was beef and Goji soup - it's like a clear stew which is mildly sweet and very nutritious.   In Chinese restaurants, sometimes you can get clear chicken and Goji soup with ginger, served individually in a cute little porcelain pot.  My mother would be very happy to learn that I have made these Goji berries into a sourdough bread.  


                                       Goji berries from Tibet                               cooked spinach  

This is my first take on this combination.   I soaked the Goji berries in boiling hot water for 10 minutes so that when they are kneaded into the dough they would be mashed into puree and would color the dough.  I added a touch of freshly ground nutmeg and pepper to counter  the sweetness from Goji.  I want this to be a more savory rather than sweet sourdough.   And, it worked.     


mixing                                                 the dough                                            done proofing

start to finish - 18 hours     

My Formula:  

190 g starter @ 75% hydration  

186 g white flour  

186 g KAF Sir Lancelot high gluten flour  

90 g water   100 g Goji berries soaked in 100 g boiling hot water for 10 min.  

120 g cooked English spinach (I cooked more than double that quantity in 20 g olive oil, then squeezed out as much liquid as possible)  

10 g Tibetan salt  

freshly ground nutmeg and black pepper  

fine psyllium husks for dusting    


final dough weight 980g and approx. hydration 70% (about 50-60% of spinach weight is liquid even though they've been squeezed)        



    Tibetan Goji Berries & English Spinach Sourdough                                      


                                  The crumb                 


              more crumb                                                        


                                                  ... and more ....  

The crust is soft to bite into and yet very crispy.  I have found a way to manage my oven to achieve a crust that I like - I start the baking at 240C/465F for 10 min, turn the temp down to 215C/420F for another 10 min, then 190C/375F another 10 min, then 170C/340F for the remaining 10 min - all up 40 minutes for a loaf around 1 kg.   I have found that it is time, not heat, that matters for the crust that I like.    

The crumb was really delicious - I could have it on its own without any butter.  (I tend to under-salt my dough as I like to make it up in the butter I spread onto my slice when I have it.  This is the same as, for example, when I cook risotto - I save a portion of the butter/oil required for the recipe until the last minute just before the dish is to be plated, so the rice is coated with the lovely butter, silky and fragrant, as I take my first morsel.)  

I enjoy this sourdough more than the Caramelized Hazelnut & Blueberry Spelt Sourdough that I made two days ago.  No single taste stands out; there is a very fine balance in the sweetness of Goji berries, the salt, and the spiciness of pepper and nutmeg.  You cannot single out any individual taste.  The flavors blend in effortlessly because they are compatible.   

I surprise myself.                                                                                                                         


                                                                                                                    fine psyllium husks dusting



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