The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Skibum's blog

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I am getting my chops down now on the Country Blonde. I like the flavour, crust and chew of the crumb. This was aslo my first attempt at David Snyder's San Jose Sour Dough. My SJSD needs work, but this is a nice tasting bread!  I need to work on my shaping and scoring. At these high ambient temperatures 45 minutes was too long and the loaf tough to score with a lame. Forty minutes would have been better.

Ah well, some nice tasting breads to eat and share with my neighbours. I delivered a couple of half loaves today and their little girl, six, ran inside with the goods yelling, Daddy, we have Brian bread! LOL! Made my day!!!

Happy baking folks!!! Ski


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Satisfying to get a good result on my latest take 6. Takes 4 and 5 were over proofed with my new summer kitchen temperatures. All winter and spring my kitchen was a steady 68F Now that we have real summer it is running 73-75F and BOY does this temperature change mess with bulk rise and proofing schedules!

With take four, I took the bulk rise time down to 8 hours from the 12-14 hours Ken rec's @ 70F. WAY too long. I got up to check in at 4:00 am after 6.5 hours bulk and it was already gone.

Okay, for take five, we will try an all day country blonde: Start the levain at 6:00 am, mix at 12:00 pm, finish bulk at 7:00 pm and proof and bake at 9:30. Still WAY over proofed.

For this successful bake, I started the levain at noon and mixed at 5:00 pm. With 30 minutes after the first S&F, the dough had risen by more than 1/3, so I dropped the next rest to 20 minutes and the final 2 S&F's to 15 minutes rest. I then rested the dough for 45 minutes and did a final fold at 8:00 pm. The dough had nearly doubled by this time, so the only way to save things was into the fridge overnight.

In the morning two hours on the counter, shape and proof for 1:40 rather than the 3:30 -4:00 rec'd at 70F. This baked at 475F in a covered DO for 25 mins and a further 25 mins uncovered, turning at the half.

I really like this formula! Happy baking folks!!! Ski

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I always enjoy this enriched sweet bread with a cup of good strong coffee -- anytime! I only changed up one thing from my last  back and that was shoe horning it into my oval brotform to proof. Proofing in a hard sided form resulted in more vertical rise vs proofing a braided loaf on a linen couche. I liked the result:

After proofing I egg wshed, sprinkled sugar and ground almond along with a few almond slices. Time for another slice!

Happy baking folks! Ski

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Well, I thought I would try out my new oval shaped brotform and I like the result. Like my round form it is made for 500g of dough. I used a half of KF's formula, then divided it for the two small forms.

The dough has just been placed in the brotforms to proof. After 3 hours the dough had risen above the forms comfortable. Each loaf was 612 grams and perhaps the upper limit for these forms.

Once again the loaf in the round form stuck badly, so I have worked on that problem today. The only thing I changed up was a longer autolyse of 6 - 7 hours to see if that would open up the crumb. It didn't.

I think I over did the bulk ferment as it peaked then fell back somewhat. I did the final mix at 3:30 pm which was too early. By 7:00 am the bulk had fallen.


Happy baking folks, Ski

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Well it was nearly a complete gong show, but fortunately the bread turned out nicely. I followed Ken Forkish's directions to the T this time with a now healthy and very active levain. I baked this a couple of weeks ago with a pretty new levain and also put the bulk ferment in the fridge overnight. A re-read of the formula revealed no refrigeration of the bulk fermentation. After an overnight on the counter, I had a huge volume of 80% hydration dough -- at least 3.5x grown in volume. 

After shaping I had my doubts the dough would fit into the banneton. My fears were confirmed.

Sometimes you need to read ALL of the instructions. At 80% hydration, this loaf stuck all around the top two canes that apparently were not well enough floured, overflowed the baking parchment and peel, stuck onto the counter and peel and barely fit into the DO. This was a half a OCB recipe. When I checked, Ken uses a 9" banneton and mine is barely six inches. Oops!!! I need a bigger banneton, or cut the formula to 1/3 from 1/2.

Fortunately the bread tastes great. I really like this recipe and with a healthy levain, a great flavour and chew.

Happy baking folks. Everyone has their gong show baking moments . . .   Ski

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I LOVE this bread!!! I recently made two full batches with onion sliced so fine it disappears in the crumb. This time I followed the recipe to a T, for a change.

One of my best friends had a birthday recently and I thought the best thing I could send him was some New York style deli rye. I sent big Tom a loaf a year ago. Now Tom is well over 300 lbs and said the loaf lasted about two hours. Tom is also the best non commercial chef I have ever known with a gifted natural touch in the kitchen.

This time I sent him a couple of large 825g boules and one 560g boules, frozen and packaged and mailed express post. Mailed at 4:00 pm Monday it's credit Canada Post delivered the package to Tom today at 2:00 pm! His comment was, " I just had my first slice with butter and it is spectacular!"

Hey flattery will get you everywhere friends!!!

Happy baking, Ski

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I have been maintaining two active levains. One white at a 1:1:1 feeding ratio and one Forkish style, 1:1:4:5 levain, ww flour, strong bread flour and unlike KF I like to go 100% hydration as it lends more to the sweet lactic acid side of the flavour spectrum. I like Ken's discussion on tailoring the flavour profile of your levains.

The first week or so with my new levains I fed daily. Then they both lived on the counter for 24 hours after feeding, then into the fridge for two days. I think my Forkish style levain is ready. I feed at 4 - 5 pm and in the morning this is what I had:

To hit the top and collapse this beast would have had to go more than 4x. I think this starter is ready! I think I need a taller starter container! Twenty our hours after feeding this levain I began the second levain build for this bake.

After my first KF style boule stuck to the brotform, I have taken great pains to use a LOT of rice flour, prior to adding the dough. Now my dough isn't sticking and the extra flour really puts some nice markings on the crust. I also love the organic bloom.


This formula worked rather well despite the high hydration @ 80%. I am getting better at Ken's wet hand S&F in the bowl technique and find that using an extra large bowl helpful.

This is a really tasty bread. The crumb has great chew and the crust snaps when you bite into it! I need to work on my shaping a little bit, but the holes where the baker sleeps didn't affect the taste and flavour one bit!!!

All in all a very satisfying bake.  A fun process and nice looking, great tasting bread. What is not to like? I am loving bread baking again now that I have natural levains. What a difference!

Oh yeah, it was like Christmas for this old ski bum today. A nicely turned out loaf and some soft PR style soft, pull apart dinner rolls. Stay tuned. I was so impressed with my fancy surgical steel bread knife I ordered their 100 year anniversary Chef's knife. Light and beautifully balanced with a 5" blade, this is easily the sharpest knife I have ever owned. A real pleasure to use!

Happy baking folks! Ski

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Well with a couple of fresh levains to bake with and feed, I thought I would try and use some of the natural starter discard in a traditional naan recipe. I LOVED the results!!! The recipe is super easy and with a little baking powder, you can enjoy the results fairly fast.


1/2 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to 90F

1 tsp sugar

30g sweet levain, 100% hydration

285g AP flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 Tbs canola oil

31/2 Tbs full fat plain Greek yogurt

25g beaten egg

Mix well, then knead for 6 or 7 minutes and place in a covered, greased bowl to rise for about an hour. When doubled,m punch down and divide into 6 pieces forming tight balls.

Warm a griddle over medium heat. Lightly flour the balls and roll out into 7-8 inch diameter rounds. Cook on the griddle 3 minutes per side. When cooked, brush with melted butter.

You can easily double this recipe.

this is the perfect side to a nice hot Indian curry and rice!

Enjoy and happy baking! Ski


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I am SO glad to have an active yeast water! The leavening properties of YW are pretty amazing. I have updated my recipe for this loaf after discovering a few errors in an older YW Pulla post, now deleted.

Here is the proofed loaf on the peel, ready to bake:

After baking for 29 minutes, steam for the first 12:


50g yeast water

50g strong bread flour

Allow 6 - 12 hours for this to double. I leave it on top of the fridge overnight.



3 Tbs sugar

5 cardamom pods, hulls disgarded and seeds ground

215g whole milk, scalded and coolled to 90F

175g strong bread flour

40g AP flour

I infuse the ground cardamom in the milk and dissolve the sugar in the hot milk. When the milk reached 90F, I add the levain and flours and mix well. After 3 or 4 hours the sponge should be starting to get pretty happy.

Final dough:


31g unsalted butter melted and cooled

75g beaten egg

3/4 t salt

315g AP flour

Although this is not tradition to Finnish pulla I added the following extracts commonly used in sweet doughs:

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp each lemon and almond extract

To the happy sponge add the melted butter and mix. Then add a cup of flour and the salt and mix, beating the dough until it is smooth and glossy. Begin adding the remaining flour until fully mixed. Rest 5 minutes and mix again. Rest 10 minutes, then do a series of 4 stretch and folds, with 10 minutes rest in between.

Let the dough double, 1 - 1.5 hours, then de-gas and do another couple of S&F's. Let double again.

Punch down and divide the dough into 3 and shape into balls. Let rest 5 minutes. Begin rolling out long tubes. I do this in 3 or 4 stages with 5 minutes rest in between. Braid the loaf, place on parchment paper and proof in a linen couche, covered with floured plastic crap. After 30 minutes bring the oven up to 400F with steam equipment.

The loaf was brushed with an egg glaze, sprinkled with ground almond and granulated sugar.

After about 55 minutes proofing and using the Forkish finger poke test to determine when to  bake, it is in to the oven for 12 minutes with steam, turn and bake another 12 convection, turn and finish with another 5 minutes and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.

This is the best looking and best tasting pulla I have ever made!

Happy baking! Ski

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I'm really not sure how, but sometime over the winter my venerable Henckels bread knife went missing. I bought this cheap orange knife, hoping the other would turn up, but no luck. 

Freshloafers, please do yourselves a favour and NEVER buy a knife like the cheap orange one. When I began baking Forkish style boules in the cast DO the knife would barely cut through the crust.

So I treated myself to a Global, a light, well balanced stainless steel beauty, Made in Japan. This is a beautiful kitchen tool and slices through the hardest crust with ease! Initially, I thought it too pricey, then remembered I paid $60 for my everyday chef's knife 38 years ago. Perspective. Worth every penny!!!


Happy baking, Ski


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