The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

trailrunner's blog

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This is the Balthazar's Bakery's chocolate bread. I first ate it in 2007 at $9 a loaf. When I got home I searched and found the recipe online. It is a fantastic bread...but I took it up a huge notch with my starter instead of theirs. Wow..what a shreddable fantastic crumb. I also added dried cherries to 3 of the loaves.  An amazing bread. You will need a mixer to fully realize this dough. It needs 5 min and then 10 min and then about 2 min . It has the butter beaten in like a brioche but there are no eggs...lots of chocolate. Here are some pics...sorry I can't share the fragrance...or taste:) 








starter 100% white with apple yeast water to feed:  photo IMG_6795_zps974c943b.jpg before adding the butter...lovely gluten:  photo IMG_6799_zpsffa15435.jpg after the butter and salt added :  photo IMG_6800_zps9c1ec17c.jpg ready to rise:  photo IMG_6804_zps6951f257.jpg risen:  photo IMG_6805_zps0e52c796.jpg topped with cream/egg yolk/turbinado sugar :  photo IMG_6807_zps083922ca.jpg out of the oven:  photo IMG_6810_zps963debb7.jpg shreddable crumb:  photo IMG_6811_zps191e3543.jpg  photo IMG_6812_zpsb0e323db.jpg

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Latest attempt at a spelt bread was more what I was after. I still let it proof for one hour before retarding. Since reading Josh's post after I had made this I will move the shaped loaves into the fridge posthaste and not give them any bench time and see what happens. As you can see this has a lovely open crumb and I even got ears :) I attribute this to gentle handling. I incorporated John's sealing during shaping and then proofing the shaped loaf with the sealed side down and then scoring over the sealed area. Pictures show the result. Taste is creamy and crumb is tender.Raisin yeast water at work. Stored overnight in a brown paper bag and the crust is still amazing this AM. Made great toast and I am about to make an aged cheddar grilled cheese. 






just out of fridge : spelt and rye with RYW photo IMG_6707_zps6fdaef10.jpg crust :  photo IMG_6711_zpse8795872.jpg crumb shots: Spelt and rye crumb photo IMG_6712_zps717d048d.jpg  photo IMG_6713_zpsefd0a49e.jpg  photo IMG_6715_zpsac35a1db.jpg

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I have been traveling since Oct 5th. No baking but lots of eating of great breads from Canada to NYC ! I got home and found my YW and SD happily resting in the fridge. I fed everything and restored all to working order. I noted Ian's sweet potato bread and had an extra baked one so decided to try a variation using what I had on hand. Wild Yeast Blog has a formula from 2007 and I used it as a base to begin. I used 200g AYW stater and 200g RYW starter each at 100% hydration and made up the rest with my SD 100% hydration . When Ian mentions "wet" sweet potato he is correct. The dough was like ciabatta for sure. I beat it in the KA like a ciabatta until I noted some gluten development. I then placed it in an oiled bucket for 40 min. removed and did a lot of s&f's with a floured counter and gingerly movements. Rested 50 min and did the same...had really nice development at this point and it had nice air bubbles. Divided in two and made no attempt to shape...simply sprayed the top with water and pressed on pepitas and tossed into floured cloth lined baskets seed side down. Proofed for 1 hr and the loaves had filled the baskets. Retarded approx 12 hrs in fridge. Baked straight from fridge as per my usual...500 preheated pans ,place bread in pots lower to 460 , bake 20 min and remove lids and bake 15 min til 210 degrees. Crust snapped and crackled. Amazing fragrance from the pepitas. Lovely crumb but no spring to speak of.Glistening crumb and very tender due to the YW. This is going to be served with a black bean soup tonight . RYW ready to go :  photo IMG_6695_zpse1a8a521.jpg AYW ready :  photo IMG_6696_zps117997ab.jpg "shaped" and seeds on ready for basket to proof:  photo IMG_6697_zps593635ac.jpg straight from fridge:  photo IMG_6700_zps267cefc7.jpg finished:  photo IMG_6701_zpsa15ce6fc.jpg crumb shots:  photo IMG_6702_zps0e9ad8ea.jpg  photo IMG_6703_zps5988ccb8.jpg  photo IMG_6705_zps64ff31a5.jpg

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Juergan was my inspiration when he mentioned I should try spelt in the starter on the 40/60 loaf. I thought about it and made a biga with 2 feedings using 50g spelt/50 g apple yeast water for a total of 200g, no  commercial yeast .I let it rise all night in the oven with the light on. really grew and smelled lovely..faint apples   I subtracted that from the total liquid/flour in the  Norwich formula that I use as a base. I also subbed spelt for 1/2 the rye called for. I fed my regular white starter with AP as usual and used 1/2 whey and 1/2 AYW for remaining liquid.. Mixed all but salt and let autolyse for 3 hrs as I had errands to run.

Came back and did 3 sets of  30 folds in the bowl at 30 min intervals. Turned out on a wet counter and did 2 sets of s&f's at 30 min. intervals on the countertop. Divided into 3 boules at 750g approx. each. Let proof 30 min. in the cloth lined  baskets and then into the fridge overnight.

This AM I heated my iron pots for 30 min at 500. Remove loaves from fridge and slashed one  and into hot pots and turn down temp to 460 for 20 min  lid on and 10 min without lid.  You can see that I slashed one and let the other two burst as David has been doing. I much prefer the burst !  Huge ears and lovely crust and blisters and glistening crumb. Went out a few hours came  back  and cut one so I could have a taste and make pics :)  Fantastic YW crust that tastes like caramel  and smells like it too. Soft crumb and lovely structure . This bread is a delight . I am so pleased to have the "touch of spelt" without the headaches . I think I do better without commercial yeast. This from a baker that has used it for all breads for 40 years until I discovered wild yeast ! I don't need the extra bit of push it gives and I  like the way this reacts  much better. It has been an interesting journey toward more spelt. I shall cont, the exploration and keep finding ways to increase it reliably. There are a lot of formulas on TFL using  spelt and I want to cont. to try them. 

just out of fridge



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one slashed






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slashed loaf


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bursting forth

 photo IMG_6573_zpse8afcd0d.jpg  photo IMG_6574_zpsae462a33.jpg  photo IMG_6578_zpsf976b494.jpg







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dinner last night with the last of one loaf of the 40/60 loaf grilled....homemade fettucini and shrimp with grape tomatoes , capers , preserved lemon, white wine and fresh basil


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An experiment with pluses and minuses. The original formula was posted here: There weren't really any directives  . I mixed the levain and it was gang busters when it grew ! I subbed my active raisin yeast water for all the water and used my rye wild yeast. I had to refrigerate it after only 6 hrs as it was already doubled. I didn't want it too sour. The next day I blithely mixed the dough "batter" using my RWY and subbed in 100 g whey as I was short of RWY ....uhoh...Juergen has stone ground spelt don't. Instead I now had a bowl of cake batter !  What to do. I looked at about a dozen threads to see what others had done with their spelt loaves. Not much help. It runs the gamut from in the bowl s&f's to out of the bowl s&f's to both to a batter placed in lined tins...well you get the idea. 

I forged ahead. Did several rounds of folds in the bowl...looked great. Did one on the board with Did one with the countertop oiled...yes !  Except after a few minutes it slumped...badly. I gave up. I shaped...haha...2 boules...actually dumped 2 blobs  into floured lined baskets. I let them set out while I went to the gym. The rose and rose right up and over the edges of the cloths...ugh. I gave up again...put the baskets into a plastic bag and chucked them into the fridge...time to retard and re-group. 

Juergen was kind enough to answer my messages...he had a similar experience...wet wet dough. I heated the pots to 500 and took out the two baskets...up oh...fallen dough....sigh. What to do...forge ahead ! I tucked in the edges and made sure the cloth was loose. I turned them out...surprise they held their shape !  Not so fast....when I placed them in the pots they spread. Oh well. You can see the results. Holes, crisp crust, gelatinized crumb that is tender and flavorful. A little sour but not much. Short too...I am only 5'2". I shall try this one again. I am now convinced that me and spelt can get along. 

Oh ...I will never stop using YW ! I have two jars bubbling away in the fridge...both apple. I have decided I love it best. Here are some pics. 

levain after 6 hrs


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fresh from the retarding :




 photo IMG_6554_zpsbf24ae79.jpg  photo IMG_6553_zpsa8cc9147.jpg



turned out of basket...there is hope !



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 photo IMG_6560_zps0f48ac6b.jpg  photo IMG_6562_zps5d7e16c4.jpg

trailrunner's picture

With dabrownman's assistance I was able to successfully start my YW. I used organic raisins and organic  apple with spring water. I did a small test batch of levain using 50 g YW and 50 g AP flour. Growth was evident  in an hour and it tripled in 6 hrs. For this first test batch of SD I simply subbed all YW for the water in the formula. There is a lot of info on TFL about YW. RonRay has cataloged it in one post. He uses all YW for some of his breads in place of regular water. Other folks use only a TBsp or so with flour to make a levain. It is all good as far as I can tell . Will need a lot more trials to see how it goes over time.

 The dough was stickier than it usually is. It also showed abundant growth during the autolyse time of 2 hr and also after each set of in the bowl s&f's and the 2 on the board s&f's. I shaped and left at room temp for 1 hr. I then retarded shaped loaves overnight. As you can see they held their shape well when removed from baskets. I placed cold slashed loaves in hot pots and baked covered 15 min as per my usual bakes and 15 uncovered. I will post crumb shots  later today when we have these with conchiglie  tutto giardino. 


Crumb shots added. The crust is fantastic...after sitting unwrapped for several hours it is wonderfully chewy. The crumb is very tender and not sour at all. I am pleased with the crumb structure. Will see how it evolves as the YW gets stronger. Lots to explore. c

day 1 YW day1 photo IMG_6535_zpscc75168e.jpg day 2 YW day2 photo IMG_6536_zps226d7ed9.jpg 


day 3 YW


day 3 photo IMG_6537_zps74d14d72.jpg


day day 4 YW day 4 photo IMG_6539_zps194d93d2.jpg test


levain trial ARYW/flour photo IMG_6547_zpse31cb2bd.jpg sunsets while waiting on YW  photo IMG_6533_zps78858411.jpg retarded loaf just our of fridge  photo IMG_6540_zps3f376e38.jpg turned out of basket  photo IMG_6541_zpsbf82b0e5.jpg fresh from oven  photo IMG_6542_zps91d6968b.jpg  photo IMG_6543_zps6f8980f0.jpg  photo IMG_6545_zps82289ac4.jpg  photo IMG_6546_zpsceed8e2c.jpg  photo IMG_6531_zpsc0aaedaa.jpg

 photo IMG_6550_zps93a43139.jpg  photo IMG_6551_zpsc549f0a6.jpg

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I purchased several sprouted products from here. I have made my granola recipe for almost 30 years. Reluctant to try anything new I broke out the bowls and pans and did it anyway !  What a treat. I will never use plain rolled oats again. This is the perfect texture crunchy and chewy both. A wonderful complex flavor and for some reason the coconut taste comes through more in every bite also. A win-win in my book .  

 photo IMG_6530_zps61401b64.jpg 2# bag sprouted oats( 8 c ) 1 1/4 c coconut ribbons, 1 1/4 c chopped nuts ( I use pecans) , 1 1/4 c sunflower seeds, 1 1/4 c toasted sesame seeds. Combine. coating : 1 c smooth peanut butter heated with 1 c local honey, 1/4 c water, 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Add heated product to above dried mix right before putting in oven . Do not let it set and soak in. Bake at 300 on sheet pans stirring q 30 min and then as it browns q 20 min and q 15 min. Bake to desired color. Cool and store in the freezer.

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I finally got around to purchasing a container of food grade lye . I had tried to find info on lye baths for bagels but there is very little out there and the percent of lye to water that was used seemed way off. I am glad that I pursued this and have some data that I hope will help others. I purchased the lye on Amazon  here . Will likely last me a good long while. I used 5 grams in 1 gallon of filtered tap water. This is approx. 12-12.5 % alkalinity. Baking soda is only 9 if fully saturated  so can't get the water where I wanted it to optimize the crust . I will  use a bit more next time and get it up to the full 14% that is possible if fully saturated. . I am VERY pleased with how these came out. I added the lye to the cold water and brought it to a boil. Just to be on the safe side ( my husband is a chemist and insisted) I wore goggles and had some vinegar in a dish off to the side to neutralize any splash on the skin. I had no problems. 

I bathed the bagels for 10 seconds on a side...lifted out and drained, replaced on the sheet pan dusted with semolina where they had retarded. I baked them as always in 400 degree oven approx 22 min. rotated pans at the 1/2. Formula I use is here. I used whey instead of water as I had a lot from my kefir cheese making. I also used half white and half rye starter. 

The crust is amazing. So crisp. Beautiful blisters and a nice glow to the crust. Perfect chewy crumb. Lovely fragrance. Any residue of lye is  hydrolyzed by the proteins in the bagel dough and is neutralized so you don't need to worry about rinsing the bagels after dipping. 

Here are some pics. 

note the difference in the boiled vs unboiled bagels:  photo IMG_6519_zps3c764110.jpg  photo IMG_6520_zps315e4861.jpg baked :  photo IMG_6522_zps1c08d5f1.jpg crumb ( small flaw from rolling/shaping )  photo IMG_6524_zpsc6a35858.jpg  photo IMG_6523_zps94d31ff3.jpg  photo IMG_6526_zps5b596f3d.jpg

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I had several of these ordered so couldn't cut them. I made one more for our cookout tonight. Wonderful family dinner by the pool. The Challah was so tender and slightly sweet with the addition of some extra honey and the golden raisins. 

before glaze:  photo IMG_6511_zpsf324e590.jpg glazed with a mixture of egg yolk/honey/1/2and 1/2:  photo IMG_6512_zpsbe1d2ece.jpg just out of the oven:  photo IMG_6513_zps4fdf911c.jpg crumb:  photo IMG_6514_zpsb7ad0975.jpg

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David said he had not tried this so I decided to give it a shot. I do it with every SD I bake. I  remove from baskets and bake right from refrigerator. It worked fantastically well !  I did 4 loaves as a test one day and then the other 12 the next. I mixed the formula in batches of 4 loaves in my KA for one minute to moisten the flour and transferred  them one batch  on top of the other to  my 13 qt bowl to autolyse. I then did "in the bowl" s and f for 3 turns...this is 6 kilo of dough !  ( I am 5'2" and 115 # :) )  Did 2 s and f on the board. To facilitate  handling I changed the formula by 100grams of water/per 4- 500 gram loaves. Such a tiny amount of water per loaf but a huge difference in handling. 

Only thing I lack is a crumb shot...hope I can get my son to take a pic as these ALL went to him . Here are some pics to show the process. I preheated the oven on convection at 500 with a shallow pan of lava rocks under the steel plate for 45 min. Loaded 4 loaves on a thin baking sheet and poured in the boiling water to make steam. Have finally got the water figured out so that it is all gone about 9-10 min into bake...I also mist a couple times from a sprayer. I leave the oven at 500 for those first 12 min to make up for any drop in temp. As it happens the oven drops 6 degrees and that is it. Consistently....the steel really holds the temp and also starting with boiling water at 212 into a 500 degree oven doesn't cause as much thermal loss. But LOTS of steam !!  I then lower to 460 and finish the bake..internal temp is 210-212. 

The loaves sang and cracked like the cracks on the crust. The bottoms are gorgeous from the steel...the thin pan makes no difference to the hot steel . OK..enough are the pics.

s&f in 13 qt bowl x3 q 30 min.-  photo IMG_6498_zps25473a6f.jpg ready for 1st s&f on board:  photo IMG_6499_zpsb1970232.jpg after 2 s&f's on lightly floured board:  photo IMG_6501_zps158223f6.jpg shaped and ready to rise 1 1/4 hrs before retard:  photo IMG_6504_zps972228a6.jpg puffed up nicely ! :  photo IMG_6494_zpscde4e6e2.jpg room in the fridge !  photo IMG_6506_zps8cbc3e43.jpg slashed and ready to go :  photo IMG_6495_zps96af63ba.jpg nice :  photo IMG_6502_zpsbf68ae1b.jpg  photo IMG_6503_zps95a75c9f.jpg tried 2 different slashes...keep it simple :)  photo IMG_6509_zps5214495d.jpg bagging and ready for delivery !:  photo IMG_6510_zps6b4a1218.jpg Home ovens are for home baking...even with great convection and a pan of rocks there is nothing that will replace the wonders of a steam injection commercial oven. I think I already knew that LOL ! I sure enjoyed the process. This was the second time in 2 weeks that I have done 16 loaves of SJSD for my son. I learned a LOT !! Will I keep doing it ??? Hm...probably not....only for special occasions. But I sure am grateful that I had David's formula to work from and so many tips from TFL on steaming with a pan of rocks..I have read every post I could find on steaming . Things that were way easier than I thought they would be....s&f in bowl of 6 kilo dough and on the board...piece of cake !! the time I had finished I had really improved my technique..I can look at each loaf and tell you which was the 1st I did and which was the last. Steaming once I got used to the initial BLAST ! So there you have it...for what it is worth. c


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