The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


tony's picture

Bernard Clayton Jr's The Breads of France, Daniel Leader's Local Breads, and Joe Ortiz' The Village Baker each offer formulas, recipes, and lore on European bread. The authors, all from the USA, published their books between 1978 and 2007 after travels in France, Italy, Germany, Czechoslovakia (as it was then), and Poland. In recent weeks I've been concentrating on French breads from these books, specifically pain campagne and pain de seigle.

The latter, the rye bread, has been an interest and a challenge of mine for a long time. As a kind of merging of influences from those books, I produced the rye and raisin loaf pictured here a few days ago. This is the formula I used:

Overall baker's percentages

  • water 77%
  • rye flour 73%
  • whole wheat flour 9%
  • all purpose flour 18%
  • raisins 12%
  • salt 1.8%


  • water 100%, 165 grams
  • rye flour 100%, 165g
  • rye sourdough 25%, 41g


  • water 67%, 289 grams
  • rye flour 61.6%, 265g
  • whole wheat flour 12.3%, 53g
  • all purpose flour 24.6%, 106g
  • raisins 16.5%, 71g (not counting soaking water)
  • salt 2.6%, 11g
  • leaven 77.8%, 330g (after removing 41g for future use)

I made the leaven using a stiff 100% rye soudough I'd started a week or so before to make one of the French ryes from The Village Baker. The leaven for this rye and raisin loaf fermented overnight, for about 14 hours. The raisins soaked separately overnight in their own weight of water.

Using a sieve I captured the water not bloating the raisins to use as part of the water for mixing the dough. There was something like 23g of that raisin juice to sweeten things a little.

For the mix, after taking the 41g of chef from the leaven I added the raisin juice and the rest of the water. Next came the all purpose flour. Using a bamboo rice paddle I stirred in the all purpose flour and then the whole wheat flour. The batter was just thick enough to work vigorously in hopes of activating the gluten. Next I worked in the rye flour. Once the rye was thoroughly incorporated the dough rested for 20 minutes or so.

After the rest period I worked the dough by hand in a bowl using techniques from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, and Tartine Bread. These consisted of alternately squeezing the dough body between splayed fingers and thumb for a while and then stretching and folding in the bowl several times. A windowpane test isn't really possible for dough with this much rye flour, but the mixing is done when the dough feels smooth and somewhat extensible, if not really elastic.

Primary fermentation lasted just an hour, followed by shaping into a boule and proofing for four hours. To bake the loaf I preheated a cast iron Dutch oven on a middle shelf of our kitchen range to 480° F. Once the loaf was in the oven in the oven, I set the temperature to 450° and baked for 30 minutes. At this point, the top came off the Dutch oven and the baking temperature was set down to 425°. After 20 more minutes I turned off the oven, took the bread from the Dutch oven bottom, and placed on that middle rack of the now-cooling stove for ten more minutes.

I managed to wait until the next morning before cutting into the loaf -- not the recommended 24 hours, but the temptation was considerable. As intended, the raisins nicely balanced the rye tang. There was enough wheat flour to give the crumb a bit of lightness. Making 1/3 of the wheat flour whole grain meant that 82% of the flour used was whole grain. My wife much prefers whole grain bread, and I much prefer my wife!

joc1954's picture

Probably everybody who was reading my recent posts is interested to hear how the bread assessment finished. As this will be a slightly longer post I am revealing now the most important fact: I got the gold award.

So you can stop reading here, you already got the crucial part of information. However, maybe you would like to continue and read some background information and some interesting facts about this kind of assessment.

This is the crumb shot of my bread. I have degassed it as much as possible.

First of all I must go back in time to explain the traditional bread baking in rural areas in Slovenia and nearby countries. For centuries the traditional bread baking was mostly performed once per week on Saturdays in order to have fresh bread for Sunday's meals. Most of the time there was no bread baking during the week as there was not enough time for this. Most of the bread was kind of a whole grain or high extraction flour milled in stone mills. At that time there were many water powered mills operating along the creeks and rivers. Better bread from white flour was made only for big feasts like Easter, Christmas and family holidays. Back in past »white bread« was highly appreciated as it was so rarely on the menu. Still today this special kind of bread is on the menu for the same holidays, therefore there was almost no breakup of this tradition.

Almost all of farm houses were equipped with »Kachelofen« (German word), a clay stove / oven  that burns wood extremely efficiently. The heat is stored in the clay brick thermal mass, and then slowly radiates into the room for the next 8 to 24 hours. These “Kachelofen” were mainly used for heating during the cold season and were also regularly used for bread baking. The smoke from such an oven was used also for smoking meat products during the winter season when they were mostly produced.

It is not so easy to prepare »Kachelofen« for baking bread – it must be of the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold. If you don't fire long enough it will cool down quickly and bread will not bake at sufficiently high temperature.

Typical "Kachelofen" from the outside. In order to increase the heating area the tiles are specially crafted.

Back in 2009 when I have built my pizza oven (see the picture below) I made this video from pictures taken while watching an old lady baking bread in such Kachelofen. She is making her bread in an authentic way with exception of the mixer which she uses only because she is now too old to manually prepare dough for 15 boules. Each of them weights more than 1 kg when baked. I am also singing (not solo) in the background song used for his video (I am singing tenor).

So this is the tradition of bread baking in rural areas of Slovenia and now there are many assessments of home baked bread in Slovenia each year. This last one was special due to the limitation that bread has to be baked in wood fired oven. This was the first time that such limitation was in place and I sincerely hope this kind of assessment will become traditional because it helps to keep this tradition alive.

My DIY pizza wood fired oven in my party room in the basement.

I decided to prepare a SD loaf with oat flakes porridge and seeds from sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flax. The requirement is to make a boule from 1000g of flour. Just two days before assessment I got a call from my relatives from other part of our country that I should attend a funeral ceremony in the afternoon when I was supposed to bake. My plan was to prepare bread and after final shaping put it in the fridge for final proofing while I can attend the ceremony.

After bench rest.

When I started my journey back to home I called my wife and she fired up the oven. Unfortunately it took almost two more hours after my return to equalize temperature in the oven and cool it to 240 dC. At that time my dough was already slightly overproofed although the result of finger poke test was still ok.

When I tipped the dough out of banneton I realized that I am already too late as the dough wasn’t able to keep the form and became very flat. I used three ice cubes to generate some additional steam in the oven and when I opened the oven after 15 minutes I saw that the boule is pretty much flat with decent oven spring but not as much as I would like. The picture of that phase is posted below.

Bread before taking it out of the oven.


I was really disappointed but there was nothing to do as it was already too late to reshape it and bake it within several hours.

When I heard that I got gold award for the bread for which I was really hesitating whether to deliver it at all I was really happy.  Looking afterwards at the detailed results I saw that I have ended absolutely at fourth place. At the ceremony next day I got just positive response from the members of the jury.

Breads awarded with gold award.


Needless to say that my bread is number 19 on this picture.

Analyzing assessment report I found that I got fewer points in areas where I was actually expecting more points and got all possible points in areas where I was expecting fewer points. The results together with the assessment criteria are in the below picture.

I am not complaining about the results but there is a systematic problem with the assessment of crumb and possibly also with the (sour) taste of sourdough bread because the judges never make a distinction between SD bread and bread leavened with baker’s yeast.   In the below picture is the crumb shot of the winner bread and I must say that I wouldn’t be happy when my SD bread would have such a dense crumb. Maybe I am wrong in this opinion, but my plan is to do some educational work in order to change this in the future.

Absolute winner with the highest score.

Any comments or thoughts about assessment SD are highly appreciated. I would really like to hear opinions of other TFL members.

Happy baking, Joze

Skibum's picture

I am LOVING the crust I get from the 00 flour! I now bake a pizza every 3 or 4 days and am getting better at forming the crust. Still don't have the courage to try a toss, but it doesn't seem necessary. This dough had been in the fridge for 3 days before I divided it today.

I brush a first layer of EVOO onto the formed crust, followed by home made tomato gravy, reggiano parmigiana, a layer of fresh basil, sliced prosciutto, a couple of kinds of fresh mozzarella, crumbled fried pancetta and more parmesan cheese.. I baked for 5 minutes, turned, baked another 5 and finished for nearly a minute on high broil as Ken Forkish recommends.

What can I say, it is great pizza! Sometimes it is the quality of the ingredients that make the difference.

Well we have snow to ski, but at -22C today it is WAAAY too cold to go outside, never mind ski. Good days to stay in and bake yummy things.

Happy baking, Ski

Skibum's picture

The only change from my last bake was upping the hydration. I proofed it on parchment paper that I did not flour well enough. After the turn, the dough was welded to the parchment, which no doubt affected the shape. Nice open crumb though. Next step 90%.

Happy baking, Ski

Bekkywiththegoodcrust's picture

Most weekends I bake two loaves of Tartine Country Bread.  I like the repetition of making the same recipe and enjoy seeing how my bread progresses from week to week.

I decided to live on the edge yesterday and make the Tartine Polenta bread.  I used some leftover pumpkin seeds from Thanksgiving, as well as thyme and chives instead of rosemary.  Next time, I’ll either add more herbs or skip them altogether.  I thought I used a generous amount but they’re barely detectable in the final loaves.

I’ve never worked with a dough this wet and there’s definitely a learning curve.  I’d like to see more rise out of the final loaves.  My apartment heat has been all over the place this weekend – super hot, super cold, everything in between.  That probably didn’t help.   And even though a thermometer read 200 degrees in the middle of the loaves, they ended up a bit wet in the center.

Regardless, the bread is delicious and I’m loving the polenta/pumpkin seed combination. 



Danni3ll3's picture

My daughter has rheumatoid/psoriatic arthritis and decided to try going gluten free to see if it would help her pain and fatigue. We have a wonderful gluten free bakery here but things are rather expensive and I found that their rolls went hard after one day. When I did some research on TFL, I came across this recipe for Gluten Free Flax Bread. When the OP said that her family couldn't tell the difference between the gluten free and the regular bread, I decided to give it a shot.

Well, for a first try, I don't think it turned out too bad. I didn't realize until after I put the yeast in, however, that the recipe called for ADY and I put in instant. That might explain why my dough was rising like a bat out of hell. What was supposed to take around 80 minutes happened in 45. I was trying to heat up my oven as fast as I could to get the dough in it but I think it over proofed it because it collapsed somewhat when it came out of the dutch oven.

Even with the loaf being somewhat flattened in spots, it tastes really good. I was quite surprised. It even tasted better than the rolls from the gluten free bakery. So I need to get some ADY and try again. I also need to figure out how much to let this rise. Maybe when the dough starts showing some holes at the top is the right time to bake. Mine actually had a pretty big canyon going into the oven. 

The crumb isn't great but it could be worse.

Danni3ll3's picture

At the Health Food Store, I discovered whole Kamut/khorasan grains so I decided to sprout them and include them in a loaf. I also love the moisture I get from adding porridge flakes to my bread so that got included too as well as whole grain Kamut flour. So here is what I came up with:

Measure out 100 g of Kamut berries and spout them over two days.

The day before, take 5 grams of rye starter and add 5 g of dark rye and 5 g of water. Let double, then add 10 g of dark rye and 10 g of water. Let double again, then add 30 g of dark rye, 120 g of unbleached flour and 120 g of water. Let rise till double (~12 hours or so). This makes an 80% hydration starter (à la Forkish).

The picture below is actually my NFNM starter that I keep in the fridge. I just refreshed it. 


Toast 50 g of golden flax seeds in a frying pan (watch out for the flying seeds) and add them to 100 of Kamut flakes. Soak both together overnight in 300 g of boiling water.

Autolyse the sprouted berries, the soaked Kamut flakes and flax seeds, 678 g of unbleached flour, 194 g of whole grain Kamut flour, 96 g of dark rye with 550 g of water.

I put the water in first, then add the sprouted grains and the soaked seeds and stir well. Then I add the flour. I find this distributes everything more evenly.

Then, add in 23 g fine sea salt, 275 g levain and 60 g water. Use the pinch and fold method to integrate everything well.

Do four sets of 4-7 folds a half hour apart.

Let rise until double.

Divide into two loaves using the letter fold method and let rest for a half hour. Shape into loaves and put into floured baskets.

Put into plastic bags and retard in the fridge for 12-14 hours. Bake as usual in preheated Dutch ovens at 500F for 20 minutes, 450F for 10 minutes and then 25 minutes with the lid off.

Here is the coveted crumb shot.

We had some with dinner tonight and it was delicious with garlic butter.


I doubled the recipe and made 4 loaves. One of us and 3 for the soup kitchen. I think they are going to be happy with this one.

JoshTheNeophyte's picture

Yesterday i moved one notch further on my journey through Hamelman, attempting his Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain.  Ambition got ahead of my scheduling ability: as soon as I had mixed the flour and water, I realized that i wasn't going to finish in time for my evening plans and this bread was going to be an experiment in extended fermentation.  Despite doubling the fermentation time from the recipe, the results were pretty, darn good.  If Forkish's times are far too long, are Hamelman's schedules too short?

I mixed the Levain around 7:30 am: 125% hydration all AP flour with 93F water.

i mixed 9 hours later, 3 short of the12-16 hour recommendation for mature levain:

662g AP (60g of "00" flour as I ran out of AP) [Edited]

153g Whole Grain Whole Wheat (Farmer Ground Whole Wheat Bread Flour)

407g Water, 87F

458g Levain

19g salt[EDITED]

I mixed everything but the salt and let it sit for a 1 hour autolyse.

5-8 minutes of hand knead till i could get a medium window and the dough appeared nice and smooth.

I came back from my evening plans around 11am and the dough had been fermenting for 5 hours (plus autolyse with the levain, so really 6+) and had roughly doubled in volume.  I don't think the dough was over-proofed at all.  I actually think the 2.5 hour version of the breads i had been making before were under-proofed.  Maybe my levain was not as mature as Hamelmans's?  If I had used a 12+ hour built starter would my bread have been over-proofed after 5 hours?  Tough to say.

I pre-shaped into boules followed by a 10 minute bench rest and then final shaping and placed them seam side up into bannetons.  Since I wasn't staying up any later, I put the loaves in the fridge for overnight proofing.

I baked the bread this morning around 11 am after 12 hours in the fridge.  I bake in 2 DOs with a pizza stone on the rack below.  I scored one of the loaves and my 13 year old daughter scored the other attempting to imprint the first initial of my 3 kids L, R and B.  This worked out better than you would expect.

The baking regime was as follows:

preheat, 500F, 30 minutes

covered, 475, 20 minutes

uncovered 460-5, 25 minutes

Results and lessons learned. The bread is pretty good.  The bake is a little uneven and I think this is because i forgot to rotate the DOs which I usually do.  The 2 DOs are wider than the pizza stone underneath so I think that leads to some uneven browning.  Also, the bottom is a little overcooked (by appearance, it didn't actually taste that way), so i need to work on my temperature schedule.  The crumb is not nearly as open as the higher hydration, FWSY country blonde (78%).  I think the higher degree of whole wheat also makes it a little heavier.  But for a bread with 15% whole grain, i think the bread has nice oven spring.  Still a long way to go on scoring (though my 13 year old seems to be doing better than me!).  I think it's about getting a consistent depth for the whole length of the cut and across all cuts.

Up next, the Hamelman Pain Au Levain with a stiff starter.  This will require converting my starter from 125% to 60% hydration.  I worked this out in a spreadsheet.  As always, the question is time -- not sure whether I will get to this during the week due to work, childcare and other pursuits.




NB I have a bunch of pictures I want to add but I can't get the media button to work.  When I click on the "library" tab, I get a blank panel.


Skibum's picture

Well somehow the photo and text did not post the first time. I will try again. I have baked a couple of bricks in a row at 80 and 82% hydration using P. Reinhart's suggested dough handling technique, which involves a gentle letter fold.

I found a different technique on youtube, (breadhitz) which does not use the fold, but trims a small scrap of dough from the side and places the scrap on top to proof. Once proofed the loaf is inverted to trimmed bits down and baked. I loved the way this loaf turned out and love the way it tastes! I have eaten most of the loaf in less than a day.

Recipe: 50g liquid levain, 35g durham semolina, 240g bread flour, 7g salt, 6g evoo, 230g H20.

Happy baking! Ski

jeffbellamy's picture


Subscribe to RSS - blogs