The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


davidg618's picture

Olive Oil bread--with a sourdough twist. Inspired by "Bourke Street Bakery: the ultimate baking companion" published by "Murdoch Books; year unknown, but very recently.

It's been two years + since I last posted on TFL. I had reached my goals: improve my baking skills, include sourdoughs among them and develop a modest list of breads appropriate for any and all occasions in our lifestyle. That list now includes a variety of commercial yeast doughs, sourdougs, and baking powder doughs. Along the way a host of new cookie, cake, and pie recipes crept in. And we now seldom buy pizza elsewhere.

Ultimately, I, and I'm certain most of the TFL regulars got tired of my posting the "same old s***. I quit posting. But I continued to bake: almost every week. It's now been more than twenty years since we've bought a loaf of any commercially baked bread. and I remain grateful to The Fresh Loaf, and its many passionate, and gifted bakers for easing my struggles.

This week three lines of "unfinished business" converged.

1. A few years ago, I'd been seduced by the aforementioned book. Its photographs are dramatic, Its prose well written, and a scan of its breads and other recipes seemed interesting and appealing.

Nonetheless, until the last two days I've never tried a single one of its recipes.(I have looked at the pictures often ).

So I scanned again: Olive Oil Breads caught my attention.

Scanning the base recipe I found it contained all the usual ingredients of Foccacia and a wee bit more: 20ml of milk.

I bake Foccacia frequently. We use it as a base for pizza-like toppings, panini sandwiches, soup, croutons and simply toasted and buttered for breakfast. We also often use Foccacia in place of conventional buns.

2. I've never found a home-baked hamburger or hotdog bun recipe I like well enough to bake a second time. I've tried quite a few.

3. Bourke Street's Bakery claims the milk ingredient "makes the interior crumb consistent." (p161)

My 72% hydrated foccacia formula--no milk--yields a very open crumb. However, I attribute the crumb's extraordinary open crumb to a fifteen-hour fermentation at 54°F.

See "" for details

Most often we welcome this open crumb, but there are times we would prefer it a bit tighter--hamburgers especially.

Potentially offering an alternative to conventional Foccacia I decided Ito adapt Bourke Street Bakery's Olive Oil bread substituting my sourdough starter for their "Olive Oil bread Ferment", a roughly 70% hydrated mixture containing all the ingredients of the Olive Bread dough recipe: flour, salt, EVOO, milk, water and yeast.

My sourdough starter is conventional: flour, water and a natural colony of compatible yeast and lacto-bacteria. I maintain it at 100% hydration and store it in the refrigerator. I replace it each weak with surplus ripe levain made using a three-build, 24-hour process for that week's bake. I developed the three-build process when I first committed to baking sourdoughs, and, while I've simplified the process, I've never abandoned it. I've been using this method since 2011 when I had to replace my contaminated first colony. My current starter is the replacement.

I estimated the target hydration of the BSB's Olive Oil bread recipe at 65%. This initial close look at the recipe revealed a mix of weight and volume units I found annoying. I generally don't worry about tsp. measures vs. single digit grams, but 20 ml of milk is not 20 g. nor is 70 ml of water 70g of water, except at some Celsius temperature I can never remember.

Replacing the "Ferment" I adjusted the amount of sourdough starter to replace the 70 ml. of water prescribed, and borrowed flour from the dough recipe to match the estimated 70% of the hydration of the prescribed "ferment". Furthermore, I added the prescribed salt (2.5g) to the dough's recipe, excluding it from the ferment, and omitted entirely the prescribed 2g of fresh yeast. The remaining ingredient, 1/2 tsp of milk was added to the mix.

Preparing the Olive Oil dough I replaced the "Ferment" with the equal weight of my modified sourdough starter described above. The prescribed yeast ingredient was omitted entirely. Other than the flour employed to balance the "Ferment's) hydration (30g)  all the remaining ingredients: water, EVOO, mik and salt were added as prescribed.

However, I subsequently prepared the dough somewhat differently than directed. Initially, and by hand, I I mixed only the flour, milk and water allowing the mix to hydrate for one-hour in the refrigerator. Following, I combined the "Ferment", EVOO and salt, again by hand. After a second 1 hour rest I conducted three Stretch-and-Folds, interspersed with 1-hour, chilled rests. The dough then rested in the a wine cooler at 54°F over-night (9 hrs.)

The following morning I warmed the dough at 82°F in a proof-box for one hour. Subsequently, using the prescribed dimensions directed, I reluctantly cut fifteen rounds, 1-1/2 in. diameter, with a biscuit-cutter from a 3/4" thick dough sheet.

I say reluctantly because I felt certain this dimension would be too small to fulfill my wanting a hamburger bun result.

I was further irritated by the book's direction to "Preheat the oven to its highest temperature." My oven can produce a consistent 550°F. I chose 450°F. the temperature I routinely bake sourdoughs.


Cons: As expected, despite the expected expansion proofing, and equally satisfactory oven-spring, the buns are hen's egg size.

The hoped for "consistent interior crumb" didn't manifest. The crumb is irregular, and quite open. That said, I hasten to add this may be due to the slow, chilled dough ferment. I see the same crumb structure (and often greater random) in all sourdoughs, and some commercial yeast doughs chilled and fermented long hours.

These baguettes made to 65% hydration were chilled, and bulk-fermented @ 54°F for 15 hours.

See "" for details


The lead-in photo shows the crumb open, irregular and mature (noted by the crumbs iridescence). Despite it's not being "consistent interior crumb" I love it. I'm going to make this dough another time--probably a few more times. The crumb, while open, doesn't approach our Foccacia. It's flavor is excellent (likely due to good ingredients, but the long ferment also contributes. The crust, not yet mentioned, is thin and softens within a few hours after being stored in plastic. Given I can retain the crumb, the thin crust with hamburger bun radii this might be the elusive sought-after bun.

The book.

Despite my disappointment and irritation with its recipe format, I"m a bit more critical re perceived laziness concerning testing recipes at home-appliance achievable temperatures. None the less I'm glad I bought the book. I bought it to experience, at least a wee bit, Australian baking culture. More personally important, It's home to such foodie recipes as "chicken pies with eggplant and mushroom", and "pork, apple and braised cabbage pie". What's not to like?

I'm hoping the second edition will omit the volume measurements bigger than a tablespoon.

David G

loafsniffer's picture

Loaf 1, cold proof for 11h.

Loaf 2, cold proof for 13h:

This was the first loaf I sliced open and didn't feel disappointed in... really, really proud of this one. Increased the hydration and rye percentage of the trusty Vermont sourdough and used a 100% rye levain build using the No Muss No Fuss method. The tang of this one was perfect and ghskdfjzdsjkfskdllss it just gives me such joy. Made egg-in-a-hole with it for my dad's Father's Day breakfast plus my homemade bacon jam and olive oil drizzled tomatoes :)))))))

Really gotta thank Lechem !!!! and Dabrownman !!!! for helping me with my incessant questions! I'm beginning to get the hang of how to tweak variables to suit my timing/temperature/taste. I wonder what I should try next. A different technique (been eyeing Breadwerx's Champlain Sourdough)? More whole grain? Add-ins (rosemary-apricot sounds amazing... or maybe kinako-cashew...)

Here's the procedure if anyone wants to know. It's a pretty good method if you live in a super hot climate like me! (Any Singaporeans here?)

For 2 loaves (VD with 20% rye, ~70% hydration)

832g bread flour

148g dark rye

22g salt

660g water

115g levain (100% rye, build using the NMNF method - 3 stages, 24h retard in fridge)

  1. Mix everything except salt, autolyse for 30min
  2. Knead until it feels only slightly tacky and can be lifted out of the bowl in one cohesive lump (used a mixture of kneading and S&Fs)
  3. Rest for 50min. One set of S&F. Rest for another 50min. Second set of S&F.
  4. Bulk ferment as needed. (Mine went on for about 1h10min more after the 2nd S&F, but not yet fully fermented because I was a) scared b) wanted bench rest after shaping to go on longer.)
  5. Pre-shape, rest for 20min. Shape, rest for 10min. (Saw a few bubbles under the surface at this point so I was quite satisfied with the fermentation. Maaaaybe I could push it further next time? Not sure what the consequences of under-fermentation are.)
  6. Placed in chilled bowls and put into the fridge (2degC) to proof overnight. (One was baked after 11h, the second was baked after 13h).
  7. Score and bake for 15min covered at 230F, and uncovered until crust is nice and brown. Open the oven door a crack in the last 5min.

Used a different shaping method this time too, and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I just can't pull off Breadwerx's method (the amount of dough I stretch into the centre varies each time hahahha) Did a simple letter fold and manipulated it into a round shape by pulling towards myself. Also, didn't use ANY flour because I suspected the ugly holes the previous bake were because of flour pockets.

Tried a fancy score. I think I should get a proper razor/lame soon HAHHAHA the fruit knife doesn't really cut it.

BTW, is there a difference in the crumb between the 11h and 13h proof? Could I have pushed it even longer and would that have yielded and even more open crumb?

dabrownman's picture

Lucy was trying to get back to her bread roots with lots of add ins.  This is also the 5th year since we started sprouting our own grains and adding them into breads.  Originally we sprouted them and added them into the mix when the stretch and folds began and then later started drying them and grinding them into flour too.

So Lucy went back to her roots and took half the sprouted grains for grinding and making the bran levain and left the other half to fold into the crumb like we did so long ago.  Then she decided to get some cranberries and pistachios in the mix too.  So this turned out to be an old school Lucy bread.

The 5 sprouted grains were: Kamut, red and white wheat, spelt and rye in equal amounts – half ground for the 9% pre-fermented flour, 100% hydration, single stage bran levain that took 8 hours to double. After stirring at the 4 hour mark.

The dough flour and enough dough water to get to 85% hydration were autolyzed for 40 minutes with the Pink Himalayan sea salt sprinkled on top and an extra 3% water sprinkled on top of the salt for a double hydration that totaled 88%.  We did 3 sets of slap and folds of 50, 20 and 10 and then 3 sets of stretch and folds with the add ins going in on the first set.

SD pancake breakfast

All the dough manipulations were done on 30 minute intervals.  After a quick pre-shape we shaped the dough in to a taunt, squat oval and plopped it into a rice floured oval basket that had some conn meal sprinkled into the bottom at the last minute.  It was then retarded for 13 hours.

Light P&J Rib lunch

We let the dough warm up on the counter for an hour before firing up the big oven to 500 F.  When it hit temperature, we put the lave rocks half full of water; Mega Steam, in and let it really get going for 15 minutes before the bread was unmolded, slashed and slid onto the bottom stone for 16 minutes of steam.


Shrimp Lo Mein Stir Fry with broccoli, purple cauliflower, green bean, squash, yellow & red pepper, Hatch green chili, 2 kinds of mushrooms, red. white & green onion with some chocolate graham cracker cheesecake with strawberries.

When the steam came out we turned the oven down to 425 F convection for another 28 minutes of dry heat.  When we took it out it read 208 F.   It had puffed itself up, bloomed and browned nicely as well.  We think the crumb should be fairly open, for a bread with so much stuff in it.

This bread is nice open, with a soft and moist crumb, that is tart and sweet due to the cranberries yet hearty healthy and nutty from the sprouts and pistachios.  It is one fine tasting bread for sure.  I will n=make some fine toast for sure.


9% sprouted 5 grain bran and high extraction single stage, 100% hydration, 8 hour levain that was stirred at the 4 hour mark.


4% high extraction sprouted 5 grain

43% LaFama AP

44% Albertson’s bread flour

2% PH sea salt

12% Sprouted 5 grains – whole

15% Dried cranberries

15% Pistachios


Have a salad after that appetizer dipping plate


Dsr303's picture

made this Yesterday with recipe from King Arthur's sour dough classes. Used mixing technique from Breadwerxs . The crumb is wonderful,and the flavor also.

isand66's picture

   I wanted to get a nice nutty flavor for this one without using whole nuts so I used ground pecans in the porridge.  I also wanted to combine the nutty flavor with the wonderful flavor of corn so grits were added to the porridge along with oats and  oat bran.  For the main flour I used corn flour with KAF French style flour and freshly milled spelt and whole wheat flours as well.

I was very pleased with the nutty flavor of this one.  The crumb was super moist and I really enjoyed eating slices of this with mashed avocado for breakfast and grilled with some olive oil and freshly grated cheese for an accompaniment with grilled chicken.

[caption id="attachment_4368" align="alignnone" width="491"] The Echinacea are starting to bloom. We planted another 5-6 new varieties this year which are hopefully going to be stunning.[/caption]

Levain Directions

Mix all the levain ingredients together  for about 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it sit at room temperature for around 7-8 hours or until the starter has doubled.  I used my proofer set at 83 degrees and it took about 4 hours.  You can use it immediately in the final dough or let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

Porridge Directions

Add about 3/4's of the milk called for in the porridge to the dry ingredients in a small pot set to low and stir constantly until all the milk is absorbed.  Add the remainder of the milk and keep stirring until you have a nice creamy and soft porridge.    Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature before adding to the dough.  I put mine in the refrigerator and let it cool quicker.

 Main Dough Procedure

Mix the flours, and the water for about 1 minute.  Let the rough dough sit for about 20 minutes to an hour.  Next add the levain, cooled porridge, and salt and mix on low for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from your bowl and place it in a lightly oiled bowl or work surface and do several stretch and folds.  Let it rest covered for 10-15 minutes and then do another stretch and fold.  Let it rest another 10-15 minutes and do one additional stretch and fold.  After a total of 2 hours place your covered bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for 12 to 24 hours.  (Since I used my proofer I only let the dough sit out for 1.5 hours before refrigerating).

When you are ready to bake remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it set out at room temperature still covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the dough and shape as desired.

The dough will take 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your room temperature and will only rise about 1/3 it's size at most.  Let the dough dictate when it is read to bake not the clock.

Around 45 minutes before ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 550 degrees F. and prepare it for steam.  I have a heavy-duty baking pan on the bottom rack of my oven with 1 baking stone on above the pan and one on the top shelf.  I pour 1 cup of boiling water in the pan right after I place the dough in the oven.

Right before you are ready to put them in the oven, score as desired and then add 1 cup of boiling water to your steam pan or follow your own steam procedure.

After 5 minute lower the temperature to 450 degrees.  Bake for 35-50 minutes until the crust is nice and brown and the internal temperature of the bread is 205 degrees.

Take the bread out of the oven when done and let it cool on a bakers rack before for at least 2 hours before eating.


alfanso's picture

Hamelman Vermont SD with 125% rye flour levain

My first foray into the Vermont SD was back in April with the straight formula: 125% bread flour levain with bread flour, plus the 10% rye flour used in the final mix as directed.  

A week later - the same bread flour levain but I used AP flour for the final mix.  The dough was more extensible and less "rubbery" to work with.  A change for the better in my book.  2 letter folds during the bulk ferment.

For this third run I swapped the bread flour levain for a rye flour levain and eliminated any rye from the final mix.  Still using AP flour and also continued with 2 letter folds.  In essence, the rye is now at 15% of total pre-fermented flour rather than the 10% used in the original formula for final dough ingredients.

Handles and bakes beautifully.

steam just released...then getting ready for venting 15 minutes later


350g x 5 baguettes (long batards)

preparing for morning toast


dmsnyder's picture

I baked two breads this week (so far). It wasn't until I was well into the process that I realized both were originally posted by Hansjoakim a few years ago. Both are leavened with rye sour.

"Hansjoakim's Favorite 70% Rye"

"Hansjoakim's Favorite 70% Rye" Crumb


Pain au Levain with Rye Sour

The Pain au Levain is still cooling and hasn't been sliced.

Both of these breads are uncomplicated to make yet fabulously delicious. The formulas for both can be found on TFL. They are highly recommended.

Happy baking!


sadkitchenkid's picture

This dough was pretty hard to work with and the crumb and oven spring wasn't as exciting as my other loaves, but I think it is my new favorite bread. The flours I used are white bread flour and 20% wholewheat. I'll probably add more wholewheat or grain to this dough next time. Since a 50% wholewheat dough at 88% hydration would be much easier to work with than a 20% wholewheat at 88% hydration.

Here are the process pictures:

After mixing the flour and water together sans the levain and salt, I let it autolyse for 10 hours and although it was much more extensible after that period, it had relaxed to the point where it was almost soupy. The next day I mixed in the levain and salt and the dough got even waterier. To pull it together, I followed the method demonstrated by Trevor J Wilson on how to mix wet dough. In his video, the dough he used was much firmer than mine (because of the added whole grains and slightly lower hydration) so I just followed his instructions but adding an extra 15 minutes of kneading (scoop and stretch motion), making it 30 minutes of hands on kneading time in total. By the time I was done, the dough was still pretty loose but it held together enough to be lifted up in one piece and transferred to a clean bowl. I wish I got pictures of this process because the nuances of the dough texture aren't properly described in words, but my hands were matted with wet dough the whole times and I didn't want to kill my camera. 

Next I let the dough rest for an hour, did a stretch and fold, rest for thirty minutes, and added the toasted walnuts and cranberries. 

The added cranberries and walnuts somehow helped the dough pull together a bit. I proceeded with gentler stretch and folds after incorporating them to keep the whole walnuts from tearing the dough excessively. 

After four folds:

after the sixth fold:

The walnuts started to react with the flour giving those pretty purple stains. 

After shaping, I let proof at room temperature for about two hours, which might not have been enough. I usually retard the dough overnight in the fridge and proof the next day, but today I wanted to be done with my day and clean  the kitchen. 

Mediocre oven spring.

Crumb is okay. I like the purple and pink splotches. 

I just made a batch of fresh ricotta and will be having it with this bread tomorrow for breakfast. 


Happy baking everyone!

sadkitchenkid's picture

I made two loaves today. One at 50% wholewheat and one at 75%. Both 80% hydration, autolysed at room temperature for 8 hours. Here are some pictures!

I have very shaky hands so excuse the occasional blurry photo!

Next loaf (75%):

Not a lotta oven spring on this one but actually very tasty. I dusted the loaf with poppy seeds and semolina. I really like how white the semolina remains against the darker crust.

Dense(ish) crumb. I've never gotten a gaping hole like that before. But then again I was pretty careless with shaping so I earned it haha.


Floydm's picture

Almost everything in my garden plot died over the winter. The one exception is the sage. So I wanted to bake something that used sage, and recalled seeing Lazy Loafer's Sage & Onion Levain.

I used 50% bread flour and 50% AP flour because that is what I had handy.  It is extremely tasty.


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