The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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samf526's picture

After 2 years baking at home, and 7 months in a professional bakery, I have finally figured out how to consistently get an open crumb in a poolish baguette.  The three things, IMHO, that I was doing wrong every time?  Not having a hot enough stone, UNDER mixing, and over proofing. 

1. Pre-heating --- after experimenting with preheating my stone on the bottom of the oven, and ending up with CHARRED baguette bottoms, but a nice irregular crumb, I realized that having a really really hot stone makes a big difference in developing the crumb structure.  Just need to be careful that it's not toooo hot.  I've found that preheating my stone on the oven floor (gas oven) for about 20-25 minutes at 470 F is pretty sufficient.  Even this will slightly over cook the bottoms, though.

2. Mixing: I know, I know -- everywhere you read people say a short mix is the key to getting an open crumb. Well I spent 2 years using different lengths of the short, relying heavily on stretching and folding, and i never got much better than irregularly distributed holes, but still tight crumb structure (see picture 1 and 2).


Then, I got a Bosch mixer thinking this might improve things, but the normal Bosch bowl seemed to tear the dough, and didn't improve my results.  Then I got the stainless steal bowl with the bottom-drive mixing arm.  This also failed to change the result, using a "short mix".  Bread turned out mostly the same as above

Then,  I decided to try "over" mixing my dough to a full windowpane---which hammelman advises against for an improved mix .  I let it run on speed 3 for 7-8 minutes (after a 20 minute autolyse, and 2 minutes on speed 1 to incorporate yeast and salt)  and the dough came out beautifully developed: good strength, silky soft touch ---  basically like butta'.  This adjustment alone gave me a more irregular crumb.  (I've found that mixing to this level still requires 3 folds to get to the right strength).

3. Over-proofing: Following the guidelines of certain established baguette recipes (e.g., Hammelman's), I was always left with a pretty gaseous dough -- which sounds desirable, but I always felt that I would lose most of it during shaping.  I could try to shape lighter, and when I did I got a better crumb, but that meant my baguettes were too loose, which made cutting difficult and always gave a substandard aesthetic  result.  I started to get the hunch that having a gaseous dough could lead to excess loss of gas during shaping.  I thought, maybe if I let it proof less, and the gluten was less stretched to its maximum capacity, the dough would be more likely to hold a higher percentage of its gas during shaping.  So, I started proofing my dough substantially less.  This led to a drastic improvement in shaping and ease of dough handling.  However, there's a fine line, as too much under proofing leaves the dough dense (albeit with a nice irregular crumb structure). I haven't completely gotten the proofing time right, but suffice to say the time that works for me is more like 1.5-2 hrs, using 0.3% yeast. 

One other thing I've noticed, but i'm not totally sure about, is the timing of the folds.  I have found that my dough has a much better feel and shapeability when the folds (however many you need), all occur before a significant amount of gas develops in the dough.  For me, this means that if I'm doing a 2 hour proof, all 3 of my folds need to happen before the 1 hour mark, and then no more after that.  Folding the dough after it has a lot of gas seems to give it strength, but makes it difficult to handle/shape later.  Not sure why.

Anyway, combining these three changes,  I get an open crumb almost every time (sometimes better than others, though).  Here are some different batches:


My crust / cutting / ears still leaves something to be desired, but I'll figure it out with some more experimentation.

Kiseger's picture

The heart is like grain, we are the mill.

How does the mill know why it turns?

The body is the mill stone, the water its thoughts.

The stone says "The water knows its course."

The water says "Ask the miller, he is the one,

Who sends this water cascading down."

The miller says "If there is no turning,

O bread-eater, there will be no dough."

Turn and turn again.  Silence!

Let silence ask about the wheat, the river

the miller and the stone....

what this bread-making is about?

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207 Balkh -1273 Konya)


Khorasan can refer to many things, but there are two in particular that I wanted to consider for this post.

Khorasan was historically a Persian province, the name derives from the noun "khwar" meaning sun and the verb "asan" meaning to come - in other words, this was the "land of the rising sun".  Khorasan is first referred to in historical texts around the 3rd century AD as a geographical creation of the Sassanid rulers who had conquered Persia and established this administrative zone.  After the fall of the Sassanid empire in the 6th century, the area of Khorasan was maintained by the Umayyad dynasty, who had taken over control, and it continued to be so named.  At its peak, Greater Khorasan extended to parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  Its general boundaries were the cities of Balkh (east), Nishapur (west), and Merv (north) and the region known as Sistan (south) - at its heart was the "pearl of Khorasan", the city of Herat.  The importance of Khorasan as an administrative area as well as the centre of "cultural Persia" continued until the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. 

The great cultural flourishing of Khorasan which started in the 7th century brought us the "Khorasan poets" such as Asjadi, Attar, Rudaki and Ferdowsi.  Both their lyrical style and use of imagery inspired many later great Persian poets such as Rumi and Omar Khayyam, Anvari and Hafez.  Rumi was born in the province of Balkh around 1207, which was part of Greater Khorasan and while he did not belong to the Khorasan school of poetry, he certainly did read those poets, Attar in particular, and was influenced by the Khorasan lyricism.  He is one of the foremost mystic and Sufi poets, composing in Persian - most of his work was written down by one of his students as he recited.  Through his peregrinations, he became an ascetic (probably in Damascus) and ended up in Konya in Turkey where he spent the last twelve years of his life.  During these years in Konya, he is said to have turned round and round while reciting and this is thought to be the origin for the "whirling dervishes".  After his death in 1273, the Mevlevi Order (eg. the whirling dervishes) was established at the school in Konya.  I highly recommend going to see the Yesil Türbe in Konya (also known as the Mevlana Museum) which was his school and now holds his tomb.  His poetry is mystically beautiful and it seemed to me that there was a serendipitous link to be made between the "Khorasan" poetry and his origins and the wheat of the same name…….

The other great gift to us from Khorasan (at least in name) is…Triticum turgidum aka Triticum turanicum, Khorasan wheat.  This is one of the "ancient grains" and has a lovely nutty flavour.  We don't actually know where the Khorasan wheat grain originated or was first cultivated - possibly in the Fertile Crescent, or western Anatolia?  In any event, it holds the name Khorasan so we will go with that for now.  The story goes that samples of this grain arrived in North America after WWII, but didn't appear to have raised much interest at the time.  In 1997, the Quinn brothers in Montana decided to cultivate the grain and registered their cultivated variety QK-77 as Kamut ™.  While  most people use Kamut, in fact Khorasan wheat is also available and the Quinn family has established criteria for a Khorasan wheat variety to be classified as a Kamut variety.  The grain is larger than modern wheat and is highly nutritious.  It makes amazing bread, as to which……..

1.  Tartine 3 "Sprouted Quinoa and Kamut" Bread. 


I particularly liked the idea of using an ancient Andean pseudocereal and an ancient grain from (probably) Mesopotamia.  I used black quinoa which sprouted in no time, it being "hot" for London - it yields a fresh grassy smell.  The Husband declared that we had aliens growing in the kitchen and was promptly sent off to swim in the Serpentine with the swans and ducks, in the hopes that they might quack some sense into him, as I clearly could not.  I followed Chad "by the book", my bulk ferment took about 3.5hrs and I proofed it overnight in the fridge.  In the morning, straight into the DO, as you can see I am still having fun with my scissors scoring at the moment (I'll get over than soon enough, I dare say).  This bread is really something - the quinoa gives a slight crunch and the "grassy" flavour came through, as did the warmth and nuttiness of the Kamut.  We ate this with everything, but it was particularly excellent with some rather stinky runny St Felicien cheese, some smoked salmon, and surprisingly some French saucisson sec with fennel.  It was perhaps too "grassy" to complement the harder cheeses, but it did go with hummus, olive oil on its own and a glass of solid Rioja.

2.  Sow's ear turned into a (silk?) purse bread??


I think I might just have turned a sow's ear into a purse - perhaps not silk but at least some good basic cotton?   A few weeks ago, I made a rather shocking runt of a loaf - unashamedly pictured in an earlier post, it was a sesame seed loaf.  Not my favourite seed, but this was actually surprisingly good bread - I held some back with the idea of trying to use some of the flavour from this as altus for a new bread.  Credit due to the Wild Yeast blog which had a recipe for using Susan's old Norwich sourdough bread as breadcrumbs and replacing some of the flour with the breadcrumbs (thank you Susan!!).  I changed the amounts slightly, increased hydration to 70%, reduced the levain to 20%.  I had some levain which was very ready, 100% hydration, having been fed about 10hrs before it was looking like it was contemplating deflation, so I used less than Susan (she used around 30%) as an experiment.

White bread flour:  300g  (60%)

Whole wheat flour:  125g  (25%)

Breadcrumbs:  75g  (15%)

Total flour (incl. breadcrumbs):  500g (100%)

Water: 350ml  (70%)

Levain:  100g (20%)

Salt:  9g (1.8%)

1. Autolyse the BF, WW and breadcrumbs with 300ml of water for 3 hours, I wanted to get as much out of the breadcrumbs as possible, getting them as "dissolved" as possible.

2. Mix in the salt (I used slightly less than 2% because there is some salt in the breadcrumbs), levain and additional 50ml water.  Pincer it all together, a la Forkish.

3. S&F 6x every half hour for the first 3hrs.  Total bulk ferment for me was 5 hours at 25C/78F, until it rose about 30%.  The dough was initially tricky to handle, it didn't want to stay together - in part, I suspect because my breadcrumbs were not super finely ground and there were still some larger "bits" which may have slowed/hampered the gluten development. 

4. Pre-shape and bench rest for 30mins.

5. Shape and proof.  I shaped as a boule and popped into a banetton, proofed on counter at 25C/78F for a smidgen more than 2hrs until it passed the finger poke test. 

6. Baked in DO at 250C/480F, lid off and turned it down to 230C/450F after 20 minutes, but that was just an act of self-delusion as my oven really has a mind of its own - it did eventually get itself down to 230 after another 15mins…. when the bread was pretty much done.

It worked!!  The altus bread's flavour comes through but is quite subtle, the new bread has a slightly nutty smell and there is something of a "melting" mouth feel to it when eaten on its own.  This was good with everything, as far as we could tell.  In honour of David Esq., I made The Husband a PB&J sandwich on his return from yet another interminable cycling session to revive him as he started decomposing from pain and effort.  It disappeared and another was promptly demanded, made and hovered up.  He absolutely loved this loaf and proceeded to try everything with it - smoked sea bass (tick), Wyfe of Bath cheese (tick), butter (tick), jam (tick), saucisson sec (tick), tick, tick tick tick so I got a hug and finished the last drops of the Puligny Montrachet.  Good innings, for a sow's ear!!

The lover's food is the love of the bread;

no bread need be at hand: 

no one who is sincere in his love is a slave to existence.

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, 1207 Balkh -1273 Konya)


PetraR's picture

I forgot to take my SD Starter out of the fridge for baking today, so I used Yeast instead.

Mind you, my kids love this Bread and it tastes fantastic if I say so myself.

The taste is malty and nutty at the same time.





500g strong bread flour

300g wholemeal flour

200g rye flour

  30g salt

  30g butter

     1tbsp dark soft brown sugar

     2tbsp dark treacle

     4tsp yeast

       mixed seeds

600g warm water 


First I mixed the flour with the sugar , salt , butter, yeast and mixed seeds together.

I added the dark treacle to the water, mixed it well and added it to the flour, mixed it well.

Dough kneading for 20 minutes * quite sticky dough so ended up adding about 2tbsp of wholemeal flour while kneading *

2 hours bulk fermentation, gentle degassing, halved the dough, shaped to batards and added them into 2 greased loaf pans.

Final proofing for 30 minutes.

Baked at 230C for 15 minutes , reduced the temperature to 200C and baked for 30 minutes.

Halfway through baking I turned the loaf pans to ensure even browning.

Here are the results.

* Sorry for the missing first slice, I just could not resist , my excuse is: we needed a crumb shot anyways hehehe 

This bread is great with sweet toppings or savoury toppings and cheese too. 

ExperimentalBaker's picture

Used the middle-class brioche recipe for this bake with some changes.

1) I divided the dough into 3 portions - original, 4% matcha powder added, 8% cocoa powder added. I shaped them into rectangles and put one layer on top of the other, then rolled them up into a log shape and placed it into a loaf tin.

2) I did not put in fridge after developing the dough, which I regretted because the dough was very very soft.

3) I added 1 tsp of vanilla extract

The dough was overproofed because my wife was baking her cakes.

I find the matcha and chocolate flavour a tad weak. And because of the added flavours, my expectation before taking the first bite is that it should be sweet, but it isn't. Will use a sweet dough recipe for such flavours in the future.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

I don't get jealous of the usual list of suspects that crank out the "I gotta bake a loaf of that" breads. I get it that their skills weren't given to them and they had to put in their time at the work bench to learn the craft. They all probably baked a brick or two in their time before they got to where they're at these days. I've already baked a couple of bricks so I'm part way there. I keep winning ribbons at the Leavenworth County Fair where the Mennonite families are stiff competition so I know I'm improving.

Once upon a time, I envied Paul because he could be up in front of a class to teach bread baking skills but those days are over. I got a class of my own, humble enough but I haven't done any teaching since 1975 when I did some substitute teaching at the local schools. It was a "Knowledge at Noon" class, sponsored by the county Extension Service office at the town library for all of one hour. There were only five adults in attendance and somebody's great granddaughter who was easily distracted by the samples.

I had a Good time. I finally got to put my myself up there and be myself in public talking about bakers math, preferments, soakers, stretch and folds, and a home baker's toys from the tool box.. There were samples of a blatant copy of Floyd's Rustic Bread. The class got to compare a Basic White Bread done in the straight mix fashion and one teased out with a poolish, minimal yeast (3/8 tsp), and an overnight stay in the fridge. That teased out white bread was the best white bread I've ever baked and the class and agent agreed. There was a willing volunteer to take it home at the end of the class. I also completed an arrangement to swap some of my sourdough starter for some homemade, unfiltered honey made here in Leavenworth.

Would I do that again? Oh yeah, I sure would despite the occasional stumbling, brain freezes, and the moment I remembered that teaching is always harder than it looks from the seat of a distracted student. There were some things I did wrong, some things I forgot, but there were things that I'd do all over again and will when I get the chance. Nobody walked out, I know that I reached one attendee with some knowledge she didn't have before she walked in, and I got two attendees really fired up and ready to tackle one of RLBs rye breads from her "Bread Bible".

I got to make a difference, admittedly a very small difference, in the world today as a volunteer for the county Extension Service. Not a bad way to spend my summer.




dabrownman's picture

After seeing Pa de pagès català - Catalan loaf posted by Abelbreadgallery about a week ago, I knew Lucy couldn’t resist making it something more to her liking by mixing it up some.  She has been struggling with her sprouted grain project but thinks she might finally have it sorted out after this bake- I’m not so sure since after she turned 10 she has slowed down recipe wise.


She increased the usual amount of whole grains in this loaf to 35%, and sprouted them because we like the taste if we can figure out  a way to keep the bread from over proofing due to the way more enzymes the sprouting unleashes…..which makes more sugar from the starch  allowing the yeast and Lab in the SD to run wildly out of control.


She also dropped the commercial yeast since it isn’t needed and we don’t run a bakery that needs to speed things along even if the flavor of the bread suffers.   She increased the hydration some to 72% and also subbed some Lafama AP and some Winco AP flour too for some of the bread flour.  We did use King Arthur bread flour for a third of the white flour making the protein for the white flours averaging out to 12%. 


Why the EU gave this straightforward SD bread made with a little whole wheat and bread flour special status for Catalonia is beyond me since people have been making this same bread all over the world for at least a hundred years and likely much, much longer.  Still, the Catalonians must be proud of it anyway…..but wish it has some rye or spelt and or both to improve the flavor but that would be another bread entirely.


Our usual 4 day process was extended a day to get the wheat berries sprouted and chitted,   which took a day.  By the time we dried them in the AZ at 110 F, milled them and sifted out the hard bits it took a day and a half.    We ended up with 28 g of hard bits that we fed to the 7 week retarded, huge looking if only  4 g, of 66% hydration, rye starter over 3 stages to build the final  tiny 7% levain at 60 g.  We retarded the levain  after the 3rd feeding for another 24 hours.


Once the levain came out of the fridge to warm up and finish doubling we autolysed the rest of the flour with the dough liquid that included the left over soaker water for the sprouts with the salt sprinkled on top of the autolyse ball so Lucy wouldn’t forget it.  After 2 hours, the levain was mixed in and 6 minutes of slap and folds commenced followed by 2 more sets of 1 minute each.  All the sets were separated by 30 minutes of rest,


We then did 3 sets of stretch and folds on 30 minute intervals and had planned to add some sage, walnuts and walnut oil to the mix or possibly some olives with the sage but then decided to make a plain old sprouted white bread since we don’t have any in the freezer and my wife might eat it.


After and hour of bulk ferment, we pre-shaped and then shaped the dough into a boule, placing the dough seam side down in the rice floured basket.  The dough seemed pretty springy and full of air.  Into the fridge it went for a 24 hour retard.   We hoped the small levain would not over proof the dough as it retarded but you never know until you look.  When we took a peek at 21 hours it looked OK so we let it go for the full 24.


Lucy decided to the boule come to room temperature and bake it then rather than cold right out of the oven.   This bread is baked seem side up and not slashed so a little over proofing won’t be a horrible thing like usual – just semi horrible which Lucy equates to semi sweet chocolate which isn’t all bad. 


Since it was only 80 F at 7 AM and cloudy this morning we decided to bake the bread in Big Old Betsy…… if it wasn’t 100 F by 11 AM.   It was preheated to 550 F and when BOB beeped it was at temperature we loading in the Mega Steam under the bottom stone.  12 minutes later the steam was billowing.

We un-molded the bread onto a parchment covered peel and slid the bread onto the bottom stone.  2 minutes later we turned the oven down to 500 F and 2 minutes later we turned it down to 475 F where it stayed for another 11 minutes when the steam came as we turned the oven down to 425 F – Convection this time.


The bread continued to bake for another 10 minutes when the bread read 208 F on the inside and was removed to the cooling rack.   The bread sprang well but didn’t open at the seams.  It also browned up nicely with the blisters we love so much.  We will have to see how the crumb looks and how it tastes later for lunch.  It did come out of the oven light as a feather which is always a good sign.


The crust softened as it cooled and this has to be the softest crumb of all time.  Almost impossible to cut while still warm out of the oven –maybe that has something to do with it!  The crumb was also open and moist bu8t it was the taste that stood out.  Much tastier than the normal 35% whole grain wheat bread and well worth the effort to sprout and dry the whole berries first.  We like this bread a lot and my wife might not find any left when she gets home.




RyeSD Starter Build

Build 1

Build 2

 Build 3



7 Week Retarded Rye Starter






18.66% Sprouted Wheat Extraction
























Starter Totals


















Starter Hydration






Levain % of Total












Dough Flour






81.34% Extract. Sprouted  Wheat






 11.97% Protein Flour Mix






Total Dough Flour


















 Sprout Water 125, Water






Dough Hydration












Total Flour w/ Starter






Total Liquid w/ Starter












Total. Hydration with Starter






Total Weight






% Whole Grain












11.97% Protein flour mix is equal parts of LaFama 11.22% AP.


12.7% King Arthur bread flour amd 12% Winco AP flour





PMcCool's picture

My second bake from last weekend had more to do with some fresh figs that I had found than it did with bread.  Although I grew up on a farm and had plenty of first hand experience with many kinds of fruit, figs weren't part of the local scene.  I don't recall seeing a fig outside of a Fig Newton cookie any time prior to my high school graduation.  When I did eventually encounter figs in their whole form, they were dried instead of fresh.  The farm, by the way, is located in northern lower Michigan, which explains the dearth of figs.  At a guess, I must have been in my 40s before I ever laid eyes, or hand, on a fresh fig.

Imagine my surprise and delight on finding a tray of fresh figs at a store recently!  (They aren't that common here in NE Kansas, either.)  They followed me home and we considered all sorts of options before settling on this Fig and Rosemary Chicken from the Foodie Fresh blog.  How do I love it?  Let me count the ways.  1) Figs.  2) Fig and balsamic reduction (that's the 'sauce' for the pizza).  3) Fresh rosemary.  4) Goat cheese.  5) Grilled chicken.  6) Caramelized onions  7) All of that in one place at the same time!  8) Pizza!

Oh.  My.

All I did was throw together a simple dough, maybe 70% hydration plus a drizzle of olive oil.  My wife did the rest of the work.  And when she got done, boy, did it all work together!

Here's a ready-for-the-oven pic:

Isn't that a thing of beauty?

But wait, there's more:

That's right, fresh from the oven and ready to eat!  This, people, is some seriously good food.  There were no leftovers.

Energized by the fabulous pizza, I managed to put together some kolaches for the third bake of the weekend, using dough from the previous weekend's class.  Those turned out pretty well, too.  Sorry, no pictures of those.  Having sized them at 80g each, I think I'll try shrinking them to 50 or 60g each the next time that I make them.  That will allow for a higher ratio of filling to bread.

That's more baking than I tend to do most days but I'm happy with all three outcomes.  (The first was Hamelman's Whole Rye and Whole Wheat bread, covered in an earlier post.)


PMcCool's picture

Consistency has much to recommend it but a person needs some variety in life, too.  Hence the first bake from this past weekend - Hamelman's Whole Rye and Whole Wheat bread.  Mostly.  It seems as though I've had more than my share of white breads in recent weeks.  It wasn't the result of any grand plan, just happenstance.  And they were good breads, too.  They just left me wanting something browner and grainier.  

In thumbing through Hamelman's Bread - 2nd Edition, I came across his Whole Rye and Whole Wheat bread.  It sounded like just the thing to break the white bread streak.  The formula is pretty straightforward:

Bread Flour  50%

Whole Rye Flour 25%

Whole Wheat Flour 25%

Water 68%

Mature sourdough culture  5%

Salt  1.8%

Yeast, fresh  1.25%  

In spite of the yeast in the formula, this is a sourdough bread.

I did take some liberties with both ingredients and process.  First, I left out the yeast.  That allowed for a fuller sourdough flavor and a slower rise, which fit better with the day's other activities.  The recipe calls for 6 minutes of mixing in a spiral mixer.  Wanting a close-textured crumb for sandwiches, I opted for approximately 18 minutes of hand kneading.  Finally, I mixed together the levain, the water for the final dough, and the whole wheat flour, allowing the mixture to sit for about an hour.  This gave the bran in the wheat flour an opportunity to absorb liquid and soften somewhat before I mixed in the bread flour and salt.

So, other than changing nearly half of the variables, it's exactly as Mr. Hamelman intended.

Since my starter had been refreshed the previous weekend and put back in cold storage, I simply used the called-for amount straight from storage to build the levain.  The mixed levain was covered and allowed to ferment overnight.  By the next morning, it had grown appreciably and was bubbly throughout.

As noted above, the final dough water and whole wheat flour were combined with the starter and the bowl covered.  After an hour or so, the salt and most of the bread flour were mixed in to make a rough dough.  The dough was then treated to an extended session of hand kneading.  Kneading was a bit of an effort.  Twenty-five percent rye flour, pre-fermented, equals sticky dough.  I had held back perhaps 20 or 30 grams of the bread flour in anticipation of needing it for bench flour.  That turned out to be a good call, as the dough wanted repeated flourings to stay manageable.  By not adding more flour or water than the formula called for, the dough was at the intended hydration level when kneading was complete.

Finally, it was covered and allowed to ferment for until approximately doubled, which only took slightly more than three hours.  The loaves were pre-shaped, rested, then shaped into batards, placed on parchment sheets, covered with plastic wrap and allowed to ferment without any side support.  Happily, there was a limited amount of spreading during the loaves fermentation.  With the warmer temperatures this time of year, the loaves were ready to bake in less than three hours.

The loaves were slashed, then baked with steam at 460F for 15 minutes.  After that, the temperature was turned down to 440F for another 20 minutes of baking.  At that point, the loaves had reached 208F internal temperature, so they were removed from the oven.

Oven spring was good, with slightly more than a doubling in height from the unbaked loaf.  The slashes opened up very cleanly, with no tearing.  As always, I need more practice to get uniform cuts.

I'm becoming a fan of Hamelman's penchant for bold bakes.  While I won't push as far as he does, getting a dark crust and browning of the grigne is as pleasing to my tongue as it is to my eyes.

The resulting crumb was very much what I wanted, well aerated but able to retain condiments:

This bread is more to my liking than the Vermont Sourdough and its variants from the same book.  It has a significantly higher wholegrain flour content, for one.  The blend of rye and wheat seems tastier than either one alone, too.  Even at 68% hydration and 50% wholegrain flour content, the crumb is pleasantly moist.  It's close to a week now since I baked the bread and it shows no sign of staling.  My wife sliced some today and made a bruschetta of sorts with a balsamic-fig reduction spread on the bread and scattered bits of goat cheese.  That was toasted in the the toaster oven and, oh, my, was it good!

The good news is that this is a bread worthy of being in the regular baking rotation.  The bad news is that there are so many other good breads in Bread that I don't know when I might get back to it.


wassisname's picture

I finally got a chance to answer Karin’s latest challenge.  It was a good one and left me with a good loaf of bread, too!


Trying to come up with a loaf that would reflect the history of it all was a little too daunting, so I asked myself what sort of bread I would serve to the iron handed knight now.  What kind of loaf would I bake if he was standing in my kitchen?  (Any kind he wants!!)  Something with flavors of home but maybe a little more modern in style.  It didn’t take long to decide on a combination of barley, oats and flaxseeds in a medium-wholegrain sort of wheat dough.  It sounded good to me, anyway!  This loaf was baked as one large round.  I think I’ll split it next time, but for this bake the big round seemed appropriate.  The method was a little harder to decide on.  My first thought was good, old-fashioned hand kneading, but the man inspiring the bread is clearly no stranger to a little mechanical assistance, so I let the mixer do the work.


The result was as good as I could have hoped for.  The crumb was surprisingly light and soft and the flavor complex, though distinctly sour.  I prefermented quite a bit of the flour without really thinking it through.  I think it worked well against the other flavors, but for non-sour lovers it would probably be a bit much and the amount of leaven should definitely be reduced.  Barley flakes in place of the barley meal would be another change worth trying.  I think I would have opted for that from the start if I had had any barley flakes. 

All in all a worthy bread, I think, one I will be baking again.  I got a good response from everyone who tried it so I’ll make plenty for sharing.  If anyone doesn’t like it?  Well… thanks to Götz, now I know just what to say! :)




David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I pulled the trigger on a pullman 13x4x4 loaf pan recently, and have been itching to bake a sandwich bread.  I was unable to do it last weekend due to travel plans, so I was trying to figure out a way to get the loaf done after work. Unfortunately, I can't begin to bake anything until 7:30 pm at the earliest, and I usually go to bed by 10. 

Then I had an inspiration -- instead of making the oat/white bread recipe from KA Flour's website, I would make the "master loaf" from Whole Grain Breads. I thought that I could mix the "soaker" and "biga" one evening and make and bake the dough the next.

What I forgot, however, was that the formula calls for two rises. For some reason I had thought there was only a single rise, in the pan.  However, by the time I figured it out, I was in for a penny, in for a pound, I sucked it up and realized I'd be up for at least an hour longer than I hoped.

I rushed things along by putting the dough in a warm oven and letting it rise for only 45 minutes or so, during the bulk fermentation and then for the proofing in the pan.

I also forgot how to bake the darned loaf. He uses the "epoxy" method where you make the biga and soaker the day before, and then mix in the final ingredients with the two components.  While the "final ingredients", being a bit of flour, honey, butter and a lot of yeast are to be added to the other components, I decided mix them first....resulting in what looked like wet brown sugar.

Let me just say that it is not easy incorporating that sticky granular mess into the rest of the dough.  However, after a while, it blended in seamlessly.

I still don't think I am getting a proper window pane and do not understand how it is possible to give instructions suggesting a total of 3 minutes hand kneading.  Maybe store-bought whole wheat flour would behave differently.

I get it to a shaggy mass, let it rest, and then kneed for several minutes, including slaps and folds, with wet fingers. It gets super sticky, I let it rest for another five minutes, and repeat.  May have done this 3 times.  It is still pretty darned sticky when I break off a piece for the window pane and it is still very weak.  Next time I am going to break out the kitchen aid and see if I get better development.

The dough rose nicely, and I shaped it into a log by first patting it into a long rectangle and then folding it up to the middle, from the bottom, and down from the top to the middle, and then in half again.  I have absolutely no idea why I did it this way instead of just rolling it up all the way.

I think the dough filled about 1/2 the pan, maybe a little less.  It rose to within 1 inch of the top, rather rapidly. In fact, i think it was probably closer to 3/4 of an inch. I worried it would pop the top but it did not even make it to the top.  Next time I may use more dough or perhaps with better glutton development I will get a better rise.

The loaf it self came out okay, but not fantastic.  I did not run a stick of butter along the top but will probably do that next time around.

It made great toast. It was relatively easy to slice. But it is definitely not the best bread I've made. I've got work to do on the whole grain breads.  This one, like my last one, contains  a bit of rye.  I made myself PB&J for lunch with it, and look forward to seeing how it does. However, the next loaf I make in this pan is going to be the honey oat white bread from KA Flour's site. I want a soft decadent loaf that my son will like. I don't want to try giving him the whole wheat before I get him hooked.


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