The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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jennyloh's picture

My Olive Bread....I think this time I got it right in terms of the proofing.  I used the finger test as per the advices by some.  Well,  it was really really useful.  Thank you so much for the video link that shows it.


The fluff inside seems quite even,  except that my olives are not evenly spread out......things to improve the next time.  The taste was the olive smell....


More details attached:


Shiao-Ping's picture

I dedicate my Gérard Rubaud Miche to MC.

(I wish that it could be transported across the Pacific Ocean to reach the other shore.)


It was one of those soulful Van Morrison nights.  The music in my tea room could not be any louder; any louder, the gods of silent teapots would have protested.  John Donne was in the air.  Van Morrison, my muse, dreamt of this miche for me.... 






I have neglected my teapots for the longest time now.  They have not been polished for ... dare I reveal ... a year?  Sounds criminal.  Just as well, with all that flour coming out of the surface of the miche, do I need to bother dusting my teapot stands?


Gérard Rubaud starter (re-sized to 2% of his formula as recounted HERE in MC's blog; my figures are for a final dough yield of 1.9 kg, you are welcome to half my quantity again)

First build

  • 6 g ripe stiff starter (at this quantity, any starter you've got going is fine, preferably not liquid starter)

  • 8 g water

  • 14 g flour (2 g WW, 1 g spelt, 1 g rye, and 10 g plain flour)

Note: Gérard Rubaud's starter hydration averages 55.5%.  The main thrust of his starter is three refreshes and built with the same flour compositions as for his final dough; ie. 30% whole grains flours (60% wheat, 30% spelt, and 10% rye) and 70% all-purpose flour.

At 30 degree C, this build took 10 1/2 hours for me (overnight temperature might have dropped to 24 - 25 degree C in my kitchen).

Second build

  • 28 g starter (from the first build above)

  • 16 g water

  • 30 g flour (5 g WW, 3 g spelt, 1 g rye, and 21 g plain flour)

At 30 degree C, this build took 6 hours for me..

Third build

  • 74 g starter (from the second build above)

  • 56 g water

  • 100 g flour (18 g WW, 9 g spelt, 3 g rye, and 70 g plain)

Note:  Watch your starter fermentation carefully, depending on your room temperatures.  As flour (fresh food) is not even 1.5 times the starter, it is very easy to over-ferment at this stage.  It was not an issue for the previous two builds as the yeast adjusted to the new flour compositions and began its activity slowly.  

At 30 degree C, this build took 4 hours for me (and it was already too long because when I touched my starter, it shrank back very quickly; 3 1/2 hours would have been better).  It rose 2 1/2 times.

Gérard Rubaud Final Dough

Main points about the final dough construction are (1) final dough flour is 30% whole grain flours and 70% all-purpose flour as for starter; (2) starter is 25% of final dough flour (ie, 25% baker's percentage); and (3) overall dough hydration is 80%.

  • 230 g starter (all from the third build above)

  • 920 g flour (165 g WW, 83 g spelt, 28 g rye, and 644 g plain flour)

  • 772 g water (every 10 -11 g of water is 1% dough hydration; feel free to reduce water if you wish)

  • 20 g salt

Total dough weight was 1,920 grams (minus 150 g as pâte fermentée = 1,770 g, see below) and overall dough hydration was 80%. 


(1) I did double my own formula here (both starter and final dough) because I wanted to do a stencil with Gérard Rubaud initials and I wasn't sure if it would be successful. 

(2) I reserved 150 grams from each dough and I had 300 grams as pâte fermentée (old dough) in total from the two doughs. I wanted to try a Poilâne style of miche.  Giovanni has done extensive research on Poilâne Miche.  Without going into the specifics, all that I wanted to do at this stage was to use Gérard Rubaud's stiff starter and dough with the addition of a reserved old dough to make a miche and see what happens, which I did.  

(3) So, in total I made three x my own formula here at two separate occasions, the last being a Gérard Rubaud Miche with pâte fermentée.  

Procedure - without pâte fermentée

Gérard Rubaud autolyse flour and water, then he cuts up his stiff levain into small pieces and adds them to the autolysed flour and water mixture.  However, the way I did the bread in this post was that I first diluted my starter with water, then I added flour and salt into the diluted starter, then I followed the procedure below.

  1. Autolyse 20 minutes.

  2. Five sets of S&F's of 30 strokes each at 30 minutes intervals.  

  3. At the end of the last S&F's, section off a piece of dough weighing 150 grams (and placed it in the fridge) to be used as pâte fermentée (more below).

  4. Pre-shape and shape, then place the dough in the fridge for overnight retarding.  (My room temperature was 30 degree C.  It was exactly three hours from the time the ingredients were mixed to the time the shaped dough was placed in the fridge.  You may need longer depending on your dough temperature and room temperature.  Gérard Rubaud does not like to retard dough, but I did 9 hour retarding for convenience).

  5. The next morning, stencil, then score the dough.  Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it can go.  Bake with steam at 230 C for 50 minutes.



       Gérard Rubaud Miche (without pâte fermentée) 



Only one of the two miches that I made is shown here, as the stencil of the other one was completely smeared.  The proved dough of that one was quite high (its profile was like a tall hill); when I placed the stencil on its surface and dusted flour on it, the flour did not sit well on the surface.  I knew there might be problem but went ahead any way.  I should have tried to press the stencil closer to the surface of the dough before I dusted flour.

Notwithstanding the above, the aroma was most amazing when the miche was being baked.  When the oven door opened, the whole house was filled with the wonderful whole grains roasting fragrance.

The loaves cooled down to have the cracks all over their surface - the top and all around the sides.  Part of the reason for that is because these are very high hydration doughs, but more because I tend NOT to leave my dough in the oven with the oven turned off for the last 5 - 10 minutes of baking as many of TFL home bakers do.  I tend to give my dough full but shorter bake.  The extreme difference in temperatures inside and outside the oven results in the crackling effect on the crusts.






With this Gérard Rubaud formula, I am witnessing the most amazing crumb that I have never seen before.  It has a translucent quality about it.  It is almost as if each and every particle of the flour had been fermented and each and every cell of the dough has been aerated.  I have never seen anything quite like it.  It is light and yet a slice of it on you palm feels a weight, a substance.  While the crumb looks translucent, it has a sheen as if it is oily (but it is not).  You can clearly see the specks of the whole grain flours in the crumb.  Had I not made this bread myself, I would not have believed that 30% whole grain flours would give me a crumb like this. 

So that is the texture.  What about the flavor?  I cannot tell you any single flavor.  No one taste stands out.   I cannot say that it is sour because sourness does not stand out.  The taste is very "creamy" if I may use that word.  The creaminess and the sourness are beautifully balanced. 

MC said of her Rustic Batard that it tastes more whole grains than Gérard's and she wondered if temperature had made a difference as Gérard's bakery is a good 15 degree F warmer than her place.  Now, my miche does NOT taste whole grains or wheaty at all.  I cannot single out a wheaty taste, but it is there, blended in with all the other flavors.  I wonder if my high temperature indeed had made a difference in this.  Or, put another way, had MC bulk fermented and proved her Rustic Batard in a proofing box to control temperatures, would she have gotten a closer taste in her Rustic Batard to Gérard's.


Procedure - with pâte fermentée

(Note: the formula is exactly the same as above except with the inclusion of 300 grams of pâte fermentée)

Follow the procedure as for miche without pâte fermentée except for the following:

  1. One hour after the dough was mixed (ie, at the end of the second set of S&F's, section off a piece of dough weighing 300 g ( reserve it as future pâte fermentée);

  2. Total fermentation time is shorter by 1/2 hour because fermentation happens faster with this dough.  (From the very first set of S&F's, you can already see some strength in the dough because of the acidity from the pâte fermentée.  To me, this is quite something, considering the way I mix my dough is that there is no kneading whatsoever, merely stirring to hydrate the flours.) 

  3. As this is a slightly bigger dough (1,920 grams as opposed to 1,770 grams), bake it for one hour. 



        Gérard Rubaud Miche (with pâte fermentée)



I learned something in this bake:  that sourdough pâte fermentée will give you extra dough strength because of the acidity in the old dough (provided it is not over-fermented to start with).  I am amazed at the volume that I get in this miche.  (Let's recap: this dough went through 2 1/2 hours of fermentation at room temperature of 30 degree C, then went into the refrigerator for 9 hour retardation, then baked at 230 C for 1 hour. That's all.) 

The taste of this miche is a lot sourer than the previous miche.  






This has been a very fulfilling exercise for me.   Thank you, MC, for the wonderful experience.



ejm's picture

Isn't this gorgeous?
buttermilk cluster - ejm January 2010

It seems ridiculous that it took me so long to make this bread. I’ve been staring at the photo of Floyd's buttermilk cluster for ages. Every time I thought, "I've GOT to make that!" And then The Fresh Loaf website was featured in this year’s SAVEUR 100. Which bread did the SAVEUR kitchen choose to feature? Buttermilk cluster, of course.

I was really surprised when I saw a scathing review of the loaf on the SAVEUR site because all of the reviews on the FreshLoaf say the complete opposite. I examined both versions of the recipe and saw that the SAVEUR recipe calls for 5 cups flour rather than the 6 – 6½ cups flour on the Freshloaf recipe.

I assumed that SAVEUR had made a typing mistake.

I just couldn’t believe that all of these rave reviews on The FreshLoaf would be wrong, nor could I believe that SAVEUR would have added the FreshLoaf into the 100 list if the bread were no good.

I used whole wheat and unbleached all-purpose flour and a little less yeast, but otherwise pretty much stuck to Floyd's version. After some tribulation (I had to add more liquid because the dough was so dry), the final result was stellar!

buttermilk cluster

Well!! As you must have guessed from the photo, we were thrilled after pulling this bread out of the oven.

It looked and smelled fabulous!! I removed the outer ring and stuck the thermometer in – huh! only 180F. So back into the oven it went for 5 more minutes to drive the internal temperature up to 200F.

We left it to cool overnight and had it for breakfast this morning with butter, goat’s cheese and black currant jam. It was crusty on the outside and soft and springy on the inside.

It. Was. Delicious.

Thank you, Floyd!


P.S. For more photos and details about what I did, please see buttermilk cluster (bookmarked, YS)

CaptainBatard's picture

When making Pan D'oro recently I being winter in the North East and my house hovering around 62-65*(by choice)I had to come up with a better way of keeping a constant temperature for my sweet starter. I could always fall back on the old pot holder trick (3 folded pot holders=76*) in the stove door with the light on. It works in a pinch but, I always run into this problem of proofing temperature. In the summer it is too hot (I can't bake or i have to use ice water baths) and in the winter it is too cold. I've been tooling around with many ideas on how to make a proofer work... a plug-in car refrigerator/cooler or wine vault for the summer and a heater/light bulb for the winter. The Pan D'oro made it happen. I turned again to the internet and with the help of MC@Farine  I found a design for a proofer that Steve@Bread cetera posted @Fresh Loaf, and I took it a step further. I went looking for a thermostat for reptiles.... and ended up at Craigs list with the perfect solution... a Ranco ETC microprocessor  temperature controller thermostat that plugs into the heating unit or refrigeration system. It really takes the prize and i got it for a good price from a home brewer who started making babies and his wife made him stop making suds. After fooling around with it...I have found... I can control  the internal temperature within a degree of where i want it to be......the only thing I would consider changing is the probe. I have found that i can insert it into the dough and and get spot on readings...a new tip to the probe would make it perfect! The rest of the proofer is make shift.  I got a sheet of insulation board from Home Depot and cut it to fit my in my pantry. The heat source is a 75 w light bulb. I also have an indoor outdoor thermometer i had laying around that sound an alarm if it goes past a set temperature...just as a fail safe.My original intention was to get a small refrigerator or wine vault so I could bake all summer without a problem. The project has been put on hold...I have been busy packing my house to rent for an extended trip to France in the very near future. Iam going to try to find a way to take it with me! If you have any question comment below...or drop my a note...







yozzause's picture

Whilst dividing my sour dough culture the other evening a sudden urge to take advantage of the cooler weather (36 deg it has been over 40) and bake came over me. I decided to make a small dough and was thinking of making some bread sticks so added a goodly amount of olive oil to the mix.

Any way as the stretch and folds were done and the time wore on i decided to change to a loaf instead so the dough was shaped and later put into the fridge as i went to bed.

I awoke at 3am so took the dough from the fridge to allow time to warm up before baking b4 work, 6.30 into the oven and then just enough time to cool.  pictures taken at work and available for morning tea.

the small loaf did not go that far but it was enjoyed by us all. i currently have a sour dough rye that i bought to work and will bake either tonigh when i get home or will refrigerate for tomorrow morning  to take along to a bbq with friends we haven't seen for years



CaptainBatard's picture

I have been pretty busy since the Holidays, packing up my house to rent, in anticipation of going on an extended adventure to France in the very near future...but that doesn't mean I don't have time to make bread! I always like to have some bread in the house and these day I making experimenting with Miche, Pointe-a-Calliere ala Shiao Ping. It is funny that the three times I have tried this recipe, the process has been less than text book....but in the end were very tasty! The first two times there were hydration problems... I opened  up my new  proofing chamber (see blog above) after 1 1/2 hours into the final proofing to find a puddle of dough stuck to the parchment paper. I scrapped it off, reshaped it twice,said a prayer and it honestly turned out to be an exceptional bread.  Yesterday's bake did not go any easier! I thought I would use some of the water from the final dough and  make a slurry of the stiff it would be easier to incorporate into the doughby hand. That was a bad turned out to be a real mess tiring to add it to the clay like dough by hand. By the time I had a good smooth, silky dough after many stretch and folds I was ready for a nap! But it survived the intensive care unit better than I did. When baked and cooled over night wrapped in linen, it was honestly the best tasting bread I have ever made. The whole Miche experience reminded me of something Max Poilane said in  a book I am reading about breads and pastry shops in Paris.

"  The best bread I ever tasted was one that didn't fermented to long and it was full of holes like Gruyere. But, oh, what a taste. Bread unlike pasterine, is very forgiving. You can make mistakes and still end up with a  bread that tastes good...."






Another bread that I have really enjoyed making and eating was one that come from Susan at WildYeast. It is the Cranberry Semolina Crown which I substituted apricots and hazelnuts. I just can't get enough of it......



This is being sent to Susan @ WildYeast -Yeastspotting


utahcpalady's picture

So I have been messing with my non acidic starter to see if I could correct that and get some sour to my sourdough.  I added 1 tsp of cider vinegar to one starter and fed it after 12 hours, then 1/2 tsp to another starter and fed it 3xs (every 8 hrs), and then made a control loaf that was with the original starter.  Now I don't have proofing baskets so when I put them in the fridge they were in greased glass bowls, so I think I can correct the shape.  The one loaf that had the best shape I just plopped out of the bowl onto the stone and didn't try to gather up the bottom before placing it on the stone, like the others.  Live and learn, and hope for baskets for Valentines day.

utahcpalady's picture

Chocolate Sourdough - take 2

I don't know if you can tell by this picture, but I got quite the oven spring out of my chocolate sourdough this time.  The loaf just split in two,the guts of which bulged out.  So, I am guessing I need to work on my slashing technique.  It was really yummy and crumb was great, but I kinda laughed when I pulled it out of the oven.  I did steam  the oven this time right from the beginning, whereas I forgot to the first time I made this recipe.

Yes I know you all envy my bread saw.  Wish I could find them again.  I got it 14 years ago at the Park City arts festival in Utah.

ques2008's picture

I wanted to do this at the end of 2009 - my way of saying thanks to everyone here who blogged so enthusiastically, sharing their knowhow.  But client work got in the way, so I managed to complete it only today.

I signed up on TFL about 11 months ago, not having an ounce of experience in bread baking.  After taking the plunge, I realized dough and yeast weren't aliens in my small universe, and I should have made friends with them a long time ago.  So yes, there are a hundred ways to "skin the cat", and I'm learning those ways slowly.  I have now started taking that sourdough journey which I kept postponing.  I won't get it up to perfection in one crunchy chomp, but I will be posting my first sourdough shortly.  I followed the lead by DMSnyder who was kind enough to point me to Susan's wild yeast site.

In the meantime, I've got this cruel propensity for making pseudo bread...and pseudo poetry.  Here's what I think of some of you, and for those whose names I missed, I didn't do it intentionally.  TFL is a great talent magnet, and it has attracted the best and the brightest.  But instead of a blog, I've done a blubfest (in not so nauseating proportions). 



First, hats off to Floyd - our host, Drupal programmer and fund-raiser,

So busy, he forgot our domain, but acted quickly on it - like a laser!

The Fresh Loaf has come full circle, and then featured in Saveur,

Mercy, Mercy!  What he's done for humanity and for our levure!


"It's nice to get up in the mornin" says Captain DMSnyder,

We know why.  With those loaves, he's getting all that fibre.

Generous, he shares a baker's dozen of tips on shaping and scoring,

Greek bread, Suas and torta de patate - in his hands, they're never boring!


Seen ehanner's twisted boules and white thyme bread yet?

Steps look complicated but they'd make an excellent bet.

PMcCool's, "I think I'm starting to get a hang of this" should be our mantra,

He finally found the flours he South Africa!


Hans Joakim - fully disguised as the vampire in Twilight,

His schrotbot, cocoa almond sponge...dare take a bite?

His patisserie so beguiling, seductive...such teasers, my he's a genius,

I read his posts like an addict, they're far from tedious.


Psst...Shiao Ping is looking for Waldo, should we join in the search?

She's shooting birds and exotic fruits up on a perch.

Taking a break from the heat, she prefers to be al fresco,

A fine lady who didn't leave her heart in San Francsico!


Last year I asked Marni about the round challah and she gave me the link,

When it came out of the oven, I was charmed and gave it a wink.

Debra Wink, Debra Wink, what a brain you've got,

Your love for science has made us more an educated lot.


Levieto natural con segale integrale, now that's a mouthful,

But JoeVa made it and he wasn't in the least boastful.

Let's not forget Susan and her wild yeast blog - a real treasure chest,

Norwich sourdough, sesame sourdough, all at their best!


Guess who forgot the salt the other day?  Maxiemolly!

But no matter, she's got that gorgeous array, by golly.

I spotted Milwaukeecooking somewhere in this flood of blogs,

Her sun dried tomato with parmesan, I could give it lotsa hugs!


History trivia for you:  who in 1976 made her first challah?

Hint:  she said, "it cheaper than therapy", ha-ha-ha!

Trailrunner, who else?  Caught a glimpse of Txfarmer's sourdough pandoro?

No doubt it'll pass the test, because he's detailed and thorough.


TattooedTonka posted a step-by-step on bagels,

Was he guided by his dog or by his angels?

Was that SylviaH in New Orleans, forking beignets at Cafe du Monde?

Perhaps...but we know her Christmas panettone had texture and bone (I mean "tone")


1/3.5/4.16 - not lottery numbers but MiniOven's rye loaf formula,

At least she's open and isn't as secretive as Coca-Cola.

Speaking of formulas, DocTracy has a love affair with excel spreadsheets,

Instead of counting sheep, he'd rather crunch numbers...and not bake with beets.


Breads and spreads, critters and crawlers were in davidg618's open house,

Did those delicious smells trolly outside, attracting the neighbor's mouse?

Arlo says he can't stop baking and loves his liquid starter,

Bake away Arlo, but don't let it talkin about your garter.


Stephanie Brim came up with 100% whole wheat needing more honey,

But looks like she's got it down pat, giving Julia a run for her money.

Yippee's milk sandwiches and 3-stage Hamelman 90% rye,

I'd be in her dining room in a second, and don't wanna say goodbye!


Also to MC (Bombance), simusi yoshi, proth5, LindyD, Meedo and Paddy's cake,

I'd love to nosh and quaff, shall I meet you "loafers" by the lake?

Pamela alias xaipete - haven't seen you of late,

Please come back so we can again watch you bake!


Thank you all,

ques2008 (sharon)






vmarrs's picture

My doctor has me on the sureslim supervised diet and I am allowed no more than 19 carbs in my bread per day.  I can't stand to purchase bread since I have been making it for 37 years.  I'm not diabetic.  sourdough is not really a favorite, so I am hoping someone out there can help me with a recipe suggestion. 


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