The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


txfarmer's picture

Sending this toYeastspotting.
Click here for my blog index.


It all started with a trip to my neighborhood organic market. My first time there, and I was quite disappointed actually, way overpriced (Whole Foods seemed practically frugal in comparison), and the selection is just OK. However they did have Poilane Miche straight from Paris, which ended up being my only purchase from there. It was sold by quarters, but I did get a sense of how large the bread is. Crumb is fairly dense, but full of flavor, a bit more sour than what I usually bake. Crust is not hard or crispy, due to the packaging and shipping time I assume. 

Inspired, I decided to bake a miche of my own. Still went with the SFBI formula I used before (posted here), which was originally posted by David (here). I did do a few things differently:
1) Instead of a blend of ww and AP flour, I used Golden Buffalo, which is an organic high extraction flour.
2)Instead of a white starter, I used my rye starter, which is VERY active and flavorful.
3)Instead of bakion on the stone with steam, I baked it in my large Staub cast iron pot. Preheated at 500F for nearly one hour, slash, load the loaf, cover, bake at 450F for the first 20min, remove lid, lower temp to 430F, bake for another 40min, turn off oven, open the oven door a little, leave the loaf (in the pot) in oven for another 20min before taking out.
4)My cast iron pot is oval so I shaped the dough into a batard, which is not the "usual" shape for miche
5)The scoring was borrowed from breadsong's post here, thank you so much!
Everything else remained the same, including the 2KG size, as well as fermentation/proofing schedule.

I really like how the scoring showed up

Such large loaves tend to flatten out on the baking stone, but in a pot, it had a very tall profile

A side by side comparison of the crumb between my miche and Poilane. The texture look kinda similar, but taste different: my miche (upper left) is less sour, has a more "sweet" taste than Poilane (lower right). I really liked the use of rye starter, it adds another dimension to the flavor profile.

I don't know which day the Poilane Miche was baked and shipped, but by the time I was eating it, it was a tad dry. I kept my miche wrapped for 24 hours before cutting in, and it tasted the best after 48 hours. Hmmm, I don't think I will go to that merket again, if I were to buy Poilane Miche again, I would get it in Paris, when its flavor is at the prime.


freerk's picture


Managing the Water

Secretly I enjoy the way all of us here in the Low Lands are stumbling into 2012. After days of continuous rainfall and storms coming in, the water levels are rapidly rising. A small stretch of dike in the North has broken, but much worse has been avoided so far by doing what the Dutch were born to do, or so it seems; managing the water. In some parts of the country dikes are broken on purpose to give way to the water in a controlled way. Storm barriers are lowered, risen, unfolded, or whatever which genius technical way they have come up with to protect us from the ever hungry rising water. Don't you love it when a system works? These are the moments that your hard-earned tax money is worth every cent you paid, and more! For instead of huffing and puffing and dragging sacks of sand around, I can sit here behind my computer, with dry feet and not worry about a thing. 'Cause I got some one watching out for me, and all of us out here! The Dutch province of Zeeland ("Sealand") is, when it comes to water, the "epitome" of what it means to be living at or under sea level. Looking at this map, I guess you can figure out why.

Luctor et EmergoThe slogan on their weapon shield reads "Luctor et Emergo", translating into "I struggle and emerge". Even though that slogan goes back a long time and actually refers to the struggle against Spanish occupation in the 16th century, the average Dutchman will associate Zeeland with the biggest disaster ever to hit the province on the 1st of February 1953. In a big storm and the flooding that followed, almost 2000 people drowned and 100.000 people lost everything they owned; their houses, their livestock, everything... They struggled, together with the rest of the country and did indeed "emerge". I an epic mission never to let this sort of thing happen again, they constructed this little baby;

Zeeuwse Bolussen

Brought to Zeeland by the bakers of the Portuguese Sephardic Jews who were forced to flee north at the end of the 15th century, these sticky sweet rolls, traditionally shaped in a spiral, quickly became popular with the locals as well, to such an extent that the "Zeeuwse Bolus" has become the signature bake of the province in modern days. That is another thing the Dutch are quite good at; all through history the Netherlands has been a refuge and safe haven for people on the run. Or should I say; another thing the Dutch WERE good at, because nowadays, even though the biggest part of the world still thinks of The Netherlands as a liberal and tolerant place, the Dutch authorities are sending kids who were raised here out of the country just to set an example. Let this recipe for "zeeuwse bolussen" remind us all how something really good can come from opening up to "strangers" in dire need! Luctor et Emergo indeed...

500 gr. All Purpose Flour
7 gr. Salt 5 gr. Instant Yeast
320 gr. Lukewarm Milk
75 gr. Unsalted Butter
250 gr. Brown Sugar
2 TBS cinnamon
zest of one lemon
Combine the flour, yeast, zest and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Work in the softened butter with the tips of your fingers. Add the lukewarm milk. Depending on your flour, you may have to add a little more milk or need to hold a little back. Start with 300 gr. of milk and add more if needed; what you are looking for is a slightly slack dough that will be easy to roll out in strands. Mix until the dough is well-developed, it should pass the window pane test; approximately 10-15 minutes on medium low-speed.

Lightly oil a container, transfer the dough and coat all around with the oil for a first rise of about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, divide the dough into equal pieces of about 45 grams. You should end up with 14-16 dough pieces. Form the dough pieces into balls and let them rest for 20 minutes, so the dough will be slack enough to form into strands. First roll out all the balls into short strands of about 20 cm.

Mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon and cover your work surface with it . Then roll out the strands in the sugar mixture to a length of about 40 cm. If the dough really resists, you might have to go for a third round of rolling strands after giving it another 10 minutes to relax. Shape the strands into spirals or knots. The spiral is the more traditional way of shaping, but since the rolls come out of the oven really dark brown, I prefer to knot them, just to avoid associations that I won't go into here and now :-)

For spirals: start in the middle and just drape the dough in circles. It is okay to make it look a little rustic and not too neat! For knots: Place a strand horizontally in front of you. Take the ends and form two loops, leaving some space in the middle for proofing. Make a knot on each side of the loop.

Place the formed bolus on a baking sheet, cover and let them proof until puffed and doubled in size, for about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F. Bake the "Zeeuwse Bolussen" for about 8 minutes. You want them to be just done, so keep a close eye on your oven. Too long and they will be crusty, too short and they will be gooey.

Please feel free to comment and subscribe if you want me to keep you updated. Also I want to ask you to endorse my growing BreadLab initiative on Facebook; every like gets me closer to realizing a 6 episode "breadomentary", chasing the beast bread the world has to offer. Thanks in advance!


jarkkolaine's picture

Greetings from Finland!

After years of reading your posts (and drooling over your tasty and beautiful loaves) for inspiration, I thought I'd start my own blog here too. During the days I'm a stay-at-home dad exploring life with my two boys (ages 4.6 and 2 :)). The rest of my time, mostly when my family is asleep, I try to split between baking, writing and some other creative experiments. And browsing The Fresh Loaf.


In the past summer, I managed to spoil my starter by not refreshing it during the summer vacation as we were traveling around Finland. Ever since, I have been making breads with yeast, procrastinating with the idea of training a new starter. The Ale and Yeast Poolish recipe from Richard Bertinet's Crust has become my current favorite bread.

Today, once again, I made a batch: I usually follow the recipe as printed, except that for baking, I use a cast-iron frying pan covered with a clay pot for the first twenty minutes -- my cheap version of a dutch oven. To fit the breads in the pan, I divide the dough in four pieces instead of the two instructed in the book, and shape the dough into boules instead of batards.

Here's how it looked this time:


yy's picture

Over the weekend, I finally worked up the courage to try making Bruno's Pandoro from Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking. I followed the the formula almost exactly. The one thing I changed was to replace all of the whole eggs in the formula with an equal amount of egg yolks by weight. I had the idea in my mind that this would give the final product better color and flavor (more on this later).

Though time consuming, the process was much easier than I anticipated. The dough wasn't entirely successful. As you can see in the photo below, there were little coagulated chunks that never broke up. I'm guessing they came from the step where I added flour and egg yolk to the first dough. The egg yolk bound with the dry flour to form little chunks that couldn't be dispersed by mixing. 

It took a full 27 hours at around 72 degrees F for the dough to go from this:

to this:

Here's the result (from the larger mold)

In retrospect, I should have filled the molds just a tad more to get that big pillowy base that pandoro should have. Given the limited amount of oven spring, it was the correct decision to bake when I did, or the loaves would have collapsed. I had to decrease the oven temperature from recommended 350 F to 325 F about twenty minutes into the bake because the tops were getting too dark. 

The crumb:

I wasn't too happy about the crumb, which had a spongy cake-like texture. I'm looking for a pillowy soft bread-like texture with shreddable strands. I'm not sure how much of this shortcoming is attributed to the amount of egg yolk I used, and how much is attributed to adding the butter/cocoa butter to the mix too rapidly or too soon. The uneven chunks indeed proved to be unpleasant in texture. 

The egg yolk flavor turned out to be too strong and gave the bread a "gamey" flavor, if that makes any sense. Next time, I'd like to make the loaf a little sweeter, use whole eggs just as the formula prescribes, increase the vanilla, and perhaps increase the proportion of cocoa butter, which I would like to stand out more in the flavor profile. 

Despite the pandoro not being perfect this time around, it still makes for a great breakfast (smeared with nutella), and it was a lot of fun to work with the silky, runny dough. 


HokeyPokey's picture

I’ve had a few months break from baking – having a little one takes a lot of your time!! No matter how many people tell you, you won’t know till it actually happens to you.

 Anywho, the little monkey is asleep and I can update my blog with the recent bakes, got a bit of a backlog to get through.

 Today’s post is about lemon cupcakes – I know its not bread, but its baking, so I figured that its worth blogging about - link here.

 I apologise for the pictures in advance, I only have my iPod to take photos with, and they are not that great.  

rossnroller's picture

I mostly prefer straight breads, but had some ricotta that was left over and in danger of souring, so decided on a whim to add it to a bread dough I've been baking a lot lately, along with some fried onion. The result knocked my socks off!

The onion is as good as you might imagine (especially the slightly charred bits on the outside of the crust). The ricotta, while not itself evident as a distinct flavour presence, seems to enhance the texture of the crumb (soft, yet firmly structured with just the right amount of chew), as well as coaxing the sweetness out of the wheat - and this in a bread that already sings with sweet wheaten harmonies counterbalanced with rye.

The bread I'm referring to is a variation of David's lovely 'San Joaquin Sourdough'.

I like to make up a starter comprising 30% wholewheat + 70% baker's flour and have lowered the salt content, but otherwise stick to David's original formula. Hard to beat, I've found. My process is different, though. I dispense with the 21 hour retardation, instead completing the bulk proof then retarding the shaped loaf for 8 hours and baking straight out of the fridge. Works extremely well for me with my flours, current ambient temps and schedule.

I would think this would work equally well whether you use my version or David's original, but since I have only tried my version with the onion and ricotta additions, this is the one that appears here.

100gm ripe starter @ 75% hydration (30% ww, 70% AP flour)
450gm AP flour (mine is 10-11.5% protein)
50gm whole rye flour
365gm filtered water
8gm salt
50gm ricotta
half a medium brown onion, chopped and fried until caramelised golden (would have used red onion if I'd had some)

Method (ambient temp 26C/80F):

  1. Hand-mix all ingredients except onion until it just comes together, rest 30 mins.
  2. Stretch and fold several times, strewing the dough lightly and evenly between folds with fried onion until it is incorporated in the dough. Cover with oiled plastic food-grade bag.
  3. Do one set of S&Fs every 30 minutes for 1.5 hours. Then allow bulk proof to complete (total BP was 1.5 hours in my warm conditions).
  4. Preshape, rest 10 minutes, and shape.
  5. Retard in fridge at 4C/40F for 8 hours. 
  6. Slash dough down middle (to maximise grigne where bits of onion can char - utterly delicious!), and bake straight out of fridge, as follows:


  • 12 minutes with steam, starting with maxed out pre-heated oven and turned down to 225C/435F a couple of minutes after loading.
  • Remove steam source, then bake 13 mins @ 215C/420F
  • Turn down to 200C/390F, bake another 15 mins.
  • Turn oven off and rest bread with door ajar for 5-8 minutes.

Here's some pics:

Yes, a little lavish with the butter, but the flavour of this bread was too good to clutter up with any but the simplest of toppings - and is there anything better on good bread than butter?

As with any enriched savoury bread, it was not particularly versatile, but with the right accompaniments - oh my my! eg: Thin-sliced cheese and hot English mustard just popped with the onion backdrop, sliced cold roast beef with horseradish also very yum. Two days down the track, it was superb toasted lightly, rubbed with garlic and drizzled with EVOO, and topped with sliced fresh-picked backyard tomato.

Cheers all!


Franko's picture


Pane de Campagne with Red Fife 75% sifted and Rye Bread with Barley 

The bread I've been making most often over the last month or so is a Country style bread similar to Robertson's Tartine CB that I've adjusted to suit my preference for a more sour flavour than his formula results in. The percentage of leaven is 15% greater than Robertson's 20%, and instead of using just white and whole wheat flours, it has a mix of AP, Red Fife 75% sifted, and Dark Rye flours, all of them organic. The combination of these three flours in the respective percentages of 75%, 15% and 10% seems to be the sweet spot for my tastes and makes for a well rounded flavour profile that I enjoy eating on a daily basis. Mostly it gets used in sandwiches but I like it for toast and preserves as well, making it a versatile bread for my everyday use. The dough has a 2 1/2 hour bulk ferment in the Brod & Taylor proofer at 76F/24C, with a stretch & fold at 60 and 120 minutes. After it's rested for a 1/2 hour it goes into the refrigerator covered until I get home from work the next afternoon, about 20 hours later. I have previously made this bread in only one day but the flavour result is nowhere near as deep or complex as when it's left for the long haul. That this long cold fermentation also accommodates my work schedule is a huge bonus for me since I don't always have time to bake on my days off. Other than that the procedure is much the same as for Tartine Country Bread, though I don't necessarily use a Dutch Oven when baking it off, simply because I don't always want a boule shaped loaf. The batard shaped loaves won't develop the nice dark caramelization that they would in a DO environment, but sometimes a batard shape is preferable for sandwich making. I guess I'll have to wait until I can build or buy a WFO to have it both ways. Until then, baking directly on the stone delivers a well flavoured crust, that if I've taken it at the right point (slightly less than full proof), will send shards of crust flying as soon as the knife bites into it. So far my brother, step-son, and his father-in-law have all tried it and loved it, but that's sort of like preaching to the converted since they like their bread on the sour side anyway. The Red Fife sifted used in this formula I realize has limited availability to most folks, but I think that a high extraction flour or a sifted whole wheat would work just fine. Having enough of the bran in small particles gives this formula a good deal of it's flavour, but doesn't create a coarse texture and mouth-feel, which I feel gives the bread a broader range of appeal...if you like your bread tangy to begin with.

 Procedure for Pain de Campagne with Red Fife 75% sifted 

  • Mix all ingredients for levain and ripen for 14-18 hours @ 70F

  • Final dough:

  • Autolyse the flours and water for 1 hour.

    Mix all ingredients except the salt on 1st speed for 3-4 minutes until dough is cohesive. Add the salt and continue mixing for 7-8 minutes on 2nd speed until the dough is uniform and well developed.

  • Bulk ferment at 76F for 2 hours giving 2 stretch and folds in the first 2 hours. Place dough in refrigerator over night, or for up to 18 hours. Remove from fridge and bring allow the dough to sit at room temp for 90 minutes.

  • Round lightly and rest for 20 minutes.

  • Shape as desired.

  • Final rise of 2-3 hours @ 78F or until slightly less than fully proofed.

  • Place on a floured or parchment covered peel, score as desired, and bake in a preheated 500F oven with stone or Dutch Oven. Use preferred steaming method if baking on a stone.

  • Reduce oven heat to 460 and bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the loaf for even colouring ( remove the lid if using a DO) and bake for 25-35 minutes longer. * Note* heavier loaves of 1600 grams or more will require longer baking times as will higher hydration loaves.

  • Turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly and leave the loaf in the oven for 20 minutes to cool gradually.

  • Wrap the loaf in linen and place on a wire rack for 12 hours or longer before slicing.

    The formula spreadsheet can be found through the link below.

 This next loaf is one of my bread experiments gone uncharacteristically right on a first try for a pleasant change. Elizabeth David's 'English Bread and Yeast Cookery' is a book I've been reading off and on over the Fall, which I think had a lot to do with finally deciding to make a bread that uses barley as part of the grist. I've consumed a fair bit of barley over the years but mostly in liquid form, so shortly before the week of Christmas I picked up some whole barley grain at the local organic store to see if I could come up with a way to use it in a sour bread of some kind. The 'barley project' needed to be put on hold till after Christmas, as other more Seasonal matters took precedence, giving me some time to think about how to use the barley. Taking inspiration from some of Andy's/ananda  posts where he utilizes a “boil-up” as he calls it, for softening various grains before adding into his bread mixes, I thought this would be a good place to start. At this point I hadn't formalized a recipe, nor did I have an entirely clear concept of what I wanted or how to go about it, other than the boil -up. It's funny how sometimes it takes forever to come up with a formula concept, while at other times it can just come to you while watching a pot of water come to a boil. While I was watching the water and barley simmering away, softening and opening, I thought to myself that this eventual mash would be an excellent medium to grow wild yeast for beer perhaps? One of those light bulb moments for someone who doesn't brew beer. Once the grains were soft enough to mash with a fork and had cooled to room temp, mature rye starter, along with a scant amount of salt was added to the mash. The plan was to let the mash ferment slowly over the course of a few days to build flavour, the addition of salt would help keep it in check and hopefully prevent a runaway fermentation. After 4 days at 70F in the B&T proofer, the mash had developed a distinctly (or stinky according to my wife) sour nose to it. Rather than push it any further and run the risk of contamination the mash was transferred to the fridge for safe keeping until I was ready to use it in the final mix. Including an altus in the mix came to me just the day before I'd planned to make the bread when I ran across a heel of Horst Bandel Pumpernickel in our freezer. I remembered having saved it for this very purpose and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use it up. The mix itself went as it would for a typical high ratio rye bread, with little gluten development and a sticky paste to work with. With some minor adjustments for hydration it formed a slightly wet paste, but came together without too much effort. Bulk ferment was around 80 minutes at 81F/27C, then shaped, using the wet hands/scraper method to form it into a log shape then deposited into a 4 1/2”x 9 1/2” Pullman tin, sprinkled with barley flakes, lid on, and set in the B&T proofer for a final rise of 2 1/2 hours at 81F/27C.

Full formula and procedure below.

After 20 minutes in the oven the bread was giving off a noticeably beery aroma that gradually changed to a rich, roasted fragrance of grain and malt over the remaining course of the bake. At first taste the bread is just inside my sour tolerance level, but the flavour is fantastic! Malty, sweet & sour, with a moist, chewy bite to it, it's the sort of bread that delivers on all levels. I expect it will pair well with other foods once it's mellowed over the next few days and the initial sharpness has come in to balance with the other ingredients, but my guess is I'll be eating most of it just for it's flavour alone.


Wishing everyone the very best for the New Year!






Combine the water and whole barley in a heavy bottom pot and bring to a slow boil, cooking and stirring till the grains become soft. Add the rye meal and salt, stir and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mix the rye and barley mash 4-5 days in advance of the final mix and allow to ripen at room temperature 70F/21C for the first 48 hrs, then keep in the fridge or at a temperature of 50F/10C max until ready to make final mix. Allow the mash to come to room temperature before including in the final mix, or gently warm on low in the microwave. The mash should have a strong sour smell when ready to use and longer ripening times may be necessary.



Mix the mature sour with all of the water and 50% of the rye flour and ripen for 14-18 hr at 70F/21C with the second feeding of rye flour at the midway point of the ripening period.



Soak the old rye bread in hot water and leave overnight. Squeeze as much water as possible from the bread, reserving the water for the final mix. The old bread should be of a high percentage rye bread, the darker the better.


Final Mix DDT-81-84F/27-28C

Combine all the ingredients except the sour and mix till thoroughly combined. Add the sour and continue mixing till the paste is smooth and uniform. Using wet hands and a scraper, work the paste on the bench by scraping and folding it over itself for several minutes, adjusting hydration as needed to achieve a medium consistency. The dough should be slightly on the wet and sticky side. Place the paste in a bowl and begin the bulk ferment.


Bulk Ferment

Ferment the paste for 60-90 minutes. Times will vary according to individual conditions, but the paste should show a small increase in volume during this period.


Shaping and Final Rise

Form the paste into a log shape and deposit in a 4 1/2” x 9 1/2” paper lined or well glazed Pullman pan. Smooth the paste evenly into the corners and along the sides creating a slight peak from the sides to the center of the surface. Sprinkle the top evenly with barley flakes, brushing with water if needed to make them stick. Begin the final rise at a temperature of 82F/27-28C with some humidity present. Allow the paste to rise to within 3/4”-1/2” of the top of the pan before sliding the cover of the Pullman over top. The final rise may take upwards of 2 1/2 hours and should be monitored every 30 minutes to avoid over-proofing.



Place the closed pan on a baking stone in a well preheated 500F/260C oven and bake for 10 minutes before lowering the temperature to 460F/238C. Continue to bake for 45-50 minutes then lower the heat to 375 for an additional 15-20 minutes. Check the loaf to see if it has pulled away from the sides of the pan. If not continue baking till it has. Remove the lid from the pan, turn the heat off and leave the loaf in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan before de-panning to a wire rack. Wrap in linen and cool for 12-24 hours before slicing.

The formula spreadsheet can be found through the link below.


ehanner's picture

German Style-Many Seed Bread

When Hanseata posted her last bread of the year, it was a reminder of a recipe I have seen in Peter Rhinehart’s “Whole Grain Breads”. I hadn't made this one yet but it looks like it has promise. Actually, I love this book. Peters “Epoxy or pre dough” method is inspired. The need for less kneading during the final dough mix delivers delicious results every time. I get rave reviews on all the breads I bake from WGB.

A couple of days ago, Khalid (mebake) posted his results on the same bread and reported his family loved the flavor. I know Khalid to be a very talented baker so for his family to make a big deal on this one, well, that is enough to drive me to try it. I checked my supplies and prepared for a 4 times multiple batch. I decided to follow Khalids lead and add crushed and toasted walnuts to the toasted seed package. Somehow toasted walnuts sounds perfect for this bread.

The bread I am baking is on Page 210 of WGB under the International section and is considered a Transitional bread as the Biga is made of Bread flour or Hi Gluten flour. Considering the amount of seeds added, I used All Trumps Hi Gluten and fresh ground WW.

My initial plan was to hand mix this 9 Lb+ batch.  But as I started to chop the large amount of seeds into the soaker and biga, the DLX was calling my name.  One of the things I try to avoid when baking PR’s recipes in this book is ending up with a crumb that has swirls because I didn’t distribute the ingredients well enough. Maybe a single loaf batch would be easier but this one looks like a physical challenge. The DLX handled the incorporation of the seeds with the soaker and biga with no problem. The aroma of the dough is remarkable.

The dough proofed quite well for being so rough. There are over 775g of seeds in 4200g of dough so I wasn’t expecting  a large rise. The oven spring was nonexistent however so I was glad for the proof results. As you can see, it browned well and the baking profile was perfect to get a done interior crumb that is still moist. This bread is loaded with good wholesome flavor.

I highly encourage those who enjoy whole grain hearty breads to pick up a copy of Whole Grain Breads.  Read the chapters on the process and the Master formula. Reinhart’s method on this is unique.  Once you do it a couple of times, I find it’s very easy to fit in the schedule. He gives a conversion in most recipes for using your sourdough starter instead of yeast in the biga. His formulas  and methods produce everything I am trying to accomplish with baking. 


As good as this was last night just slightly warm, toasting brings yet another level of flavor out.

Here, a freshly cut slice shows the many seeds.

Glistening with melted butter, the flavor is amazing!

davidg618's picture

This is completely off-topic.

Discounting the ocassional hurricane, and the ever increasing summer heat, Florida is a good state to live in, especially if you grow a winter garden. We generally plant cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli in late October to early November. The broccoli is always the first to mature.

Earlier in the week my wife harvested two heads of broccoli, and asked me to make Cream of Broccoli soup. I'd never done it before, and it sounded like fun. Basically, Bechamel sauce with some added cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg pureed with lots of al dente steamed florets.

Next month: Cauliflower and Cheddar.

David G


davidg618's picture

I've been wrestling with producing a 50% Whole Wheat sourdough loaf that has good flavor and an open, chewy crumb. I've described my difficulties, and, finally a successful attempt in:

I won't repeat the details here, but I'll summarize what I've learned. I believe the comments are relevant to all lean  dough sourdough breads to some extent, but the degree of importance may vary depending on the flours used.

Flavor: Flavor is developed in p1refements, and during bulk fermentation. Retarded bulk fermentation improves flavor. All of my earlier exploration flour prefermented during the levain building ranged from 15% to 25% of the flour, all whole wheat. I also experimented with retarding the doughs' bulk fermentations 0 to 15 hours at 38°F to 56°F. Most recently, I've settled on a formula that preferments 15% of the flour, all whole wheat, and retards bulk fermentation 15 hours, at, nominally, 54°F.

Crumb: Crumb development has many variables: flour types, mixing and kneading, hydration, baking temperatures, steam or no steam, and oven spring, arguably the most probable major contributors. In my 50% Whole Wheat failures I found, with dough hydrations nearly constant between 65% to 68%, the biggest influence was Whole Wheat's effect on a dough's strength. i.e., its shortening effect on gluten development. In early attempts I tried hand-mixing and post-autolyse kneading, followed by periodic S&F; and two-speed machine mixing, without post-autolyse machine kneading, followed by periodic S&F. I subsequently, tried one or two speed mixing, followed by post-autolyse machine kneading followed by periodic S&F. Not until I increased the the machine kneading time to more than twice what I use for white flour sourdoughs did I achieve the crumb we like.

Ultimately, I found mixing all ingredients (including the 2% salt) on speed 1 (Kitchenaid Pro 600, spiral dough hook), followed by a one hour autolyse, then with 7 minutes of machine kneading on speed 2, and subsequently doing 3 S&F at one hour intervals does the trick.There are pictures in the aforementioned post.

However, there is one negative side-effect from building the levain entirely with whole wheat flour. I maintain my refrigerated seed starter with KA bread flour only, and I replace my seed starter entirely every week with fresh levain, scavanged from excess intentionally into my weekly sourdough bake's levain build. Unfortunately, in weeks I build levain with other flours, I also separately build a bread flour levain to replace my seed starter.

This week, wanting to bake 50% Whole Wheat sourdough, I tried something different. I built the levain with 15% of the formula's KA bread flour, and soaked all of the formula's Whole Wheat flour in an equal amount (by weight) of the formula's water for eight hours. Subsequently, I made the dough exactly as described, and replaced my seed starter with the excess levain.

I don't know if the pre-hydrated Whole Wheat flour qualifies as a Soaker, since it was not "hydration neutral", but for lack of a better name that's what I'll call it. Soaker or otherwise, I'm pleased with the results.

Flavorwise, we didn't loose anything, It may even be a bit better than usual, and...

the crumb is everything we ask for.

David G




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