The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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CosmicChuck's picture

This is a project I have been working on and haven't fully perfected yet, but I think I am getting there. I am using King Arthur Whole Wheat flour and my four year old Carl Griffith's starter that I have bult into a whole wheat starter. The dough is at 76% hydration and involves a lengthy cold delayed ferment. Still feels a bit heavy for a ciabatta, but I think I may get it in a couple more tries.

And sorry for the bad pictures. I am currently shopping for a better camera.




wally's picture

It's not often that someone can lay claim to producing the best baguettes in a city, but in Washington, DC Sam Fromartz has done so, thanks to a competition sponsored by a local publication - the Washington City Paper

The competition, held in 2009, challenged metro-area bakeries to submit baguettes which were then blind tasted by a panel of experts, including Mark Furstenberg, who introduced artisan bread baking to DC.  What the experts didn't know was that Fromartz, a writer by trade but a bread enthusiast, had submitted his own home-baked baguettes as well.  When the dust settled, the judges had awarded perfect scores to the two loaves baked by Fromartz.

The story is fascinating, and you can read the City Paper article here:

But the baguettes are fascinating as well!  I've baked them on numerous occasions and they produce a delightful flavor and crust.  For those who want Fromartz's recipe from the horse's mouth, it can be found here:

Sam Fromartz's Parisian Baguette Recipe

The following will produce two 16" baguettes weighing in at around 280g apiece.

Ingredient                                              Weight            Bakers %

AP flour (I use KA's Sir Galahad)              295g               95

Whole wheat flour                                          5g                 5

Water                                                           210g                70

Starter (100% hydration)                             45g                15

Salt                                                                6.5g                 2

Instant dry yeast                                           1 tsp                .9 (may be reduced in summer or warmer environment)

The mix - Desired Dough Temp = 76°-78°

Day 1: Begin by adding the starter and water and mixing to break up the starter.  Fromartz adds his yeast as well, but because I use instant dry I instead mix it into the flour.  To the liquid mixture add the flour and salt.  Fromartz mixes by hand and uses the slap-and-fold technique to knead.  I initially followed this method, but my last bake produced great results using my stand mixer and left me with clean hands to boot!  (I mixed 4 minutes on speed 1 and 4 minutes on speed 2, which produces a dough with moderate gluten development).

Place the dough into a lightly oiled container and cover.  It then receives 3 folds at 20 minute intervals.  After the final fold, place again in covered container and retard overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2: Preheat oven to 470°.  Remove dough from the refrigerator. Fromartz immediately divides and pre-shapes, but I allow the dough to sit for about 1 hour before dividing.  After dividing and pre-shaping I let the two pieces of dough bench rest for about 30 minutes before shaping into two 16" baguettes.  I couched them, seam side up, for an hour, before placing them on a parchment-covered peel and scoring them. 

I pre-steamed my gas oven with about 1/4 cup of water, and then immediately after placing the baguettes on my baking stone I carefully added 3/4 cup of water to lava rocks that I have piled up in a cast iron skillet at the bottom of my oven.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  Because of the overnight retardation, these have a rich crust with almost a reddish coloration.

The flavor of these is truly wonderful.  The small addition of whole wheat flour and sourdough gives them a nuttiness that I've only found in poolish baguettes.

I was pleased with my slashes (despite the problems gas ovens create by venting steam), and the crumb was the most open I've achieved with his recipe.

So - want to enter your own competition with Sam Fromartz - then give his award-winning recipe a shot!


Edit: Oops!  Don't know where my head was when calculating bakers percentage, but AP is 98% and whole wheat is 2%.

JoeVa's picture

After a long break, I'm now able to return to blogging, I hope ...

I don't want to bore you all with my baking problems (although I did with some of you, my "baking friends" ... you know Shiao-Ping!?), but I have to share with you what I think I've learned.

First I'll show you my last (I should say my first) sourdough loaf after a full month of bread thrashing.

[The loaf]


[The crumb - a half]


[The crumb - the other half]


[The crust]


Here my notes:

  • Use a good oven. My oven is really "cooked" (I showed it in THIS post), now even more than ever. Can I say I HATE it? It's crazy, about 50°C hotter in the back. Then, the temperature goes up and down and when it goes up the top heating element is incandescent.

  • Steam. The first half of the baking is crucial. An efficient steaming method must be used. I switched from my pre-heated clay pot to a not pre-heated stainless boule (in my case just a big steel pot). This covered steaming method is the only one I can use and I found really important to use a not pre-heated cover - before it gets hot, it gives the bread the time to free the steam.

  • Use a reasonably good flour.

  • Take care of the levain. Try to use it at the peak or a bit before.

  • Do not be a stupid house wife. First watch the dough than watch the clock.

  • The wetter is NOT always the better. You have to master the process.

  • Check your refrigerator. Find a spot that register the right temperature for cold proofing. It's easy to put the dough in a refrigerator that you think should be around 5°C and then you find that in the night it goes down to 2°C.

... that's the home baker life. Don't you think it's too easy to bake bread in a bakery where you have perfect flour, steamed deck oven, proofing cabinet, mixer ... ?

To do list:
  • Work more on the previous notes.
  • The subtle art of fermentation. One thing I have to better understand is what there's behind leaving, fermentation and dough ripening; and how to control these things. Maybe you think the bread I showed is ok ... absolutely not, I think it's mediocre: a plain, not so complex, full flavored bread.

The bread I baked was based on Shiao-Ping suggestions with the obvious adjustment you have to do every time you bake, with different ingredients and conditions: 85% bread flour, 10% whole wheat, 5% rye. 65% overall hydration. 25% prefermented flour (100% hydration white levain). Short mixing with S&F, 12h retarded at 5°C. I also used the "double flour addition" technique of SteveB (described HERE).

When I was shaping the loaf my sister was around in the kitchen and I asked her to touch the very puffy, smooth just shaped loaf. I loved the word she used - she said: oohh it's sooo (in Italian) bonzo.

And here, just for your fun (but do not joke about me too much!), I want to show you a loaf I thrashed ... I cannot show only good looking bread!



Shiao-Ping's picture

My kids' God Mother came to visit.  It was a relaxing Friday night drink on the balcony.   The night was clear and the breezes were cool.  Autumn has finally arrived.  

The cool night reminded me of my visit to New Jersey, the USA, to see my junior high school friend in the fall of 1997.  We were so close back then in school that she often came home with me after school.  My Mother would feed her and they would speak a dialect between them that made me a foreigner.  Several years after she finished her masters in economics, she became a top currency trader with an intuition for market movements, something that could only be born with, not learned.  I could not remember what the circumstances were that the live recording of Bee Gees "One Night Only" tour was playing on her big screen TV in her New Jersey home.  The concert was held in November of that year in Las Vegas to celebrate Bee Gees' songs starting 30 years before.  It brought back both of our memories then.  The very, very first English song that I have ever heard when I was in my teens was a sound track by Bee Gees from a 1971 movie "Melody."   

To this day, Bee Gees remains one of my favourite music groups.  Bee Gees has nothing to do with my T110 Miche, except that the "One Night Only" CD was what was playing on my tea room B & O when I was uploading the bread photos below.   This miche is close to everything I wanted in a miche.  The flavour is better than that of my Gerard Rubaud miche.  The only imperfection from my own standpoint is that it should have been ready in day time to allow me to take better shots without relying on my kitchen halogen lights that cast an unnatural yellowish tinge on all crumbs. 

Stats of this miche

  • 100% stone-ground organic T110 flour (including the flour in the starter)

  • 250 grams of 65% starter (last fermentation 6 hours at around 25 ºC)

  • Total dough weight 1.5 kg and overall hydration 75%

  • Bulk fermentation 3 hours with 5 sets of double letter folds (at around 25 ºC)

  • Pre-shape, rest, and shape (1/2 hour)

  • Final proof 2 1/2 hours (at around 25 ºC)

  • (Total fermentation time from time-off mixing to just before baking was 6 hours.)

  • Baked at 245 ºC under cover for 35 minutes and without cover for a further 20 minutes



                                                  The big H in Edwardian script stencil is my Father's initial



Oven spring and crust colour:  This miche was baked under a giant stainless steel bowl, and so no steaming was required.  The stainless bowl was not pre-warmed.  This miche had one of the best oven springs I have ever had, risen about 50 - 60% from the proved loaf.  The covered baking method (and this include the Römertopf and le cloche baking) seems to guarantee better oven spring.  I seem to have better crust color, too, with this baking method since the bread is being steamed by the moist generated by itself.  (If a dough is over-proved, however, no baking method can guarantee oven spring or crust color.  From my experience, nothing can save a dough that is over-proved; but the flavour would still be good.)




Volume:  This miche has very good volume as can be seen from the high cross section above.  Volume comes with good gluten development and dough strength.  As I was under the impression that French flours tended to be soft and not needing as much hydration, I mixed the dough to 69% hydration at the start.  However, I wanted to have a medium soft dough consistency and, at 69%, the dough felt very tight, so I added 3% more hydration each time and did that twice, ending at 75% total hydration.  This in effect became a double-hydration method, normally used in wet dough to build up strength.   The volume is also attributable to the tight pre-shaping and shaping that I gave to this dough.  The bulk dough was completely flatten out before being pre-shaped and shaped.




Texture:  The texture of this miche is soft and spongy.  It has a yielding structure.  All cells are aerated.  Many of the miches I made in the past, while good flavoured, had somewhat hard texture, with or without open crumbs.  I noticed that, when a portion or all of the flour in my miches was whole grain flour, the texture tended to be (ever so slightly) tough.  With this miche, I was very pleased with the very spongy and yielding texture.  I could only attribute it to the special French T110 flour used in this miche.  It would not be attributable to anything in particular that I had done.






Flavour:  I do not consider myself to be sensitive to subtle nuances of tastes and flavours.  This T110 miche is my very first miche with T110 flour.  Still, at the first bite, a "rich" flavour hit me.  I had had no prior experience with T110 flour.  It is as if there is a whole lot more in that small morsel that I took that was invisible to my eyes.  The ingredients in my miche were strictly T110, water, and salt, so I really couldn't work out where it was from initially.  The "rich" flavour is different from that of the Gerard Rubaud miche that I made where 3 types of whole grain flour were added.  It appears to me that the "rich" flavour may have come from the special French traditional stone-milling method where the germ and the aleurone layer are mixed into the T110 (and T80) flour.  For some basic information of aleurone layer, please see here and here.   I am not interested in science more than I need to.  I am a baker and I try to adapt to whatever flour I have and try to bring out its best the way I know how.  All that I can say is this T110 flour is very special.




Translucent crumb:  I had the most translucent crumb in this miche than all other bread that I made, combined.  When I get translucent crumb, to me, it is like the cells have been fermented to perfection.  Mini Oven once commented that the translucent crumb seems to occur more often with retardation, long fermentation process and/or wetter dough.  However, this dough does not fit into any of the above.  The only thing I can think of is that, before my starter went through the last leg of fermentation (6 hours), it sat in the refrigerator for 9 hours.  What happened was, it was 9 pm when I fed my starter its last meal.  Rather than risking it over ripen, I moved it into the refrigerator and brought it out again to room temperature the next morning at 6.  I don't know if this, together with the 6 hour refreshment and 6 hour dough fermentation, resulted in the translucent crumb.  I am more inclined to think that the crumb is because of the T110 flour.




The last photo of the night:




We had about half of the miche that night and the rest, sliced, was stored in the freezer.  Yesterday morning I decided that I really would like to have a day-time shot of the crumb to compare.  So here it is.  The crumb colour is of a very pale brown without any specks whatsoever.



                               Same crumb as in the 4th photo from the top 


                                                                    Same crumb as in the photo to the left , below the 4th photo from the top


For your information, following is a shot of this T110 flour that I used.  Next to it is my normal bread flour, for comparison.    



                                         T110 flour                                                                                 Bread Flour


An article on flour, brought out by hansjoakim elsewhere, says the extraction rate of T110 is 88 - 90%.  As you can see above, the bran is so very finely ground that it is undistinguishable.



                                                                              Early fall morning fog?



Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

So, baked a lot this week in the RV. I finally solved the burning problem, thanks to TFL'er's help. The aluminum foil layer was the key. I put aluminum foil on the rack and that did it. I realized that back a few months ago, when we first got in the RV, I had baked some ginger cookies and put aluminum foil on the rack because I didn't have a cookie sheet that fit in the oven at the time. I left the foil in for awhile and was baking pretty decent breads. Somewhere along the way, I removed the foil and didn't make the connection between that and my bread burning. One of TFL'ers suggested putting aluminum foil on the rack and I remembered that this so I tried it again and it's working!

This week I baked up a bunch of great breads. I started with a "1,2,3" bread which was really a "1, 2.5,3" bread as I increased the hydration to about 75% since I made it with 100% whole wheat white flour. The other interesting thing about this loaf (besides not using a recipe and actually having it come out edible, LOL!) was that I accidently switched my rye and WW starters when I was refreshing them. So, my rye starter got fed WW and my WW starter got fed rye. Thus, this bread was made with a "hybrid" starter. It was really, really good. Nice tang, nice sweetness from the WWW flour. Thanks flourgirl51 for the great flours that I've been using!

Next, I made a dessert bread. I had some frozen blueberries I just had to bake with. So, I made FloydDM's blueberry braid. The only change is that I used mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. Talk about addictive!

Same day, I started Eric's favorite rye. But, I used whole wheat white flour since I don't have first clear. My other changes this time were some fennel seeds and onion. Plus, 75 grams of altus from my last rye bread. My husband declared this my best rye bread EVER!!! I'm really loving this recipe as a base. I've also been bumping up the rye percent to about 50%. One of these days I'm, now that I got my new order of rye flour I'm going to make Mini's rye bread in a pot. I just need to go buy a suitable pot for my RV oven.

Finally, today I harvested a gigantic amount of arugula that was bolting. I have a big food processor and I packed it full. This was a plastic grocery sack completely full of arugula that I than tore into pieces and stuffed into my processor. Maybe a few pounds worth? I added olive oil, 1/2 pound parmesan, salt, pine nuts and fresh garlic and made some out of this world arugula pesto. So, needed to have some pizza to go with this.

Here's the formula I used for the pizza:

180 grams all purpose

50 grams durum flour (whole durum from flourgirl51)

20 grams whole wheat flour

1 cup water (warm)

1 1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

I beat this with a paddle on high until it came off the sides and bottom, about 5 minutes. Put it into my 2 liter container, waited about an hour with it setting on a shelf over a light in an 80 degree spot. Tripled in size.

Here are my toppings:

Brushed with olive oil. Spread with Sundried tomato spread from Safeway. Spread about 1 cup of arugula pesto. Pepperoni. Mozzarello. Yum!!!!

This was the best pizza dough I've made so far. Despite the short rise time the flavor was intense and the texture was amazing. I think it was the durum flour that made the difference. Note, this is durum flour, not semolina. It looks sort of like whole wheat flour and has a nice, sweet, strong smell. I get it from Flourgirl51.

What a great baking week. Started off cold, windy and rainy. Now it's sunny and nice. And, I have several months worth of pesto to put in my freezer! Enough to last until basil season. Now I can't wait tomato season.

jennyloh's picture

Every end of the week,  I'm so looking forward to my baking.  I think it has become an obsession.

Baguette on Friday night, with my old dough from the 5 minutes fresh baked bread.  I forgot to add yeast and salt to the dough, but it worked as well, as I had put aside for slow retard rise.  

I think at least I got the scoring right this time.  Better than most other times. Click here for details.

Ciabatta on Saturday morning.
Woke up this morning, thinking about my Ciabatta dough waiting for me.  I was excited to see how it turns out.  Lovely crumbs,  soft on the inside,  crispy on the outside.  Click here to see details.

Well,  I'm going to make chicken sandwich for lunch this afternoon.

Chausiubao's picture

This forum is interesting for someone like me. I began as the audience to which it directs its content; amateur bakers and artisan bread enthusiasts being that crowd. Yet now I'm not just an enthusiast (which some would argue do not belong in the bake shop) but soon to be a member of the baking profession. Makes me wonder if its still suitable to be posting here! But great discomfort at my posts being in the minority, I'll just keep saying whatever comes to mind, no matter my trade.

Our bakery just moved into a new space this week! Its twice as big as the old space, at the opposite end of the building. Its really nice, with room for an extra work bench in the bread area (and that is HUGE, let me tell you). Its a little confusing with stuff moving in and out, but thats okay. I have a long commute ahead of me, and I'm still acclimating to new responsibilities and expectations, but days like my last shift bring new hope to my career.

I've started thinking recently, "I've finally become what I think I want to be in my life!"

Yet even so, the necessities of independent life are encroaching and I fear that I will be unable to rise to the challenge. Can I live on the beginner baker's salary? Or more to the point, can I live on the experienced bread baker's salary? What heights are possible for the bread bakery this side of owning your own shop?

As in all trades, wages start out low, and grow as experience likewise increases. Additionally, it would appear that the pastry side of the bake shop makes a tad more then the bakers of bread, so diversification of my skills would probably help to increase my level of financial security.

I guess these are the things that those leaving school are always going to be thinking about. I can see the hard thinking that lies in my future, both near and far! I'll leave you with some pictures of things I've been doing recently. 


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey again,

Here are some pics of the 50/50 Honey Whole Wheat Miche I baked on 3/8/10.  It is 50/50 whole wheat/AP flour.  I also freshly milled 1/2 of the whole wheat mixture.  The hydration was 68%.  It weight about 1.5kg after baking...  Enjoy!


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey again,

Here's a Poilane style miche using liquid levain that I baked on 3/4/10.  The flour mix was 75% WW, 25% AP at 75% hydration.  The liquid levain was made prefermenting 20% of total flour using all WW flour for the levain.  The salt was 1.8%.  Each miche was about 1500g before baking.


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you some of my most recent bakes.  Here's an olive bread I did on 3/3/10.


5000g total dough yield

1750g - AP

500g - BF

100g - WW

1700g - Water

500g - Pitted Olives (Morrocan oil cured)

188g - Firm sourdough starter (60% hydr)

38g - Kosher Salt

10g - ACY


7:15pm - Mix all ingredients except olives in large bowl, transfer to oiled plastic container, cover and rest for 45 mins.

8:00pm - Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, transfer to oiled plastic container, turn dough, cover and rest for 30 mins.

8:30pm - Add olives to dough.  Press in olives, turn dough, cover and let rest.

9:00pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.

9:30pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.

10:30pm - Divide into 8 loaves, shape all loaves, place to proof on linen couch.  Retard 4 in refridgerator covered in plastic.  Place 2 baking stones in oven along with steam tray, preheat to 550F with convection.

11:30pm - Take 2nd set of loaves out of fridge.  Place 1st set of 4 loaves into oven directly on stone.  Add 1 cup of water to steam pan, bake for 40 minutes at 450F rotating half way bake.  Loaves are done when internal temp reaches 210F.  Bake 2nd set of loaves.  Cool completely before cutting.







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