The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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DonD's picture

Last week, I received the book "100% Pain" by Eric Kayser that I had ordered. I had always wanted to try the recipe for his famous "Baguette Monge". First, I was surprised to see the note stating that all the recipes in the book have been tested on a bread machine and second that recipes for all his breads call for straight room temperature fermentation. Checking his website, I found a quote saying that his breads all go through a long fermentation, so being the tinkerer that I am, I decided not to follow his recipe verbatim but instead to use the same formulation (more or less) and modify the execution.

I have been experimenting making baguettes using the James MacGuire techniques that Shiao-Ping had introduced to TFL a couple of weeks ago and have found them simple and easy, resulting in a beatifully developed dough. The baguettes were very good but I thought the high hydration made shaping and scoring the baguettes difficult and the crumb, although light was not as open as I would have liked. MacGuire had warned about the same effects of high hydration on baguettes in his article in "The Art of Eating".

I have had good success with the Anis Bouabsa baguette recipe and techniques that David (dmsnyder) had adapted from Janedo. I found that the cold delayed fermentation helps develop a more chewy and open crumb and gives the bread a more complex flavor.

So, this past weekend, I decided to combine these favorite techniques and use them to make my version of Eric Kayser's "Baguette Monge". I will call it the "Kayser Baguette Monge Hybrid". Here is the formulation:

Kayser uses a Type 65 Flour so I chose a flour mix that approximate the original. The resulting protein content is around 12.5%. Note that although the French Flours have lower protein content US Flours, I read that most French bakers add Malted Barley Flour and Vital Wheat Gluten to their dough.

Kayser uses 58% hydration. I upped it to 72%.

- 100 Gms Liquid Levain (100% hydration)

- 300 Gms KAF AP Flour

- 150 Gms KAF Bread Flour

- 50 Gms KAF WWW Flour

- 345 Gms Water

- 1 Gm Instant Yeast

- 9 Gms Sea Salt

Mix the Levain with the Water then add the Flour Mix, Salt and Yeast. Mix by hand for 2 mins and follow the MacGuire stretching and folding in the bowl at 45 mins interval instead of 1 hr.

At the end of the folding, the dough should rise by 25%. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. The dough should double in size.

Divide the dough into third and shape into boules. Rest seam side down for 1 hr.

Shape into baguettes with pointy ends and proof for 45 min. 

Score the loaves and bake in preheated 460 degrees F oven with steam for 10 mins.

Continue baking at 430 degrees F without steam for 12 mins.

Turn of heat and let baguettes rest for 5 mins in oven.

Remove baguettes and let cool on rack.

The baguettes crackled and popped while cooling on the rack and developed nice "shingles".

The grignes opened up nicely and the crust had a beautiful amber color and toasty caramel aroma. 

The oven spring was great and the cross section came out nice and round. The crumb was cream color and very open with different size "alveoles". The gelatinization made it slightly translucent.

The crust was thin and crackly with notes of roasted hazelnut and mocha. The crumb had a nice chewy mouthfeel with a tangy, creamy and sweet toasty wheat finish.

This was definitely the best baguette that I have baked to date , a real keeper.

And the quest for the Ultimate Baguette continues...


ericb's picture

Following closely in the footsteps of Hans, I baked Hamelman's "Whole-Wheat Levain" this morning:

The more I bake from Hamelman's Bread, the more comfortable I feel with every stage of baking. Things that used to evade me and make baking a stressful endeavor now seem to be second nature. Rather than struggling against the dough, I feel like I am able to work with it. I don't think I have any great skill when it comes to baking, but, as Hans says, Hamelman's methods are bulletproof. This gives the baker the confidence to move forward without second-guessing the multitude of decisions required throughout the process.

One thing I love about baking with whole wheat is the smell of the dough. The intensely sweet, wheaty aroma when I turn out the fully fermented dough onto the bench is almost too much to take. I have been tempted to just take a bite. Oddly enough, this sweetness doesn't carry through to the finished loaf in smell or taste. This is probably for the best, because it might be a bit overwhelming. It's a fascinating transformation, though.

Today, I tried a technique that I had long ago abandoned: overnight proofing in the refrigerator. In the past, my dough always stuck to the cloth and ruined the final loaf. I think this was caused by two things. First, I wasn't shaping the dough correctly. Following Hamelman's instructions, I ended up with a much tigher boule than in the past. I think the increased surface tension may have helped prevent sticking. Second, I floured the heck out of the dough (obvious from the picture above). I used to have a "thing" about too much flour on the crust, thinking somehow that it was less "pure." Forget that. Being able to pull the dough from the fridge and toss it into hot oven first thing in the morning was great. I'm a convert.

Thanks to Hans for bringing this recipe to my attention. I don't think I was anywhere close to his final product, but it tastes amazing. I can't wait to share it with my wife and coworkers later today.

Shiao-Ping's picture

There is a bread style in Hamelman's Bread (page 129, A Resting Loaf) that I've been trying to emulate:



This is at least the third time that I've tried to make it but still couldn't get it right.  The piece that is supposed to somehow separate from the main body of bread during baking always get stuck back to it.  Next time I will let the dough proof right side up to see if it makes any difference.  Anyway, for the record, this is my Guinness Multigrain Loaf.    







               With homemade strawberry jam and strawberries pre-soaked in champagne and caster sugar  


My formula  

  • 260 g Guinness soupy starter @328% hydration

  • 120 g multigrain bread flour by Laucke

  • 300 g white bread flour

  • 25 g olive oil

  • 142 g water

  • 1/2 tsp instand dry yeast

  • 9 g salt  

dough hydration 76%  and dough weight 850 g  



hansjoakim's picture

Hi all,

This is a brief follow-up to my last post about Hamelman's whole-wheat pain au levain. I was very pleased with the creamy, light crumb of the loaf and wondered how an increase in whole-wheat flour would affect it. To gauge things, I decided to bake the whole-wheat levain from the same book, thereby doubling the whole-grain flour content.

Some initial remarks: The pain au levain with whole-wheat contains 25% whole-grain flour, is made with a stiff white starter, an autolyse and a very brief initial mixing (1 - 2 mins.). Click here for the more complete write-up. The whole-wheat levain contains 50% whole-wheat flour, is made with a liquid whole-wheat starter, and does not call for any autolyse, but slightly longer initial mixing. Despite these differences, I figured that Hamelman probably have "optimized" the procedure for each loaf, so I closed my eyes to the slightly different dough preparations, and went with his formulas as they are in the book.

Considering the pain au levain is well consumed by now, we'll have to settle for a photo comparison. I tried to snap photos of the whole-wheat levain from the same angles as I did for the pain au levain (again, click here for those).

Here's the just baked whole-wheat levain:

Whole-wheat levain

It turned out pretty much identical to the pain au levain, with perhaps slightly darker crust colour and slightly less open grigne. That could be blamed on incompetent and different slashing, though. Again, notice that flourless "rim" along the bottom side of the grigne - once again I experienced a two-stage oven spring, like Steve noticed on the previous pain au levain.

Here's a crumb shot of the whole-wheat levain:

Whole-wheat levain crumb

...and a straight comparison between pain au levain with whole wheat (left) and whole-wheat levain (right) below:

Crumb comparison

The crumb is slightly more open in the pain au levain, as you can see. From the top crust, you can also see how the pain au levain opened up a bit more during oven spring than the whole-wheat levain. Apart from that, they're like pretty identical twins to me ;) The flavour of the whole-wheat levain is a bit more intense, and the mouthfeel of the loaf is not as creamy as for the pain au levain. Given a blind test, it would be difficult to spot the difference!


lindyc's picture

After being fustrasted with my last few loaves I was reading over this site trying to find answers. I've been baking bread for a couple of years now with some really good results and some not so good!

I think basically I haven't been paying enough attention! I love it but maybe i'm just a bit sloppy, or not enough of a perfectionist...I needed to consolodate in my head the effect that ingredients and ratios / techniques had on my loaves. After reading about the benefits of having a good basic loaf recipe - a control recipe - that you are happy with I have decided this is what I need to do, and also to record the results so I can really understand what is going on a bit better.

Thought I'd may as well record it on here - at least that way I can get some feedback from the enourmous collective knowledge that exists in this online community, and maybe help anyone else with similar problems. (providing of course that I actually do help myself!)

So here goes...

My biggest problem I believe (and my husband has been trying to tell me this) is that my doughs aren't wet enough. I'm not exactly sure how those 'hydration' percentages are worked out but I've basically been doing 4 cups flour to 1 1/4 cups water.

So for my first two loaves I changed this to 3 cups to 1 1/4 and another loaf at 3 cups to 1 1/2 cups water.

Loaf 1

2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs oil
1¼ cups water
3 cups flour

Mix the yeast salt sugar and oil with the water, allow to sit for a few minutes. Pour this into a bowl with the flour in it. Mix in kitchenaid for about 5 minutes then knead by hand for a few minutes on floured surface. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in warmed spot till doubled in size.

Kneed by hand for 3-5 minutes

This bread spread an awful lot on the final rise. I had pre-heated the oven and baked at 200 C.

Loaf 2

Second loaf exactly the same except I used 1 ½ cups water instead of 1¼. This was a much wetter dough. I probably used an extra quarter cup of flour when kneading just so it wouldn't stick to the bench!

I had watched the video of the guy doing the 'french fold' so was keen to try this out (it is linked to in this site but definately worth another link! - watch it here) and thought this would be a good dough to try it with. I tried it a bit with loaf 1 but it was a bit too ‘bally' to flop over my hands so I ended up just kneading it the other way (lift up, push down, quarter turn).

Loaf 1 is on the right and Loaf 2 (the wetter one) is on the left. I'm definately a convert to the french fold because as you can see the wetter loaf (which I tried the french fold on) actuall held is shape more with less spread and more oven spring.

It also had larger more irregular holes than the loaf with 1 and 1/4 cup water. Great! Next time i'm going to try some different flour and after that I want to see how I go baking in a sandwhich tin.

I would still like the free form loaves to hold their shape a lot more though. Maybe I haven't got the hang of the french fold well enough. I should also try slashing the bread before I bake it.


foolishpoolish's picture


Shiao-Ping's picture

Have you ever had the experience of searching for some one or something high and low?  We are in the dead of winter, but I am already thinking of spring.  A few years ago we were on our way to the jacaranda capital of Australia, Grafton, in the state of New South Wales, 300 km south of Brisbane.  Every October Grafton is as beautiful as April in Japan with its cherry blossoms.                


                  Spring in Grafton                                                           Spring in Brisbane  

Just before we reached the city I saw a quaint little antique store with a book store attached to it.  We went in and I found a cook book there, "A Chef in Provence" by Edouard Loubet, who, I learnt later on, owns a two Michelin starred restaurant in Lourmarin, south of France, 60 km north of Marseille.    Ever since then I have been searching on regularly to see if there is any new book by him.   Then, recently with my new interest in bread, I've been buying a few books in  Just last week it dawned on me that I should check on instead for Loubet's book.   I couldn't believe my luck.  He published his second book last month! "6 Saisons en Lubéron."  So, after nearly three years of waiting, I've got another book by him.  

Every so often some bloggers at TFL will contribute some ideas to how best to utilise leftover starters or leftover dough.  Now, here is another idea for leftover dough.  It is one that I have used time and again.  I first got this idea from Loubet's A Chef in Provence.  I adapted his "parcel of baby leeks" (page 52) with the addition of prosciutto and gruyere (or bacon and cheddar as in the example below).   Or, instead of spring onions that I used below, asparagus and brococcini will work very well too.     






My version looks like a far cry from Loubet's original.



Leah Vetter's picture
Leah Vetter

I have learned so much watching the entries from members of this community.  Now I feel emboldened  to join in.

Yesterday I baked my first challah, using the formula in TBBA.  I got a lovely to look at loaf, with a nice crumb, but I don't think much of the flavor.  Have other people using this recipe been pleased with the flavor?  Perhaps I did something wrong. 

I would love to post a picture of the challah.  How do I do that?

Does anyone have a yummy challah reccipe t share?


Shiao-Ping's picture

My son had put in his order for Indian food this weekend.  We have Indian food at home every now and then.  My kids' favourite combo is Tandoori chicken (marinated in yogurt, lemon and the usual tandoori spices the night before), Indian-style fried rice with cashew nuts and sultanas, poppadom, and mango chutney.  As it's only my son and myself for supper I didn't feel like cooking a big pot of rice - why not putting all the ingredients for the Indian rice into a bread?  A curry bread?  This is not a new idea.  I used James MacGuire's baguette formula and added a few more ingredients.   

My alternate Indian dinner menu looks like this:  

  • Warm green salad with Tandoori chicken;

  • Baguette with mild curry spices, cashew nuts, and mixed dried fruits; and

  • mango chutney.  

When the dough is done fermenting, I simply divided it into three pieces without shaping.  

My formula  

  • 400 g white bread flour

  • 10 g  Hoyts mild curry powder

  • 60 g cashew nuts

  • 60 g mixed dried fruits

  • 275 g water

  • 25 g olive oil

  • 20 g honey (to counter balance the bitterness from curry powder)

  • 8 g salt

  • 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast  



   The supper    


                                                  curry rustic bread                                       



   My grilled tandoori chicken turned out to be more like just simple curried chicken.                                            


                                                         open sanger            


                  curry bread with butter and mango chutney    




SylviaH's picture

Today I was baking a couple of loaves and thought since I was going to be in the kitchen all day I may as well go ahead and do the first James J. MacGuire's Pain de Tradition loaf that was posted by Shiao-Ping.  The last one tasted so delicious.  This time I thought I would bake it the same as the last JJMG Tradition sourdough I made puting it in the Bell La Cloche..only this time I pre-heated my stones for 45 min. as they were not completely cool from the earlier bakes.  I only wanted to use the lid of the la cloche this time.  I followed the instructions as directed in the recipe.  When I removed the dough from my round broth spread out very wide and was a little flat looking..I had already heated my lid on the stone...not using the bottom of the la cloche this time.  I slid the boule onto the stone and covered it with my bell had spread so much the lid caught a little of the loaf on part of the had spread a little bit to much...I removed the lid 15 minutes later.  The boule had sprang to the top of the bell and sides...I had a bell shaped loaf!  I think if I would have removed the lid..maybe at ten minutes..the loaf could have sprang more and the slashes would have 'eared' opened more..

I'm thinking maybe because the boule was touching and therefore supported somewhat by the bell lid..this is what made it rise up so high..but the last loaf I did..didn't touch the sides of the bell and it sprang up. 

I baked this loaf for 15 minutes in a 450 oven.  Removed the bell lid and reduced the oven to 350.  The boule baked a total of 60 minutes.

It's to hot to slice and show the crumb..but when it cools..tomorrow or late tonight..I'll post a crumb shot.

After 15 minutes

I think next time I will make this into two loaves!  I hope it's not one big hollow ball when I slice it!

Crumb is here!

Crunchy, Crispy Crust and nice crumb! Lovely flavor!





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