The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


jennyloh's picture

I have a question on the use of old dough.  I read somewhere that we can freeze old dough,  which I did to mine, probably about 14 days old. Now I'm taking out to use to try out on my Polaine de Champagne again. 

I took out from my freezer and refridgerator to defrost, not counter top. It looks like the yeast is still active.  Am I doing this right? should I have just defrost it within a short period and use it?  The colour and smell still stays good.

I saw a discussion on refreshing the old dough.  Can I just use it as it is,  throw and mix into my dough or I should at least refresh it first?

Shiao-Ping's picture

I went to my neighbourhood bookstore, Mary Ryan, after dropping my son to school the other day.  The timber flour and the Bach playing in the background made me want to stay longer.  I paid for a cookbook, Bécasse, and quickly left.  I wanted to have breakfast and coffee at Chouquette Boulangerie & Patisserie.  This was my first time back there since my last post about them five months ago.  Their business is going really well.  Quite obviously, there are unfilled demands for good quality breads and pastries around Brisbane.  I peeped into their production area right next to the shop front, only two people remaining there, decorating pastries.  I asked for butter for my Baguette Traditionnel to go with my coffee.  Lovely coffee, lovely baguette, and a lovely morning. 

While the baguette I had was made early that morning, the crust was not all that crunchy any more, without being heated up again.  The labour is so expensive here in Australia that it is not possible to have several hot bread times intra day.  In Japan and Taiwan, the population density is such that it is economical to provide that kind of quality throughout the day.  Many bakeries over there have a white board standing at the door with hot bread times written on the board as you walk in.

The breads in this post were my "warm-ups" for a Lionel Poilâne style of miche.  I have ordered my T80 flour from a French on-line grocer.  It is wicked to think we are able to order anything from anywhere in the world on-line.  I have almost all of Lionel Poilâne's books and have been studying them.  Many people have tried to bake a Poilâne style of miche.  While I do not believe there is such a thing called the best bread in the world, the intriguing thing, to me as a home baker, about Miche Poilâne is its process; i.e., you set aside a portion of the dough to be the levain de pâte for the next batch of dough and, again, a portion of the next dough is sectioned off to be the levain for yet another dough, thus, making dough and levain a seamless continuous process.  To be exact, 1/3 of the dough is set aside and proved for a couple of hours before being used as a levain and added to the next dough.

Courtesy of Eric at, the following two pictures were the famous Miche Poilâne, air-flown from Paris to Iowa, the USA, in March 2007, for his bread-day (birthday) party:



                                                    Miche Poilâne, air-flown from Paris to Iowa


We cannot call a miche that we made a true Poilâne style of miche without using the flour that they use.  The flour combination that I used for the breads in this post is no where near T80 but is fun for me because it is a change from my usual white flour.  This post for me is about Poilâne's process.

My Continuous Dough and Levain Process

Basically I wanted to make a miche of about 1 kg each.  I also wanted to set aside about 1/3 of my dough as levain for my next dough, so for my first dough I needed to have about 1.35 - 1.4 kg.

Next, I needed to decide on a hydration.  I chose 75%.  Miche Poilâne is about 65% hydration.  Their hydration is because of the flour they use is a softer kind of flour; but my flour combination (see below) can take more hydration and would love more hydration.  A 75% hydration has another advantage - it makes calculation really easy.  This hydration is for the main dough as it is for the levain as they are the same process.

Next, flour combination.  I chose to have 50% bread flour, 30% whole wheat flour, 10% spelt, and 10% rye.  I used this combination for all my seven miches in this post, except the last two.   The seven miches were made, one after another, in a space of 5 days.   For the 6th miche, I used 50% bread flour and 50% sifted whole wheat flour and for my very last miche, see below.

For my first miche, I pre-scaled 800 grams of flours (in the above combination), 600 grams of water, and 16 grams of salt, for use in the levain as well as the main dough.  

First, the levain for the first miche.  I took 20 grams of my usual white starter from the refrigerator as my chef and built it to 350 grams in three stages, using 200 grams in total of the 800 grams of flours and 150 grams in total of the 600 grams of water.  When the levain was ready, I then mixed my main dough using the rest of the ingredients, including salt. 

After an autolyse of 30 minutes and 20 stretch-and-folds in the mixing bowl, I set aside 350 grams of the dough to be the levain de pâte for my 2nd dough.  Instead of two-hour ferment as per Poilâne, my levain de pâte was fermented on average for 5 - 6 hours as I like my levain to almost triple.  My room temperature averaged around 26 - 27 ºC.   The salt in the levain meant that it developed more slowly, allowing more flavours and aromas in the end result.  

The first dough had 2 1/2 hour bulk ferment and about 2 1/2 hour proofing. 



  • 1st miche:  Crumb tasted a little bit gummy and very sour.  (I guess this was because my chef was straight out of the fridge.  If I had refreshed my starter culture at least a couple of times before the 3-stage levain build, the miche would not have been so sour).


Just before the first miche was baked, my first levain de pâte was ready to mix my second dough.  For my second dough (and all of the rest of the doughs except my 7th miche), I pre-scaled 600 grams of flours (in the combination detailed above), 450 grams of water, and 12 grams of salt.  I mixed the second dough.  Again, autolyse, stretch and folds ... the same procedure, and set aside 350 grams as levain de pâte for the third dough.

My second dough was proof-retarded overnight.   While the second dough was being retarded in the refrigerator, the levain de pâte for the third dough became ready late that night.  It was getting late, but instead of placing the levain in the refrigerator for use the following morning, I decided to mix my third dough there and then.  Again, the same procedure, including taking 350 grams off the dough as levain for my fourth dough.  Just before mid-night, I place my third dough to bulk retard in the refrigerator.



  • 2nd miche:  The gumminess has disappeared but the taste is still very sour.


The next morning when the above 2nd miche was baking in the oven, the third dough was warming up to the room temperature.  And, in the mean time, the levain de pâte for the fourth dough was ripe to use.  The continuous dough and levain process was such that there were three things going at one point.





  • 4th & 5th miche:  These were my favourite of the lot (except my 7th miche in this post).  They were light and spongy and toasted beautifully.  Because of the whole grain flours, the two miches above were still sour, not in an unpleasant way, but I am not one who loves pickles.  They tasted a lot better the next day and the next day again - the sourness had mellowed and the flavour was more rounded. 


For the whole time up to that point, my levain de pâte smelled sour.  And then, all of a sudden, my levain de pâte for my 6th dough smelled milky, very milky.   The multiple feedings (and perhaps the relatively short refreshment time as well) had finally done the trick.  I was so happy that I decided I would do something different for my 6th miche.   Instead of 600 grams in the flour combination above, I used 600 grams of sifted WW flour.  I had to use 700 grams WW flour to get 600 grams finely sifted WW flour.  I was amazed at the amount of brans in my usual WW flour.  




  • 6th miche: Unfortunately, I was running out of gas, getting impatient, and did not allow enough time for my 6th dough to ferment (at bulk and proof).  It had the promise to be one of the best miches of the lot, but the promise did not come to fruition.  While large and irregular holes are visible in the crumb shot above, where there are no holes, the crumb actually felt dense.  And the flavour, oh, what a disappointment!  I would have thought that, with all the brans taken off, the crumb would taste sweet. But, No... I am not being critical... the taste was kind of bland and the mouth feel was heavy.  I didn't even like it toasted the next day.  This just goes to show that it is no good hurrying.  For crumb flavour to develop, time is of essence.


I rested for half a day, so did the levain de pâte (part of the 6th dough), resting in the refrigerator.   I just had to pull it out again from the fridge to make one more try.  And this time, for my 7th miche, I decided to make a 4 pounds loaf (the size of Miche Poilâne) with 5% WW, 5% Spelt, 5% rye, and the rest white.  I gave the dough a slow, long bulk ferment of 6 - 7 hours overnight at room temperature of around 24.5 - 25 ºC.  As the dough became bigger, my levain de pâte as a percentage of the final dough had become smaller.   The next morning, before I shaped, I turned on my oven full blast to pre-heat.  The shaped dough proved for only an hour and 15 minutes (because of the long bulk).  And the result is ....Bellissimo!  






  • 7th miche:  The flavour is well rounded, not too much acidity, just enough, and very "creamy."  The texture is supple.


The cells of this miche were very well fermented.  In the centre, there might not be large and irregular holes, but the texture was light, very different from my 6th miche.  I cut the 4 pounds miche in half below:





                                                                       crumb of the 7th miche


If you look closely and compare the crumb shot above with the crumb shot of th 6th miche, you will see that there is much more lightness and suppleness in the 7th miche.

Overall, this had been a fun exercise.  It would have been better in winter when everything can be left on the kitchen counter without having to worry if the levain or the dough gets over fermented.  With a continuous dough and levain process like this one, you bound to have good bread sometimes along the way.   Enjoy!



ritav's picture

Following is a sweet tarali recipe for all seasons.  They are light, sweet and can't stop eating them.  They are also great dunked in red wine.


Sweet Taralli

6 large eggs

1-1/2 t. salt

½ cup shortening preferable Crisco

1/2 envelope of dry yeast

1/2-cup water

6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Do not use all the flour if not needed.)



2 egg whites or Just Whites equal to 2 eggs (4 t. Just Whites & 4 T. water)

4 cups of sifted confectioners sugar

2 t. lemon extract



  •  Proof yeast in water heated to 110 degrees

  •  Beat eggs until fluffy and mix with shortening, salt. Then add the yeast mixture and flour.

  •  Place on floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes.

  •  In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

  •  After 5 minutes, knead the dough again for 5 minutes and rest for 10 minutes.

  •  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  •  Cut pieces of dough the size of a golf ball and shape as desired (twists, circles or whatever you wish). Do not overwork the dough.

  •  Drop into boiling water until taralli floats to the top. Remove and set on clean dishtowel to drain.

  • äWhen all the taralli have been boiled, place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 10 minutes or until they are brown in color.

  •  Cool completely on a rack. 

Icing Glaze

  •  In a mixer bowl beat egg whites and confectioner's sugar until very stiff. Add the lemon extract and beat to blend. If too stiff for dipping, add a little water and beat again.  Dip each tarali in the glaze and set on a rack with a pan underneath for dripping.

Makes approximately 30 to 35 taralli.


nirbeltran's picture

well i have to admit i am hardly using yeast any more - all my breads are now based on my sourdough and its been living in my fridge for a few good months now .

i use the basic starter formula from Barry Harmon's site with a few changes for this bread :

60g of sourdough @ 75% hidration - i fed mine one day before mixing .

mix with 80g ap flour

20g whole grain rye flour

20g spelt flour

and 120g water


let is rest on the kitchen counter overnight ( i waited about 12 hours )


then add

200g ap flour

50g whole grain rye flour

50 spelt flour

and 300g of water

again let it sit for 12 hours


then i mixed the final dough

to the 900g of starter i added 

25g salt

380g water

600g ap flour

100g whole grain flour

90g spelt flour

mixed all and let it rest for about 6 hours


then did a stretch and fold .

divied in two loafes , shaped and into the fridge for 12 hours or so


baked  covered for 30 minutes amd then 15 more uncovered - i used an iron cast pot .

my oven is a stove gas oven and its a little warmer then normal kitchen stoves - i bake 2 280-300 c

but i guess it will work the same with a normal 250 c baking heat 


yozzause's picture

With a forecast temperature of 42 degrees CENTIGRADE  for the following day you would have to be mad to even thinking of lighting the oven, BUT that's what i did, my sourdough starter was looking pretty vigourus so i decided to put it to use. This bread EVOLVED,  i decided to use 500g white flour and 200g of my starter i then thought i would add my home brew lager beer, unfortunately i opened my dark stout by mistake. Not normally a problem to drink but it was warm and aussies do like their beer cold.especially in hot weather so rather than waste it and open a lager i decided to add it to the dough. I then thought it would be a good idea to add some course rye that i had.

so what went in

500g white flour    

200g s/d starter

100g course rye

14g salt 30g olive oil

412ml dark stout

dough was mixed and given a bulk ferment for 3 and a half hours then given a stretch and fold it was about half proofed at that time. Much later that night i devided the dough into 2 pieces and shaped 1 piece went into the fridge and was retarded the other was formed and allowed to rise (slowly).

At 5.00am i got up and popped the oven on  and 30 minutes later it went into the oven  the other dough was pulled from the fridge and was going to be baked at work later.

The end result was acceptable i thought there might have been a more noticable difference between the two, there was a difference in the taste and the consensus was the retarded one was slightly better tasting.  

  so we had a dough that was 12 hours from start to finish and the other half was a further 5 or more hours




kind and warm regards especially those that are in the snow YOZZA

ehanner's picture

Last week, I posted about my Horst Bandel bread from Hamelman's Bread. At first glance the crumb images looked good and the flavor was very good. However after some reflection on the bread and the process I decided my initial declaration of victory may have been over stated. While my first attempt was acceptable for a first try, I suspect I have much to learn about this style of bread.

I have been having conversations with Mini and Andy (ananda) about the process and specifically the temperature profile to arrive at a well baked loaf. Along the way I have been talking with qahtan about puddings of various types. There was a most interesting thread on puddings which made me wonder if Pumpernickel isn't really just another steamed pudding without the fruits. After all you cook it in a closed pan at low extended heat and after wards stabilize the moisture by wrapping in towels. The word Pudding has me first thinking about chocolate or lime and a box of Jello but apparently the British and many other Europeans refer to steamed bread by the same term.

I looked at some videos on how to make a proper Christmas Pudding. The example was shown placing a quantity of wet looking dough in a glass pan, covering it with parchment and foil, then tying a string around the foil cover. The whole thing gets placed in a hot oven and slowly cooked in a lowering oven to arrive at a well caramelized crumb, deep in color and full of flavor with a soft crust. That's exactly what I want for my Pumpernickel.

So, to sum up. I discovered that the bottom of my crust from my first try was quite a bit drier and harder than the sides. I decided to place the pan on a wire roasting rack instead of directly on the hot stone. Thinking is that I'll get a less direct and harsh heat. I took my best guess on how much dough to load in the pan and let it proof. When it was again within 1/4 inch of the top, I removed some of the dough from the top as you can see in the photo. That shot is taken after proof and after I removed an additional amount. Next I placed a piece of parchment over the bread and slid the cover on. It was then weighted down with a cast iron griddle to be sure it didn't pop off again and also to be sure it was sealed.

I made additional dough so I would have enough to try a glass pan at the same time. My thinking was that the thicker walls of the glass pan would temper the direct heat and not dry out the bottom crust. Also I had the chance to try out the paper/foil cover tied on with a string.

The breads were loaded into a preheated 350F oven and baked as above for 30 minutes. At this time the heat was lowered to 250F for 2 hours. The final reduction was to 220F for another 6 hours approximately. At this time (6AM) I turned the oven off and let the heat coast down for the next 4 hours. The internal temp was 204F when I checked after the 6 hours at 220F. Both loaves popped out of the pan easily and were well shaped. They are now wrapped in a towel awaiting the Pumpernickel Fairy to tap me on the head and say they are ready to eat. I will post the crumb images when available. Some of these are a little out of order, sorry but they should make sense. I thought anyone who might be thinking of making this bread might like to see the steps I used to get this far.


Added the Crumb Image by edit:

The Pumpernickel Fairy made a low pass on the flight deck this morning and gave me a frown. It has been 24 hours since I wrapped the bread in a towel and placed it on the wire rack (thanks Mini). I unwrapped it and sliced off a few slices to see the results. First, I will now confess I made a mistake with the mix, which was in following the directions as written. On page 223 Item 4.) Mixing, Hamelman says "Add all the ingredients to the bowl, including the sour-dough and both of the soakers, but do not add any of the final dough water reserved from squeezing the liquid from the old bread soaker". I take that to mean that I should add the amount of water in the final dough segment of ingredients (page 222 bottom). The water amount is 12.8 Oz (1-5/8 cups). The first time I made this I with held that water and found I didn't need it. This time I needed an additional 16+ Oz of bread flour to get to a reasonable dough. The amount must be a misprint as I can not see where the differences in rye flours would make that much of a difference. JH goes on to say "It is entirely possible that no additional dough water will be required".

So, bottom line is that this batch has way more white flour in it than was called for, percentage wise. It isn't nearly as flavorful as the last batch. The edges are hard now but they will soften up some after it has sat a day or so in a plastic bag. It has a nice flavor and my wife and are enjoying some with cream cheese. Turn the page and start over she said (Pumpernickel Fairy)

Pleated paper over glass pan

Proofed, removed some dough, ready to cover

Wrapped and tied.

In oven covered and weighted down

Pullman ready to cover

Covered with paper ready to bake

After bake, paper is wet from steaming.

Perfectly formed top.

After bake, foil removed, wet paper.

Clean slightly domed top.

Side view of glass pan shows solid loaf.

Turned over on board. Well shaped loaves

I think this is the way they should look?

Waiting for the Pumpernickel Fairy!

jschopp1's picture

I learned last night that my wife has allergies.  She can't have brewers yeast or baker's yeast.   I've heard of creating a starter from just mixing and resting flour and water on the countertop for a long time.  Does this work?  Does it have the same properties as packaged yeast?

She's also, seemingly, allergic to cow's milk, but that's a whole different kettle to stir.

thanks in advance,


Janice Boger's picture
Janice Boger

Okay, now I have a starter and need a jar.  Do I need something special.  Certainly can do better than the expensive one from KA.  My big question is does it have to have air flowing or does it need a tight seal?  Can I use a mason jar with the metallic lid?  Can I use a quart canister that has a rubber seal and a small metal clamp?  Maybe it is not that important, but I want to do this right.  Thanks for your help.


New Baker

davidg618's picture

Inspired by Shiao-Ping and David (dmsnyder) I decided to try out my new bannetons (bought from SFBI) with two 1-kilo loaves made ala Gerard Rubaud. Rather than copy/scale either of their formulae, I went to the source and did my own adaptation of Msr. Rubaud's formula. In a phrase...

I messed up!

I made up a quantity of his whole-grain flour mix--10% rye, 30% spelt, 60% Whole Wheat-according to plan; noted his comment he mixed his levain in the same ratio as his final dough: 30% flour mix, 70% All purpose, and proceeded to make my levain entirely fed with the whole-grain flour mix, except for the 18g of seed starter that got it going. Wrong!

The levain contributed 25% of the total flour. Of course it was essentially all whole grain, not the 30/70 split with AP intended. To further exacerbate the error I diligently added 5% more of the flour mix so that now my final dough was 30% whole grain. At 78% hydration the final dough was decidely slack. Applying a zillion French folds, I believe the dough's gluten developed good strength, probably as much as possible, but the dough remained extremely extensible. Nonetheless, I proofed my two basketed boules, and baked them.

And, it was about midway through the early steam cycle my mistake hit me. I went back to the source, and reread Master Baker Gerard's interview. Yep, I'd got it wrong. Bigtime!

The Good News. This bread is tasty! The prefermented rye, spelt, and whole wheat combination lend a distinct flavor unlike anything I've tasted before, but reminiscent of each of them: nutty like spelt, a wheaty base note throughout, and a gentle bite to it all from the rye. I'm going to do it again, rightly, following Shiao-Ping to the letter. But I'm also going to keep this mistake in my formula ecard-file.

David G

turosdolci's picture

Traditional Italian Eastser desserts, the taralli is a treasure from Apuglia.



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