The Fresh Loaf

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Overnight Country Brown from FWSY, with modifications

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dmsnyder's picture

Overnight Country Brown from FWSY, with modifications

Overnight Country Brown with modifications

September 8, 2013

My exploration of Ken Forkish's breads from Flour Water Salt Yeast continued this week. Hoping to get my timing closer to the ones he describes in the book, I needed to slow down fermentation. I made another large loaf of Forkish's “Overnight Country Brown.” I used filtered water at 63 ºF rather than at 80-90 ºF which Forkish prescribes, and I used 8% pre-fermented flour rather than the 12% called for in the published formula.

I fed my levain at 11 AM. By 5 PM, it was quite mature. I mixed the dough at 6 PM. Now, this dough is supposed to ferment at room temperature for 12-15 hours and expand by 2 to 2.5 times. My kitchen temperature was running in the high-70's. Even using the cool water and decreasing the levain by 25%, the dough had doubled by 11 PM, that is, in 5 hours. So, before going to bed, I refrigerated the dough. 

At about 8 am, I removed the dough from the refrigerator and shaped it as a boule about a half-hour later.

While the dough rests ...

I proofed it in a floured, linen-lined banneton placed in a plastic bag. To my amazement, it was fully proofed by the “poke test” criterion an hour later, but it had to wait while I baked some baguettes.

By time I could get it in the oven about 40 minutes later, it was very gassy. It deflated somewhat when scored, and I was really afraid it was so seriously over-proofed it would collapse. Because of this concern, I baked it in a cast iron combo cooker that had not been pre-heated as usual, except for the lid which got about 10 minutes at 455 ºF (convection), during the last part of the baguette bake. However, the loaf sprung like crazy and turned out pretty darn good. I just had to bake it about 5 minutes longer than last time, presumably because of the cold cooker.


Compared to the last bake, I'd say the crust and crumb are about the same. The flavor had significantly more acetic acid tang than my last bake of this bread. In other words, it is a really good bread, but I really don't know how closely it resembles, in flavor, Forkish's intention.

The San Joaquin Sourdough baguettes turned out really well, too.


 Happy Baking!



trailrunner's picture

You are  certainly giving Forkish's book a thorough going over. Your explorations will be a great help to all those that are using it too. 

Love the SJSD baggies !  It would be a million years before I could shape/slash that dough like you do :)  c

SylviaH's picture

Beautiful looking loaves and Sj baguetts.  It's a chore to keep things cool in summertime.


Mebake's picture

Excellent breads, David!

Why not reduce considerably the prefermented flour further and see if that extends bulk fermentation for more than 5 hours?


6 am bread baker's picture
6 am bread baker

hello, I am a new member and this is my first post.

I am a huge fan of Forkish's book and have had great success until this week, when twice I failed to get oven spring on my country browns. After the first I thought I was over proofing, but I don't think that was the issue with the second. 

From your post I am now wondering if my levain was too mature and/or my bulk ferment too long. I will try cooler water. The first time around I float tested the levain and it was good. The second time I may have missed the sweet spot. I will try shortening the time.

I've been lucky with my bread so far. Now I have to learn to tweak and troubleshoot. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!




dabrownman's picture

it is just a matter of your kitchen temperature vs KF's that can explain the ferment and proofing times being shorter for yo.  IF his kitches was at 64 F and yours at 75 F he would be 3 times slower with hsi bread according to the repoductive rates of yeast at various temperatures.  I also think your taste and sour would be similar too since the lab to yeast ratio is nearly the same for both temperatures - if you can get the same flour that Forkish uses.  It is the times that would  vary greatly.  Longer times may add to more complex flavors I suppose;;;; if your taste buds are young and very acute :-)

Your bread looks divine and the SJ baguettes near perfect.  Oddly,  I have made your SD recipes many times each and have never had a large time differential  .....never way off like Forkish's.  I do cut down on yor counter times though as AZ is so hot and my kitchen is hotter than yours,  Our refrigerators must be near the same temps....and you retard so not much difference there.   I bet if you do your counter tempsat 64 -65 F all will be well with Forkish.

Reproduction Rates of Labs and YeastL/Y 
T(°F)T (°C)L. SF IL. SF IIYeastRatio
     36        2 0.0190.0160.0053.787
     46        8 0.0470.0430.0212.222
     61      16 0.1440.1500.1141.265
     64      18 0.1870.1980.1631.145
     68      20 0.2390.2590.2251.064
     72      22 0.3010.3320.2951.021
     75      24 0.3740.4160.3651.024
     79 260.4530.5080.4141.094
     82      28 0.5350.5980.4171.284
     86      30 0.6090.6720.3461.760
     90      32 0.6580.7060.2023.255
dmsnyder's picture

I appreciate your comments.

dbm: The chart is very interesting and tells us important stuff. Fermentation rates are certainly related to the number of yeast available, but reproduction rates and fermentation rates are not the same. Also, the temperatures in the chart are dough temperature, not room temperature, I'm sure. 

So, Forkish is starting with a dough temperature of 77-78 dF. I can achieve that. However, by the end of his bulk fermentation, I assume his dough temperature has equilibrated with his room temperature of 68-70 dF. 

I think my next experiment will be to see what temperature I can get with an insulated ice chest and frozen blue Ice. (Actually, it would probably be easier to just go out and buy a small wine cooler-type refrigerator. But, this reminds me of a story my Dad told about a dermatology professor he had in med. school ca. 1938. The professor had just given instructions for compounding a rather complex salve when a student asked, "But, professor, couldn't you just use zinc oxide?" To which the professor responded, "Ah, but zis is too zimple!")


hanseata's picture

Beautiful loaf, David!

I baked my way through almost every one of Forkish's loaves, and really love them. The timing works probably better here in Maine, though I made some of them, when we had temperatures in the upper 80ies.

I had the problem with the deflation, too, because I followed Forkish's comment about the loaf really benefiting from the extra half hour rise, even though it would be fully proofed after one hour. When I tried to empty the rising basket, the bread stuck, and had deflated somewhat when I finally managed to get it out.

Fortunately there was not too much damage, though it didn't have as much oven spring as it should have had.

Afterwards I looked at Forkish's YouTube video and was utterly shocked to see that he really smacks the brotform hard on the counter to unmold the bread (and his didn't deflate!)

I am planning to make an Overnight Brownie with Einkorn instead of the WW next time.



Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey David.  Amazing bold bake/ears on the boule.  Crumb looks perfect.  I have yet to get back into baguettes to work my way up to try SJ SD baguettes.  I remember your older post of these were one of the first posts to get me hooked to this site.

Thanks and happy baking


dmsnyder's picture


annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

Your loaves again look fantastic, so as your coffee. I've got myself an espresso machine a few months ago and still working on my coffee making techniques.  I've seen your how to score video and I think you should as well make another video of how to make coffee just like in your photo. :-)

Thank you for the post. It is always enjoyable to read.


dmsnyder's picture

Thanks for your kind words.

There is no need for more espresso making or latte art videos! Check out the and search for "latte art." Here's a link to CoffeeGeek's tutorials: guides

Have fun with your espresso maker!



annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

and look forward to reading your next post.


breadsong's picture

Hi David,
I am in complete agreement with Annie - your coffee is as beautiful as your boule and baguettes!
I had the chance to visit Ken's Artisan Bakery in Portland, on a road trip in March - loved the flavor of the country brown bread we bought - I wish I could remember the specific flavor notes, for comparison to home efforts. All I remember now is that it was good

I hope you are enjoying your country brown bread as much as we did.
:^) breadsong

dmsnyder's picture

is the photo of the bâtard your bread or Ken's?

I hope to get to Ken's Artisan Bakery later this month, but it may lose out over Kenny & Zuke's. I've promised Glenn, the family pastrami maven, to accompany him to the deli for a fix. Of course, we could go to Ken's for breakfast and Kenny & Zuke's for lunch. 


breadsong's picture

Hi David,
That was the loaf we bought at Ken's bakery - I have yet to make a batard anywhere near as beautifully shaped, scored, steamed and baked as that one. The shine on the crust was gorgeous!
I hope you and Glenn love your visit to Portland -  I'd go for Plan B so you can fit in a breakfast visit to Ken's -
I bet the pastries are just as good as the bread!
:^) breadsong

annie the chef's picture
annie the chef

The batard look beaufiful.  I'm sure it is delicious just by looking at the crust. :)

I don't have FWSY book but base on David's notes in this post as the schedule for this country bread suits me quite well. Definitely have to bake this bread this weekend.

Happy baking!


jemar's picture

but because of the unusually hot weather we had been having I hadn't baked from it until today.  I have started with the Saturday White Bread, I have two loaves proving at the moment.  I just hope mine are as nice as yours.  I usually make sourdough loaves but thought I would start off with the yeasted loaf to make myself familiar with his methods.  I have never used a Dutch Oven to bake bread in until now but I am looking forward to seeing how they turn out.   I shall be in touch with you all to let you know my results.

jemar's picture

My two loaves turned out lovely, I am very pleased with them.  Unfortunately I do not know how to put pictures on here, I have tried in the past.  Just take my word for it, they look as good as the ones in the book, I couldn't believe how they rose, spectacular!  The taste is not quite as good as my usual sourdough but I will make that next using the same technique and hope it works just as well.  The crust is crisp and thin, very nice mouth feel.

dmsnyder's picture

Try some of the SD breads. I haven't found one that wasn't delicious yet.


David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I am going to bake this bread this weekend but don't yet have a game plan for adjusting the suggested timing. 

One thing I noted is that his instructions have you make a lot more of the levain than is needed, and more than is needed to propagate the starter.  If that wasn't "bad enough" the way he suggests measuring the levain makes no sense to me.  He says to add a couple fingers depth of water to a bucket and then weigh the levain in that watery environment so that it is easier to get out of the bucket and add to the dough.  He says to be careful not to bring too much of the water with the levain when transferring it.

This seems such a weird way of doing things, but in the event others are following his procedure, I thought I would offer a more obvious (to me) way of doing this without having to worry about adding extra water and dirtying another container.

Take the levain bucket and put it on the scale. Zero it out and remove the levain spoon by spoon, adding it directly to the dough mixture. When the scale reads "-required levain amount" (-266 or whatever), you've removed exactly the amount needed without any added water and without any added stuff to clean (besides the spoon, which you can use to stir the mixture if you like).  For those using an analog scale, you can do the same thing of course, by noting the starting weight, subtracting the weight of the required levain and removing the levain to you get to your calculated end weight.

If anybody can think of a reason to do it the Forkish way instead, let me know.  Obviously his way DOES add moisture to the dough and so maybe doing it the cleaner way results in a less hydrated dough that needs to be compensated for?