The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

bread flour

4akitchenblog's picture

Hi all,

I am new here and this is my first post on The Fresh Loaf!

Today I would like to share my first attempt at baking Sourdough Boule with Japanese Clay Pot.

Japanese Clay Pot (a.k.a. Donabe) is a symbol of comfort food for Japanese people.

(Oh, by the way, I am Japanese :-))

Family members or friends come together around the table and share a meal out of one pot, so that you can build a sense of closeness, warmness...

I live in Santa Monica, California and my all family members live in Japan...Therefore, I felt all warm inside when I happened to find this Donabe.

"I want to bake BREAD with this clay pot!"

This idea just popped in my head :-)


The best part of using a clay pot (of course, a cast-iron pan, too) is you don't need to create the steam in your oven.

Because a closed clay pot trap all of the moisture from the dough, and that creates STEAM you need to get a perfect crust!

It's like a "masonry oven" inside your oven, if you will.


Ok, let's bake Donabe-bread!

This is a Sourdough Boule made with 36 hours fermentation.


Sourdough Boule

Makes 1 small loaf

Submitting this post to YeastSpotting



225 g Bread flour

162 g water

4 g Salt

67.5 g 60% Firm sourdough starter



266.3 g Bread Flour (100%)

188.3 g Water (70%)

4.8 g Salt (1.8% )



1. Making the preferment dough --- In a mixing bowl, combine Bread Flour, Water and Sourdough seed starter / culture. 

    Let it preferment at room temperature for 12 hours.

2. Meanwhile, mix flour and water, cover it with plastic and Autolyse for for 12 hours.

3. Next day, mix starter into the dough and slap & fold for 1 minute.

4. Add salt and slap & fold for 1 minute or until the dough becomes a rough ball.

5. Let it rest for  30 minutes.

6. 1 set Stretch & Fold (1 set = right over left, left over right, bottom over top, top over bottom)

7. Let it rest for  30 minutes.

8. 1 set Stretch & Fold

9. Let it rest for  30 minutes.

10. 1 set Stretch & Fold

11. At a cooler place, let it rise until the dough just starts showing the yeast activity, about a third in size.

12. Put it in the fridge for 18-24 hours.

13. Pull it out of the fridge and leave it out for 1 hour.

14. Pre-shape the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes.

15. Shape into Boule and place into a mixing bowl lined with well-floured tea towel, seam-side up.

❉ Since I didn't have a round banneton, I used a mixing bowl lined with a tea towel and it just worked very well!

16. Final fermentation for 60 - 90 minutes.

17. 1 hour before you plan to bake, place your Donabe / Closed clay pot (must be completely DRY) on the middle shelf in the oven and preheat to 500°F.


18. Flip the bowl over so that the dough sits on the middle of a parchment paper.

19. Score the top of the Boule using a lame or a sharp, serrated knife.

20. Very very carefully open the lid (it's HOT!) and put the bread in the preheated Donabe, replace the lid and slip it back into the oven.

21. Turn the heat down to 480°F and bake the bread for 30 minutes with lid.

22. Turn the heat down to 450°F and bake for 10-15 minutes without lid.

23. Once the boule is nicely brown, turn the heat off and remove the boule from the Donabe and place directly on a rack in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

24. Let them cool onto a rack.

Here is my first Donabe-Bread!

It turned out super nice! I got an amazing crust and silky-fluffy-holey crumb.

To be honest, I was quite surprised by this result. 

Even though I knew this "closed clay pot (La Cloche)" method through this post on a website BREAD IN FIVE,

I was not sure if I could get the same result with this Japanese Donabe or not...

No baking stone? No steam? Really?!

Yes, it really works! Donabe-bread is a new comfort food for me!


Second Cooking's picture
Second Cooking

I've made Bialys before using high-gluten flour that I purchased via mail order. The cost with S&H for a 3lb bag is $13. That's OK for something I only make once in a while, but still I wouldn't be opposed to getting the price down. I don't know anyone that I could order commercial flour through, but even if I did I am not interested in a 50lb bag. What I want is something I can buy off the self at my local chain grocery store.

I live in the Detroit metro area. All of the major stores in this area carry KA flour. According to their website King Arthur's bread flour is 12.7% protein. Their high gluten flour is 14.2%, which they claim is the highest available retail. The bagel place in NJ where my sister used to live uses Pillsbury high gluten which is also 14.2%. I've heard this number before on some other bread sites, so this is the target I was shooting for.

Most of the stores in this area carry Gluten. I've been using Bob's Red Mill brand, but I've seen other brands too. I assume it's commonly available in most urban areas. The nutrition label on the Gluten I was using indicated 23g of protein per 30g serving or 76.67% by weight. To get to 14.2% with the flours I was using would put it at 97.65% BF and 2.35% Gluten. I went with 3% instead just to be safe.

The formula I used for the Bialys was Hamelman (p262). The only modification I made was to use 33.3% of the flour as a Poolish preferment. I made a 300g total flour recipe. This divides into six rolls at about 80g each.

Hamelman recommends 8 to 10 minutes at 480°. I was making these the night before, so I par-baked them for six minutes.


Actually they looked and smelled so good I finished a couple off right then for me and the wife.


My idea was to freeze a couple and see how they would hold up to a par-bake/freeze/thaw/re-heat method. If I can get that down on Bialys, I was thinking maybe I can transfer it over to a similar method for Bagels as well. The Bialys are simple enough to make anytime and I was pleased with results from my grocery store purchased high-gluten flour equivalent. Bagels aren't too much more work, but more than I am going to do regularly for small batch baking. If I can get a par-bake/freeze method down, I wouldn't mind having Bialys and Bagels as a regular weekend breakfast routine.

I didn't end up freezing any this time. The par-bake was a little darker then I had intended and after having couple, I knew there was no way we would want to be short any in the morning. Gives me a good excuse to try again sooner than later anyway. Next time I will shorten the par-bake to 5 minutes and see if I like that better. I think I need to work my pocket size out a bit too, but that's not a big concern for me.

The thing I like about these Bialys is I've never had one before making them myself. Unlike a Bagel, I don't have any preconceived notion of what they should take like. If they taste good, I like them. Simple as that. With Bagels I am always comparing them to an ideal. Even if I make a decent tasting doughnut shaped bread, if it doesn't have just the right chew and texture, it's always a little disappointing. That and my wife prefers a Bialy a bit more now, than a Bagel actually. I still favor a real Bagel more myself, but these are still darn good breakfast rolls.

Happy baking everyone.

Take care, Todd

vircabutar's picture

Central Milling Bread Flour

November 13, 2012 - 9:25pm -- vircabutar

Hello all,

I've seen old posts where folks would take a trip together and split bags of central milling flour. I was wondering if anyone has a good stock of bread flour (any kind would be great) and would be willing to share, or if anyone would like to take a trip together to Petaluma to get some flour sometimes soon/before the holiday season starts. 

Let me know! 


Thanks, Ray

Graid's picture

How to convert recipes for French flour?

September 17, 2012 - 3:47pm -- Graid

Hi folks,

I'm in the UK, and out of curiosity ordered myself some Type 55 French flour from Shipton Mill. I have already used the majority of it on a batch of the simple 'classic French bread' from Peter Reinhart's 'Artisan breads every day'. This does not use a sourdough starter, but uses cold fermentation, and I've had decent results with it in the past.

Onceuponamac's picture


I had an odd experience yesterday making the dough for Tartine Country Bread.. I normally us KA AP flour - because I think it yields a softer textured crumb - I had found that using KA bread flour was easier to work with - but once I got more comfortable with slap and fold, etc. - working with all purpose was fine.  I had some bread flour left over that I wanted to use - so I used it and 10% wheat flour with the standard recipe yesterday.  I do the initial mix in a spiral mixer.  What was odd, was that during the initial mix, the doug came together unusually quickly - in less than 3 minutes of mixing I had a very cohesive ball.  A let it autolyse for about 25 minutes and then added the salt (Black Diamond Kosher) and 50g more water to bring the dough to 75% hydration.. Usually when I add the water and the salt, the dough comes apart and then comes back together... this time - the dough stayed in a cohesive mass (one chunk broke off - but stayed as a separate piece (still using spiral mixer)).  I added 50 more grams of water (now 80% hydration) - but the dough didn't really come apart. To avoid over kneading, I turned off after 4 minutes and put it into a large plastic tub that I always use for the bulk ferment.  The dough already felt developed at this point in terms of elasticity - also strange.  I then ended up having to go to an unexpected appointment after the first turn (30 minutes into the bulk ferment).  Because I was going to be gone for several hours, I put the dough in the refrigerator to retard the bulk ferment.  I was gone for about 3.5 hours - when I returned, I completed the 2nd turn.  Again, the dough already seemed to have very high elasticity and the texture was like a fully proofed dough.  At any rate, i did two more turns and then did the initial shaping about 5 hours later.  During the initial shaping, the dough had high elasticity and essentially maintained it's shape as a ball (never had that happen before).  30 minutes later I did the final shape and again put the dough back in the refrigerator and then slashed and baked it about 7.5 hours later.  here is the result. It's been quite dry in Northern California where I bake - I'm not sure if that's why the flour absorbed so much flour so quickly - but the bread turned out surprisingly well given all the timing errors through the bulk ferment and the final proofing.  The crumb texture is also remarkably tender for using bread flour.. I'm a bit confused about why it had such significant oven spring.



GregS's picture

Adjustments for type of flour

September 4, 2011 - 11:16pm -- GregS

I like to make standard hydration sourdough and french-type breads.  Here in Hawaii, the only bulk-type flour I can reasonably afford is the ConAgra Harvest Blend bread flour, sold by COSTCO. I can purchase 25 pounds for the price of 10 pounds of national brands. Does any one have an opinion about how much quality I would gain by paying about $7 for five pounds of King Arthur bread flour.

glakritz's picture

Can't Get Bread Flour

December 22, 2010 - 12:12pm -- glakritz

I live in rural Central America and the local people really enjoy the Americano baked goods I make. In most recipes, I found I can substitute AP, but am afraid to try others as I have no access to bread flour. Does anyone know of a viable substitute that would not include a 12 hour ride on a chicken bus to the next country over (If they even have it). Thanks and Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo from the third hut from the river just past the palm trees.

mrgbread's picture

Great River Organic Milling?

December 3, 2010 - 7:57am -- mrgbread

Hi there,

Anyone have any good or bad baking experiences to share using flours from Great River Organic Milling in Wisconsin?  No shipping fees thru Amazon & they have an organic 100% Whole Wheat bread flour.  They used to be Little Bear Milling, which was one of the recommended sources for good flour in Laurel's Bread Book.

I have just ordered some, but says it's 2-5 WEEKS for shipping. 

nicolesue's picture

All Purpose Flour vs Bread Flour - Pizza

July 6, 2010 - 7:35am -- nicolesue

What is the best flour to use for pizza? I tried Peter Reinhart's recipe using bread flour, and it was kind of eerr... chewy... while using all purpose flour yielded a softer nicer dough..... just wanna know, what do you guys use? Which is better, and why is bread flour so chewy? btw - i'm aiming for a thin crust pizza...thanks.



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