The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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breaducation's picture

I love a good country bread as I think most people do. It is one of the most fun, beautiful and often times challenging styles of bread to make. However, I find myself becoming bored of the standard 10% whole wheat flour in the formula. In an attempt to changes things up I will often raise or lower the percentage of whole wheat in the dough. As little as a 10% change can have drastic effect of flavor. I've also tried putting all the whole wheat in the starter, something that adds quite a bit of sourness to final flavor.

Lately, I've  been playing around with different flours to accent the flavor. In my latest effort I have used spelt flour in place of the whole wheat. The result is quite nice! It has a subtle nutty flavor that is quite pleasing. I think in my next bake I'll try upping the spelt to 20% and see if I like it as much.

Here are the spelt results:


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.



Onceuponamac's picture

Still would like to get better oven spring - but happy with these nonetheless.

ehanner's picture

I have been baking larger (2# ) loaves of rustic Italian formula free form recently. I decided to double the mix and drag out the large linen basket and try one more time to get the proofing right. Usually I over proof and the dough falls with a thud as I approach the slashing table with bare blades. I have been following Mariana's procedure for crusty Italian and my handling of the dough has been more on the gentle side with a strict 1 hour limit on the bulk ferment.

I had just watched a video of a french baker demonstrating how he shapes, slashes and handles his large boules. He bounced the boule out of the basket and onto the peel, slashed with confidence and into the oven. Very inspirational with little care of over handling. So I dumped the proofed dough out and slashed like I knew what I was doing and--well it worked out pretty well.
4# Crusty Boule4# Crusty Boule


sphealey's picture

Whilst cleaning out the coin container on my dresser in preparation for taking the coins to the supermarket to be counted, I found an unused gift card from Barnes & Noble.  Had it been there 8 months?  20 months?  Who can say; the question was - what to do with it?

What type of book to buy was not in question, but exactly which book was.  I still don't have any of the first four Reinhart books (and would very much like American Pie), Leader has just released a new one, and there are other classics I don't have.  Based on reviews and comments here I decided to get Reinhart's new Whole Grain Breads.

This is without question an excellent book.  I have read some of the chapters and skimmed through the rest, and I would say it will take 4-5 thorough readings until I have absorbed everything Reinhart has to say.  Which is bad, because I am still re-reading The Bread Builders and trying to absorb that.   Reinhart has put together a lot of thoughts that I have been stumbling towards over the last year as I have tried to increase the fraction of whole grains in my bread (and other baked stuff), and it was interesting to see that the bibliography included many books (such as Bread Science) that  have read in the last year, as well as a nod to this web site and its participants.

I decided to start out with the Transitional Country Hearth Loaf, as my family's preferences lean toward white(er) loaves.

Given that I had not yet read the Theory and Process of Delayed Fermentation chapters when I jumped ahead to the recipe, the steps were fairly straightforward for anyone who had made a RLB or Hammelman recipe.   I tried to follow the recipe exactly to see if I would get the results from the book.  One point that bothered me was where the sequence said "combine the soaker and biga pieces with all other ingredients".  The "other ingredients" were 5g salt and 7g yeast; I was expecting some more water, flour, or something.  But when I mixed it up the texture seemed right.  One thing I did is carefully interweave the 12 pieces of biga and 12 pieces of soaker into a neat 3-layer pattern with the salt and yeast in between the layers.  I have zero artistic ability but the weave looked neat (unfortunately I did not hae the camera at that point) and I was gratified the next day to find a similar picture in the opening chapters of the book.

Here is the proofed loaf on the peel, waiting to be slashed and go in the oven:

sPh - Reinhart Transition Country Proofed LoafsPh - Reinhart Transition Country Proofed Loaf

Here is the baked loaf about to come out of the oven.  Since I proofed it in the banneton I was not able to put semolina on the peel.  I should have put some between the loaf and the end of the peel before sliding but did not, so the result was some ovalization of the loaf:

sPh - Reinhart Transition Country Baked LoafsPh - Reinhart Transition Country Baked Loaf

This picture on the counter gives some indication of the size of the loaf with the thermapen in the background.  Quite a bit of distortion from the wide angle lens though since the standard Corelle bowl in the backgorund looks small:

sph - Reinhart Transition Country Baked Loaf on Countersph - Reinhart Transition Country Baked Loaf on Counter

Here is the "crust and crumb".  I took this outside to get some strong light, which allowed a good handheld closeup.  The crust was good; thick and chewy but not too tough or crunchy.  The crumb was open and had a good taste but was a bit dry:

sph - Reinhart Transition Country Crust and Crumbsph - Reinhart Transition Country Crust and Crumb

And here is an end-on shot of the sliced loaf.  Note that despite my careful layering of the soaker (darker) and biga (lighter), mixing, and a total of 7 minutes of kneading there are still clear areas of light and dark crumb:

 sph - Reinhart Transition Country End View Crumbsph - Reinhart Transition Country End View Crumb

Conclusions?  Overall this was a good bread, well-received by family and neighbors.  As mentioned my family and I found it a bit dry.  The published hydration is 65%; when I make it again I will try 70% or even 75.  The taste was good with no bitterness and just a hint of "whole wheat" flavour; the crust was very good.  Toasted with a little butter it was excellent.   A good recipe and actually very easy to make.


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