The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

hard cider

isand66's picture

After reading about how much better freshly ground flour is compared to store-bought I finally decided to wiggle a couple of toes in the water and try grinding some of my own.  I used my Krupps coffee grinder to make some Farro flour and also some Hard Red Wheat from grains I had purchased at Whole Foods previously.

To make it interesting I used a portion of my standard AP starter along with a much larger portion of a Farro starter I prepared.

I didn't have enough whole grains to grind all my own flour so I used King Arthur flour for the rest of the ingredients.

I also made a soaker using some cracked wheat.

I have to say I made a mistake by thinking the extra liquid from the soaker would increase the hydration of the dough which only comes in at 57%.  Since the freshly milled flour also sucks up more water than store-bought the final dough ended up much drier than I would have liked and the crumb was denser than my usual multi-grain bakes.  Next time I will increase the liquid amount probably another 15-20%.

I think I shall have to invest in an attachment for my wife's Kitchen Aid to mill my own flour which should be much easier to do larger batches than the Krupps.

In any case the final bread while not being one of my favorites still tasted very earthy with a nice sour flavor and nutty undertones from the Farro and Wheat Germ.

Farro Starter

184 grams Farro Flour ground from fresh kernels

71 grams AP Starter

117 grams Water at Room Temperature (80-90 degrees F.)

Mix ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for around 10 hours.  The starter should almost double when ready to proceed.  You can either mix in final dough or put in refrigerator for at most 1 day before using.  If your kitchen is warmer than mine which is usually about 70-72 degrees with my air-conditioning you can proceed sooner.


90 grams Cracked Wheat

280 grams Boiling Water

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and cover.  Let rest for 30 minutes or longer until ready to use.

Drain the liquid before mixing in the final dough.

Main Dough Ingredients

75 grams Refreshed AP Starter (65% hydration)

351 grams Farro Starter from above (should be all of it)

90 grams Cracked Wheat Soaker from above

75 grams Quinoa Flour

70 grams Wheat Germ

40 grams Potato Flour

200 grams French Style Flour (You can substitute AP flour)

195 grams Freshly Ground Hard Red Wheat Flour

100 grams Pumpernickel Flour (Dark Rye or Course Rye Flour)

50 grams Molasses

16 grams Sea Salt or Table Salt

430 grams Hard Cider


Mix the flours with the Hard Cider and molasses in your mixer or by hand for 1 minute.  Next cut the starters into small pieces and put in bowl and mix for 1 minute to incorporate all the ingredients.  Let the dough autolyse for 20 minutes to an hour in your bowl and make sure to cover it.  Next add in the salt, and the soaker and mix on speed #1 for 3 minutes or by hand and on speed #2 for 2 minutes.  The dough should have come together in a ball and be tacky but not too sticky.

Next take the dough out of the bowl and place it on your work surface.  Do a stretch and fold and rest the dough uncovered for 10 minutes.  After the rest do another stretch and fold and cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Do one more stretch and fold and put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and let it sit at room temperature covered for 2 hours.  After 2 hours you can put the dough into the refrigerator for 24 hours or up to 2 days before baking.  Feel free to do some additional S & F's if you feel it is necessary.  I baked the bread about 24 hours later.

The next day (or when ready to bake) let the dough sit out at room temperature for 1.5 - 2  hours.  Next, form the dough into your desired shape and put them in floured bannetons, bowls or on a baking sheet and let them rise covered for 2 hours or until they pass the poke test.  Score the loaves as desired and prepare your oven for baking with steam.

Set your oven for 500 degrees F. at least 30 minutes before ready to bake.  When ready to bake place the loaves into your on  your oven stone with steam and lower the temperature immediately to 450 degrees.  Since these loaves were a little lower in hydration and were not cooking as quickly as normal, I lowered the temperature to 430 degrees.  The total baking time was around 45 minutes.  When both loaves are golden brown and reached an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. you can remove them from the oven.

Let the loaves cool down for at least an 6 hours or so before eating as desired.

The crust the next day was very hard and the crumb like I said before was much denser than I would have hoped but this bread still makes some nice pastrami or corned beef sandwiches for sure along with a nice sour pickle.  Now I have to go get some to eat for lunch!

sweetbird's picture

I was starting to feel morose as I watched my last bread,, dwindle down to nothing, so I knew I had to make another one right away. I adore that bread! I thought it would be fun to try a Buckwheat-Pear variation, and since I needed to pick up some more hard cider, I decided to see if the Woodchuck company in Vermont made a pear hard cider. I was delighted to see that they do. (And not only that, but they also make a raspberry hard cider -!!- so I may be dreaming up some way to try that out.)

I also picked up some organic dried pears, then started my liquid levain that night and baked the next day. I used the same local raspberry honey as I had done in the Buckwheat-Apple loaf.


I followed the same formula, simply substituting the pear hard cider for the apple hard cider and the dried pears for the dried apples. The only thing I changed was to make sure to dice the pears into smaller pieces, as they seemed to have more heft to them than the apples, and I thought large peices might be hard to chew.


Also, I used KA bread flour, which I had neglected to do the last time, and it gave the dough and the final loaf more integrity. Since buckwheat is a very weak flour it needs a boost from stronger flour; the vital wheat gluten is added to this formula for the same reason.

I had an appreciative audience while I worked, my sidekick Bigwig:

The house was filled with the same deeply wonderful aroma of roasting buckwheat when the bread was baking, and the loaf came out looking exactly the same as the other one, not surprisingly. I could hardly wait for it to cool so I could see what the difference would be in the flavor.

As it turned out, the differences were subtle, but definitely noticeable. The pear bread has a more delicate flavor, and slightly more natural sweetness. It's hard to pick a favorite -- I love them both -- but I would probably give the grand prize to the Buckwheat-Apple and the runner-up with honors to the Buckwheat-Pear. Either one is well worth having around, and the toast is a very, very, very special treat.

I'll submit this to Susan's yeastspotting:

Happy baking to all,




sweetbird's picture

While reading the article in New York Magazine on artisinal bakers in New York City that I posted in the forums yesterday (, I saw the photo of a buckwheat-pear bread and was reminded of this one that has become a favorite in our house. It's a buckwheat-apple bread dreamed up by a Swiss baker/blogger and posted on yeastspotting a few years ago. The blog post was so charming that I had to try it immediately. I have loved it and baked it many times since.

Here is the original blog post that captured my imagination:

I've made some minor changes based on what I have available. Here is the formula that I use:

Buckwheat Apple Sourdough


Liquid levain:
100 g buckwheat flour
125 ml hard cider
15 g mature starter (mine was 100% hydration)

385 g bread flour
15 g vital wheat gluten
230 ml hard cider (start with 200 ml and add more cider as required)
12 g salt
a little less than 1 tsp. instant yeast (I used SAF)
1 tsp. pear honey ("Birnel"), can be substituted by any sweetener
40 g dried apple rings, chopped
85 g (½ cup) whole buckwheat groats


Mix the ingredients for the liquid levain and leave at room temperature for 12 hours.

Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the whole buckwheat and let it soak for 10 - 15 minutes, until cooked through.  Drain well and set aside.

Mix the liquid levain, flour, vital wheat gluten and cider and let it autolyse for 15 to 30 minutes. Check the consistency and adjust as necessary; you’re looking for a tacky but not sticky dough.

Mix the final dough, but don’t add the apple chunks and the buckwheat yet. I processed for about 6 - 7 minutes on medium speed in my KitchenAid. At the end, mix in the apple pieces and about 2/3 of the soaked buckwheat groats. The rest are reserved for the top of the loaf, if you like (if not, go ahead and add them all to the dough).

Let the dough ferment in a warm environment (I kept it at a temperature in the mid-80sF) for about 1½ to 2 hours, with two folds at 30 and 60 minutes. The original recipe calls for one fold at 40 minutes, but I thought my dough needed more. I let it ferment about 2 hours.

This dough weighs about 1,050 g, and I bake it as one large hearth loaf. It can be divided into two smaller boules if you like. Bench rest and shape, and start your oven and stone preheating to 430°F at this point. I found that the final rise was fairly quick -- about 40 minutes. In fact, it took me by surprise and my oven wasn’t quite ready, so I ended up over-proofing slightly.

I used the dough ball trick that I mentioned in my previous post.


Bake the loaves on a preheated baking stone with steam at 430°F, checking and turning at around 20 minutes and lowering the temperature if the loaves are taking on too much color. I turned off the oven when the loaf reached an internal temperature of 205°F and let it sit on the hot stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.


Ingredient notes:

I use a wonderful hard cider from my part of the world, the northeast U.S.  It's Woodchuck Hard Cider from Vermont and comes in a 355 ml bottle, which is just exactly the amount that is needed for this bread. About one-third goes into the levain and the rest is used in the dough. I use it at room temperature.

The flour I used in this loaf (besides the buckwheat flour) was King Arthur AP, even though the formula calls for bread flour. I would have been better off using the Sir Lancelot I had, or something else to offset the weak buckwheat flour, but even so this came out very well.

I use a raspberry honey from a local beekeper instead of the pear honey in the original formula.

This bread has a deep, somewhat nutty and subtly sweet flavor. It is outstanding as toast. I tried to capture the extra depth of color that it has when it comes out of the toaster. It's spectacular with butter and marmalade or with cheeses. I encourage you to try it! Thank you to the sweet baker from Switzerland (who doesn't seem to be blogging any longer, sadly). I'm grateful for this very special bread.


All the best,


I'll send this back where it started from, to Susan's yeastspotting:


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