The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


LA Baker's picture

Barm in place of Levain? Confused....

February 6, 2010 - 12:31pm -- LA Baker

I want to make some of the recipes in DL's Local Breads, but I don't want to make his levain from scratch.  I have a great starter that works, do I need to start again with a Levain?

I'm sure this info is on this blog somewhere, but I couldn't find the exact answer I need.  Can someone tell me the difference between BARM/STARTER/LEVAIN/POOLISH/BIGA/PATE FERMENTE/STIFF LEVAIN?  Can you subsitute one for the other, or is one process that different from the other?  Are they basically the same thing, but merely two ways to do the same thing?

jennyloh's picture

A week ago,  I bought my first rye and whole wheat flour, they were imported from Germany.  I could not understand a word on the description,  but I was determined to try my hand on these flour.  Here I am trying my first rye and whole wheat bread.  Honestly,  I have no idea what it is suppose to look like or taste like,  as I'm not a fan of rye bread usually,  I'm a white loaf freak.  Surprisingly,  this recipe is easy, and the taste is really good.  I still need to work on my shaping and proofing timing though.  

It;s a wet dough to work with,  I'm now aching all over from the kneading,  3 different types of kneading just to get dough ready.  Wish I have a machine to help me with.  I'm still waiting for my birthday present...



The taste is pretty good though,  seems like the poolish had helped with this outcome.  Is it suppose to look like that?  Unfortunately,  Barry's artisan did have any pictures of the dough he made, and I found many rye and whole wheat that are more dense.  Am I getting this right?



Recipe Here:

Jenny's Blog on Poolish Rye and Whole Wheat Bread



milwaukeecooking's picture

beet bread

January 15, 2010 - 8:11am -- milwaukeecooking

I made beet bread last night.  The outer color was bright red but the crumb was a reddish brown.  The taste was great.  My only difficulty with it was a massive oven spring.  I thought that I had allowed it proof long enough.  It had doubled in size and when I pressed my finger to the side it held my print.  All signs pointed to proofed.  When I put it into the oven it nearly doubled again!  Everything about this bread was good except that it looked destroyed due to the crippling oven-spring.  Ideas?

milwaukeecooking's picture

Sun-dried parmesan bread

This was my kitchen sink recipe.  I accidentally made too much baguette dough so I decided to throw some of it in my banneton with a few added extras.  I had sun-dried tomatoes around and I had recently ground up some parmesan.  So, I thought, why not mix it into my extra dough.  Before putting it into the oven I spritzed it with water and gave it a sprinkling of cracked pepper.  Out of all the breads I have made this one actually made my mouth water when it was baking.  The smell was incredible.  Here is how I made it. 

Follow my poolish recipe for the dough.  I made 900 grams of dough for this recipe.

After the second rise lightly flatten out the dough into a square that is roughly 12"x12".  On one half of it sprinkle 1/4 cup ground parmesan cheese and then, on top of that, gently press in 1 cup of chopped sun-dried tomtatoes.  Leave 1/2 inch of dough around the edges so that you can seal it back up again.  Fold the empty side over the top of the tomatoes and press down on the edges to seal.  Flatten the dough slightly and business fold it into thirds (like you are mailing a business letter).  Let your dough rest for 5 min and business fold again.  I folded mine three times. 

At this point you should have a few layers of tomato and you will want to shape your dough into a boule.  You don't need a banneton for this because all of the folding and shaping has made your dough fairly tough and it will stand on its own.  However, let your boule rise for an hour, until doubled, before baking. 

Pre-heat the oven to 500F while your dough is rising.

Right before baking spritz your boule with water and top with pepper.  You need the me. 

 Spray the walls of your oven with water and bake for 2 minutes.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Turn the heat down to 425

Bake again for 20 min at 425.

Rotate your bread 180 degress and turn the heat down to 400 and bake for 20 min.  

Check the temp of your bread.  If the internal temperature isn't over 195 it isn't done.  The optimal temp is between 195 and 205. 

I wanted to take pictures of the crumb so you could see the tomato goodness inside but it got eaten before I could remember.  Next time I will post a picture of the crumb.  This is a recipe that I would like to re-create again. 

sun-dried parmesan bread

Koyae's picture

Poolish -- First "Flight" -- Questions -- All-Poolish Loaf? Adjusting for Hydration after Soak, and, and....

December 20, 2009 - 3:56pm -- Koyae

'Just tried to do a sourdough loaf with presoak and had it end up /very/ doughy. I've been learning for a few weeks now because most commercially-available breads are absolute garbage health-wise, and the good stuff (from the farmers' market or frozen at the natural foods -stores) runs a good $6-per loaf. I'm determined to learn and not afraid of making mistakes (as you'll soon learn.)

Anyway, trial went something like:

KenK's picture

Bagel balls

November 21, 2009 - 11:08am -- KenK

I'm on a roll! (pun intended : )

I made an overnight poolish with KA bread flour, the final dough had 1/3 whole wheat flour. It was very a very stiff dough and I kneaded by hand until I was sweating.  Boiled about a minute per side in baking soda water.  The tops are nice but the bottoms are gnarly.  I need to study the shaping instructions per Reinhart and Hammelman.  I think I'm overcompensating for my early trys where everything slumped out flat.

wally's picture

Baguettes with Poolish - and Grignes finally!

August 18, 2009 - 4:07pm -- wally

Since I returned from a class on the classic French breads at KAF I've been attempting to reproduce the quality of the bakes we accomplished there. Especially with baguettes where, with a still shaky scoring technique, I nonetheless managed to produce some decent looking grignes while there.

patnx2's picture


August 10, 2009 - 12:39pm -- patnx2

I cannot find what i want in the search box so.......... My question is can you convert any preferment,biga, poolish etc. to sd using a % conversion, Seems logical to me but I do make mistakes......... sometimes lol.

My thinking is that there are so many levels to this w/f/yeast thing!  Patrick from Modesto

ein's picture

Question on Changing Pre-Ferment Type

June 9, 2009 - 10:02am -- ein

I'm using a pate fermentee in a whole-wheat loaf made with 50% ww and 50% apf. I much prefer using a poolish and would like to switch over. The dough is fairly extensible now and I wouldn't want to increase it.

The pre-fermented flour percentage with the pate is 25%. Anyone have experience with this type of substitution?


davidg618's picture

Happy with my progress manipulating starters, and baking sourdough boules using D. DiMuzio's San Francisco Sourdough formula, beginning last night, and finishing this morning I let my starters rest, and tried, for the first time, to bake classic baguettes, i.e., baguettes initiated with a poolish. I was stimulated to do this by my mixed results--great flavor, ok crumb, disappointing proofing and ovenspring--baking sourdough baguettes.

For a first attempt I'm very satisfied with the results, especially the flavor. While I was setting up to photograph, I paused three times to have yet another piece with butter.

The formula, and guidance came from Ciril Hitz' Baking Artisan Bread", which I followed to the letter.

So I've got my baking focus, for the next couple of months centered on working with these two basic formula: DiMuzio's sourdough, and Hitz' classic baguette dough. Like the moldy, oldy directions to Carnegie Hall...practice, practice, practice.


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