The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


JMonkey's picture

I don't think I've every baked this much in a weekend, and, to be honest, I didn't intend to. All I aimed to do was bake for

  • The family that bought two loaves from me at the church fund-raiser service auction in November
  • The annual church dinner and talent show
  • My family's weekly bread

Er ... ok, I guess I did intend to bake that much. I just didn't realize it.

The loaf above is about to be delivered by my daughter Iris and I to a family a few blocks away. It's a loaf of Hammelman's 40% Caraway Rye (yes, I used white flour), though I made it a bit bigger (about 2 lbs instead of 1.5) and didn't bother with baker's yeast. I just let the rye sourdough do its work.

Alas, no pictures of the crumb -- that would have been rude.

The next loaf on the agenda was white sourdough.

I used the NY Times / Sullivan St. Bakery method, though I used sourdough starter instead of yeast, mixed it at about 72% hydration instead of 80% (if I go that wet, it always sticks like Elmer's), let it sit for just 12 hours before folding, and then went the extra step of shaping it into a boule. As always, it turned out well.

Again, my apologies for the lack of a crumb photo -- I snapped this shot at the church dinner, and a friend who saw me shooting it said, with a look usually reserved for that crazy old guy at the corner who screams about bugs and scratches himself: "Er, you take photos of your bread?"

I stammered something about it being for a bread message board, but I don't think that made me sound any less crazy. Cutting into the loaf and lovingly photographing the interior was too humiliating to contemplate at that point, much less actually perform, so I put the camera away. The crumb wasn't as open as the masterpieces that Mountaindog regularly pulls out of her oven, but it was light and open enough.

This morning was the big day. I had some rye starter left over, so I thought I'd bake a couple loaves of whole wheat 40% rye sandwich bread, in addition to my usual whole wheat sourdough sandwich loaves. Plus, I still had to deliver a loaf of whole wheat cinnamon walnut raisin bread to the auction family and, if you're going to make one loaf, why not make two?

Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning, I felt like someone had stuffed my head with very thick mayonaise. I courageously made the sourdough blueberry muffins my daughter had requested, but after breakfast my wife said, "We're skipping church, I'm taking Iris to her friend's birthday party and you're going back to bed." So I did. I slept until 1pm.

When I awoke, I felt much better (thank you, Mucinex!). Good enough to knead up three batches of dough.

The night before, however, I'd taken a sourdough pizza doughball out of the freezer and put it it the fridge to thaw, so, just before Iris and I left to go to the playground around 4pm, I turned on the oven. Iris ran - literally - all the way there (about half a mile - pretty good for 3 years old), and we made raspberry-raspberry jam muffins (there are no other ingredients, or so I'm told).

When we got back, I made this "heart-shaped" pizza for my wife. Aren't I sweet?

You didn't buy that line, did you? Actually, I fumbled a bit with the peel. A happy fumble, all the same.

After dinner, I popped the cinammon raisin loaves in the oven. Near the end of their bake, I started making a shaping tutorial video and got interrupted by the oven telling me to get those loaves outta there!

Here's Iris and I sprinkling cinnamon-sugar over the buttered loaves.

A couple of hours later, the rye was ready to pop in the oven (no photo -- I put them in the freezer before realizing I'd not taken a photo) and, shortly afterwards, the sourdough sandwich loaves, which rose very nicely.

Next weekend, I think I'll just stick to something simple like just one loaf. Of course, if you're making one loaf, it's not much more trouble to make two. Also, if I'm feeding my rye, I may as well use it somehow -- hate to throw some away ....
SumisuYoshi's picture

Recent Bake

March 30, 2007 - 11:27pm -- SumisuYoshi

I haven't made any sourdough recently, made 2 sandwich loaves and 2 smallish boule shaped loaves yesterday.

I only have a closeup of one of the boules, one went home with someone before I got a picture.


The two boules together, one obviously had much more flour stick to it.

bwraith's picture

In Search of a Good Miche Version (2)

 Mixed Flour Miche (2)

 Mixed Flour Miche (2) Crumb (a)Mixed Flour Miche (2) Crumb (a): Mixed Flour Miche (2) Crumb (a)

 Mixed Flour Miche(2) Crumb (b)Mixed Flour Miche(2) Crumb (b): Mixed Flour Miche(2) Crumb (b)

Mixed Flour Miche (2): Mixed Flour Miche (2)

Mixed-Flour Miche: Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

I did a new slightly different version of the miche in my first blog entry about this recipe. I have a spreadsheet showing the recipe and percentages.

I have some photos of my process, but it is from the original blog entry, not for this specific bread. However, the process was the same other than as noted below.

Many, many thanks to JMonkey, SourdoLady, Zolablue, Mountaindog, Floydm, and numerous others. My results on this and other recipes are much better because of the great ideas I've found in the various blogs, postings, and lessons here.

Mixed-Flour Miche (2) as in version (2): Loosely based on BBA Miche and Hamelman Mixed-Flour Miche.

There is a "firm starter" that is built from white poolish-like starter as in the BBA "barm" version (50/50 by weight using breadflour and water), which is retarded overnight and included in the dough which is baked the same day.

The recipe I've been doing lately has evolved from the BBA miche recipe to be more like the "Mixed-Flour Miche" in Bread by Hamelman. My objective has basically been to have a high whole wheat content, but use sifted flours to get a less coarse crumb. I have also mixed red wheat and white wheat flours as well as tried some spelt trying to come up with a flavor that is not too "grassy" or "nutty". I find the taste of 100% white wheat bread to be a little too bland, whereas using too much red wheat seems bitter in a way I don't like.

As a result, I've ended up mixing various flours in an attempt to get something that is mostly whole wheat with some of the coarser bran sifted out and partly red wheat, partly white wheat for flavor.

The recipe showing in the photos above is as follows, and is loosely based on both the BBA Miche and the Hamelman "Mixed-Flour Miche" in Bread.

For the firm starter:

  • 7oz "BBA style barm" (100% hydration bread flour starter)
  • 4 oz KA Whole Spelt Flour
  • 3 oz KA Organic Whole Wheat
  • 2 oz KA Bread Flour
  • 4oz water

Mix/knead ingredients for about 3 minutes to get a fairly firm not very sticky dough. Place in container and let rise to about 2x in volume - about 3 hours. No extra punch down and additional rise at this point, compared to original recipe. Place in refrigerator overnight.

The difference in the firm starter above from the version (1) recipe is I substituted 4 oz Whole Spelt and 2 oz KA Bread Flour for 6 oz Golden Bufallo Sifted Red Wheat Flour. The objective was to get a more mild, less sour flavor. I also only let this rise for 3 hours, rather than 5 hours in version 1. This bread tasted better to me. The sour flavors that seemed a little too strong, as noted in the original blog entry, are more mild and complex this time, with no subtle excess of sour dominating the after taste of the crumb.

For the dough:

  • 3 oz KA whole spelt flour
  • 8 oz Golden Buffalo sifted red wheat flour (Heartland Mills)
  • 3 oz KA Organic Whole Wheat
  • 8 oz sifted white wheat flour (Homestead Grist Mill)
  • 7 oz Sir Lancelot High Gluten flour
  • 3 oz KA Rye Blend
  • 29.5 oz water
  • 3/4 tsp diastatic malted barley flour
  • 24 grams salt (about .8 oz) (2 grams less than in the first version)
  • Firm starter from day before.

The overall difference from the previous recipe is just a small decrease in red wheat flours, and less spelt flour in the dough, since I have more spelt flour in the firm starter. Also, the hydration is a little higher, about 83% from more like 82% in the previous recipe. Also, I used water on my hands and on the kneading surface instead of flour, instead of the flour that was used in the first recipe (based on some recommendations from the WW gods on the site), so that may account for a significant difference in the wetness of this dough. I imagine that could contribute an additional 1% difference in hydration.

Cut up firm starter and cover with towel to allow the pieces to lose their chill.

Autolyse: Mix all but salt and starter in bowl until the ingredients form a uniform shaggy mass. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

I decided to use less of an autolyse, based on some advice in Raymond Calvel's book, "The Taste of Bread" which seems to indicate that letting the autolyse go on too long may take away from bread flavor.

Mix and knead dough: Push the pieces of starter into the dough and sprinkle with salt. Use a "frisage", i.e. use the heal of your palm to push the ingredients out along the table, so that all the lumps become mixed. See the Danielle Forestier video on the Julia Child video site. Mix/knead for 5 minutes to form a supple, fairly soft dough. I grab an end, lift it from the table, stretching it from the other end, which is stuck to the table. Then, toss the middle sideways and drop the end back down against the end stuck to the table, which forms a fold. Then, do the same thing from a quarter turn of the dough, i.e. grab an end at a right angle to the end you grabbed before. The total hydration of the entire overall dough is 83%, so it is relatively soft at the beginning. Place in a container to rise.

Fold the dough every 30 minutes: The total bulk fermentation time was 3.5 hours. I was folding it using the technique in Hamelman's Bread, i.e. (very roughly) turn the dough out on a bed of flour top down and gently spread it out/push out some of the gas. Then pull out and stretch one side of the dough and fold it toward the center. Do the same for the other three sides. Put the dough back in the container with the top up and the seams down. I folded 3 times, then let it rise for the rest of the time.

This time I folded every 30 minutes instead of every 60 minutes, and I only folded 3 times instead of 4 times. The result was a much more slack dough after completion of the bulk fermentation. This time, because of the higher hydration of this version, I probably should have folded at least one more time to get a dough that would hold its shape better. This dough spread out a little too much. It had good oven spring, so that compensated to some extent, but overall I wished it would hold its shape better than it did. Next time, I may reduce the water slightly and fold a little more to get a better shape.

Shape into boule: Form a boule not too differently from the folding technique above, except it is more of a gathering in of the edges of the dough and pinching them together underneat to stretch the top of the dough. Let the boule relax for 10 minutes to seal the seams underneath. Flour a couche very lightly with rice flour and place in 8 quart steel mixing bowl, and then place the dough in the couche seams up.

This time I tried to use mountaindog's recently blogged techniques for shaping the boule "right side up" instead of my previous upside down technique. I also allowed the relaxation of the boule for 10 minutes this time. The only gotcha I suffered was that the dough didn't come out of the rising bucket properly because it was still fairly gloppy - not enough folding of the more hydrated dough. As a result, the dough ended up lopsided, and a couple of the seams from the folding were slightly visible on the top of the dough after the final proof. I slashed through it, to not so gracefully hide that - oh well, next time I'll do better. This time, I did an additional fold after turning the dough out on the table, as it seemed quite gloppy. I need the fold to get to the point where I could form the boule.

Final Proof: Allow to rise for about 2 hours.

Last time, I think the final proof went on too long - 3 hours, and that probably contributed to slightly excessive sour flavors I wasn't so happy with. Also, I think it was long enough that the oven spring wasn't that great. This time, the flavor was very good, at least I thought so. The flavor of this one is complex, slightly sour only, with a cool, light, moist crumb. Although the gloppy dough did spread out, it also had decent oven spring, so the overall shape was slightly flatter than I wanted but not a huge disappointment.

Place on parchment: Place parchment on an upside down baking sheet or a peel and flour with coarse corn meal. Invert the bowl with the dough onto the parchment and pull away the bowl. Gently pull away the couche, which works great with the rice flour on the couche. Slash as photos show. I very lightly spray water on the dough with a pump pressure spray mist bottle.

When I placed the dough on the parchment paper this time, it spread out alarmingly, but was not a disaster. I realize that I need to fold the more hydrated dough one or two more times.

Bake: Preheat oven to 500F well before this point, like an hour before. Use various steaming techniques as described many places for home ovens. Drop temperature to 450F after about 5 minutes. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then rotate loaf and drop temperature to 400F for another 15 minutes. Then rotate and drop temperature to 375F. Continue to bake until internal temperature is about 208F.

This version had great flavor. I think this is partly because of the more mild starter, which used spelt instead of more red wheat flour. Also, I fermented for less time at all stages this time, which seems to have helped remove the slightly too sour after taste of version 1. I think the oven spring was better because of more hydration and less folds earlier. The crumb was a little more open for the same reason. Next time, I want to use slightly less hydration and one or two extra folds to make the dough a little stiffer - closer to version 1.

JMonkey's picture

As my wife was away in Washington, DC for a conference, there wasn't much time for baking, since I was alone with a three-year-old, an all-consuming (though rewarding) task if there ever was one. Nevertheless, I soldiered on, especially since I had a craving for Desem bread.

Alas, though I finally went for 85% hydration, I had no time to fold the dough properly. What's more, since I was pressed for time (I was needed to help put out a fire in the bathroom, taste chocolate treats made of wood and eat blueberry muffins with a baby polar bear, as all proper polar bears do) I never really kneaded it thoroughly in the first place. The result was as could be expected -- desem flatbread. Though tasty! Unfortunately, the Desem, knowing it had not risen to the occassion, was too camera shy for a photo.

Pizza, however, is another ball of wax entirely. This was pretty simple. I based my recipe on the sourdough pizza crust from Peter Reinhart's American Pie.

I used Arthur the whole wheat starter at 100% hydration, which made the dough about 30% whole wheat, and shot for 66-68% hydration. I also had to do a half-and-half mix of KA Bread Flour and KA All-Purpose, since I ran out of bread flour, and added 2 Tbs of olive oil. Also, instead of making four 10-oz dough balls, I made two 12 ounce dough balls -- I like a slighly bigger pizza than Reinhart, I guess.

Saturday evening, I kneaded it up lightly, folded it twice during the initial four hour fermentation and then divided it into two. One dough ball went into the freezer while the other went into the fridge. The next day, at 4pm, I took the dough ball from the fridge to warm up, grated the cheese (2 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, 1 oz feta, 1 oz parmesan), cut up the olives, sliced the turkey sausage, defrosted the sauce (I had some leftover a couple of weeks ago, so I just threw it in the freezer -- thawed out well! I highly recommend Reinhart's recipe for basic tomato sauce.), and roasted half a yellow pepper I found in the fridge, still fresh, over our gas burner. I set the oven to 550 F at 5pm, and then headed for the airport. When we got home with Aurora around 6ish, it took just 10 minutes to make the pizza and slide it into the oven. Bella! My first (successful) sourdough pizza!

Later that evening, I finished up the weekly whole wheat sourdough sandwich bread that is a lunch staple for our family. It rose well. Tasty stuff.

This weekend, we're having our annual church dinner at my homey Unitarian church -- I always enjoy it because it gives me an excuse to bake something I'd never bake at home because:

  • My wife and I are each trying to drop 15 lbs.
  • I'm kind of a nut about ensuring my family eats nutritious food, which means whole-grains.
  • Dammit, I bought a grinder and 200 lbs of wheat berries! I've got to use it!

Any suggestions for what might be tasty? I was thinking a big old brioche, or maybe that Artos bread from the BBA. Anyone made that before?
Thegreenbaker's picture

Any good books?

March 27, 2007 - 6:46pm -- Thegreenbaker

Hi everyone,

I have been reading alot on sourdoughs and how to make startes lately.


I really really want to get it happening, but I just cant seem to get all this percentage stuff sorted in my head.

I have found (at least with baking bread) I am a kinetic learner-but I know I need to get a firm grasp of what I need to do before I start.

george's picture

Yes, started the day well. Made 3 loaves of sourdough plain loaf. 12 blueberry muffins, a tray pf cinnamon rolld and three loaves of multi grain.

zolablue's picture

Firm Sourdough Starter - Glezer recipe

March 24, 2007 - 8:43am -- zolablue

I’m finally getting around to posting Maggie Glezer’s firm sourdough starter recipe.  For those of you having problems with your starters you might wish to give this a try.  Most people here are using batter-style starters so it might be interesting to see if there is any discussion on firm starters.  Plus I need help in learning to convert properly for use in recipes which don’t use a firm starter and there are always questions that come up.

slothbear's picture

flat flat ww sourdough

I was inspired by Jane and Srishti and the other folks trying whole wheat sourdough (thanks!), so I tried it. I started with the proportions I found here:

My variations -- I halved the recipe, kneaded in my Zojirushi bread maker, and used my white sourdough starter and Whole Foods whole wheat flour. My my I love weighing ingredients, especially in grams. I just keep slinging stuff into the bowl, so fun and easy.

Everything proceeded nicely until the final rise. Instead of rising like New York, it spread out like Los Angeles. The resulting bread was delicious, but in the interest of bread art (and sandwiches), I'd like it to be a little taller. I'm still new to sourdough, but am loving every trial. My starter is quite vigorous -- I'm pretty sure that part is ok.  Any suggestions?

Inkoate's picture

A Sourdough Non-Starter

March 20, 2007 - 5:00pm -- Inkoate

I know this is a rather common question around these parts, but I'm very new to sourdough, and my seed culture that I've been working on just doesn't seem to be turning into a healthy starter.  I started off from the BBA formula to grow a seed culture, but by day 3, when the culture was supposed to have doubled in bulk, it had not, and but had grown by about half instead.  As instructed, I discarded half and mixed with the prescribed flour and water and fermented for 24 hours.  It again failed to double in bulk, at which point it says to leave it out for another 12 to 24.  I


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